Human Rights and Law

Human Rights and Law

PLRI is committed to examining the strengths and weaknesses of international human rights and domestic legal frameworks as they apply to sex work. We aim to evaluate the impact of various international and domestic laws and policies on the human rights of female, male and transgender sex workers and their communities.

Sex workers universally claim that their human rights are abused. In some cases this means exposure to violence and barriers to accessing services, resources and justice. In other cases arbitrary detention, criminal law and lack of access to clean safe places to live and work are cited as human rights issues.

International human rights standards and norms have traditionally constructed sex work as an affront to human dignity and as a result have failed to endow sex workers with the range of rights normally accorded to others unimpeded by occupational or moral status. The conflation of adult female prostitution with trafficking and child abuse that has occurred this decade has lead to the revival of law enforcement in many countries which appears to have lead to human rights abuses.

Questions about what legal and policy approaches can best protect sex workers, clients and the broader society are of great importance to sex worker advocates.  

Resources

  • Measuring perceived stigma in female sex workers in Chennai, India - 2011

    Although sex work is highly stigmatized throughout the world, a limited body of research has examined stigma among female sex workers (FSWs). We developed a Sex Worker Stigma (SWS) Index to measure perceived stigma among 150 FSWs in Chennai, India. These women were at a median age of 35 years and reported, on average, having engaged in sex work for nine out of the previous 12 months. The two-factor structure of the index was verified in both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses with acceptable goodness of fit.

  • Sex Trafficking and Initiation-Related Violence, Alcohol Use, and HIV Risk Among HIV-Infected Female Sex Workers in Mumbai, India - 2011

    The control of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) is a challenge in China, with female sex workers (FSW) and male clients suspected as bridge groups. This study used a 2006 national probability survey of 2,707 adult men. Among men 15–49 years old, the prevalence of FSW contacts last year was 4.2% (95% CI, 3.3–5.2) overall, with 7.2% (CI, 5.9–8.7) in urban and 1.8% (CI, 1.0–3.3) in rural areas.

  • The Human Rights Paradigm to Trafficking in Persons and the Challenge of Labor Rights - 2011

  • Treatment as Prevention: How might the game change for sex workers? - 2011

    “What drives continued expansion of the pandemic is not the absence of effective preventative technologies but discrimination, exploitation and repression of certain social groups,” Dr Peter Piot.

    This article looks at the potential impact of partially effective, non contraceptive HIV prevention methods on sex workers in the light of recent news that anti-retroviral treatment (ART) by people with HIV substantially protects their HIV-uninfected sexual partners from acquiring HIV infection, with a 96 percent reduction in risk of HIV transmission.

  • A study on morbidity and psychosocial behaviour of children of commercial sex workers of North Bengal, India - 2011

    Article in the Health 2011; 2(2):37-40.

    Background: Children of commercial sex workers (CSW) are deprived from almost all the rights of the society. More attention is paid to the CSWs but their children are neglected. This study was conducted to estimate the morbidity and psychosocial behaviour of children of CSWs and their needs.

    Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted.

  • Advancing sexual health and human rights in the Western Pacific - 2011

    Widespread criminalization of sex work has had the effect of undermining the sexual health of sex workers, for instance by preventing them from accessing health care services for fear of criminal prosecution if found to be a sex worker. Moreover, laws permitting mandatory HIV or STI testing of sex workers and mandating disclosure of private health information to employers sanction direct interference in the private lives of sex workers.

    Extract from report
     

  • Ain't I a Woman? A Global Dialogue between the Sex Workers’ Rights movement and the Stop Violence Against Women Movement - 2011

    This is a resource written by Bishakha Datta and sponsored by CASAM and CREA. The report documents a meeting entitled "Ain't I A Woman? A Global Dialogue between the Sex Workers Rights Movement and the Stop Violence against Women Movement" from 12-14 March 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. 


    The report features the presentations from many great speakers including , Ruth Morgan Thomas, Anna-Louise Crago, Kaythi Win, Hua Sittipham Boonyapisomparn, Swapna Gayen and Meenakshi Kamble,Cheryl Overs and  Meena Seshu

  • An assessment of sex work in Swaziland: barriers to and opportunities for HIV prevention among sex workers - 2011

    The HIV situation in virtually all southern African countries is a generalised epidemic. Despite the fact that almost all adult age and social groups have high HIV prevalence estimates, sex workers are disproportionally affected, with prevalence estimates higher than the general population. In a qualitative study of 61 male and female sex workers in Swaziland, we found that while poverty drove many into sex work, others reported motivations of pleasure or “sensation seeking”, and freedoms from the burden of marriage as perceived benefits of sex work.

  • An Exploratory Study of the Social Contexts, Practices and Risks of Men Who Sell Sex in Southern and Eastern Africa - 2011

    The aim of the research presented in this report was to explore the social contexts, life experiences, vulnerabilities and sexual risks experienced by men who sell sex in Southern and Eastern Africa, with a focus on five countries; Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It sought to better understand differing and similar socio-cultural scenarios and personal life stories of male sex workers in these countries and to improve the representation of male sex workers in relevant regional organisations, particularly within the African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA).

  • Argentine Sex Workers Fight for Union - 2011

    This article originally appeared in the Metro Newspaper on the 29 November 2011.

    ‘I’m not ashamed. I’m truly proud of what I do,’ says Elena Reynaga. ‘Through my work, I created possibilities for my children, opportunities I didn’t have myself. My children went to school, got jobs. I have nothing to be ashamed of.’

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