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

  • Beyond compassion: Children of sex workers in Kolkata’s Sonagachi - 2011

    Article in Childhood August 2011 vol. 18, no. 3, 333-349.

    In 2005, children of sex workers from Kolkata’s Sonagachi red-light district formed their own collective, Amra Padatik (‘We are Foot Soldiers’), to work to gain dignity for their mothers and claim their own rights as children of sex workers. In this article the authors speak to Amra Padatik’s founder members to demystify the culture of fear associated with their lives — perpetuated through popular representations. This is not to underplay their acute experiences of disadvantage, but to foreground them as politically astute citizens and decision-makers in policies that concern and affect them.

  • Buying the Girlfriend Experience: An Exploration of the Consumption Experiences of Male Customers of Escorts - 2011

    Article in Russell W. Belk, Kent Grayson, Albert M. Muñiz, Hope Jensen Schau (ed.) Research in Consumer Behavior (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.111-126. 

    This research explored the experiences of male customers of escorts who provide a sexual service known as the “girlfriend experience” or GFE.

    Methodology/approach: A combination of depth interviews and netnography is used to study how men experience the GFE.

  • Can rights stop the wrongs? Exploring the connections between framings of sex workers’ rights and sexual and reproductive health - 2011

    Background

    There is growing interest in the ways in which legal and human rights issues related to sex work affect sex workers’ vulnerability to HIV and abuses including human trafficking and sexual exploitation. International agencies, such as UNAIDS, have called for decriminalisation of sex work because the delivery of sexual and reproductive health services is affected by criminalisation and social exclusion as experienced by sex workers.

  • Casa Xochiquetzal : sex workers rights in action - 2011

  • Chickenheads, agents, mommies, and jockeys: the social organization of transnational commercial sex - 2011

    An article in Crime, Law and Social Change Volume 56, Number 5, 463-484.

  • Clients of Female Sex Workers: A Population-Based Survey of China - 2011

    An article in the J Infect Dis. (2011) 204 (suppl 5): S1211-S1217.

    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.

  • Combating trafficking in sex work sites‐Durbar’s successes and challenges - 2011

    Durbar, (a sex worker group in Kolkata,)   has been carrying out Anti

  • Commercial Sex Work in Addis Ababa - 2011

    Unlike the situation a few decades ago, commercial sex in Addis Ababa has increasingly become an occupation of women born and brought up in the city.

    A new study, “Poverty and the Social Context of Sex Work in Addis Ababa”, by Bethelehem Tekola*, indicates that more than 50% of the women who are engaged in commercial sex are born and grew up in the city.

  • Common Human Rights Violations Experienced by Sex Workers - 2011

    This document pairs common violations experienced by sex workers with relevant provisions of major human rights treaties. The violations included in this document were reported by European and Central Asian sex worker organizations and advocates, who are members of the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN).

  • Communication and community mobilization, anti-trafficking and legitimization, participation and empowerment: HIV/AIDS intervention and the Sonagachi Project - 2011

    HIV/AIDS infection is a serious threat to the health and welfare of India. HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STI) are primarily propagated through heterosexual intercourse in India. Sex workers having multiple partners are considered to be conduits of virus transmission. Hence interventions targeting sex workers form a significant part of India's effort to curb the HIV/AIDS pandemic within its borders.

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