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.  


  • Coverage of Four Key Populations at the 2010 International AIDS Conference: Implications - 2011

    The Global Forum on MSM & HIV reviewed every abstract and session at the 2010 International AIDS Conference. Their analysis revealed a 'gross underrepresentation' of key populations (men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and people who use drugs) across the 2010 conference programme.

    Unfortunately this report does not address the reasons why  sexual minorities were excluded or examine any of the mechainics of how it came about. Nor does it offer any suggestions for the future.

  • CREA research on violence against women in India, Bangladesh and Nepal - 2011

    A research study on violence against lesbian women, female sex workers, and disabled women in three countries in South Asia—Bangladesh, India, and Nepal. The study investigated the hypothesis that women who are outside the mainstream of the South Asian society suffer high rates of violence and are often unable to seek and receive protection from State agencies.

  • Criminalising consensual sexual behaviour in the context of HIV: Consequences, evidence, and leadership - 2011

    This paper provides an overview of the use of the criminal law to regulate sexual behaviour in three areas of critical importance: (1) HIV exposure in otherwise consensual sex, (2) sex work and (3) sexual activity largely affecting sexual minorities.

  • Demystifying Sex Work and Sex Workers - 2011

    Wagadu, an open access online feminist journal, has released a special issue 'Demystifying sex work and sex workers.' With articles from activist scholars the special issue, focuses on the everyday lives of sex workers.

    Susan Dewey of the University of Wyoming who edited the issue explains, "While recent years have witnessed a dramatic outpouring of feminist scholarship that situates sex work within its broader socioeconomic and political contexts cross-culturally, there remains a tendency for academic scholarship to unconsciously reinforce the social stigmatization of sex workers by depicting them solely through their income-earning activities. This burgeoning research has convincingly demonstrated that sex work is embedded in a complex social matrix that often centers upon sex workers’ perceptions of their individual choices and responsibilities...Public policy on sex work is often shown to be seriously lacking when contextualized within the broader realities of many sex workers’ everyday life experiences throughout the world. As such, contributors to this special issue offer sound ethnographic evidence that clearly demonstrates the global need for policy and legal reform with respect to sex work."

  • Draft of new Global Declaration on the Rights of Sex Workers - 2011

     The following is a draft declaration on sex workers rights and introductory article. Thank you very much to those who made inputs. 

    The process  used to develop this was to copy the ICRSE declaration format and cut and paste material from all documents together into the sections then edit them down to about 20% of the length. This means that the document attached comprises sentences and bits of sentences from various documents by sex workers and allies. 

  • Durbar Newsletter Number 7 - 2011

    The newsletter of  Indian sex worker organisation the DMSC in Kolkata.

  • Elusive Empowerment: Compensating the Sex Trafficked Person Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act - 2011
  • Evaluation Of Nature And Impact Of Violence Exposure Among Registered Female Sex Workers - 2011

    An article in Turkiye Klinikleri J Med Sci 2011;31(5):1167-78.

    Objective: We conducted a descriptive study to determine various forms of violence and their impacts on registered female sex workers in Turkey.

  • Experience of violence and adverse reproductive health outcomes, HIV risks among mobile female sex workers in India - 2011

    Article in BMC Public Health 2011, 11:357.

    Female sex workers are a population sub-group most affected by the HIV epidemic in India and elsewhere. Despite research and programmatic attention to FSWs, little is known regarding sex workers' reproductive health and HIV risk in relation to their experiences of violence. This paper in BMC Public Health therefore aims to understand the linkages between violence and the reproductive health and HIV risks among a group of mobile FSWs in India.


  • Feminism, power and sex work in the context of HIV/AIDS: Consequences for women's health - 2011

    Article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol 34, p225 - 258.

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