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.  


  • Fiji Cracks Down on Sex work - 2011

    THE military regime in Fiji is taking on a new target: sex workers

    A report published today by the University of NSW says sex workers, especially in Lautoka, the centre of Fiji’s sugar industry, north of Nadi, have been rounded up by the military and subjected to sleep deprivation, humiliation and forced physical labour.

    Karen McMillan, a researcher with the International HIV Research Group at UNSW, said the sex workers were held in outdoor pens at an army base, woken every three hours and made to do duck-walks and squat in the mud.

  • Fuelling traffic Abolitionist claims of a causal nexus between legalised prostitution and trafficking - 2011

    Over the last decade, researchers and legislators have struggled to get an accurate picture of the scale and nature of the problem of human trafficking. In the absence of reliable data, some anti-prostitution activists have asserted that a causal relationship exists between legalised prostitution and human trafficking. They claim that systems of legalised or decriminalised prostitution lead to increases in trafficking into the sex industry.

  • Gay community, sex workers, health care providers, the police and legal representatives join in to mark IDAHO - 2011

    Kenyans, drawn from the gay and lesbian community, male and female sex workers, representatives of the police force, health care providers and also legal professionals came together to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)in Kisumu, Kenya.

  • HIV and Law in China - 2011

    The Chinese government uses the traditional strategy of implementing strict laws regarding sex work with the intention of preventing risk behaviours.

  • HIV and Sex Work in Cambodia - 2011

    Cambodia is internationally recognized for having successfully reduced its HIV prevalence among the general population from about 3% in 1997 to 0.7% in 2009. Sex work played a significant role in the spread of the HIV epidemic during the nineties. Since 1999, HIV prevalence has declined among direct and indirect sex workers, although levels remain high. The 100% condom use promotion strategy has been credited for having played a major role in the decline of HIV.

  • HIV and Sex Work in Myanmar - 2011

    Myanmar has one of the largest HIV epidemics in Asia. The first case of HIV was detected in 1988 while the first AIDS case was reported in 1991. HIV prevalence among the general population reached its peak at 0.94% in the year 2000 and was estimated to be 0.61% in 2009. The estimated number of adults and children living with HIV in 2009 was 238,000 (with a range of 160,000 to 320,000).

  • ILO recognition of Sex Workers Labour Rights - 2011

    The ILO Recommendation on HIV and AIDS (No. 200) covers both sex workers and their clients:

    Recommendation No. 200 covers all workers working under all forms or arrangements at all workplaces, including in any employment or occupation and in all sectors of economic activity, including the formal and informal economies (paragraph 2


  • Impoverished women without ID turn to prostitution in Sri Lanka - 2011

    An article by Anuradha Gunarathne on the Global Press Institute website.

    COLOMBO, SRI LANKA – Marry, a Sri Lankan woman who guesses she is in her 40s, is a prostitute in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

  • Indigenous Peoples In the Sex Trade - Speaking For Ourselves - 2011

    By the Native Youth Sexual Health Network on Thursday, June 9, 2011.

    We as Indigenous peoples who have current and/or former life experience in the sex trade and sex industries met on unceeded Coast Salish Territory in Vancouver on Monday April 11th 2011. In a talking circle organized by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network we wish to share the following points about our collective discussion so that we may speak FOR ourselves and life experiences:

  • Indonesia Jails Sex Workers for Month of Ramadan - 2011

    Sex workers and the police in Indonesia

    Sex workers being 'netted' by East Jakarta Satpol PP officers on Friday (5 August 2011). After a fight they were taken to a detention centre called Ceger Social Institution, Cipayung. “Based on the governor’s instruction, those who caught will not be freed until Eid ul Fitr.”

Syndicate content