Certain behaviors are policed more so than others based on moral crusaders’ definitions of right and wrong. The sex workers debate is ongoing.
Stigma surrounds the sex work industry no matter the legality it faces around the world. That stigma consequently surrounds sex workers, who already are in vulnerable situations and so often the victims of violence. As well as unprotected by laws and elected officials.
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Good Morning, all of us here are at SWOP-USA are feeling the weight of this weeks disappointing news of the passing of SESTA/FOSTA. We know you all are too but we are here to say this fight ain’t over! We are happy to announce we are bringing back our Scarlett Letter, a monthly email publication. In the past it was used as a way to get SWOP specific news out to the chapters but in light of current events we are redesigning it’s purpose to connect people across the globe fighting for Sex Workers rights. Now more than ever we need to align our efforts to secure human rights for ourselves and future generations to come. Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of people involved in the sex trade and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy. All Sex Workers, advocates, and organizations whose mission intersects with our own are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in this months edition. #SWOP Chapters we still want to hear from you as well! If you know an individual or an organization doing great work please feel free to share♥️ If you want to be added to the email list please send your name and email to the email address above. Art work by @ingridmouth for sexworkerfest.com. #SWOP #SexWorkerRightsAreHumanRights #ReproductiveRights #BlackLivesMatter #ProtectBlackTransWomen #NoJusticeNoPeace
The majority of sex workers are women, though almost every type of person is represented in the sex working industry.
Women’s subordinated positions in society limit their abilities to participate in the workforce, therefore making sex work a more viable option that professions that are deemed more legitimate to those in society.
Society often turns a blind eye towards illicit behaviors once they are labeled as deviant. The result of this is the black market, where people’s safety becomes an issue, regardless of class. Though, those in higher classes tend to have more privilege within their work.
Sex workers tend to experience violent assaults due to this mislabeling them as deviants.
Groups resisting decriminalization
In Amsterdam, sex work is legalized and decriminalized.
However, some Christian and feminist women have banded together in a group called Exxpose, and have created a petition that will force sex workers to work in a vulnerable setting. Exxpose’s motivation is for sex work to no longer be legalized.
The Amnesty International Policy on State Obligations to Respect, Protect and Fulfill The Human Rights of Sex Workers acknowledges the danger in these sentiments and actions.
“Decriminalization of sex work does not mean the total absence of any regulation of sex work. Rather it means that laws should be refocused away from catch-all offences that criminalize most or all aspects of sex work towards laws and policies that provide protection for sex workers from acts of exploitation and abuse.”
— Sex Workers Project (@UJCSexWorkers) June 22, 2018
Exxpose believes all sex workers are victims of sex trafficking, which isn’t the case. They haven’t taken into account the violence that will occur when sex work is forced to happen behind someone’s apartment door.
“The petition supporters are failing to distinguish between traditional prostitutes who work freely and the victims of prostitution rings…” said Caroline, a sex worker, in an ABC News interview.
The danger of forcing the sex work industry to be delegalized is that it brings sex workers into dangerous situations.
Exxpose wants to make the act of buying sex acts illegal. This takes away income that sex workers depend on, as well as making them more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Brothels in the United States
Brothels are legalized in the Nevada area, as long as the population is under 700,000. There are currently 19 brothels operating in the state, down from 36 in the 1980’s.
Sex work isn’t legal in Las Vegas, yet it is still a place that is known for it.
Sex workers are required to get tested for STIs to help prevent the spread of HIV. Clients are also required to use protection and undergo a background check before making an appointment.
Sex work during and after the pandemic
Just like many low-wage workers, sex workers have been laid off or have been forced to take a break from in-person jobs because of the pandemic. This doesn’t mean that their income came to a complete stop, though.
Nowadays we live in a world where social media is at the center of everyone’s attention. Sex workers have started using OnlyFans.com, which is a website that requires fans to pay money for pictures or videos of the person doing something. With sex workers, it’s usually a sex act.
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Websites such as these only really work if you already have a large following.
It is becoming harder for sex workers to use social media platforms to gain these followers because oftentimes Instagram or Twitter will ban their accounts for explicit content.
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As COVID-19 escalates globally, sex workers are faced with even more financial uncertainty and health risks. The SWP will continue providing legal and social services for sex workers. Meanwhile, consider reaching out to sex workers around you, donating to mutual aid funds for sex workers, supporting sex workers emotionally and financially—any form of help will make a difference! #sexworkersrights #sexwork #covid_19
With this lack of support, sex workers are used to finding solutions for themselves and making things work. If the stigma were moved away from sex workers and we worked harder to make the industry decriminalized, we would help make their line of work safer for them.
Sex workers are diligent, hardworking, and they are fighters. The lack of compassion for sex workers is alarming and speaks often to misogynistic ideals and societal preconceptions. What we need to do is erase the stigma around sex work and decriminalize the industry.