Prostitution and Trafficking

U.S. Sex Workers Hail Nation's New Stance

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When the U.S. State Department recently agreed to a U.N. human rights recommendation for sex workers it joined one side of an anti-sex-for-hire argument. The other side believes prostitution is never safe for women and must be abolished.

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Potential for Positive Change

But for Kate D'Adamo, a community organizer for the New York City chapter of the national social justice network Sex Workers Outreach Project, or SWOP, the resolution represents the possibility of tremendous and positive change. (This national social justice group is different from the Sex Workers Project, which is a project of the Urban Justice Center.)

"Eighty-six is a massive step forward," D'Adamo said. "We need to address violence against sex workers and their ability to access services."

D'Adamo said the recommendation is likely to establish better channels of communication between the sex worker activist community and the U.S. government.

She said that a coalition of groups called Human Rights for All has formed in the wake of Resolution 86 to draft specific policy recommendations to give the resolution real-world shape.

One recommendation is to train law enforcers on how to sensitively respond to sex workers' abuse claims. Another is to repeal laws that target sex workers, such as removing the "anti-prostitution pledge" requirements for the U.S. Global AIDS Act, which only allows U.S. funding for HIV-AIDS programs to go to groups or organizations that actively oppose sex work and sex trafficking.

The resolution alone won't guarantee sex workers get better access to health care or create safer working conditions, D'Adamo said.

"But it's just the beginning," she said. "And when I talk to sex workers… it's made the goals a little more tangible, a little more reachable. Which is, realistically, a victory in itself."


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Amy Lieberman is a correspondent at the United Nations headquarters and a freelance writer in New York City.

The funding for Women's eNews' coverage of sex trafficking has been made possible through the generosity of the Embrey Family Foundation and The Body Shop.

For more information:

Human Rights For All: Concerned Advocates for the Rights of Sex Workers and People in the Sex Trade (HRA):

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-International:

Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women:

Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA:

Prostitution Research & Education:

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Excellent article. How many sex workers are really the later result of being trafficked as teens? This human trafficking is much more prevalent than the sex 'industry' will admit, especially the men involved (traffickers, johns, pimps) and needs to stop. This will only happen when governments become serious about caring for women and girls as human beings of worth!