Sex workers' rights

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Bronze statue Belle in Amsterdam's red-light district De Wallen, in front of the Oude Kerk. It was unveiled in March 2007 with the inscription "Respect sex workers all over the world."
The term sex worker rights encompasses a variety of aims being pursued globally by individuals and organizations that specifically involve the human and labor rights of sex workers and their clients.

The goals of these movements are extremely diverse, but generally aim to destigmatize sex work and ensure fair treatment before legal and cultural forces on a local and international level for all persons in the Sex industry.



In most countries, even those where sex work is legal, sex workers of all kinds are stigmatized and marginalized, which can prevent them from seeking legal redress for discrimination (for e.g., racial discrimination by a strip club owner, dismissal from a teaching position because of involvement in the sex industry), non-payment by a client, assault or rape. Clients of sex workers may also be stigmatized and marginalized, in some cases even more so than sex workers themselves. For instance, in Sweden, Norway and Iceland, it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute).[1]

Employment Issues

Prostitution Employment Issues

Depending on regional law, sex workers' activities may be regulated, controlled, tolerated, or prohibited.

For example, prostitution is illegal in many countries, but it is fully legalized in several jurisdictions, including Netherlands, Germany, some Australian states, and several counties in the state on Nevada.

Legalization of Prostitution

The legalization of sex work often means additional restrictions and requirements placed on sex workers as well as registering with official government offices.

Decriminalization of Prostitution

Many sex workers favor decriminalization over legalization. Decriminalization involves a focus on laws which protect the rights of sex workers, such as those against coercion into or to stay in sex work, while all consensual sexual contact between adult sex workers and adult clients would not be criminalized.

Illegal Prostitution

Strip Club Employment Issues

House Fees

Dominatrix Employment Issues

Conflation with Prostitution


Sex worker activists and advocates argue that sex workers should have the same basic human and labour rights as other working people[2]. Catherine Healy, a sex workers' rights activist from New Zealand, has co-edited a book Taking the Crime Out of Sex Work which argues decriminalization has resulted in better working condition for prostitutes in New Zealand.

For example, the Canadian Guild for Erotic Labour calls for the legalization of sex work, the elimination of state regulations that are more repressive than those imposed on other workers and businesses, the right to recognition and protection under labour and employment laws, the right to form and join professional associations or unions, and the right to legally cross borders to work.

Also, the legalization of sex work would allow it to be carried out in better organized circumstances (e.g., legal brothels), where standard industry practices (e.g., practicing condom use and regular health checkups for sex workers) could reduce the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

See also


  1. ^ "The laws on prostitution in Sweden make it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them.",
  2. ^ [Weitzer, Ronald. 1991. "Prostitutes' Rights in the United States," Sociological Quarterly, v. 32, no.1, pages 23-41]

Further reading

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North America