‘Respecting the rights of sex workers in our democratic societies’

This piece was originally published on humanrightseurope.com, the Human Rights Blog of the Council of Europe, on February 5th 2014

A few years back, it was 2009, I stumbled upon the first media report on “forced prostitution”. Needless to say, I was shocked that such a thing could exist in our societies. Since then, I have been working on the topic of “human trafficking” with a particular interest on a human rights-based approach. It is in this context that I became aware of the criticism of sex workers’ organisations, as well as human rights groups, towards a certain anti-trafficking framework.

According to La Strada International, a “human rights based approach integrates core human rights principles, such as participation, non-discrimination and empowerment, and opposes anti-trafficking measures that may harm the human rights of trafficked persons or other affected groups“ and in particular human rights based anti-trafficking policies are not used „to directly or indirectly discriminate against women, migrants, sex workers or other groups.”

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