Dear Steven Hawkins, Salil Shetty, and A.I. Local Group Leaders,
In light of the upcoming International Council Meeting, we at the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA would like to express our support for votes in favor of the proposed resolution for decriminalization and the policies in defense of sex workers rights. As a national grassroots social justice organization dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers, we support decriminalization and related harm reduction measures as the best way to protect and empower people working in the sex industry.
People involved in the sex trade are overwhelmingly spoken for as opposed to being spoken with. Contemporary discourse around sex work which fails to include the voices of sex workers is overwhelmingly slanted towards simplistic narratives of victimization that do not address root causes of vulnerability and abuse, such as lack of social services, affordable long term housing, race and gender discrimination, immigration, and poverty. As a result, the laws and policies that govern sex work are typically misguided and harmful to the human rights of sex workers. It is time to listen to sex workers, and on behalf of the 27 local SWOP Chapters we represent, we can assert with confidence that sex workers in North America support decriminalization, harm reduction, and basic labor rights as a means of empowering and protecting our communities.
There is currently a trend to address sex work via “End Demand” tactics. This method of criminalization seeks to economically starve the industry by increasing the risk of arrest for clients of sex workers and by eliminating opportunities to advertise erotic services. Both of these measures are incredibly harmful to the safety of sex workers, they foster an environment of economic scarcity, force sex workers out onto the streets, limit the time and ability for sex workers to screen their clients, and put increased bargaining power in the hands of a reduced client pool composed of individuals who are not deterred by the threat of arrest. Rather than empowering sex workers with labor and human rights, End Demand and Nordic Models of Prostitution seek to abolish the sex trade entirely, and thus, the existence of sex workers themselves. We at SWOP USA are adamantly opposed to tactics that criminalize the sale, advertisement of, or purchase of erotic services. Sex workers demand rights, not rescue.
Thank you for listening to the opinions of sex workers as you move forward with considerations towards the decriminalization of sex work. We invite members of Amnesty International to converse with us on issues related to sex work, as our goals of attaining human rights and safety for all are a shared aspiration which we would like to see manifested.
The Board of Directors & Local Chapter Representatives
at the Sex Workers Outreach Project, USA