Protecting the Rights of Sex Workers

It’s no secret that sex work is full of all sorts of uncertainties and prejudices. And although most Western countries are rather liberal in comparison to the rest of the world, there are still social stigmas and taboos when it comes to selling your body. Sex workers risk safety every day while doing their job. Unfortunately, it seems like no one cares and that there’s no solution in sight.

From human trafficking to physical and mental health, it looks like the whole world is out to get them. Sure, some countries like the Netherlands have decriminalized sex work, but is that enough? How come none of us risk safety the same way as they do? Moreover, if hetero prostitutes have it hard, just imagine what gay sex workers risk daily.

It’s about time we faced the problems of our communities. No matter who you are and what you do for a living, no one should have the freedom to hurt and insult you for it. Sure, selling and buying intimacy might be morally questionable for some, but who are we to judge? Some of us do far worse things, and no one seems to care.

Therefore, let’s talk about the rights and problems sex workers face. We’re sure your heart is on the right side of things and that you’re willing to inform yourself about the topic. While it might not be enough to help sex workers, at least you won’t turn the other cheek when someone abuses them the next time.

Why Is There a Need for Protection of Sex Workers’ Rights?

It’s safe to say that prostitution is the oldest line of work in the world. And as such, we’re all aware of men and women selling their intimacy for money. But what’s weird about it is the fact that we treat prostitutes like criminals. They face jail time, fines, and, in some countries, even death sentences.

Society shames them every step of the way, be it in the news or pop culture. Sex workers are often seen as immoral, malicious, or even addicts. They’re being put to trial every day, and others laugh at their expense. And if you think hookers and escorts have it bad in the U.S., just imagine what happens to them in more conservative countries.

Firstly, it’s important to question why their status is illegal. They’re adults that consent to this line of business and work their asses off like any one of us, if not harder. The restrictions are actually against one of the basic human rights — the right to work and earn money. In reality, they’re not criminals — they’re just ordinary people looking to make a living.

If anyone’s to blame, it’s our government and people who extort others without consent. Yup, we’re talking about human traffickers. They’re not just fictional characters from your favorite crime series — they exist. These people force others to engage in sex and also take a cut of the profit. And while our mouths are full of prostitution, no one seems to care about what happens behind the curtains.

Protection From Abuse

Unfortunately, criminalizing sex workers doesn’t only affect their business. Although that in itself is against basic human rights, the law indirectly supports other problems these people face. Alone on the street or in run-down brothels, sex workers are targets for all sorts of abuse, both from ordinary thugs and the police.

And to stay away from jail, prostitutes must make deals with the cops, either by paying them off or letting the police officers become their pimps. Cops extort their hard-earned money, making it even worse. Otherwise, sex workers face jail time and further prosecution.

But this is not the worst thing they experience while dealing with the authorities. Some female sex workers get raped by the cops, while gay prostitutes suffer physical violence that sometimes even leads to death. Criminalization of sex work isn’t just a problem of people’s right to work and earn — it’s also an attack on their safety and lives.

READ: The Movement To Decriminalize Sex Work

And what do we do about sex worker protection? Well, we keep quiet, hoping some else is going to solve the problem. Not even social services and NGOs can do anything about it. This problem is way bigger than you might think. It’s paramount to talk about it now more than ever.

Legalization vs. Decriminalization

It’s well-known that some countries in the world don’t see prostitution as a criminal offense. The most popular example is the Netherlands, with its Red-Light District in Amsterdam. People all over the globe visit the Land of Tulips to pay and have sex legally. But what’s the difference between legalization and decriminalization of prostitution?

It’s a common misconception that these two things are the same. Sure, they’re similar in some ways, but they don’t mean the exact thing. Therefore, it’s important for people to understand the difference between these two concepts. It might help you realize the broader context of troubles that sex workers have across the globe.

Legalization means that there are exact laws that apply to a certain line of work and service. Moreover, it implies that the state, country, or local government allows people to have commercial sex in specific situations, places, and times. For example, Amsterdam approves of prostitution only in the Red-Light District, in verified brothels, with public health in mind, and ensured tax-paying. It’s like providing any other service.

On the other hand, decriminalization is something completely different. Unlike legalization, to decriminalize something means that no laws are applied to a specific service. This means that the police, state, or any other authority have no business in controlling people while participating in certain actions.

More Protection for Workers

We’ve already mentioned that being a sex worker isn’t easy. Moreover, it’s pretty damn hard making money, paying your bills, and staying away from trouble. Sadly, the lack of legalization or even decriminalization allows for the systematic exploitation of prostitutes. But besides female sex workers, gay individuals in the business are constant targets for extortion and abuse.

In general, the LGBTQ community was always a target for violent, uneducated masses. But since the Stonewall protest in the early ’70s, the public opinion on gay rights is no longer the same as it was decades ago. Unfortunately, some social stigma remains, and queer people still suffer from prejudices and violent stereotyping.

The situation with gay sex workers is even worse. They’re constantly beaten up, threatened, and extorted by both the authorities and civilians. It’s almost like nothing has changed since William Friedkin filmed  “Cruising” with Al Pacino in the lead role. Police brutality and all other sorts of shady businesses are going on around helpless gay prostitutes.

Therefore, it’s important to raise your voice and support them. It’s time for things to change, once and for all. No matter if someone’s a straight or gay prostitute, they deserve basic human rights such as the ability to work, earn, and be safe while you do it.

Nordic model social benefits like health-care are the least your country can give them. It’s in the best possible interest for everyone in your community, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to your horny neighbor Joe. So stand up, voice your support out loud, and help us in our fight for equality and freedom!

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