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OSI and partners organize anti-trafficking and sex worker rights meetings

December, 2008 – Two meetings were organized by SHARP/OSI in collaboration with the Program on Human Trafficking and Forced labor, CREA (Creating Resources of Empowerment in Action) and NSWP (Network of Sex Work Projects). While the first meeting brought together sex worker activists and experts on trafficking issues to discuss concerns of rights violations in the already implemented anti-trafficking approaches, the second meeting was dedicated to creating a space for a dialogue between donors, sex worker rights activists and anti-trafficking activists to discuss possibilities to support sex workers’ rights within anti-trafficking framework.

The last decade has seen increased global attention and resource allocation to combating trafficking in persons, particularly into the sex sector. Debates continue on whether many of the anti-trafficking policies and programs being promoted are an effective response to helping trafficking victims, and what the extent of the intended and unintended consequences of these measures are on sex workers. Exactly how have the anti-trafficking models that rely on the criminalization of prostitution impacted trafficking and the rights and health of sex workers? In December 2008, the Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP) collaborated with partners to hold two meetings exploring these issues.

The first meeting was hosted by SHARP and organized by Ann Jordan, from the Program on Human Trafficking and Forced Labor at American University's Center on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law , brought together a dozen experts on trafficking and sex work for a briefing with Joy Ezeilo, the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.

Discussions focused on the impact of legal and regulatory frameworks relevant to trafficking and sex work, and how the conflation of prostitution and trafficking affects non-prostitution related anti-trafficking work. Given the concerns about rights violations in some existing anti-trafficking approaches, one recommendation was further research on effective, rights-based anti-trafficking strategies.

Following this briefing, SHARP worked with Creating Resources for Empowerment in Action (CREA) and the Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) to organize a Donor-Activist Dialogue on Sex Work and Trafficking, which brought together 35 donors, researchers, anti-trafficking activists, and sex worker rights activists from around the world to exchange views and generate ideas on supporting sex worker rights within anti-trafficking frameworks. A summary of these meetings is available in the Sexuality Policy Watch newsletter.

Source: Open Society Institute website

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