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Don’t Ban Sex Work

Many women and men living in poverty choose sex work because it provides the highest pay. Others sell sex to support their families, augment their incomes as nurses or teachers, or put themselves through school.

Uniformly, sex workers abhor trafficking and have developed effective strategies to help trafficked and under-age persons escape danger and get the assistance they need.

Laws like those in Sweden that punish customers of sex workers are a precarious outgrowth of the abolitionist approach and have not been proved to reduce trafficking or curb demand for sex.

Pushing sex work further into the shadows exposes these workers to enhanced risks, including police extortion and violence.

To call every person engaging in sex work a victim is misleading and condescending. The health and rights of sex workers must be protected — especially from those who wield their morality like a sword.

Sue Simon
Director, Sexual Health and Rights Project, Open Society Institute

New York, Oct. 9, 2007