Human rights NGOs support decriminalisation of adult consensual sex work

Aditus and Integra Foundation support full decriminalisation of adult consensual sex work and laws that protect sex workers’ health and safety

With the possible regularisation of prostitution on government's agenda, two NGOs have called for the full decriminalisation of sex work and for laws that cater for the health and rights of sex workers
With the possible regularisation of prostitution on government's agenda, two NGOs have called for the full decriminalisation of sex work and for laws that cater for the health and rights of sex workers

Sex workers should be allowed to practice their work on their own terms and exit the profession when they want to, and feel safe and free from exploitation, two NGOs have said.

Aditus Foundation and Integra Foundation said that their position is grounded in respect for the agency of sex workers. "An approach that respects the agency and autonomy of sex workers also requires a clear conceptual distinction between trafficking and sex work, and also trafficking and migration," they said.

The NGOs announced in a statement on Tuesday that they would be submitting their input into the public consultation on the reform on human traffikcing and prostitution launched by the reforms parliamentary secretariat in September.

"The criminalisation of sex work (including the criminalisation of clients), embalmed in stigma and shame, forces sex workers to operate at the margins of society in dangerous conditions, and increases exposure to violence, discrimination and abuse. Multifaceted and intersecting forms of discrimination and structural inequalities have an impact on the autonomy of sex workers and their quality of life," the NGOs said.

They called for the government to make a clear distinction between sex work and human trafficking as, they said, not only does it create confusion amongst practitioners, the media and the public but it can lead to laws that are harmful to trafficked individuals, migrants and sex workers alike.

"Any automatic assumptions that sex workers are victims of trafficking is detrimental to efforts in reducing trafficking and detrimental to the protection of the rights and safety of sex workers. A clear distinction must be made between exploitative situations and trafficking, and voluntary and consensual sex work," they said.

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