Procon.com describes sex work as, “’The exchange of money or goods for sexual services, either regularly or occasionally, involving female, male, and transgender adults.” In other words, this occupation is a sexual act in exchange for some type of compensation; this includes street prostitution, strippers, webcam models, escorting, telephone sex, and adult film actors. When we think of a sex worker, we envision a dirty women who lacks basic education This stereotype could not be more untrue. People who choose this line of work are of any nationality, sexual preferences, social class, men, women, queer, transgender between the ages of 18 and vary to the age of 91. (Warner, 2018) Because it isn’t a mainstream discussion, many simply do not care about the rights or issues sex workers go through on a day to day basis, while others ignore its existence completely. When discussing women’s or worker rights, this laws tend to exclude these workers and they are left in the dark.
Conservatives view sex in a more traditional manner in which only belongs to a man and woman, who are married, engaging in sexual activity. Because of these beliefs, they tend to view sex workers beneath our society and they often face systematic oppression in the eyes of the police and law because of it. There is a negative stigma towards these workers in which they believe they are degraded or forced to perform sexual performance but many choose this type of work and enjoy their occupation. As long as no one is being hurt or forced against their will to provide these services this shouldn’t be an issue. It starts becoming an issue when their rights become violated or their work isn’t valued.
According to the article, The Future of Sex Work published by the Guardian a statement released by sex workers Jules Kim and Tilly Lawless,“When sex work is decriminalized, it’s considered like any other business. It becomes subject to occupational health and safety laws, industrial rights legislation, council regulation and so on. Many international agencies such as Amnesty International and the United Nations have joined us in recent years to call for the full decriminalization of our work, our workplaces and our clients. They silence sex workers by refusing to recognize our work and autonomy. And, in doing so, have committed a great act of violence against us. Movements have ignited a conversation about women’s safety globally and, once again, sex workers are left out of the discussion. When we talk about violence against women, we need to talk about violence against sex workers.Often, if a sex worker gets raped or robbed, they have no recourse to legal action, as they won’t be taken seriously or may even be arrested. Instead of having to constantly prove our humanity or justify our profession we should be consulted and included in wider discussions about our work, sexual harassment and feminism.”
Many forms of sex work has existed in American society for hundreds of centuries and we need to finally give these workers the recognition, valuation, and rights they deserve. Criminalized this line of work is hurting sex workers. It keeps them in the dark and they fear reporting aggressive, violent, sexual assault, and statutory rape can turn into the victim in handcuffs. Unfortunately in 2014, the FBI shut down a website which contains information and background checks on johns. MyRedBook was a way for this community to protect themselves and other sex workers and warm them of any potential dangerous clients (Lukomnik, 2017). Police officers tend to view sex workers as the lowest of low in society. No American should feel there may be a possibility where they either could be turned away or arrested due to their occupation. “Police have a long history of using their power to sexually assault and rape sex workers” (Lukomnik, 2017). How do we live in a country where officers feel it isn’t necessary to protect these women, men, and transgender people? Because they view law enforcement with terror, many sex workers do not carry condoms in fear an officer will stop and search them. If a person is found carrying a numbers of contraception, this evidence is equivalent to prostitution (Lukomnik, 2017). This raises the chances of sexual transmitted diseases significantly. They have no rights and the authorities tend take advantage of this. If this line of work were legalized, this community would ensure the safety and increase the rights of sex workers dramatically.
Worldpolicy.org published an article titled The United State: Ending Systemic Violence Against Sex Workers lists the essential laws to better the environment and safety for sex workers which include, “1. Sex workers need the government to stop destroying their means of vetting clients. This undermines safety and a financial bottom line, which leaves sex workers vulnerable to exploitative working conditions. 2. Sex workers need to stop being separated from their children and denied the right to housing. These actions put an emotional strain on sex workers, and force many underground out of fear, away from health and social services.3. Sex workers need a change in the narratives around the sex industry. Sex work is not inherently dangerous, and should not be treated as such. 4. Sex workers need evidence-based laws that protect them and their right to work. The regulation of sex work under labor law in New Zealand and New South Wales, called “decriminalization,” has been proven to best protect the health and safety of sex workers. 5. Sex workers need police to enforce existing laws against violence and exploitation, including when the perpetrators are members of law enforcement agencies. In Merseyside, England, for example, where attacks against sex workers are considered hate crimes, violence against sex workers decreased and prosecutions for rape increased. 6. Sex workers need anti-trafficking advocates to work with them, not against them. Anti-trafficking funds are behind many of the raids against sex workers. These raids reduce sex workers’ ability to work together to ensure safety and reduce the likelihood that sex workers will report trafficking when they become aware of it. Finally, sex workers need to be included in the discussion about how to end systemic violence.”
As a society, we have to eliminate the negative idea of sex workers.The legalization will significantly increase the resources and life as a sex workers. But this is only possible if our society begins to validate sex workers and include them in our fight towards equality for all.
Lukomnik , Julia. “United States: End Systemic Violence Against Sex Workers.” World Policy, 23 Mar. 2018, worldpolicy.org/2017/02/02/united-states-end-systemic-violence-against-sex-workers/.
Warner, Claire. “This Will Challenge Your Idea Of Sex Workers.” Bustle, Bustle, 25 Apr. 2018, www.bustle.com/articles/115790-who-are-sex-workers-study-shows-that-societys-perception-of-sex-work-could-be-completely-off.
“What Is Sex Work? – Legal Prostitution – ProCon.org.” Should Prostitution Be Legal?, prostitution.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000849.
Salfiti, Jad, and Michael Wickham. “The Future of Sex Work – a Photo Essay.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Apr. 2018, http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/01/the-future-of-sex-work-a-photo-essay.