Publications & Tools
We have organised our growing library of publications and tools to better serve the sex worker-led movement, funders, and allies. We have highlighted key topics that intersect with our work including participatory grantmaking, donor finders, and other work contributed from regional networks, sex worker funders, and other organisations that support sex worker rights.
The data presented in this fact sheet is for the period December 2020 – November 2021 and has been captured among sex workers in Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe as part of the Hands Off programme. Peer educators, rights defenders, outreach workers, paralegals and sex worker focal points are often one of the first contacted by sex workers after they have experienced violence. These first responders document the cases of human rights violations using confidential and secured tools.View
This communications toolkit was commissioned by the Levi Strauss Foundation and written by Leon Mar. It is a resource primarily intended for internal use by individuals and organisations seeking support for sex work-related programs from prospective donors and philanthropic institutions. The messaging contained herein (but not the toolkit itself) is aimed at prospective donors who are either under-informed or misinformed with regard to sex work issues but whose financial support is potentially desirable to advance the human rights of sex workers.View
This 2008 report provides extensive research relating to human rights violations of sex workers in Kenya. From it’s Executive Summary: “Currently, Kenyan national law criminalises the involvement of third parties in sex work. Municipal by-laws outlaw ?loitering for the purpose of prostitution,? ?importuning? for the purpose of prostitution and ?indecent exposure,? criminalizing sex work itself for all intents and purposes. Researchers interviewed 70 women sex workers, held six focus groups with sex workers across Kenya, interviewed public officials and convened a focus group with police in order to find out how this framework affects sex workers. This study found that Kenya breaches, in its law and practices relating to the treatment of sex workers, its own constitutional provisions and standards contained in international human rights instruments.” Also published on our website: [RUF Post – Why Sex Work should be Decriminalised] and funded by Open Society Foundation.View
The meeting Donor Dialogue: Donor Collaboration to Advance the Human Rights of Sex Workers brought together sex worker activists and donors with backgrounds in human rights, women’s rights, global health and social justice to strategize on the establishment of a formal donor collaboration mechanism to advance the rights of sex workers. A background report was commissioned to examine the current context of sex work and human rights, the range of organizations currently working to advance sex worker rights, and the expectations of the involved donors for the proposed collaboration. Co-organized by Mama Cash and the Open Society Institute’s Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP), in collaboration with AIDS Fonds, American Jewish World Service, Global Fund for Women, HIVOS, and the Oak Foundation.View
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened existing inequalities experienced by sex workers, Under COVID-19 these challenges have become extreme and have driven many already-precarious sex workers into crisis, destitution and even death.
HRFN’s report”examines the state of global human rights funding across issues and populations to explore where support for intersectionality may truly exist. The report is the first comprehensive and global analysis of when and if grants to support human rights reach beyond a single issue or community. The findings show that a resoundingly small fraction of human rights funding supports activism that cuts across multiple communities or issues. Just 18% of human rights grants name two populations, and less than 5% support three or more.”
Of all the populations explored, grants for sex workers were the most likely (71% compared to 33-65%) to be intersectional with at least 2 other populations.View
“Sex workers are adults who receive money or goods in exchange for consensual sexual services or erotic performances, either regularly or occasionally. Human rights funding for sex workers recognizes the agency, bodily autonomy, and self-determination of sex workers, and distinguishes between sex work and human trafficking. It funds initiatives to address and reduce harms related to criminalization, stigma, and discrimination and supports the development of movements pursuing these goals.” This report summarisins the state of human rights funding for sex workers in 2018 – less than 1% of all funding.View
“We reviewed evidence from more than 800 studies and reports on the burden and HIV implications of human rights violations against sex workers. Published research documents widespread abuses of human rights perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. Such violations directly and indirectly increase HIV susceptibility, and undermine effective HIV-prevention and intervention efforts. Violations include homicide; physical and sexual violence, from law enforcement, clients, and intimate partners; unlawful arrest and detention; discrimination in accessing health services; and forced HIV testing. Abuses occur across all policy regimes, although most profoundly where sex work is criminalised through punitive law. Protection of sex workers is essential to respect, protect, and meet their human rights, and to improve their health and wellbeing. Research findings affirm the value of rights-based HIV responses for sex workers, and underscore the obligation of states to uphold the rights of this marginalised population.”View
In 2013, The WHO together with UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNDP the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and the World Bank published ‘Implementing Comprehensive HIV/STI Programmes with Sex Workers: Practical Approaches from Collaborative Interventions’ (or the SWIT as the document has become known). The SWIT reaffirms that the health of sex workers doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that countries should work towards the decriminalisation of sex work, and the empowerment and self-determination of sex working communities, as a fundamental part of the fight against HIV.View
As the world has been shaken by COVID-19, those most marginalized, stigmatized, and criminalized have been pushed further into poverty, to the grave detriment of their health and human rights. Sex workers have not only been seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by governments’ emergency responses that, in many contexts, have been punitive, overbroad, and/or discriminatory. Amnesty International urges governments to take targeted action to address the disparate impact of COVID-19 on sex workers and to protect their health and other human rights, including through tackling the key issues of concern that sex workers have raised since the outbreak of COVID-19, such as their
exclusion from social and economic support schemes, increased criminalization and lack of protection from violence, and diminished access to health services.
“The lives of LGBTQ sex workers in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia are impacted by many hardships, including precarious living conditions, various forms and levels of criminalisation and discrimination as well as violence and human rights violations. […] This briefing paper developed by SWAN aims to fill the gap in knowledge about LGBTQ sex workers in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.” Available in English and Russian.View
In 2020, Front Line Defenders issued an extensive report highlighting LGBTIQ+ and Sex Worker Rights Defenders At Risk During COVID-19. The release of the report was also documented by journalists, including The Hill. The report found that: “[i]n every country we visited, despite the risk of arrest, sexual violence and surveillance sex worker activists continue to insist on their communities? right to assemble and to exist.”View
Cora Colt, co-founder of Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective & Fund, writes, “Sex workers and other marginalised communities are in desperate need of rights and direct cash assistance, no strings attached. Everything else is a distraction”View