Sex Workers’ Rights

The Red Umbrella Fund is the only global fund dedicated to supporting and promoting the rights of sex workers.

Sex workers all over the world face widespread violations of their human rights. Criminalisation and the severe stigma attached to sex work gives license to those who commit crimes of violence against sex workers and deny their humanity. It also makes it almost impossible for sex workers to access justice, healthcare, and social security systems.

Sex workers would not be at such high risk of violence if they were respected as people and as workers, and if they felt free to seek help and protection without fear of being stigmatised, jailed, abused, and disregarded – in other words, if their human rights were respected.

Sex worker-led groups struggle to access funding for mobilising around a rights-based paradigm. Many donors limit their funding specifically to initiatives that address the health (especially HIV) risks associated with sex work. Other programmes, often communicated as anti-trafficking initiatives, focus on ‘rescuing sex workers’ even when they do not want to be rescued. This approach is stigmatising and violates the rights of sex workers. It also drives many underground and away from essential services and mutual support.