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International Sex Worker Rights Day

One of these days, I’ll get around to writing about where I stand on sex work. I don’t think it’s a complicated stance, but it is one that mostly relies on analogy, so it takes some explaining. So that day won’t be today.

What I will do today is link you to the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance’s page on International Sex Worker Rights Day. It gives you a good background on the challenges to the human rights of sex workers, of course. This year, however, there is also progress to be celebrated, partly thanks to Woodhull.

Toward the end of 2010, demands from grassroots organizers were included in the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s official recommendations to the Obama Administration as part of their Universal Periodic Review. Among the more than 200 recommendations was recommendation #92.86, known as Recommendation #86, which asked the administration to “Ensure access to public services paying attention to the special vulnerability of sexual workers [sex workers] to violence and human rights abuses.”

Woodhull was one of the many groups that supported a policy brief that outlined concrete ways in which the government “can show progress in addressing human rights abuses against sex workers.” These included:

  1. Building capacity for states to address human rights violations through research and dialogue.
  2. Modifying or eliminating existing federal policies that conflate sex work and human trafficking and prevent sex workers from accessing services such as healthcare, HIV prevention and support.
  3. Investigating and preventing human rights abuses perpetrated by state agents, such as law enforcement officers.
  4. Investigating the impact of criminalization, including state level criminal laws, on sex workers and other groups.

The United States fully accepted UPR recommendation #86 and, in the report released to the United Nations, the U.S. states “We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitution, as recommendation [#86] suggests”.

I suggest reading the policy brief as well.

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