Hearing the voices of sex workers

I’ve written a bit about sex work and the decriminalisation of sex work, on this blog. One thing that really stands out for me, is how seldom the voices of sex workers themselves are heard. So I thought I’d feature some of the best examples I’ve come across of sex workers presenting their own stories and views.

I love this simple but very effective video by the New York based advocacy organisation, Sex Work Awareness. It’s called I am a Sex Worker:

Quite a lot longer, is this video produced jointly by Witness and the Healthy Options Project Skopje (HOPS) campaign, promoting zero-tolerance of violence against sex workers in Macedonia:

Moving away from video for a moment, it’s really worth reading a recent publication by Akina Mama wa Afrika, called When I Dare to be Powerful. It’s part of a rising sex-worker movement in East Africa, and has been labelled a sex-worker oral herstory. It was written by Zawadi Nyong’o and edited by Christine Butegwa and Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe. It can be found here, on the site of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects.

Also have a look at this article on Reuters AlertNet, about sex workers in East Africa rising against violence and prejudice.

Finally, back to video. South Africa is currently re-evaluating its laws on adult sex work. Organisations representing sex workers, such as the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT) and Sisonke, are advocating for decriminalisation of sex work. But others are promoting a model similar to the one adopted in Sweden, where it is not illegal to be a sex worker, but the buying of sex is criminalised — so the focus is on punishing the client, rather than the sex worker.

It may sound like a good idea in theory — but many sex workers disagree. Here is Swedish sex worker, Pye Jacobsson, sharing her views about why this model is bad for sex workers. It’s called, We Want to Save You (and if you don’t appreciate it, you will be punished)!

That video was produced by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) and the Sex Workers rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


One response to “Hearing the voices of sex workers

  1. Thank you for the mention of “When I Dare to Be Powerful”. It’s great to see the East African sex worker rights movement growing. We just celebrated International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th, for the first time in Kenya – hundreds of male & female sex workers marched on the streets of Nairobi, decked in red umbrellas. Follow us @dec17kenya or catch us on our facebook page for more details. http://on.fb.me/fIcrO1

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