In 2018 the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) published the research ‘Sex workers organising for change.’ The research documents how sex worker rights organisations in seven countries address the various abuses in the sex industry and how they deal with the daily discrimination they face. The author led the research for GAATW in Spain.

The debate around sex work has been on my mind for a long time, together with my own social and cultural prejudices and beliefs as a white western feminist. As part of my job at GAATW I have also read a lot of literature on the topic. Sadly, the vast majority of these writings have only tended to confirm one of the two prevailing – and diametrically opposed – views on the issue. “In the highly polarised debates on whether sex work is inherently harmful to the people who sell sexual services, activists often fall into the trap of presenting two opposing, oversimplified stereotypes: the prostituted woman (an exploited victim without any agency) or the sex worker (an empowered, independent woman who made a free choice)”. Thus states our introduction to the new GAATW report, ‘Sex workers organising for change’.

I used to believe that a world where sex is not for sale is a better world. This belief has been highly influenced by my resistance to the capitalist logic to commodify every aspect of our lives, and was based on the idea that sex should go hand in hand with love, or affection, or some other kind of feeling that doesn’t involve money. Is this a romantic notion of sex? How much is it influenced by my religious and social background?

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Putting Sex Workers’ rights at the centre by Chus Alvarez

July 12th, 2018