The sex workers’ rights movement has, in the last few years, taken an unprecedented leap in visibility and recognition. Global organisations such as Amnesty International, the World Health Organization and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association have publicly supported sex workers’ rights. Prominent politicians such as the president of South Africa have called for decriminalisation. Particularly with regard to legal reform, the demands of sex workers have reached a tipping point.

Paradoxically, support has also increased for those who oppose sex workers’ rights in the belief that they exacerbate gender inequality and lead to trafficking. This has been particularly true in the policy-making arena. Due to the well-funded advocacy of these abolitionist groups, political support for the ‘Swedish model’, which criminalises the clients of sex workers but not the sale of sex itself, has continued to grow.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of Sweden’s proclaimed flagship feminist law, which has, since 1999, taken root in many other parts of Europe and the world. Despite the negative impact of this law on sex workers, and particularly on migrant sex workers in an increasingly xenophobic Europe, Sweden and France are now united in promoting the model globally.

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Rights not rescue for migrant Sex Workers by Luca Stevenson

May 14th, 2019