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Challenging Prejudice: Let's Talk About Sex Workers Rights

Guest Post by Peter Minkoff

We live in a world where we can talk about almost anything, as there aren’t as many taboo topics out there. Having said this, when was the last time you discussed sex work as a legitimate profession? Did you know that there are around forty million females and around ten million male sex workers out there in the world? The fact that there are probably more than 50 million sex workers out there today is a good enough reason to begin destigmatising it as a profession. We have to put any moral judgment aside and begin the talk of sex workers' rights. 

Who are sex workers?

Sex workers are individuals who provide sexual services in exchange for money, goods, or other benefits. The profession encompasses a wide range of activities, including but not limited to escort services, street-based sex work, brothel work, and online sex work. The latest version of online sex work is Only Fans, with an estimated 130 million consumers of NSFW content. We have to recognize that sex work is a diverse and multifaceted industry that will continue to grow in real life and online. 

Is sex work legal in every country? 

The fact that sex work is still not regulated in every country around the world doesn’t mean that it isn’t practiced under illegal conditions. According to Wisevoter, sex work is partially legal in 63 countries in the world. But, there are also countries where sex work has been legalized fully, and each one has regulated this area under a set of specific legal rules and regulations. 

The Netherlands—We all know that Amsterdam is famous for its Red District, a favorite tourist hot spot. The Dutch legalized sex work in 2000, with regulated brothels and mandatory health checks for sex workers.

New Zealand - Sex work was decriminalized in 2003, and it’s no longer considered an offence. However, rules and regulations still apply. 

Australia - Australia probably has the best examples of regulated sex work, with varying rules and laws across the states. Facilities like Harem Melbourne are one of the best examples of how each employee is treated with respect and safety. 

Germany - Another great example is Germany, where sex work has been legalized and regulated.  The country's legal framework acknowledges sex work as a legitimate form of employment, granting workers access to labor rights and protections.

Canada - Their laws have undergone recent changes to put more focus on protecting sex workers' rights and safety.

What are basic sex workers' rights?

Every person is entitled to basic human rights, and it’s not something that should be discussed. However, when we talk about the rights of sex workers, we need to do our best to break the stigma and provide the following. 

Safety and protection

Unfortunately, there are disproportionately high levels of violence, discrimination, and exploitation noted among sex workers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sex workers are 18 times more at risk of being murdered than the general population. Thus, it's imperative to ensure their safety through legal protections and access to support services.

Decriminalization of sex work

The solution to many problems lies in the act of decriminalization of sex work. We can view this as the right to decriminalization by implementing specific legal models or fully legalizing it to improve working conditions and access to healthcare for sex workers. Simply put, when sex work isn’t legal, it becomes invisible to the public eye and more vulnerable to exploitation and violence.

The right to work

Sexual autonomy is a person’s right to engage in sexual activities; thus, everyone has the right to choose what they will do with their sexual autonomy. All individuals have the right to choose their occupation without coercion or exploitation. The only way to fight the problem of human trafficking and coercion into sex work is to build robust legal protections and support services.


The only way to fight stigma and discrimination against sex workers is to enforce their right to non-discrimination. The reality of sex work is harsh, so they are equally entitled to protection against any form of discrimination and violence and adequate services, such as health, legal, and occupational services.

Fair working conditions and labor rights

Just like labor laws regulate any other profession, sex workers deserve fair working conditions and labor rights. Access to healthcare, social security, and protection from exploitation should be non-negotiable and equally available. The safety and well-being of workers can only be ensured if there are fair working conditions and accompanying laws. 

Whether this can be solved easily or not, we need to be open to discussions so that we can take action to ensure equal rights for everyone. Together, we can create a world where sex workers are empowered, respected, and afforded the same rights as any other worker.

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