Firstly, few of the women we work with refer to themselves as ‘sex workers’. They are more likely to use the term ‘selling sex’ or ‘escorting’ and a high proportion do not see this as ‘work’, more as a temporary means to an end (financial) that they become involved in. Others are, or have been, under the strict control of pimps or traffickers. With this in mind, it would be a disservice to the women we work with and their experiences to term what they view as abusive, as ‘work’.
Secondly, our policy position is informed by working with women in prostitution since 1989. We’ve seen the well documented harms of the sex trade at play – violence, abuse, coercion, dissociation; the list goes so on. Having seen this and worked with women who have experienced such, we do not believe that sex is a legitimate form of work or that the sex trade can be made a safe place for women to ‘work’. To frame prostitution as ‘work’ also negates the need for exit supports when, as outlined above, we know that most people seek to exit prostitution.