Press Release: The biggest delegation of sex workers up to date storms the UN to defend bodily autonomy



Diverse sex workers from all over the world came together for the 56th UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to resist the Special Rapporteur’s on Violence Against Women and Girls Reem Alsalem’s biased and factually incorrect „prostitution report”. Despite the progressive countries and organisations openly condemning the report, the Special Rapporteur pushed for an agenda of criminalising the sex industry – inspiring a protest under a banner “Bodily Autonomy for All" during the UN Human Rights Council. 

European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA) Executive Director Sabrina Sanchez gave a first-hand account of this historic event: 

“It was incredible. The Special Rapporteur passed our rally on her way out of the UN building. She ignored us in the Palace of Nations – this time we gave her no choice but to listen to our demands to respect sex workers’ consent.” 

It is true the Special Rapporteur is notorious for ignoring sex workers’ voices: many of the submissions for the report that were sent following her call for submissions in November 2023, were published only on the same day as her report presentation at the UN HR Council. Some written contributions, including ESWA’s and The Global Network Of Sex Work Projects’, were entirely excluded and are missing from the Rapporteur's website. Global feminist movements and networks have in the past struggled with Reem Alsalem’s transphobia and hostility towards sex workers and have therefore prepared an alternative repository of rights-based submissions.  

Not even another UN level document can change Reem Alsalem’s mind. Shortly before her call for submissions, the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls published a guidance document stating clearly that all forms of criminalisation of sex work bring harm. While other official human rights bodies, world’s leading NGOs, and sex workers’ led organisations agree that a rights based approach is the way forward, Reem Asaleem continues her solo crusade against sex work, dismissing scientific evidence and lived experience alike. 

ESWA is a network of sex worker led organisations fighting for equal rights, respect and inclusion of sex workers in the society. Supported by Amnesty International, World Health Organisation and Human Rights Watch, we believe in improving sex workers’ safety, health, and access to justice - not criminalising their means of survival. 

For further information contact [email protected] or [email protected]. You can also watch the recording of our statement at the Human Rights Council here.






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