Defending Sex Workers’ Rights in the United Nations Human Rights Council

As the 56th Annual Human Rights Council is taking place in Geneva this week, many organisations, including ESWA, are taking this opportunity to advocate for decriminalisation of sex work and legal protections for sex workers' human rights. 

Unfortunately, there are prominent voices spreading misinformation and calling for more criminalisation. In response, ESWA Executive Director delivered the following statement: 


Dear Mr President,


Good afternoon. My name is Sabrina Sanchez, Mexican trans woman, migrant in Europe and
sex worker.

25 years ago, Sweden came up with their “End demand” approach model, now rebranded as
“Equality model”, but it is the same old failed Swedish Model that is currently contested at
European Court of Human Rights by 260 French sex workers, most of them migrants.
Evidence collected over 25 years by Amnesty International in Norway and Ireland, and
Medicines du Monde in France has consistently demonstrated that criminalization, as
recommended by the SR VAW, has been responsible for increasing the economic
vulnerability and worsening the quality of life of sex workers everywhere this system is

Through excessively enforced third party laws, sex workers working together for safety are
routinely criminalized by authorities for illegal brothel-keeping, and ‘pimping’ each other,
having their premises raided, their phones, computers and cash seized and not returned.
Sex workers also face evictions by landlords, who are often unaware of our activities in their
premises, but under the Nordic Model police notify landlords and threaten them with charges
unless they evict us.

How can this be a feminist approach and prevent violence against us in any way?

Sex workers need legal tools to defend ourselves, not more criminalization of our lives.

Thank you.


We hope that the decision makers will choose evidence and data over stereotypes and misconceptions, and recognize the need for decriminalisation of sex work. 

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