The situation

Sex workers face high levels of violence and can be at risk of exploitation and trafficking. Access to justice is often limited due to stigmatisation faced by sex workers and the criminalisation of sex work. Undocumented migrant sex workers in particular risk arrest and deportation when reporting a crime committed against them. In many countries, police and law enforcement authorities can be the main perpetrators of violence against sex workers.

Our objectives

Sex workers can access justice and state protection from violence and exploitation.

International, intergovernmental organizations, including the European Union and Council of Europe, recognise and respond effectively to the issue of gender-based violence and hate crimes against sex workers in their legislative and policy agendas. 
Sex workers victims of violence have access to justice independently of their residence status via “firewalls” that separate immigration enforcement and service provision in the areas of health care, social services, education, and access to justice. -
International, intergovernmental organizations and national governments recognize the role of sex workers collectives and organizations and meaningfully involve them in designing and implementing anti-violence programmes and in the national and local referral mechanisms for victims of crime.
Human rights-respecting, sex worker inclusive anti-trafficking policies are increasingly recognized as best practice by intergovernmental institutions and nationa

Our current activities

Rights not Rescue Programme 

In 2019, ESWA initiated its flagship programme ‘Rights, not Rescue: Sex Work, Migration, Exploitation and Trafficking', This project aimed to empower migrant sex workers to fight trafficking and exploitation in the sex industry and strengthen ESWA’s advocacy on issues relating to migration, exploitation and trafficking. Through this programme, ESWA (then ICRSE) was able to provide financial and technical support to 12 sex workers’ rights organisations which developed national activities to tackle exploitation and amplify the voices of migrant sex workers. 

Engagement with EU, COE and OSCE institutions:

  • EU Platform on Victims’ Rights
  • The Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants
  • Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women
  • Freedom Collaborative