1999 – Sex Work And Sexual Health (SWASH) established, Japan

thumbnail of SWASH web site
Sex Work and Sexual Health, SWASH

Sex Work And Sexual Health (SWASH), an organisation for women and trans* sex workers, was established in 1999 by Japanese sex workers and allies including academics, health professionals, students and members of the broader community.

With a focus on engaging in sex worker-led sexual health prevention and advocacy, since founding, SWASH’s work has included:

  • undertaking a number of research projects with academic institutions, focusing on issues impacting on women engaged in the sex industry;
  • providing a community center space for sex workers;
  • facilitating regular study groups for students;
  • operating a telephone hotline service;
  • creating peer resources focusing on STI/ HIV prevention, transmission and treatment;
  • undertaking advocacy, including performances by members, within a number of different forums; and
  • facilitating workshops aimed around issues including nature, customs and manners.

SWASH members are dedicated to increasing the visibility of Japanese sex workers and migrant workers engaged in the national sex industry. Through lecturing at universities and symposiums, SWASH advocates for the increased recognition of sex worker human rights and aims to raise the profile of migrant sex workers. Many migrant workers in Japan do not hold a residential visa which allows them to work; hence, according to SWASH research, many female migrant sex workers opt to marry Japanese men, which potentially leave them vulnerable to domestic violence and economic exploitation.