Policy Briefs

Short, factual policy briefing papers, useful for sharing with policy makers, politicians, journalists and others. (All are in PDF form.)

Responses to UN Women consultation from sex workers in Asia and the Pacific (2016)


A list of submissions to the short, online-only consultation exercise called by UN Women between 8th Sept and 31st October 2016 “seeking views on UN Women approach to sex work, the sex trade and prostitution.” A number of sex worker organisations submitted responses despite the very short time-frame and lack of any advance notice.

Community Guide: The Real Impact of the Swedish Model on Sex Workers (NSWP, 2015)

thumbnail of guide front cover

This 13 page guide is a shorter version of the full advocacy toolkit on the harmful effects of “Swedish model” laws on sex workers. It outlines how sex workers are silenced in discussions, and how these laws increase stigma and the risk of violence, among other harmful effects on the practice of sex work. It also covers how the laws impact on the provision of services to sex workers, and the additional laws which are used to harass sex workers and effectively continue to criminalise their lives.

Sex Work, Violence and HIV in Asia  – From Evidence to Safety (APNSW, UNFPA, UNDP, 2015)

Thumbnail of first page of factsheet titled There is an increasing amount of evidence available on the nature and impact of violence against sex workers, as well as what works to reduce and respond to risk of harm and HIV. This policy brief brings together the latest findings and recommendations for advocates, programmers and policy-makers. It is based on key studies and global and regional guidance released in recent years. It enables identification of priorities, and effective policy and program strategies for putting this growing body of knowledge into practice.

10 Reasons to Decriminalise Sex Work (OSF, 2015)

osf_10reasons.pngThis briefing from Open Society Foundations provides ten reasons why decriminalising sex work is the best policy for promoting health and human rights of sex workers, their families, and communities. Sex work is criminalised not only through laws on sale or purchase of sexual services, but also through laws that prohibit the solicitation of sex, living off the earnings of sex work, and brothel-keeping. Other laws unrelated to sex work are also used to arrest, prosecute and harass sex workers. (Updated in 2015 to reflect the most relevant arguments, and the latest news and evidence.)

Mapping and Population Size Estimates of Sex Workers: Proceed with Extreme Caution (NSWP, 2015)

mappingThis policy brief is an overview and critique of mapping, population size estimates and unique identifier codes and how they are used. The practices of mapping the places where sex workers live and work, and creating population size estimates, are becoming more routine. Some of the threats associated with these practices, and the strategies that are used to keep people safe and data confidential and secure, are discussed. This policy brief can be used by all researchers to study different mapping methods and their risks, as well as to improve their own research practices. (See also: community guide.)

Consolidated Guidelines On HIV Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment And Care For Key Populations (WHO, 2014)

consolidatedGuidelinesWHOThe 8-page policy brief summarises the Consolidated Guidelines from WHO, which brings together all existing guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for five key populations (both adults and adolescents) in the HIV response. This includes men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, people in prisons and other closed settings, sex workers and transgender people.) Among many other guidelines WHO recommends: “countries should work towards decriminalization of behaviours such as drug use/injecting, sex work, same-sex activity and non-conforming gender identity”

The Decriminalisation of Third Parties (NSWP, 2013)

3rd_partiesThis NSWP resource tackles misconceptions around the decriminalisation of third parties. Drawing on the knowledge and lived experience of NSWP member organisations around the world, this briefing challenges the simplistic and dangerous misrepresentation that it is possible to criminalise sex work, without harming sex workers. This resource shows conclusively that where third parties are criminalised, sex workers suffer the consequences of that criminalisation.”

“If my boss is criminalised, I can’t keep condoms with me at work”

Sex Work is Not Trafficking (NSPW, 2011)

thumbnail image of front page of briefing paper titled "Sex work is not trafficking" This 12 page briefing paper explains how sex work and demand for sex work are conflated with trafficking. It looks at the legal frameworks and media coverage that cause this confusion. And it summarises the dangers of this confusion, including the harmful impacts on sex workers’ lives and work, and on sex worker led programming. The paper offers recommendations for policy makers, donors and civil society. (A shorter, 5 page version is also available.)