Lia Claire Scholl

Rogue Reverend

14 August, 2009

Sex Worker Rights Are Human Rights

Nine women have disappeared in a community called Rocky Mount, N.C. Six have been found. Dead. So decomposed, that investigators cannot identify how they were killed. You can read about it here.

They were sex workers.

I’m heartsick.

This is why I favor decriminalization of sex work.

On December 17, 2008, I joined nearly a hundred sex workers in a march in Washington, D.C. The march highlights the violence done to people in sex work. I heard stories.

One woman talked of having been beaten and raped by a client. Other sex workers saw what was happening. The police were called. The sex worker was given the option of having the client prosecuted. The catch? She also would be prosecuted for selling sex.

Another woman told me, “I know some day I’m going to be arrested. My hope is that I don’t have to have sex with the cop before he takes me to jail.”

The criminalization of sex work leaves sex workers without the basic protection of the law. They can’t call the cops if they’re raped. (And, yes, you can rape a sex worker. If you don’t know that, please stop reading right now. Please leave my website. Get away!) If a client robs them, they’re out of luck. Finding a safe place to ply their trade is difficult. Advertising is sketchy.

And the benefit to decriminalization? Sex workers would file their income taxes without worrying about being “found out.”

So often I have had to listen to people make presumptions about sex workers. I’d ask you, please, please, please presume the following:

    She is honest.
    She is determined to make it on her own.
    She is kind.
    She does not believe that minors should be in sex work.
    He doesn’t think anyone should be forced into sex work.
    She is generous.
    She is loving and is loved by people.
    She is intelligent.
    He is deserving of kindness.
    He and she both deserve human rights.

If we begin with these presumptions, perhaps there will be no more killings of sex workers.

Being Human 5 Replies to “Sex Worker Rights Are Human Rights”
Lia Scholl


5 thoughts on “Sex Worker Rights Are Human Rights

    That news story is heart-sickening. What a terrible, terrible way to die, alone and undiscovered.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s sad that some of this has to be pointed out, including the basic human kindnesses in what you ask us to presume at the end of your post. But it does.

    Two of my closest friends are sex workers and are possibly the nicest two guys I know. It is enraging when I watch people who learn what they do begin to form judgments based solely on their personal presuppositions about sex workers, rather than taking the time to get to know them and discover that they are no different, that work is work. I wouldn’t trade my friendship with them for anything. I count myself incredibly fortunate to know them both.

    Just to clarify…!

    Decriminalizing prostitution only protects women IF paired with jacked-up prosecution of pimps and traffickers.

    Otherwise, legalized prostitution gives pimps a competitive advantage…no taxation, no registration, no STD checks. Not to mention that extra demand means more girls trafficked (currently, 4 illegal brothels for every legal one)

    It’s a woman’s human right NOT to be prostituted.

    Jay, I agree that anyone who coerces sex workers should be prosecuted. But why not use sex workers to root out those who are forcing people into sex work? Sex workers, too, believe that no one should be in sex work who doesn’t want to be in sex work.

    But decriminalized prostitution opens it up to the same labor laws that everybody else has. You can’t FORCE someone to work at McDonald’s. That’s slavery. Same with sex work.

    Also, definitions of pimping have to be modified. Is managing a sex worker (a madam?) pimping? It’s certainly profiting off of someone else’s sex work…

    Thanks for the comment.

    It’s a woman’s right NOT to be in fear at work.

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