The Open Society Foundation works to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people.
Sex work is criminalised not only through prohibitions on selling sexual services, but also through laws that prohibit the solicitation of sex, living off the earnings of sex work, brothel-keeping, or the purchase of sexual services. By reducing the freedom of sex workers to negotiate condom use with clients, organize for fair treatment, and publicly advocate for their rights, criminalisation and aggressive policing have been shown to increase sex workers’ vulnerability to violence, extortion, and health risks.
This document provides ten reasons why decriminalising sex work is the best policy for promoting health and human rights of sex workers, their families, and communities. Removing criminal prosecution of sex work goes hand-in-hand with recognising sex work as work and protecting the rights of sex workers through workplace health and safety standards. Decriminalising sex work means sex workers are more likely to live without stigma, social exclusion, and fear of violence.