sex work

arvan's picture

How To Be an Ally To Sex Workers

1) Don’t Assume. Don’t assume you know why a person is in the sex industry. We’re not all trafficked or victims of abuse. Some people make a choice to enter this industry because they enjoy it, others may be struggling for money and have less of a choice.

2) Be Discreet and Respect Personal Boundaries. If you know a sex worker, it’s OK to engage in conversation in dialogue with them in private, but respect their privacy surrounding their work in public settings.  Don’t ask personal questions such as “does your family know what you do?” If a sex worker is not “out” to their friends, family, or co-workers, it’s not your place to tell everyone what they do.

3) Don’t Judge. Know your own prejudices and realize that not everyone shares the same opinions as you. Whether you think sex work is a dangerous and exploitative profession or not is irrelevant compared to the actual experiences of the person who works in the industry. It’s not your place to pass judgment on how another person earns the money they need to survive.

arvan's picture

Demography and sex work characteristics of female sex workers in India

Here is a good, solid report on sex-workers in India.  It can be found online here.  There are many sides to the topic of sex work.  For every sex worker there is a unique story of that life, their sex and their experiences.  This article says more about the economic realities of a woman's value in a society than it does about sex. 

For these women in poverty working in the sex trade, sex itself is not the violation. 

Being dehumanized, brutalized, infected, neglected and reviled because they are women is the great violation.

(Image courtesy of Boston Globe)

Authors: Rakhi Dandona, Lalit Dandona, Anil Kumar, Juan Pablo Gutierrez, Sam McPherson, Fiona Samuels, Stefano M Bertozzi, and the ASCI FPP Study Team



The majority of sex work in India is clandestine due to unfavorable legal environment and discrimination against female sex workers (FSWs). We report data on who these women are and when they get involved with sex work that could assist in increasing the reach of HIV prevention activities for them.


Detailed documentation of demography and various aspects of sex work was done through confidential interviews of 6648 FSWs in 13 districts in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The demography of FSWs was compared with that of women in the general population.


A total of 5010 (75.4%), 1499 (22.5%), and 139 (2.1%) street-, home-, and brothel-based FSWs, respectively, participated. Comparison with women of Andhra Pradesh revealed that the proportion of those aged 20–34 years (75.6%), belonging to scheduled caste (35.3%) and scheduled tribe (10.5%), illiterate (74.7%), and of those separated/divorced (30.7%) was higher among FSWs (p < 0.001). The FSWs engaged in sex work for >5 years were more likely to be non-street-based FSWs, illiterate, living in small urban towns, and to have started sex work between 12–15 years of age. The mean age at starting sex work (21.7 years) and gap between the first vaginal intercourse and the first sexual intercourse in exchange for money (6.6 years) was lower for FSWs in the rural areas as compared with those in large urban areas (23.9 years and 8.8 years, respectively).


These data highlight that women struggling with illiteracy, lower social status, and less economic opportunities are especially vulnerable to being infected by HIV, as sex work may be one of the few options available to them to earn money. Recommendations for actions are made for long-term impact on reducing the numbers of women being infected by HIV in addition to the current HIV prevention efforts in India.
EvilSlutClique's picture

Sex Workers Are People Too


Shocking breaking news about sex workers! 

[via Figleaf]


This is a PSA produced by the workshop Speak Up! Media Skills for the Empowered Sex Worker.

EvilSlutClique's picture

No, it's not the same thing...

[This blog was previously written for in February 2009. After a recent discussion with Arvan, he asked us to repost it here.]

Not too long ago, we had a little discussion (er, argument) about sex work. One of the biggest problems in arguing about sex work, is that so many people do not completely understand what sex work is (or more importantly, what it isn't). Sex work is not the same thing as sex trafficking or sex slavery. It just isn't.

So first, a little vocabulary lesson.
  • Sex work refers to the "commercial sex" industry and, while it is often used interchangeably with the term "prostitution", can actually include any income-generating activity or form of employment related to sex (prostitutes, exotic dancers, nude models, pornography performers, sex phone operators, sensual masseuses, dominatrices, etc.)
  • Prostitution is the act of performing sexual activity in exchange for money or goods. There are many forms of prostitution - some legal and some illegal (depending on where it takes place) - such as "street prostitution", "brothel prostitution" or "escort prostitution".
  • Sex tourism refers to traveling (typically from rich countries to poor countries) in search of sexual services.
Now here's the thing to remember... all of the above definitions have one common requirement: consent.
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