Conclusion we came to:
The decriminalization of consensual sex work is the best policy for promoting the health and human rights of sex workers, their families, and communities.
(please note we are speaking specifically to sex work and not sex-trade or slavery which is a different topic. Read the definitions below for further information.)
What exactly is decriminalization?
The decriminalization of sex work refers to the removal of all criminal and administrative prohibitions and penalties on sex work, including laws targeting clients and brothel owners.
It is different from legalization. Legalization is the process of removing a laws or regulations against something which is currently not legal. However, the government still maintains great authority in regulating it.
In the case of sex work, the additional regulations imposed by the government often can cause more harm than good.
10 Reasons to Decriminalize Sex Work:
- respects human rights and dignity.
- in the end it is our choice with who and how to have sex.
- helps protect sex workers against violence and abuse.
- as long as the work they are doing is considered illegal and criminalized they rarely will go to the police for help.
- protects sex workers specifically against police abuse and violence.
- In Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, a high proportion of sex workers have reported suffering sexual assault by police—as high as 90 percent in Kyrgyzstan.
- helps them have access to fair law and justice
- removes the consequences of having a criminal record.
- often sex workers become stuck in the industry even if they choose to leave because they have gained a criminal record and as a result cannot find a another job.
- improves the health situation for sex workers
- reduces risk of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections.
- promotes safe working conditions.
- can help fight sex-trafficking.
- It is observed that sex workers can be natural allies in the fight against trafficking, and are well placed to refer trafficking victims to appropriate services.
- challenges state control over bodies and sexuality.
To gain a better understanding and further explanation of these reasons take a look at this document by Open Society Foundation.
Testimonies used in our process:
Below are a few different testimonies we used within our creative process.
Documentary of 4 current and former sex workers:
This documentary and text from it was also used in our process and performance. It tells the story of four current and former sex workers.
Sex work is the act of providing sexual services for money or goods.
Sex workers are women, men and transgendered people who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services, and who consciously define those activities as income generating even if they do not consider sex work as their occupation.
Prostitution specifically engaging in the act of sex for money.
Sex-trafficking is the illegal business of recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person, and especially a minor, for the purpose of sex.
Organizations which support the decriminalization of Sex Work:
- Human Rights Watch – article
- UNAIDS – article
- Amnesty International – policy recommendation
- World Health Organization –
- UNFPA – Qualitative Study
- medical journal The Lancet
Insight into our process:
“How did we work research this topic through an artistic process? I believe the challenge was exactly that. Within the work we were both trying to understand a topic which is extremely complex, and somewhat new to many of us in the project, as well as figure out how to create an artistic representation which could convey to the audience what we had come to understand. This is also a big question: if everything we say is subjective, what is the subjective perspective we want to give right now through this work?
Within the process of research and exploration we worked with many different mediums. We did physical research with BMC (body-mind centering) focusing on the pelvis (a part of the body deeply connected with this topic) as well as contact improvisation where we could research touch and being in relation with other people. We explored with costumes relevant to the topic, specifically pajamas, allowing them to influence our movement and creation. We also had a lot of reflection and conversation in the process through speaking, writing and drawing. And it was extremely beneficial to have our dramaturg there who constantly brought in the theoretical side through academic research she had done. But artistically, I felt we were constantly trying to find tasks which could help us better understand the experiences and stories we were learning about to then be able to represent them on stage.
As a performer in the project, the most challenging but also most powerful part of the work was trying to embody the story and situation of sex workers and gain an understanding of their lives, work and perspectives. It humbled me to realize that there really is not so much difference between us. I believe this is an important life lesson for us all to remember. That even with people we may feel so different from and cannot identify with when we take away the masks we where and prejudices we carry with us, and look at the essence of the human being and our stories, we can realize we’re not all that different in the end.”
– Rebecca Mary Narum