Sex work has been around for centuries and has even been referred to as the world’s oldest profession. So why are people too ignorant to see it as real work?
The stigma stems from the obvious — people performing sexual acts for profit. However, sexual acts aren’t always the only services provided. It can also include intimacy, companionship and escorting.
Sex work can be practiced in many ways, but consent is always the most important factor. If patrons are willing and respectful of boundaries, there should be no problem.
The issue is not the sex workers themselves, but rather the clients who disrespect them and the policies that inhibit them from their work. Nevada is the only state in the U.S. where it is legal for sex workers to work.
The stigma around sex work only leads to negative repercussions. A study done by the Homeless Hub showed that there was a higher risk of violence against sex workers due to them being seen as a threat to public order.
If sex work is decriminalized, the workers would have a higher chance of protecting themselves. Street sex workers would be able to work in safer areas, and all workers would likely be more protected if they were to report a violent act. Since it is illegal in 49 of 50 states, it is difficult and sometimes impossible for sex workers to be protected under law when they report anything.
A study done by an ASU student stated that in Phoenix, nearly 39% of female sex workers reported being raped by a client. It is unclear what the legal systems in Phoenix would do in this circumstance, but the violence is unacceptable.
In New York City, 87% of sex workers reported having unstable housing situations according to The Urban Justice Center. Some participants even reported avoiding sleep altogether because they were fearful of robbery, rape or other violent acts.
It’s time for sex workers to be safe doing their job. Sex work needs to be decriminalized in order for these workers to maintain their safety. That should be the number one priority rather than having to risk being put in danger in order to make a living.
We shouldn’t be shaming or hurting these people; we should be protecting them. Sex work is work, and it’s time for the stigma to be put to bed.