This week, a Christian youth group submitted a petition to call for criminalizing clients of sex workers in the Netherlands. They argue sex work is a form of violence against women which perpetuates gender inequality.
However, the criminalization of clients is extremely dangerous to the health, safety and wellbeing of people who do sex work. Sex workers are negatively impacted by any kind of criminalization as it puts them at risk of violence, STI's and increased stigma and discrimination, while restricting all avenues for recourse.
"CHOICE supports the full decriminalization of sex work because we believe sex work is work and see sex workers’ rights and health needs as an integral part of SRHR."
It is important to listen to what sex workers want and need to practice their profession safely (see PROUD, the sex worker union of the Netherlands). Regardless of your personal stance on the topic, there is plenty of evidence about the harms the criminalizing of clients and third parties is causing. Since similar laws have passed in other countries, violence against sex workers doubled (Ireland), HIV prevalence among sex workers has increased (France), and sex workers’ access to essential services drastically decreased (Sweden).
As CHOICE, we believe sex work is work. As an organization, CHOICE stands with sex workers in their struggle for decriminalization. We are not alone in this, and share this call with the most established human rights and health institutions such as the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, Médicins du Monde, and Amnesty International. Sex workers’ rights are human rights and labour rights. Decriminalization is the only way to ensure sex workers can be safe and healthy.
Young people do not stand behind legislation which undermines personal freedom, health and agency! Therefore, CHOICE supports the full decriminalization of sex work because we believe sex work is work and see sex workers’ rights and health needs as an integral part of SRHR.