The Problem with Criminalizing Sex Workers’ ClientsOn October 9, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
I think what it is a lot of the time is that people have no experience that they’re aware of, of sex workers, of knowing any sex workers. And it makes us easy targets or even sometimes worthy targets of what is really culture’s deepest misogyny. It makes it hard for people to hear me
and see me as a person. Drug users, sex workers, we’re seen as less than. And so we’re treated as less than. The dominant discourse around sex work has been about women being vulnerable victims and it’s completely erased the existence and experiences of the many male and trans sex workers. The dominant discourse has also conflated sex work with trafficking. And so it’s really important right now that people hear another side and hear from current sex workers about our experiences and about our lived realities. The legal framework that sex workers across the globe want is full decriminalization. This is the model that they have in New Zealand and in parts of Australia. The reason why we want this as the legal backbone is because it takes the sex industry out of the criminal sector and puts it in the labor
sector. So we’re dealing more with health inspectors as opposed to police. And in New Zealand, where this law has come in, it’s shown to greatly improve relations between sex workers and the police. I think it’s more realistic that we could
have a society where we can respect sex workers and understand we deserve and need labor rights than to eradicate the industry entirely. Sex workers’ rights are human rights. We need labor rights. We need to be able to live and work with dignity free from stigma and violence whilst we work on structural inequalities that lead to gender inequality, sexism, and poverty. We have to be realistic about things that
are occurring and protect the people involved. And that means not criminalizing the purchase or the sale because the reality is that we get squeezed. It’s the worker who compromises.