In chronological order, here are the ten biggest international sex work stories. See yesterday’s post for the U.S. stories.
1. Amnesty International Considers Supporting Decriminalization
In January, a leaked Amnesty International internal document about the human rights benefits of decriminalizing sex work set off protests from anti-sex worker activists and support from sex workers and public health workers. Amnesty swiftly moved to say “gotta hear both sides,” and are not expected to issue another public position until next summer.
2. New Zealand Brothel Worker Wins Sexual Harassment Case
New Zealand’s Human Rights Review Tribunal awarded damages in March to a woman who had filed a sexual harassment case against a Wellington brothel owner.
3. Indian Sex Workers Boycott Elections
After years of being ignored by the political elite, Kolkata sex workers boycotted the General Elections en masse. They demanded status as employees so that they too may receive government benefits and the removal of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act.
4. Somaly Mam’s Fraud Covers Newsweek
Somaly Mam, the anti-trafficking darling for the daytime television set, is a fraud who eventually resigned from her own organization.
5. Brothel District Cleanups Spark Protests
Rio’s public prosecutors launched extensive brothel raids to “clean up” the city for the World Cup in June. Earlier this year, though, when Chinese police cracked down hard on the southern city of Dongguan’s sex industry, publicly parading suspects barefoot and handcuffed through the streets, they received international ridicule and criticism for the move. And when the Indonesian government tried to close down the Dolly sex district in Surabaya, East Java, hundreds of sex workers rose up in protest and sex work continued to thrive online and underground in Surabaya.
6. China’s Labor Camps for Sex Workers
Lawyers and activists called for an end to China’s “custody and education”system for sex workers in June. The “black jails” have been almost entirely abolished but labor camps that detain sex workers remain an exception.
7. Missing And Murdered Aboriginal Women in Canada
In August the discovery of Tina Fontaine’s body catalyzed calls for action on the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women in Canada. First Nation activists called attention to an epidemic of women—in 20 percent of the documented cases, sex working women—going missing and being murdered across Canada. The Prime Minister responded callously by stating that the issue wasn’t “high on [the government’s] radar.”
8. End Demand Loses, Gains Support In Europe
The End Demand model—the fallacious idea that sex workers and the public will be safer if sex work clients are criminalized—made its way through Europe this year. Luckily, activists campaigned hard enough to get an End Demand addition to a trafficking law knocked off a bill in the UK this November, but paying for sex became illegal in Northern Ireland in October.
9. The UK Bans Face-Sitting, Squirting In Porn
In an apparent move to take the fun out of everything, the United Kingdom banned some of the most colorful sex acts from their porn in early December. In response, sex workers hosted a MASS FACE-SITTING near the House of Parliament.
10. Bill C-36 Becomes Law In Canada
In Dec 2013, Canada’s Bedford decision was a victory. We celebrated when Canada struck down its most oppressive laws concerning sex work, bringing the country one step closer to decriminalization. And then Bill C-36—a law inspired by the Nordic formula that criminalizes the clients of sex workers—was introduced and passed.