Home News The Ten Biggest Sex Work Stories of 2014, International Edition

The Ten Biggest Sex Work Stories of 2014, International Edition

image via Flickr user Kate Gardiner
image via Flickr user Kate Gardiner

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 womenin 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.


  1. perhaps in 2016 we can look back at 2015 and say the sex worker community fervently rallied behind the case being filed in California by the Erotic Service Providers Union (Maxine Doogan just announced its looking like January 2015 will be the month this historic case is finally to be filed) challenging the constitutionality of prostitution law! It’s about time such a case was filed!

    Changing these bad laws is ultimately what must be done if any real change is ever going to happen! We want an end to all arrests of consensual sex workers and clients! No more sex workers being turned into debt slaves to their respective states, no more municipalities sucking the life out of people who were struggling to begin with! No more human fuel for the so called rescue industry! They can go search for actual trafficking victims for a change, rather than damaging the lives of consensual sex workers with their narratives and activities.

    If we win that case it would shake the foundation of the parasitical rescue industry, it would shake the foundation of the entire legal system which is likely why prosecutors and DA’s are indeed paying attention. Perhaps (and sadly) even more so than many sex worker activists! Even if we don’t win the case the first time around (just as the medical marijuana cases didn’t win the first time around) as activists the algorithm and attention this case will generate (which each of us can expand upon through doing whatever we can from where we stand) should be engaged and exploited by every dedicated sex worker activist to help us push OUR narratives up against the constant lies being generated by those who oppose us and seek to harm us.

    I don’t know of any other legal case moving forward which is seeking to challenge prostitution law. If you know of any please let me know as I will rally behind every effort to tear down the injustice which sex workers and their clients face. It’s the only way we will ever really change things. All the potlucks, blogs, Twitter feeds, petitions and demonstrations in the world will never amount to what changing these laws will amount to!


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