Key Facts About Human Rights Violations & Sex Work 2015 Universal Period Review of the United States of America
Throughout the U.S., criminalization and stigmatization of sex workers, and those profiled as such, prevents them from exercising their human rights. Violations include: violence perpetrated by law enforcement; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during incarceration; denial of due process and protection in the justice system; denial of rights to housing, healthcare, reproductive rights, education, incomes, and employment. People of color, transgender people, migrants, homeless, youth, and people living with HIV bear a high burden of these violations. U.S. policies undermine the health and rights of sex workers internationally by requiring that organizations seeking funding adopt a policy against sex work. For more, see: Human Rights Violations of Sex Workers, People in the Sex Trades, and People Profiled as Such, http://tinyurl.com/UPR2015
Previous UN Body Recommendations
In its prior UPR process, the U.S. accepted Recommendation 86, requiring it to “[u]ndertake awareness raising campaigns for combating stereotypes and violence against [LGBT people] and ensure access to public services, paying attention to the special vulnerability of sex workers to violence and human rights abuses.” The U.S has pursued policies that directly contradict this commitment, putting sex workers at heightened risk of human rights abuses. In 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee challenged the U.S. Justice Department’s claim that arresting people for sex work is a humane or effective way to fight trafficking, and called on the U.S. to align its anti trafficking initiatives with human rights norms, which reject criminalizing sex workers.
Suggested Recommendations to US Government for the 2015 Universal Periodic Review
• Implement Recommendation 86 by ensuring respect for the human rights of sex workers and people profiled as such; including their rights to healthcare, education and housing; and their right to be free from violence by government and non government actors.
• Take measures to decrease violence towards sex workers and people profiled as such, by implementing campaigns to end the harms of stigmatization and criminalization.
• Take measures to end the criminalization, arrest and incarceration of sex workers. • Condition federal funding for local law enforcement on adoption of policies to end discriminatory practices of profiling people as sex workers based on race, gender (including gender identity and expression), sexual orientation, homelessness, health status, immigrant status, and other categories.
• Institute mechanisms that allow sex workers and people in sex trades to find redress for human rights violations perpetrated against them by law enforcement, including the protection of these human rights defenders from retaliation or further criminalization.
• Repeal and remove “anti-prostitution pledge” requirements for U.S. global AIDS funds and anti-trafficking funds and cease the practice of basing evaluations of other countries’ anti- trafficking efforts on their level of criminalization of sex trades.
• Reorient anti-trafficking campaigns to be in line with standards set by the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights. Repeal laws, including those alleged to address human trafficking, which criminalize commercial sex, or the ability of sex workers to work with each other or others for safety.
• Provide funding--and remove barriers such as Federal restrictions--for harm reduction and rights-based health care services for sex workers of all genders and all ages.