The issue of human trafficking within the various sex work industries has popped up again in my twitter feed due to a kickstarter project that i won’t be linking to because i don’t want it getting any traffic via me. So i’ve had a think about it and here is my list of tips on how to help those who are victims of human trafficking in the sex industry.
- Don’t assume all sex workers are victims of HT. There are many people (men, women, trans*) who choose sex work in all it’s forms willingly and enjoy it. They are not victims, they are not brainwashed. They are doing a job they chose, and generally like.
- Do not assume any sex worker who has a bad day and feels the need to express it is a victim. People in all industries have bad days. Venting is healthy.
- Do not force your beliefs down the throats of any sex worker you meet, trafficked or not. You will simply alienate them, and possibly, in the case of those you’re looking to help, make them too ashamed to seek help.
- Respect the privacy and indeed anonymity of all sex workers. Never link their real name with their work without permission, never show their photo in association with their work without permission. That’s explicit permission. From them.
- Be available to talk non-judgementally. In their time. Don’t push.
- Do not use pity porn to “create awareness”. It doesn’t help. It does more harm than good by a long shot.
- Try fighting the associated stigmas, issues and prejudices that lead to forced sex work or cases where there is simply no other option. These include addiction, transphobia, poverty, judgement of single parents.
- Find ways for those who do not want to continue as sex workers to find other employment. Again, do not use pity porn to do this.
- Realise that sex is not dirty or wrong and that some of the people you’re going to come across do not want or need your help. At all.
- Remember that stigma kills. There have been several sex workers killed in the last few weeks that i know of who died because of the attitudes towards their choice of work. This is not okay. They each tried to get help, but were dismissed at best because of their refusal to be seen as victims of sex work, as opposed to victims of violence.
An important note here: i’m not a sex worker, i’m not an expert. What i am, is an ally who listens to what various sex workers have to say about their work and experience. And this, to me, is the key starting point. Listening.
This post is from my old blog, it was originally posted on July 24th, 2013