Very occasionally, sex workers have the opportunity to
attend forums where we are discussed. We are generally
talked about – not with – regarding several issues:
our health, our morals, our risk to others and how we
should live our lives.
This lack of inclusion has made us generate alternative
ways to access our rights, and specifically for us to
look after ourselves without being scolded, stigmatized
or vilified as objects of study.
One way we access health services is to conceal that
we are sex workers. Sometimes this works and sometimes
not, but this concealment should not be necessary.
Another way has been for sex workers to generate
our own information materials, such as Scarlet
Alliance’s STI manual (Australia), Redtrasex’s Good
practice guide for health workers (Latin America),
Street Brigade materials (Mexico), or Durbar Mahila
Samanwaya Committee publications (India).
But best is when sex workers and health providers
work together to develop joint strategies. This only
works when sex workers are respected as partners, as
experts about ourselves, and treated as complete people,
not just sexual organs.
Sex workers are always being told: go to the clinics,
go to the doctor, pay attention to what they tell you.
But health care personnel also need to be told: go to
the sex workers, pay attention to what they tell you.
So let us pay attention to both sides. Health professionals
are key, respected members of society – and
can influence and change how the rest of society looks
at us. Once this is resolved, it will be easier to progress
the conversation to talk about rights, justice, and even
Keywords: Sex work, Partnership
Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement: None