On December 17, the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights pays tribute to the sex workers in Canada and around the world who are fighting for their right to autonomy, health and safety.
Despite strong evidence that clearly demonstrates the harmful impact of criminalizing sex work on the health and human rights of persons engaged in sex work, Canada and many other countries continue to punish sex workers, their families and their allies. In doing so, Canada restricts access to important safety strategies, which leads to serious violations of sex workers’ right to health, to security, to safety and to equality.
International human rights standards are clear. Every person is entitled to the full range of human rights, without distinction of any kind; yet, sex workers are regularly excluded from policy making processes that directly affect their lives and denied justice when subjected to violence and discrimination.
As Canada’s human rights record comes under scrutiny in May 2018 at the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, we encourage government officials, civil society organizations and parliamentarians to engage with the research and recommendations submitted by the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform and the Sexual Rights Initiative. The report highlights the particular ways in which sex workers’ rights are denied and their safety put at risk under current Canadian law. The report also sets out steps for Canada to take in order to comply with its human rights obligations to ensure all persons in Canada can live in dignity and free from violence, stigma and discrimination.
This December 17th, Action Canada calls on all human rights advocates to strand in solidarity with sex workers, sex worker rights organizations and their allies by practising the fundamental principle of universality to ensure that all people, including sex workers, can claim their rights.