Global Resources

Trafficking and the Conflation with Sex Work: Implications for HIV Control and Prevention

Author: S. Shah
Publisher: United Nations Development Programme
Publication Date: Jan 2012

The current dominant understanding of prostitution within some governments and within international organisations that provide policy guidance and recommendations to governments is based on the conceptual conflation of ‘human trafficking’ with ‘prostitution’ and ‘sexual exploitation.’ This conflation bears critical thinking, as lawmakers endeavour to use human rights-based models to address human trafficking and prostitution. Unfortunately, conflating and equating prostitution with ‘trafficking’ and ‘sexual exploitation’ has ultimately served to undermine efforts to address both trafficking and sexual commerce, while inadvertently contributing to the harm that people working in sexual commerce face from local law enforcement and from potentially violent clients and intermediaries. Furthermore, this set of conflations is undermining efforts to control HIV among sex workers. The first section of this paper reviews the history of the conflation of these terms in international law. The subsequent sections discuss the impacts of merging prostitution, ‘trafficking’ and ‘sexual exploitation’ for HIV control efforts among sex workers.

Adapted from source