Human Rights Violations of Sex Workers, People in the Sex Trades, and People Profiled as Such, BPPP, Desiree Alliance & SWOP-NYC (2014)

International Commitments and United Nations Documents

On September 15, 2014, sex workers, people in the sex trades and advocates submitted a report to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council documenting human rights violations committed in the United States against sex workers, people in the sex trades, and those profiled as such. The abuses documented in the report make clear that no effort to reform policing in the United States can be effective without addressing mistreatment by law enforcement of these marginalized communities. 

In the report, Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), Desiree Alliance and Sex Worker Outreach Project-NYC (SWOP-NYC) document extensive violations of the right to equal protection before the law, the right to be free of cruel and inhuman punishment, and the right to health. Across the country, anti-prostitution laws and policies, coupled with discriminatory practices, create an environment in which police profiling and mistreatment of communities of color, transgender people, young people and immigrants occurs with impunity. In many jurisdictions, arrestees face harsh sentencing laws and receive inadequate legal defense.

The report highlights HIV criminalization in 23 states where convictions of sex workers living with HIV can result in “harsh criminal sentencing, long term incarceration, and ….. being criminalized as a ‘sex offender,’ regardless of intent, near impossibility of transmission, or knowledge of a third party.”

The report recommends holding the United States accountable for the commitment it made in 2011 to the UN to address discrimination and violence against sex workers.  The report was submitted to the UN as part of the Universal Review Period (UPR), a periodic process by which the UN Human Rights Council examines the human rights record for UN member states.