Sex Work, Human Trafficking & the Harm of Conflating the Two

Asijiki Fact Sheet

The United Nations says human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”. In simple terms, for a person to be trafficked they must have been, firstly, taken across international borders or moved within a country; secondly, forced or lied to; and, thirdly, abused in some way.

It is very important to understand the difference between sex work – which involves sex that adults have consented to – and sex trafficking, which is a major abuse of human rights. This fact sheet talks about a number of problems with the anti-trafficking movement and its often-negative effects on sex worker rights.