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Report: Sex Workers Face Widespread Abuses of Civil and Human Rights

Written by Penelope Saunders for - News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

This Friday, November 5, 2010, the United States will be reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The UPR is a relatively new way of addressing human rights in the UN system that came into being in 2008. During the review of the U.S. on Friday, other countries will ask questions about this country’s overall human rights record and propose recommendations that the United States will need to respond to over the next three months. The session can be viewed online as a webcast. This review is a historic occasion because the U.S. typically has a limited engagement with international human rights treaties and mechanisms.

Advocates for the rights of sex workers used the upcoming review of the United States to prepare the first comprehensive national statement on the rights challenges faced by people in the sex trade and people who are affected by anti-prostitution policies more generally (download a PDF of the 5 page report here). The report illustrates the ways in which stigmatization and criminalization of sex workers in the United States result in widespread abuses of civil and human rights, including the right to be free from discrimination; freedom from torture; the right to healthcare; and the right to equal protection under the law. Read more