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These statistics show that the criminalisation of sex work — the consensual buying and selling of sex between adults — puts everyone at risk. It drives sex work underground — putting sex workers and clients at risk of physical violence and HIV infection while giving them little recourse to justice under the law and access to healthcare services, for fear of being exposed.
Law reform could change this. A study published in The Lancet medical journal found that decriminalising sex work could avert between a third and almost half of all new HIV infections globally in the next 10 years among sex workers and clients.
But in the meantime, clients and workers can team up to make sex work safer — and it starts with learning the business of sex. The social justice organisation Sonke Gender Justice has published a guide with what you need to know. Below is an edited extract:. Words matter. In the sex work industry, it is important to use terminology that is respectful. Before the fun part starts, you want to make sure you and a sex worker have mutually agreed on:.
In focus group discussions, sex workers were pretty clear about what they expect from clients, so take note to:. This means that clients must always expect to use a condom, for full penetrative sex and oral sex. Never offer sex workers more money for sex without a condom.
To make the experience more enjoyable for both the client and sex worker, please be clean and showered before your session. Also, being too drunk or high ruins the party for everyone. Sex workers always have a right to say no. Sex work is work. Like any other form of labour, it is the procurement of a service for payment.