This section will expand as we identify more “frequently asked questions” and answer them for you here. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have that we do not answer here. Submissions of questions with answers from sex workers and allies are also appreciated.
What is the difference between legalization and decriminalization?
In a legalized environment, many sex workers would still be criminalized because they would be unable to live up to the expectations regulating their work. For instance, we may not be able to afford an escort license. If we work without a license, we are breaking the law. In a decriminalized environment, sex workers conduct our business in the same way any other consultant does – depending on our situation, we may work out of our own homes or through agencies. We engage in our capitalist society in the same way as everyone else in our income bracket. The difference is that we can work without fear of arrest or being “outed” to our families. We can take safety precautions that are difficult and sometimes impossible in a legalized or criminalized environment.
Why is criminalizing clients of sex workers bad?
Common sense tells us that when we make someone's customers into criminals, it affects the “seller” negatively. Sex workers, understandably, want to protect our customers because our customers bring the money to the transaction. Sex industry work is WORK. Sex industry workers consider what we do to be our “jobs” or “businesses.” The fact that the work involves an intimate experience does not make it a non-job. Nursing is a job that requires very intimate interactions with clients, yet it is not stigmatized like sex work, so no one blinks an eye. When customers are criminalized, they fear arrest and all the humiliation that comes with it; therefore, they are reluctant to share their real names or call from unblocked numbers. This puts sex workers at risk because we cannot screen our customers as effectively. Street-based sex workers have to work in dark, isolated areas so our customers don't get picked up by police. We have to jump in the car before discussing the transaction or checking out the car, also creating unnecessary risk. Another very good reason why clients should not be criminalized is because they are in the privileged position of witnessing exploitation in the sex industry. If they are criminalized, they are unlikely to report suspicious or exploitative circumstances to authorities. Clients are our best allies to expose sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. We should be making it easy and safe for them to report it when they see it.
What is “The Swedish Model” approach to sex work?
“The Swedish Model” is named after Sweden because they have laws that criminalize clients of sex workers, as well as laws that continue to criminalize sex workers. Bill C36 in Canada is a copycat of the Swedish Model with some dashes of purely Canadian human rights violations to add flavour. Interestingly, in Sweden, the criminalization of clients is a so-called “feminist” construct; whereas, in Canada, it is a "religious right" construct. Another case of SWERFs and religious moralists sharing ideologies.