Supporting Your Local Sex Worker

Raven J. Demers
3 min readJan 6, 2023

[Originally published on Triond November 2nd, 2010]

The struggle for decriminalization of sex work is a quiet one. Sex workers of all types suffer at the hands of injustice in countries where prostitution is criminalized.

In areas where sex work remains illegal, there are higher incidences of rape, violence, and corrupt authority figures who take advantage of the shadow status of a primarily female-dominated profession.

There are many who condemn sex work as a whole, but it stems often from a lack of education about the profession. First, it should be made clear that anyone forced into a life of sex for money is a slave. Without knowing and agreeable consent on the part of the individual “working,” they are being abused and raped. This is not sex work, it is sex trafficking, and many sex worker organizations endeavor to end these heinous and despicable crimes.

The negative associations between illicit drugs and sex work are also hindering the ability of legitimate workers from gaining legal recognition as professionals rather than criminals. Often, though, the people who choose to use drugs in association with prostitution were either addicts who began to use sex as a means to pay for their habit, or they are people who did not wish to enter into the business and were forced to use drugs in order to make them more pliable and compliant. This latter form of prostitution is a form of rape, violence, and abuse, and like all sex trafficking, is considered a blight by true sex workers.

Sex workers are those adults who chose to enter into comfort work of their own volition. Many of them see themselves as entrepreneurs, guides toward the sacred, or who recognized their talents could benefit both themselves financially and their clients on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level. While there is contention among some between the fight for legalization versus decriminalization, they agree on one thing: they wish to see their profession become safer.

There are enough risks in engaging in sexual activity, whether for money or merely pleasure, but to also live under the shade of illegality forces them into the background where they often feel more afraid to seek help when violence does arise. The best way to support your local sex worker is to join in the efforts to decriminalize their profession and help establish protections for sex workers from trafficking, violence, and abuse of power.

A number of organizations assist in these efforts, and they are in need of volunteers willing to rally with them, write letters to support their collaborations with clinics, policy makers, and community leaders, and discuss legislation changes with local government bodies.

When contacting any sex worker organization, make certain to show respect; honor their right to give aliases in order to protect their legal identities, keep your conversations professional, and remember that their profession serves a greater function than simple physical relief, although that alone can be enough for many who seek their services.

Decriminalizing sex work is both a feminist issue and a human rights issue. Bring sex workers out from under the dark cloud of bullying law enforcement, the constant threat of a loss of freedom, and moralizing health care workers. Support their efforts in eliminating sex trafficking that is rampant throughout the world, including the U.S. , reducing the incidence of drug abuse among certain segments of the community, and establishing clinics and laws that contribute to their health and well-being.

The following are only some of the organizations currently working toward these ends:

Sex Workers Project

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA)

Desiree Alliance

Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN)

Prostitutes’ Education Network

Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE)

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Raven J. Demers
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Speculative fiction writer. Author of Perdition, The Corvid and the Calico, and the Amakai series. Lives in a forest. SatyrsGarden.com