Workers face increased safety risks, including violence and abuse
MoveUP, a union in British Columbia with 12,000, has announced its formal position to support the decriminalization of sex work.
“This is especially exciting for me because it is a campaign that I have been pushing very hard for having seen the dangerous conditions that many sex workers find themselves in,” said MoveUP’s vice-president of utilities, Rysa Kronebusch.
Sex work is defined by Amnesty International to mean the exchange of sexual services (involving sexual acts) between consenting adults for some form of remuneration, with the terms agreed between the seller and the buyer. The organization says sex workers face an increased risk of violence and abuse, and such crimes against them often go unreported, under-investigated or unpunished.
The basic human rights of health and protections are not readily available to sex workers, in part due to the stigma that they face, MoveUp said. Supporting the decriminalization is a step forward in reducing this stigma.
“It is important for organizations such as ours to step up, recognize the dangers that exist for these workers, and the need to have protections available for them to have equal access to justice, health care, and a safe working environment,” Rysa, who is also chair of MoveUP’s health and safety committee. “Sex work is work, and what we want for ourselves, we fight for all.”
Over the next several months, MoveUP will work with different community groups to push forward actions in support of decriminalizing sex work in British Columbia and Canada.
“As a feminist and a union member, I know this is an important step forward in the relationship between sex workers and the labour movement,” said Felix Gilliland, inclusion co-ordinator for the WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre in Vancouver. “In order for union activists to advocate for all workers’ safety, we must insist upon the decriminalization of sex work and make it a priority in our organizing.”