Activist Sonja Dolinsek discusses the rights of sex workers.
Sonja Dolinsek is a German-Italian blogger and a Berlin-based researcher, whose work focusses on the history of prostitution and sex workers’ rights in 20th century Germany. She has studied political science, history and philosophy at various universities, including the University of Bologna, Sciences Po Rennes, Brown University, and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Dolinsek is the founder and editor of the German online magazine, Menschenhandel Heute (Human Trafficking Today), where critical analyses of human trafficking policies and reports and their impact on migrants, sex workers and human rights are published. Dolinsek is committed to a human rights based approach to human trafficking, as well as to the strengthening of the rights of sex workers and (undocumented) migrants.
The Parliamentary Assembly is investigating the issue of human trafficking, the sex trade and the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services, with a report scheduled to be presented by José Mendes Bota, its General Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, at the assembly’s April Spring session.
Witness 1 : Livia Aninosanu – Loverboys, minors and the sex trade
Witness2 : Roshan Heiler – human trafficking and the sex trade in Aachen
Witness 3: Sonja Dolinsek – Is anti-trafficking really a fight against sex work?
A few years back, it was 2009, I stumbled upon the first media report on “forced prostitution”. Needless to say, I was shocked that such a thing could exist in our societies. Since then, I have been working on the topic of “human trafficking” with a particular interest on a human rights-based approach. It is in this context that I became aware of the criticism of sex workers’ organisations, as well as human rights groups, towards a certain anti-trafficking framework.
According to La Strada International, a “human rights based approach integrates core human rights principles, such as participation, non-discrimination and empowerment, and opposes anti-trafficking measures that may harm the human rights of trafficked persons or other affected groups“ and in particular human rights based anti-trafficking policies are not used „to directly or indirectly discriminate against women, migrants, sex workers or other groups.”
Unfortunately, there is a growing international to trend to define prostitution as a form of violence, in particular “violence against women” and hurtful to gender equality. Many people believe that prostitution is not compatible with human dignity or human rights.
As a consequence, many people conflate human trafficking for sexual exploitation with prostitution or, as I would rather call it, with “sex work” (paid sexual or sexualized encounters among consenting adults of all genders).
More from Sonja Dolinsek…