Best Practices for Connecting “People Involved in the Sex Industry” with Services
Our Mission is to provide a nonjudgmental, safe and supportive environment that allows “the client” time to decide what they want next and what steps they need to take to get gain stability. Our goal is to provide enough information and support in hopes that the “client” will make positive decisions that will empower them.
We acknowledge that some “people involved in the sex industry” have been exploited and or abused. We also recognize that more often than not it is not a “trafficker, pimp or even the client” that have caused these harms, but rather “the criminalization of prostitution” that makes it so easy for society to abuse this population with impunity. We also acknowledge many “people involved in the sex industry” are able to flee exploitative situations if they have some support.
Do no harm:
Effective service delivery is grounded in trust, dignity, and respect, and should operate from a principle of “do no harm” This is all the more critical given the history of stigma and marginalization for those involved in the sex industry. Whether involved through choice, circumstances, or coercion, all those involved in the sex industry face discrimination and barriers in gaining community support and accessing services that can only be undone through deliberate policies that prioritize dignity and respect and aim to build trust.
Confidentiality, informed consent, and cultural competency:
All agency personnel, including staff and volunteers with whom client might interact, should receive training on confidentiality and cultural competency, specifically tailored to work for those involved in the sex industry.
The agency should employ a policy of informed consent for all services and the collecting and sharing of information, giving clients control over the way in which any personal identifying information is shared.
The policy should be explained at each time meeting with a client, and consent should be in writing with reasonable time limitations.
Informed consent is especially critical with respect to any information shared with law enforcement or RI trafficking task force. All clients- including those known to have been trafficked must be given the choice to report or not report to law enforcement, as well as the ability to withdraw consent at any time with no consequences
(No person involved in the sex industry should be expected or required to put their legal name on any document to access shelter services)
Any data or information collected or shared for research purposes should adhere to the policy of informed consent, and occur only in collaboration with academic institutions/researchers and local sex worker rights groups in order to ensure objective outcomes.
The real-life experiences of “people involved in the sex trade” are essential when developing any social services, media, publications, policies, and legislation that directly affects this population. Service agencies should make every effort to ensure that such products are informed by, and representative of, the diversity of real-life experiences of those involved in the sex industry.
Outreach, awareness, fundraising, and media refrain from sensational imagery and information, including the use of statistics that have been either proven questioned or stem from the research of questionable methodology.
All representations of client experiences are respectful and reflective of the diversity of experiences of those involved in the sex industry.
Individuals receiving services are entitled to define their own experiences in whatever manner they choose. This includes whether or not to use terms such as victims, or survivors.
People involved in the sex industry cannot be profiled or classified to all be one way or another. They are not all drug users or helpless, uneducated people. They are simply a person “fleeing violence”. Labeling this as sexual violence is offensive to people involved in the sex industry. We don’t assume all domestic violence victims have been raped and are victims of sexual violence. So it is unrealistic to define “people involved in the sex industry” as sexual violence.
Services should be grounded in an empowerment model, and refrain from harmful languages, such as ‘rescue” which establishes uneven power dynamics. An empowerment model recognizes the strength of the client and places them at the center of all efforts whereas ‘rescue’ model deny agency.