Lifting the Stigma of Sex Work

UCLA’s Global Lab for Research in Action, in collaboration with a coalition of advocacy organizations, activists and researchers, has launched a data-driven national social awareness campaign to address the dangers and stigma that sex workers face. The Red Umbrella Campaign will share extensive research and amplify voices of individuals with lived experience in the sex trade to inform the public about the harms created by the criminalization of sex work. “Decades of research from around the world shows that the criminalization of sex work is what makes the work fundamentally unsafe, and impacts the safety of the wider community, too,” said Janine N’jie David, co-founder and deputy director of the Global Lab, which is housed at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Sex workers have a 45% to 75% chance of experiencing workplace violence, according to research. However, it is not only physical and sexual violence that prevents sex workers from being safe, but also constraints accessing housing, health care, other forms of employment and a myriad of basic needs. “Sex work tends to be a taboo subject, despite being one of the oldest professions in the world, and public knowledge is understandably limited,” N’jie David said. “But we shouldn’t allow our lack of understanding — or quite frankly, discomfort — prevent us from tackling challenging issues.” The campaign, announced on June 2, International Sex Workers’ Day, is led by UCLA’s Global Lab in collaboration with Decriminalize Sex Work, the Woodhull Freedom FoundationOld Pros, and individual researchers and activists.


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