11 November 2014


More than 300 human rights organizations, frontline service providers and advocates  are urging the Associated Press (AP) to refrain from using terms such as "sex work" and "sex worker" because they legitimize prostitution as a form of "work" and conceal the violent and exploitive nature of the commercial sex trade.

In an open letter to AP more than 300 people including the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women  and human rights activists from 40 nations asked the AP to adopt alternative vocabulary that reflects the life realities of individuals bought and sold in prostitution.

Studies and testimony of survivors demonstrate that the sex industry is predicated on dehumanization, degradation, and gender violence that cause life-long physical and psychological harm. Between 65 and 96 percent of people in prostitution have been sexually assaulted as children; 60 to 75 percent have been raped by pimps and sex purchasers; and between 70 and 95 percent have been physically assaulted in prostitution.

Vednita Carter, the Founder of the survivor-led organization 'Breaking Free', added "The term 'sex work' was coined by supporters of the sex industry to normalize prostitution and mask the injuries it inflicts on those exploited in it.

The letter also recommends against the use of the word "prostitute" and suggests alternative language including "person in prostitution," "prostituted person" or "commercially sexually exploited person." Instead of "sex work," the advocates propose "sex industry," "sex trade," or "prostitution." The letter also states that "teen prostitute," "teen prostitution" and "child sex worker" have no place in responsible journalism and must be replaced by "sex trafficked child."

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