The topic of sex work can illicit strong stereotypes, incorrect assumptions, and ill-advised suggestions on how this issue should or should not be addressed by the criminal legal system and society in general. Regardless of what comes to mind, people who engage in sex work frequently face dehumanizing treatment simply based on what they do for a living – who they ARE is rarely part of the equation.
Our goal this season was to humanize many of the controversial and misunderstood topics related to sexual harm by speaking to the people directly impacted by them. In “Understanding Sex Work” we speak to Sive Sanchez – a person that has engaged in sex work for many years in San Francisco. During our conversation, they demystify what sex work is, who does it, and why. Sive also shares some of the struggles they have faced and many of them stem from the fact that sex work is illegal.
There has been a significant shift to decriminalize sex work. A critical part of this conversation has to do with police interactions with sex workers. Research shows that in criminalized contexts, sex workers are often physically or sexually coerced by police through threat of detention, violence (including rape) or extortion. Due to discrimination and mistrust of police and the high risk of being arrested, sex workers are not likely to report crimes against them or cooperate with the police in investigations. Decriminalization would also eliminate the fear of arrest that frequently prevents sex workers from seeking justice and would better protect sex workers from violence at the hands of their clients (see list of resources below).
We learned a lot from our conversation with Sive and believe that their story is invaluable for you to hear. We hope this will encourage you to lean into difficult conversations and share what you have learned here. As always, we thank you for continuing to journey with us Beyond Fear.
For additional reading, check out:
Research for Sex Work
Open Society Foundations – Understanding Sex Work in an Open Society
The Sex Workers Project
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Decriminalize Sex Work
Follow us on Facebook at Beyond Fear: The Sex Crimes Podcast, on Instagram @beyondfearpodcast, and on Twitter @fearcrimes. If you have questions about this or any of our previous episodes, or if there is anything you’d like to know about our work, we hope you will email us at email@example.com or you can contact us on our site here.