THIRD WAVE FOUNDATION SUPPORTS THE WORK OF YOUNG PEOPLE TO MAKE POWERFUL CHANGE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.
We do not believe that sex work is a cause of that violence or oppression, nor do we believe that seeking to prohibit safe and consensual sex work or the demand for it is the solution to eradicating gender-based inequity or violence. In fact, these attempts to criminalize sex work often have the unintended consequence of leaving young people even more vulnerable. Prohibitions on sex work — even when targeted at third-parties such as customers and advertising venues — criminalize young people and force them further underground in order to meet their survival needs. As a result, they are more vulnerable to violence and isolated from one another and from rights advocates.
THIRD WAVE SUPPORTS YOUNG PEOPLE ENGAGED IN SEX WORK AND IMPACTED BY THE SEX TRADE AS CRITICAL PARTNERS IN ENSURING HEALTH AND JUSTICE.
WE RECOGNIZE AND AFFIRM A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEX WORK AND TRAFFICKING, AND URGE POLICYMAKERS AND ALLIES IN HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCACY TO APPROACH THESE ISSUES WITH RESPECT FOR THAT DIFFERENCE.
- They conduct research on the needs of their own communities, mapping the complex social service systems that they must navigate successfully in order to seek support.
- They operate their own health care clinics with state and city-level health partners.
- They advocate for and participate in city taskforces that address youth housing needs.
- They have developed their own programs to secure legal advocacy for their communities.
- They organize and train one another to work within criminal/legal systems to advocate for their rights.
WE VALUE THE FULL RANGE OF EXPERIENCES OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO DO SEX WORK AND ARE IMPACTED BY THE SEX TRADE, AND SUPPORT WORK THAT BUILDS THEIR POWER AND AGENCY.
Partnerships between young people and adult allies must support the vision and leadership of young people. We work in collaboration with young people to secure the resources they need to continue creating a healthy and just world. We urge policymakers who seek to protect young people from violence to include young people’s expertise at every level of their decision-making. We also urge our community partners and allies to center the voices and experiences of young people who do sex work and who are impacted by the sex trade when advocating for their human rights.
Written by: Melissa Gira Grant
Originally published by Third Wave Foundation September 17th, 2010