Since other contributors have evaluated the consequences and results that could be achieved in legalizing/criminalizing prostitution, I have decided to focus on the measures that are being taken to protect those in prostitution, also known as sex workers. I have looked at a document published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2012: “Prevention and Treatment of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections for Sex Workers in Low- and Middle-income Countries.” This document is an updated version of WHO’s HIV/AIDS sex work toolkit published in 2007. The overall purpose of the document is to reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). Also, the paper strives to protect the rights of sex workers by preventing them from police brutality, sexual violence, stigmatization, and more.
In the document, the Good Practice Recommendations section was drafted based on human rights, ethics, and “common sense.” Each of the recommendations includes implications, such as implementing programmes regarding legal literacy in order to help sex workers to know about their rights. Also, other implications include health care services and universal access to condom/lubricants to female and male sex workers, monitoring sexual violence against the workers, and support services for them.
The document also gives out Technical Recommendations based on scientific evidence. Each recommendation is further evaluated based on its background, evidence, quality of evidence, acceptability (public response towards the recommendation), feasibility (availability of resources for low- and middle-income workers), and more. For example, “Screening for asymptomatic STIs” section evaluates that the respondents of the survey conducted by Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) unanimously supported periodic screening. However, screening for some STIs remains inaccessible due to expensive tests. After assessing specific points, WHO recommends “offering periodic screening for asymptomatic STIs to female sex workers” but discourages mandatory and coercive screening.
More information can be found in this public guideline. I encourage you to read through the document to learn how WHO is navigating to ensure public health for sex workers coming from different backgrounds.
Vuylsteke, B., World Health Organization, Department of HIV/AIDS, United Nations Fund for Population Activities, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, & Network of Sex Work Projects. (2012). Prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for sex workers in low- and middle-Income countries: Recommendations for a public health approach. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK304116/