sex work vs sex trafficking

Sex Work Vs Sex Trafficking

Evie Plumb ·

The biggest problem sex workers face in their career is the convolution of their work and sex trafficking – these are two VERY different things.

Let's briefly highlight the differences between the two and why this is such a big issue! 

What is ‘Sex Work’?

Sex work includes adults of all genders and can be described as any job/financial transaction that stimulates sexual thoughts in a person mentally or physically, however, definitions can vary. Some examples of sex work are as follows but are not limited to:

  • Porn Acting
  • Camming
  • Stripping
  • Phone Sex Operating
  • Escorting
  • Sugar Babies
  • Prostitution (this term is not really used anymore)

Sex work in many countries is still criminalised which can undermine their ability to seek justice for crimes against them like sexual assault for example.

What is ‘Sex Trafficking’

Sex trafficking is a very prevalent global problem and is often confused with sex work.

Sex trafficking is illegal and involves a person being threatened, abducted or any other means of coercion into non-consensual sexual acts and exploiting them.

Some of the victims of sex trafficking can be young children who have been trafficked from other countries against their will.

Trafficking is also not unique to the sex industry, agricultural trafficking is very common too.

Many anti-trafficking organisations see all sex workers as victims which can be super harmful.

Why is it so important to not confuse the two?

Confusing sex work & sex trafficking can have a massive impact on a sex worker's livelihood. They are often being forced into help programmes or being criminalised.

Shutting brothels and other venues without proper investigation deprives sex workers of control over their situation and most importantly safe working conditions.

On top of this, safe online sites are being shut down purely because they are sex-related, making it even harder to make a living. 

A government should not be telling consenting adults who they can have sexual relations with and on what terms. 

Sex trafficking is a very serious issue, but it is very different to regulated sex work and these people are not victims.

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