News26.06.2024

UTSOPI launches campaign against exploitation

Today, UTSOPI launches its audiovisual campaign against exploitation and human trafficking. The organisation points at the necessity of equal rights, empowerment and inclusion of sex workers to be able to efficiently fight abuse in the sector. Focusing on a variety of settings, the Belgian union of sex workers wants to inform sex workers, support personnel and the general public on the different faces of exploitation.

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Union of sex workers UTSOPI once again applauds the recent changes in Belgian law and shows its gratitude to the former government for these changes, including the very recent voting in Parliament of the labour law. With this law, finally, sex work is now fully recognized as work.

But changing laws is not enough, says the organisation. Even with laws guaranteeing labour rights, situations of abuse will occur. To combat this, the new laws need to be accompanied by a large scale information campaign for sex workers, support personnel and the general public to become aware of signs of exploitation and to know what to do when faced with them.

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“Know your rights”

The idea for the campaign sprang from the mind of one of UTSOPI’s members, a sex worker who herself once was a victim of exploitation. In her words: “if you don’t know your rights, you don’t have any”. After a series of talks with experts in the matter of exploitation and trafficking, and making use of her own experiences, she wrote the scripts and put together a film crew.

The result of her work and that of her team: four video’s, each one describing a different kind of exploitation, taking place in a certain context and involving a specific target group. Each video ends with a listing of the red flags of exploitation and the contact numbers of support organisations.

The harmful notion that sex work is synonymous to human trafficking

This project is made by sex workers for sex workers in need. By showing different faces of exploitation, while stressing that sex work itself can be an activity free of coercion, UTSOPI intends to fight the stigma that is a barrier in the fight against abuses and human trafficking. Stigma and shame are the largest barriers for sex workers to seek out help. To make stigma disappear, society needs to rid itself of the very harmful notion that human trafficking and sex work are synonymous. Instead, exploitation and human trafficking do occur within this sector, as they do in other sectors.

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The campaign also illustrates that to fight exploitation, we need empowerment of sex workers, their full inclusion in society and a will to listen to their voices. Who knows better what is happening in the sector than sex workers? Who is in a better position to detect troublesome situations and help colleagues in need than sex workers?

This awareness campaign was made possible thanks to the support of the Institute for Equality between Women and Men and the Secretary of State for Gender Equality.

For more information: 0472/25 64 26.

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UTSOPI launches campaign against exploitation

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