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Prohibition and Prostitution

“All women—including those engaged in sex work—have the right to safe and healthy lives. We have to ensure these rights are met.”
—Paul Perchal, Director, HIV/AIDS, EngenderHealth

There is no doubt that trafficking of girls and women must end. Only when there is a decrease in “demand” will sex trafficking slow or stop. The underlying gender and social norms that perpetuate this industry and continuing discrimination and violence against women must be addressed. At the same time, we need to keep in mind the impact of U.S. policies and their enormous impact abroad. For example, the “antiprostitution loyalty oath” was an attempt to curb sex trafficking, but it in fact hampered public health efforts—bringing more, not less, harm to sex workers.

Our View from the Ground

Photo of Paul Perchal Paul Perchal, director of EngenderHealth’s HIV and STI Program, talks about EngenderHealth’s new HIV prevention project in Ethiopia, which focuses on some of the most at-risk populations.
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$40 million

The amount in aid from the United States that was declined by the Brazilian government rather than agree to the antiprostitution loyalty oath, so that it would not have to cease its efforts to help sex workers advocate for their rights and protect their health
Source: The Nation, “Just Say Nao,” Esther Kaplan, May 12, 2005