Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing assistance to sex workers are primarily focused on human trafficking in the sex industry, to the detriment of victims of trafficking in other labor markets. The rescue industry’s prurient emphasis on sexual exploitation isn’t only leaving out victims of labor abuse in other industries, it’s actively ignoring the very real needs of individuals in the sex industry, whether or not they wish to leave it.
This emphasis, unfortunately, is big business — a recent report indicates that the 50 most prominent rescue organizations in the United States command over half a billion dollars per year. A sensationalist narrative of salvation and shocking figures keep many of these organizations funded, giving them no incentive to distinguish between those who choose to work in commercial sex and actual victims of coercion.
It is unsurprising to see survivor accounts fall apart under closer scrutiny when so many organizations purporting to offer aid require sex workers to sing and dance for their suppers.
These NGOs operate without significant oversight. Many of them are run by religious organizations and groups that place morality over labor and human rights. Few seek to develop harm reduction policies and practices. Only a handful are led by sex workers, or seek the advise of individuals with experience in the sex industry.