In the UK, an open letter calling to end the criminalization of sex work has just been published. It features signatures from celebrities, activists, and human rights organizations, including FKA twigs, Sisters Uncut, and Amnesty International.

The letter, spearheaded by UK-based collective and campaign group Decrim Now, pushes to enact progressive reforms. It calls for politicians to abandon legislation that criminalizes the purchase of sex — often known as “the Nordic Model” – and instead embrace an evidence-based approach to the sex industry, and to engage with and listen to sex workers.

This comes in response to the UK Labour party's recent Sexual Exploitation Bill, which attempts to make paying for sex in the UK a crime. Bills like this globally have been proven to "only exacerbate violence against women, including those who are being exploited," Decrim Now points out.

Decrim Now’s letter also draws attention to the anti-sex work legislation's disproportionate effect on marginalized groups, including women, migrants, people of color, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, and those that have experienced poverty and homelessness. "While wealthier sex workers may emerge unscathed, it will be marginalized groups who, facing destitution, are forced to take on worse, more dangerous work."

On her part, FKA twigs has frequently referenced sex work in her art and used her platform as an ally, to speak out about the craft that deserves respect and protection. Last year, the singer launched an initiative to support sex workers who face financial uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic. "I feel like now is the time for me to step forward, pay respect, and shine a light on the challenges facing sex workers, especially during these uncertain times," she wrote.

Whether it's social stigma or the precarity of the coronavirus, the only thing criminalization achieves is making sex work more dangerous.

You can read Decrim Now's full open letter and add your name as a supporter here.

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