Back to top
27 February 2023

Digital protection for Sex Worker Rights Defenders

Sex worker rights defenders (SWRDs) are challenged on two fronts: Not only are they human rights defenders, they are also sex workers. With both these identitiesbeing deeply marginalised, stigmatised and criminalised around the world, the severity of their risks increases manifold.

''An HRD was sexually assaulted by aclient with whom he had worked foryears without a violent incident. Police and hospital staff both commented that the attack was to be expected, given that the HRD was a sex worker. A detailed testimony of the attack given to Front Line Defenders, however, shows that throughout the sexual assault, the perpetrators repeatedly threatened the defender to stop hosting human rights trainings and doing public advocacy. The attack occurred only after the long term client became aware of the HRD’s activism.'' (Kilbride 2021, 8)

Digital protection of SWRDs must be seen from a holistic perspective. Much of the violence and intimidation they experience is a consequence of being so present and engaged (i.e., on location), or can be traced back to their high-visibility. Its perpetrators are not only clients and members of the general public but, primarily, law enforcers. (Kilbride 2021). Still, there are many useful practices that can be adopted to reduce technology-driven abuse and violence, and this document offers strategic and tactical guidance. It is indebted to conversations in digital security trainings with SWRDs, and the body of work created around this subject.

Download here.