Date Published: October 30, 2007
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Chris Beyrer, Nicole Masenior
Partial Text: We would like to thank Jay Silverman and Michele Decker for their thoughtful contribution to the public health discussion regarding commercial sex work and the grave issues of child prostitution and sex trafficking . As the correspondents rightly assert, trafficking in persons is a criminal and human rights offense and should be vigorously opposed and its victims provided services. This is not a domain of any real contention in the public health or human rights communities. Nevertheless, the conflation of all forms of sex work with human trafficking, which they contend is an outcome of the essential inseparability of these two phenomena, does remain contentious. And, as with our paper, their work does not, arguably, resolve this contention. For the population of consenting adults who sell sex of their own volition, in settings as divergent from the India–Nepal context where Silverman et al. have worked as Washington D. C. or Amsterdam, sex workers and their advocates claim a domain of prevention and engagement that also uses human rights language, albeit the language of workers’ rights and empowerment, to argue for services. And there is ample evidence to suggest that empowerment and an end to police harassment can improve health outcomes, including HIV.