Misinformation on sex work has flourished for centuries, fuelled by age-old stereotypes, myths, and moral judgments which continue to shape policies and public opinions. Whether falsehoods are disseminated to deliberately deceive, or are shared unknowingly, the spread of inaccurate and misleading information on sex work has significant consequences.
At a time when it has never been easier to manipulate and disseminate misinformation, the importance of challenging dominant narratives, positions, and ‘facts’ on sex work has never been clearer. When accepted uncritically, these falsehoods perpetuate dangerous policies and practices which harm sex workers and undermine the integrity of international human rights mechanisms. In spite of these challenges, however, there has never been a wider and more robust evidence base available to counter misinformation on sex work. Community-led research has formed an essential component of this evidence base, and must be prioritised to ensure that the voices and lived experiences of sex workers continue to be heard.
This Briefing Note outlines some of the most prevalent forms of misinformation surrounding sex work, providing recent examples to demonstrate their impacts in the realms of policy, research, and the protection of human rights.
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