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The 1998 Taipei Declaration of Sex Workers’ Human Rights

The 1998 Taipei Declaration of Sex Workers’ Human Rights

By revoking the licenses of the Taipei prostitutes and depriving them of their legitimate livelihoods, Taipei City Mayor Chen has provided an example of the heavy handed, misguided and discriminatory practices that are used against sex workers around the world.

Mayor Chen’s unconstitutional act sparked the impetus for sex workers, activists, advocates and sex industry experts to come together to debate the current situation of sex workers at the 1998 World Action Forum for Sex Work Rights (May 24-26, Taipei).
Through genuine discussions and interactions, we who have participated in this forum have learned more about the situation of the Taipei sisters and shared our experiences.
In the past several days, we have strongly felt the power of internationalist solidarity when we come together to share our experiences across borders. Our forum has highlighted that although we come from extremely diverse backgrounds we share much common ground.

Coming from 13 different countries, we as sex workers and activists/advocates for sex workers’ rights have come to the following conclusions and declarations:

1. Based on our long experience with the prostitute’s rights movement and the new international trend of decriminalisation of sex work, we hereby render our disagreement with Mayor Chen’s citation of the 1949 “UN Convention on the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others” as saying that the abolition of prostitution is the general trend in advanced countries.

We further point out that the UN Beijing Plan of Action and the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women are calling for the review and replacement of the outdated 1949 Convention. It is a serious violation of the human rights of the ex-licensed sex workers of Taipei for the city government to deprive them of their right to work and their only means of survival. We hereby show our full support of our sister sex workers of Taipei in their struggle for their right to work. We demand that the Taipei sisters be given at least two years extension so that they can legally support themselves and their families.

2.   In the discussions of the past few days, we further understand that each city has its own cultural background and social conditions which varies the pace of the decriminalisation. However, we do come to the agreement to call for the eventual total decriminalization of all forms of sex work. Decriminalization is an essential principle of a progressive global trend. We wish to categorically state that we abhor any and all forms of coercion, exploitation, violence and stigmatisation used against sex workers.

3.   This Forum has been uniquely organised by women’s and worker’s movement. The sex workers’ struggle is part of the international struggle for human rights. As the right to work and women’s rights are human rights it follows that sex workers rights are also human rights. We acknowledge the right to be a sex worker.

At the end of this conference, we have been empowered through this fruitful experience of genuine exchanges and by participating in the concrete action of struggle. We recognise the necessity to continue the existence of the network we have generated out of this conference, as well as linking with other existing networks for sex workers rights. We shall disseminate the conclusions of the conference throughout the world. We also hope the second round of this conference will be held elsewhere in the near future.
The sex workers of the world united!
The repressed of the world united!

Signature:
Australia
Germany
Hong Kong
India
Japan
Mexico
Netherlands
Singapore
South Korea
Sweden
Taiwan
Thailand
USA

中文版:一九九八台北性工作者人權宣言

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