Yet evangelical women and anti-trafficking feminists come together on this point: The sale of sex threatens a woman’s very humanity. And these groups dominate public discussion of sex work. They have, and continue to influence policy-making and legal enforcement of anti-sex-trafficking laws despite vehement criticisms by sex worker rights activists and their supporters.
The public debate about the sex trade finds sex workers unable to seek legal rights and protections on their own terms. Sex work, according to anthropologist Laura Maria Agustin, is very often an intelligible response made by women, men and trans-people to social, economic and political realities; it is strategic equation for many who engage in it. Their attitudes about the work vary. They do not always “like” their job. They would not deny that it can be dangerous (though the dangers are magnified when their labour is criminalized).