The life of people selling sex always carries a strong stigma. Since the stigma is a social phenomenon, the individual’s personal attitude towards their sex work does not play a role, but the stigma comes from outside the person themselves and can have very real, tangible consequences. Due to this, journalists writing about sex work or selling sex should be aware of how their text affects this stigma.
People who make a living selling sex are the best experts of their circumstances. Sex is sold by an extremely diverse group of people, and the reasons for doing sex work are many. The people come from a variety of life situations, and some are also in the industry out of necessity. However, this is not the case for everyone.
Stigmatizing imagery has a powerful influence in the media coverage of sex work. Avoid stereotypical images of sex work as something that takes place in the shadows, is mysterious and suspicious. Also, avoid overly sexualized, eroticising imagery. Images of legs in fishnet stockings are tired clichés.
You should also pay attention to the terminology related to the topic and the tones and meanings of words. You should keep in mind that the sex industry is a diverse field where multiple realities exist at the same time. No one story can rule out someone else’s story or undermine its credibility. In order to be transparent and avoid stereotypes, the story should try to clarify which section of the reality it portrays and from what perspective.
The legislation governing prostitution varies in different countries, making comparisons challenging. The prostitution policy adopted by each country depends on the scope of legislation and its interpretation. The current debate on prostitution policy has three main threads: abolitionism, regulation and decriminalization. You can find brief descriptions of these under this link: main perspectives of prostitution policy (in Finnish). The legislation governing trafficking in human beings also depends on the country, and the implementation of anti-trafficking measures varies. Due to this, the anti-trafficking measures of different countries are not directly comparable.
Also, please note:
- We do not provide interviewees or disclose any information to outsiders that might reveal our customers’ personal data or any information that violates the protection of individuals for any purpose without the permission of the person in question.
- Staff members who work directly with customers give interviews only in exceptional cases. The reason for this policy is the safety aspects of customer work.
- We do not take journalists to customer work situations without the request of the person or people in question.