What is decriminalization?
Decriminalization means the removal of laws that criminalize or penalize sex work. It does not mean the removal of laws that criminalize trafficking or exploitation of sex workers: sex work and trafficking are not the same thing. Decriminalization is different from legalization: legalization tends to mean more regulation of sex work, while decriminalization means the removal of laws that criminalize sex work. MASWAN believes that decriminalization offers the best path to protecting sex workers from violence and exploitative conditions and improving their access to health and other social services. For example, researchers have shown that decriminalization of sex work in New Zealand improved sex workers’ safety and access to health and social services.