Immigration and Human Rights Law Review


Despite the legalization and reluctant acceptance of pornography and sites like OnlyFans, the United States continues to criminalize sex work. While the work that sex workers perform is similar to that of pornography or OnlyFans, sex workers are not afforded the same protections under the law. As a result of criminalization, sex workers are forced to work in unsafe conditions. Fear of facing criminal charges keeps sex workers from turning to the police when they need help or need to report a crime. Criminalization also adds to the stigma surrounding sex work, creating barriers that prevent sex workers from receiving quality health care services. The consequences of criminalization are not merely wrong but constitute human rights violations. This article discusses how criminalization of sex work violates workers’ human right to bodily autonomy and health. After analyzing the history of sex work in the United States, the article examines how New Zealand as implemented a decriminalization approach to sex work. To protect the human rights of sex workers, the article argues that the United States must implement changes to take on a decriminalization approach towards sex work.