Sex-worker forum of vienna, austria



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SEX-WORKER FORUM OF VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Austria: Discriminations against Sex Workers
in the Rights to Work and to Health

Information from Sex-Worker Forum of Vienna, Austria, to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the examination of the fifth State Party report of Austria at the 51th Session in November 2013

To: Secretariat of CESCR

United Nations Committee

on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Office of the

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

UNOG-OHCHR CH-1211 Geneva (Switzerland)


Electronic Submission: cescr@ohchr.org (PDF File)

Surface Mail: 25 Hardcopies

Vienna, at 28.06.2013



Table of Contents


Executive Summary 3

Zusammenfassung (German Abstract) 3

1.Background 4

1.1.Author and Sources 4

1.2.Definition and Stratification of Sex Work 4

1.3.Legal Regulations of Commercial Sex Work 6

2.General Issues (Articles 2, 3, 4) 7

3.Right to Work (Articles 6, 7, 8) 8

3.1.Key Issues 8

3.2.Inadequate Response to Forced Labor (Article 6, § 1) 9

3.3.Denial of Work to Asylum-Seekers (Article 6, § 1) 11

3.4.Lacking Empowerment (Article 6, §§ 1 and 2) 12

3.5.Deliberate Stigmatization (Article 7) 13

3.6.Barriers to Self- Organization (Article 8) 15

4.Right to Social Support (Articles 9, 10, 11) 16

5.Right to Health (article 12) 16

5.1.Key Issues 16

5.2.Degrading Treatment by Forced Vaginal Inspections 17

5.3.Degrading Treatment at Public Health Offices 18

5.4.Counterproductive Character of Prostitution Laws 19

5.5.Discrimination against Women by Health Checks 21

5.6.Additional Issues for Health Checks 22

6.Cultural Rights (Articles 13, 15) 24

7.Recommendations 25




Executive Summary


The key issue for this submission is the discrimination against sex workers in the rights to work and to health. Although sex work is legal in Austria and sex workers pay social security contributions and income taxes, a repressive system of regulations governs prostitution. These regulations perceive sex work exclusively through the perspectives of illegal immigration, morality, public order, trafficking, and “public health” (discussed along myths contrary to international standards), while they ignore issues of sex workers’ human rights, whence in Austria sex workers are treated like criminals.
As concerns the right to work (Articles 6, 7, 8), sex workers suffer on the one hand from Austria’s inadequate response to forced labor, which amounts to a toleration of the exploitation of prostitution by pimps, and on the other from lacking empowerment, which amounts to deliberate stigmatization.
As concerns the right to health (Article 12), Austria has established a system of obligatory registrations of prostitutes, mandatory vaginal inspections and compulsory HIV tests, which lacks evidence about public health benefits, which contravenes international guidelines, and which discriminates against women. As a result of this system, women suffer from degrading treatment by vaginal inspections against their will, sex workers suffer from lacking respect for their dignity, when they attend the weekly health checks at public health offices, and women may suffer from unlawful private life intrusions by police suspecting illegal prostitution, regardless if they are in sex work or not.
Further concerns arise under Article 9, 10, 11, 13, and 15.

Zusammenfassung (German Abstract)


Das Sexworker-Forum, ist ein internationaler Verein mit Sitz und Registrierung in Wien, der sich für die Achtung der Menschenrechte der erwachsenen Frauen, Männer und transsexuellen Personen im Umfeld der freiwilligen und selbstbestimmten Sexarbeit einsetzt. Dieser Bericht informiert den Fachausschuss der Vereinten Nationen für wirtschaftliche, soziale und kulturelle Rechte über die Situation der Sexarbeiter in Österreich und ergänzt damit den Bericht Österreichs bei der 51. Session im November 2013.
Kernprobleme in Österreich sind rechtliche Mängel, durch die Sexarbeiter vor allem im Recht auf Arbeit und im Recht auf Gesundheit benachteiligt werden.

  • Österreich akzeptiert zwar die Sexindustrie als Wirtschaftszweig, aber nicht die Sexarbeiter. Dadurch werden sie im Recht auf Arbeit beeinträchtigt. Weder werden sie ausreichend vor Ausbeutung geschützt, noch gibt es Maßnahmen zu ihrer sozialen Absicherung und gegen ihre Stigmatisierung.

  • Das österreichische System der „Kontrollprostitution“ ist Ursache dafür und mit der Menschenwürde der Betroffenen nicht vereinbar.

  • Die behördliche Registrierung von Prostituierten, die verpflichtenden regelmäßigen HIV Tests und die Untersuchungen auf das Frei-Sein von Geschlechtskrankheiten schützt weder die Gesundheit der Sexarbeiter, was nicht einmal intendiert wird, noch die der Freier oder der Bevölkerung. Dieses System widerspricht auch internationalen Richtlinien. Hinzu kommt das Problem, dass dieses System zu systematischer erniedrigender Behandlung (Verletzung des Folterverbots) und zu Verletzungen des Privatlebens durch gesetzlose Polizeimaßnahmen geführt hat.



  1. Background

    1. Author and Sources


Sex-Worker Forum is an international incorporated non-governmental not-for-profit organization, chartered at Vienna under registration number 699583522. The Forum works to protect and promote the human rights of adult women, men and transgender persons in voluntary sex work.
Empirical evidence for this report comes from court documents, NOTEREF _Ref341178537 \h \* MERGEFORMAT media reports, scholarly research, and also from publications by the government, by NGOs with an interest in sex work, and by local community social work organizations. NOTEREF _Ref341178537 \h \* MERGEFORMAT However, the basis for this submission is the knowledge obtained from unpublished cases. It has been written and discussed in the internal area by the sex workers of the multi-lingual internet platform www.sexworker.at. There, in an area closed to the public, sex workers, whose real identity is verified but not disclosed, are offered a medium where they can provide authentic information, in particular about human rights violations affecting them. The final form was then approved by the board of Sex-Worker Forum.

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