Quick Exit / Salida Rapida
Quick Exit / Salida Rapida
Policy Advocacy and Resources2023-02-28T18:34:38-05:00


Drawing on the extensive and diverse knowledge of our staff and other impacted communities with lived experience working in the sex trades, we engage in policy advocacy and research to document and address the pressing issues and needs of sex workers.  

Our groundbreaking research explores the narratives of sex workers and people who have experienced human trafficking. Read our statements, guides, memos, and reports below. 

Policy Advocacy

Policing Must Change to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 6th, 2021|

This blog post from the Sex Workers Project (SWP) of the Urban Justice Center is part of the 2021 Leading to Violence Campaign. This campaign highlights the critical issues that must be addressed to realize the goals of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, recognized each year on December 17. SWP is writing on the topic of policing and the ways in which it harms and leads to systemic and interpersonal violence at the hands of law enforcement and the criminal legal system.

Interview with Mariah Grant about Decriminalizing Sex Work

September 1st, 2021|

"I would first emphasize that people who do sex work, as with most other jobs, come from varied backgrounds and identities. There are sex workers of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities, genders, religions, education levels, and incomes. There is also a great diversity in the types of labor sex workers engage in."

The Covid-19 Pandemic Endangers Sex Worker Health and Safety, Underscoring Need for Structural Reforms

August 12th, 2021|

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected people across all walks of life, among them sex workers. In this essay based on their SSRC-funded research, Denton Callander, Étienne Meunier, and Mariah Grant examine how the pandemic has impacted sex workers in the United States, analyzing the role stigma plays in heightening the health, social, and economic threats posed by the pandemic.


Exercising Discretion- A handbook for Advocates and DA’s Navigating the Possibilities and Impacts of Non-prosecution Policies in the Context of Sex Work Criminalization

March 23rd, 2023|

This handbook, by the Global Health Justice Partnership of the Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health, with the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, seeks to support sex worker rights advocates, prosecutors, policymakers and other stakeholders in understanding, influencing, tracking, and assessing the operation and impact of non-prosecution policies that include charges related to sex work, as adopted by District Attorneys in the United States.

Community Guide – Possibilities and Impacts of Non-Prosecution Policies in the Context of Sex Work Criminalization

March 22nd, 2023|

This resource is a Community Guide to Exercising Discretion: A Handbook for Advocates and District Attorneys Navigating the Possibilities and Impacts of Non-Prosecution Policies in the Context of Sex Work Criminalization. The Community Guide provides an overview of the main takeaways of the Handbook.

Un-Meetable Promises: Rhetoric and Reality in New York City’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts

September 1st, 2018|

A report by the Global Health Justice Partnership of the Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health in collaboration with The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center | September 2018


SWP Research Guide Webinar 2023

In August 2022, the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center (SWP) published a Research Guide to Conducting Ethical Research on the Sex Trades. During this 1-hour webinar, SWP Director of Research and Advocacy, Mariah Grant, and Research Consultant, Francesca Maviglia, overview the guide’s development and contents, provide guidance on its use, and answer webinar participant questions.

“Circle of Hope” Speaker Series: Safe Sex Workers Study Act

After the 2018 passage of FOSTA-SESTA, service providers around the country saw an increase in street-based sex work among their client populations.

Street-based sex work has been shown to be more inherently dangerous to sex workers. As such, sex workers and sex workers’ advocates have called for Congress to pass the 2022 Safe Sex Workers Study Act, which would study and analyze the health and safety needs of sex workers and survivors of sex trafficking and whether FOSTA-SESTA resulted in an increased risk for sex workers nationwide.

Listen to our panelists discuss the importance of this bill and the implications of FOSTA-SESTA.

Anti-Trafficking Education from Workers and Movements for Rights and Justice (11/11/2021)

The past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the sites for anti-trafficking education and the range of educators who shape how the public and institutions understand and respond to human trafficking. Thus, there is a need to analyse the formalised and informalised practices that facilitate teaching and learning about trafficking. At its worst, anti-trafficking education steeped in misinformation and myths fails to contextualise and complicate trafficking, which can lead to dehumanisation and violence. At its best, anti-trafficking education can encourage and inform efforts to create structural change, social justice, and individual empowerment. At this online event, educators from universities, non-government organisations, and worker associations discuss one central question: What would it take for anti-trafficking education to be in the service of human rights, economic justice, labour rights, and public health?

Featuring Mariah Grant, Director of Research and Advocacy for the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center

Sex work decriminalization dialogue prompted by Hochul (10/21/2021)

October 21, 2021 – In September, Gov. Kathy Hochul ignited the hopes of advocates trying to decriminalize sex work in New York, when she expressed a willingness to engage on the issue. To understand the current landscape of sex work in New York and what it would mean to take this underground part of the economy out of the penal code, we turned to Andy Bowen, associate director, government affairs of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center.

No Good Legislation Has To Sacrifice One Group of People to Protect Another: Psych & The City (8/2021)

Sarah speaks with Mariah Grant, a human rights and migration specialist with a focus on migrant and sex workers’ rights, freedom of movement, and labor exploitation. As the Research and Advocacy Director at the The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center she oversees Sex Workers Project advocacy efforts and development of original research. Mariah and Sarah discuss the initiatives of SWP, labor exploitation, and society’s need for real and honest conversations about the realities of sex and work in general. The way SWP likes to look at human trafficking is that for human trafficking to be properly addressed it’s really about protecting and defending the rights of workers – a conversation that regardless of the kind of work we do applies to us all.

The Oldest Profession (2020)

The Oldest Profession is a short animated documentary that explores the fight to decriminalize sex work in New York– as told through the lens of a policy maker, a human rights activist, and a sex worker. Featuring NY Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Director of the Sex Workers Project at The Urban Justice Center RJ Thompson, and an anonymous sex worker.

International Whores’ Day NYC Digital Rally – Live Stream (6/2/20)

NYC and Philly sex working organizers speak on how they are surviving and caring for their communities. Protest, celebrate, support, and flood our feeds in your finest RED + BLACK threads with messages of love and solidarity with sex workers!

CariClub Webinar: Racial Injustice & Systemic Inequality  (6/25/20)

This webinar on systemic racism featured RJ Thompson and Gretchen Nealon from the Urban Justice Center, as well as staff from the NYCLU and Good Call NYC.


We welcome your questions and comments

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