NORAHT takes a critical anti-trafficking approach that respects the agency and self-determination of persons involved in the sex trade, whether by choice, circumstance or coercion. A critical anti-trafficking approach rejects “rescue narratives” and insists that service providers cannot presume to know better than clients what are their unique needs. For instance, trafficked women may not desire strategies to “exit” from the sex trade per se, but only from their abusive situation. It is also necessary to recognize that there is a clear distinction between sex work and human trafficking, and that women engaged in sex work may also experience violence, exploitation and abuse. We should not be asking women to fit their experiences into human trafficking checklists in order to access resources and services. Rather, it is imperative to help create an enabling environment for the exercise of self-determination including the provision of comprehensive, wrap-around supports to anyone, regardless of how they identify their experience.
NORAHT uses “sex work” in reference to an explicit position that identifies an occupation whose workers are entitled to make a living and human rights. However, not everyone in the sex trade will identify as “workers.” Thus, we use “sex trade” to refer to commercial and survival sex that may be forced, voluntary, or anywhere in between. Human trafficking is one form of exploitation or abuse that might incur in the sex trade, and it involves coercion, force, deception and/or loss of control.