The Observer has removed the term ‘sex work’ from an article about exploited children

Following on from this post from the beginning of the month, I’m very happy to be able to say that the Observer’s reader’s editor has altered the article, changing it’s sub-heading from “The EU’s criminal intelligence agency warns pan-European gangs are targeting minors for sex work and slavery” to “The EU’s criminal intelligence agency warns pan-European gangs are targeting minors for sex abuse and slavery”, and changed a line in the article from “The police agency has also documented a disturbing crossover between organised gangs helping to smuggle refugees into the EU and human-trafficking gangs exploiting them for sex work and slavery” to “The police agency has also documented a disturbing crossover between organised gangs helping to smuggle refugees into the EU and human-trafficking gangs exploiting them for sex and slavery”

A note was added to the end of the article stating “This article was amended on 11 February 2016 to remove the term “sex work” relating to children. Children caught up in the sex trade are victims of abuse” and I have been told via email that Observer staff will be told that the term ‘sex work’ is not suitable to be used in reference to children.

From an editorial point of view, the Observer is a separate entity to the Guardian, so we will have to keep on trying with regards to the latter.

4 responses

  1. Great work! It truly is a big step forward. Words matter, they are how we communicate ideas, build knowledge and achieve consensus – and ‘sex work’ is a mightily defended term. Any step forward is a big step.

  2. Thank you. The next step is to challenge the use of the term ‘sex worker’ in relation to adult women trafficked or otherwise forced into prostitution (it’s the same argument), and I think that will be much harder.

  3. […] And I should note, even talking about adults, they still manage not to use the terms ‘sex work’ or ‘sex worker’ once, so at least the Observer manages not to call rape ‘work’. […]

  4. […] is from the Observer, which, I am happy to say, no longer calls raped children workers, but is still ok calling raped adults workers, and, in the full article, quotes the IUSW without […]

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