We realize that this may not be your regular beat. Unfortunately, law enforcement and faith-based anti-sex work organizations have sometimes willfully conflated sex work with sex trafficking, and employed language that strips active sex workers of their agency and voice. We ask that you always speak with active sex workers and sex worker groups when reporting your story. 

A great place to start is with Tara Burn’s “Sex Trafficking: A Media Guide” from 2016.

Some simple Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind while reporting this story


  • Speak with current sex workers and sex worker advocates. 
  • Differentiate between sex trafficking (which involves force, fraud or coercion) and sex work, which does not
  • Ask if anyone involved in these raids has been charged with sex trafficking
  • Ask ”anti-trafficking” groups if they believe any sex work can be consensual. Many believe ALL sex work to be sex trafficking
  • Demand to know what services are being the sex workers jailed, criminalized and targeted in these raids. 
  • Review our guidelines for speaking accurate about sex work 


  • Write about us without including us. Active sex workers must be part of any story about us.
  • Use a sex worker’s legal name or image without their consent. Sex work is heavily stigmatized, and “outing” a sex worker can result in loss of job, housing, banking, and aid, as well estrangement from their family and community.
  • Trust that numbers being provided by police are accurate. In previous raids, law enforcement refers to the number of arrests made in “sex trafficking sweeps,” while actual charges are only for misdemeanor sex work violations
  • Assume that anti-trafficking groups are neutral. Many are faith-based, and their “services” involve faith-based approaches.
  • Assume that survivors of sex trafficking speak for non-trafficked sex workers