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Sex workers should enjoy the same labor conditions as factory workers or entertainers, said Ms. Chantawipa, who wore a T-shirt emblazoned with her favorite slogan: “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.”

The report also studied call girls, street walkers and brothels and found that, in many Asian countries, they were “illegal, illegal, illegal,” said the report.

Problems are exacerbated when reformers and authorities voice shrill warnings about human-trafficking and forcibly “rescue” prostitutes who do not want to be “saved,” the report said.

“The language of some international and regional instruments have either implied a strong link between trafficking and sex work, or conflated these concepts,” it said, referring to local laws, international agreements and other formal legal arrangements.

Anti-trafficking laws should focus on minors in the sex trade and victims coerced or deceived into prostitution but not voluntary sex workers, the report said.

“Often, sex workers are portrayed as passive victims who need to be saved. Assuming that all workers are trafficked denies the autonomy and [choice] of people who sell sex,” the report said.

Prostitutes “rescued” against their will, often suffer an immediate and devastating loss of income.

Their colleagues, also working voluntarily, then often hide from authorities and end up in worse conditions where they are exploited and more vulnerable to HIV infection, the report said, adding that arresting customers is also a failed strategy.

“The UNAIDS Advisory Group on Sex Work has noted that there is no evidence that [anti-prostitution] initiatives reduce sex work or HIV transmission, or improve the quality of life of sex workers,” it said.

The report called “compulsory detention of sex workers, for the purpose of ‘rehabilitation’ or ‘re-education’” a “highly punitive approach” used in China, India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

“In some countries, rehabilitation centers are used as a source of free or cheap labor,” it said.