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The example that sparked the writing of the AFFILIA editorial is Project ROSE, a program in which social workers from Arizona State University School of Social Work and some service providers collaborate with city wide raids orchestrated by the Phoenix Police Department. Project ROSE is found to violate ethical standards described in the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, the Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, and the International Federation of Social Work Ethical Principles. Informed consent–an essential element of social work practice and the standard in many other professions–is violated because the services provided rely on recruitment via ”massive police (in this case 125 officers) sting operations.” The authors explain that, ‘if targeted sex workers (and people profiled as sex workers) reject the ‘offer’ to enter the diversion program and/or if they fail to successfully complete a diversion program… they face criminal prosecution.”
Wahab and Panichelli provide the reader with clear guidance on how to avoid unethical practice from the perspectives of social workers. “Whether you believe that sex work = sex trafficking or whether you believe that there is no universal sex work experience and that sex workers can make their own decisions about what they need and when they need it,” they write. “Schools of Social Work and social work in general should not be in the business of arresting people for their own good.”
The full text for the commentary is available at: Ethical and Human Rights Issues in Coercive Interventions With Sex Workers Stéphanie Wahab and Meg Panichelli, Affilia 2013 28: 344.