Every Sex Worker, A Human Rights Defender

aswcon

That is the tagline for the first ever African sex worker-led conference, which is happening next week in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Here’s a little bit of information about the conference grabbed from the PDF of the conference announcement:

The conference will include sex worker-only activities in order to form friendships and create solidarity, as well as organizing sessions to develop the alliance’s mission and principles. The immediate outcome of the conference will be to prepare a position paper and petition that demands an end to the violation of sex workers’ human rights that will be presented to the media and other key bodies and institutions. The issues of sex trafficking and child sex work interact with the adult sex industry, but are pressing concerns that demand separate special attention.

Trafficking should not be automatically conflated with sex work and the plight of people forced to have sex and work in abusive and exploitative conditions should not be limited to trafficked persons. Sex trafficking and child sex work are particular forms of human rights violations, and can be extreme, akin to torture and slavery. Sex trafficking and child sex work thrive in environments where sex work is criminalized since those involved in the sex industry are afraid to report cases of trafficking and exploitation. The conference takes a united stand in the fight against trafficking in any form – sexual slavery, child labour, body parts.

Moreover, the conference organizers believe that empowering sex workers as human rights defenders will allow sex workers to be better equipped and enabled to assist in the struggle against trafficking. Whilst this conference will explore ways sex workers can expose cases of trafficking, the focus of the conference will have more emphasis on those adult individuals who have the physical freedom to leave or remain in the commercial sex industry.

During the conference, a variety of complex issues will be discussed. The participants will examine the controversial debate on sex work. Often sex work is considered in binary terms, defined as being ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’. However, like all other activities, sex work has its advantages and disadvantages, its good moments and bad moments. The sex work argument has become clouded by every sex worker, a human right s defender other interacting debates on morality, religion, sexuality, love, desire, relationships, health, the body, laws, public private distinctions, gender identity, and different power relations. The conference will attempt to go deep into the sex work debate – turning over the different facets, aspects, and characteristics of being a sex worker. It seeks to dispel prejudices, embrace different viewpoints, and look at sex work in all its complexities. As a sex worker-led campaign, it will represent all kinds of sex workers, demonstrating that great diversity exists within the sex worker population in terms of gender, class, race, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, the conference will fully recognize that sex work is work and sex workers need rights, not rescue.

These are the folks behind the conference and the organizations involved:

Sex workers
o Sisonke – South African sex worker movement
o Sex workers from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal,
Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Sex worker organizations and Organizations with sex worker programs and projects
o Botswana Network on Ethics, Law, and HIV/AIDS – BONELA (Botswana)
o Centre for the Development of People – CEDEP (Malawi)
o Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe – GALZ (Zimbabwe)
o International Centre for Reproductive Health – ICRHK (Kenya)
o People Opposing Women’s Abuse – POWA (South Africa)
o Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce – SWEAT (South Africa)
o Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit – RHRU (South Africa)
o The Rainbow Project – TRP (Namibia)
o Uganda Coalition for Crisis Prevention – UCCP (Uganda)
o Women’s Organization Networking for Human Rights Advocacy –
WONETHA (Uganda)

Exciting stuff!

Since October I’ve been working at the International Women’s Health Coalition in New York (yes, I have a full time job, not working for myself for the first time in many years) as their online strategist. The info about this conference comes through one of our partners in South Africa, People Opposing Women’s Abuse, and hopefully I’ll be able to get a report from a conference attendee that I can post here on BNG. In general I’m getting connected up with a worldwide network of people who work on sexual rights and reproductive health issues – and of course nudging folks on sex worker issues where I can. IWHC does a combination of support and grant-making to orgs that work in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; we push governments in those regions to make change; and we do policy work in Washington and with the UN – and now that I’m here, there will be online media about lots of that.

Anyway – just wanted to share the African sex worker conference with everyone and let you know what I’m up to.

Pompeo, Stirring up the Kettle on Rent Boys and Methheads

After being given ample content on rights work, the relation to workers of other genders, and the ins-and-outs of racist and sexist discrimination and policing by a number of New York’s working boys, Joe Pompeo pulled a Jessica Pilot  in the New York Observer with “The Hipster Rent Boys of New York.” Not a word on racial discrimination, or the use of video peepshows, strolls, or the few last-standing hustler bars, and not a word on organizing.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the comments section wasn’t crammed full of those nasty little “diseased,” “Narcissistic,” “drug-addicted,” “meth-head” accusations that complete the very definition of an Internet article about us whores and those whoring regardless of gender.

But that’s enough raving. In other news, the Freakonomics guy (and Columbia sociology professor) Sudhir Venkatesh keeps getting quoted in what I think are questionable articles. He’s the guy who wrote a piece for Slate Magazine citing the 40 percent figure, as in 40 percent of sessions don’t include touching or sex. Maybe I should invite him on a work date?

Changing from within or not?

So I went to a Sex Trafficking panel led by the interfaith group at UCSC. The panel was comprised of a nun, a man, and a cop from the San Jose Police Department, whose position is being in charge of the human trafficking cases for the south bay counties, to include Santa Cruz and Monterrey.

It was as expected, they came from the all sex workers are victims, and one of them thought all porn == objectification, and that leads to sex trafficking (her logic is beyond me).

I was the only one trying to separate the 2 things (Sex and Sexuality) from Slavery and trafficking.

I was happy when the Cop said, there is a very miniscule amount of sex trafficking happening in this area. He also said he’s working on a case against 2 men who trafficked 2 women from Nevada to come work as sex workers. I’m not against these people, I’m glad they are fighting to end slavery. I just wish they would explore their sexuality, and come to respect sex workers, and not see us as victims.

Also tonight in Santa Cruz, the city council was voting on banning sitting on public park benches for more than an hour, and also sitting on the sidewalk, and a host of other things aimed at eradicating the less desirables from downtown in an effort to increase public safety.

These events have made me re-evaluate the best way for organizational change. Is it smart to work from outside, and try to lobby the city council to understand sitting on park benches is not bad, or that sex work is actual work, or that sex and porn is different than (and does not lead to) sexual trafficking?

Or is it smarter to try and work from the inside, to get into the government, to get on the city council, to get in with the Human Trafficking police organizations, and change from within?

I feel like I’m at a crossroads in my personal life, to see where I want my direction to go. I’m very dedicated to human rights work, and to sex workers rights, but how best can I affect social change, for my friends, brothers, sisters and be allies to others?

Perhaps the very last of my Social Change through Non-Violent Communication class tomorrow night can help me come to some sort of conclusion. I pose the question:

How best to affect social change for our movement?

Time for Change in Fight Against Human Trafficking

With a new administration in the White House, many sex workers and their allies are looking to the Obama administration with high hopes that we can effect substantive change towards acknowledgement of sex workers’ human rights.

Melissa Ditmore has a new article over at RHRealityCheck.org:  The Right Time for  Change in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.

In 2007, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, sponsored a Senate resolution creating the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness, which we observed on Sunday, January 11. Human trafficking is rarely on the pundits’ list of priorities for President Obama’s administration, but he knows that early action in this area could have global impact. For starters, he should reconsider the current approach of raids, raids and more raids. It’s not working.

The Obama administration has the opportunity to reassess this failed federal approach to human trafficking. The recent passage of federal anti-trafficking legislation championed by Vice President Joe Biden offers a fresh start – and a chance to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

A good first step would be to move away from high-profile, resource-intensive and largely ineffective raids and to address the economic and social circumstances that increase vulnerability to trafficking. It flourishes in labor sectors with few protections, such as domestic work, agriculture, the service industry, and informal economies such as day labor and, yes, sex work. Expansion and targeted enforcement of labor laws in these sectors would not only go a long way toward locating, identifying and assisting trafficked persons, it would also protect the rights of all workers.

For the long term, strategies led by individuals and communities with knowledge of and access to trafficked people are far more likely than raids to meet with success. Obama’s 2007 Senate resolution recognized this, noting that the people most likely to come into contact with trafficking victims are “essential for effective enforcement” – but at the moment, such people are not shielded from immigration consequences or arrest if they come forward.

Press Conference: Protest Prostitution Charges against Activist

It would be great if the folks in the San Francisco Bay area could show up to court in support of Shelly Resnick, who was charged with prostitution.  Here is the press release:  
For Immediate Release: Jan 24, 2009
Event: Press Conference: San Francisco Transsexual Activist Falsely
Accused of Prostitution
Location: 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco Hall of Justice
Date: Monday January 26, 2009
Time: 8:30 am
Contact:  Acire4SWOP@gmail.com

In an act of harassment by the San Francisco Police Department, Shelly
Resnick was falsely charged  with solicitation of prostitution. Later, the District Attorney trumped up the charges and claimed that Shelly engaged in the actual act of prostitution.

 “These charges are completely false.” states Shelly as no such act took
place. Shelly strongly disputes the content of the police report as
patently false. “This is harassment and discrimination.”
 
Shelly was set up on a police sting. She did not solicit and nor did she
agree to any act of prostitution, but she was cited anyway.

“The police have no evidence of these charges. In fact they claimed to
have an audio recording which they say they are unable to locate,” says

Acire Roche of Sex Worker Outreach Project.
Sex Worker Outreach Project joins Shelly in support at her hearing,
protesting this discrimination and misconduct. “Ms. Resnick filed a
complaint with Office of Citizen Complaints on November 19th.

Reno Says No To Brothels

To answer a question I had, it turns out that Reno and Sparks have no interest in bringing legal brothels into their city.

Reno is a family community. If degenerates want legal hookers, they have to drive a whole nine miles away. That keeps the sex and family separate — as it damn well should be!

Is this Slanderous?

I read on S.M. Berg’s blog that Robyn Few, Norma Jean Almadovar, and Margo St. James were convicted on pimping charges.  Is this correct?  If not, it’s slander.  Robyn’s conviction was for conspiracy to commit prostitution across state lines, and the word “pimping” does not appear in this charge.     Here is a link to the blog I’m referring to:  http://www.genderberg.com/phpNuke/modules.php?name=FAQ&myfaq=yes&id_cat=2&categories=Prostitution+FAQf#16 .

The Modern Hooker Has A Dream

I’ve been loving The Modern Hooker and her comics (and her randy Twitter presence) — this is today’s strip, and so apt:

pros_free_zone pros_free_zone_2

pros_free_zone_3 pros_free_zone_4

pros_free_zone_5 pros_free_zone_6

pros_free_zone_7

Legalizing Las Vegas Brothels

My knee-jerk reaction to this news is: so the state is suffering. They decide they want to make money off the backs of sex workers? How is this not exploitative? I also want to know exactly how they plan on taxing one business but not other businesses as Nevada is known for being a business-friendly state, tax-wise. (Corrections or elightenment on Nevada’s business-tax law are welcome.)

Caring about sex workers does not mean registering and regulating us to within an inch of our lives. I’ve tried to work in Vegas strip clubs recently – not good. All they care about is getting their house fee and selling alcohol (even if you don’t really want to drink). A Vegas, casino-sponsored brothel? I can’t imagine the situation being any better.

Of course I support decriminalization. But that doesn’t put money into the state coffers, nor directly into the pockets of casino owners – which is really the crux of the matter. They don’t care about the dangers criminalized street workers face, the exploitation of the local agency girls or the arrest-risk independent escorts have to handle. They simply see a way of making money – off the backs of female sex workers — and magically, somehow brothels are supposed to be good for women. (I can only assume that transgendered and male sex workers are not part of this discussion at all.)

Brothel-work does indeed work for many women. And I have no doubt a lot sex workers would welcome casino-sponsored brothels in Las Vegas. I do not want to close down that option for sex workers because it is an option. My concern is that these brothels will become the one and only answer for sex work in Vegas – leading to rampant arrest and abuse of all other unregulated sex workers. Brothel work or no work – that’s not a choice and smacks of coercion to me.

Incidentally, love how Melissa Farley manages not to offer any sort of answer to the problem of criminalizing prostitution other than maintaining the status quo. Way to protect the rights of sex workers, Farley.

More news reading:
original Las Vegas Sun piece
an editiorial piece

Survivors, trafficking and Piggybacking politics

One of the things that strikes me about the prohibitionist movement and resonates is their use of torture, of trafficking victims, of survivors of many varying types of abuse as a piggyback for political goals. Even if the intent is well meant, at what point can personal and professional agendas move ahead of the victims that are ostensibly the focus? Prohibitionists will tell you that they are doing a great thing by making the world aware of many of the atrocities committed against people in the sex industry worldwide. In the sense that creating awareness is important, that can be a legitimate statement however, more often than not the survivor testimony is coupled with wide sweeping agenda in a “look at this” then “this his how we fix it, by eradication”. As if it were the same semantic as showing someone dying of cancer then saying we need to eliminate cancer. Only it isn’t the same dynamic. Merging trafficking, torture and consenting sex work isn’t analogous to wiping out a horrible disease. We can’t dial up a Jonas Salk answer to violence. I have little doubt that many activists are will intentioned. Many are likely survivors of the atrocities they are trying to combat. Ending consenting, adult sex work isn’t remotely realistic, nor is it even remotely a plausible solution to ending human trafficking, ending torture, ending abuse. On these issues there should be an ability to find common ground. Certainly there is a desire by both “sides” of the debate to end abuses within the sex industry.

Trafficking, torture, abuse, those issues are important to me from first person. My perspective is more experience based than sympathetic. But I as a victim of those abuses am not a token nor do I want to be. I’m not someone’s lecture circuit example followed by insertion of their politic, their agenda regardless of whether they are looking to end modern examples of my suffering through denial of rights, through piggybacking of multiple processes to arrive at their view of social change. I ultimately felt disenfranchised by the prohibitionist movement who was more than willing to hear my

“testimony” but not willing to hear me. As I became aware of the dynamic that produced that scenario I balked. The prohibitionist movement balked at my balking. When my life history was another weapon in some battle that I didn’t even want to wage and saw counter productive ethical behavior, awful ethical behavior, and the relentless glossy packaging of survivors for ancillary political gain of many, with little interest in the actual voice of myself or other survivors. Voice to determine ownership of our experiences, voice to determine how our experiences were used by others, that was autonomy that was deemed far too independent for the prohibitionist movement.

Thus my point, to no one in particular. We have to be mindful of use of survivors. Of being their freedom fighters, of representing them, fighting their truths, and attaching them to political goals that are perhaps are connected and could be a point of alliance, but that otherwise truly aren’t a like comparison. Furthering decrim does not enslave, it does not traffick, it does not abuse. Those actions are taken by predators that don’t care a whole lot about the law. Those who abuse, who traffick, who enslave, they are what needs to be removed.

The causes that create social imbalance such as discrimination, poverty, homelessness, sexism, racism, those are the issues that create environments where abuse is prevalent. Not consenting sex work between adults, not those who advocate for rights for consenting adults. Linking human trafficking and torture victims to consenting adult sex work and focusing attention on the first to disenfranchise the second disenfranchises both.

One thing Obama can ignore in his first week in office

(In light of the continuing debates about how US sex workers understand trafficking, I’m crossposting this from my personal blog.)

Nicholas Kristof has been issuing ad-hoc Presidential guidance on the sex trade for years now. The archive of his editorial column in the New York Times serves as a record of his proposals. In 2004, he “bought the freedom” of two women working in brothels in Poipet, Cambodia with the intention of returning them to their villages. Kristof wasn’t prosecuted under US law for the purchase of sex slaves – he wrote of this sale as an “emancipation,” and in 2005, he was back in Poipet to check up on the women. One had returned to prostitution, prompting Kristof to offer another round of recommendations to President Bush, pleading with him to commit the United States to a New Abolitionism.

Now he’s back with his 2009 agenda, delivered like the others, as a kicker to his column. In it, he asks that the Obama administration pressure the Cambodian government to bust more brothels, on the premise that the risk of going to jail for selling sex will hurt brothel owners’ profits and will protect more women from abuse and violence. Yet such stings and raids are already the centerpiece of a disastrous crackdown on Cambodian prostitution. The Bush administration has supported the raids of Cambodian brothels for at least as long as Kristof has been demanding they step up a fight they are already in – and losing.

It was under threat of sanctions from the United States that prostitution was outlawed in Cambodia. The resulting government-sponsored raids on brothels did not lead to a great improvement in the lives of women and girls. Instead, the same police tasked with “liberating” women from Cambodia’s brothels have been accused by human rights groups of abusing these same women.

In a video made by members of the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW), one survivor of what was called a “rehabilitation center” relates the story of being gang raped by six members of the police force: “They raped me from one after the other… the last one didn’t use condom because I got only five condoms. I told him that I have HIV but he was not believe me. He said if I had HIV, would have scar on body, not so smooth.” Another woman survivor describes her time in the Koh Kor rehabilitation center. It sits on the same island that was once home to a Khmer Rouge prison and execution camp. She explains that when she asked questions about why she had been taken in against her will, and what was wrong with what she was doing, she was repeatedly beaten by her captors – the police. These are the people – the police, and the government officials who have operated brothels in a network of corruption – that Kristof would like us to trust to combat violence.

Setting a human rights agenda for the United States will be an enormous challenge for Barack Obama and his incoming administration, with a host of failed Bush campaigns to contend with. His handling of so-called “sex slavery” will be but one. When considering how he ought to proceed, to undo damage done, and to improve human rights around the globe, Obama should look not to Kristof and his urgent cries, but to those women who are currently imprisoned and violated by the people who were supposed to “save” them. To endorse brutal, violent raids and “rehabilitation” as a solution to the brutality and violence of coerced prostitution ignores the evidence that raids do nothing to discourage abusive conditions — they perpetuate them.

A “Prostitution Free Zone” for the Inauguration

It was just one month ago that sex workers from around the United States converged on Washington, DC for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Now, with the excuse of preparing for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, “portions of downtown [DC] have been declared a ‘Prostitution Free Zone’ for the Inaugural celebration period,” according to DCist.

Different Avenues and a coalition of DC-based advocates, including the Best Practices Policy Project and Alliance for a Safe & Diverse DC, released a report this summer on the discriminatory practice of the “Prostitution Free Zones,” detailing how anyone — usually transgender women and women of color — walking in these “zones” can be targeted for harassment and detention by law enforcement.

I don’t think any sex workers expected to feel welcomed by the incoming Obama administration — and though we don’t know exactly where the pressure came from, this aggressive move by DC law enforcement only reinforces that. (Besides, honestly, aren’t most of the pols & media types in town hiring sex workers by word-of-mouth these days? Unless after Spitzer they’ve all decided it’s safer to trick on the streets. Too bad for them.)

(Photo by Jason Cragg, via DCist)

Trabajo sexual y derecho al trabajo – Sex work and the right to work

Are there people here who speak spanish or work with people who do? On the assumption that there must be I’m adding this link to a new article of mine in Spanish, originally published last month in an onlineLatin American journal called CiudadaníaSex, SexCitizenship. It’s about the concept of sex work as a basis for rights and is easy to read, international and blissfully doesn’t participate in the repetitive debates: Trabajo sexual y derecho al trabajo. Please send along to possibly interested parties!

Es un escrito nuevo mío en castellano que no existe en inglés u otro  idioma. No participa en el debate-conflicto usual sino es una historia corta sobre la idea del trabajo sexual.

Háganlo difundir, por favor, porque no hay tantas cosas en este campo en castellano.

Saludos, Laura

Laura María Agustín, Border Thinking 

Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

Know Your Rights For Sex Workers, Part 2

This is the second part of the Know Your Rights! workshop series. Here we go over what happens after you’ve been arrested and how to create an Emergency Response Plan.

New Report Examines the Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking in Persons

On Friday, January 9th, The Sex Workers Project, at the Urban Justice Center in New York City, released a new report, Kicking Down the Door, that analyzes the use of “rescue” raids in the fight against human trafficking.

The report “summarizes findings from interviews with 46 people with experience of such raids, including service providers who have worked with hundreds of trafficking victims, law enforcement personnel, and 15 immigrant women who have been trafficked,” and “concludes that so-called “rescue” raids are not an effective way to stop trafficking in persons and in fact can be counter-productive.”

From PlanetWire.org:

WASHINGTON DC, Jan. 9 – Law enforcement raids designed to rescue victims of human trafficking may do more harm than good for the victims and are ineffective or even counter-productive in curbing the practice, a coalition of advocates for sex workers said today. They urged President-elect Obama to adopt a rights-based approach to the problem.

The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, a New York-based coalition of service providers, researchers, advocates, donors and sex workers, released a report analyzing the experiences of 46 people involved in such raids during 2007 and 2008.

“The findings suggest that vice raids are an ineffective means of locating and identifying trafficked persons,” said Dr. Melissa Ditmore, primary author of the study, during an audio news conference announcing the release. “They are often accompanied by violations of human rights of the trafficked persons and sex workers and are therefore counterproductive to their own goals.”

Kicking Down the Door concludes with a lengthy list of recommendations for the US government, law enforcement personnel, and service providers. For some of us, these recommendations are common sense, but most of us also know that common sense isn’t really the cornerstone of policies involving sex work.

The Sex Workers Project (SWP) provides legal services and legal training, and engages in documentation and policy advocacy, for sex workers. Using a harm reduction and human rights model, we protect the rights and safety of sex workers who by choice, circumstance, or coercion remain in the industry. They released two previous reports, Revolving Door and Behind Closed Doors, which examined street-based sex work and indoor sex work in New York City, respectively.

Sex Workers: Once again, what’s best for us?

As you may or not may be aware, under the auspices of a woman named Jacqui Smith, the UK is considering a law that will criminalize the purchase of sexual services, namely, men who participate in, as they call it in the UK, “kerb crawling” (street based work). As usual, the evidence Smith is basing her proposal off of is questionable, but the proposed law is there none the less.

A blogger and ally Caroline, who is in the UK, has written extensively about the downsides of this law, and what very real consequences and potential consequences it has on sex workers of all kinds within the UK, she was even given quest posts at the UK based the F-Word and a US blog, Feministe!

The responses to her posts were, how shall I say, typical, and the reaction to her stance on the matter, equally so. Both Caroline and sex workers who bothered to participate were bogged down by generally radical leaning feminists with countless issues not necessarily germane to the legal issue at hand, shouted down as “unthinking”, “idiots”, or “happy hookers”…

I have to ask, to those of you who have met me and what not, do I generally come across as Teeheeeheee I can by Prada woo-hoo happy? Do most sex workers? Umm, no. Yet this is, consistently, how any who disagree with the pervading theme of repression of sex workers are written off and thusly discounted.

But as usual, those of us who oppose Swedish-like models, even considering the troublesome evidence that has shown such models to be far from perfect and the words of actual sex workers, as is typical, we are a tiny minority who truly know nothing about our business and do not care about all the poor trafficked women and girls. Which is bullshit, and I note, these people so concerned, from feminist anti sex work people to world governments, find it far more easy to criminalize the people who buy sex and attempt to play (often unwanted) savior to the people who sell it than to actually go after criminal organizations that deal in trafficking or take on the underlying causes, such as lack of education, poverty, drug abused, and lack of other job opportunities that face people who are unwillingly involved in prostitution…but apparently that is too hard and too messy…it’s easier to play Capitan save a ho.

I’ve also noted, in this particular latest round and in countless others, the apparent need of these people to demonize any and all sex worker outreach/activist programs which do not tout a 100% exit / prohibition stance. Currently, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) and International Union of Sexworkers (IUSW) are under attack by supporters of the proposed UK law. The same sorts of tactics have been used against SWOP, COYOTE, the Scarlet Alliance, and countless other Sex Worker Organizations in the past.

And while all the smoke and mud about happy hookers and how sex worker orgs don’t really care about sex workers and what about the poor trafficked women and girls (no mention of the transwomen, men and boys, for that matter) rages on one simple thing remains fact: a law which will affect countless sex workers adversely is poised to go on the books in the UK, with, best as I can tell, no input from any sex workers and no real ear to the objections of any sex workers…

So once again, we have people building law and political prestige on our backs.

Now, I am not in the UK, nor are most of you, but that doesn’t mean this should not matter to us. Sex Workers in the UK are sex workers, just like us, and just as the UK looked to Sweden for inspiration, there is no guarantee where ever you are might not look to the UK for the same thing…

So yes, if you find this as annoying and patronizing and seriously ill advised as I do?

Say something, because if we don’t, nobody else will.

I’ve already said a few things

And why yes, please feel free to redistribute at will…

Cambodian sex workers speak out.

Aproase, an amazing sex worker group in Cambodia and part of the APNSW (which just won a Human Rights Watch award) built an amazing video, that made featured video status at change.org, called ‘Caught Between the Tiger and the Crocodile’.  You can check it out right here:

 

UPDATE (1/9/09 3:30PST): Sorry I’m a moron.  Aproase is a sex worker group, but the wrong sex worker group. thanks Laura for pointing out my mistake.  I met Aproase and APNSW in Mexico City at the Aids Conference, hence my confusion.  Anyone remember the cambodian group’s name?

Tomorrow court support in SF.

Tomorrow January 7th, 2009 8am in the morning, Shelly Resnick, a well known Transexual activist and Sex Worker has a court date for the illegal solicitation of prostitution in San Francisco. Law enforcement came to her house a couple of months ago and hit her with a citation for 647 (b) . I know that this is a really late email, and neither one of us thought about it until right at this very second. Please come and show your support.

Location: 850 Bryant (Same Police station that we did the rally for (National Day to end Violence against Sex Workers)
Time: 8:00 am

Post from Robyn Few of Sex Workers Outreach Project.

By robynfew

I find myself going back to the video that Serpent created about the National DC March. Each time I cry. I was crying everyday for awhile, I mean months, but finally that has stopped. So I find it a bit annoying that I am crying so much now. I must admit that I am watching all the video’s created about International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers repeatedly. That could be contributing to my depression.

It’s funny that I get depressed every year about this time. Maybe it is because I regret all that I didn’t get done, or I wish that the year wasn’t over yet, or maybe I just ain’t ready for it all to start again. Another year, another dollar, blah blah. Okay, I know this sounds all negative and like I am feeling sorry for myself but I am not. That is why I am writing this. It’s funny, I wanted to post today because I feel like I have something good to say. Then I went to boundnotgagged.com, I found the swopdairies, all the places I want to speak out and I couldn’t remember how to sign in, post, any damn thing. It took me forever to get to this page. I find myself laughing at myself constantly. At least, I get enjoyment out of my old age, (I would prefer to call it stupidity but wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)

Death changes everything, esp when you think it’s going to happen to you. It’s ridiculous really, because it is going to happen to all of us. It is just that most of us don’t dwell on it. When you are sick and things just ain’t feeling right, you positively have nothing else to think about. I have been thinking alot about the death of Norma Hotaling. Maybe because the two of us got cancer at the same time, but it freaks me out that I didn’t die. Why did she have to die? It’s the roll of the dice. She accomplished a lot in her time. A lot of which it will take us years to reverse, but she was unstoppable. She also had a great advantage over our movement, the feds, police and the DA’s loved her. I am afraid we are along way from that sort of relationship. I remember when I met Norma, I googled her when I was looking for help after my arrest. I read everything I could find on the web. Somewhere I read that she supported decriminalization. Her tune had to change after we started screaming decrim. She started saying that we had to arrest the clients, that she accomplished with the First Offenders Prostitution Project and the infamous ‘John’s School’. Norma you have left one hell of a legacy. All I can hope is that I can leave half the mark that you have. And I pray to the Almighty whoever that my legacy supports the rights of all humans to not get arrested for selling sex.

Women like Norma are right when they say that we must end the exploitation of the sex industry, but that will never happen in a criminalized system. There is exploitation in so many workplaces, workplaces from every industry. The advantage other industries have over ours is that they have the right to form unions, to fight for better working conditions. They have equal protection under the law, they are not being forced to give a blowjob to keep out of jail for the night. We need to be able to access services when we say we are proud sex workers. Sex workers who choose to use their genitals or to touch someone else’s privates to make money need equal rights, civil rights, fucking human rights. When we end the discrimination and stigma with decriminalization we will be able to fight for our rights in workplaces that are legal, ie exotic dance facilities, massage parlors and escort services.

Is this the year that people in the United States start to get pissed off that their Governor lost his job because of his sex life? Or are we gonna impeach a few republicans for fucking the wrong guy. Maybe a few more women will be found hanging from ropes in their homes because they can’t take the shame of walking out their front door everyday. What about your daughter or son that you haven’t seen in the past year? They left one day and you know they didn’t have a dime to their name, but hey they will make it somehow. What about that trans person they found behind the dumpster last night, what was their name?

It just brings me back to that thing I was talking about DEATH. It happens to all of us, we don’t dwell on it but it’s coming. I think the smart ones of us plan on the future, leaving something for their families, so forth so on. What are you going to do this year to plan for your future? I have made a few plans. I am very happy to be alive and I have decided that I need to celebrate that more. I have decided that I am going to put my efforts in a new direction. Maybe I won’t share all my plans with you but the point is I have some and they have to do with making my life and the people that I care about lives better. I hope that all of you have made some plans for the future. I hope they are positive and I hope that they support sex workers rights. I want to thank everyone for all the positive notes emails letters, cards and visits that you gave to me to make my life better. You make my life better.

Last thing I am going to say is donate your money to Sex Workers Outreach Project and thank you so much to all that have been donating. SWOP chapters everywhere are going to do tremendous things this year to end the criminalization of sex worki. They deserve your support. They are a great organization and they are going to get bigger, better and stronger then ever before. They are being led by young beautiful fantastic sex workers that need your support. Thank you SWOP for everything that you have given me. I will always be eternally grateful for what has happened to me and to the fabulous people I have met and been supported by.

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