Int’l Day to End Violence, San Francisco: Hall of Justice, 5pm vigil, procession + memorial

Sex Workers Urge SF DA Kamala Harris to Help Stop Violence

On Wednesday December 17, 2008, sex workers will gather at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco to demand an end to violence and exploitation. This vigil marks the 6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, honoring sex workers who’ve been murdered or assaulted. Sex workers urge San Francisco’s public officials, including District Attorney Kamala Harris, to enact policy changes that would prevent violence.

Harris has identified herself as concerned with the health, safety, and rights of those working in the sex industry. However, her support for the ongoing criminalization of sex workers based on their employment status does nothing to end the violence that she says she stands against. Sex workers demand she also end the exploitation and violence they face at the hands of those she claims will protect them — San Francisco law enforcement.

“Our research shows that arresting sex workers makes them more likely to experience violence and test positive for HIV & STIs,” said Naomi Akers, MPH, Executive Director of St. James Infirmary, a community health clinic for sex workers. “When sex work is criminalized, many are afraid to report crimes committed against them. When they do report violence, they seldom receive justice.”

Sex workers systematically face violence and sexual assault from law enforcement. According to a recent UCSF study, 1 out of 7 sex workers in San Francisco have been threatened with arrest by police officers unless they have sex with them, and 1 out of 5 sex workers in San Francisco report that police officers have paid them for sex. In addition, the Police Department and the district attorney use condoms that sex workers carry in order to stay safe as evidence against them.

“For most sex workers, their criminal status keeps them from working in safer conditions and seeking out assistance from law enforcement if assaulted or robbed,” said Tara Sawyer, Board Chair of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA), a national peer-led network of sex workers who initiated this day in 2003 when Gary Leon Ridgway aka the Green River Killer was convicted for murdering 48 prostitutes over a 21-year period near Seattle, WA. Said Sawyer, “Sex workers are the experts at identifying harm in the sex industry and developing solutions.”

Interviews are available with sex workers attending the vigil in San Francisco as well as nationwide by using the contact info above. Media and the public are welcome at the SF vigil:

December 17, 2008 5pm
850 Bryant St. (Hall of Justice), San Francisco

Following the vigil, will process together to a Memorial (hosted by Annie Sprinkle)
For our sister and brother sex workers lost to violence
6:30pm, Center for Sex and Culture
1519 Mission Street (at 11th)
http://www.sexandculture.org

Vigil Co-sponsored by St. James Infirmary (stjamesinfirmary.org) and Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (swopusa.org)

Bring a Red Umbrella in Solidarity with Sex Workers & Our Human Rights

2 Responses

  1. I wish more than anything that I could be with you all tonight.

    It has now been six years since Gary Ridgeway was sentenced. No other case best illustrates the outcome of criminalization on sex workers.

    Love to all my Sisters and Brothers,

    Lisa Roellig

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: