7th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

7th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Join us for a vigil and community speak out

When: Friday, December 17, 2010 at 7:30PM – 9:30PM

Where: Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Sanctuary (2nd floor), 446 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018 btw 9th & 10th Aves. < http://bit.ly/dUenDt >

Who: Current & former sex workers, our allies, friends, families, and communities. This event is free and open to the public.

Join us in observing the 7th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Join us in remembering those we’ve lost to violence, oppression and hate, whether perpetrated by clients, partners, police or the state.

We stand against the cycle of violence experienced by sex workers around the world. Recently in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council reviewed the human rights record of the United States during their Universal Periodic Review. Uruguay’s recommendation to the Obama Administration – to address “the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses” – is the moral leadership we have been waiting for!

Join us in solidarity to fight the criminalization, oppression, assault, rape and murder of sex workers – and of folks perceived as sex workers.

December 17, 2003 was our first annual day to honor the sex workers who were murdered by serial killer Gary Ridgway. In Ridgway’s own words, “I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.” (BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3245301.stm)

We come together each year to show the world that the lives of marginalized people, including those of sex workers, are valuable.

  • Speakers:
    • Audacia Ray, Red Umbrella Project & Sex Work Awareness
    • Chelsea Johnson-Long, Safe OUTside the System Collective of the Audre Lorde Project
    • Michael J. Miller, The Counterpublic Collective and PROS Network
    • Andrea Ritchie, Peter Cicchino Youth Project and Streetwise & Safe (SAS)
  • Readings
    • Reading of the names of sex workers we have lost this past year
    • Memorial for Catherine Lique by her daughter Stephanie Thompson and read by Sarah Jenny Bleviss
    • Speak out: Bring poetry, writings or just speak your truth.

Light snacks, beverages, and metrocards will be provided.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers’ Rights and is increasingly used on December 17: “First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.”

This event is co-sponsored by: Audre Lorde Project, Counterpublic Collective, FIERCE, MADRE, Peter Cicchino Youth Project, The Queer Commons,  PONY (Prostitutes of New York), PROS Network, Red Umbrella Project, SAFER, Sex Work Awareness, Sex Workers Project, SWANK (Sex Workers Action New yorK), SWOP-NYC (Sex Workers Outreach Project), the Space at Tompkins, and Third Wave Foundation.

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=110788105658599

For events outside of New York, visit: http://www.swop-usa.org/dec17

CALL TO ACTION: UGANDA: Government should break the chains of injustices against sexual minorities and lift decision to ban Sex Workers Human Rights workshop.

20 November 2010

On the 17th of November 2010 the State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Hon Nsaba Buturo called off a conference organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika a Pan African Women’s Non Governmental Organisation based in Kampala, Uganda. He did so by sending a strong worded letter to the Hotel General Manager giving “directives not to host a Prostitutes Conference run by Akina Mama wa Afrika and if they do so, will be abetting illegality in Uganda”. It should be noted that Akina Mama sent a letter to the Minister informing him about the details of the conference. He never responded to it, but instead, sent a threatening letter to the hotel management with the objective to suspend the meeting.

The Minister’s actions are in open contradiction to the constitution of Uganda which guarantees the Freedom of Assembly, Speech and non discrimination said Kasha Jacqueline Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda. Commercial sex workers constitute a minority group that has the right to assemble, share ideas and forge ways on how to protect themselves against violence, abuse and HIV/AIDS as well as empower themselves, as any other Ugandan citizen.

Stopping this conference repeats a known pattern, as in 2008 the same Minister also cancelled a scheduled conference organized by the same group and host organization. While many other groups can meet freely in Uganda without being stopped or harassed, commercial sex workers, who experience high levels of vulnerability, inequality and discrimination can not exercise their right to freedom of assembly and speech” “ This is an injustice, a violation of their political and civil rights as well as of the right to work of these young women” lamented FARUG Communications Manager.

The Ugandan Ministry of Health, as it is well known, has acknowledged that Commercial Sex Workers are among Most At Risk Populations (MARPs) and has included them as main partners of the National HIV/AIDS program, which is guided among others by the UNGASS guidelines. Therefore the actions preformed by Mr Buturo are at odds with the national policy guidelines and will evidently undermine the investments made by the Ministry of Health to prevent and treat groups and persons affected by HIV/AIDS.

It should also be noted that, since 2003, Uganda has received eight grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. As its known worldwide the Global Funds guidelines are also very clear to state that the various populations affected by HIV/AIDS should be part of the efforts to prevent and treat the pandemic and, not as it is happening in Uganda, be systematically brutalized by criminalization. As it has been analyzed by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Mr. Anand Grover in his report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2010:

“Criminalization represents a barrier to participation and collective action, through the suppression of activities of civil society and individual advocates. The participation of sex workers in interventions has been shown to have significant benefits. Organizations representing sex workers took an early lead in attempting to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS, through the promotion of condom use, the development of AIDS education programs and inclusive research studies”

Stopping the conference being organized by Akina Mama was Afrika openly contradicts these recommendations and guidelines to fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda.

We call on the Minister and Government of Uganda to apologies for the trouble his intervention has caused and reverse his absurd decision.

For more details contact:

Solome Nakaweesi on Email: snkimbugwe@gmail.com or call +256772463154
Kasha Jacqueline on Email: kasha@faruganda.org or call +256772463161

To support our call, send letters to:

Min of Ethics and Integrity. Hon Nsaba butruo
Email: info@dei.go.ug
Min of Internal Affairs.Hon Kirunda Kivejinja
Email: info@mia.go.ug or Tel +256 41 231 059
Min of Gender & Equal opportunity Commission. Hon Opio Gabriel
Email: ps@mglsd.go.ug or Tel +256-41-347854 Phone 2: +256-41-347855
Min of Health. Hon Stephen Malinga
Email: info@health.go.ug or Tel: +256 41340884
Uganda Human Rights Commission
Email:uhrc@uhcr.org or Tel +25641 34800718 or +256 41233757

You are not FREE until everyone is FREE
“BREAK THE CHAINS”

Update from Sex Worker advocates at UN in Geneva this week

Tomorrow, November 5, 2010, the United States will be reviewed as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. The session can be viewed online as a webcast.

The UPR is a relatively new way to address human rights in UN member nations. During the review session, other countries will ask questions about the overall human rights record in the U.S. and propose recommendations that the government will need to respond to over the next three months. This review is a historic occasion because the U.S. has agreed to submit itself to assessment by other countries in the UN setting – something this country rarely does.

In preparation for the upcoming review, advocates for the rights of sex workers consulted with networks and organizations working with sex workers, people in the sex trade and people who are affected by anti-prostitution policies in the United States more generally. Drawing on these perspectives, the Best Practices Policy Project, in collaboration with Desiree Alliance and the Sexual Rights Initiative, drafted a comprehensive national statement http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/downloads/FinalUPRBPPP_Formatted.pdf that describes the ways in which stigmatization and criminalization of sex workers in the United States result in widespread violations of civil and human rights. These abuses are rampant in working class, majority African-American and Latino, and urban communities. Arrests for sex work can lead to a cycle of continued exclusion from housing, marginalization from formal employment, and re-imprisonment. Furthermore, law enforcement officers frequently commit physical and sexual violence against sex workers, while simultaneously failing to recognize that sex workers can be victims of crime, denying justice or support to sex workers who seek their help.

Two representatives from the Best Practices Policy Project are currently in Geneva presenting summary recommendations to diplomatic delegations and encouraging countries to ask the United States questions about its human rights record with respect to sex workers and other communities affected by the policing of sexual exchange. While few countries are prepared to be outspoken in defense of sex worker rights, the activists on the ground report some encouraging conversations with country delegations, and remain hopeful that this will be the first time sex worker concerns are raised within the UPR milieu.

Summary recommendations being shared with country delegates are that the United States should:

Implement comprehensive criminal justice reform that includes measures to stop human rights abuses committed in the name of anti-sex trade laws. This would include repealing laws, including laws against prostitution-related offenses, and eliminate policies, such as “prostitution free zones”, that erode legal protections barring law enforcement from detaining individuals on the basis of how they are perceived or the way they are dressed (ie racial and gender profiling). The application of felony-level charges against sex workers and people living with HIV should be halted as should sex offender registration requirements of those arrested for engaging in prostitution. Criminal justice reform must also address the frequency of abuse of sex workers, or those perceived as such, by law enforcement and other state actors. Similarly, reform must ensure that people involved in the sex trade or profiled as such receive appropriate responses from authorities when they are targeted for violence and other crimes.

Ensure health care access for those engaged, or perceived to be engaged, in sex work and the sex trade. In many jurisdictions in the United States condoms are used as evidence of criminal activity in the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws. Individuals involved in street economies face tremendous stigmatization in health care settings. Sex workers urgently need access to health care services including harm reduction oriented programs, which often are prohibited from receiving federal funding.

Reorient national anti-trafficking policy to a rights-based framework and repeal the US governments “anti-prostitution pledge” requirement on foreign aid. Migrants involved in the sex trade who experience exploitation require services and legal support, but the response to human trafficking in the U.S. currently focuses on law enforcement approaches that alienate and traumatize victims. U.S. anti-trafficking policies and practices undermine the health and rights of sex workers domestically and internationally, including requiring recipients of HIV and anti-trafficking funding to adopt a stance condemning sex work. These requirements should be repealed.

 

 

Anti Sex Worker Rights Candidate Defeated in Rhode Island

At least one candidate supported by the anti sex worker rights organization Citizens Against Trafficking has been defeated.

CAT endorsed Amy Rice as one of the candidates supportive of their false effort to allegedly assist and rescue trafficking victims by denying sex worker rights.

Amy Rice lost.

With 537 of 537 (100%) polls reporting statewide

REPRESENTATIVE IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 72
CANDIDATE (*NUMBER OF CANDIDATES ELECTED: 01) VOTES PERCENT
Daniel Patrick REILLY (R) 2,964 52.4%
Amy G. RICE (D) 2,697 47.6%

 

Donna M. Hughes, Censoring Craigslist, the Street

Donna M. Hughes apparently reads this blog.  Hours after my post on how they allowed their alleged resource for trafficking victims go dark for over a week due to lack of payment, it has been restored.  On the front page they discuss the virtues of censoring Craigslist erotic services section.

Donna M. Hughes, Melanie Shapiro and your supporters.  Do you think traffickers and pimps are that stupid?  Or are you under the illusion that you are that powerful?  That somehow by censoring Craigslist traffickers, pimps and other predators are just going to go away.  Donna M. Hughes, Melanie Shapiro, and your supporters have you asked or considered alternative views from victims of your decisions?

When I was in coerced prostitution and an advertising source folded for whatever reason, I didn’t get a week off of paid vacation or a rescue from some feminist organization.  I got the street.  Donna M. Hughes, Melanie Shapiro, and your supporters, have you ever worked the street?  It is cold, it is frightening and it is dangerous.  I got to give blow jobs from under a steering wheel or over a gear shift.  I got to suck a gear shift during doggie style sex for twenty bucks.  Or gave a blow job in the rain while half naked, on my knees on some alley in Cincinnati.  Or worse, I got picked up and taken someplace where no one knew where I was, not even the pimp who at least had an investment in keeping me alive.  How safe would I have been being picked up by say Gary Ridgeway?  Without even the back up of a pimp.  I was fortunate not to have been picked up by a serial killer.  But it easily could have happened, and you know what, who would have cared?  Just another statistic.

So Donna M. Hughes, Melanie Shapiro and your supporters, when you get over your egotistical whims for your victories that are actually losses for both trafficking victims and consenting sex workers, perhaps you will realize the harm of your “work”.  Donna M. Hughes, you don’t give a damn about trafficking victims.  Your true goal is getting called to testify in front of Congress or on some radio show as an “expert”.  Work a street corner for a night in the winter and then come back and talk as an expert.  You will talk far more about fear, about being very cold, and wondering with every pick up whether you will be alive after it ends or even if you want to be alive after it ends rathe  than your academic terminology and glossed victories.

You conflate sex work and trafficking, you posture as an expert despite no first hand experience, you rescue no one, you harm so many and call yourself an expert and gleefully posture about your victories.

I dare you to try the real world some day Donna M. Hughes.

Radical Feminist Anti Trafficking Movement That Cares So Much About Trafficking Victims

Rhode Island based Citizens Against Trafficking the brainchild of Donna Hughes, which worked so hard to criminalize indoor sex work in Rhode Island to save trafficking victims, has let their website go dark over lack of payment,

www.citizensagainsttrafficking.org

For an organization that proclaimed how much they cared about trafficking victims and proclaimed the value of their resource, how much do they really care when they don’t even bother to keep the website active?  The organization’s claim to care about human trafficking victims is a farce.  This was about political agenda, about winning for their belief that arresting trafficking victims and consenting sex workers is the best solution to rescue the human trafficking victim.

After I was violently raped last summer by a client, I wrote to Citizens Against Trafficking and asked them how criminalization in my state, just like Rhode Island was going to help me.  As I had no chance of justice going to the police to report being raped by a quasi law enforcement officer (Federal Air Marshall).   There was no response.  Hey Donna M. Hughes and Melanie Shapiro, what does your legislation do for me?  It let a rape occur with no recourse, that is what it did for me.

Then there is this book. http://www.amazon.com/Enslaved-True-Stories-Modern-Slavery/dp/1403974934

My life history is in this book.  They have an organization which has a speakers bureau and claims to work against trafficking.  Yet, despite giving them permission years ago to use my life history in their book, they fail to even acknowledge requests to send me a copy of what they did with my history.  Perhaps because I changed sides of the fence about the same time it went to print?

I joined the sex worker rights movement in 2005 and found genuine activists seeking simply to cause social change so that they can work and live their lives.  The other side seems to want just victories for their point of view, their activists and the victim/survivors are just a component to their efforts to win.

We as sex worker rights activists are working just to get basic human rights.  Prohibitionists are working to advance their careers using sex workers and trafficking victims as pawns for political victories.

Tell me, prohibitionists, where is the justice you proclaim to be working toward?