Stop Shaming Us to Death: First National Sex Workers’ Rally, USA

More video from the DC March, by PJ Starr:

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San Francisco Day to End Violence Live Videos

These are the raw, archived videos from the livestream of the event. More polished, edited video to come:

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Sadie Lune performs “I Want You” & Kirk Read welcomes us to 850 Bryant

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Shelly on her experiences with the law enforcement, Acire from SWOP-Sacramento, Melissa Gira reads sex workers’ demands, & Naomi Akers from St. James Infirmary

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: Continue reading

Int’l Day to End Violence, New York City: 7-8pm, Vigil

Sex Workers Outreach Project, Sex Work Awareness, $pread Magazine, and Sex Workers Action New York are co-sponsoring a vigil tonight in New York City from 7 to 8 pm in Washington Square Park:

World AIDS Day: A PEPFAR for the United States, without The Pledge?

I was chosen as the first caller today on NPR’s Talk of the Nation to discuss the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Pledge —

“On World AIDS Day, researcher Robert Gallo salutes President Bush’s successful efforts to fight the disease overseas. But with infections on the rise in America’s inner cities, Gallo argues that similar strategies must be employed in the U.S.”

Gallo had an editorial in the Washington Post calling for PEPFAR to be reproduced in the US, with a focus on “inner cities.” Gallo was part of the research team that claims to have discovered the HIV virus created the HIV blood test. I called in to raise the concern that ideological funding restrictions, like the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath, could remain if we were to expand PEPFAR into the US. I stated the need for evidence-based programs that do not discriminate, and got to respond back to Gallo when he questioned how grassroots our efforts are around the world. There’s nothing like saying, “200 of us gathered at the International AIDS Conference to call for an end to the Pledge. We’re working in Cambodia, in India, in Mexico. We’re working together.”

The show archive should be posted online later today. (I was actually totally nervous — blame my having learned any sense of how to speak in public from having listened to a lot of NPR as a kid, pressure! — so bear with my shaky voice.)

US sex workers will be rallying in DC on Dec 17th, and calling for an end to The Pledge and discrimination against sex workers. Join us.

Liveblogging Ashley on 20/20: or, Diane Sawyer Is So Pimp

Irreverence, yes, but with how much gravity can we approach yet another tv news feature on prostitution? I did kid when I said we were all in our La Perla. Okay, I am, but also combat boots. And a cocktail.

9:29 PM Lubricating with “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” The hooker memoir nerd in me is remembering way too many scenes in like every Michelle Tea book about incalls blasting trash tv while waiting for clients to show up.

9:41 PM Chatting with Peridot Ash about managing all these different identities we have: workers, bloggers, activists, all that. (Tonight she’s twittering this, too.)

9:56 PM Gina de Vries just arrived. 4 minutes to showtime. Too many laptops. Good times.

10:00 PM “Girl at the Crossroads?” At least they got her a better makeup artist than Deborah Jean. Oh, the montage: she had a cat! Popular girls with Persians can become sex workers, too!

Continue reading

Liveblogging Ashley Alexandra Dupre, tonight at 10

Join us tonight at Bound, not Gagged for a bi-coastal live blogging of 20/20, which returns again to the subject of prostitution in America. The star of their segment is Ashley Alexandra Dupre.

The woman most (unfortunately? wrongly?) often described as “the downfall of former New York state governor Eliot Spitzer” is speaking directly to the press in depth for the first time, including People and tonight, Diane Sawyer, who just can’t get enough of fancy hos.

We’ll be here at 10 o’clock Eastern and Pacific. In La Perla thongs, of course.