It's International Sex Worker Rights Day: Free the Condoms!

Categories: Sex

sarahbleviss.jpg
Ten years ago today, about 25,000 sex workers in India took to the streets with their friends and families, protesting the violence and condemnation they often experienced. Their actions eventually lead to the creation of International Sex Workers Rights Day. To celebrate, New York advocacy groups have organized festivities all week - from potlucks to dramatic performances - capped tonight by a special "No justice, no piece" reading at Happy Ending.

We caught up with Sarah Jenny Bleviss, co-founder and community organizer of the city's Sex Workers Outreach Project(SWOP), and chatted briefly about industry activists' current concerns.

So what do SWOP and other partner organizations do, exactly?

Our goal is to improve the lives of current and former sex workers in the New York metropolitan area: to advocate for de-criminalization of prostitution, de-stigmatization, and work toward the general health and well being of sex workers - for those who do the work and no longer want to be sex workers. We also offer things like peer and court support, so if people show up and get arrested, we can show up and support them. Mainly, it's a safe base, where people find community in what can be an otherwise stigmatized profession.

Are you and partner groups working on any specific issues right now?

The 'No condoms for evidence' bill. Currently, condoms are considered 'evidence' of prostitution. Police and courts say condoms prove that individuals engage in criminal activity. Sex workers are more likely to be arrested if they use condoms. I'm not sure of the exactly legal language, but basically, it's really bad public health policy: punishing people for carrying condoms. So right now, we're working on promoting the bill.

Anything else?

Safety - from clients, and safety from police. Sex workers are less likely to report crimes or violence that they've experienced, because they're afraid of repercussions from police and not being taken seriously. It can be a de-humanizing experience to not be taken seriously.

There's a sex worker storytelling session every month at Happy Endings. Anything special about tonight's?

Yes! Some of the funds will go to a sex worker media training workshop, to help sex workers gain skills and speak with the media about their experiences.


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7 comments
Over the River
Over the River

This is what I will be posting on the different site I visit today, July 13, 2012. Just a second to remind all, that sex workers are branded criminals because countries in which they work feel that prostitution, while a victimless "crime", needs to have guilty parties. These "crimes" often involve consensual acts in which two or more persons agree to commit a criminal offence in which no other person is involved.   The International Union of Sex Workers (http://www.iusw.org/) and the Sex Work Activists, Allies, and You (http://www.swaay.org/index.htm) are just two of the many organizations who support sex workers and their clients by providing support to these workers to bring about a change in attitudes, laws, and conditions. I support these organizations because I feel these women's rights are threatened by outdated laws that do nothing but penalize persons, while serving no real benefit to society. I support all causes that promote, enforce, and monitor women's rights. Thank you

Lauren Rankin
Lauren Rankin

Unfortunately, the vast majority of those involved in the sex trade are there because of fraud, force, or coercion, suffering high levels of sexual and physical violence. We should be working to prosecute the pimps and johns that perpetuate the exploitation and degradation of women.

www.caase.org

Tramadol Abuse
Tramadol Abuse

Top 10 Music Paternity Cases. Seventeen-year-old old pop idol Justin Bieber really came of age last week. First, his manager Scooter Braun proudly announced to the world that "vocally, his balls have dropped. ... With this scandal, young Bieber joins the ranks of famous musical maybe daddies who have, both rightfully and wrongfully, faced paternity claims from fans, models and the occasional crazy person. In honor .... "If I did [have sex with her], I would remember. ...

Kiovanna Tantra
Kiovanna Tantra

I want to be in touch with anyone from SWOP so I can get involved, pls let me know who to contact! Thanks  kiovannatantra @ gmail.com 

Julian
Julian

I went to a brothel my last time in Amsterdam. The girl's english was limited at best.As we had sex, she kept her head turned away from me. When I did not climax in thetime frame she demanded, she reached over to hit the alarm bell. A big guy came in andtold me to get out and behind me she hit me very hard in the back of the head. I got dressed and it was not fast enough to suit them and they threw my boots out into the hall. I will never visit a "sex worker again".

unluckyteen
unluckyteen

I"m so sorry about your experience, it sounds horrible.

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