Robyn Few was a native of Kentucky, who ran away from home at age thirteen and later became an exotic dancer. After marrying and having a daughter in her twenties, she began to take college courses in the hopes of earning a degree in theater arts. She came to California in 1993 to pursue theater and become an activist. Acting and activism not being the highest paying jobs, Few turned to prostitution to pay the bills in 1996. She worked tirelessly as an advocate and caregiver for medical marijuana and AIDS patients and gained quite a reputation in the Bay Area activist community as an effective lobbyist for the issue. In June of 2002, the FBI arrested Few under the direction of John Ashcroft. Using the Patriot Act, Ashcroft was able to equate terrorism with prostitution and get additional funding for the very expensive investigation. She was convicted on one federal count of conspiracy to promote prostitution and received six months house arrest, which she finished serving in June 2004. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel allowed Few to continue her activism and volunteer efforts while under house arrest. Few died Sept 13, 2012, after a long struggle with cancer.
For more information on Robyn Few, visit this wikipedia page.
Dubbed the “patriotic prostitute,” a campaign centered on the idea that prostitution should be decriminalized to protect women from violence began in October 2003 with The Sex Workers Outreach Project. SWOP is an outgrowth of the anger and frustration that Few feels as a result of her federal bust. “Until prostitutes have equal protection under the law and equal rights as human beings, there is no justice.”
SWOP NSW, a group in Australia, is the sister organization that the USA counterpart is modeled on, although the myriad of services that SWOP NSW provides cannot actually be put in place until prostitution is decriminalized in the U.S. “Until prostitutes are no longer criminals why would they come forward and allow themselves to become targets for law enforcement? Decriminalization is the beginning of the solution, it’s not the solution itself.”
Stacey Swimme draws her expertise on the sex industry from more than fourteen years of working in the industry and over a decade of political advocacy for sex workers. She’s co-founded two major advocacy organizations in the US and has worked in development and communications at the nation’s only health clinic for sex workers. Stacey is a formidable spokesperson for the industry and has been featured in several prime time television and radio interviews as well as in print and Internet outlets. With fearless honesty, Stacey discusses her experiences working in all aspects of the adult industries to help illuminate the hidden truths so often masked by fear and stigma.
Her innovative approach to community organizing has helped expand a nationwide network of thousands of sex workers and advocates who believe in a rights-based approach to policy making. Stacey utilizes horizontal organizing principles that have empowered sex workers to be the leaders in the movement toward civil, labor and human rights.
In addition to policy advocacy and community organizing, Stacey works with sex workers and their families to overcome the legal and social hurdles inherent to those who work in criminalized and marginalized professions.
“I believe that with courage and conviction, sex workers can enlist the support of compassionate family, friends and allies to challenge unwarranted discrimination and put an end to policies that are negatively impacting our lives. Sex workers are valuable members of our communities with much to contribute toward resolving common problems facing our economy and our environment. The United States will be a healthier, more prosperous nation when sex work is recognized as legitimate labor and those working in the industry are granted the full rights and responsibilities enjoyed by people in any other profession.”