SWOP-USA is an umbrella organization that offers support, mentorship, and fiscal sponsorship to local SWOP Chapters across North America. SWOP-USA is comprised of a small team of dedicated volunteer activists, which makes up the Board of Directors. Our budget is modest (we accrued $54,000 in 2014 in donations, grants, merch, and special events), the bulk of which comes from our own fundraising. Each Chapter is run by volunteer activists, and we encourage them to embrace their specific skill sets in their work to advance the human rights of sex workers. As a result, no two SWOP Chapters are alike, and they all have different endeavors they focus on. Chapters come together with SWOP-USA to strengthen common efforts, such as observing Dec 17th each year.
While each SWOP Chapter has it’s own flavor and focus, these are a few things that Chapters commonly undertake:
– Building sex worker community via social events such as movie nights and potlucks.
– Offering peer support with discussion groups and direct street outreach.
– Educating the public via community forums, festivals, art shows, and media interviews.
– Building bridges with social service providers and other allies for member referral and support.
What all SWOP Chapters have in common is the desire to advance the human rights of people who have been involved in the adult industry/sex trade. The definition of sex work is broad, and the circumstances that bring a people to the adult industry are likewise complex and varied. There are many people who attend SWOP social event who do not describe themselves as sex workers, preferring terms such as dominatrix, stripper, provider, companion, or sugar baby. We do not push labels on these individuals, nor do we question their right to be there. The same goes for people who have come to the adult industry unwillingly, or under negative circumstances. Some of our Chapters provide direct services for victims of trafficking, and some of our Chapters are led by people who identify as survivors. Whether someone is seeking to exit the industry, to protest bad policies, or simply to find a safe space to openly socialize, SWOP Chapters step up to the plate and try to provide support for their members. We strive to be inclusive to all of the realities within the sex trade, and the services we offer often reflects the needs of the communities we live in.
SWOP-USA and it’s local Chapters assert that decriminalization and harm reduction measures have the potential to uplift the lives of everyone within the adult industry. Here’s how:
– Labor rights will enable sex workers to have legal recourse against unsafe working conditions, discrimination, and bad management.
– Bringing the erotic trade out of the shadows of prohibition will enable instances of human trafficking to be more accurately identified.
– Immunity from arrest will enable sex workers and survivors to safely report instances of violence, robberies, fraud, and coercion.
– Enabling the sex worker community to associate and communicate freely will strengthen social structure for peer support and safer community standards.
– Ultimately, all of these measures will start to shift the heavy social stigma that afflicts sex workers in the form of barred employment opportunities, denied access to service services and housing, social ousting, and violence.
While we work towards decriminalization and related rights, we do the best we can to provide the services and support our communities need to survive and thrive.