Contact: SWOP-USA Communications Director/Dec 17th Coordinater ~ Briq House
This 3rd weekend of December 2017, Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP USA), and all it’s chapters, joins individuals and organizations around the world in honoring International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. We hold December 17th as a day to pay homage to our ancestors who were taken away from us too soon by physical violence. As an organization we recognize that unfair laws, biases, stigma, and hate also constitute violence, as they impact the lives, health, and wellness of those in the sex industry. Collectively, we take this time to reignite our passion to fight for the rights of Sex Workers and other marginalized communities, and we call to action our global community to join in the fight with us.
Violence against sex workers is a worldwide issue that often coincides with other forms of oppression.
-The death rate for Sex workers in the USA is 204 out of every 100,000.
-Since 1990, over 150 Sex Workers have been killed in Britain.
-Three Quarters of all Trans* people murdered are killed in South and Central America where many are Sex Workers.
– In the US alone, 70,000 to 80,000 people are arrested for Sex Work each year.
– In a report on violence against sex workers in India, 70 percent had reported abuse by police, and 80 percent had been arrested without evidence.                                                                                                            – In Russia and Eastern Europe, 42 percent of sex workers reported physical violence from the police and 36 percent being sexually assaulted by the police.
 -A study of New York Street-Based Sex Workers reported that 80 percent of participants had reported experiencing violence, including 27 percent at the hands of police
 The history behind December 17th is a gloomy one. It was around this time in 2003 when Gary Ridgeway,”The Green River Killer,” received 48 life sentences with no chance of parol for the 70+ women he killed in the state of Washington over the course of 20 years. When asked why he chose his victims, he was recorded saying, “I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”
Activists Dr. Annie Sprinkle and SWOP Founder Robin Few used this day as a day to bring awareness and outrage to the public around the violence Sex Workers encounter. For years, Sex Workers Outreach Project has continued to carry that torch and advocate for Sex Workers’ rights and educate the public about the injustices Sex Workers face around the world.
Fighting for Sex Workers’ rights is fighting for human rights. We, as an organization and activists in our own communities, want Sex Workers to be able to live and work without the threat of death or violence. That is a basic human right to which all people should have access.
This December 17th, International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, I want us to start taking a critical look at the way we view violence. Violence does not start and end with murder. The prevalence of stigma, lack of compassion, and lack of education around Sex Work means that violence for sex workers and other marginalized communities can start anywhere. Including the doctor’s office, the local housing authority, the government assistance office, interactions with law enforcement etc.. Stopping violence also includes stopping microaggresions. It is there that the dehumanizing of people of certain backgrounds, race, abilities, economic status, and class start.

Microagressions can look like  “dead hooker” jokes, slut shaming, outing someone for sexual preferences that deviate from your own, singing or rapping along with whorephobic/homophobic lyrics, or your favorite entertainers saying whorephobic things and using hashtags like “NotAStripper,” though they have benefitted from either mocking or emulating stripper culture themselves.

Caring about Sex Workers and treating them as whole humans means caring about the things that affect them. Sex Workers need you to care about the alarmingly high rate in which Trans* Women of Color are killed. Sex Workers need you to join the fight for disability justice, care for vulnerable adults and children. Sex Workers need you to care about low income people not having access to clean water and healthcare. Sex Workers need you to care about Black and Brown people and how they are disproportionately targeted and harassed by law enforcement. Pay attention to and educate yourself on the Private Prison Industrial complex aka the new American slavery, and how our government financially benefits from keeping Sex Work, among other things, illegal.

In closing I would like to share some encouraging words from one of our Sex Workers Outreach Project Board Members:

“Our #sexwork community grows stronger every day as we learn to work together to protect, empower and strengthen each other.                                                                                                                                   Unity to fight discrimination, stigma and criminalization are the best ways we can empower and increase our ranks.  We are always stronger when we work together.                                                       Never think that the contributions you make to the fight for sex worker rights don’t count!  Show your love for your brothers and sisters by standing together!                                                                                   No single person and no single organization can achieve what we can all do when we work together to fight for our human rights!”

Want to know more: http://www.december17.org/, http://www.december17.org/2017/12/13/2017-memorial-names-printable-list/

Want to be involved: http://www.new.swopusa.org/contact/