US Sex Workers Celebrate Canadian Victory

US Sex Workers Celebrate Canadian Victory:
Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA and other US groups join in celebration with Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC) and all Canadian Sex Workers

This week Canadian sex workers won a constitutional challenge when an Ontario court struck down key Canadian anti-prostitution laws, saying that they contribute to the danger faced by sex-trade workers.

Three sex trade workers asked Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to declare legal restrictions on their activities a violation of charter rights of security of the person and freedom of expression.  On Monday, the Court struck down the three sections challenged by members of the group Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Sections 210 (prohibiting bawdy houses), 212 (1j) (living off the avails of Prostitution), and Section 213 (prohibiting communication in public view for the purpose of prostitution).

The invalidation of Section 210 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits “bawdy houses”- that is brothels and indoor sex work venues-will mean that sex workers “can ensure [their] safety by working together indoors,” according to SPOC. Section 212 (1j) of the Criminal Code prohibits living wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution. Although the Code was developed to protect sex workers from third parties involved in prostitution SPOC commented that,  “[i]n practice, it makes us and our live-in partners, and even elderly parents we support, susceptible to being charged, and serving up to ten years in jail. The invalidation of Section 212 (1j), will allow our families to finally stop fearing arrest. Our employees, such as receptionists, drivers, etc. will no longer fear criminal prosecution.”

Rights Based Organizations in the United States Support the Reforms

Laws against “living off the earnings” of sex workers, solicitation and indoor sex work are common in many countries around the world. Sex workers’ legal victory in Canada gives hope to workers in other countries that these laws can be invalidated and their safety and welfare improved. Organizations working with and defending the rights of sex workers in the United States joined their voices with SPOC to celebrate this victory.

“We recognize the long time work of Sex Professionals of Canada and the contributions of the many sex worker rights organizations, activists and allies around Canada. We are also grateful to Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Alan Young and the students at Osgoode who worked on this case,” says Liz Coplen, SWOP USA Board Chair. “We hope that the US will learn from our Canadian neighbors,” added  SWOP USA Founder, Robyn Few as she celebrated the victory in her home in California.

“Over 30 years of dedication brought Val Scott, along with Amy Lebovitch, Terri-Jean Bedford and SPOC (Sex Professionals of Canada) to this pivotal moment in our history,” says long time sex worker activist Carol Leigh and director of the BAYSWAN, California. “We respect their hard work and dedication to make a change for rights.”

“Although there is a long road ahead, we are pleased that there is a high court recognition of what sex workers have been experiencing and explaining, that these laws that purport to protect women actually serve to drive sex workers of all genders further underground, hinder us from accessing services, and allow abuses to be perpetuated against us without recourse,” commented Dylan Wolfe of SWOP-NYC.

“We welcome the reforms in Ontario,” commented Penelope Saunders, Coordinator of the Best Practices Policy Project. “These changes will help defend the safety and security of sex workers and others in the sex trade, and will benefit their families and loved ones. Furthermore, striking down section 213 means that the police will have less cause to harass others in the community such as the homeless, youth, transgenders, and minorities.”

Canadian Judge’s decision based on facts, not misinformation

Justice Susan Himel, the deciding judge in the case, concluded that policy reform can increase safety for sex workers and people in the sex trade, writing that there are “ways of conducting prostitution that reduce the risk of violence towards prostitutes.” Judge Himel discounted misguided arguments from prostitution prohibitionists that sex work is inherently harmful and affirmed critiques of research carried out by leading prostitution prohibitionists describing it as not meeting the “standards set by Canadian courts for the admission of expert evidence.” Justice Himel also found that many of these individuals “were more like advocates than experts offering independent opinions to the court” who “at times…made bold, sweeping statements that were not reflected in their research.”

Academics in the United States concur with the judges view. “As scientists we already know that there are certain ways to conduct prostitution that reduces the risk of violence, disease, coercion and increases the safety to workers and the public at large. This ruling at last cuts through the misinformation spread by those ignoring the science,” says Professor Barb Brents, University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Cris Sardina, a SWOP USA board member and co-coordinator of the Desiree Alliance praised the judge for using facts, not misinformation. “Around the world sex workers struggle against violence, campaigns of misinformation, manipulated statistics, sensationalistic campaigns and plain untruths by the some of the same experts who testified in opposition to the SPOC,” she said. “I’m very pleased Judge Himel based this decision on evidence, not hysteria.”

This week’s ruling represents a significant and historic victory in the international struggle for Sex Worker’s right to live and work with safety, dignity and without violence.

Sex Workers Stop Traffick


For Immediate Release
####

Contact:
Sex Workers Outreach Project

http://www.SWOPUSA.org

877-776-2004 x 2
info@swopusa.org

Sex Workers Stop Traffick

Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, a social justice and anti-violence project by and for sex workers, decries trafficking and demands protections for workers.
In the debate regarding the coercive shutdown of the Craigslist adult services sections the voices of sex workers have been conspicuously overlooked. Trafficking is not sex work. Real traffickers and child abusers must be stopped. Sex workers are in a unique position to help end trafficking, if our perspectives are taken into account.

Based on our extensive knowledge and experience with the sex industry, SWOP calls on elected officials and members of law enforcement to pursue a sane and effective approach to ending trafficking.

The conflation of consensual sex work with rape is a disservice to both victims of trafficking and to sex workers. Persecuting consenting adults for exchanging sex for money is a waste of precious resources that could better be used providing services and legal protections for minors and others who have been abused.

Trafficking and child sexual abuse are not sex work. Real traffickers must be stopped. Sex workers need health and labor protections to keep them safe while working and the ability to report crimes to the police if they are violated.

Sex workers and our clients are part of the solution- not the problem- to identify and root out real abuses. Sex workers and our clients are best situated to recognize suspicious or illegitimate activity on the Internet. The criminal status of some sex work is a barrier to helping law enforcement tap into this vital resource.

Since sex workers are not afforded equal legal protection from sexual assault and theft, we self-police by monitoring and identifying predators, work cooperatively to create safe workspaces and advise each other in safety methods that are critical to survival. Nobody is better situated to speak to the real problems and respective solutions for this community than sex workers.

SWOP demands that the voices of sex workers be included in all discussions of issues related to the commercial sex industry, particularly when the venues in which we communicate and keep each other safe are concerned. Purported rights groups, such as Change.org, have ignored sex worker voices while wrongfully vilifying Craigslist as a cause of- rather than an ally in stopping- trafficking. The continued silencing of sex workers, the trend to shut down the spaces where we communicate and the disregard of our expert knowledge demonstrate clearly that these efforts are more about stomping out sex for sale in general than in protecting those who are actually abused.

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Photo by Xtalk in April 2009 in cooperation with ECP and Sex worker Open University- London


International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers- December 17

On December 17, 2021 Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago will join other sex worker rights organizations all over the world in commemorating the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This date was chosen by Dr. Annie Sprinkle in recognition of the conviction of Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, a man whose reign of terror over almost twenty years resulted in the known deaths of 48 women. These women, who also happened to be sex workers, were targeted by Ridgway because, in his own words, “I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught”.

Our current laws, enforcement practices and narrow social perceptions create a supportive environment for other Gary Ridgways to exist and thrive. One of our concerns is that sex work is an industry that is often marginalized, dangerous, or criminal. We want to see safety and rights granted to all sex workers - those in the industry by choice as well as those in the industry who want out. SWOP-Chicago invites the community to commemorate this day with us as we remember colleagues lost to violence in the past year, to learn why laws both current and pending increase harm against the sex worker population and what can be done to create a non-violent future where violence against sex workers is an occurrence of the past.

A vigil will be hosted by SWOP-Chicago at the Barbara and Barbara Gallery, located at 1021 N. Western Avenue on Thursday, December 17. The vigil will feature a community art project, a candle lighting ceremony as the names of the victims are read as well as a variety of speakers, readings and performers reflecting the diversity of the sex worker community. We invite current and former sex workers, adult industry performers, or those impacted by the sex trade to come out and speak about their experiences in the industry or bring something to read. Food and snacks provided.

Barbara & Barbara Gallery
1021 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, Illinois
Reception starts at 6:30pm

Event runs until 10 pm

No cover, but beverages available by donation


Questions? Please email sexworkchicago@gmail.com

Sex Worker Self Defense Classes Begin September 16- Sign Up Now!

Adult Industry Professional Self Defense Program

Back Off! and SWOP Chicago join forces to present the Adult Industry Professional Self Defense Program. This Program comprises of three 90 minute modules that will cover the specific needs associated with the adult industry. These classes were designed specifically for sex workers and our unique working environments.

Each of the modules targets different situational scenarios. The first module addresses general self-defense strategies. The second module deals with environmental self-defense. The third module encompasses ejecting a client from self and location.

The intensity of this program means that it is only offered for adult industry professionals in a private setting. Modules will be offered in the weekday and weekend times that will best fit the adult industry professionals’ schedules.

Due to the nature of the private setting, classes fill up quickly. Sign up now! Classes are located in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.
Modules will be offered starting Wednesday, September 16 at 3PM

Cost is only $75. This includes self-defense gadgets and toys. In addition, participants will be given access to a wide variety of self protection equipment.

Contact Kevin Sogor now at 773-252-4470 or at walking.armour@gmail.com

Chicagoans spend thousands of dollars annually to insure their possessions and access to healthcare. As an adult industry professional, your body is your life. $75 is next to nothing to insure the safety of your body.

Recovery Rags Clothing/Cosmetic Drive in Partnership with Chicago Recovery Alliance

Recovery Rags is a new program is conjunction with the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA) that aims to help homeless and precariously housed women in the Cicero/West Side Chicago area gain access to new/gently used clothing, toiletries, and makeup. The women in this area will be able to trade in their old clothing and accessories for “new” items…the ones that YOU donate! Every Recovery Raqs “customer” will gain access to a wide variety of on-site health-promotion and HIV-prevention services, as well as referrals to other programs whose assistance they need (employment assistance, housing services, counseling, violence prevention, etc.) All donations are tax-deductible. We pick up donated items on the 2nd & 4th Sunday of every month. (and available other times through S.W.O.P~Chicago).

Items we will accept:

* NEW Toiletries and new or gently used non-liquid cosmetics
* Shirts/blouses/bras
* Pants, shorts, and skirts
* Shoes/ boots
* Purses, belts, sunglasses, and hats
* Accessories (necklaces, rings, bracelets, etc.)
* Jackets/coats/gloves/scarves/hats (getting ready for winter!)

Items we cannot accept:

*Used toiletries
* Earrings/nose rings/any jewelry requiring piercing
* Liquid Make-up (Mascara, lip gloss, liquid eye liner, etc)
* Business Clothing, prom dresses, formal wear
* You can donate ANYTHING you don’t want anymore, but items the staff members can’t repair will be donated to other organizations.

 

Learn more about Chicago Recovery Alliance @ www.anypositivechange.org

The Sex Workers Outreach Project~Chicago is proud to support CRA & assist with Recovery Rags
Clothing/Item donations can also be scheduled though SWOP.
Email sexworkchicago@gmail.com or call (312) 252-2880

Thank You!

“Happy Endings?” Documentary Screening and Discussion- Friday, June 12

SEX WORKERS OUTREACH PROJECT-CHICAGO PRESENTS
an intriguing exploration of the Asian massage parlor industry in Providence, RI

HAPPY ENDINGS?”

documentary and post-screening discussion

in support of SWOP-Chicago
presented by Clarisse Thorn
and hosted by the Leather Archives & Museum

Friday, June 12, 7PM
Leather Archives & Museum
6418 N. Greenview (corner of Devon/ Greenview)

Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 761-9200
$5-10 suggested donation

Rhode Island: the only state where prostitution was legal.  It had been over 25 years since five prostitutes sued the state of Rhode Island for selective prosecution and prostitution laws were removed from the books, when documentarians Tara Hurley and Nick Marcoux turned their cameras on the underbelly of “The Renaissance City”.

Watch the drama unfold in Asian massage parlors across Providence as Mayor David Ciccilline pushes to close the prostitution “loophole”.  Follow Heather, a Korean immigrant, over two years as she manages the massage parlor.  Learn about the women who work in the spas.  Hear from the police who arrest them.  Watch the fight for and against the legislation.  The film includes subtitled interviews with Korean women who work in the spas, clients who frequent the spas, police, politicians from 1980 and today, local news footage, local radio call-in shows, and “voiced” reviews from internet escort review boards.  Read more, watch the trailer, and see clips from the film at [ http://happyendingsdoc.com/ ].

Just recently — May 2009 -prostitution is in danger of being criminalized again in Rhode Island. (The state House has approved it and the bill is waiting on a vote in the Senate.)  Come out, watch the documentary, and talk about it afterwards.  What do you think about sex work?  Is the change in Rhode Island law fair or unfair?

Delicious snacks will be served, and discussion will follow!
This is a benefit for the Sex Workers Outreach Project, and we’re requesting a $5-10 donation from attendees.

Thanks to our host the Leather Archives and Museum, preserving the history of alternative sexuality:  [ http://www.leatherarchives.org/ ]

Screening facilitated by Clarisse Thorn, sex-positive activist and curator of the Sex+++ Film Series:  [ http://clarissethorn.wordpress.com/ ]

Statement on Craigslist Law Suit

SWOP-Chicago does not condone the actions of the Cook County sheriff towards Craigslist. These actions are meant to persecute adults engaging in consensual sexual acts for money and goods of value. Creating criminal records for sex workers bars them from other forms of employment outside of sex work and may limit their ability to seek housing and other services.

This law suit is also a tremendous waste of tax payer resources during a time of severe economic turmoil in the state of Illinois and the country as a whole. The state of Illinois is currently facing a $9 billion dollar (and growing) deficit. Based on an analysis by Julie Pearl in 1987 and adjusted for inflation, in 2007 alone, the state spent over $14.6 million dollars on prostitution arrests. These figures do not take into account the cost of supporting jailed sex workers and the cost to human services agencies who serve these populations and the children of these individuals.

The resources involved in this law suit and in prostitution stings are much better used elsewhere.  The money and resources would be better spent providing health and human services to sex workers and other citizens of the state of Illinois who should receive services, rather than be prosecuted for lack of other viable options. Or, at a minimum, they should be used to go after the 22,005 unsolved burglaries, 12,424 unsolved aggravated assaults, 71 unsolved murders, 12,535 unsolved robberies, 104,226 unresolved property crimes, and 13,475 unresolved motor vehicle thefts[1],[2].

Suing Craigslist to end the marketing of erotic services will not address the issues. If recent FBI stings are any indication, very few, if any, children and minors involved in forcible, coerced, or trafficked prostitution are found by Craigslist targeting and crack downs. Ending Craigslist’s erotic services section will do nothing to stop the exploitation or forced, coerced, or trafficked people, and will divert valuable time and money away from the effort.

The Cook County sheriff is doing no one a service, not the tax payers, not the sex workers targeted. We at SWOP-Chicago strongly urge residents of Illinois to protest this egregious waste of their taxes and public resources and to consider what is truly best for the health and welfare of individuals who advertise erotic services on Craigslist.

[1] http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_69.html

[2] http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/data/table_08_il.html

Original Article- Sheriff Tom Dart Sues Craigslist

To contact the Sheriff’s office:

Cook County Sheriff’s Office
50 W. Washington
Chicago, Illinois  60602
(312) 603-6444
sheriff@cookcountysheriff.org

Dec 17th: Int’l Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

presented by SWOP Chicago

December 17, 2021

7PM

YWCA 360 N. Michigan, 8th Floor

Each year, sex workers are threatened, harmed, and killed by crimes that go unreported, unpunished, and unrecognized. These types of violence violate the human rights of individuals who work in the sex work industry, and harm sex workers as a group.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was founded by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and SWOP USA in response to the conviction of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway. Ridgway targeted sex workers because he believed no one would notice their absence.

When sex workers suffer sexual assault, abuse, battery, and murder, these crimes often go either unreported, or unprosecuted. Yet these crimes hurt all of society. Violence is not an “occupational hazard” or a “just punishment”, but a horrible crime for those least able to seek justice. This violence is perpetuated by stereotypes, misinformation, and an ineffective justice system.

This year, join SWOP Chicago in honoring the lives of those affected by this horrible violence. Join us for selected videos from Red Light District Chicago, including “Know Your Rights!”.

Bring photos, poems, artwork, writings, or anything else to help memorialize these individuals, and share what you feel comfortable. We will be providing refreshments, as well as sharing the names and stories of sex workers who have been affected by violence.

If you would like more information about this event, please email sexworkchicago@gmail.com