Ally in the Fight for Sex Workers’ Rights,
We are writing to request your organization’s support
on the attached letter that will be submitted to President-Elect
Obama as well as several of his new cabinet appointees.
This letter and the accompanying National March for Sex Workers’
Rights have been organized by the Sex Workers’ Outreach
Project USA (SWOP-USA) and our peer-based network of sex worker
organizations. On December 17th we are honoring the 6th Annual
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW).
Our networks have been at the forefront of advocating for human
and labor rights for sex workers in the US. By signing on, your
organization is recognizing the right of sex workers to have
our demands heard on the critical issues that affect our lives.
More information is available in the attached Call to Action
and our list of demands.
If your organization would like to host an event for December
17th or if you’d like to attend an event in your city,
please visit the official IDEVASW website: http://www.swopusa.org/dec17/index.htm
Thank you for your support.
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
877-776-2004 x 3
912 Cole St. #202
San Francisco, CA 94117
To add your organization as a signatory, email
Phone or Email
*The letter, Call to Action and Demands are pasted here as well
as attached in .pdf format
Dear President-Elect Obama,
We are a coalition of sex workers and allies including community
organizers, medical professionals, social service workers, academic
researchers, advocates and friends & family members of sex
workers. We are writing to congratulate you on your victory.
For so many Americans, including sex workers, you represent
hope that we will see critical changes that will improve life
We are concerned about conditions for some of the most marginalized
members of our society: women, transgender people and others
who work in the sex industries. Many in our communities are
greatly affected by poverty, prejudices and incarceration. We
are further disenfranchised through racism, sexism, homophobia,
transphobia and economic oppression.
December 17th, 2008 is The International Day to End Violence
Against Sex Workers. This day was initiated by the Sex Workers
Outreach Project- USA (SWOP). We have been joined by organizations
around the world in our efforts to draw attention to violence
against sex workers. We’d like to extend an invitation
to you and the First Lady, Michelle to join in this world-wide
call for equal rights and protection. Studies done by the University
of California in San Francisco show that most sex workers are
afraid to turn to police when they experience abuse. Furthermore,
abuse against our communities is often committed by law enforcement.
As a result, our communities suffer a disproportionate amount
of preventable violence and deaths.
We know that only rights can stop these wrongs. We are confident
that you will hold true to your campaign promise of bringing
real change for the better to ordinary Americans. Sex workers-
whether you see us or not are everywhere. We are sons, daughters,
siblings, cousins, spouses and parents. We play an important
role in our society and make valuable contributions to our communities
and to our families. Our health and safety is a valuable asset
to our country. It is in the best interest of all Americans
that sex workers enjoy the same rights and responsibilities
of other employees, contractors and business people.
Attached you will find a call to action and an outline of the
human, labor and civil rights demands that we are working for.
Thank you for taking these matters into consideration.
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
National March for Sex Workers’ Rights 2008
Stop Shaming Us to Death
the past two years we’ve seen two women commit suicide
after high-profile sex scandals related to politicians. We are
outraged that those who provide services, especially women,
including transgender women carry the burden of sexual shame
and punishment in our society while the very people who use
our services are creating and enforcing legislation that violates
our human rights. Furthermore, we are frustrated that the media
emphasizes violence against female sex workers while ignoring
the homophobia and transphobia that fuel violence against men
and trans people in our community.
Against Sex Workers Is Not Acceptable
against us is not only tolerated, but even expected by society.
Gary Leon Ridgway, the Green River Killer, murdered more than
60 women over a 21-year period with impunity. When he was finally
apprehended he was quoted as saying: “I thought I could
get away with killing hookers because nobody cares about them…
I was doing the cops a favor by cleaning the trash up off the
street.” It is clear that labeling sex workers as criminals
puts us at odds with law enforcement who should be protecting
us and it sends a message to society that sex workers are expendable.
Sex workers should not be criminals and violence against us
should be classified as hate crime.
to Sex Workers
Sex workers and their
allies around the world have been in the forefront of the struggle
against human trafficking, working together to address force,
coercion and other abuses in the sex industry. Sex work done
consensually by adults is distinctly different from human trafficking.
The conflation of these concepts inhibits our role in contributing
solutions to human trafficking and other abuses in our industry.
There is a great deal of expertise from our communities defining
safe work environments, identifying abusive situations and establishing
a culturally appropriate community-based response to these
Are Part of the Solution- Don’t Silence Us!
Report of the Commission on AIDS in Asia noted that sex workers
are part of the solution to preventing the spread of HIV. This
year, United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon called for
an end to discrimination against sex workers noting that prevention
is only available to sex workers in countries with laws that
protect them. Harmful policies such as the Anti-Prostitution
Pledge in PEPFAR gag sex workers and the agencies that serve
us by forbidding funding to any organization that does not condemn
the sex industry. There is much to be gained by repealing the
Pledge and working with sex worker and public health organizations
to define best practices.