The National March For Sex Workers Rights is
part of International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.
For more details about events in your area, click here

Dear 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.

Sincerely,
Tara Sawyer
Board Chair
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
877-776-2004 x 3
tara@swopusa.org
912 Cole St. #202
San Francisco, CA 94117
www.swopusa.org

 


To add your organization as a signatory, email press@swopusa.org.

Please include:
Your Name
Title
Organization
Phone or Email
Website
*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 for all.

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.

Sincerely,

Tara Sawyer
Board Chair
Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
National March for Sex Workers’ Rights 2008
Washington, DC

Our Demands:

Stop Shaming Us to Death

In 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.

Violence Against Sex Workers Is Not Acceptable

Violence 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.

Listen 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
problems.

Sex Workers Are Part of the Solution- Don’t Silence Us!

The 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.