Tomorrow is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Why? Because the people – overwhelmingly women and transfolk – who work in the sex trade are disproportionately victims of violent crimes, and because the authorities often don’t take them seriously because they are breaking the law. As the webpage says,
During the week of December 17th, sex worker rights organizations will be staging actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers. The assault, battery, rape and murder of sex workers must end. Existing laws prevent sex workers from reporting violence. The stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by the prohibitionist laws has made violence against us acceptable. Please join with sex workers around the world and stand against criminalization and violence committed against prostitutes.
As a woman whose sexual assault was ignored because I was “somewhere I shouldn’t have been”, I take this particularly seriously. And since I don’t live near an organized event to mark the day, I’m going to take a cue from Dr. Annie Sprinkle‘s “Ten Things You Can Do to Participate“:
Absolutely EVERYONE is invited to participate. Here’s how.
1. Organize (or attend) a memorial in your town. Simply choose a place and time to gather. Invite people to bring their stories, writings, thoughts, related news items, poems, lists of victims, performances, and memories. Take turns sharing.
2. Hold (or attend) a candlelight vigil in a public place.
3. Do something at home alone, which has personal meaning, such as a ritual memorial bath, or light a candle.
4. Call a friend and discuss the topic.
5. Send a donation to a group that helps sex workers stay safer. For example, some teach self-defense or host web sites that caution workers about bad Johns.
6. Go to the Sex Worker Outreach Project’s, http://www.swop-usa.org, read it, and add something to the site. Do let others know about any planned Dec. 17 events by listing them on the SWOP web site.
7. Spread the word about the Day to End Violence Towards Sex Workers and the issues it raises; or blog, email, call, send a press release, or forward this text to others.
8. Go to Washington DC. This December 17, 2008 there will be a National March for Sex Worker Rights. People will converge from all over to take a stand for justice and safety. Info at http://www.swop-usa.org
9. Organize a panel discussion about violence towards sex workers. Procure a community space and invite speakers like sex workers, police, and families of victims.
10. Create your own way to participate.