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Cory Silverberg

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

By December 16, 2009

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From the Sex Workers Outreach Project website:

December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created to call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe. Originally thought of by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and started by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington. International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has empowered workers from over cities around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence.

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.

If you're wondering what this has to do with you make no mistake that your life has been touched by sex work in some way. People who do sex work aren't nameless, faceless others who you only hear about in grizzly news reports or see on 20/20. They are our lovers and spouses, our family members and co-workers, our teachers and students, our service providers and waiters. So too for the people who pay for sex. Yes, you may have never had a conversation with someone in your life about the time they paid for sex, but that doesn't mean they didn't. Or you didn't.

You can check out SWOPUSA's site for a list of events around the world. If there's one in your city or town, check it out. If you go with an open mind and open heart I promise it will make you a more thoughtful person by the end of the day (which is not to say it will make you happier or less confused or anything like that).

If your not the marching type, Annie Sprinkle offers this advice on how you can participate.

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, 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 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.

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