Monthly Archives: December 2014

December 17th Event in SBC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SHREVEPORT – On December 17th, Shreveport will join more than 21 other cities in the United States and 33 cities internationally to recognize the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This year, local organizers are planning a vigil to raise awareness about the violence faced by sex workers. The vigil will begin at 7pm at the Caddo Parish Courthouse (501 Texas St.)

Colloquially referred to as December 17th, the event was organized by the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA) in 2003 in response to the sentencing of Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Over two decades, Ridgway murdered over 70 women, most of whom were sex workers. Because of their occupation, the murders went largely uninvestigated, allowing Ridgeway’s violence to continue. Today, dozens of sex worker rights and social justice organizations around the United States and world are staging marches, protests, and public events to call attention to violence that is still committed against sex workers.

Every year, SWOP-USA compiles a list of the names of sex workers who have died as a result of violence. This year’s list includes more than 160 names of sex workers who were murdered worldwide. The list highlights the diverse forms of violence that sex workers experience. Attacks against sex workers in 2014 included fundamentalists who massacred 28 women in a Baghdad, Iraq brothel, a US Marine who murdered a transgender sex worker in the Philippines, and the arrest of a convicted sex offender in the serial murder of seven sex workers in Gary, Indiana.

The largest proportion of names–34–come from the United States. Female sex workers in the United States are murdered at 17.7 times the national murder rate for women. As such, American sex workers are 50 times more likely to be murdered on the job than a police officer or liquor store clerk, 12 times the rate of taxi drivers, and 400 times the average person. (Source). Transgender sex workers may face even more violence. Though US-based research does not exist, a recent Turkish study found that 73% of all transgender sex workers had experienced violence, and nearly 50% had been physically assaulted by the police. (Source).

Violence against sex workers in the United States has been tied to its criminalization. Research suggests that sex workers do not view the police or hospitals as safe and often will not seek out help following violence because they fear arrest.

“Criminalizing sex work has not worked,” commented Lindsay Roth, SWOP-USA’s Board Chair. “We know that criminalization leads to more violence by stigmatizing sex workers and contributing to unsafe working conditions. If you fear arrest, negotiating your personal safety becomes a secondary concern.” SWOP-USA promotes decriminalizing sex work, or ending criminal penalties for the selling or purchasing of sex.

“We hope that December 17th sends a message that sex workers’ lives do matter, and that these victims were people worth remembering and protecting.”

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Information about Shreveport’s December 17th event can be found at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/741521959230257/

Information about December 17th and worldwide events can be found at: http://www.december17.org

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Our Guiding Principles

Mission Statement
Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.

Sex Worker Rights are Human Rights-Dignity and Respect
In the past “respect” and “dignity” were used against sex workers and other “un-pure” women to kill or imprison them. In our struggle for human rights we choose to reclaim these words and give them renewed meaning.

Through dignity we honor the unique diversity that is intrinsic in all people. We also choose to respect each person’s unique traits, abilities and oppressions which through our mutual respect lets us work together in a complimentary fashion to achieve our mutual goals.

Communities
The Sex Workers Outreach Project strives towards the conscious building of community, with consensual decision making, out of respect for all individuals. Communities help to keep us strong and safe by networking and enabling our own education and support systems. This community is strengthened by acknowledging diversity among its members and assisting members’ rights to self-representation. SWOP USA and its individual chapters aim to build communities which support, educate and unite its members. These communities facilitate our political voices and our ability to protect basic human rights. SWOP’s force as a community is fortified through the expression of solidarity among other sex worki positive groups and activists sharing common interests and goals. The Sex Workers Outreach project and its affiliates create a professional community and offer agency.

Unity
Sex Workers Outreach Project is committed to justice, equity, and compassion for sex workers and their communities. This commitment requires unity within our organization and within the global sex workers’ movement as a whole. We agree to value the diverse experiences and politics of our members, while placing group principles before individual passions or pursuits.

Self Determination
Our bodies are our own. Individuals retain the exclusive right to determine what they do and how they use our bodies under all circumstances. This choice remains proprietary to each individual in all aspects of life including occupational, health, lifestyle, sexual and reproductive choices. Self-determination and harm reduction are intrinsically linked. Our choices are always constrained by external forces. We believe in empowerment within these constraints along with social justice strategies to increase access to resources and services. We also acknowledge that the boundaries of self differ from culture to culture, and person to person. We protect and cherish the diversity of definition and of each individual and their rights to their bodies, thoughts, feelings, forms of expression and methods of living their lives.

Bodily Integrity
With the right to self determination of the propriety of choice and consent regarding our bodies, we state unequivocally the right to determine that sex worki is different from violence, sexual assault, slavery and trafficking in persons. Individual rights and consent determine the difference. We also reject the notion that sex worki is inherently linked with violence. Our visibility, awareness, rights and bodily integrity do not perpetuate, but directly oppose sexual violence. The presence of sex workers in social movements, the visibility of sex workers in communities of all kinds, and societal awareness of sex worker rights as fundamental to human rights in no way perpetuate violence, sexual assault, slavery and trafficking in persons. The converse is true-our visibility and knowledge directly oppose sexual violence.

AR/AO PRINCIPLES
We agree to recognize and challenge all forms of oppression.
We are committed regardless of the form of oppression; be it racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia, ageism, elitism, prohibitionism, and all other systems and behaviors of discrimination which marginalize, exclude or de-humanize any one person or group.

We realize that the most important work for us is within ourselves and our community. We take responsibility for our own prejudices and actions which perpetuate oppression thru individual action and active participation in addressing privilege when it’s recognized and being constantly vigilant for privileged actions both within ourselves, and those around us. To this end, we continually work to identify our individual, systematic and organizational privileges, how they intersect our lives both internally and externally, and learn how to be allies with our privileges by recognizing the benefits and costs.

We express our commitment to anti-racist/anti-oppressive principles as a group by engaging and constantly evolving a PROGRAM OF ACTION around these principles.

EVENTS
Our chapter will do something to recognize, or partner with another organization to recognize the following events:
* March 3rd, International Sex Worker Rights Day
* Local LGBTIQQ Pride
* Nov 20th, Transgender Day of Remembrance
* December 17th, International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers