On 17th December each year, sex workers around the world mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The day is used to highlight the need for action to end violence against sex workers. The issues faced by sex workers often vary from region to region, due to different laws, social and cultural contexts, but one common issue faced by all sex workers is their vulnerability to and experience of violence.
Sex workers are vulnerable to violence because of the criminalisation and legal oppression of sex work, compounded by stigma and discrimination. This vulnerability to violence is increased for sex workers living with HIV, sex workers who use drugs, transgender sex workers, migrant sex workers, and sex workers that are part of other marginalised groups.
Around the world, NSWP member organisations are marking 17th December with online events, in-person memorials, and collective actions to demand decriminalisation.
In Lesotho, Key Affected Populations Alliance of Lesotho (KAPAL) will lead a peaceful march on Friday 16th December to mark the day. The march will commence at 9:00 in the morning from Sesotho Stadium in Maseru, Lesotho to Maseru Club Grounds. This will be a joint activity with Matrix Organisation which is hosting an LGBTIQA+ Pride event. KAPAL decided to host the march on Friday 16th so as to attract more people to join the activity.
In South Africa, Biko Sivanandamide Harm Reduction Institure – SHRI invites stakeholders to its launch in Raisethorpe at Pietermaritzburg, rem of 143. Located approximately 300m from McDonald's Raisethorpe, SHRI will have a low key presentation on ways to improve access to health for people who use drugs and sex workers.
Asia and the Pacific
In Queensland, Australia Respect Inc is held a sex worker-only workshop on December 14 which recognised IDEVASW and looked at managing mental health while working under criminalisation. It was held via Google Meet.
TAMPEP, a migrant sex worker-led network, is launching the statement "Sex workers and allies across Europe demand the recognition of labour and migration rights as a way to combat stigma and violence against sex workers".
Their statement begins: “Physical attacks, psychological violence, even murders, continue to afflict sex workers every day in Europe and around the world. Killings of sex workers, especially of migrant sex workers, street-based and transgender, are commonplace. In 2022, many sex workers have been murdered in Europe, but no effective actions have been taken to prevent it.”
You can read the full statement on the TAMPEP website.
In Switzerland, Aspasie wants to mobilise its community on social media to raise awareness about violence against sex workers. Recently, they have gathered sex workers to give their testimony about violence. On 17th December, Aspasie is going to send a press release with pictures of anonymous persons who are holding a sign with a testimony of violence they have experienced, and then publish this on Instagram and Facebook.
Aspasie said, “It’s our way to make this fight visible and try to convince people that sexwork is work and all sex workers deserves respect and safety, like anybody. ”
In Paris a performance is planned for place Pigalle, with renditions of "Les putes chantent Noël" and "All I want for Christmas is decrim".
In North Macedonia, STAR - The First Sex Workers Collective in the Balkans, alongside their partners and supporters from HOPS – Healthy Options Skopje, TransFormA and the Coalition Margins, is organising the 15th jubilee Red Umbrella March. The Red Umbrella March will be held on December 17th 2022, starting at midday in the centre of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia.
STAR explained more about the march, stating that “This year’s campaign “15-year collective voice against violence on us” is dedicated to their 15-year jubilee, by means of a retrospect to all previous Red Umbrella marches, to all our successes, achievements, public messages and pleas, as well as the challenges and problems we have been facing throughout the years in our fight against the violence and discrimination.”
You can find out more on their Facebook event or on their website.
In Belgium, UTSOPI have opted this year for a gathering in front of the Flemish KVS theater followed by a more intimate moment of exchange and sharing at the Rainbow House, where a small drink will be provided. This moment will allow those who wish to do so to leave a word, a testimony, to collect and gather a little more out of sight. This will also be an opportunity for UTSOPI to present and distribute the field study which was carried out by UTSOPI between June and August 2022 in the Alhambra/Yser district on the different forms of violence encountered by sex workers when working on the street.
UTSOPI invite you to meet at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Flemish theatre, where a sound system and microphones will be set up. UTSOPI are choosing this year to involve only sex workers and not members of the voluntary sector, who will be present as support and allies. A call has been made to UTSOPI members for some sex workers to express themselves, through song, speech, performance, or any other form of oral expression. To respect tradition, a person will be responsible for reading the list of sex workers killed in 2022, followed by a minute of silence.
In Greece, Red Umbrella Athens will upload and encourage everyone to watch the discussion on sex worker rights and the current law that was held on June the 2nd. Representatives of most political parties and the municipality of Athens attended the event, and the need for law reform became abundantly clear. The video will be uploaded here on the 17th at 14:00 (GMT+2) and shared through Red Umbrella Athens' and Positive Voice's social media accounts.
In Ecuador, women sex workers are raising their voices in the face of everything that is happening in the new context of the normality post-pandemic; increased violence, regression of human rights, greater inequality, injustice and inequity, fighting for the recognition of sex work as work with guarantees and social protection. PLAPERTS, the Latin American Regional Network, have started a campaign that they will maintain throughout the year 2023: "WE ARE NOT INVISIBLE”. They have sought the support of several international organisations for this event, where several sex workers will speak about their rights, pronouncements from the state, what international organisations say, live music, poetry, dance, canvases where people who visit this festival can put messages, there will be a stand with our material, key chains, umbrellas, exhibition of our work.
On December 17th PLAPERTS will have a Regional Forum on Zoom and Facebook Live where they will share various topics of interest.
In Peru, Miluska Vida y Dignidad A.C. invited their supporters, allies, friends and authorities to listen to “we who have no labour rights, we who are raped, extorted and killed... we who have NO RIGHT TO ANYTHING.”
Explaining more about their event, which took place on 30th November, Miluska Vida y Dignidad A.C said:
“The problem of sex work is a consequence of gender violence and judgment of values that affects millions of women in Peru, that is why we will be allied women's organisations together with the congresswoman Kiara Alcarraz hand in hand to address our problems and demands.”
In El Salvador, La Organización de Trabajadoras del Sexo de El Salvador are holding a discussion with organisations from the Alliance for Sex Work, where they will be dealing with the situation of sex workers in the face of the current exceptional regime in El Salvador in response to the arrests, repression and threats directed at women in the sector and the LGBTI community.
North America and the Caribbean
In Montreal, Stella, l'amie de Maimie are running an Open Mic Night on 17th December with doors opening at 6.30pm at 1575 Av Laurier E.
In the United States, COYOTE RI is hosting a virtual #IDTEVASW 2022 event for the US, taking place on Saturday 17th December from 7 pm to 10 pm EST. The flyer is below, just use the QR code to join. No registration is required. To add names to the US memorial list please fill out the jotform: https://form.jotform.com/223007612881047