Sex worker groups around the world hold events and actions each year on March 3rd to celebrate International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
This day’s history goes back to 2001, when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a festival despite efforts from prohibitionist groups who tried to prevent it taking place by pressuring the government to revoke their permit. The event was organised by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Calcutta based group that has over 50,000 sex worker members, and members of their communities. Sex worker groups across the world have subsequently celebrated 3rd March as an annual, international event: International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
NSWP uses the day to focus on the theme of labour rights. Where sex work is criminalised, sex workers’ workplaces are often excluded from national labour laws. This creates an environment where sex workers have no option but to accept exploitative working conditions. The struggle for the recognition of sex work as work is closely tied to the struggle for decriminalisation.
You can explore NSWP resources on the theme of ‘labour’ here: https://www.nswp.org/resources/theme_rs/8
In Namibia, Namibian Sex Workers Alliance celebrated the day with its member organisations in one of the rural towns in Namibia that have always been left out because of donor restrictions. However, with this year’s celebrations, they were able to convince the funders of the importance of inclusion of rural community members, where sex workers face stigma and discrimination and where access to healthcare is a major challenge.
Asia and the Pacific
Respect Inc in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, held a social event at their office on 3rd March. It included a light lunch, short video, speeches and networking. The focus of the speeches was to recognise this internationally significant day for the sex worker community. Respect Inc said, “Sex workers in Queensland continue our fight for the right to work safely, free from the risk of arrest and for protection from discrimination and vilification.”
Sex Work Polska organised a panel on sex workers' rights in Poland in Krakow. The event was also streamed on their Facebook page.
TAMPEP, the European network for the promotion of rights and health among migrant sex workers, marked March 3rd with statements of migrant sex workers regarding their demands for rights and the improvement of their working conditions. They are part of TAMPEP’s campaign Europe has forgotten the Human Rights of Migrant Sex Workers.
The statements are part of a video that can be watched here.
STAR – The First Sex Workers Collective in the Balkans in collaboration with the social platform „VIDI VAKA“, prepared a short video that aims to show the problems faced by sex workers as one of the most socially marginalised community in the Republic of North Macedonia, especially in their access to justice.
Sex workers as a vulnerable category, face severe stigma and discrimination with very frequent violations of their human rights. They are more often than not subjected to violence at the hands of police officials, their clients and members of their families/households. The story they filmed in the video precisely presents the difficulties and challenges that sex workers face when it comes to access to justice, and focuses on the relationship between sex workers and the police in particular.
The was launched on International Sex Workers’ Rights Day on STAR’S social media. STAR also prepared a collective on their official website.
Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association in Turkey had to postpone their events due to the earthquake, but they prepared a press release which they shared on their social media channels and which can be read here.
PLAPERTS, the Latin American Regional Network, created a video and shared it alongside the following statement: “Hoy 3 de marzo en el Día de los Derechos de las Personas que Ejercen el Trabajo Sexual reclamamos nuestro derecho a vivir una vida libre de violencia, persecución, criminalización, marginación y estigma. / Today, 3 March, on Sex Workers' Rights Day, we claim our right to live a life free from violence, persecution, criminalisation, marginalisation and stigma.”
You can watch the video on PLAPERT’s facebook page.
North America and the Caribbean
In the United States, GLITS founder and CEO Ceyenne Doroshow hosted a Zoom panel event on “Sex trade laws past and present”.