Sex workers organise international day of action in memory of Vanessa Campos

Europe Regional Correspondent
Source (institute/publication)

Sex worker groups have organised an international day of action on 21st September to honour the memory of Vanessa Campos, a sex worker who was killed in Paris in August.

Vanessa, a 36-year-old transgender migrant sex worker, was killed on the night of 16th of August in Bois de Bologne, a large park in Paris. A statement from STRASS says:

“7 or 8 men attacked her. This follows other previous attacks. This was probably a case of a gang of men who regularly assault sex workers and their clients to steal from them. This phenomenon targeting female sex workers is developing throughout the Ile de France region. Those who try to organize themselves to defend themselves and chase them are then attacked separately”.

Eight people were detained in connection with Vanessa’s death and five charged with murder, as well as robbery. Approximately twelve transgender sex workers have been murdered in the Bois de Boulogne in recent years. Hundreds of sex workers and activists marched in Paris in memory of Vanessa, holding white roses and signs that said “Justice for Vanessa” as they chanted, “Trans murder, the state is complicit”. Another attack on a sex worker was reported to have taken place in the same location in mid-September.

Campaign groups are calling for the 2016 law, which criminalised the purchase of sex, to be repealed. Since the law was passed, sex workers report reduced income and worsened working conditions. A 2018 report from Médecins du Monde highlighted the impact of the new law, showing that 42% of sex workers are now more exposed to violence, and 70% observe no improvement in their relationship with the police. ICRSE said: “The more marginalised sex workers, including trans migrant sex workers like Vanessa are the those most affected by the law change”. ACCEPTRESS-T said that “the law is 100% responsible for Vanesa’s death at the march last month.

STRASS, together with other organisations, has appealed to the State Council to challenge the constitutionality of the 2016 law, stating that the law is "seriously undermining the rights and freedoms that the Constitution guarantees", including "personal autonomy and sexual freedom, respect for life private law, freedom of contract, freedom of enterprise as well as the principle of necessity and proportionality of penalties”.

ICRSE, TGEU, STRASS, ACCEPTESS-T are now calling all LGBT, trans, sex workers, migrant, anti-racist, syndicalist and feminist organisations to participate in an international day of action in memory of Vanessa Campos, trans and migrant sex worker murdered in Paris on August, 16th. The action will be hold on front of French embassies on 21st September.