Sex Work and Human Rights

Posts tagged “Amnesty International

Event: Asia-Pacific Sex Workers’ Rights Forum

Asia-Pacific Sex Workers’ Rights Forum

Giant Girls invites you to the Asia-Pacific Sex Workers’ Rights Forum

Date: Saturday, 28th November 2015
Location: Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), 6th Fl. Kyunghyang Daily News Bldg., 22 Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea 100-702
Entrance Fee: KRW 10,000

Programme

11.00 – 12.00 Film screening of ‘Grace Period’ by Caroline Key & KIM KyungMook (see trailer below)

12.00 – 16.30 Asia-Pacific Sex Workers’ Rights Forum with representatives of Scarlet Alliance (Australia), SWASH (Japan), COSWAS (Taiwan) and Giant Girls (Korea)

16.30 – 19.30 Film screening of ‘Red Maria 2’ by Kyung-soon (see interview with Kyung-soon here)

국제앰네스티 ‘성노동전면비범죄화’ 결정을 환영하며 <아시아태평양 성노동자 인권 포럼>을 마련했습니다. 이번 주 28일 토요일 오전 11시 민주노총 금속노조 사무실에서 참가비 1만원으로 진행됩니다. <유예기간>과 <레드 마리아2> 영화 상영과 함께, 스칼렛 얼라이언스(호주), 스와시(일본), 코스와스(대만), 그리고 지지(한국)에서 ‘아시아태평양 지역 성노동자의 인권과 성매매 정책’을 주제로 포럼을 열고자 하니 많은 관심 바랍니다.

 

 

 


“Thank you, Amnesty, for having been so brave”

[Starts at 36:15] Statement by Lucien Lee, a trans* female sex worker activists from South Korea, in response to Amnesty International’s sex work policy decision,* read out by N’jaila Rhee on episode 61 of This Week in Blackness TWiB! AfterDARK.

Image by Lucien Lee @spermicus All Rights Reserved“This is Lucien Lee from South Korea. I’m a trans woman and at work, I either put on a strap-on and get behind my male clients or receive their penises in me. I’ve been doing this since November 2012. Sex work has given me hope that one day, I will be able to pay for my sex reassignment surgery and lead a life like any other ordinary lesbian. But as it is in the US, sex work is still criminalised in South Korea. If I ever get caught by the police, the fine or bribe I would have to pay would be too much for me. Recently, somebody reported my website, where I advertise my services to potential sex buyers, to the authorities. I was terrified when I got a message from a police officer. The police have never been there for me, like when I was sexually assaulted by a teenager who couldn’t afford to pay for my services. After the incident, I couldn’t go to the police because he threatened to report me for being a prostitute.

I hate everyone who criminalises my work, lets me get raped, and cockblocks my efforts to be a part of the lesbian sisterhood. I’ve been donating monthly to Amnesty for years, and I was thrilled this organisation that has been advocating for all the people in jail who stood up against mandatory military conscription in both Koreas now speaks in favour of all sex workers. I must say, thank you, Amnesty, for having been so brave all these years. Thank you for helping me to help myself. Thank you for protecting me from being raped again. This is Lucien Lee, a godless Seoulite.”

* [1] Global movement votes to adopt policy to protect human rights of sex workers
[2] 국제앰네스티, 성노동자 인권 보호를 위한 정책 채택


“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” – or: Putting SWERFs’ abuse to better use

Peak-Meter 2015 - Image by Research Project KoreaClick image to enlarge

Sex work stigma

If you read any of the articles published in the days before and after Amnesty International’s decision to support decriminalising sex work, e.g. this one by Luca Stevenson and Agata Dziuban, you are now hopefully aware of the immense stigma sex workers are faced with in their everyday lives, affecting not only them but also their families and friends. To a much lesser degree, the stigma can also affect sex workers’ clients, although at worst, they might be faced with ridicule or ostracism, not violent attacks. However, the stigma might well play a role in why clients are rarely seen sacrificing their anonymity to stand up for the rights of sex workers whose services they enjoy. As a researcher, I don’t feel any tangible impact by the stigma attached to sex work research, but I certainly experience my fair share of verbal abuse. Following the Twitter battle before and after Amnesty’s decision, I’ve updated the above peak meter, which I created a couple of years ago, to include the latest labels others have attached to or hurled at me.

This blog post may appear somewhat self-referential but I would actually like to use the labels, good and bad, as vehicles to point readers to several interesting articles, some of which were written by sex workers, others by researchers, not that the two are mutually exclusive, and yet again others by sex worker-exclusionary radical feminists (SWERFs). Please note that the below is by no means intended to compare my experience to the stigma and its consequences faced by sex workers.

Red Labels

[-10] John / Pimp Apologist

Trying to shame sex workers or sex workers’ rights advocates by labelling them “johns” is very common, although it doesn’t really make much sense. After all, if someone believes that consenting adults should be allowed to buy and sell sexual services, being called a “john”, although buying sex carries its own stigma, is pretty much the same as being called a customer, which is hardly an insult.

Page 29 - John's VoiceClick image to read a report by Chris Atchison about sex buyers in Canada

A prostitution prohibitionist using the pseudonym Stella Marr once called me a “pimp apologist” before later deleting her comment. Although she set her own blog to “private” after she was outed, you can still read her libellous article “Pimps Posing as Sex Worker Activists” at the “Anti-Porn Feminists”-blog, in which she slanders veteran sex worker activists Maxine Doogan, Norma Jean Almodovar and the late Robyn Few, founders of the Erotic Service Provider Legal, Educational and Research Project (ESPLER), the International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education (ISWFACE), and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA) respectively.

[-30] Pornstitutionist / Useless A**hole / Sexist Propagandist

Francois Tremblay, in his own words a “pessimistic feminazi, radical whackjob and antinatalist”, responded to a blog post of mine with one of his own, in which he labelled me a “pornstitutionist”, a term, as he explained, “for people who oppose abolitionism in prostitution and pornography”. His post “The strange connection between pornstitutionists and lying” is still online. He later added a postscript with the above mentioned expletive.

After I had posted a series of memes to mock the Hollywood celebrities who had gullibly believed the false claims by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and co-signed a letter to oppose Amnesty‘s draft policy, a self-declared radical feminist tweeted that my memes were “sexist propaganda” and that I should quit insulting women’s intelligence – although my post includes memes mocking male celebrities, too. I wouldn’t usually mock spelling mistakes, but, well…

2015 08 09 Kaera Wolf @Isis7wolf quit quite “sexist propaganda” [1]

[-50] Sleazeball etc.

All of these are comments left about me underneath a post at the “Anti-Porn Feminists”-blog. To get an idea about the barrage of abuse that sex workers are regularly faced with, please read the Storify entry #whenantisattack, gathered by a group of current and former sex workers to highlight the silencing, shaming, abuse and insults by those who oppose sex work.

[-70] Pimp / Trafficker

In 2013, an Irish-based tabloid re-posted a video that YouTube had previously removed since it violated its terms and conditions. In the video, an undercover reporter of the tabloid filmed and outed a sex worker without her consent. In the comment thread underneath the video, a troll called me both a pimp and a trafficker.A Guide to respectful reporting and writing on sex work While that video was a particularly extreme example, media reports regularly add to the stigma attached to sex work, which is why in December 2014, four South African organisations jointly published “A guide to respectful reporting and writing on sex work”. An article about the guide was published in Open Democracy‘s excellent series Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. To download the complete guide as PDF please click here.

The term “pimp lobby” is frequently used by sex worker-exclusionary radical feminists (SWERFs) to slander “anyone who advocates anything but the full criminalization of sex work”. Apart from watching the video below, I recommend reading “Hanging out in the Pimp Lobby” by Jemima, “Everything You Need To Know About The Pimp Lobby” by Charlotte Shane, and “I Am the Pimp Lobby” by Jes Richardson. 

Perhaps the worst insult I’ve experienced was one during the Amnesty #ICM2015 twitter battle, when a Canadian anti-prostitution activist accused me of using the murder of Swedish sex worker activist Petite Jasmine to further my alleged agenda to legalise “sexual slavery”.

2015 08 10 Jem Kim @Im2old4thisship “personal agenda”


Black + Green Labels

[0] Diplomat

A French sex worker activist once told me I wrote even “more politely than English people”. I believe that any movement needs different types of activism and writing. Some of it needs to be fierce; at other times, it’s better to be diplomatic. I’m always up for creating satirical memes, but in my writing, I prefer to be very diplomatic, although when faced with ideologues like Rhoda Grant or Mary Honeyball, that’s not always possible.

[+10] Researcher

What I do.

[+30] Idealist / Activist

What an American and a Turkish friend in South Korea called me. Justice Himel from the Ontario Court of Justice found that anti-prostitution activist Melissa Farley had allowed her advocacy to permeate her opinions. Although Farley’s work has been frequently discredited, anti-prostitution activists continue to cite her in support of sweeping claims about sex work, just as the notorious Cho/Dreher/Neumayer study is constantly rolled out to back up the argument that legalising sex work leads to greater human trafficking inflows, despite the seriously flawed data used to make that argument. I believe on both sides of the divide, it’s sometimes difficult to remain detached when people close to oneself experience violent abuse. When it comes to activism for the rights of sex workers, I believe it’s important to acknowledge what you don’t know and stay clear of problematic arguments. And that’s true regardless of whether you are a sex worker, a researcher, a journalist, an artist, a writer, or any combination of these.

[+50] Sex Worker Ally / Great Partner

What sex workers have called me. Recommended reading on the subject: How to be an ally to sex workers by SWOP Chicago + Want to be a hero for sex workers? Try listening by Tilly Lawless.

[+70] Fabulous / Friend

What the above mentioned French and a South Korean sex worker activist have called me.

Epilogue

My preferred way of dealing with SWERF attacks is to create memes and share them with the #sexwork community or respond with counter evidence to the most ludicrous claims, like the one about sex workers’ rights advocates allegedly living in a land of milk and honey, when actually, it’s faux anti-trafficking organisations who rake in the dough.

2015 08 09 @NoAmnesty4Pimps Claim about funding

Should you experience verbal abuse because you publicly stated your support for policies to safeguard sex workers’ human rights, try not to let it get to you. As American comedian W.C. Fields once put it, “it ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to”.


“Sex workers have the same rights as everyone else” – Press Release by Voice4Sexworkers

Research Project Germany

Voice4Sexworkers Header

Amnesty International supports the human rights of sex workers and calls for the decriminalisation of sex work

Please click here to view the German original.

At the conclusion of its International Council Meeting in Dublin on August 11th, 2015, Amnesty International voted to henceforward support sex workers’ human rights and call for the decriminalisation of sex work.

Voice4Sexworkers, an NGO by and for sex workers, welcomes the long overdue decision by Amnesty International, as the global sex workers’ rights movement has demanded the very same since decades already.

In Germany, for instance, abolishing the pimping law [§181a of the German Criminal Code] was already suggested in 1973, since labour exploitation and taking advantage of the plight of third parties are already prohibited in accordance with the human trafficking law [§233 of the Criminal Code].*

People who work in the sex trade are not helped by destroying its logistics and…

View original post 494 more words


SWERFs discover Amnesty supports decriminalising sex work

#pledgedecrim - Photo by English Collective of Prostitutes#pledgedecrim (© English Collective of Prostitutes. Used with kind permission.)

Preface: Long live the humour!

“First and foremost, humour is a means to counter the seriousness of life and at best, to cope with it. The more serious the situation, the more important humour becomes. Humour creates a distance to depressing events, it allows to speak improperly about matters which are properly unbearable [and] for a moment, it disarms the seriousness. And that might well be the reason why fanatics despise humour. They contend a dead serious, eternal truth, and jokes – however clever or funny they may be – threaten this truth. Long live the humour. The clever one. The silly one. Anyone who finds enough people who laugh about it. And for all those who don’t like it, it should apply now more than ever: tolerate it or ignore it. You won’t be able to control humour!” – Tim Wolff, Chief Editor of German satire magazine TITANIC (Translated excerpt from his article “You won’t be able to control humour!”. Published with kind permission.)

Introduction

As the Twitter battle between supporters and opponents of Amnesty’s draft policy to decriminalise sex work heated up, a current sex worker from the UK published a Downfall meme titled “SWERFs discover Amnesty are supporting decrim”. (SWERF is an acronym for sex worker-exclusionary radical feminists.)

“The Downfall meme, also known as “Hitler Finds Out…” or “Hitler Reacts To…”, is a series of parody-subtitled videos based on a pinnacle scene from Der Untergang (2004), a German WWII drama revisiting the last ten days of Adolf Hitler’s life and eventual suicide in his Berlin underground bunker.”

The subtitles are excellent as they are not only funny but also list a number of figures from both sides of the divide. But while I agree with Tim Wolff‘s words above, Nazi analogies are problematic depending on one’s respective cultural context, which is why I requested the permission to publish the subtitles as text-only version along with links to the cited sources. The different characters in the video are listed as PAPA SWERF, BRAINY SWERF, and SWERFETTE.

“Laughing in the face of the awful”

[The following paragraphs were composed by the sex worker who created the video.]

What is humour? On one level it is always something that transgresses, in order to be funny, a rule somewhere, even if it is a rule of grammar, must be broken. As children, our first comedy is that of bodily functions, as we explore the taboos society insists we must comply to. Indeed, there is probably a good essay somewhere, or waiting to be written, on how all types of humour fit into Freud’s stages of development, from the scatalogical to the cerebral.

In a particular British context, the taboo has so often been one of class and status. The Lord of Misrule, the Fool, the Wife of Bath mocking the Knight – our comedy is rooted in laughing at those with power and authority over us. This tradition carried on through the prints of Hogarth and the pages of Punch. In recent years this has been described as punching up, not punching down.

It is a delicate line between offending power and simply being offensive. Does the Downfall meme cross this line? I think in fact it is the archetype writ large, by mocking someone so terrible, with so much power we are following on from Hogarth, from the fool. We are asserting our power, that the power to show tyranny for what it is still remains. Sometimes laughter is the only power we have, and sometimes laughing in the face of the awful is, in itself, a radical act.

SWERFs discover Amnesty supports decriminalising sex work

BRAINY SWERF: “It’s true. Meghan Murphy has just called. Amnesty is supporting sex workers. Apparently, they travelled around the world actually speaking to sex workers.”

PAPA SWERF: “But I wrote at least four editorials. How can this be happening?”

BRAINY SWERF: “The Lancet has produced its own editorial supporting Amnesty.”

PAPA SWERF: “We can still win this. Get me Woman’s Hour on the phone.”

BRAINY SWERF:Woman’s Hour…they say if this is debated, a current sex worker has to be on the show. Even the Guardian printed a column by a current sex worker.”

PAPA SWERF: “Anyone who has read ‘Playing the Whore’ leave the room now. … How the f*** has this happened?! We called them pimps, we called them privileged, we outed them! The World Health Organisation I could understand. UNAIDS – who cares. But Amnesty? They’re supposed to be our kind of liberals. What the f*** are they doing collecting evidence? Get me Lena Dunham now. I need people who refuse listening to scientific research. Get me some Hollywood anti-vaxers. What is the point of feminism if people go around listening to oppressed women! Has no one read Germaine Greer? What’s the point in Julie Burchill threatening to shoot prostitutes if they aren’t scared into silence?”

BRAINY SWERF: “Don’t you mean prostituted women?”

PAPA SWERF: “I know what I mean. F***ing whores! Put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig. What happened to blaming the pimp lobby?”

BRAINY SWERF: “No one believes in the pimp lobby anymore.”

PAPA SWERF: “I told Bindel this. I f***ing told her! But no, she wanted to crowdfund her latest book. If people start listening to sex workers, who will publish us? I have tenure. Do you know how hard it is out there for an academic? Do you expect me to find a new professorship at my age? Get me Melissa Farley! … Distorted study after distorted study, for what? For Amnesty to commission their own! We have Sweden, Canada and Northern Ireland. We managed to convince Christian bigots to stand with us. Do you know how many anti-abortion fundraisers I had to go to? I even sat through a Christian rock concert. And for what? For people to collect their own f***ing evidence! … Do you know what Christian soft rock is like? But I did it, because with the fundamentalists we could make sure no one ever listened to the whores. And Amnesty went out and did their own research! The whole point was that no one was meant to ask sex workers what they wanted. Now they have gone and asked people who live under the Swedish Model how it harms them. No one is meant to know about that! We hid that by publishing it in Swedish and no one cares enough to translate Swedish. You can’t just go and ask the Rose Alliance how it harms them! What next? Will they ask migrant sex workers what they want? Next thing we know they will ask trans* sex workers what would protect them from abuse!

SWERFETTE: “It’s okay. The public hates trans people more than sex workers, even if they do ask.”

PAPA SWERF: “You know how this happened? What started this? F***ing Twitter! People started following sex workers, discovered they were human, had feelings, thoughts, opinions. They talked to sex workers and listened. Even some feminists followed sex work accounts. We called them orifices, pointed out that all penetrative intercourse is rape, mocked them for sucking dick, showed our disgust at every turn. For some reason, this made people think we are the bad guys. All we have left is the New Statesman. God have mercy on our souls.”


Over 10,000 people signed the petition to Amnesty by the Global Network for Sex Work Projects. The vote about the draft policy at Amnesty’s International Council Meeting in Dublin is scheduled for August 11th, 2015. As soon as the result will be known, this post will be updated.

+++ Update: Amnesty International delegates from around the world voted to adopt policy to protect human rights of sex workers | Click here for Amnesty’s official statement +++

I would like to thank Jane Doe for her permission to publish the text-only version of her video, for adding the paragraphs above, and for collaborating to publish this post.


Celebrating Hollywood’s “gender studies scholars”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images* to celebrate Hollywood’s “gender studies scholars” who, after conducting “some very scientific studies”, have co-signed a letter by anti-prostitution activists to try and pressure Amnesty International into dropping plans to adopt a policy that would recommend decriminalising sex work.

Tell Amnesty to listen to sex workers!

NSWP Petition to Amnesty (Image by @photogroffee)

Please read, sign and share the petition by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and tell Amnesty to listen to sex workers and protect their human rights!

Recommended Reading

Sarah (Tits and Sass)
A Tale of Two Petitions: CATW’s Amnesty Open Letter Fail

Luca Stevenson and Agata Dziuban (ICRSE)
Amnesty must stand firm on support for decriminalising sex work

Caty Simon (Tits and sass)
Pye Jakobsson (NSWP President) on the Amnesty International vote and holding allies accountable

Michel Sidibé (UNAIDS Executive Director)
UNAIDS Letter of Support to Amnesty International [PDF]

Sebastian Kohn (Open Society Foundations)
Why Amnesty International Must Hold Firm in Its Support for Sex Workers

Wendy Lyon (Feminist Ire)
On Amnesty and that open letter

Thomas Schultz-Jagow (Amnesty Int’l)
Response to Jessica Neuwirth’s article in the New York Times

Amnesty International
Explaining our draft policy on sex work

Kathryn Adams
18 Reasons for Decriminalisation of Sex Work
(Adapted from Amnesty International’s Draft Policy on Sex Work)

Chantawipa Apisuk (Empower Foundation Thailand)
Letter of Support to Amnesty International

Kay Thi Win (Asia Pacific Network of Sex Worker)
Please vote Yes to the policy on decriminalization of sex work

Juniper Fitzgerald (Tits and Sass)
Celebrity And The Spectacle Of The Trafficking Victim

Alison Phipps (Director, Gender Studies, University of Sussex)
‘Disappearing’ sex workers in the Amnesty International debate

James Baer (London); Barbra Moyo (Sexual Rights Centre, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe)
Guardian Letters: Amnesty International is right to take a stand on sex work

Molly Smith
In this prostitution debate, listen to sex workers not Hollywood stars

Serra Sippel (President, Center for Health and Gender Equity)
All Women, All Rights – Sex Workers Included

Rachel Vorona Cote
Celebrities Have Vital Opinions About Decriminalization of Sex Work

Jamie Peck
Sex workers tell Lena Dunham, other celebs to STFU about shit they don’t understand

…or check out #Amnesty4Sexwork on Twitter.


*All images modified by Research Project Korea/Germany (@photogroffee). Feel free to share and retweet. See image descriptions on Facebook for Twitter URLs.


Update to Rhoda Grant’s consultation process

Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex (Scotland) Bill (2) fails!

Scottish Parliament ConsultationMSP Rhoda Grant did not receive cross-party support for her recent proposal to criminalise the clients of sex workers in Scotland.

“We, the sex workers at SCOT-PEP want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone for their support over the last few months, we are ecstatic!!! Let’s hope the debate and discussion can continue and together we can work towards a legal framework and social environment that protects, supports and respects the human rights and dignity of sex workers.”

Commenting on the failure of other political parties to support her proposed bill, Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said

“I am disappointed that the Bill has fallen due to not achieving cross-party support when there was such overwhelming support expressed in response to my consultation from a wide range of individuals and organisations. I will continue to press for the introduction of legislation that aims to tackle the demand side of the industry and support for those who have been failed by society.”

Rhoda Grant - Disappointment TweetRhoda Grant’s comments appeared on her website but were later taken offline. Click here to view a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 28 Jun 2013 13:36:53 GMT.

Controversies surrounding the Consultation Process

Speaking of failing: when in late May, Ms Grant finally released her summary of the responses to her proposal, she failed to include several responses from opponents to her bill, including my own. While this was later rectified after other participants and I complained to Ms Grant – she blamed technical difficulties for the blunder – it appeared that curiously, no responses from proponents had been omitted. Please click here to read the press release by Scottish sex worker organisation SCOT-PEP in response to Ms Grant’s summary of responses.

In a separate controversy involving the responses to the bill, Amnesty International was forced to clarify its position on the criminalisation of sex work due to a rogue submission by its Paisley Branch, which had supported Ms Grant’s bill and given the impression on its now deleted Facebook page that Amnesty International supported Ms Grant’s proposal.

Wendy Lyon Amnesty IntlIn another press release following Rhoda Grant’s defeat, SCOT-PEP commented:

“MSP Rhoda Grant has never been accountable to any of the many responses to her consultation that suggested that she misrepresented her evidence. One academic, whose work was ‘quoted’ by Ms Grant, was moved to clarify her opposition to the Bill and her objection to Ms Grant’s distortion of her work. Amnesty International UK were forced to re-state their opposition to criminalisation after Ms Grant misrepresented their position in her summary of responses. SCOT-PEP will continue to campaign for an intelligent debate around sex work in Scotland, which must include meaningful dialogue with sex workers themselves, looking at how Scotland can protect their health and human rights.  SCOT-PEP believe this can only be achieved through full decriminalisation of sex work, sex workers, clients, management and others related to sex workers, within a human rights-based framework.”

Other Reactions

SWOU LogoLuca Stevenson, coordinator of the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) and co-founder of the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) in the UK, commented: “Sex workers in Scotland and Europe rejoice at the news that the bill proposal did not receive cross-party support. Members of Sex Worker Open University, in collaboration with SCOT-PEP and the support of many activists, worked tirelessly to create a sex workers’ rights festival in Glasgow in April to give voices to sex workers that would have been directly affected by such law: loss of income, raids by the police, increased difficulty in screening clients, and increased stigma would have been just a few of the consequences of the criminalisation of our clients. We are very proud of what we have achieved and we hope this victory will inspire our comrades to keep fighting such law in other countries.”

Pye JacobssonUpon hearing that the proposed bill had failed to receive cross-party support, Pye Jakobsson, coordinator and international spokesperson of Swedish sex worker organisation Rose Alliance, commented: “For us in Sweden, any country NOT taking the bloody Swedish model is so important! The politicians all talk about the success, how many countries taking it etc etc, so this is very empowering for us!”

Matthias LehmannMatthias Lehmann commented: “On the day after Germany’s ruling coalition pushed a crude law to fight human trafficking and control brothels through parliament, in spite of recommendations to the contrary by experts of all shades, it is encouraging that in Scotland, reason prevailed. I would like to congratulate all sex workers in Scotland on this great success! It’s excellent news for Korean sex workers who today, on June 29th, celebrate Korean Sex Workers Day.”

@whorephobia@whorephobia commented: “This bill showed how little antis care about the women they claim to want to save. Every single piece of evidence shows that the criminalisation of clients puts us in danger. However, for them, with a moral objection to sex work, this is a price worth paying. They prefer dead women to consenting women. Today is a glorious day!”

Melanie MayMelanie May, a German sex worker and member of Sexwork Germany, a union of sex workers, which is currently in the course of formation, commented: “I am happy for my colleagues in Scotland how things turned out. Unfortunately, sex workers have to fight for their rights all over Europe these days; even here in Germany we are facing more and more serious problems. Therefore, the Scottish success gives me hope, while I have to admit that it makes me feel a little jealous, too. I wish you lots of strength and success for the future!”

SCOT-PEP Logo darkKat*, a sex worker in Scotland, said, “So much evidence shows that criminalising sex work makes us more vulnerable. Where clients are criminalised, sex workers face more police and client violence, and we have nowhere to turn to if we want to report this. The Swedish government itself acknowledges that its law to criminalise clients increases stigma. Stigma is what makes us vulnerable; it means the police won’t believe or listen to us, and people who pose as clients know this, and this makes us easy targets. I’m so relieved that this bill has fallen. It would have worsened the structural violence and stigma that we face.”

SCOT-PEP Logo darkAn anonymous Scotland-based sex worker* said, “It’s been a difficult time ever since Ms Grant took over Trish Godman’s work, but thinking back I realise that I am very grateful to her. The danger of possible criminalisation helped many sex workers get together; in a society where we’re alienated by stigma I now have friends and this means a lot to me. Regardless of her motives, Ms Grant helped us break the isolation, find allies and become stronger together. We’ve learnt to defend our position, now we know we can achieve more. It was a difficult time but it was totally worth it.”

SCOT-PEP Logo darkAlice*, a Scotland-based sex worker, said, “The next step is decriminalisation. Decriminalisation in New South Wales and New Zealand has been shown again and again to tackle abuse and exploitation, fight trafficking, effectively promote condom-use and thus profoundly help the fight against HIV, and empower sex workers to access justice and labour rights. What’s not to love? New Zealand has always been at the forefront of women’s rights – it was the first country in the world to give women the vote – and its still a globally-acknowledged leader in tackling violence against women, as this brave and successful policy demonstrates.”

Coyote RIBella Robinson, founder of sex worker organisation Coyote Rhode Island, commented: “No government has ever been successful at policing prostitution, so is it even rational to think they can regulate it? There is no doubt in my mind that all these regulations will be used to harass and discriminate against these adult businesses and sex worker themselves. Other than not allowing anyone to live on the premises and requiring each worker to fill out an application, show ID to prove they are an adult and sign a contract that says they understand that they are entering sex work by choice, what is there to REGULATE? I didn’t hear much about how this would effect independent sex workers. I didn’t hear anything about what long term services do they even have in place for any victims they find. They didn’t even discuss why so many people are entering the sex trade. No mention that it’s directly linked to POVERTY, and whether a person is being threatened by a pimp or a landlord that is threatening to throw them out if they can’t make the rent that it’s basically the same thing. Why are they IGNORING the fact that long term housing and medical insurance are necessary for harm reduction as well as jobs that pay wages people can actually live on? I heard no mention of law enforcement having to take “sensitivity trainings” nor who will monitor the bad cops that exploit and rape sex workers. I did not hear about how any sex worker can report violence. They chose to ignore all the evidence that shows that criminalization creates the perfect playground for bad cops and predators to rob, rape, beat, exploit, threaten and murder sex workers. I did not hear anything about the human rights of sex workers nor the civil rights of all consenting adults. We did not hear about all the anti-trafficking groups that are nothing more than anti prostitution groups in disguise and that their main focus is to exterminate all prostitutes from the face of the earth as if we were cockroaches. No mention of how these groups are PROMOTING VIOLENCE against sex workers with this “they get what they deserve” mentality. In closing, there was no mention that criminalization and shaming people does nothing to stop anyone from buying or selling sex. There will be a next generation of sex workers, and since victims in the sex trade are in the minority, let’s get back to the SOLUTION of protecting the majority of sex workers by allowing them to report violence, and by granting them the same labor rights, civil rights and human rights as any other civilian. To hear from the mouths of 11 US sex workers themselves please watch American Courtesans.”

Frans van RossumFrans van Rossum, a former sex worker and life-long sex worker ally from the Netherlands who provides legal assistance to migrant sex workers, commented: “What a relief. Sex workers need this everywhere, because society needs sex workers, urgently, maybe more urgent than ever before. This is great news in the European corner of the globe, after this week’s shameful, embarrassing defeat in the German Bundestag, and the goings in the Netherlands where the legal freedom of sex work is eroded in a careful, well planned strategy of stigmatization, step by step. Parliament is (still) not buying it and resisting it, but city councils are slowly roped in. The victory in the Scottish Parliament is much needed. what a relief! Love to all sex workers, in Scotland and any place of the globe! You’re great human beings, and fun to boot!”

*Quoted from SCOT-PEP’s press release

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