It’s been a long day and so I will merely post a few impressions from the first day of the Sex Workers’ Freedom Festival in Kolkata. John Mathenge’s passionate message to the US government was particularly powerful. (see below) Starting from tomorrow, there should be internet at the conference, so stay tuned for live tweets via @photogroffee.
“As we stand under one umbrella, we are one family.”
– Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, Indian transgender activist
“Speak for yourself! Speak for your country! Don’t let others speak on your behalf!”
– MC Khartini Slamah from Malaysia
“We are the people. We are the problem and we are the solution. No one can make decisions for us. They’ll never make decisions for us anymore. Sex work is work and sex workers’ rights are human rights. As Obama joined the government [he promised change]. Where is the change? Why are they still discriminating sex workers? They need to repeal the Anti-Prostitution Pledge for us to have freedom, freedom to work and right to health.”
– Message to the US government by John Mathenge, Kenyan sex worker activist
(Click here for the video)
“We like for the criminalisation (of sex work) to be lifted!”
– Irina Maslova, Silver Rose, Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN)
“Networks work because people trust each other. The Sex Worker Freedom Festival is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get this many sex workers together. We need a mass movement and mass movements start from the ground up.”
– Andrew Hunter, NSWP President
“Because we are seen as victims by some feminist groups and by (prostitution) abolitionists, we need to stand up together and demand our rights!”
– Sex worker from Latin America
All photos by Matt Lemon Photography. To view these photos with their respective explanations, please view the photo album on Facebook. Please go to SWFF Impressions for further photos from the Sex Workers’ Freedom Festival by the DMSC Media Team and others.