Advocacy across a couple different ponds...
Last week saw the launch of three different campaigns around the world to improve the lives of people trading sex.
In Ireland, SWAI (Sex Workers Alliance Ireland) launched a campaign on the impact of an end demand law passed in 2017. The social media campaign highlights the impact of the law – a 92% increase in violence crime in the last two years. (Follow them at @SWAIIreland)
Based in Ireland and want to meet SWAI and other sex workers?
Amnesty's DR Report
On Thursday, Amnesty International released a report on police violence against sex workers in the Dominican Republic, which cited widespread instance of violence and abuse. Sex workers are calling on the government to pass an already-introduced non-discrimination law in hopes of addressing what they consider a profound form of a gender-based violence.
Decrim Down Under
In South Australia (a state of Australia), an MP has introduced a decriminalization bill on sex work. Sex workers and advocates, including New Zealand’s Dame Catherine Healy, came to Parliament to urge legislators to pass the bill. As one advocate noted, "Police can not be protectors and regulators at the same time — it simply doesn't work." This would be the second of Australia’s six states to decriminalize.
Dame? Seriously? Yep. Last year, the woman who started the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective in 1982 and pushed for NZ's decriminalization** of sex work received an Order of Merit from the Queen.
And after years of powerful advocacy and mobilization by the South Africa-based sex worker organizations SWEAT and Sonke Gender Justice, the government announced that they were looking into decriminalization of the sex trade.
Red Light = Stop
In a step backwards, Amsterdam's local city government has banned tours of the red light district, citing the increased foot traffic. Unsurprisingly, very few sex workers were consulted on the decision, and most aren't fans. It is also an important reminder: no one likes American tourists.
In beautiful show of solidarity, ILGA-Europe, which fights for LGBTI equality and rights, released their solidarity statement in support of the decriminalization of sex work.
And back at home…
The sex worker-focused health clinic in San Francisco, St James Infirmary is offering self-defense classes to local sex workers. Attend, celebrate, and if you don't know what to do with a particularly generous tip you just got - donate.
The Cardi B Conversation
Twitter has been aflutter with the recent re-posting of a video where Cardi B discusses drugging and robbing men back when she was a stripper. The video (it’s since been taken down) has created a lot of conversation, and Cardi has neither denied nor celebrated her behavior. As she wrote on Instagram:
"I never glorified the things I brought up in that live [video], I never even put those things in my music because I'm not proud of it and feel a responsibility not to glorify it. I made the choices that I did at the time because I had very limited options."
But that hasn’t calmed Twitter (what honestly does?), where some say her past behavior is the same as R. Kelly or Bill Cosby and created a hashtag y’all can go track down but I won’t use. Ultimately, Cardi puts into context that she isn’t proud, and has never been shy about where she came from and the way she had to survive.
And how unpretty some of it was.
But this also brings us to a much more important, and much more interesting, conversation about what accountability looks like right now. Cardi has said some things that can't be overlooked.
People are imperfect – including Cardi B and Dame Catherine Healy – and have made calls which have harmed others. We have all experienced harm, both as people who cause and people who receive it. We’ve all had moments where we wish we made a different choice. Especially in policy change, we have all pushed a law that we thought was "good enough" while knowing that for some, it isn't. And so, knowing all of that, how do we make sure that we hold each other accountable, while also maintaining that everyone has a learning curve?
Seriously, if you have thoughts on calming down Twitter I’m all ears (or as I just got called by an angry End Demand-er, all orifices).
Back to the grind.
**While sex work is decriminalized for citizens in New Zealand, migrant sex workers, including those on work visas, remain criminalized under the law. Migrant sex workers and co-conspirators in New Zealand are challenging the way they have been invisiblized and sacrificed by discussions on decriminalization.