Second Verse, Same as the First
Every year, sex workers across the country wait for Operation Cross Country, a multi-jurisdiction sting on the sex trade which has led to the arrests of hundreds of consentual sex workers and clients. While the label is an "anti-trafficking" investigation, the overwhelming numbers show that it's a month-long sting which sometimes identifies juveniles who are frequently offered the paltry local "services" and guaranteed involvement in the juvenile or criminal system. A recently LAist article goes in depth on how sex workers are the overwhelming collateral damage [LAist] in these efforts.
This year's sting operation took the entire month of July. While the FBI has recently announced that because of the disparate numbers of arrests versus identification of youth they were "reconsidering" the program [FOX News], the operation occurred anyway, re-branded as Operation Independence Day [FBI.gov], with the same kind of results.
After a campaign which fought for widespread change, including supporting the decriminalization of sex work, DA Candidate Tiffany Caban has conceded [theCut] to Melinda Katz in the race for Queens District Attorney. While the campaign has ended this time around, the ripples of change her campaign created are resonating deeply.
A few months ago UK feminist groups sent private investigators into strip clubs to film dancers without their consent. Dancers are suing:
Global research and advocacy organization Human Rights Watch published a new statement on decriminalization of sex work [HRW] with the release of a new report which documented the experiences of South African sex workers. This is far from the first time the organization has dine extensive research on the impact of criminalization on sex workers. Their 2012 report Sex Workers At Risk [HRW] was instrumental in advocating for bans on the use of condoms as evidence in multiple cities.
Irish organization Brothel Keepers combed through who's being criminalized under brothel-keeping laws, and found over 150 sex workers have been prosecuted [IrishLegal] over the last decade. They are taking their research to law enforcement (called the Guardai) and policy makers to push back on this form of criminalization.
Vancouver sex workers are looking to join forces to create a local bad date list [Vancouver Sun] (for travellers, keep this resource in mind!).
In Thailand, sex workers are celebrating a new policy change which bars law enforcement from having sex with workers during raids. In the United States, it is very worth nothing, these polices are internally determined by each department, and sexual contact may or may not be banned during these kinds of operations.
Newfoundland's Tina Dolter Gallery just opened an exhibit on the lives of sex workers. Check it out until September 8!
British filmmaker Louis Theroux is releasing a new documentary on the lives of sex workers [Stylist] on BBC, but sex workers who participated in the filming are unhappy with the production. One sex worker released an open letter on her experience, explored in this thread:
Justice and Change Coming to Alexandria, VA
This week will also see the Sex Worker Institute: Justice and Change at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit (of which Slixa is a key sponsor), a day-long event for sex workers to build their skills around organizing and advocacy, and I'm personally so excited to stock up on some solid merch:
And for folks who are looking for some support right now, August 19 starts an ONLINE Sex Worker Support Group. Sign up by Aug 18:
Back to the grind.