On December 17th sex workers and their allies will gather at community events across the globe to mourn those they have lost in the passing year. This day has come to be known as the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers.
The incomparable sex educator and icon Dr. Annie Sprinkle first conceived of the idea as a response to the Green River Killer murders in Seattle in the 1990’s. The Green River Killer targeted prostitutes and murdered close to 100 women before he was finally taken into custody. Sprinkle felt compelled to honor and remember the victims in some way, so in 2003 she collaborated with Robin Few and Stacy Swimme of the Sex Workers Outreach Project to create a memorial and candlelight vigil. That vigil has evolved and grown over the years and is now a worldwide phenomenon with local events across the globe.
Communities choose to recognize this day of mourning in many ways:
In Glasgow, Scotland there will be a film screening and community potluck.
In Hamilton, Ontario they’ll be putting together a kinky fundraiser (complete with a dungeon and drag performance!) to raise money for outreach programming for street based sex workers.
In New Orleans, sex workers and their allies will march down Bourbon Street carrying red parasols as part of a traditional New Orleans Jazz Funeral.
In Tucson, they will fold a paper crane for each person lost this year and hang the cranes on the El Tiradito Shrine downtown.
As an activist myself, I spend a lot of time highlighting the positive parts of being a sex worker. It is my goal to normalize the work and fight the negative stigma associated with my job. However, December 17th is our day to acknowledge the violence and horrific stigma that our community faces, and mourn those we’ve lost during the year. It’s also a time to re-affirm our commitment as a community to end the violence and work towards more visibility, empowerment and human rights.
Each year, a list of names is compiled of those sex workers who have lost their lives. These names will be honored and recognized in the form of altars, readings and vigils at every D17 event around the world. If you lost someone this year and would like to submit a name to be included on this year’s list, please write to email@example.com.
I hope that you will take a moment on December 17th to join sex workers, allies, and supporters all over the world in recognizing that violence against sex workers must end. If there is an event in your local area, I encourage you to attend. Every December 17th event I have been to has left me with an overwhelming sense of pride and love for my community, and has filled me with hope for a brighter future in which murder and violence are no longer an occupational hazard of sex work.
Find a December 17th Event near you!
12/17: 6-8:00 pm Gather for March at PEP Office – 149 Jackson NE, back door.
Memorial: Albuquerque Social Club - 4021 Central NE | Event Facebook Page
Join us as we honor the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers (aka Red Umbrella Day) for the fifth year in Albuquerque. We’ll meet at the PEP Office at 6pm to collect signs and red umbrellas. From there, we’ll Slut Walk to the Albuquerque Social Club, where we will hold our candle lighting and reading of the names ceremony. Following the ceremony, we will open the floor to all attendees to speak. We have signs and two red umbrellas to share. Please do feel welcome to bring your own signs relating to the ideology of sex work legalization and/or decriminalization; the West Mesa murders; and/or physical, psychological, state-sponsored, and/or institutional violence against sex workers. Please consider bringing a red umbrella and wearing red!
Tue, 12/17 – from 7:00pm
Ugly Stepsisters Gallery, 1750 S Union Ave, Chicago, IL [Pilsen]
The event will feature refreshments, therapeutic group engagement, an interactive altar where attendees can light a candle and leave a personal message, and a projection of the names of the sex workers who have been murdered this year. The event will also feature a structured open mic/speak out portion, in which community members and allies are invited to share a story, performance piece or other expression related to violence experienced by our community. Event Website Here Event Facebook Page Here
International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Memorial Tue, 12/17 – from 6:00pm
The Bakery, Market Street between 21st and 22nd, Denver CO 80205
SWOP-Denver invites you to us for the 10th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and the 4th annual Denver commemoration. This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided. Facebook Event Here
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sat, 12/14 5:00pm-9:00pm Erotic Heritage Museum, 3275 Industrial Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Sponsored by SWOP-Las Vegas. We will start with a candlelight vigil commemoration and speak-out, then proceed with a march on the Strip at 6:30pm. The event is free and open to the public with light refreshments provided. Event Website Here
Los Angeles, CA
Tue, 12/17 16:00-18:00 Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA
Event Website Here A community event to remember sex workers who have lost their lives Public Vigil at Plummer Park from 4pm-6pm. Look for the lit candles and red umbrella.
New Orleans, LA
Funeral Procession, Private Gathering Time: 12/17, TBA March starts on Bourbon Street.
SWOP-New Orleans plans to honor and remember those we’ve lost an event similar to a traditional New Orleans funeral. We will march down Bourbon Street, and conclude with a private event for sex workers and allies. Event Facebook Page Here Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for updates and details.
New York, NY
Time: 12/17: From 7:30 Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan, 164 West 100th Street
This year we will feature the creation of a living altar, to be created at the vigil. We encourage everyone to bring an item, picture, card, or story that represents a moment of resilience they wish to contribute to the altar or share with the community. Facebook Event Here
SWOP-Phoenix is planning a silent march wearing red with red umbrellas, followed by a community potluck. Email email@example.com for more information or to get involved. Event Organizer Website Here
Tue, 12/17 – 8:00pm-10:00om Red and Black Cafe – 400 SE 12th Avenue, Portland, OR
A community event to remember, reflect, and share thoughts about sex workers who have lost their lives or are survivors of violence. Event Website Here.
San Francisco, CA
Tue, 12/17 – Time TBA Center for Sex and Culture – 1349 Mission St, San Francisco, CA
SWOP-Bay is hosting a community-wide Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers event. If you would like to participate in the planning or donate food, drink, and altar items, please contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check Event Website for Updates!
Sun, 12/15 – 5:00-7:00 pm
Splinter Bros. Warehouse 901 N. 13th Ave. $5-10 Donation.
Every year, we fold a paper crane for each of the sex workers that has been reported as murdered. Come learn to fold cranes, and learn about sex workers rights. Ask questions, get information. We’ll casually discuss the difference between decriminalization and legalization, why the anti-trafficking movement is harming individual sex workers, who a sex worker is, how to be an ally to sex workers, and more in a friendly and welcoming environment. We’ll also have tea tasting for non-drinkers. Donations from this event will go towards SWOP-TUCSON and the Dec 17th event.
IDEVASW: Performance, Procession & Rememberance
Tue, 12/17: 4:30pm – 8:00pm
Jacome Plaza at the Main Library
101 N Stone Ave Tucson Az
Performance Art Die-In & Installation
Stilts, acrobatics, circus performers, and bodies will create a living memorial. Come early to participate in the installation by wearing a white mask (provided) and wearing red.
March from Jacome Plaza to El Tiradito
to at Meyer & Cushing. Wear red, bring red umbrellas, red
candles, and an open heart. We will have bells to toll every 5 seconds for each of this years murdered sex workers.
El Tiradito at Meyer & Cushing
Ritual, vigil, music, poetry, and personal stories shared by sex workers and allies.
Tue, 12/17: – Doors at 7:00pm
The Embassy Night Club – 54 King St E, Hamilton ON
On December 17, Big Susie and The Aids Network CA will hold a red umbrella-drive and adult-oriented fundraiser for outreach programming to target local sex workers. Event Flier Here.
Manifestation, marche, et action!
Tue, 12/17 – 1:00pm
From Place du Arts: 175 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, Montreal, H2X 1Z8 Organized by the Stella REZO: Join us to protest against physical violence and the criminal laws and systemic marginalization that makes us vulnerable to all forms of violence. At this event, we will denounce stigma, the judgment of our own lives, and the difficulty we face and demand access to justice. Facebook Page Here.
Tuesday 12/17: 3:30-4:30pm Closed group discussion (open only to current and former sex workers)
4:30-5:30pm Speakers and performances Open to all
519 Community Centre, 519 Church St, Ontario
Confirmed speakers include Audrey Huntley from No More Silence and Elene Lam, Former Director Zi Teng, Hong Kong/Chinese sex worker rights org. An alter will be created to honour victims of violence and anyone is welcome to contribute to it in a way that is meaningful to their own spirituality. Food and tokens will be provided | Free | wheelchair accessible | Event Website Here
Sun, 12/15: Doors 7:00pm – Event Begins at 8:15pm T
he Cobalt (Bar) – 917 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
Candle light vigil, great performers, partial proceeds will be going to the Naked Truth Entertainment and to the Mobile Access Project. All donations of coats and umbrellas to be distributed on the stroll for Dec 17. Link to Event Poster Here
Event Begins at 7.30pm at the African-Caribbean Centre.
There will be sex workers and allies with things to say and some short films. And then there will be hanging out, and being a community. This event is accessible and free to attend. Current or former sex workers: Childcare and travel costs fully reimbursed for current and former sex workers! Contact email@example.com and we’ll sort it out. This is a joint event put on by Scotland’s two sex worker-led organizations: workers’ collective the Sex Worker Open University (SWOU), and long established charity SCOT-PEP. Event Facebook Page Here