International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Above: A strippers' reunion in Times Square, 1989; photo taken from "Queen of Burlesque" by Yvette Paris. Pictured are Ann Corio, Bambi Vawn, Leola Harlow, Jennie Lee, Yvette Paris, and Annie Sprinkle. (If anybody knows of a good website on how to get quality scans, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everything I used to know about scanning seems to be not working now.)
Today, Monday, Dec. 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Here in NYC, $pread Magazine, SWANK, & PONY are co-hosting a vigil from 5-7 pm on the steps of Judson Memorial Church (55 wash square south, ACE/BDFV to w. 4th or NR to 8th st).
The following text is from the Swop website:
Over the past year, the international sex worker community has mourned the loss of thousands of our comrades, with an estimated 2,000 killed in the United States alone. Over the last year, serial killers have been reported in places like Ipswich, Atlantic City, Edmonton, Guatemala and Russia, and many cases remain unsolved. A few days ago in British Columbia, Robert "Willie" Pickton was sentenced to life in prison for the deaths of six women - he has admitted to killing forty-nine sex workers in total before feeding them to his pigs. Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer of the 1980s, picked prostitutes as victims "because they are easy to pick up without being noticed. . . . I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without being caught." We are seen as nameless, faceless, storyless, useless, and utterly without rights. In Philadelphia, the serial rape and assault at gunpoint of sex worker Dominique Grindraw was written off by Judge Deni as "theft of services," amounting to state-sponsorship of violence against sex workers.
But we will not be silenced, nor will we accept what amounts to genocide against our kind - SEX WORKERS' RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS! By participating in one of tomorrow's events, you are helping the world to see that our struggle is not in vain, and that the sex workers killed in 2007 may be gone, but they are not forgotten. We will not rest until the streets, cities, and countrysides are safe for everyone, everywhere, every worker.
For more information on the day and events happening in other towns, check out http://www.test17.swopusa.org.
Here is a list of Ten Things You Can Do to Participate written by legend Annie Sprinkle:
1. Do something of personal meaning alone at home; take a ritual bath, or simply think about those who have died, light a candle, make a wish, have a cry, call a friend and discuss the topic, etc.
2. Write a short personal quote or a statement about violence against sex workers and send to the SWOP web site for them to post.
3. Send a donation to a nonprofit group that helps sex workers stay safer.
4. Organize a public memorial event in your town. If not, choose a place, and time, where you can gather. Make an email letter and/or flyer and get it around with news of the event. Invite people to bring writings, stories, readings, thoughts, related news items, poems, performances, etc. Make a circle at the event. Take turns sharing. This will make for a wonderful memorial and be great for consciousness raising and outreach as well.
5. Organize a panel discussion about violence towards sex workers. You can ask a church or other community space if you can do it there.
6. Send news of this event to any and all press you know, so the word gets out that there are people who care about murdered sex workers, and who are concerned with the safety of sex workers out there today.
7. Attend one of the events which is listed on the SWOP web site.
8. If you know any sex workers, send them some information about self-defense.
9. Send a personal email letter to people telling them how you feel about violence against sex workers and the women who were murdered by serial killer Gary Ridgway. Or email this letter around.
10. Read Daisy Anarchy's poem, to yourself or to friends, or at one of the public events. Or email it around.