Chicago

When: Friday, July 19th, 6:30pm central time
Where: Consulate General of Sweden (150 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL)‎
What: Rally to demand justice for murdered sex workers and an end to all policies criminalizing sex work
Social Media: #JusticeForJasmine #JusticeForDora #StigmaKills
To RSVP: e-mail chicagodecriminalizenow@gmail.com

On July 19th, 2013, people are gathering across the globe to protest against violence against sex workers.
Following the murders of Dora Özer and Petite Jasmine on the 9th and 11 of July 2013, sex workers, their friends, families, and allies are coming together to demand an end to stigma, criminalisation, violence and murders. In the week since the two tragedies occurred, the feelings of anger, grief, sadness and injustice – for the loss of Dora and Jasmine, but also for the senseless and systemic murders and violence against sex workers worldwide – have brought together people in more than 25 cities from three continents who agreed to organise demos, vigils, and protests in front of Turkish and Swedish embassies or other symbolic places. JOIN US on Friday the 19th at 3 pm local time and stand in solidarity with sex workers and their loved ones around the world! Justice for Dora! Justice for Jasmine! Justice for all sex workers who are victims of violence!

“As the sex trade becomes an ever more important part of how neoliberal economies handle the poorest and most marginalized, violence against sex workers – particularly against transgender and immigrant women – has become a tragic epidemic. Please join us this Friday, where we will be rallying in solidarity with sex workers all over the world to commemorate two women, Dora Özer and Petite Jasmine, who brutally lost their lives last week in Turkey and Sweden.”

Even though this is being organized at the last minute and many sex workers and our allies are currently in Las Vegas for the Desiree Alliance Conference, it is still important for people to demonstrate solidarity with the international call for a day of action for sex worker justice.

These cases demonstrate that the criminalization of sex work is a global problem that is literally killing our communities. It takes global solidarity to combat this kind of systemic, widely accepted form of legitimized violence.

Why the Swedish Consulate?

Many people interested in sex workers’ rights have heard of the so-called “Swedish model” — a strategy aimed at decriminalizing some aspects of selling sex, while increasing the criminalization of buying sex. The goal of such laws is to eradicate sex work by “ending demand.”

However, this model is not a kinder, gentler alternative to arresting sex workers. In reality, these laws haven’t eliminated demand whatsoever. They have only made things worse for most sex workers, especially those who are already the most vulnerable — street workers, transgender people, homeless/street-based young people, undocumented immigrants, etc. People will continue to do what they need to do in order to survive, and should never be punished or judged for how they do so. Likewise, it completely erases the agency of people who chose sex work.

Instead, it means there are fewer protections in place for people involved in the sex trade, making it even more dangerous and harder for sex workers to find help when they are confronted with violent or potentially violent situations. By perpetuating the idea that sex work is inherently morally harmful, this type of legislation furthers the stigma that makes some people think it is okay to harm sex workers. Human trafficking, physical violence, and assault are already illegal, so these laws also are unnecessary.

Exploitation and violence exist in all industries, including sex work. But by singling out one profession, this type of rhetoric only serves to demonize sex workers and portray sex work as inherently wrong. In fact, sex workers want to end things like human trafficking and exploitation, and have the expertise to combat these real problems. But instead of listening to the people most directly impacted, governments across the world (including here in the United States and in Illinois) are pushing ahead with policies that are rejected by many sex workers ourselves.

These “end demand” policies are based solely on the misguided moral belief that selling sex is inherently wrong. Proponents of sex work abolition seem to think that sex work is more demeaning than any of the other myriad things people do to survive. Sex work is real work. Under the current austerity-capitalist economic system, most jobs are exploitative or degrading to some degree, whether flipping burgers for minimum wage or selling sex. But for many, sex work is the best option — and for others (especially marginalized people like transgender women, street-based youth, and undocumented immigrants) it is literally the only option. If sex work is made unsafe, many of us will have no other way to support ourselves.

“End demand” policies force sex workers to continue working under unregulated conditions without any kind workplace protections enjoyed by people in many other professions. The “Swedish model” makes it more dangerous and less safe for those who choose sex work, while doing nothing to protect those who have no other choice. It also means that sex workers’ client base is reduced to people who don’t care about breaking the law.

Sex workers organizations around the world have rejected these laws and called for the only solution: FULL DECRIMINALIZATION of all forms of buying and selling sex, along with WORKPLACE PROTECTIONS like those enjoyed by many other workers in countries like the United States and Canada.

Why Chicago?

Because “End Demand” policies are coming, and in fact are already here. Almost anyone who rides the CTA has probably seen prominent ads put in place by End Demand Illinois, an organization pushing (somewhat successfully) for “Swedish model” type legislation in our state. (For further critique of the End Demand campaign, check out this from the Sex Workers Organizing Project-Chicago.) These laws have already had negative impacts on the lives of sex workers in Chicago and across the state. Now is the time to soundly reject these policies and demand full decriminalization.

More resources for sex workers and our allies in Chicago (links not necessarily endorsements):

SWOP-Chicago: http://redlightchicago.wordpress.com
Young Women’s Empowerment Project: http://youarepriceless.org/

One thought on “Chicago

  1. Pingback: “Sexual freedom is a fundamental human right” – Woodhull Conference 2013 » Fearless Press

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