Why December 17? Audacia Ray explains…

“The first time Kyomya Macklean did sex work,” writes Audacia, “her client turned violent after she refused to have sex without a condom…”

But December 17 isn’t about stereotyping our clients. It’s about why that client is not very different from the police and others who claim to be “saving” us.

Read Audacia’s powerful informative  Guardian column here. And please join us on Friday at 7:30, Metropolitan Community Church in Manhattan.

Audacia Ray is a former sex worker and is the founder of the Red Umbrella Project, where she produces monthly storytelling events in New York, a podcast, and storytelling workshops that empower sex workers to tell their stories. She also consults on communications for the Global Network of Sex Work Projects. Her website is here.


Join us on Friday 7:30-9:30

Join us this Friday evening, Dec 17

International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Join us for a vigil and community speak out

When: Friday, December 17, 2010 at 7:30PM – 9:30PM

Where: Metropolitan Community Church of New York, Sanctuary (2nd floor), 446 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018 btw 9th & 10th Aves. < http://bit.ly/dUenDt >

Who: Current and former sex workers. Intimate allies. Friends. Family. Supporters of all kinds. This event is free and open to the public.

Join us in observing the 7th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Join us in remembering those we’ve lost to violence, oppression and hate, whether perpetrated by clients, partners, police or the state.

We stand against the cycle of violence experienced by sex workers around the world. Recently in Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council examined the human rights record of the United States during their Universal Periodic Review. Uruguay’s recommendation to the Obama Administration – to address “the special vulnerability of sexual workers to violence and human rights abuses” – is the moral leadership we have been waiting for!

Join us in solidarity to fight the criminalization, oppression, assault, rape and murder of sex workers – and of folks perceived as sex workers.

December 17, 2003 was our first annual day to honor the sex workers who were murdered by serial killer Gary Ridgway. In Ridgway’s own words, “I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.” (BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3245301.stm)

We come together each year to show the world that the lives of marginalized people, including those of sex workers, are valuable.

  • Speakers:
    • Audacia Ray, Red Umbrella Project & Sex Work Awareness
    • Chelsea Johnson-Long, Safe OUTside the System Collective of the Audre Lorde Project
    • Michael J. Miller, The Counterpublic Collective and PROS Network
    • Andrea Ritchie, Peter Cicchino Youth Project and Streetwise & Safe (SAS)
  • Readings
    • Reading of the names of sex workers we have lost this past year
    • Memorial for Catherine Lique by her daughter Stephanie Thompson and read by Sarah Jenny Bleviss
    • Speak out: Bring poetry, writings or just speak your truth.

Light snacks, beverages, and metrocards will be provided.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers’ Rights and is increasingly used on December 17:  First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.

This event is co-sponsored by: Audre Lorde Project, Counterpublic Collective, FIERCE, MADRE, Peter Cicchino Youth Project, The Queer Commons,  PONY (Prostitutes of New York), PROS Network, Red Umbrella Project, SAFER, Sex Work Awareness, Sex Workers Project, SWANK (Sex Workers Action New yorK), SWOP-NYC (Sex Workers Outreach Project), the Space at Tompkins, and Third Wave Foundation.

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=110788105658599

For events outside of New York, visit: http://www.swop-usa.org/dec17

Video: Combatting the Craigslist hysteria

Attorneys general in 17 states are hounding Craigslist, scapegoating the people who earn their living by advertising there and using the trafficking argument as an excuse for their own shameless pandering. We hate when that happens!

Sienna rocks!

Sienna Baskin, attorney with the Sex Workers Project, went on The Alyona Show Thursday to clarify things.  In this video, Baskin talks about a new law that actually helps trafficking victims.  She spoke about how laws against prostitution hurt sex workers,  and explained some of  the problems associated with legalization. (Why we prefer to advocate decriminalization!)

Also great to see Alyona Minkovski’s thoughtful response to the political fog surrounding Craigslist! Watch the video here.

Radio: Sex Work Matters 2:30pm Saturday

Melissa Ditmore will be on Catskill Review of Books Saturday, August 7, talking about her newest co-edited anthology Sex Work Matters.  (Of course it does!)

The interview will be streaming live and podcast on Radio Catskill WJFF 90.5FM from 2:30 -3:00pm New York Time.  That’s 7:30 pm GMT.

Click here if you want to listen in another time zone.

Listen here or download after the broadcast here.

~ Catskill Review of Books with Ian Williams ~
2:30 every Saturday on WJFF 90.5 Fm

Free event: Thursday evening Aug 5, 7-10pm

Free event. Come to Audacia Ray’s monthly storytelling series, starring PONY member Veronica Vera!

When: Thurs Aug 5, reading from 8 -10 pm, doors at 7 pm
Where: Happy Ending, 302 Broome Street (between Forsyth and Eldridge) in Manhattan


This month’s theme is Well Seasoned, also featuring: Lauren Wissot, Chelsea G Summers, Michael Pollack, and E.V. Fleurima, aka Ckiara Rose.

Veronica Vera‘s multi-faceted career began with several years on Wall Street. Later she began to earn an honest living through $ex.  She has been one of  PONY’s most dedicated  coordinators and a role model for thousands of New Yorkers.

Veronica is also the founder of Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls and author of two brilliant books about how to cross-dress with style and integrity.

Visit Veronica here.  Follow her on Twitter. Learn about the Red Umbrella Diaries here.

Admission is free, but your drinks tab will help PROS Network (Providers and Resources Offering Services to sex workers.)

Event is 21 and over, due to NY state drinking laws. Our government thinks you are old enough to lose a body part for your country at 18, but won’t let you order a glass of chardonnay until you are 21. Or sell non-violent access to your body at any age – hello?! But those are the rules.

“Cachez ces putes”

Prostitutes demonstrating in Lyon

Sex workers in Lyon, France are going up against City Hall.

The City of Lyon has been pushing prostitutes into less-traveled areas of the town, a dangerous policy we experience (and oppose) in cities all over the world.   According to Cabiria, it’s a game called “hide the whores” or (if you want to practice your French) “cachez ces putes.”  Some background:

“on May 17, 2010, the prostitutes of Gerland united collectively to oppose the methods that push them further into precarious situations.  The collective of prostitutes published an open letter in the press alerting all the elected officials of the central City Hall about the consequences of this policy.  The women invited the elected officials to work together to find real solutions, concrete and livable, respectful of their rights, to correct the problems that sharing space and their presence seems to raise.” (Read the rest here.)

The collective asked us all to circulate and sign this petition – available for download here in English. French version of the petition is here and Spanish here.

Lyon is important to us.   In 1975, 150 prostitutes occupied a local church and caught the attention of the international media.  The occupation of St-Nizier inspired church occupations in Paris, Marseilles and elsewhere.  Prostitutes in other countries heard about the strike and formed new organisations.

Earlier this year,  Australian sex workers commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Lyon strike, drawing attention to the ugly violence which ended the occupation: the women were assaulted with police clubs.

The Lyon protest was a turning point.  It put prostitutes on the political map and changed the way we thought about ourselves.   (PONY came into existence almost a year later.)   Read what Nicolette Burows from Scarlet Alliance, Australia says about the streetwalkers who gave birth to a global movement.

Prostitutes occupy a French church in 1975

In 2010,  a lot of the issues bothering sex workers in 1975 remain.  Our ability to organize and communicate has improved though, and local groups are less isolated.  We’re also more diverse.   In 1975, the French collective saw this as a women’s rights issue.  We evolved into a movement for human rights, with transgender and male sex workers playing a central role.

Cabiria’s petition came to us via the International Union of Sex Workers.  We urge you to print the PDF, collect signatures, scan your signed petition, and send it as a PDF to cabiria[at]wanadoo.fr

Any questions about how to do this? Contact pony@panix.com

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