Press Release: Sex workers outside Parliament to demand safety on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
On 17th December, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (#IDEVASW), thousands of sex workers and sex worker-led organisations around the world will gather to commemorate the sex workers who have lost their lives in the last year. Last year, the list included more than 150 sex workers murdered between 1st January and 1st December 2016.
IDEVASW began in 2003 to remember the sex workers who were murdered by Seattle’s Green River Killer in the US. This year, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) and Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) will create a memorial outside the Houses of Parliament. We will be calling on MPs to join us and hear our demand for an end to criminalisation, stigma and poverty which makes us vulnerable to all kinds of violence and exploitation.
2017’s event will take place over two days:
Sunday 17th December: ECP and SWARM will be holding a sex worker-only vigil. Details to follow.
Monday 18th December: during this public event – from 12-2pm – we will be building a memorial in New Palace Yard, outside the Houses of Parliament with a roll call of those killed since 2016.
Monday 18th December also marks the closing date for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry into “pop-up brothels”. ECP and SWARM invite MPs, and, in particular, APPG members – Fiona Bruce MP, Sarah Champion MP, Thangam Debbonaire MP, Lord McColl of Dulwich, Jess Philips MP and chair Gavin Shuker MP – to join us and speak to sex workers. Despite calls for decriminalisation from sex workers around the globe, the APPG is currently proposing that the UK increases criminalisation of the industry.
Violence against sex workers is at epidemic proportions. A 2014 study found 77% of street based sex workers and 17% of inside workers had suffered violence attacks.[i] Evidence, including from Amnesty International shows that the prostitution laws “make sex workers less safe and provide impunity for abusers with sex workers often too scared of being penalized to report crime to the police.” Evidence[ii] that austerity cuts have increased prostitution must also be heeded. We call on the government to implement the Home Affairs Committee recommendations to:
“ . . . change existing legislation so that soliciting is no longer an offence and so that brothel-keeping provisions allow sex workers to share premises” and that legislation should be drafted to provide for the “deletion of previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of sex workers.”
All are welcome to join us on 18th December at New Palace Yard. Feel free to bring names or messages for the memorial. Please email your MP and invite them to this event.
English Collective of Prostitutes
Tel: 020 7482 2496 • Mob: 07956 316 899
www.prostitutescollective.net • firstname.lastname@example.org • @ProstitutesColl
Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM)
www.swarmcollective.org • email@example.com • @SexWorkHive
[i] National Ugly Mugs Data (2014).
[ii] Benefit sanctions, the benefit cap and other cuts have disproportionately affected women and have caused an increase in prostitution. Doncaster reports a 60 per cent increase with charities saying: “Women are being forced to sell sex for £5 because of benefit sanctions.” (The Star, 19 March 2014.) Sheffield reports a 166% increase (The Star, 1 June 2014) while charity workers in Hull report: “ . . . women who are literally starving and they are out there to feed themselves.” (Hull Daily Mail, 13 August 2013).