Sex workers have been fighting for decriminalization for generations. Now politicians are starting to listen. Anna North John Locher/AP
Helen told MEN: "The only men that have been nice to me are the ones that were paying me. “I would say one of the top five questions I am asked is do you regret being an escort. Well no - I have some great memories. Could I say that about my family or those who I have called my boyfriend? No. That speaks volumes. “I’m not saying that I didn’t have options and I’d be lying if I said I chose the easy way out. Some days I was repulsed by it. “But when you can pick your child up from school and pay your bills on time and be comfortable, it felt like the right thing to do at the time.”
For Mind to know the Real, it must enter a body. Therein it will revel in pleasure, and strive, and suffer, and die. Here you are, piloting a doomed craft on a river of glory RADIO WAVES fredhatt2019-07-09
Updated 7/8/2019 HELLO! Thank you for your interest in my discussions on survival sex, sex work and sex trafficking. This post contains strong content not appropriate for all environments.
Sex Workers Applaud Vote By California Assembly For Passing SB233: SB 233 prohibits the arrest for prostitution of people who witness or are a victim of specified violent and serious crimes, and prohibits the use of condoms as evidence of sex work.
"We, Made of Bone" by Mahtem Shiferraw
Torturing Sex Workers, with Melanie Dante: Ken’s guest is Melanie Dante discussing various issues surrounding the sex trades, badly needed decriminalization, and holes in the law that create “viminals”, i.e., making criminals out of victims of sexual abuse.
The Good News - California Senate Passes Bill to Advance Sex Worker’s Rights and Safety! Sacramento, CA – The California Senate passed SB 233 (Wiener), taking a historic step towards improving the health and safety of individuals involved in the sex trade. SB 233 provides immunity from arrest for individuals engaged in sex work when … Continue reading SWOP Behind Bars Legislative Update
Save The Date: Saturday June 1st Noon-3:00pm International Whore’s Day Rally Observed At the California State Democratic Party’s Convention in San Francisco
Support: Amending PA SB 337 To Protect Sex Workers & Survivors
Transportation Poetry by Janet Fishman, Painting by Philip Zuchman, Image Collage by Ms. Dante, Image of Ms. Dante also by Janet Fishman, at a Salon arranged by Deb Zuchman Philadelphia April 14th 2019
State bill would add adult sex traffickers, customers to Megan’s Law lists. PENN LIVE Chuck Biedka “Sex trafficking is on the rise in Pennsylvania, and state Sen. Kim Ward wants authorities to better keep track of those convicted of the offense. Ward, R-Hempfield, is proposing a change to state law that would require those convicted of the sex trafficking of adults to be added to the Megan’s List of sex offenders in the state.”
HARRISBURG -- The Montgomery County Democratic Committee has called on State Sen. Daylin Leach to resign, saying his behavior since sexual-harassment and assault allegations against him surfaced had “created a divisiveness that threatens party harmony and undermines our cause at a time when we need to be united.” by Chris Brennan and Angela Couloumbis, Updated: March 16, 2019
CALL TO ACTION - SB233 - Allow Trafficking Victims and Sex Workers to Report Violence Without Fear of Arrest. This important bill sponsored by SWOP Sacramento, SWOP USA, SWOP LA, St James Infirmary, ESLERP, USPROS, and supported by the ACLU, San Francisco DA, SF County Superviors, and the Gender Health Center. which would prohibit the arrest of individuals engaged in sex work when they come forward as a witness or a victim of specified violent and serious crimes. It will also end the practice of using condoms as evidence of sex work related offenses. Individuals in the sex trade experience and witness extremely high rates of violence but are often reluctant to report crimes for fear of being arrested.
All set to attend a decriminalization panel in Manhattan I was -- indirectly -- asked not to attend the event hosted by Best Practices Policy, New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, and Black Coalition of Sex Workers for the U.N. Commission on the Status Of Women. This is now the third year I have been banned from what is supposed to be an open forum. I believe the best thing to realize is that our goals as sex workers and sex trade survivors as have similar language and meaning though are not shared or inclusive to each other when we are from different cultures. The U.N. seems the place to being us together. Realistically - Perhaps we are not stronger together.
The public face of over-incarceration is overwhelmingly male. However, between 1980 and 2016, the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. increased by more than 700 percent. While research has revealed that the root causes and effects of incarceration are different for women and girls, our criminal and juvenile justice systems have largely remained gender non-responsive. As a result, too often our public health systems are left to deal with unaddressed issues of trauma, abuse, poor mental and physical health, substance abuse, and poverty. These challenges have multigenerational impacts, affecting not only women and girls who are incarcerated, but also their children, families, and communities.
U=U is Undetectable = Untransmittable: M Dante sat in on the National Association Of Criminal Defense Attorneys (NACDL) Criminalization Webinar to see how this topic addresses and affects sex workers, and how the Positive Justice Project helps.
Author and Whore, Maggie will be joined by Triple-X Secretary Kerry Porth and New Democratic Party candidate Sven Robinson will host a panel discussion following the film. The War on the Whores is a feature-length documentary that exposes the harms and waste of America’s escalating crackdown on sex work which masquerades as fighting sex trafficking and rescuing vulnerable women and girls caught up in sexual exploitation.
One op editorial. Two totally different opinions. Posted below: Project SAFE's Aisha Mohammed's January op ed in Philly dot com, and Villa Nova's Legal Fellow Shea Rhodes discussing the op ed from an abolitionist perspective. Compare / Contrast. For those of us defined as youth survivors and adult sex workers we are caught between these radical extremes. As the PA motto goes its seems that No: both can’t survive!
For transparency I am publicly posting my effort to serve on the Board of SWOP-USA. I am sorry to share I was rejected without interview or communication on how to be potential future BoD. In solidarity I will keep trying my best to see how I can apply and dedicate my experience and passion. - MGD
Until prostitutes have equal protection under the law and equal rights as human beings, there is no justice. – Robyn Few
Robyn Few (October 7, 1958 – September 13, 2012) was an American sex workers’ rights activist who worked for the decriminalization of prostitution, against violence targeted at sex workers, and, generally, for the improvement of sex workers’ working conditions. A former prostitute, she founded and directed the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA), and helped organize the annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. She was born in Paducah, Kentucky. She advocated the complete removal of prostitution from criminal codes. – WIKIPEDIA
Bloggers note: Robyn was also my professional peer and housemate in San Francisco before all that happened.
2012: Sex workers all over the world were saddened to hear of the death (after a long battle with cancer) of the charismatic and tireless Robyn Few, founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA. When the day finally arrives on which sex work is recognized in the majority of the world as work like any other, hers will be one of the names remembered as instrumental in achieving it.
Robyn L. Spears was born in Paducah, Kentucky, on October 7th, 1958, to Virginia Owen Spears; she had an older brother and a younger sister and lived in the small community of Lone Oak, Kentucky. She attended Lone Oak Elementary and Lone Oak Middle School, but dropped out and ran away from home either during or after her 8th grade year, when she was 13 years old. The causes of her leaving are not clear, but whatever they were she later reconciled with her mother and in fact died while visiting at her home. Like so many runaways she soon turned to survival sex work, and though she later received vocational training to be a materials tester for concrete and tried a few “straight” jobs such as drafting, she was never satisfied with these and became a stripper soon after turning 18. As she says in the video below (recorded in Chicago in July of 2008), “I loved it so much; it was so empowering to be able to get up on the stage…I came alive, and for me being paid to dance and to show my body [that] I was so proud of anyway…it was just an amazing experience.”
After stripping for a while she started working in a massage parlor, then later escort services and a clandestine brothel; in her late 20s she married one of her clients and had a daughter, but after her divorce in 1993 (after which she retained her married name, Few) she moved to California and began to take college classes with the intent of earning a degree in theater. She became interested in marijuana and AIDS activism, but the bills had to be paid so she returned to escorting in 1996 and soon became a madam. Like so many of us, she never told anybody about her sex work; her activism was directed toward other causes until fate decreed otherwise.
The events of September 11th, 2001 engendered a heightened climate of paranoia, and the enactment of the PATRIOT Act soon made an unprecedented level of funding available to any government agency which could make even a remote claim to “fighting terrorism”. And though then-Attorney General Ashcroft had been strongly rebuked by Congress for devoting more FBI agents to the “Canal Street Brothel” case in New Orleans than to counterterrorist operations, he had learned his lesson and justified later whore persecutions with flimsy “anti-terrorism” excuses. Robyn’s agency was accused of having “terrorist suspects” as clients and she was arrested in June of 2002, then convicted of “conspiracy to promote prostitution” and sentenced to six months house arrest (during which the trial judge allowed her to continue her activism). After her arrest, she was angry to discover that both neighbors and supposedly “enlightened” activists treated her differently once they knew she had been a prostitute; she threw herself even harder into medical marijuana activism, but began to think about how people’s ignorant attitudes and the oppressive anti-sex work laws could be changed.
Her inspiration came a year after her arrest, in the form of the US Supreme Court decision Lawrence vs. Texas: Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out in his dissenting opinion that “state laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of [the overturned Bowers vs. Hardwick decision’s] validation of laws based on moral choices,” and though the other justices tried to pretend otherwise Robyn knew that Scalia was correct, and that the court had opened a door for sex workers’ rights. So after a Berkeley, California high-school teacher named Shannon Williams was arrested for prostitution in August, Robyn gathered a group of sex workers to protest outside the courthouse at Williams’ arraignment in September. Unfortunately (but understandably), Williams wanted the whole mess to go away as soon as possible and so had no desire to become the “poster child” for prostitutes’ rights. Robyn of course backed down, but the fire had been lit; with the help of her partner Michael Foley and sex worker Stacy Swimme (whom she had met earlier that year at a medical marijuana protest), she founded SWOP-USA the following month.
The organization was modeled on SWOP Australia, and Rachel Wotton (who now specializes in sex work with the disabled) was instrumental in securing permission for the American group to use the name and helping to set things up. Within a few weeks the new organization was contacted by Dr. Annie Sprinkle for assistance in arranging the very first Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers, and for the next year Robyn worked furiously to contact politicians and get the attention of the media so as to let them know that sex workers were not going to quietly accept persecution any more, and were mobilizing like those in many other parts of the world to demand our rights. But after the failure of “Proposition Q”, a ballot measure she wrote which would have established de facto decriminalization in Berkeley, Robyn and SWOP settled in for the long haul and committed themselves to the slow, arduous task of reversing centuries of stigma and decades of oppressive legislation.
Shortly after the two shorter videos were recorded at the International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harms in Warsaw, Poland (May of 2007), Robyn was diagnosed with cancer; she continued to work tirelessly for the cause all through her chemotherapy, and though the disease appeared to have gone into remission in January of 2010 it returned by July of 2011, and this time proved terminal. She died on September 13th, 2012 while visiting her mother, and there will be a memorial service on what would have been her 54th birthday (October 7th, 2012) at the Milner and Orr Funeral Home in Lone Oak . I never had the pleasure of meeting Robyn, but as you can see from the personal accounts on her website and the many expressions of grief all over the internet, those who did speak without exception of her warmth, her strength, her good humor, her courage and her plain human decency. And though it’s an oft-used phrase, there is no other which sums up the way everyone in the sex worker rights community feels about her passing: she will be sorely missed.
(Cross-posted from The Honest Courtesan. I am indebted to the Sin City Alternative Professionals’ Association (formerly SWOP-LV) for information and links, and also to a group of Robyn’s school friends from Lone Oak, who contacted me Sunday morning and filled in a number of vital details I could not find anywhere else. If anyone reading this can correct an error or omission, please email me with the info.)
Until prostitutes have equal protection under the law and equal rights as human beings, there is no justice. – Robyn Few
Last Thursday, sex workers all over the world were saddened to hear of the death (after a long battle with cancer) of the charismatic and tireless Robyn Few, founder of the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA. When the day finally arrives on which sex work is recognized in the majority of the world as work like any other, hers will be one of the names remembered as instrumental in achieving it.
Robyn L. Spears was born in Paducah, Kentucky, on October 7th, 1958, to Virginia Owen Spears; she had an older brother and a younger sister and lived in the small community of Lone Oak, Kentucky. She attended Lone Oak Elementary and Lone Oak Middle School, but dropped out and ran away from home either…
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WE OPPOSE FL 540: Senate Considers Creating Prostitution Registry: Florida Senate Bill 540 with the Orwellian title “Human Trafficking” would create a registry for people found guilty of the loosely defined crime of “soliciting, inducing, enticing, or procuring” another to commit “prostitution, lewdness, or assignation.” #sexworkersagainsttrafficking
UK ACTION ALERT: 3/8 Global Sex Work March 8th 7P Leicaster Square London UK Get Yourself There Wear Red Stand Up! Speak Out! FIGHT BACK.
JAN 10 • Thank you so much for your fair and balanced coverage of the 15th Annual IDTEVASW. Since 2012 SWOP and SAFE have strived to stand up and speak out in Philly on issues specific to stigma and gratuitous violence against sex workers. Folks are always amazed at how hard and painful this event is to do, yet in the end how truly blessed we are to be able to come together to do it. Many households in most areas of Greater Philadelphia, if not all of PA, are touched somehow by this issue. Talking about sex work and prostitution is hard. Living in shame and silence is harder. D/17 is not fun, though it is full of love. Truly. We are here because we have been there, and we care. Our voice is their voice. Thank you for covering the memorial. Words cannot even express the gratitude I feel right now. Philly is proving we got LOVE!
Instrument of Crime: Condoms, Prostitution, Prosecutors and Public Safety in Pennsylvania
Philadelphia Convention Center 106AB
Presentation: Friday 10/5/2018 10:45 AM
Outlawed in California, New York, and Washington D.C., since 2012 Pennsylvania prosecutors have been using Comstock Act era tactics in an effort to detain prostitutes to combat trafficking. Is charging individuals for Instruments of Crime (IOC) effective policing tactic in ending human trafficking; or is contributing to challenges in addressing important public health risks surrounding HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases? Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are combining forces for important advocacy work to draw attention to these practices.
Vermont H 568 / 569 2020
VT H.568 2020 Effort
VT state flag Wikipedia
December 2018 - December 2019 (Simplified) Year In Review (YIR). "We, as one global community renew our commitment to solidarity on December 17,” said Melanie Dante, one of the organizers at the Philadelphia events [last] year. "December 17 Events aim to raise outrage at violence against sex workers and strengthen sex worker communities and responses to the systematic, daily violence and exclusion sex workers experience.”
The SESTA/FOSTA Examination of Secondary Effects for Sex Workers Study Act (aka the "SAFE SEX Workers Study Act") received praise today from the Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project (ESPLER) XBIZ Drew Fox Dec 20, 2019
Defense Lawyers Understand the Harms of Criminalization. November 20-22: DSW attended the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ (NACDL’s) 2019 Defending Sex Crimes Seminar, an annual event that brings together defense attorneys and criminal justice reform advocates. NACDL is an opportunity for experts to exchange knowledge around protecting the rights of defendants and promoting a more equitable justice process.DSW’s Kaytlin Bailey and Melissa Broudo (left to right) on the first day of the conference.
Named one of the top 30 most influential social workers alive, Dr. Celia Williamson has over 25 years of anti-human trafficking practice, research, and teaching. Get in touch with Dr. Williamson to see how she can support you in turning your anti-trafficking advocacy into action.
December 17 is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, a day of both solemn remembrance and activism. The commemoration began in 2004 when the founders of the Sex Workers Outreach Project and sex educator, artist and activist Annie Sprinkle joined forces to remember the victims of the Green River Killer