Community allies and caring people are coming together in Philadelphia to participate in the 13th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Saturday December 17, 2016

4-6 PM

Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall

Memoriam begins at 4:30 PM with an opening meditation in memory of
Donna Gentile


red_umbrellas-in-the-skySomeone You Love May Be a Sex Worker

On Saturday December 17, 2016 millions of Americans will be celebrating the holiday season. Amidst the festivities caring citizens around the globe will come together in solidarity to show remembrance on the 13th Annual  International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. In Philadelphia the occasion will be recognized on Saturday  December 17th from 4 pm – 6 pm in a ceremony and vigil at Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Memoriam set to start at 4:30.

Culturally diverse sex workers along with LGBT and community allies plan to peacefully gather at Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall to show support for efforts to deescalate violence in the city, and to share in memoriam for sex workers who have been killed in the Greater Philadelphia Metro area. A reading of the reported names of all  workers lost globally will be opened by local family member reflecting on the pain of losing a relative to  murder. Members of the local sex worker communities will be creating political and educational art work, along with  informative posters, to communicate their feelings and reach out to city residents in effort to shatter some of the stigma and start dialog on the desire for sex work friendly support services in the city.

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has been recognized since 2003 and various  memorial events have been held in Philadelphia since 2012. This is the first time a formal event is being held at City Hall, in direct response to ongoing attacks in Kensington,  and the fact that a violent predator is still on the loose. Organizers M. Dante and  Eris Vayle  commented: “Brutal attacks and murders should not be synonymous with sex work. We hope to help deescalate the violence here in Philadelphia, and all of Pennsylvania. Our collective hopes to shed light and love to remind our community that justice for sex workers is a human rights issue. The violence dehumanizes us all, not just those who are the immediate victims.”

The date of December 17th was selected by Dr. Annie Sprinkle  in remembrance of the victims at the sentencing of serial murderer Gary Ridgway, one of the most horrific killers in American history. Ridgeway claimed to have killed 71 women in Washington state in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of Ridgeway’s victims had connections to the sex industry,  their criminalized work and often transient status made them more vulnerable.

“This is an example of why contemporary sex workers strive for equal protection under the law as the 14th amendment of our constitution guarantees.” offers M. Dante. “ The violence and lack of equal protection is why I support ESPLERP v Gascon, the California challenge for decriminalization. We need a change in the way sex work is defined and viewed.  Many individuals view their work as a facet of their gender identity and lifestyle, desiring better laws and empowerment through legislative inclusion.

Today, December 17 has become a global endeavor. This year there are expected to be some two dozen December 17-related events nationwide.

Philadelphia event information and blog:

Local Contact: M. Dante & Eris Vayle

Event Voicemail: 717.682.8622