International Sex Worker Rights Day

History: This day’s history goes back to 2001 when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a festival despite efforts from prohibitionist groups who tried to prevent it taking place by pressuring the government to revoke their permit.  The event was organized by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Calcutta based group that has [as of 2018] over 70,000 sex worker members, and members of their communities.  Sex worker groups across the world have subsequently celebrated 3rd March as an annual, international event, as International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.

On March 3rd, 2018 Coyote RI and sex workers around the world, call for the decriminalization of “all aspects of adult prostitution resulting from individual decisions.”   Coyote RI also states that sex workers should be guaranteed “all human rights and civil liberties,” including the freedom of speech, travel, immigration, work, marriage, and motherhood, and the right to unemployment insurance, health insurance, and housing.  Furthermore Coyote RI calls for protection of “work standards,” including the abolition of laws which impose any systematic zoning of prostitution, and calls for sex workers having the freedom to choose their place of work and residence, and to “provide their services under the conditions that are absolutely determined by themselves and no one else.”  Coyote RI also calls for sex workers to pay regular taxes “on the same basis as other independent contractors and employees,” and to receive the same benefits for their taxes.

SEX WORKER BILL OF RIGHTS

Laws

• Decriminalize all aspects of adult prostitution resulting from an individual decision.

• Decriminalize prostitution and third parties

• Enforce criminal laws against fraud, coercion, violence, child sexual abuse, child labor, rape, racism everywhere and across national boundaries, whether or not in the context of prostitution.

• Eradicate laws that can be interpreted to deny freedom of association, or freedom to travel,

• Sex workers have rights to a private life.

Human Rights

• Guarantee sex workers all human rights and civil liberties, including the freedom of speech, travel, immigration, work, marriage, and motherhood and the right to unemployment insurance, health insurance, and housing.

• Grant asylum to anyone denied human rights on the basis of a “crime of status,” be it prostitution or homosexuality.

Working Conditions

• There should be no law which implies systematic zoning of prostitution. Sex workers should have the freedom to choose their place of work and residence. It is essential that sex workers can provide their services under the conditions that are absolutely determined by themselves and no one else.

• There should be a sex worker-led committee to ensure the protection of the rights of the sex workers and to whom sex workers can address their complaints. This committee must be comprised of sex workers and other professionals like lawyers and supporters.

• There should be no law discriminating against sex workers associating and working collectively in order to acquire a high degree of personal security.

Health

• All women and men should be educated to periodical health screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Since health checks have historically been used to control and stigmatize sex workers, and since adult sex workers are generally even more aware of sexual health than others, mandatory checks for sex workers are unacceptable unless they are mandatory for all sexually active people.

Services

• Employment, counseling, legal, and housing services for runaway children should be funded in order to prevent minors from engaging in survival sex and to promote child well-being and opportunity.

• Sex workers must have the same social benefits as all other citizens according to the different regulations in different countries.

• Shelters and services for working sex workers and re-training programs for sex workers wishing to leave the life should be funded and managed by sex worker led organizations.

Taxes

• No special taxes should be levied on sex workers or their businesses.

• Sex Workers should pay regular taxes on the same basis as other independent contractors and employees and should receive the same benefits.

Public Opinion

• Support educational programs to change social attitudes which stigmatize and discriminate against sex workers and former sex workers of any race, gender or nationality.

• Develop educational programs which help the public to understand that the customer plays a crucial role in the prostitution phenomenon, this role is generally ignored. The customer, like the sex worker, should not, however, be criminalized or condemned on a moral basis.

• We are in solidarity with workers in the sex industry.

Organization

• Sex worker-led organizations should be supported to further implementation of the above.

In honor of International Sex Worker Rights Day– Coyote RI will be hosting a self-care day on Sunday, March 4th, 2018 starting at 11am.  Contact bella@coyoteri.org for details