We Owe You An Apology

July 18, 2018

To the sex worker community,

As an organization, we always say that systems and perpetrators of violence need to be held accountable. This is no different when we have enacted harm ourselves.

Today, we’re writing this letter to take accountability. We have taken actions that have caused harm to sex workers, and it is important that we take responsibility for those actions.

In 2008, we produced a position paper on sex work titled “Stepping out of the Binary.” The paper framed the sex work industry as inherently violent and oppressive. It failed to recognize the resilience, agency, and autonomy of sex workers. It also conflated sex work with trafficking and exploitation.

In addition, we have received feedback regarding our service delivery. While our services have been accessed by some members of the sex worker community, they have not been affirming and widely accessible by the broader sex work community.

Our public position was that we critiqued and challenged the sex work industry as a whole, but would not turn away individual sex workers who wanted to access our services.

This position is inherently flawed. It is not possible to support individuals and also call for the abolition of their profession.

Our service delivery and the writing we’ve put out have sent the message to members of the sex worker community and their allies that sex workers could not access our services.

We’re sorry for this.

We support sex work. We support the rights of sex workers. We believe sex workers should have access to the services they need, when they need them.

We are committed to changing our service delivery to meet the needs of the broader sex worker community.

We’ll be taking down the paper we published. We will not, however, hide it or make it inaccessible. It will be available should community members want to read it.

In addition, we will conduct an audit of our services, looking at the gaps that have made our services inaccessible to the sex worker community.

Following this audit, we will enact changes in our service delivery to fill these gaps.

To everyone who has done the hard work of giving us feedback over the last few years, we’re sorry that we did not act sooner. We hear you. We are committed to being better.

Thank you, WAVAW’s Board, Leadership, and Staff