Just a note to say thank you so much for meeting with me, Rob, regarding December 17th International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers.
The United States has become one of the most violent countries towards sex workers and individuals exploring gender and lifestyle. Pennsylvania topping the list every year since The Kensington Strangler – Antonio Rodriguez – terrorized women 2010-2011. The problems in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania however have been known to the people in diverse neighborhoods for decades. Police violence is still a cause of fear for People of Color and transgender women since Nizah Morris was killed Christmas Eve almost twenty years ago. Ohio and New York have had terrifying accounts of recent police misconduct leading to murder of sex workers by law enforcement, an issue we as workers and civically engaged citizens and activists are striving to prevent in PA. Violence in Pennsylvania impacts us all: Caucasian, African American, Ethnic People Of Color (PoC), Hispanic and Asian communities. Incidents of violence against sex workers and transgender individuals leading to their death have been documented in Allegheny, York, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Sadly the data collection process in PA is arduous and expensive with each county and municipality allowed their own policies and procedures that do not fit the formula of the Freedom of Information Act or Sunshine rule. This is recently been confirmed by the Pittsburgh Tribune in Allegheny County and Billy Penn in Philadelphia County. Also I do have documented complaints in other PA counties though will keep this brief and on point.
After seeing that Reddit post of a butchered young woman undressed and basically in the trash on the street of Philadelphia I met with your office with hopes that the Senator cares about the families and communities impacted by violence against sex workers and survivors. We have no idea if that is an actual photo belonging to the Philly Crime Unit yet the impact on us all has clearly been traumatizing. I was sitting with the mother of 2016 trafficking and murder victim Rickie Jolene Morgan when that image was in view. I drove from Montgomery to Somerset County in a rain and ice storm to meet with her as a volunteer advocate because her daughters murderer is still at large – and still a potential danger to others on the street – yet there are no victim services employees reaching out and assisting her, because it seems there is no agency for this category of crime after the initial file is processed. Please let me offer that I am so sorry to expose your office to such ugliness, yet it is what we face in our reality as residents here in Pennsylvania with no one to assist us.
I know this is not a publicly popular issue that a politician wants to promote on a soap box, however we are constituents and residents of the commonwealth, and I beg of your office to help us find ways to address the gap in victim services for sex workers, trade survivors and the families of the victims of these violent crimes and murders.
Currently – We strive to find community allied solutions to address stigma, deescalate violence and create discreet and legitimate agency for those of us who have lived these realities.
There are no authentic victim services for us. There are no support services. There is no sanctuary. You saw a sample image that defines the reality of what we potentially face. It is a nightmare. That said I truly hope the Senator will support our efforts to cultivate a culture change that can address these problems.
I hope you may join us on Monday December 17th. We will be at Thomas Paine Plaza for community conversations from 12-4, and we will read the names of the dead and sharing safe space at Phila MOCA from 7-10.
If not in person please at least acknowledge our missing and dead from PA. Email me for their names. At least the ones I have confirmed. We have a national and global spreadsheet, and also a video memorial.
Please know I am available to meet with the Senator for follow up discussion or to answer any questions he may desire to ask me about survival sex, sex work and sex trafficking. I have lived this discussion since 1980. Thank you.