International Sex Workers Rights Day

Via Amber, today March 3rd is International Sex Workers Rights Day.  SWOP-USA provides some history:

The 3rd of March is International Sex Worker Rights Day. The day originated in 2001 when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a sex worker festival. The organizers, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, a Calcutta based group whose membership consists of somewhere upwards of 50,000 sex workers and members of their communities. Sex worker groups across the world have subsequently celebrated 3 March as International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.

Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (2002): “We felt strongly that that we should have a day what need to be observed by the sex workers community globally. Keeping in view the large mobilization of all types of global sexworkers [Female,Male,Transgender], we proposed to observe 3rd March as THE SEX WORKERS RIGHTS DAY.

Knowing the usual response of international bodies and views of academicians and intellectuals of the 1st world [many of them consider that sex workers of third world are different from 1st world and can’t take their decision] a call coming from a third world country would be more appropriate at this juncture, we believe. It will be a great pleasure to us if all of you observe the day in your own countries too…We need your inspiration and support to turn our dreams into reality.

Check out SWOP-USA for more information on events taking place today, namely a potluck dinner in NYC. They also have information on the specific and most pressing issues affecting sex workers.  In addition to racism/transphobia/sexism/homophobia/poverty, they are: ending violence against sex workers, involving sex workers in the fight against human trafficking, ending stigmatization and discrimination against sex workers, fighting HIV/AIDs, ending the raids/stings against prostitutes and decriminalizing prostitution overall.

If you have more information on events taking place today (or in the near future), also make sure to leave them in the comments!

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13 comments for “International Sex Workers Rights Day

  1. March 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    It’s not an event per se, but Indian sex workers have something to celebrate today: Last week, the Cabinet failed to approve an amendment to India’s Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Bill that would have further stigmatized sex workers by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services.

    Meena Seshu, the director of the India-based org SANGRAM blogs about it here:

  2. joe_D
    March 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    ending stigmatization and discrimination against sex workers,

    I’m all for every else on that list, including decriminalizing prostitution. But until it’s decriminalized and legal, prostitutes are criminals. Do you really believe that the government should only enforce the laws you agree with?

  3. joe_D
    March 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Sorry, I mean to excerpt “ending the raids/stings against prostitutes”.

  4. March 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Joe, police officers make choices about which laws to enforce all the time. In some jurisdictions, laws about marijuana are not enforced. In virtually every jurisdiction, laws about jaywalking are not enforced. Laws about illegal music downloading are not enforced unless the RIAA starts filing lawsuits. Notice how you don’t usually hear about the houses of those illegal music downloaders getting raided? Because law enforcement has decided to focus its legal efforts elsewhere. Usually in efforts that have some sort of chance of going towards protecting the public.

  5. RD
    March 3, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    If anyone is coming to the nyc potluck, bring food if you can!

  6. Lynn
    March 3, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Thank You Cara/ Feministe!

  7. March 3, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Also, Joe, you know there are a TON of laws on the books that aren’t enforced, right? In the town where I grew up, it was technically illegal to whistle on the street after 10pm. I’m guessing that was never enforced. Many, many places have silly ordinances on the books just like that. Sodomy laws are actually another good example — a Supreme Court case overturned them, but even before that they weren’t enforced very strictly (especially not among straight people). Police have a lot of leeway in determining who they do and don’t crack down on.

  8. joe_D
    March 3, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Jill and Cara,
    Fair point. I didn’t think that through fully.

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