On December 17th, the International day to end violence against sex workers, sex workers and allies across Europe demand the end of all forms of violence against sex workers.
We demand the recognition of labour and migration rights as a way to combat stigma and violence against sex workers.
Physical attacks, psychological violence, even murders, continue to afflict sex workers every day in Europe and around the world. Killings of sex workers, especially of migrant sex workers, street-based and transgender, are commonplace. In 2022, many sex workers have been murdered in Europe, but no effective actions have been taken to prevent it.
WHAT IS VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS
- Stigma and discrimination. Society, with the support of the mainstream media, continue to see sex workers as unreliable, immoral, diseased and outcasts, whose worth as human beings should be denied. Sex workers‘ rights are trampled, their lives and work stereotyped and maligned. Seen as either criminals or victims. The State, including the police, harass sex workers and their families, take their children away, expose them to forced medical testing and foster the widespread stigma on them, their partners and families.
- State violence. State sponsored violence includes raids at workplaces, arrests and deportations.
- Lack of security. The State failures to secure safe working condition for sex workers, even in the countries where sex work is not a criminal act.
- Criminalization by law. By editing laws that criminalize sex workers’ work, forcing them to work under dangerous and vulnerable conditions, that introduce bylaws rules claiming the defence of “public security” or “public morals” that penalize migrant sex workers by exposing them to police harassment.
- Criminalization of clients. Criminalizing the clients of sex workers is the latest form of structural violence, which leaves sex workers without income, with less ability to negotiate, and increased stigmatisation.
- Exclusion at decision forums. The constant exclusion from policy-making and decision level platforms, as well as at women’s and workers’ rights conferences. Though sex workers’ voices are getting stronger, their organisations more sustainable and allies more present, sex workers are still being denied the possibility to speak out about their strategies to diminish violence against them.
On November 16th 2022, three migrant female sex workers were killed in Rome at their workplaces. They were killed by racism, by the violence of a whorephobic and sexophobic system, by people who think their lives are worthless because they are whores or migrants. Whom cares the death of a whore, moreover if she/he is a migrant, treated as illegal and without the right to exist?
The violence, stigma and repression sex workers experience isolate them and increase their vulnerability. Sex workers are everywhere, yet no one sees them, except when they serve as pawns to be played in the public debate to justify repressive laws or actions to “protect” them, in the name of a not-so-hidden paternalism that would like to have control over their bodies.
On this day, sex workers and allies from across Europe ask you to join us, ask you to listen to sex workers, and stand up BY OUR SIDE to demand an end of ALL forms of violence against sex workers!