Stand with SWOP-Chicago in Supporting Amnesty International’s Proposal on Decriminalization of Sex Work

April 3, 2014

For Immediate Release

 

The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)-Chicago supports the proposal put forth by Amnesty International to decriminalize prostitution.  We believe that the criminalization of actors participating in the sex trade contributes to a host of negative effects for both sellers and buyers of sexual services: it alienates them from communities that support their health and human rights, precludes the development of social services that can help them address issues of concern, undermines their ability to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and other STIs, and eliminates the agency of individual sex workers.  In countries where sex work is decriminalized, violence against sex workers is reduced and access to health and human services is increased.

The removal of punitive laws and policies targeting sex workers is crucial.  SWOP-Chicago is not alone in this belief.  International agencies such as The Global Commission on HIV and the Law, UNAIDS , the World Health Organization, the Global Alliance Against the Trafficking in Women (GAATW) and the Human Rights Watch have called for or support the decriminalization of sex work. Contrary to what some may have you believe, decriminalization is NOT an attempt to legalize ‘pimps’, nor does it increase exploitation of sex workers. Such arguments are made with a limited understanding of the sex trade, a limited understanding of global capitalism, and undermines the struggle for sex workers to live healthy, safe, stigma-free lives.  

Decriminalization will help sex workers address all forms of exploitation, including abusive or sub-standard working conditions instituted by both state and non-state actors. In countries such as the United States where sex work is criminalized, sex workers are often afraid to come forth   Criminalization of buyers of sex will not eliminate this concern, but would instead drive the industry further underground. Clients will be more likely to withhold personal information that sex workers need to keep them safe in order to prevent the police from using this information.  

Finally, SWOP-Chicago is committed to ending human trafficking within the sex trade.  Criminalization of prostitution hampers the anti-trafficking efforts of organizations working with people in the sex trade and makes it easier for sex workers to be wrongly categorized as trafficked persons.  Moreover, under criminalization, there is a reduced chance that those who are trafficked into the sex trade will come forward against their traffickers.  Criminalizing the buyers of sex is tantamount to eliminating the agency of individual sex workers, and creates an environment conducive to the proliferation of human trafficking.

SWOP-Chicago and other members of the sex worker rights movement are in agreement with with other human rights movements in condemning the abuse and violation of the rights of all individuals, including sex workers.  Thus, we stand in solidarity with Amnesty International in calling for the full decriminalization of prostitution.  

Please join us in posting this statement and spreading the word via social media using the hashtags on Friday, April 4 in support of Amnesty International’s consultation of the decriminalization of sex work.

#YESamnestyDECRIM #Amnesty2014

#NotYourRescueProject #Amnesty2014

#StandWithYouthWhoTrade #Amnesty2014

Tumblr- http://endcriminalizationnow.tumblr.com/

 

Members of SWOP-Chicago

www.swop-chicago.org

info@swop-chicago.org

@swopchicago

https://www.facebook.com/SwopChicago

 

Spend Labor Day with SWOP! South Side BBQ and Movie Night

SWOP invites all sex workers to help us close out the summer with a south side BBQ and movie night! We’re firing up the grill and having an impromptu meet and greet for current and former industry workers. Later in the evening, we’ll be showing some choice selections from 2011′s Sex Worker Film Festival on an outdoor screen. Please bring your own booze/beverages, a dish to share, and whatever you’d like our sexy grillmaster to fire up for you.

This is a SEX WORKER ONLY event, open to current or former workers of all genders. Sorry, no allies or partners allowed. blog-retro-bbq-girl

 

The Deets…

Date- Monday, September 2 – Labor Day

Time- 3pm- ???

Location- South Side Chicago (near Hyde Park)

There is a Metra train stop nearby, but we encourage folks to carpool to this event if possible. SWOP members will be available to pick people up at train stations nearby at different times.

Please email- info@swop-chicago.org or call (312) 252-3880 to RSVP and get location information

 

“The Scarlet Road” Documentary Film Screening- Saturday, April 6

SWOP-Chicago and SexFest2013 are proud to host a FREE screening of the award-winning documentary “The Scarlet Road” on Saturday, April 6 at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum. Screening begins at 7pm and will be followed by a panel discussion.

“Scarlet Road” follows the extraordinary work of Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton. Impassioned about freedom of sexual expression and the rights of sex workers, she specializes in a long over-looked clientele – people with disabilities

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Date- Saturday, April 6, 2013

Time- 7pm

Location- Jane Addams Hull House Museum (dining hall)

800 S. Halsted st.

Chicago, IL

For more SexFest 2013 events, go to- http://www.thedeviantminds.org/

Scarlet Road Flyer - V1

 

“Taxes, Tea & Coffee” – Tax/Money Management Worshop Saturday, January 26

Working in the Adult Entertainment Biz and want to get 2013 off to a good financial start?
Join SWOP-Chicago for a tax and money management workshop this January 26!
tax flyer - Big
When
Saturday, January 26, 2013
2-4:30 p.m.
Where
Rogers Park (near Loyola redline)
RSVP for address
What
William Enmark, a CPA with an investment/finance background and over 17 years of experience as a tax professional, will lead the workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences.
Workshop will cover topics including:
* The benefits of filing taxes
* Tax deductions sex workers can claim
* Budgeting your income and managing your money for the year
* How to stay legal and who can help
* Dealing with a “cash-only” income and how much to set aside for taxes

After the workshop, we will be hosting a coffee/tea/social hour for networking and to share information.

This event is free to attend!

RSVP: via email (meg@swop-chicago.org) or phone (312) 252-3880

The Veneration of Whores! December 17th…

The Veneration of Whores ~ Celebration & Candlelight Vigil
10th Annual, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Come enjoy a beautiful evening of celebration & community in Chicago!
Join us as we pay respect to life by honoring our dead and firmly resist ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­the
 institutional and physical violence committed against sex workers worldwide.
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EVENTS THIS YEAR INCLUDE:

• Speakers (TBA)
• Community Commemoration Graffiti Wall
• Special Burlesque & Art Performances
• Robyn Few “Patron Saint of Sex Workers” Shrine 
• Featuring queer DJ All the Way Kay
• Candlelight vigil for sex worker victims in 2012
• Wine & Tea by donation

✔ Bring yourself
✔ … and bring a Friend!
✔ Bring some positive energy
✔ Bring solidarity
✔ Please also consider bringing something healing ,or personal, or special to share/commemorate & glue/write on the community wall; or leave at the “Patron Saint of Sex Workers” Shrine. —-> feather boas, candles, mementos, condoms, poetry, hotel key cards… (get creative!) (glue & markers provided)


This is an ALL-AGES event, which is Open to the Public.
• Light Snacks & Refreshments will be Provided!
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For more information contact the SWOP-Chicago: 
www.swop-chicago.org |  312-252-3800  | sexworkchicago@gmail.com

SWOP-Chicago Mourns the passing of SWOP-USA Co-Founder Robyn Few

All of us at SWOP-Chicago are saddened by the passing of SWOP-USA co-founder Robyn Few on September 13, 2012 after a long battle with cancer. Robyn was a huge inspiration to many of us in the sex worker rights movement and we hope to continue on with the work she started back in 2003 when she co-founded Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA with Stacey Swimme.

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Robyn Few (left) at National March for Sex Worker Rights, 2008

From the SWOP-Las Vegas website-

“… a native of Kentucky, ran away from home at age thirteen and later became an exotic dancer. After marrying and having a daughter in her twenties, she began to take college courses in the hopes of earning a degree in theater arts. She came to California in 1993 to pursue theater and become an activist. Acting and activism not being the highest paying jobs, Few turned to prostitution to pay the bills in 1996. She has worked tirelessly as an advocate and caregiver for medical marijuana and AIDS patients and has gained quite a reputation in the Bay Area activist community as an effective lobbyist for the issue. In June of 2002, the FBI arrested Few under the direction of John Ashcroft. Using the Patriot Act, Ashcroft was able to equate terrorism with prostitution and get additional funding for the very expensive investigation. She was convicted on one federal count of conspiracy to promote prostitution and received six months house arrest, which she finished serving in June 2004. Judge Marilyn Hall Patel allowed Few to continue her activism and volunteer efforts while under house arrest.

Dubbed the “patriotic prostitute,” a campaign centered on the idea that prostitution should be decriminalized to protect women from violence began in October 2003 with The Sex Workers Outreach Project. SWOP is an outgrowth of the anger and frustration that Few feels as a result of her federal bust. “Until prostitutes have equal protection under the law and equal rights as human beings, there is no justice.”

SWOP Australia is the sister organization that the USA counterpart is modeled on, although the myriad of services that SWOP-AU provides cannot actually be put in place until prostitution is decriminalized in the U.S. “Until prostitutes are no longer criminals why would they come forward and allow themselves to become targets for law enforcement? Decriminalization is the beginning of the solution, it’s not the solution itself.”

Red Light District Chicago did an interview with Robyn at the 2008 Desiree Alliance Conference in Chicago here-

Our condolences go out to Robyn’s family and friends…she will be missed by many of us!

SWOP-Chicago T-Shirt Exchange

Have you purchased one of SWOP-Chicago’s “I Love Chicago Sex Workers” T-shirts from us in the past 6 months? We have received many complaints about the ink on the design fading after just a single washing. We apologize for the inconvenience, but our printer re-printed and tested a new batch of shirts for us. We will be exchanging the defective shirts for new ones to anyone who has purchased a shirt from us from this batch.

Please email hannah.tr@swop-chicago.org to make arrangements to exchange your shirt. We will need the old defective shirt in exchange and will be exchanging only for same color/size shirts.

 

Thanks so much for supporting SWOP-Chicago!

Support SWOP-Chicago AND Women With A Vision on June 14!

SWOP-Chicago will be donating a portion of the proceeds from our June 14 benefit party to Women With A Vision, a New Orleans based organization that was burned down two weeks ago in a direct attack on women’s reproductive rights. to find out more about how you can help Women With A Vision, please go here.

Additionally, Chicago Recovery Alliance will be offering FREE vaccinations and STD testing, as well as condoms, clean needles, and lube from @8:30-10:30 in front of Beauty Bar the evening of our event. Look for the silver van.

“What’s Your Price?” Benefit Party- Thursday, June 14 at Beauty Bar

Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago presents:
WHAT’S YOUR PRICE? Benefit Party!!

Come one, come all!
A sexy fundraiser for a sexy harm-reduction cause…
all you have to do is show up & enjoy the fine people & fine libations!

Thursday, June 14th —–> Beauty Bar, 1444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL —> $10 Donation, 21 and over
8pm: Doors Open
9-11pm: Performers
11-2am: Dance Party

✔ LIVE MUSIC:

• DJ All The Way Kay
• SQUISH
• Lezurreccion
• StratosQueer

✔ BURLESQUE PERFORMANCES:

• Oosha Boom
• Feral Minette
• And More….!

✔ SPANKING/FLOGGING BOOTH

✔ RAFFLE PRIZES

“Taxes and Toddies”- Tax/Money Management Workshop and Cocktail Hour Tuesday, March 6

Join SWOP-Chicago for a tax and money management workshop on Tuesday, March 6 at a private location in Chicago. Included will be resources on better money management skills, as well as referrals to sex worker friendly accountants and tax preparation professionals.

Free to attend! Please BYOB if you would like to stay for cocktail hour and networking after workshop.

Please RSVP to sexworkchicago@gmail.com or call (312) 252-3880 for location address.