SWOP-Chicago Responds to Backpage Shutdown

Please join SWOP-Chicago and Support Ho(s)e in protest.

Noon on Wednesday, January 18th

Picasso Sculpture, 50 W Washington Blvd.

Details are here on the Facebook event page.

The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Chicago protests the United States government pressure that caused Backpage.com to censor its Adult content section on January 9th.  Many members of our community will no longer be able to pay their rent, purchase food, or afford medical bills because a crucial source of their income has been eliminated.  This Wednesday, we will be sharing our shock and dismay with Sheriff Tom Dart, who has been an integral part of this dangerous drive to force the sex industry underground.

Backpage was a low-cost and low-barrier means through which many sex workers advertise.  Because it did not discriminate based on gender, race, or class, it was an especially important place of advertising for the most marginalized members of our community: LGBTQ sex workers, sex workers of color, and unstably housed sex workers.  These individuals may now have to rely on third parties or on street-based venues to work.  With Backpage no longer an option to advertise, they may be working on the Chicago winter streets during the writing of this press release.

SWOP understands the need to address sex trafficking.  But Tom Dart and the United States government have made it clear that pressuring Backpage is not really about trafficking.  Their narrow focus on sex has too often eclipsed other forms of human trafficking, such as trafficking in the agriculture, domestic labor, or garment industries.  Moreover, as sex workers, some of us may be able to recognize victims of trafficking and get them the help they need.  The government should be working with us to target trafficking, not working against us as we attempt to make a living with our work.

Though disappointed by the recent government actions, we are not surprised by them.  In Chicago, Tom Dart has long declared an all-out war on Backpage, without any consideration of how this may affect how and where people work. Tom Dart’s efforts to criminalize johns and shutter advertising for sex workers are misguided.  They will only serve to push the sex trade further underground, distancing workers from human, legal, and economic services.  His actions may also ramp up secretive efforts by organized crime.

Sex workers are nothing if not resourceful.  We will find new advertising venues and new resources.  But in the meantime, many members of our community are sadly struggling just to survive.

Celestial Smut: An Intergalactic Celebration and Benefit

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SWOP – Chicago invites you to an intergalactic celebration on Saturday, November 19th! Celebrate SWOP – Chicago’s 10th anniversary at a fabulous fundraising event!

Celestial Smut is a decadent and dirty space-themed extravaganza. Join your favorite sultry space sinners at Cafe Mustache for a night packed with performances, DJs, raffles, tarot readings and more.

Suggested donation is $10, and 10% of all drinks purchased will go to SWOP Chicago.
Get a free raffle ticket if you bring 1 winter coat, pair of new socks, or bra or 3 toiletry items (our toiletry needs are: razors, shaving cream, lotion, tampons + pads, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner)

All toiletries will go toward our street outreach efforts in Garfield Park.
All donations SWOP Chicago receives will go toward various efforts we have including our street outreach efforts, quarterly brunch/round table events, legal outreach clinics, 12/17 International Day to End Violence Against Sex Work event and more.
To learn more, please visit our site at swop-chicago.org

Contact LeahLev4@gmail.com with questions, donations, or if you’d like to perform/DJ!

Walk-In Legal Clinic June 15th

This month’s free legal clinic in conjunction with CALA is on Wednesday, June 15th 6-9pm at Coalition Impact, 405 W. Superior Ave., 7th Floor.

All services are free of charge for low-income individuals with current/former experience in sex trade or street economy.

The clinic accepts Walk-Ins, and you can also pre-schedule an appointment via our online intake form (or call 312-999-0056). If the clinic times or dates don’t work, we can do intake and offer general legal consultation, advice and education via phone at other times.

Got Questions? Call 312-999-0056 or email board@swop-chicago.org!

March 21st Free Walk-In Legal Clinic

SWOP’s Legal Clinic will be hosted next Monday, March 21st at

Centro Autonomo

3460 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

(Look for the SWOP signs– Second Floor)

Chicago, IL

Time: 6:00-8:30pm

The SWOP-Chicago CALA Clinic is a free, full-service legal clinic for individuals currently or previously involved in adult industries/sex work or impacted by the stigma and criminalization of sex work. It provides a wide-range of criminal and civil law services from advice and community legal education to representation.  All legal services, including full representation, are completely free of charge to qualifying clients.

The SWOP Community Activism Law Clinic provides free legal services to:

*Individuals who have been profiled as sex workers or adult workers (by police, employers, landlords, or other entities)

*Individuals who are involved or who were formerly involved in sex work or adult work, including:

-working as an escort, dancing in a strip club, web-camming, sensual massage, engaging in fetish or pro-dom/pro-sub work, acting in adult film or nude modeling; and/or

-engaging in dating, relationships, sexual activities, or intimacy with someone for money, housing, gifts, drugs, or other things; and/or

-relying on someone you’re intimate with someone for money, housing, gifts, drugs, or other things.

*Individuals who have been homeless or have relied on crashing with friends for housing within the last 12 months.

Services Offered

  • Criminal Defense
  • Criminal Records: expungement, sealing, vacating convictions
  • Family Law: divorce, child custody, child support, DCFS
  • Housing: eviction, security deposits, vouchers
  • Public Benefits: food stamps, medical card, SSI & SSD
  • Employment: discrimination, overtime, minimum wage, unemployment benefits
  • Police Misconduct
  • Education: expulsions, special education
  • Other areas of civil law

We can provide full legal representation for Illinois residents and individuals with cases/legal issues in Illinois.

We can provide phone consultation, legal education, do legal research around questions, and offer local referrals to community members around the United States.

Questions? Stop by our walk-in clinic on the 22nd or contact Vera by email Vera@SWOP-Chicago.org or phone (312)715-8372.

March 3rd is International Sex Worker’s Rights Day

Internationally, sex workers are organizing for labor and human rights, with efforts aimed at demanding recognition of sex worker autonomy, freedom from criminalization, and legal protection from violence and abuse.

Join Us!

We’re curating a screening of short films illuminating sex worker activism, resilience, community, and strength across the globe. We’ll be playing a selection of short documentaries made by sex workers and allies from the United States and abroad!

No Bad Whores, Just Bad Laws

A film screening for International Sex Worker’s Rights Day

9:00pm Thursday, March 3rd

Cafe Mustache

2313 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60647

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About International Sex Worker’s Rights Day

International Sex Worker Rights Day began in 2001 when over 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a festival organized by a Calcutta-based group called Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (Unstoppable Women’s Synthesis Committee). In 2002, Durbar invited organizations from around the world to join them in commemorating Sex Worker Rights Day on March 3rd:

“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.”

Since 2002, sex workers and advocates around the world have organized protests, gatherings, film screenings, art shows, and lectures on and around March 3 to raise awareness about human rights abuses sex workers face.

 

Walk-In Legal Clinic February 22nd

SWOP’s Legal Clinic will be hosted next Monday, February 22 at

Centro Autonomo

3460 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

(Look for the SWOP signs– Second Floor)

Chicago, IL

Time: 6:00-8:30pm

The SWOP-Chicago CALA Clinic is a free, full-service legal clinic for individuals currently or previously involved in adult industries/sex work or impacted by the stigma and criminalization of sex work. It provides a wide-range of criminal and civil law services from advice and community legal education to representation.  All legal services, including full representation, are completely free of charge to qualifying clients.

The SWOP Community Activism Law Clinic provides free legal services to:

*Individuals who have been profiled as sex workers or adult workers (by police, employers, landlords, or other entities)

*Individuals who are involved or who were formerly involved in sex work or adult work, including:

-working as an escort, dancing in a strip club, web-camming, sensual massage, engaging in fetish or pro-dom/pro-sub work, acting in adult film or nude modeling; and/or

-engaging in dating, relationships, sexual activities, or intimacy with someone for money, housing, gifts, drugs, or other things; and/or

-relying on someone you’re intimate with someone for money, housing, gifts, drugs, or other things.

*Individuals who have been homeless or have relied on crashing with friends for housing within the last 12 months.

Services Offered

  • Criminal Defense
  • Criminal Records: expungement, sealing, vacating convictions
  • Family Law: divorce, child custody, child support, DCFS
  • Housing: eviction, security deposits, vouchers
  • Public Benefits: food stamps, medical card, SSI & SSD
  • Employment: discrimination, overtime, minimum wage, unemployment benefits
  • Police Misconduct
  • Education: expulsions, special education
  • Other areas of civil law

We can provide full legal representation for Illinois residents and individuals with cases/legal issues in Illinois.

We can provide phone consultation, legal education, do legal research around questions, and offer local referrals to community members around the United States.

Questions? Stop by our walk-in clinic on the 22nd or contact Vera by email Vera@SWOP-Chicago.org or phone (312)715-8372.