LAWMAKERS ENDANGER SEX WORKERS IN THE NAME OF RESCUE

Today’s passage of #SESTA (the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) by the US Senate spells more danger ahead for those who work in the sex industry.

Along with #FOSTA (the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), passed by the House of Representatives on February 27, this potentially disastrous bill seeks to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA, which protects Internet companies from prosecution for user-posted content) to exclude anything deemed to facilitate sex trafficking. The result could be a dramatic widening of the crackdown on sex work online that began with last year’s Federal shutdown of Backpage.

Sex workers and allies faced an uphill battle against SESTA/FOSTA, which most members of Congress viewed as an easy bipartisan win on a “no-brainer” issue. Sex work has been barely visible in the national debate around this legislation, which has focused almost entirely on Net neutrality and First Amendment issues. But even some tech giants such as Facebook and IBM reversed their positions on these bills, presumably to avoid appearing to condone sex trafficking. As usual, the most vulnerable people in the equation and those most directly affected have no voice in the passage of legislation that endangers while purporting to protect them.

Yet advocates for sex workers’ rights and anti-trafficking activists agree that SESTA/FOSTA will hurt everyone working in the sex trade, including trafficked individuals. As Freedom Network USA, “the largest network of anti-trafficking service providers and advocates in the United States,” said in a recent statement,

Reforming the CDA to include the threat of civil litigation could deter responsible website administrators from trying to identify and report trafficking. It is important to note that responsible website administration can make trafficking more visible — which can lead to increased identification. …When websites are shut down, the sex trade is pushed underground and sex trafficking victims are forced into even more dangerous circumstances. Street-based sex workers report significantly higher levels of victimization, including physical and sexual violence.

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The ability to advertise and communicate openly online constitutes a major safety net for all sex workers. Take this away and workers are driven back to the danger of the streets and increased vulnerability to predatory clients and procurers. Under SESTA/FOSTA, Internet companies could ban sex workers sharing information about dangerous clients and other harm reduction resources. Only full decriminalization can empower sex workers to control the conditions of our labor.

The struggle continues against the attitudes embodied in this legislation: that people trading in sex–whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion–need rescue; that the consensual sale and purchase of sex by adults enables, or is the same as, human trafficking; that sex workers don’t deserve the same rights and respect as other types of workers. With both government and well-intentioned rescuers failing us yet again, it will now be up to the sex-work community to devise new best practices to keep workers as safe as possible from prosecution and violence, while they continue to work for survival.

#SESTA #FOSTA #LetUsSurvive #SurvivorsAgainstSESTA

SESTA Community Meeting this Sunday!

Dear sex worker family,

SWOP-Chicago is hosting a forum for workers to come together to learn about, process, and think about next steps regarding the scary law that could pass the Senate any day now: https://stopsesta.org/.  As you may know, SESTA (or FOSTA as it’s currently called in the House) would target online platforms on which many workers advertise, making our work more vulnerable and pushing many of us to the streets.

This Sunday, we want to get together to educate each other about the law, how and when it might be implemented, and best practices for continuing to work safely. We’ll be joined by lawyers from the Community Activism Law Alliance, which provides free legal representation to current and retired sex workers through the SWOP-Chicago legal clinic.  CALA will host us at their space:

5pm on Sunday March 18

17 N State St., Suite 1380

Chicago, IL 60602

 

We’ll order some pizza.  If you’re planning on coming please let Mike know at mike@swop-chicago.org so we can order enough.  But please feel free to come at the last minute even without an RSVP! And please spread the word to other workers!

Hope to see and strategize with many of you soon!

February Sex Worker Support Group

Come to our February support group for sex workers*, current and former. Whether you are in need of resources, support, or can provide support for others or just need a space to vent, please join us!

Location and details:

Howard Brown – 4025 N Sheridan, Room B (ask at the front desk for them to direct you into Room B in the back because you have to go through a locked door)

Saturday, February 3, 1:15pm-2:45pm

We will have refreshments and suggest a donation of 10 dollars, or whatever you feel comfortable giving. Please send us a message if anyone needs a ride so we can arrange help getting to and from the meeting. It is a short walk from the Sheridan Redline stop.

18+ only

*sex workers include strippers, escorts, pro domes/subs/fetish workers, phone/cam workers, and other work that offers erotic services for something of value.

For additional questions contact group facilitator Cassandra D. at 708-320-3078

Free Legal Clinic this Sunday!

SWOP legal clinic offers free legal support for sex workers, trans individuals, and people experiencing unstable housing!

Drop by our legal clinic this Sunday, January 14, from 4-7pm at our location at Lifeworks Psychotherapy in the loop (120 W. Madison, Suite 920, Chicago, IL 60602).  If you are having troubles finding us, please call (872) 228-7532.

We can take on any issue, civil or criminal.

Contact us to complete an intake form at www.calachicago.org/swopclinic/or e-mail mike@swop-chicago.org.

December 17th Protest & Vigil

Each year on December 17th, sex workers and our allies join together to honor sex workers whose lives have been lost and to recommit ourselves to the struggle to end violence, stigma, and criminalization of sex workers. This year, we are observing December 17th with a protest followed by a community gathering and vigil. Information and links to Facebook events are below. Please join us!

Solidarity with Queens Sex Workers: No More Raids!

Sunday, December 17th 12-1:30pm @ Daley Plaza

Chicago sex workers and allies are outraged at the murder of a Queen’s massage parlor worker, Yang Song, this past weekend at the hands of the NYPD. We will gather to lift up one of our lost and express our collective rage.

If these massage parlor raids continue more workers will die, be incarcerated, deported. Stop criminalizing sex work. Stop criminalizing working people. Stop targeting parlors. Get out of parlors and stay out!

How can these massage parlor raids be justified when women are dying?!

Meet at Daley Plaza, by the Picasso Statue at 12PM. This meeting location is symbolic, it’s right outside Sheriff Tom Dart’s office. Tom Dart conducts stings and raids against sex working people and our clients all the time, resulting in incarceration, deportation and loss of income and life.

December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, join us to demand an end to police terror.

***We will have bandanas on hand if you need to protect your identity, send us a message before the event. Mask up as you feel comfortable.

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Community Vigil

Sunday, December 17th 5-8pm @ Peanut Gallery (902 N California Ave)

Community *** Candlelight Vigil *** Speakers *** Food *** Music *** Art

Free, all ages, & everyone welcome!

For more info on this important day, check out: www.december17.org

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Please donate here to support our important street outreach efforts!
https://www.youcaring.com/swopchicago-1005658
“Many of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of the sex work community are street-based. In a time of increased criminalization of sex work—which disproportionately affects people of color, trans and gender nonconforming people, and people with undocumented status—the urgency of meeting the needs of workers has only increased. Join us as we build community, resources, and support systems together! We are thankful for donations of any size — small or large, every dollar helps the community!”

 

Monthly Community Meeting Tomorrow **at our new location

Wednesday, December 13th 7-9pm @ Read/Write Library (914 N. California Ave.)

We have a ***New Location*** for our regular monthly meetings. Thank you to the Read/Write Library Chicago!

Join us as we look ahead to plans for activism and community in the coming months. We’ll be discussing the upcoming International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Dec 17), our legal clinic, street outreach, support group, and upcoming events.

We meet every second Wednesday at 7pm. All sex workers and allies are welcome!

New volunteers may email mike@swop-chicago.org for more info on how to get involved.

Support Street Outreach with Chicago Sex Workers!

SWOP-Chicago is pleased to announce an online fundraiser to continue our street outreach efforts.
As we enter Chicago winter, consider supporting the street-based sex work community in our city! Your donation to SWOP-Chicago allows us to continue seeing over 100 street-based workers a week at three different locations.  We provide free condoms, HIV testing, clean needles, toiletries, snacks, and legal resources. By offering a consistent presence on the street, led by and for sex workers, we hope to provide a safe space for people to access resources, network, and support each other. 
 
Many of the most marginalized and vulnerable members of the sex work community are street-based.  In a time of increased criminalization of sex work—which disproportionately affects people of color, trans and gender nonconforming people, and people with undocumented status—the urgency of meeting the needs of workers has only increased.  Join us as we build community, resources, and support systems together!
 
We are thankful for donations of any size — small or large, every dollar helps the community!  We are also happy to offer special thank-yous for the following donors:
  • Donations of $20 — A SWOP-Chicago button
  • Donations of $50 — A bouquet of “Hug a Ho” Stickers
  • Donations of $150 — A SWOP-Chicago T-Shirt
  • Donations of $250 — A SWOP-Chicago Tote Bag with Handmade Sex Worker Harm Reduction Zines
  • Donations of $1000 — A SWOP-Chicago Tote Bag with T-Shirt
  • Donations of $2500 — A Tote Bag stuffed with Condoms, two T-Shirts, Stickers, Zines, and Buttons
Thank-You gifts will be available at our December 17 International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers day or mailed directly to donors. 
Learn more or donate at https://www.youcaring.com/swopchicago.
 
 

Statement Regarding Eros Raid

FEDERAL RAID OF EROS-GUIDE PUTS SEX WORKERS, IMMIGRANTS AT RISK

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security raided a Youngsville, NC call center operated by Eros-Guide, a listing service widely used by adult providers to advertise their services and find work. Along with the shutdown earlier this year of adult advertising on Backpage, another listing service, this development compounds sex workers’ already-high risk of dangerous working conditions and economic precarity.

The raid was conducted under a warrant that alleged “cross-border illegal activity,” underscoring the crucial intersection of sex workers with immigrants and other groups made vulnerable by marginalization. Individuals frequently turn to sex work because their immigrant and/or other marginalized status excludes them from other jobs and sources of income. Immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people engaging in sex work are especially likely to be endangered by government shut-downs of resources such as Eros-Guides, which provide workers with a relatively safe forum in which to advertise and connect with clients.

Tuesday’s raid and similar law-enforcement events force sex workers into increasingly dangerous conditions, while doing little to curtail the sex trade or protect trafficked individuals. Without online spaces such as Eros to continue making a living, sex workers are forced further underground, into street-based work or organized crime spaces. This erases workers’ independence and reduces their earning potential, while placing them at greater risk of violence from pimps, clients, and law enforcement.

SWOP-Chicago joins the international sex-workers-rights community in condemning the criminalization of sex workers and their clients, and calling for the full decriminalization of the sex industry. Only decriminalization can address the endangerment and marginalization of sex workers, while keeping control of the market and working conditions in the hands of workers themselves. SWOP-Chicago embraces a harm-reduction model in advocating for the human rights of sex workers, while providing direct services to Chicago’s sex work community in the form of street-based outreach, free legal clinics, and support groups.

Free Legal Clinic 11/19 — New Location!

SWOP legal clinic offers free legal support for sex workers, trans individuals, and people experiencing unstable housing!

Drop by our legal clinic this Sunday, 4-7pm at our new location at Lifeworks Psychotherapy in the loop (120 W. Madison, Suite 920, Chicago, IL 60602).  If you are having troubles finding us, please call (872) 228-7532.

We can take on any issue, civil or criminal.

Contact us to complete an intake form at www.calachicago.org/swopclinic/or e-mail mike@swop-chicago.org.

New Monthly Meeting Location

We have a ***New Location*** for our regular monthly meetings. Thank you to the Read/Write Library Chicago! Located at 914 N. California Ave (entrance on Walton).

Join us as we look ahead to plans for activism and community in the coming months. We’ll be discussing the upcoming International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (Dec 17), our legal clinic, street outreach, support group, and upcoming events.


We meet every second Wednesday at 7pm. That means our next meeting is November 8. All sex workers and allies are welcome!
https://www.facebook.com/events/365558587219063/?active_tab=about#

New volunteers may email mike@swop-chicago.org for more info on how to get involved.