Project SAFE Contributes to United Nations Report

Project SAFE participants have shared their experiences in efforts to end violence against sex workers. The report is titled “Human Rights Violations of Sex Workers, People in the Sex Trades,
and People Profiled as Such,” submitted by  Best Practices Policy Project, Desiree Alliance, & Sex Workers
Outreach Project- NYC to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of The United States of America and it has been endorsed by Project SAFE and a number of other organizations. You can find the report here: 2014UPRReportBPPPDASWOPNYC

International Overdose Awareness Day

Anyone in Philly fighting overdose and drug user stigma can honor in front of Philly AIDS Thrift, from 11am thru 7pm. 


Focus Group Opportunity Available (compensated): Barriers to Health Care

Hetero Women Flier

The Office of HIV Planning is recruiting men and women ages 25-50 who identify as heterosexual and live in Philadelphia for focus groups to discuss how they use health care and what barriers to access they experience. Ideally, participants will live in the communities/neighborhoods most heavily impacted by HIV, but HIV status is not relevant to participation. 

Participants will be asked to participate in a discussion that will take from 1 to 1 1/2 hours. They will receive a $20 CVS card in gratitude for their participation, as well as tokens and a meal.
Groups are being scheduled now for the end of September. Anyone interested in participating should contact Nicole Johns at 215-574-6760 ext. 108 or email 

Drug Interactions: A Harm Reduction Approach

Each individual knows her body best, however these tools indicate drug-interactions that are inclusive of illegal substances. Please find an appreviated chart from R29 and the full chart below.


Thank You to our donors!

Word wide, less than 1% of HIV/AIDS funding goes to sex workers. This #fundingfriday We want to thank our AMAZING donors. You keep us going. As an all-volunteer, sex worker-led, grassroots organization your donations go directly to work in our community! Keep up the good work! And, again, THANK YOU!!


Donations can be made here. They are tax-deductible and our fiscal sponsor, Point Defiance AIDS Project, gives us 100% to us.





We are excited to share with you a new project from NSWP (the Global Network of Sex Workers Projects). They will be doing features on sex worker leaders from around the globe to show the rich histories of the sex worker rights movements, as well as the textured lives that sex workers live.

If you are reading this as a potential volunteer we urge you to learn our histories, especially beyond newspaper headlines which misrepresent our genders, call us by our wrong names, and tell but only part of our stories. Beyond academics who see us only as “vectors of HIV transmission” or social problems to be solved. Please enjoy!

John Mathenge Photo


The sex worker rights’ movement is an extremely dynamic and diverse movement with an incredible mix of individuals who together advocate for the human rights of sex workers the world over. Sex workers leading grassroots activism and community building are an imense inspiration for other activists and advocates who are dedicating so much of themselves in the struggle to have the human rights of sex workers recognised and upheld the world over.

We will be profiling sex worker leaders regularly and if you would like to nominate someone to be profiled and recognised as a sex worker leader, please email communications [at] and let us know!

Can we arrest our way to an HIV free Philadelphia?

There is increasing evidence that partnerships between Police departments and community groups are serving to improve access to HIV services. 

The Evidence Is In: Decriminalizing Sex Work Is Critical to Public Health

 Project SAFE is holding it down at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit presenting on Sex Work, Sex Trade, Prostitution and Human Rights


We are also excited about a recent article published by our long time friends Anna Forbes and Sara Elspeth Patterson found here.

Targeting the Demand Side of Sex Work: Productive or Hindering?

By Rudrani Sarma, Project SAFE Intern

John schools, programs for ‘rehabilitating’ clients of sex work, are increasing in number; the new federal approach is to reform the sex work industry by stopping Johns from seeking services in general.

According to the National Institute of Justice, men who “visit” sex workers “Do not express opinions that support violence against women.” There is an interesting federal dialogue surrounding sex work as a victim-based crime, despite the legal language surrounding “victimless sex crimes” in the online public domain of the Department of Justice. This dialogue is, inherently, based in rape-culture; there is an underlying claim that men are the customers, that arresting sex workers is more likely than arresting johns, but that once there is increasing interest in incriminating, shaming, and “educating” johns, the demand side will be under governmental control.

Sex workers are seen as helpless, un-agentive women who use their profits to save themselves from backgrounds of abuse. There is very little on drug addiction as mental illness, and their work is seen as a last-resort. This stance is interesting because it is certainly Western liberal feminist and progressive, but it does not allow these women to be validated as productive members of society. Of course, there is nothing in this “guide to prostitution” about the positives of sex work for women, even in their explanations of the economic benefits. The government rhetoric surrounding sex work is unsurprisingly traditionalist and patriarchal on its stance and its claims that johns are harmless (simply “entitled to sex with prostitutes if they are not being satisfied by a conventional partner”) and prostitutes are victims who are begging for a better life.

Comparing this stance to considerations of homelessness in liberal society is interesting. There is little rhetoric on people who remain homeless because survival is a possibility for them in their utilization of government and private benefits. The homeless are seen as mentally ill or pathetic; there is little humanizing in the public perception of homeless people. Similarly, prostitutes are not seen as women first; their professions are considered “backup plans” to socially acceptable professions— they are influenced, according to the government, by their backgrounds of “limited education and lack of skills [that] make finding [“legitimate] employment very difficult,” or driven by drug addiction.

What is problematic about this stance is the privilege and rape culture which it exudes. It is inherently patriarchal in its perception of women sex workers as sans agency and simply under the control of johns. This mentality shows society only one solution: to control the johns instead of helping or rehabilitating women. Taking away the demand for prostitution will leave some women without any “education” or “skills” (as cited earlier) completely unemployed, if johns schools are as effective as the government claims. Reducing prostitution is not the problem; increasing opportunity should be the goal. It does not seem, through the little available by the government to the public domain, that this is a productive model for the introduction of opportunity and agency to women.

Volunteer Training: August 30

We will hold our next volunteer training on August 30 in center city. Please email for details.


This is open to all interested in all aspects of SAFE. Hope you can make it!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 886 other followers

%d bloggers like this: