Do you have 2 minutes for the rights of people in the sex trade?

Dear Supporters,

Amnesty International has spent two years consulting and conducting researching in several countries – including the United States of America – around how to address the violence and other human rights violations against sex workers, the conclusion was they would adopt a policy supporting decriminalisation of sex work as a protective measure for protecting the human rights of sex workers and in particular addressing the violence that female, male and transgender sex workers face across the world. The policy is to be considered and voted upon at their International Council Meeting on 6 August 2015.

However the Coalition Against Trafficking Women has initiated a campaign, supported by a number of high profile celebrities to block the policy.

We are asking our supporters to join us in supporting the proposed policy by signing this change.org petition from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects. This letter can be found here. Please consider sharing this among your networks to continue to raise awareness and garner support.

A letter of support (or many letters) are immensely welcome, as well. In particular, letters highlighting the health, human rights and harm reduction impact of decriminalizing sex work and the importance of promoting sex workers’ human rights. It would be helpful if it also noted that the policy was developed after 2 years of consultation and debate. Sample letters can be found here.

The letter can be addressed to AI’s  director, Salil Shetty (Salil.shetty@amnesty.org).

In solidarity,

Project SAFE

red umbrella

Interested in working with Project SAFE?

Interested in learning more about what we do and how to get involved?

Please join us for an Info Session and training at this Saturday, 7/25, from 1-4pm at Prevention Point Philadelphia,
2913 Kensington Ave, Philadelphia PA 19134

Get more info + RSVP here.

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SEX WORKERS, TRAFFICKING VICTIMS MORE VULNERABLE AS VISA, MASTERCARD CUT TIES TO BACKPAGE.COM

Sex workers and advocates are denouncing a move by Visa and Mastercard to discontinue processing credit card transactions for Adult Services ads on BackPage.com.

“This policy effectively disenfranchises thousands of sex workers across the country who do not have access to any other means of online-advertising,” said Lindsay Roth, Board Chair of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. “Those who may have worked independently prior to the policy change may now have to rely on third parties, including traffickers, in order to meet their needs.”

“Risk to violence is multiplied for workers who belong to other marginalized groups,” Derek Demeri of the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance said. “This will especially impact women of color, queer youth, transgender women and immigrants who will no longer have access to web-based safety tools like client screening.”

Demeri and other advocates report that multiple communities were deeply affected after last year’s closure of MyRedBook.com, a site where sex workers and their customers met and reviewed each other. Advocates say that like MyRedBook, BackPage.com enables people to work independently, reduces their dependence and vulnerability, and allows them to share harm reduction information online. Pushing these workers even further into the shadows cuts them off from social services and makes them more vulnerable to violence and coercion.

“These efforts are misguided and will cause significantly more harm to those in the sex trade, including trafficked individuals,” said Kristen DiAngelo, a trafficking survivor who recently co-authored a study in Sacramento that showed 18% of street-based prostitutes interviewed in the last nine months had returned to the streets after the closure of MyRedBook.com.

Many are concerned about the root of the changes that are occurring in the name of “ending trafficking.” “It’s alarming when bank and credit institutions can decide how money obtained legally can be used based on their ideas of morality,” Monica Jones, a national transgender and sex worker activist in Phoenix remarked. Penelope Saunders, the coordinator of the Best Practices Policy Project, shares Ms Jones’ concern. “The general public has been mislead into believing that cracking down on civil liberties is a way of ‘saving’ women from trafficking,” she said, “but once people look more closely at what these so-called anti-trafficking restrictions actually do, they are appalled by the real consequences to low income people and the rights violations that ensue.”

Viable solutions to address human rights violations are well known in the social service sector, but often receive much less media fanfare than hyped stories of sexual exploitation. “If there is a genuine desire to end human trafficking,” Kate D’Adamo of the Sex Workers Project in New York states, ”Then there needs to be a focus on key factors that increase vulnerability to trafficking: access to public services, youth homelessness, and additional employment opportunities.”

Opponents of the decision are circulating a sign-on letter amongst sex workers and supporters, in which they ask Visa and MasterCard to “Appeal to reason…” and reconsider their move to stop allowing transactions for Adult Services on BackPage.com.

What I Think of AA

projectsafephilly:

A great post from a woman in recovery reflecting on 12-step programming.

Originally posted on Tracy Chabala:

aamedalions

I’ve had to reconcile many things throughout my life, many many things. I’ve had to reconcile my artistic and literary inclinations with the reality that I must rake in an income, I’ve had to reconcile with, and then rebel against, Christian fundamentalism, I’ve had to reconcile with and reject patriarchal constraints, I’ve had to reconcile with my seething desire to remain childfree and unmarried, I’ve had to reconcile with the reality that my intellectual support for polyamory doesn’t fit with my emotional inability to engage it, I’ve had to reconcile my political beliefs—despite being a raging liberal I believe in a set-in-stone flat tax for everyone without loopholes (and everyone includes GE and Goldman Sachs), I’ve had to reconcile my detest for Big Pharma with the very important reality that my psych meds help me remain stable, I’ve had to reconcile that Noam Chomsky isn’t always right, I’ve had to reconcile with the reality…

View original 1,998 more words

We Remember April Brogan

By Kris Morgan

Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago Member

On May 1, 2015, April Brogan tragically passed away after negligent treatment in a jail cell in Volusia County, Florida. She was arrested on April 29th for aiding and abetting prostitution. When she showed symptoms of heroin withdrawal in her cell, no one helped her to get the treatment she so sorely needed. Subsequently, she passed away in her cell, despite the fact her cellmate was aware of her condition and tried to alert the authorities.

We believe that the criminalization of prostitution and the mistreatment of drug-addicts as criminals caused this death, which could have been easily prevented. The criminalization of prostitution forces individuals to work in the shadows, which hinders access to social, economic and legal services. Sex workers are made more vulnerable to violence. Criminalizing prostitution is morally wrong, and, in this case, has resulted in a woman’s tragic death. The stigma of both prostitution and drug use causes us as a society to turn a blind eye to the needs of sex workers and drug addicts. Instead of being met with health care, social services, and compassion, they receive punishment and denigration.

The best way to prevent such deaths is to remove criminal penalties on both prostitution and drug use. We need to focus our resources on education, healthcare and economic opportunities. 

In the meantime, and immediately, we need to reexamine prison policies around addressing the health and safety of inmates with substance dependencies and hold prisons accountable for failing to respond appropriately when an inmate asks for help. Brogan is the not the first woman to die due to guards’ lack of response to withdrawal symptoms in Volusia County Jail. Across the United States, over two-thirds of local jails lack detox programs, and each year, dozens of individuals convicted of low-level crimes die due to prison mismanagement of withdrawal.

We send our condolences to friends and family of April Brogan. She will be remembered in our fight for justice.

***

A link to a fundraiser for April’s family is here.

Project SAFExSWOP-Philly Info Session & Volunteer Training

Saturday, May 30

Info Session & Volunteer Training
1-4pm
Overdose Prevention Training
4-5pm
William Way Community Center
1315 Spruce Street

Learn more here!

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Rights Not Rescue: Oppose HB241/SB904 in MD

We stand in solidarity with Power Inside and other organizations who seek to challenge the criminalizing approaches to human trafficking.

Opposition Statement to Maryland HB241/SB904-2015

(To go directly to endorsement page: www.surveymonkey.com/s/P6HXV2Z)

action

 Across the country, there is a growing concern that laws designed to protect victims of trafficking are needlessly criminalizing people who have no role in forcing, defrauding, or coercing others into sex work or other labor. Even adult victims of trafficking are being arrested and treated in the criminal justice system as if they were perpetrators. We, the undersigned, are individuals and organizations who share this concern and believe we can create policy that holds perpetrators of violence accountable without violating the rights of victims and others.

Supporters of HB241/SB904 say this bill is only about making human trafficking a felony rather than a misdemeanor, but in Maryland, forcing, threatening, coercing, or defrauding children and adults into prostitution is already a felony. HB241/SB904 will go even further and make felons of people who may have nothing to do with an adult’s choice to be a sex worker, as well as applying felony charges to individuals who are involved in trading sex for safety or survival.

Those who will be most harmed by HB241/SB904 are those charged based on non-violent and helping acts, such as providing a ride or securing shelter for a consenting adult involved in prostitution. HB241/SB904 would escalate criminalization of vulnerable young adults involved in the sex trade with peers who often work together to further their mutual survival. Even victims of trafficking and intimate partner violence are not excluded from being arrested for and charged with human trafficking. This creates lifelong consequences to people by impeding their ability to secure employment, housing, and higher education. Read more here.

It is for these reasons we oppose Maryland House Bill 241 and Senate Bill 904. The potential for increased collateral consequences to victims, homeless youth, communities of color, and vulnerable women are too great. STATEMENT AND ENDORSEMENT LIST WILL BE SUBMITTED TO MEMBERS OF THE MARYLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY, to endorse please complete the SM form here:www.surveymonkey.com/s/P6HXV2Z

 power inside

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