AIDS2018: Not Your Rescue Project Film Session

The Not Your Rescue Project film session–proposed by PJ Starr with Monica Jones and J Leigh Brantly–was accepted for the forthcoming International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam (July 23-27, 2018). This screening session will highlight videos celebrating the fierce activism of sex workers as they fight to defend their health, rights and address HIV/AIDS. Whether it is by taking to the streets in protest, delivering vital services to our fellow workers or simply reclaiming our stories and our lives, sex workers are transforming communities and having our voices heard in the struggle to address HIV/AIDS. The session will include 50 minutes of short films and then “meet the filmmaker” Q and A with local sex worker filmmakers and international attendees.

The advocates are looking for films to screen, to keep opening the way for sex worker made films and good films made by close allies to have a forum. In order to apply please send both PJ Starr (starr@rocketship.com) and J Leigh (j.leigh.brantly@gmail.com) a screener link. If you are able to attend the AIDS conference in Amsterdam and would like to be considered for the Q and A pls send them a few sentences about why you would like to speak about “films from the sex worker rights movement, reclaiming our stories, addressing HIV/AIDS.” Deadline to apply for consideration is May 27, 2018 Midnight European time at the latest.

FULL TITLE: Not Your Rescue Project: films from the sex worker rights movement, reclaiming our stories, addressing HIV/AIDS

LENGTH OF FILM SCREENING: 1 h 10 min

PROVISIONAL TIME AND DATE OF FILM SCREENING*: 10:45-11:55 on 7/26/2018

PROVISIONAL LOCATION: Film Screening Room

This screening session highlights videos celebrating the fierce activism of sex workers as they fight to defend their health, rights and address HIV/AIDS. Whether it is by taking to the streets in protest, delivering vital services to our fellow workers or simply reclaiming our stories and our lives, sex workers are transforming communities and having our voices heard in the struggle to address HIV/AIDS. The session will include 50 minutes of short films and then “meet the filmmaker” Q and A with local sex worker filmmakers and international attendees.

Who will be harmed by this “Sex Trafficking” Legislation?

On Wednesday March 21, 2018, the US Senate passed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, the counterpart to the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act that passed the House last month. The legislation is now headed to Trump for signature.

While the titles of the bills would lead the general public to believe that this legislation is to protect “victims of sex trafficking,” the intent is to shutter “websites that promote and facilitate prostitution.” Section § 2421A of the house bill, for example, states that “Whoever uses or operates a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce or attempts to do so with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.” An aggravated offense in regards to any entity that “promotes or facilitates the prostitution of 5 or more persons” is tied to 25 years imprisonment. This legislation intends to target online venues where sex workers are thought to advertise.

A couple of weeks ago in a conversation with several advocates for the rights of sex workers, it was noted that we still do not know how this legislation will be implemented and that is even more worrisome. While it is true that not all is known, based on all the history of the implementation of criminalizing legislation pertaining to “sex trafficking” and anything relating to sex work, the following pattern emerges.

  1. Law enforcement efforts to implement this legislation will focus on people of color, specifically African Americans, routing them into jails and prisons. Low income women of color will face the harsh penalties associated with “facilitating” prostitution. To read more about how this has happened before, pick up a copy of Invisible No More by Andrea Ritchie.
  2. Transgender people, specifically transgender women of color, will be targeted with law enforcement efforts. The spaces where transgender people of color congregate online for any reason will be policed and in some situations transgender women will be misgendered as men in order to facilitate their arrest and demonization. This is already happening, as per observations made by Monica Jones, about the closing of sites since the passage of the legislation.
  3. These new laws will be used to police and surveil immigrants, leading to their deportation under the guise of ending sex trafficking.

The work for us now as advocates for the rights of sex workers and for the rights of trans people and other communities targeted by law enforcement, is to bring our knowledge of how racism, xenophobia and transphobia fuels the implementation of this kind of legislation. And to be ready to support those who almost certainly will be harmed. People of color, trans people, immigrants, young people and sex workers of color.

Sex Workers Unite for AIDS2018

The next International AIDS Conference (AIDS2018) will be held in Amsterdam, July 23 to 27, 2018. The Best Practices Policy Project regularly communicates with our networks to ensure that communities in the US have the most up-to-date information about activities at AIDS2018. If you are from the community of sex workers in the US and need support, please contact us at hivaidsbppp@gmail.com to get information and assistance in regards to applying to attend. Please also view our webinar on how to apply. Sex worker rights advocates interested in health and rights, and creating a presence at the AIDS2018 are encouraged to:

  • apply for a scholarship from the International AIDS Society by February 5, 2018. According to the AIDS2018 website scholarships are for “people from resource-limited settings and communities, researchers, young people, community activists and civil society representatives” which in BPPP’s experience does include sex worker rights advocates. Please note that a “letter of recommendation” is needed to apply. The AIDS2018 website also states that “priority will be given to those whose participation will help enhance their work in their own communities, to those who are able to assist in the transfer of skills and knowledge acquired at the conference, and to those whose abstract, workshop or programme activity submission has been selected.” So, applying to be part of the conference by presenting, organizing a workshop or taking part in the “global village” will enhance chances in getting a scholarship. More details on how to apply for are available AIDS2018 and via the IAC’s webinars online. If you are a representative of the movement for the rights of sex workers in the United States and/or a community organizer for the rights of people in the sex trade and need some help applying or a letter of recommendation, then email hivaidsbppp@gmail.com by January 20, 2018 to see how we might be able to assist.
  • Submit an abstract to present about your work or research by February 5, 2018. The AIDS2018 abstract mentoring program is open to provide support if you register by January 15, 2014. If the AIDS2018 mentoring program is not what you need, please email hivaidsbppp@gmail.com by January 25, 2018 to see how we might be able to assist.
  • Apply to present about your work, organize a workshop or to showcase your cultural works at the Global Village and Youth Program by February 5. If you are a representative of the movement for the rights of sex workers in the United States and/or a community organizer for the rights of sex workers and people in the sex trade and need some help applying then email BPPP hivaidsbppp@gmail.com by January 25, 2018 to see how we might be able to assist.

The International AIDS Conference is a very large event and can be daunting. Sex workers have organized protests and actions about specific issues at the conference over the years and have demanded change from the conference itself. If issues emerge that you want to talk about or if something concerns you as a community organizer for the rights of sex workers and people in the sex trade then email hivaidsbppp@gmail.comat any time in the run up to the conference and we will do our best to connect you and to hear what you have to say.

Why attend? Globally and within the US sex workers organize to address the impact of HIV/AIDS. Even though criminalization and stigma compound the impact of HIV on the sex sector, community based organizing, peer lead programs, harm reduction and grassroots research lead by sex workers are extremely effective. Sharing the achievements of sex worker communities and providing accurate information about what sex workers need in terms of services and policy are two very good reasons why representatives of sex worker rights organizations attend the International AIDS Conference. Sex workers also converge on the conference because it is one of the very few opportunities for folks to spend time with their colleagues from all over the world, to forge new connections, to learn and to inspire. We have supported sex workers attendance at International AIDS conference for more than a decade and are here to help.

WEBINAR OCT 18, 4pm ET: Moving Forward from Sex Work Diversion Programs to Harm Reduction and Rights

IntersectionalHairLogoAwareness of the negative impact of arresting and incarcerating people for engaging in sex work is growing nationwide in the United States. This webinar discusses the place of diversion programs in efforts to build health and rights for sex workers and communities routinely targeted by anti-prostitution law enforcement. Speakers include Monica Jones (CEO of The Outlaw Project), Jules Kim (CEO of Scarlet Alliance, Australia) and other experts in the field of sex worker rights. This webinar is convened by the Outlaw Project and BPPP with the assistance of NJRUA on social media.

Title: Moving Forward from Sex Work Diversion Programs to Harm Reduction and Rights: Putting Diversion and Prisons Out of Business

TIME: October 18 at 4 pm US Eastern time

RSVP for the webinar details.

Key issues explored during the webinar:

  1. What is diversion? This section will consider how diversion functions and what we know about its effectiveness and financial incentives in relation to the prison industrial complex.
  2. Should organizers and service providers have to choose between being for rights or supporting diversion in order to be able to help sex workers? This section will describe how debates about diversion have been framed in a binary fashion, inadvertently creating divisions in sectors that are already under-resourced and oppressed in the US.
  3. Placing diversion in a bigger rights affirming context with the expertise of our global partners and intersectional thinking from our US partners. In this section we will explore if elements of diversion can be reframed as harm reduction and how to think about ending the business of diversion and prisons as our ultimate goals.