Today is the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers

STATEMENT BY PENELOPE SAUNDERS (BPPP) FOR DECEMBER 17 VIGIL HOSTED BY THE NEW JERSEY RED UMBRELLA ALLIANCE IN BRUNSWICK NJ

We have gathered here to honor and remember sex workers and people in the sex trade affected by violence.

Today is the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers.

This day was initiated in 2003 by a group of people I know very well. Artist and sex worker Annie Sprinkle had the idea of a memorial event for the women killed by the so-called “Green River Killer” in Washington State. My friend Robyn Few, the founder of SWOP USA, and her colleagues such as Stacey, Carol Leigh, Michael and many others on the west coast, organized an event and kept the spirit of Annie’s idea alive year after year. Now December 17 is acknowledged in so many places and by so many different voices.

This is a day of peace and remembrance but we also use this day to express the conviction that burns in our hearts that no one should be the victim of violence because they are a sex worker or because they are profiled as such.

This is a day that we listen to sex workers and the organizations and networks of sex workers. We do not make assumptions about the violence experienced by sex workers. We are reminded by sex workers that violence against them is committed primarily by the police. We are reminded that other abusers think they can get away with murder because “nobody cares about sex workers”. We are reminded that violence against sex workers is not just violence against sex workers—it is also violence against trans people, against people of color, against drug users, against immigrants, against youth, against the homeless.

To remember those we have lost in the last year and in every year before this year, I invite you to light a candle. We will now begin to read the names of those we wish to remember…

#standwithMonica at the Border: Action today at 10 pm ET (2pm, Dec 1 Sydney)

When traveling back to Australia to complete her social work internship Monica Jones was stopped by Australian immigration and is now detained in a detention center that has been controversial because of mistreatment and deaths that have occurred in the facility. Human Rights advocates have released the following statement about Monica’s situation, and are planning a nationwide action in Australia on World AIDS Day (December 1). Because of the time zone differences this action will take place at 10 pm Eastern Nov 30 in the US. The Best Practices Policy Project is urging people to #standwithMonica at 10 pm this evening November 30 on social media and organizing local actions in solidarity if possible. We also ask that you record (video, audio, photos) your actions so we can build a strong media presence and archive of actions in support of Monica.

PRESS RELEASE FROM AUSTRALIA

Stop the Stigma and Discrimination that fuels the HIV epidemic
Stigma and Discrimination at Australian border prevents African American student from completing her student placement.

Transgender African American sex worker activist and student Monica Jones is being held in immigration detention in Villawood since Friday with no access to visitation rights. Monica has been vocal advocate for the rights of people of colour, trans people and sex workers. Monica is being restricted entry to Australia in order to complete the 3 weeks remaining on her student placement after which she has a return ticket home to the US. Monica is in her 4th and final year of her social work degree. Without completion of her final 3 weeks of her student placement, Monica will fail this semester.

Her advocacy work will be significantly facilitated by the completion of her student placement, where she plans to work as a social worker for her community after graduation.

In the US, people of colour and tans women are disproportionately affected by HIV. Monica had hoped to learn from the successes of Australia’s response to HIV, in particular by peer led sex worker
organisations and community led responses to HIV, that is internationally recognised as a success. She had hoped to learn from the success of Australian peer led programs to achieve similar successful outcomes for African American, transwomen and sex workers in the US. This has been compromised by the Australian Governments refusal of Monica’s entry to Australia.

Monica wishes to highlight the stigma and discrimination experienced by sex workers, transwomen and people of colour that led to her profiling at the border and her subsequent detention. On World AIDS
Day we recognise that it is this stigma and discrimination that fuels the HIV epidemic.

Sex workers, trans people and allies are protesting at the Federal Law courts at 2pm (SYDNEY AUSTRALIA TIME) where Monica’s case will be heard on Monday. Community members, activists and allies will stand in solidarity with Monica to show the Australian Government that together with Monica we won’t stand for racism, transphobia and whorephobia.

Screenshot 2014-11-30 17.02.12

BREAKING NEWS From Arizona

Project ROSE stings end in Phoenix, AZ, Monica Jones responds

As you may you know I was arrested under an anti-prostitution sting, by the name of Project ROSE. This program used police and prosecutors to round up sex workers, and people profiled as sex workers, forcing them into diversion programs using coercion. The head of this program is Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, a social work professor at Arizona State University School of Social Work in Phoenix, Arizona.

Using coercive tactics such as those central to Project ROSE contradicts everything social work stands for. Social workers are supposed to defend social justice and free will. Using police to round up sex workers robs them of their self-determination and dignity and thus goes against the code of ethics of social work.

As of today, I have been advised that no more Project ROSE events are planned, and Project ROSE will not be conducting any more police stings, hopefully permanently.  This is a milestone in the community’s struggle to end the injustice of Project ROSE and rights violating policing of this kind. We still have further to go. The next milestones to reach are getting the “manifestation statute” off the books and getting my conviction overturned.

Thanks to the ACLU, SWOP-Phoenix and Best Practices Policy Project for their work for social justice and all my other supporters in Arizona and beyond.

Monica Jones, November 26, 2014

Stand with Monica Jones: November 24, 2014

Monica-Jones-FB-profile-picOn Monday November 24th, Monica Jones and her defense will present the oral argument for her the next step in her appeal process.

During the Project ROSE stings in May 2013, after speaking out against the ASU School of Social work led diversion program that criminalizes sex workers, Monica was targeted and arbitrarily arrested under a vague anti-prostitution “manifestation” statute. Monica, with the support of her defense team and support teams, including the ACLU of Arizona, the national ACLU LGBT Project and SWOP Phoenix, continues to stand up for her rights in court.

The Best Practices Policy Project is encouraging advocates to join with us in support of Monica Jones and her fight for human rights. Monica shared with BPPP by telephone today that people in Phoenix are able to attend the court date in person and those outside of the city should seek out information about her case on social media. “Use the hashtag #standwithMonica,” she said, “This law is unconstitutional and places a heavy burden on minorities. I was wrongfully convicted and my conviction should be overturned.” Monica also explained to the Best Practices Policy Project that we should not expect any definitive statement on her case on Monday. “The oral arguments provide a chance to explain the key issues in the appeal,” she explained, “but the process is ongoing.”