Report to the UN Human Rights Council Periodic Review UPR: We Want Our Voices Heard!

The Black Sex Worker Collective (BSWC), the Outlaw Project, New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance (NJRUA), Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), and Desiree Alliance, are calling on sex workers rights advocates and allies to join us letting the world know about the abuses sex workers face in the United States. We are collecting information from sex workers and organizations and are happy to meet in person, talk on the phone, text, receive information by email and reports via our online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UPR2020 (deadline to fill out the survey is August 30, 2019).

What is the UPR? The United Nations (UN) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a session to hold member countries responsible for their human rights records. The United States is being reviewed in 2020 for the first time in five years. By September 2019 we will write a report on the human rights abuses sex workers face and sex workers will then travel to Geneva, Switzerland to speak to member countries about the criminalization of our communities.

The US is obligated to uphold everyone’s human rights, including the rights to housing, education and healthcare; the right to be free from arbitrary arrest, due process violations, and invasions of privacy; the right to be free from torture and inhumane treatment; the rights of migrants; as well as rights related to the US obligation to eliminate racial discrimination.

It is well known that the US violates these rights on a routine basis when it comes to sex workers, or people profiled by the police, social workers and service providers as sex workers. The UPR provides a space for the world to hear about how the US has violated human rights over the past four years. Due to the current policy approaches in the US, we plan to include in our report information about the experiences of migrants, trans folks, people in street economies and document the economic impacts of US policies worldwide, but having said that we want to hear from every one and about every issue

Fill out the survey or email us to set up a time to speak:  bestpracticespolicyproject@gmail.com, blackSWCollective@protonmail.com, newjerseyrua@gmail.com, director@desireealliance.org, theoutlawprojectinc@gmail.com
We will be collecting information until August 30, 2019.

Why is the UPR important? In2010, BPPP and Desiree Alliance submitted the first shadow report to the U.N. Human Rights Council outlining human rights violations, e.g., police abuse and targeting, institutionalized discrimination, lack of legal protection, and violence ignored by the local governments.  As a result of the report and advocates speaking out in Geneva before the U.N. Human Rights Council, the US adopted Recommendation 86, which states that the US agrees to:  

Undertake awareness-raising campaigns for combating stereotypes and violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people, and ensure access to public services paying attention to the special vulnerability of sex workers to violence and human rights abuses.

This was the first time the U.S. agreed to address sex workers’ rights violations directly at the U.N. However, we have seen very little change since the adoption of the recommendation.  Sex workers continue to experience violence, stigma, discrimination, and targeting, especially at the hands of the police and the criminal justice systems. We want to hold the U.S. Government responsible for not fulfilling its obligations in accordance with Recommendation 86.  We want to further highlight issues that continue to go unreported.