Author Archive

Puta Dei Week in NY and NJ

June 2 is International Whores Day and we are supporting/attending a series of events in the spirit of the day. In the 1970s sex workers occupied a church in France to raise awareness of their rights. In Brazil this day is called “Puta Dei.”

The celebration of Puta Dei Week will kick off with a Yoga Fundraiser on Saturday May 26, 2018. Join PJ Starr, Monica Jones and Munah of Munahology for yoga for MonicaUmbrellaDownTown2013_byPJStarrbrunch and brunch in Morristown, NJ. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to support PJ Starr’s upcoming film about Monica Jones, who will attend the event as a special guest. The funds gathered from this event will be used to produce a film trailer and a work progress sample, in addition to helping Director PJ Starr raise awareness and advocate for this project within the film industry. The documentary follows Monica Jones and her four years within the higher education system following her arrest for speaking out against police brutality. The inspiring film details Monica Jones’ experience as she lives through and confronts the violence imposed on transgender individuals and overcomes institutionalized systems of power.Resistance Redux Instagram 1

This Monday, end your Memorial Day at the . Held at the Love Shack in Brooklyn the event is free and open to all sex worker community members and allies. The Love Shack is a unique and unusual space that resembles two, life-size doll houses. Among some of the films featured will be She’s A Bitch, (2018, USA), Puta Mestiza (2014 Spain), The Honey Bringer (2012, UK), Raising Red Umbrellas in Africa (2016 Kenya, and What You Don’t See (2017, Brazil).

Next, join the Black Sex Worker Collective at Dorsettbk (677 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11238) at 9 pm on Thursday, May 31st for the Essence of Koffee Burlesque and Variety Show. The event will be feature many special guests, including master twerker Jantina, spoken word artist Rude Bwoy, illustrator and author Jacq the Stripper and burlesque darling Audrey Loved. Hosted by the founder of the Black Sex Worker Collective (and “beast of burlesque”) MF Akynos, the Essence of Koffee Bar Burlesque and Variety Show will support the Black Sex Worker Collective in their efforts to provide a welcoming and open space for black sex workers. In an era of violence against people of color, sex workers and transgender individuals, the event comes at a time when it is imperative to lift the voices of black sex workers up. In addition, the Essence of Koffee Burlesque and Variety show during Puta Dei Week aims to raise awareness for and push back against the new FOSTA/SESTA legislation that further marginalizes sex workers.  To learn more about the event and RSVP, visit the facebook event page.

Lastly, if you are a fan of performance art, a sex worker community member or ally, or looking to take BSWC_June2Eventaction, head to Washington Square Park to join the Black Sex Worker Collective as they and supporters storm Judson Church on June 2nd from noon until 3 PM. Puta Dei Week was created in honor of the work that French Sex Workers did in the 1970s.  This event will play particular homage to the protests of French activists in church, as it is a protest at Judson Church in New York City, which has a long history of supporting sex workers. The event will feature what is being dubbed “Whore in a Box.” As an exhibition of performance art, it will feature someone within the sex worker community in physically constraining space. Attendees will be able to ask question of the “Whore in a Box” as well purchase Whore Merchandise. Join us for this, and all the aforementioned events, to celebrate Puta Dei Week this year.

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.