Category: Campaigns

Monica Jones calls for justice for #13blackwomen

The following call to action is from human rights advocate Monica Jones. Find her on Facebook and twitter to follow this call to action:

There is a tragedy that happened. 13 black women of African descent were sexually assaulted by white police officer 13BlackWomenDaniel Holtzclaw. This monster is on trial and being judged by a jury of his peers, a jury of 8 white men and 4 white women. His attorney has described him as an “all-American good guy” and said his accusers have “street smarts like you can’t imagine.”

What does this disparaging statement about having “street smarts” really mean?

The women he targeted were marginalized, many had been arrested before and had been charged with doing sex work and/or with using or having drugs. His method of finding victims was based on finding women who had these kinds of charges, this is the reason he chose them.

One of his victims said that reason she did not come forward was because “I didn’t think anyone would believe me.” Most of the 13 women said the same thing. That no one would believe them.

This is the reason why most sex workers and marginalized victims do not come forward, because they are afraid that their voices will not be heard. With him being a white male, with him being a police officer and them being black and marginalized, they feared that they would be discounted.

Sadly their statements are TRUE. There has not been any national outcry about this racially motivated, class-based, gender-based sexual violence perpetrated by a white male police officer. Most importantly the women had records. They were criminalized already.

We can resist this silence and raise our voices to highlight the violence against these women, because no one should be denied justice because of their “criminal record.” The injustice system criminalizes all marginalized people, no matter what they do.

Join us in seeking more media coverage about this and similar cases. We need for sex worker organizations to rise up in defense of these women. We need people of color organizations to rise up and fight back. We need women’s rights, human rights, anti-violence and anti-sexual assault groups to join us. This is how you can do this:

  • by blacking out your FB profile picture or using the profile picture attached

  • using the #13blackwomen on social media when sharing this story

  • tweet for national media coverage, asking why there is no coverage?

  • resisting the stigmatizing of these women because of the charges that have been placed on them for sex work and drug use

  • write press releases, opinion pieces, blog posts

  • if you are a journalist or connected to the press, write a feature article about this story

  • start a petition asking for media coverage and that the DOJ to look into this case.

 

13BlackWomen

Notes of exclusion: the US Conference on AIDS, 2015

Earlier this year the Best Practices Policy Project contacted the organizers of the 19th Annual US Conference on AIDS to inquire as to how we might convene a panel or event about the impact of HIV related issues and policies on sex workers and people in the sex trade. During our initial call, we explained that sex worker lead organizations are now creating the first national level report on these issues and wanted to share our progress during the conference. Despite follow up communications to numerous USCA representatives in the months that followed, we never received any formal reply and not one of our applications for scholarships to attend was successful. The financial barriers to attending are significant: for all intents and purposes costs preclude any member of a sex worker lead organization from attending or even applying to attend. In order to even apply for scholarships, small and minimally funded organizations like BPPP are required to pay a fee of $250 or more. The conference registration fee itself is $800 and a sandwich bought at the conference site costs $18. Even though we received no support to attend some of our representatives–Derek Demeri of New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance, Sharmus Outlaw and members of SWOP USA and chapters–have found a way to enter the event. The USCA belatedly responded to pressure from sex worker organizations to provide space for one panel Sex Worker Visibility and the United States’ National HIV/AIDS Strategy which conference organizers scheduled on the last day of the conference at 8.30 am (Sunday morning). Please join us on social media to learn more about the presentations #nothingaboutuswithoutus #USCA2015 #sexworkerrights
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Amnesty International: essential policy decision

Tomorrow Amnesty International will begin the process of adopting a draft policy that will defend the human rights of sex workers and call for the decriminalization of sex work. The Best Practices Policy Project is joining with organizations and human rights advocates to support the policy. The most important sources of information for the Best Practices Policy Project are sex workers themselves–such as a sex worker from New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance who has shared her experiences in a video–many of whom have spoken out publicly for the very first time in defense of the policy. After considering the issues, we urge you to send a letter to Amnesty International, just as the Best Practices Policy Project and our allies at Desiree Alliance and NJ Red Umbrella Alliance have, to ask the Amnesty International Council to stand firm and protect the human rights of sex workers. For those unable to write a letter, the global Network of Sex Work Projects has a petition that only takes a few seconds to sign. Representatives of Amnesty International can also show their support by ensuring that their representatives adopt the policy.
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Countries Make Recommendations to U.S. at the United Nations

The United States underwent its second round of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Monday, a human rights mechanism at the United Nations meant to hold countries accountable by subjecting them to review at the Human Rights Council. Sex worker rights activists Monica Jones and Derek Demeri were present in Geneva, Switzerland, for the review. They had asked representatives of other countries to raise the issue of sex worker rights with the U.S. during the review. While none of the 117 countries making recommendations specifically discussed sex work, many recommendations about policing and law enforcement cover the rights violations that are committed against sex workers and others profiled as such.

After the session concluded, Jones and Demeri participated in the civil society consultation with the U.S. government delegation to Geneva. They voiced their concerns about rights violations against people involved in sex trade, violence against trans women, particularly trans women of color, and deaths of people incarcerated due to negligence or violence by jail and prison personnel. “I want to know what you are doing to address violence against trans women,” Jones asked the government delegation, noting how poverty, violence, incarceration, and isolation affect trans women uniquely. “We support recommendations to end police brutality, as the violence that sex workers face is most often at the hands of police,” said Demeri. He added that the U.S. government should also take steps to fix its flawed approach to human trafficking, should stop the practice of using condoms as evidence of prostitution, and should uphold the rights of sex workers and related communities including queer youth, trans women, and women living in poverty. You can hear their remarks here:

The advocacy efforts of Jones, Demeri, and others at the United Nations builds on years of work by sex worker rights activists and allies. During the UPR process in 2010, Uruguay called on the United States to end violence against sex workers, and the U.S. government accepted the recommendation. Unfortunately, very little has been done since that time by the federal government to protect sex workers’ rights. The situation has actually deteriorated, as national and local policies and practices harming sex workers, and those profiled as such, increase every year, often under the banner of fighting human trafficking. Next steps for the UPR include encouraging the U.S. government to accept most of the recommendations made by other member countries, and pushing policy makers to support sex worker rights.