Category: News Archive

#FreeGigi update: write letters of support

Gigi testified on March 1 and she was calm and clear even though the case is a very difficult one. After the presentation of all the evidence the Judge decided to take first degree charges off the table. After more than 6 hours of deliberation the jury returned yesterday March 2 with a verdict of guilty of second degree murder. In Maryland sentencing is carried out by the presiding Judge. Sentencing in this case will occur on May 9. Anyone who has had experience working with Gigi (or being the recipient of Gigi’s amazing support) can write a letter for the judge to read before she sentences Gigi. The letter should be to Judge Daneeka V. Cotton. The letter should be brief and state that you know Gigi Marie Thomas, state how long you have known her and the capacity in which you know her (ie that you worked with her at Y or Z place, that you received services from her, etc). Then in your own words you should speak to your experience of what Gigi has offered you/the community/society and what she can continue to contribute. Anything that you think will help Judge Daneeka V. Cotton make her decision as to the sentence for Gigi. Letters should be mailed to Gigi’s attorney who is: David M. Simpson, 6404 Ivy Ln, Ste 408, Greenbelt, MD 20770. Please send letters as soon as possible so that they may be submitted in a jacket to Judge Daneeka V. Cotton. We learned that sending in letters too late is not ideal as judges prefer to read them well in advance of the sentencing.

Please read more about Gigi Thomas here and please contribute to her fundraiser…. “As a society we have become used to hearing the news of another transgender woman being killed. In this case Gigi did not die. She lived. She is one of our leaders surviving.” Ceyenne Doroshow.

Women’s March 2017: As Expected, the Erasure of Sex Workers Rights

UPDATE January 18, 2017: Yesterday wording affirming the rights of sex workers was returned to the Women’s March Statement. The attempt to erase the presence of sex worker rights and sex workers’ voices in feminist spaces was reversed because of widespread public outcry. We must be honest with ourselves that until the criminalization and stigmatization of sex workers’ lives and work ends, sex workers can be erased with the stroke of a pen, one phone call to the cops and by putting up another piece of anti-sex worker legislation (yes, it is so easy to pass those laws under the guise of ending trafficking). The threat is always there. And so resistance is needed daily. We honor the fortitude of Janet Mock for her clear statement on why she wrote the line, “…and we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements.” And how and why she rejects the “continual erasure of sex workers from our feminisms.” Historically and today the people who have primarily stood up boldly for sex worker rights have been transgender women of color. We remain committed to highlighting the leadership of transgender people of color for the rights of sex workers.

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January 17, 2017: The presence of anti-sex worker rights advocate Gloria Steinem as co-chair of the Women’s March this weekend in Washington, D.C. meant that it was almost certain that the Women’s March would back away from its surprisingly forward thinking statement on sex work.The original statement read, “We believe that all workers – including domestic and farm workers – must have the right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage, and that unions and other labor associations are critical to a healthy and thriving economy for all. Undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our labor protections, and we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements.”

Today advocates noted that the Women’s March Statement has been changed to remove any mention of sex worker’s rights. The statement now reads, “Undocumented and migrant workers must be included in our labor protections, and we stand in solidarity with all those exploited for sex and labor.”

It is not so much that Steinem directly put pressure on the Women’s March to erase sex workers’ rights organizing from the page–though she most certainly would have–but more that the agreement to place an advocate who has so clearly spoken out against both the rights of transgender people and sex workers as a co-chair means that these issues are contested by the groups and advocates in the lead. In 2017, failing to recognize sex workers’ rights in the United States is simply unacceptable. Honoring both sex worker and trans leadership is the way forward.

Monica Jones Speaking Tour

Human rights advocate Monica Jones will be traveling to the NYC area for meetings and events associated with the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking. Ms Jones will be speaking to her experience as transgender leader who was arrested by a misguided anti-trafficking initiative called Project ROSE and about the campaign she lead to raise awareness of the rights violations perpetrated by police, social workers and services providers in the name of ending “sex trafficking.” Her work on these issues sparked global awareness of the rights violations experienced by transgender women of color in the United States as a result of anti-trafficking policies. During her campaign she was joined by leading advocates such as Janet Mock, Laverne Cox and many others. A video of Monica and Laverne Cox at an event at the Herberger Theater Center organized the ACLU and sex worker rights organizations in defense of Ms Jones is available here.

Ms Jones is available for speaking engagements the NY/DC/PA area December 5 to 14, 2016. She is a dynamic speaker who has presented on transgender rights, HIV/AIDS, feminism, sex work, social work, and the law at events during the Commission on the Status of Women in NY, the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, International AIDS Conferences in Melbourne, Australia and Durban, South Africa, and the Association of Women in Development in Brazil. Ms Jones is the recipient of the SPARK! Authentic Life Award in 2015, was honored as one of the Trans 100 in 2015 and received the Diversity Advisory Committee of Phoenix College Award in 2012. Ms Jones is the founder of The Outlaw Project, an organization based on the principles of intersectionality to prioritize the leadership of people of color, transgender women, gender non-binary people and migrants for sex worker rights. She has presented at universities across the United States introducing students of all levels to key issues relating to transgender experience, rights, sex worker rights, workers rights, gender justice, the law and social work. Ms Jones may be contacted by email at monica6022006@gmail and by text/voice to (602) 483-9772.

monicajones2016speakingtour

UN Women’s 2 Week Extension Fails to Fix its Process

On September 7th of this year, UN Women distributed an email with the subject line: “Consultation Seeking Views for UN Women.” In the text of the email, UN Women sought comments for a forthcoming policy on sex work. Sex worker rights and other advocates raised multiple concerns with UN Women’s process and its proposal to draft another U.N. agency policy on sex work. They pointed out that UN Women failed to conduct in-person regional and national consultations for its process, opting instead for a brief, month-long online comment period that will exclude countless voices of directly impacted people. The questions UN Women asks sex workers and others to answer in order to participate in the consultation reference bureaucratic UN language and processes without providing adequate explanation.

 

Prior engagement by relevant UN agencies on this issue, including UNAIDS, has involved meaningful, lengthy sex worker consultation processes and arrived at policies that uphold human rights protections for sex workers and people engaged in sex trades. UN Women, as a cosponsor of UNAIDS, therefore already has a position supporting decriminalizing sex work as part of a broader agenda of human rights protections for sex workers. While the framing of its consultation process appears directed at fully reconsidering these questions, advocates pointed out that it is the existing policy that must be UN Women’s minimum standard and guide for any further elaboration of its approach to sex work. In addition, Best Practices Policy Project expressed its alarm to UN Women at the fact that the Policy Director in charge of UN Women’s process, Purna Sen, has publicly indicated her belief that sex work should be abolished, and cannot therefore be said to support human rights for sex workers.

 

UN women sent an email on Oct. 17 to policy advocates stating, “UN Women has heard the calls for an extended period of consulting time.” The email announced a deadline extension of two weeks for submissions. This deadline extension does not represent a genuine effort on the part of UN Women to create a truly consultative process. Two weeks is an inadequate amount of time to resolve the issues that advocates raised, including the lack of in-person local and regional consultations, the lack of engagement of sex workers in shaping the process to begin with, the lack of transparency in its process, and UN Women’s failure to look to current UN agency policies on the issue as a minimum standard and guide. Without addressing these foundational issues, UN Women’s process is still illegitimate and may do more to harm human rights protections than to assert them. By responding to calls for transparency and meaningful in-person consultations with a simple fifteen-day extension, UN Women is sending the message that communities that face discrimination don’t need to be meaningfully consulted—that UN agency officials and resource-rich NGOs can simply represent them. Ignoring the feminist principle of meaningful consultation with groups most impacted by an issue at hand sets a deeply harmful precedent and example for the broader UN community, and it must not be allowed to continue.

The Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) is continuing to call for signatories to their petition to put pressure on UN Women about the process. The petition is available in 5 language (English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Russian) here: https://action.manifesta.net/efforts/call-for-un-women-to-meaningfully-consult-sex-workers

The NSWP is also encouraging those concerned about the process to highlight the issues in social media. The Best Practices Policy Project supports these actions and encourages all our allies to continue speaking out on the issues.

 

Sample tweets:

 

We have signed this submission to @UN_Women with 86 orgs for their consultation on #sexwork http://tinyurl.com/zf62zxx #sexworkiswork

 

We are one of 86 signatories of this letter to @UN_Women with #sexwork-ers and allies http://tinyurl.com/zf62zxx

 

We ask @UN_Women to meaningfully include #sexwork-ers in the development of their policy on sex work http://tinyurl.com/zf62zxx

 

Please sign the @GlobalSexWork petition. @UN_Women, meaningfully include sex workers in policy development! http://tinyurl.com/gmp3hqe

 

We support the human rights of #sexwork-ers and have signed this @UN_Women petition http://tinyurl.com/gmp3hqe please sign and share!

 

Sample Facebook messages:

 

We co-authored this submission to UN Women with 86 sex workers’ rights and women’s rights organisations. We are calling on UN Women to engage in a meaningful consultation with sex workers in the development of their policy on sex work. http://www.creaworld.org/announcements/response-un-women-s-call-consultation-seeking-views-un-women-approach-sex-work-sex

 

Please sign and share the Global Network of Sex Work Projects’ Petition. They are petitioning UN Women to engage in a meaningful consultation with sex workers as they develop their policy on sex work. https://action.manifesta.net/petitions/call-for-un-women-to-meaningfully-consult-sex-workers-as-they-develop-policy-on-sex-work?preferred_locale=en

 

Please sign and share this NSWP petition. They are urging UN Women to adopt a rights affirming approach to sex workers’ rights and to consult with sex workers in the development of their policy on sex work. https://action.manifesta.net/petitions/call-for-un-women-to-meaningfully-consult-sex-workers-as-they-develop-policy-on-sex-work?preferred_locale=en