Category: News Archive

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

Sharmus Outlaw: humanist, transgender leader for sex worker rights has passed

SharmusOutlaw_byPJStarrSharmus Outlaw our colleague and friend has passed away this morning remaining strong and powerful in her beliefs through her last days.

At the time of her death Sharmus was a national policy advocate at the Best Practices Policy Project, with her work focusing on the rights of transgender communities and health care access. Sharmus was also the US representative for the Programme Advisory Committee of the Red Umbrella Fund, a global fund specifically for sex worker-led organizations and was part of numerous other networks. Sharmus was an advocate for health and rights for more than 25 years with experience working in the District of Columbia, Maryland and her beloved North Carolina, where she was born. An internationally known activist, she spoke out against injustice in all settings, from interactions with police in the streets to meetings with the U.S. government to high-level U.N. gatherings.

Sharmus has left us much too soon but she has achieved so much. In 2001 she was a founding member of Different Avenues, a grassroots organization working with people in street and other informal economies in the District of Columbia. Sharmus designed the outreach programs at Different Avenues drawing on her years of experience at other organizations such as HIPS where she had been a member of the DIVA program and an outreach worker. Ensuring that young people, especially transgender youth, could access services without discrimination at times that worked for them was an essential part of Sharmus’ vision. In addition to her work at Different Avenues and HIPS, Sharmus volunteered and worked at numerous organizations in the District of Columbia including the Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), Casa Ruby, and Us Helping Us. She never stopped doing outreach and would carry condoms and literature with her on her travels home to see her family in North Carolina to make sure that she could pass out materials to folks she met. She was passionately concerned that rural communities all across the United States did not have access to information about gender, sexuality, rights and HIV/AIDS.

Sharmus had a great ability to unite communities locally, nationally, regionally and globally, and through these alliances to advocate for change. She was an integral part of the community-based research team that collected data on police interactions with people profiled as sex workers in the District of Columbia, which was published as the seminal report “Move Along: Policing Sex Work in Washington, D.C.” in 2008. Drawing on that experience and her extensive knowledge of the ways in which laws and practices negatively affected members of marginalized communities, Sharmus was co-author of another first of its kind report, published in 2015, “Nothing About Us, Without Us: HIV/AIDS-Related Community and Policy Organizing by U.S. Sex Workers,” which had an explicit focus on transgender people living with HIV who engage in sex work. After helping to lead a disruption of a panel of U.S. lawmakers speaking about HIV policy, to highlight the U.S. government’s harmful stance against sex workers’ rights, at the 2012 International AIDS Conference, Sharmus told reporters, “Before I’m transgender, before I’m a sex worker, before I am anything, I’m human. I have rights just like anyone else.”
An iconic grassroots human rights defender, Sharmus Outlaw will be remembered by friends, colleagues, and fans in Washington, D.C., and around the world. Her work continues through all of us who advocate for the humanity of transgender people, sex workers, people living with HIV and youth, especially trans youth. An era dedicated to implementing the vision of Sharmus Outlaw is just beginning, in her name.

Email bestpracticespolicyproject@gmail.com in order to be connected to ongoing work planned by Sharmus and donate to Sharmus’ funeral costs.

Desiree Alliance’s public statement re: Orlando

“Desiree Alliance mourns the loss of so many. There are no losses for words as there’s just too many words that can be said here. We can point fingers but we all know why this happened. The varied reasons that have crossed our minds, why, what, when, how… It has replayed in a thousand different institutional ways from religion to political to gun control to race relations to homo & Trans phobia to terrorism, etc etc etc.Desiree New Logo
I urge all leaders in this fight to rise up and call out your truth. I urge all leaders that have a stake to stand in solidarity with those that did nothing other than share one night in a space that should have been safe. I urge unification among us because it’s not just one thing that’s broken. Our systems are designed to do just what happened in Orlando and we have historically & repeatedly witnessed the horrors that have been created by these designs.
Today, we honor these forced heroes thrust into that role, as not one person would have gone into this knowingly or willingly. These heroes were just looking for one night of relief, to laugh, to dance, to share camaraderie, to love one another, to live another day…”
Cristine Sardina BWS, MSJ
Coordinator, Desiree Alliance