STATEMENT BY PENELOPE SAUNDERS (BPPP) FOR DECEMBER 17 VIGIL HOSTED BY THE NEW JERSEY RED UMBRELLA ALLIANCE IN BRUNSWICK NJ
We have gathered here to honor and remember sex workers and people in the sex trade affected by violence.
Today is the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers.
This day was initiated in 2003 by a group of people I know very well. Artist and sex worker Annie Sprinkle had the idea of a memorial event for the women killed by the so-called “Green River Killer” in Washington State. My friend Robyn Few, the founder of SWOP USA, and her colleagues such as Stacey, Carol Leigh, Michael and many others on the west coast, organized an event and kept the spirit of Annie’s idea alive year after year. Now December 17 is acknowledged in so many places and by so many different voices.
This is a day of peace and remembrance but we also use this day to express the conviction that burns in our hearts that no one should be the victim of violence because they are a sex worker or because they are profiled as such.
This is a day that we listen to sex workers and the organizations and networks of sex workers. We do not make assumptions about the violence experienced by sex workers. We are reminded by sex workers that violence against them is committed primarily by the police. We are reminded that other abusers think they can get away with murder because “nobody cares about sex workers”. We are reminded that violence against sex workers is not just violence against sex workers—it is also violence against trans people, against people of color, against drug users, against immigrants, against youth, against the homeless.
To remember those we have lost in the last year and in every year before this year, I invite you to light a candle. We will now begin to read the names of those we wish to remember…