Today, is the “international day to end violence against sex workers”. It’s a day to acknowledge the people who have lost their lives to violence and it’s also a way to renew a commitment to the on-going struggle for empowerment, visibility, and rights for all sex workers.
And if you’re reading this- you’re probably wondering why it’s something I’m remotely passionate about and something I’ve decided to write about today.
I’m a rich, privileged, white, middle-class woman – and I have never worked in the sex industry. I have never paid for sex and you might assume I know little, to nothing, about this subject.
One of my closest friends is a sex worker.
(I would never use the term prostitution with anyone who engages in this industry- because it can be degrading in some people’s minds)
I won’t name her because that isn’t my place to do it (even though she’s extremely open with what she does)- but yes, despite appearances- I know and understand far more about this industry that you might assume on first glance.
Which is why this day is so important to acknowledge. Its such a significant thing not only to debunk the myths surrounding the industry but also to acknowledge that I worry about her choice of career every single day – because it’s so vulnerable to abuse.
Under current UK law, it is illegal to work in a building alongside anyone else doing the same thing. Which means, sex workers are unable to work alongside one another and put protections in place.
Under current law, it is a criminal offence which means that those who choose to pursue it are not protected by establishments.
Current UK laws mean that vulnerable people are being put at risk everyday in relation to sex related violence.
One charity, which allows sex workers to anonymously report violence, has received 745 reports this year, including 282 for violence, 103 for robbery, 97 for rape.
Despite there being thousands of individuals engaging in this business- it’s still a conversion that is being shushed away- and quietened down.
Sex related violence becomes so much more problematic the longer that it remains a criminal activity and this leaves vulnerable people at risk- with the media almost insisting that violence is an inevitable, for such a stigmatised group.
Today is a day to speak up about this and continue to fight the stigma, talk to your MPs and share the real statistics behind sex related violence.
Even though I truly support the decriminalisation of sex work- I am by no means suggesting this to be the perfect solution.
There’s nothing that will undo an entire culture of dominated violence, stigma and racist and trans- violence, but putting a safer legal framework in place is a start.
It’s something that needs to be spoken about- and if there’s something you can do, it’s to raise your voice to be heard- for the good of those working and the family and friends of those who have people in this industry!