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Sex Workers and Allies Demand Inclusion-Silent Protest

Tuesday, February 11, 2014
9:30 AM - 10:15 AM
Event Type:
Carol Leigh
Location Details:
SF Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA (and Koret Auditorium)-9:30 am

Routinely, the voices of sex workers and allies are shut out by campaigners, policy makers and feminist groups. Anti-trafficking efforts impact the lives and safety of all sex workers. We are asking for inclusion in the processes that affect us. On Tuesday morning, sex workers will stand in silent protest for an event which exemplifies the discrimination we face, as the San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking presents a panel promoting prostitution-abolitionist strategies as a solution to trafficking. (

"Strategies developed without the participation of those most impacted are ineffective and are often harmful to those they seek to 'protect'. End Demand (targeting clients of sex workers) has not been shown to benefit victims," explains Ms. R (who recently launched the successful campaign overturning the discriminatory regulation that barred sex workers from receiving victims compensation.) “Criminalization and arrests of sex workers and their clients are policy failures and are making matters worse for victims of exploitation and violence.”

“Despite much research debunking these strategies (1), SFCAHT and Supervisor Katy Tang present this panel promoting these controversial policies that demean sex workers, further silencing us and creating an atmosphere that discourages our participation,” says Carol Leigh, Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network.

"SWOP finds it problematic that the Alameda County DA's office is featured in this closing event. The Alameda County DA's office has a terrible record when it comes to prosecuting men who rape sex workers. Why are they being promoted, when they pick and choose which women deserve to be protected from violence?" --Shannon Williams, member of SWOP, Sex Workers Outreach Project, SF Bay Area chapter

The research of another panelist, Melissa Farley, has recently been debunked, as the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws which “created severe dangers for vulnerable women.”

I found the evidence of Dr. Melissa Farley to be problematic. Although Dr. Farley has conducted a great deal of research on prostitution, her advocacy appears to have permeated her opinions … Dr. Farley stated during cross-examination that some of her opinions on prostitution were formed prior to her research, including, "that prostitution is a terrible harm to women, that prostitution is abusive in its very nature, and that prostitution amounts to men paying a woman for the right to rape her." Accordingly, for these reasons, I assign less weight to Dr. Farley's evidence.
-- Justice Susan Himel, Ontario Superior Court of Justice

"When addressing trafficking, pro-active efforts should be made by city agencies to include sex workers in the discourse and advisory bodies. Instead they are promoting these insulting prostitution-abolitionist perspectives, while also ignoring a huge body of work of anti-trafficking strategies from a rights based perspective," says Carol Leigh.
(1) “The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention found no evidence that after a decade in place, the Swedish law criminalising the buying of sex had any significant impact on decreasing trafficking for sexual exploitation in Sweden.” Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, Stockholm, 2008. p.79
Added to the calendar on Mon, Feb 10, 2014 7:23PM
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