The sex worker struggle - Page 3

From Google to Whorespeak: SF's activists fight a complex, uphill battle but keep the dream of decriminalization alive

The Lusty Lady in North Beach remains the nation's only unionized strip club

Doogan is wary of any attempt to further regulate or criminalize sex work. She says that often, laws meant to deter prostitution trap people who may want to change occupations.  "Women have to continue working in the industry because no one else will take them for work when they have those convictions on their record," said Doogan.

That may be the case with Lola, an occasional Erotic Service Providers Union volunteer who was arrested on prostitution-related charges outside California earlier this year. She moved to the Bay Area and is looking for a job, but after a promising interview last week, she's nervous that a background check will reveal her arrest.

"I'm waiting to hear whether that's going to be an issue or not. They could tell my landlord, and then I could lose my house too...all I'm trying to do is get a job," Lola told the Guardian.



For most sex-workers rights activists, the long-term goal remains decriminalization. For now education, creative projects, and protest in service of that goal continue.

Members of SWOP-Bay Area have a program called Whorespeak that does outreach at colleges, and "we've also been speaking in classes for therapists about how to work with current and former sex workers and not pathologize them," said Williams.

According to Stryker, one of the most exciting projects happening now is Karma Pervs. The website, run by local queer porn star Jiz Lee, sells unique sex-positive porn and donates the proceeds to organizations like the Saint James Infirmary.

Then, of course, there's the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, when sex workers and allies gather to commemorate sex workers who have been assaulted and killed.

Sex workers often can't go to police to report crimes for fear of being locked up themselves, society retains a huge stigma surrounding sex work, and there is an insidious cultural myth that "you can't rape a prostitute." These all add up to put sex workers at high risk for assault and murder; serial killers, such as the Green River Killer in Seattle and a murdered in Long Island-area this past summer, are disproportionately likely to target prostitutes.

That's why, for Williams, "Our long-term goal is to decriminalize prostitution. But the real goal is to end violence against sex workers."


Hi - Thanks for this article.

We have been on the frontlines of the protests at backpage and craigslist for the past 3 years and respect SWAAY's position.

We want to work with everyone to simply stop the enslavement of other human beings against their will.

We are not political, not religious, not professional protesters.

We are simply normal people who are sick of the status quo and saying SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!

We welcome all members of the SF community to join us in fighting the slavery of children (and adults) who are forced into the sex industry (or other labor industries) AGAINST THEIR WILL.

Our website is stopslavery2012 com and I can be reached directly at phil @ stopslavery2012 or 888-206-3264

As a start, we welcome all your readers to view the short video from SARA KRUZAN, a child victim of human trafficking in prison in California for the past 17 years, and then call the Governor's office tomorrow - on SARA KRUZAN WEDNESDAY! more info at:

phil cenedella
exec. dir.

Posted by Phil Cenedella on Feb. 14, 2012 @ 8:42 am

It seems that you really feel that your approach is simple, direct and most helpful. Yes, of course Sara should be released and working for her release is important, and there are ways to do that without supporting laws and policies that oppress women and prostitutes.

I am glad you say you want to communicate with sex workers. You can imagine that, if people are criminalized, they wouldn't necessarily jump for a chance to talk to someone who is part of a movement that is responsible for harm to sex workers. A person would have to make special effort to understand the diverse predicaments of sex workers and the ideas of the movement for sex workers rights.

Please feel free to email me if you are interested in communicating about these issues and being educated about just what the sex workers' rights movement is talking about in relationship to solutions to abuses of people in the sex businesses/trades.

Carol Leigh

Posted by Carol Leigh on Feb. 20, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

Decriminalize sex work NOW!

The reasons for the need for anti prostitution laws are only bogus excuses on the part of law enforcement for their incompetance and non profit groups that take in lotsa money using it.

There are laws against kidnap and rape of adults and minors.
If the police or DAs are unwilling or incapable of enforcing these law they should show some self respect and find another career so our hard earned tax dollars can hire someone who will get the job done!!

Support ur local sex workers!

Put governments scarce resources into putting away kidnapers, rapist, child molesters and finding missing chidren, solving all the unsolved murders, arresting burglery suspects.

NOT persecuting consentual sex workers and their clients!!!!!!

Posted by sf T party on Feb. 19, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

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