December 17th marks the annual observation of the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers. The day was first observed in 2003 and was conceived as a memorial and vigil for the 71 victims murdered by the ‘Green River Killer’ in Seattle, Washington in the USA. The victims were mostly sex workers who were killed throughout the 80s and 90s. The day was founded by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, which is an American sex worker rights organisation, and is intended to challenge the belief that people can get away with violence against sex workers due to the nature of their work, as well as the idea that sex workers are less likely to report attacks to the police. In a public letter, Dr. Sprinkle said:
“Violent crime against sex workers goes under reported, unaddressed and unpunished. There really are people who don’t care when prostitutes are the victims of hate crimes, beaten, raped and murdered. No matter what you think about sex workers and the politics surrounding them, sex workers are part of our neighbourhoods, communities and families.”
Violence against sex workers happens every day, in every country of the world:
The International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers aims to raise awareness about the on-going struggle for visibility, empowerment and rights for all sex workers.
In the UK, the English Collective of Prostitutes and the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement will be creating a memorial outside the Houses of Parliament – more information can be found on the Facebook event page here.