This day, like many other days like International Sex Workers’ Day, is celebrated by sex workers and is dedicated to them. The day is observed on December 17. The places where the day is celebrated experience statewide protests & activities by sex workers, their advocates, families, friends, & allies. It originally began as a memorial & vigil for the victims of Green River Killer in Seattle, Washington, only to evolve into a full-fledged annual international event. The day emphasises on the various atrocities & hate-crimes committed against sex workers worldwide. Another of its objective lies in expunging the social stigma & discrimination, which has greatly contributed to the violence that prostitutes suffer. The custom & prohibitionist laws perpetuate such as violence, prostitutes claim.
Dr Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA), an American sex worker rights organisation, gave birth to this movement in 2003. Sprinkle dissents to the atrocities that prostitutes are subjected to, by writing in a letter which states ‘Violent crimes against sex workers go underreported, unaddressed and unpunished. There really are people who don’t care when prostitutes are victims of hate crimes, beaten, raped, and murdered. No matter what you think about sex workers and the politics surrounding them, sex workers are a part of our neighbourhoods, communities and families’.
In Canada, many women who had been employed in the streets have gone missing. This day speaks about resistance. Prostitutes, in general, have a vast history of resisting the stigma and criminalisation, & the violence afflicted on them. Prostitutes deserve safety as they could be a family member, your friend, your colleagues or among your children.
While soliciting inherently isn’t considered dangerous or illicit, the shame, the stigma, & the legislation often adds up to prostitutes being easy targets of abuse. The mocking and jokes that involve the deaths or violence committed against prostitutes have given an air where it’s palpable that no one values a sex workers’ life. And other significant factors such as disabilities, sexual & gender identities, racism, addiction, poverty, & exploitation only help in increasing the vulnerability to violence. For many prostitutes, these factors cumulate to them not being able to negotiate safely (such as screening clients or condom use) and being denied access to medical facilities, or police protection. This is to mean that violent individuals who exploit prostitutes often go unpunished or are vindicated. All these reasons call to activists who are against abuse of prostitutes to stand up for the human rights of sex workers. Not only sex workers but every human on the planet has a right to safety. The whopping numbers in which prostitutes are harmed & killed day by day certainly deserve our attention.