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Rose Alliance board member Petite Jasmine murdered

Author Mama Cash

We are deeply saddened to share the news that on July 11, 2013 Swedish sex worker, mother and board member of sex workers’ rights group and Mama Cash grantee Rose Alliance, Petite Jasmine, was murdered by her ex-partner.  We send our heartfelt condolences to her friends and family.

A few years ago, Jasmine  lost custody of her children to her abusive ex-partner after a relative informed social service that she was a sex worker. Despite his aggressive behaviour, her occupation—and refusal to ‘admit’ that it was a form of self-harm—led the state to deem her the less fit parent.

It was no easy task, but Jasmine fought to regain access to her children. After two years—during which her ex-partner stalked and threatened her—social services realized their mistake and began working to reunite Petite and her children. But at a meeting with her son for the first time in over a year, Jasmine’s husband stabbed the social worker present at their meeting and killed Jasmine.

The injustices that manifested in Jasmine’s murder took place in the context of the Swedish model, which criminalizes the clients of sex workers. This framework treats all sex workers as victims who need to be ‘saved’ from themselves by the state. In reality, this model makes sex work more difficult to carry out safely.  All too often, sex workers are perceived as criminals themselves and faced with arbitrary arrests and harassment from those who should be concerned about their safety. And according to Pye Jakobsson, coordinator of the Swedish sex workers’ rights organization Rose Alliance, “the biggest overall result is the increased stigma.”

This stigma leads people to believe they can literally get away with murder of sex workers. On July 9, 24-year-old trans sex worker Dora Özer was killed in her home in Kudasi, Turkey. In Turkey, sex work is not illegal but only regulated brothels are permitted, creating a gray area that increases the vulnerability of unregistered sex workers. This approach, discrimination against trans people, and their lack of state protection created the situation in which Özer and many more like her have had their lives brutally ended.

Protests have already taken place in Ankara, Turkey and Berlin, Germany in response to Özer’s death, but more – over 25 on 3 continents – are taking place tomorrow, July 19th, to commemorate Jasmineand Özer and call for decriminalization of sex work. To find the nearest protest to you, click here.

During her custody battles, Jasmine said “Even if I can’t get my kids back I will make sure this never happens to any other sex worker.” She is sadly no longer with us to work towards this goal, but organisations like Rose Alliance and  many others will continue to fight for a world in which sex workers are respected, empowered and safe.

Mama Cash strongly believes in the empowerment of sex workers to stand up for their human rights and dignity. That’s why Mama Cash  funds several sex worker rights groups and  hosts the Red Umbrella Fund, a unique grantmaking initiative which exclusively provides funding for sex workers’ rights groups around the globe.

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