Sex Worker Rights at the Tipping Point
Sex worker rights movement leaders, donors and foundations are convening in Amsterdam this week for an unprecedented series of public and private meetings.
The purpose of the meetings is to raise awareness about the state of sex worker rights organising internationally and to raise support for one of the world’s most underfunded human rights movements. The meetings are being hosted by Mama Cash, and organised in cooperation with the Open Society Institute (OSI), the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) en het Network of Sex Workers Projects (NSWP).
The sex workers rights movement launched on June 2, 1975 when sex workers staged a multi-day sit-in at in the biggest church in Lyons, France. 150 workers protested police harassment and police lack of interest in crimes committed against them. Today, sex workers in every country have organised at the grassroots, national, regional and global levels.
Just this year, sex workers in India stopped a bill that would have further stigmatized them by criminalising the purchase of sexual services. In South Africa, due to the efforts of sex workers rights activists, the high court has put a halt to ‘harassment arrests’ of sex workers by police.
But for sex worker activists, every victory has been won at great personal risk and most often without the financial support that activists working on other human rights issues can expect.
On the evening of November 10, nearly a hundred sex workers, activists, donors, foundations, and movers and shakers will gather to hear from those on the front lines of sex worker rights movements. Following this, on November 11 and 12, thirty five donors and foundations will meet to discuss sex worker rights funding strategies.
For twenty-five years, Mama Cash has supported sex worker rights organisations from all over the world. At the core of our work is the conviction that if we seek maximum freedom for everyone, we must work for the freedom of those who are most stigmatized and denied their rights. This certainly applies to sex workers.