“360 International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 2010” by Steve Rhodes, is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, started SWOP-USA. Violence against sex workers takes many forms, such as the legal violence of criminalization or the stigma that gets sex workers killed. There’s also media violence, amply demonstrated by the recent raids in Soho (London) that has angered the sex work community. There is violence some sex workers experience while working, which is always aided by the stigma of criminalization (criminalization empowers violent criminals, it doesn’t protect anyone).
The worst violence is when sex workers are killed because they’re sex workers. Books and movies are filled with serial killers who “practice” on sex workers because they know no one cares. For once, fiction is reflecting reality perfectly. This is why the IDEVASW exists. This is why every year there are names to be read and remembered.
There are events scheduled, but they’re few and far between. Sex workers exist everywhere on the planet, but sex work organizations do not (for a lot of reasons). If you want to Tweet about it, common hashtags are: #Dec17 #IDEVASW #EndVASW #sexwork #solidarity. I wish I knew of an online compendium of essays for Dec 17; pretty much everyone who has a blog is using it, so start with your favorite bloggers. For many of us, it’s the only way we have of making public acknowledgment of today.
One wonders what attorney Jan Schlichtmann would have to say about the value of a sex worker’s life. Though I guess there isn’t any real reason to wonder.
It’s like this. A dead plaintiff is rarely worth as much as a living, severely-maimed plaintiff. However, if it’s a long slow agonizing death, as opposed to a quick drowning or car wreck, the value can rise considerably. A dead adult in his 20s is generally worth less than one who is middle aged. A dead woman less than a dead man. A single adult less than one who’s married. Black less than white. Poor less than rich. The perfect victim is a white male professional, 40 years old, at the height of his earning power, struck down in his prime. And the most imperfect? Well, in the calculus of personal injury law, a dead child is worth the least of all.
One victory happened last week. California has ruled to allow sex workers access to the victims of violence compensation fund. At least in the state of California, sex workers are acknowledged to be human and vulnerable to violence regardless of the circumstance of the violence. Sex workers are acknowledged to have some sort of value as people. That’s a huge step forward, considering that the LAPD used to tag dead sex workers’ case files with N.H.I. (No Human Involved).
There’s not a sex worker in the world who sees violence or death as part of the job description.