Thank you for visiting SWAAY.org, the web site advocating for understanding, respect, and change by connecting the public with the people and facts behind sex work. Our three-pronged approach is reflected in the web site's structure, meant to draw in people who are new to sex workers' rights issues and help you understand what sex workers do and who we are, give you information about how to be respectful allies and ethical customers, and motivate you to support sex workers in changing the bad laws and social stigmas that affect our lives.
SWAAY is seeking short written submissions from current and former sex workers for the "respect" section of the web site. Have something to share about how people can be respectful? Check out our submission page for more.
July 25th link roundup
* This week's International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC is drawing a lot of criticism for excluding stakeholders such as sex workers and injection drug users. A counter-conference is taking place in India, as well as protests and events in DC.
* Read A Call to Change U.S. Policy on Sex Work and HIV.
* Here are some of the many IAC-related news links so far from the following web sites: The Lancet, The New York Times, Foreign Policy Blogs, The Chicago Tribune, DCist, Reproductive Health Reality Check, Bloomberg, Open Society Foundations, The Guardian (1), The Guardian (2), and a video of a protest posted by Audacia Ray.
* On Tits and Sass, two sex workers' rights activists debate the best route for improving conditions in strip clubs.
* In London, police have been aiming to sweep sex workers under the rug during the Olympics. Some are hoping for a permanent crackdown against prostitutes.
* A former San Diego police officer plead no contest to raping a prostitute, and received the slap on the wrist.
* In Zimbabwe, sex workers protested against their own problems with local police.
* Longtime lefty writer Alexander Cockburn passed away this week. We appreciated his attention to media sensationalism around sex trafficking, such as in his piece Nicholas Kristof's Brothel Problem.
July 18th link roundup
* New legislation in New York City goes after cab drivers who "knowingly" transport sex workers.
* New York State lawmakers refused to pass a bill that would prevent police from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution.
* In France, large protests were held in response to a prominent female politician renewing efforts to crack down on prostitutes. See photos here.
* Bloomberg News published Sweden's Tax-Paying Prostitutes Win Right To Paid Sick Leave.
* Vietnam will be closing "rehabilitation" centers (forced labor camps) for sex workers.
* In the UK, a national "Ugly Mugs" program has been established to help sex workers report violent and dangerous clients to law enforcement.
* The Global Press Institute published Legislative Proposals Highlight Divide Between Sex Workers and Prostitutes in Argentina.
* Vice Magazine adds its two cents on anti-prostitution hysteria surrounding the London Olympics in Olympic Sex-Trafficking! (Is Barely Even Happening).
* Melissa Ditmore and Juhu Thukral published an academic piece, Accountability and the Use of Raids to Fight Trafficking, in the new Anti-Trafficking Review.
July 2nd link roundup
* Houston has a added a new tax to strip clubs. Tits and Sass rebuts these sorts of "pole taxes."
* Cheryl Overs writes about why the sex worker movement must cover all aspects of the business in Why Pimping Must Be Legal Too.
* The INDOORS Project produced a wonderful video in support of sex workers and the right to work.
* Tracy Quan looks at the defense strategy of the "Soccer Mom Madam."
* In Norway, an important politician has come out against criminalization. "The reality is that the law has made it more difficult for women in prostitution." But in France, a feminist politician is calling for increased laws against prostitution.
* A popular argument against strip clubs and brothels is that they ruin neighborhoods by increasing crime. This is a myth that gets debunked regularly when people bother to look at the numbers, this time in Sydney.
June 25th link roundup
* Sex workers have been organizing in response to attempts by various morality groups to shut down Backpage.com, a classifieds web site that allows adult ads. SWOP-NYC and SWANK held a protest; see photos and a writeup here.
* New York's Sex Workers Project is opposing a proposed law that targets taxi drivers for hefty fines if they "knowingly" transport prostitutes.
* In Arizona, a man has been arrested on suspicion of the brutal murder of a 23-year-old escort.
* In These Times covers a neglected and taboo subject with Youth Sex Workers Organize for Their Rights.
* A group of Atlanta dancers suing a strip club have been awarded a $1.55 million settlement in a labor dispute.
* Male sex workers Christian Vega shares his perspectives in The Lies That Obstruct The Human Rights Of Sex Workers.
* A group of web cam performers in San Francisco are organizing against Kink.com for changing their payment structure from an hourly minimum to a commission basis (which is the industry standard).
June 18th link roundup
* SWOP-NYC posted a strong and concise list, No Longer Collateral Damage: Three Anti-Trafficking Recommendations from Sex Workers.
* Women With a Vision in New Orleans is slowly rebuilding after being attacked by an arsonist.
* In Scotland, a new law is set to make prostitution illegal. Dr Brooke Magnanti responded on her blog.
* In Australia, sex workers got positive coverage in the press discussing their lives and why they oppose laws against prostitution.
* In Spain, it is no longer illegal for brothels and prostitutes to advertise. Advertising is a huge political issue for sex workers around the world, as ongoing battles around Backpage.com in the US show.
* Canada will no longer be issuing work visas to strippers.
* Porn performers Lily LaBeau and Danny Wylde have created a PSA video about the current STI testing options for the industry.
* Forbes.com asked, Can Sex Workers Transition To A Cashless Economy?
* A New Zealand news site published Stereotypes rule – how media misses the real news in sex work.
* The Best Practices Policy Project is circulating A Call to Change U.S. Policy on Sex Work and HIV. Perhaps your organization would like to sign on?
June 11th link roundup
* Backpage.com, a popular advertising venue for sex workers, is fighting back in federal court against "child sex trafficking" hysterics in Washington State. New York City's Sex Workers Project responded to WA's Attorney General in this letter.
* Dr Brooke Magnanti debunks the myth that large sporting events like the Olympics cause mass sex trafficking.
* In both Malawi and Greece, controversy continues over forcing sex workers to undergo HIV testing.
* Dr Laura Agustín covers more international news in Thai government panders to US anti-trafficking policy.
June 4th link roundup
* The arson attack on New Orleans Women With a Vision isn't stopping the group. They are seeking donations and extra help as they rebuild.
* A group of current and former porn performers protested Shelley Lubben, a born-again anti-porn activist, who was invited as a "celebrity" guest at an animal rescue fundraiser.
* Human Rights Watch published a piece on forced rescue in Cambodia: Towards a More Humane Treatment of Sex Workers, Homeless.
* In Paris, a group of prostitutes held a protest demanding rights and respect. News report video (in French).
* In China, a sex workers' rights activist was beaten and her office was trashed by a group of men.
* Maggie McNeill published The Birth of a Movement in honor of International Whores' Day on June 2nd, which marks an important protest in France in the 1970s.
* San Francisco's St James Infirmary (a free clinic for sex workers) needs volunteers for their drink booth during Pride.
* The Grand Opening of the Robyn Few Sex Worker Resource Center happens on June 9th in Tucson, Arizona.
May 29th link roundup
* Women With a Vision in New Orleans, a wonderful sex worker support and HIV harm reduction group, was the target of an arson that destroyed their office. Please donate.
* Reproductive Health Reality Check published Why the Women's Rights Movement Must Listen to Sex Workers.
* Moratorium2012.org has launched as a campaign web site for the effort to stop arrests of sex workers during the London 2012 Olympics.
* Dancers at the Crazy Horse in Paris went on strike to demand higher pay.
* Sex workers in Namibia are educating their country and politicians about why decriminalization is better than legalization.
* In the UK, the myth that lapdancing clubs cause higher rates of sex crimes persists. Brooke Magnanti tackles the stats yet again.
May 21st link roundup
* Two states are currently considering adding a special sin tax to strip clubs (California and Illinois) based on the argument that strippers and strip clubs already make too much money, and the widely debunked urban legend that adult businesses cause crime. Read a stripper's rebuttal to these sort of special taxes.
* In Uganda, WONETHA, a sex workers' rights group and drop-in center, was raided by police.
* Reproductive Health Reality Check posted a video titled Brothel Broken: Brothel Raids In Kuala Lumpur, which looks at the violent effects of the United State's anti-trafficking policies.
* Laura Agustín published a piece in Jacobin Magazine, Sex as Work and Sex Work, looking at the grey areas of sex, relationships, and sexual labor.
* New upcoming events were posted on our Take Action page.
May 14th link roundup
* Rachel Aimee wrote and excellent piece about strip club labor issues (and the many proposed, imperfect solutions) for In These Times.
* Former escort (Belle de Jour) Dr Brooke Magnanti posted a useful short guide for protecting yourself online: How To Blog Anonymously (and how not to).
* In India, VAMP and Mitra Sanghatana marked Mother's Day weekend with a march in defense of sex worker mothers after a brutal attack by a police officer on a pregnant sex worker.
* In England, sex workers and public health advocates are still battling the urban legend that large sporting events like the Olympics lead to mass sex trafficking.
May 7th link roundup
* In Houston, masked tactical teams were deployed to arrest women suspected of being prostitutes.
* In Zambia, sex workers have announced that they will defend themselves, with force if necessary, if police try and sweep them off the streets.
* Sex workers in Barcelona also made headlines with a large protest against a new law banning street prostitution.
* Australian activist Elena Jeffreys wrote Politics puts sex worker safety under threat for a mainstream news site.
* Writer and former escort Tracy Quan recently published two pieces on sex work topics: Linda Lovelace and 'Deep Throat's' 40-Year Legacy and 'Whores' Glory': An Interview With Michael Glawogger, about his documentary on prostitution worldwide.
* Jiz Lee's Karma Pervs, a porno fundraiser, will be donating this month's sales to NARAL.
April 30th extra-large link roundup
* In the wake of the Canadian Supreme Court legalizing brothels, Maggies Toronto has posted a guide to understanding the legal changes, while the federal government of Canada has announced plans to fight this step forward for human rights. Tits and Sass published Ontari-Ho!: A Guide to the Court of Appeal Prostitution Decision.
* NoCondomsAsEvidence.org has launched for the campaign for New York State Bill A1008/S323, which would stop police and prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution.
* The New York Times published a piece on the no condoms as evidence campaign.
* As US Secret Service agents were scandalized for trying to rip off a Columbian sex worker, we had some rare mainstream public debate about criminalizing sex work. Carol Leigh was published in the New York Times arguing for decriminalization, Reason Magazine discussed both sides, and Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly talked down to an activist from the Sex Workers Project on his show.
* Maggie McNeill wrote an important article about about how we should learn from sex work organizing in the developing world.
* In "who will save us from our saviors?" news, a Rhode Island cop was busted stealing money from a stripper, and a Seattle counselor supposedly helping underage prostitutes allegedly groped and propositioned a 16-year-old girl left in his care in an overnight youth shelter. This may have been an ongoing problem at the facility.
* While the counselor suspected of multiple acts of sexual wrongdoing towards teen prostitutes is free pending his trial, Anna Gristina, accused of running a brothel in New York City, has a $2 million dollar bail.
* A former porn performer who was fired from her job as a science teacher lawyers up to fight her termination.
* Former escort Ceyenne Doroshow currently has a Kickstarter project to fund the publishing of her cookbook memoir, Cooking in Heels.
* Mama Cash, an international women's group, has announced the Red Umbrella Fund, designed to provide funding for sex workers' rights projects.
* Simi Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, has passed its own law requiring porn performers to use condoms. Performers themselves oppose such government mandates.
* Atheist blogger Greta Christina, a former sex worker herself, has asked sex workers to share their stories on her blog to show their diversity of experiences.
* Dr Laura Agustín reports on sex worker involvement at the Association for Women's Rights in Development conference: Sex workers at AWID reject feminist fundamentalism.
* In England, sex workers are fighting the urban legend that sporting events like the Olympics lead to mass sex trafficking, and are calling for a moratorium on arrests.
April 2nd link roundup
* The Canadian Supreme Court has legalized brothels!
* See reactions on the implications and details of the decision from Dr Laura Agustín, Xtra!, A Paper Bird, PIVOT, and a Q&A with Valerie Scott of Sex Professionals of Canada.
* Bad laws are being chipped away in the US, too: Federal Judge Says Forcing Some Prostitutes to Register As Sex Offenders Violates the Equal Protection Clause.
* Dr Laura Agustín writes on calls for a moratorium on arrests during the London Olympics.
* The Guardian published a piece on The unintended consequences of Nick Kristof's anti-sex trafficking crusade.
* In Washington State, a new anti-trafficking law has been passed that requires escort directories located in the state to "obtain documentation that escorts advertised there are at least 18." One supporter of the new law is quoted as saying, "It might reduce the volume of ads, but the ultimate goal is to shut that section down." Attacking advertising venues is a popular and effective strategy of anti-prostitute groups.
Go back and see SWAAY's link roundups from previous weeks >>
A "sex worker" is a person who exchanges their own sexual labor or sexual performance for compensation, such as an escort/prostitute, porn star, stripper, dominatrix, phone sex operator, sensual masseuse, or web cam performer. Sex workers are part of the larger sex industry - which includes movie directors, club owners, webmasters, retail stores, and more - but are distinct because their job involves making money off of their own sexual labor, not writing about, photographing, managing, or selling the sexual labor or performances of others.
Different types of sex workers want different things, but almost all of us agree on two primary issues: we want full decriminalization of sex work, and we want respect as workers and members of our communities.
AAG, Alex Howard, Anastasia, Arvan Reese of SexGenderBody.com, Audacia Ray, bernieS, CaseyDancer, Ed Coleman of Transcending Ideas, Fantasy World Escorts, John (2), Kayla T, Laura Armstrong, Mark Stewart, a donation in honor of Mistress Roxxie, Paul Forgey, PONY, Queclecumber, Radical Vixen, SafeOffice.com, SelectAnEscort.com, Ted, as well as dozens of others who wish to remain anonymous.