Friday, December 17, 2010 , HIPS recognizes International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17

HIPS recognizes International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17



This Friday is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Conceived of by Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, in response to the Green River Killer, who killed at least 48 sex workers in Washington state. He said “I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught”. The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is both a memorial vigil recognizing victims of violence and a protest to fight human rights offenses against sex workers.

For many engaged in sex work, violence is considered an occupational hazard. Each night in our city, hundreds of women, men and transgender individuals trade sex to pay bills, support a partner or children, for drugs, or survival. Regardless of the reason they do sex work, one thing is clear: sex workers experience astounding rates of violence.

Every year HIPS receives nearly 100 reports of abuse or assault from the sex workers we work with and answers over 75 hotline calls from sex workers seeking assistance after being the victim of a violent crime. Many of these crimes are not reported due to fear of law enforcement. In 2003, our community was devastated when Bella Evangelista was shot to death by a man who had paid her for a sex act and later found out she was transgender. Two separate women reported this year they had been kidnapped by a man and held in a basement overnight. One caller to the HIPS hotline said “Because of what I do, no one would believe that I have been raped.”

In preparation for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, HIPS hosted the Red Umbrella Project’s Audacia Ray, who led a workshop on storytelling. HIPS will recognize December 17 by creating an art piece with the names of sex workers who were victims of violence. Anyone who would like to contribute a name or a story can email, call our hotline 800-676-4477, or post a remembrance the HIPS Facebook page. That night, HIPS volunteers will offer red candy canes to sex workers we meet during our evening outreach activities as a reminder of those friends and loved ones we’ve lost, and asked to share their stories, and will be distributing copies of our “Bad Date Sheet” which provides a way for sex workers to share information about violence against them.

For all sex workers, especially those who are victims of violence, HIPS offers a 24-hour-hotline, access to resources, counseling, support groups, and friendly faces. At HIPS, we believe that what you do for a living should not mean you deserve violence. No one deserves violence.

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