December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Sex Workers Host A Remembrance Gathering & a Solidarity Stroll for the
7th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Contact: Kimberlee Cline
Phone: 877-776-2004 ext. 2
Email: press(at)swopusa(dot)org

This December 17th marks the 7th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Events are being planned in over two dozen countries and in dozens of cities. In San Francisco, sex workers Annie Sprinkle and Kimberlee Cline will host a remembrance ritual and a solidarity stroll down Market Street.

This annual event was created in 2003 in response to Gary Ridgway a.k.a. the Green River Killer’s trial and his brutal statements about choosing prostitutes because he could “get away with it.” Many believe that the Green River Killer did in fact get away with it in the Seattle area for over 20 years because of law enforcement’s disinterest in solving the murders of prostitutes and society’s general acceptance of violence against sex workers.

“If the victims had been teachers, nurses or secretaries or other women, I suspect–as Ridgway did– that the killer would have been caught much sooner.” Says Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D. a former prostitute and adult film star of twenty years, turned sexologist and artist. “While I personally feel that I came out of the sex industry a winner, I’m aware that there are those that aren’t as lucky as I was and are real victims of bad laws, whore-phobic hate crimes, rape and worse. It’s so important to remember those people, and to let the public know we care and we need and deserve safer working conditions.”

In 2008, San Francisco voters narrowly turned down Proposition K, an initiative that would have created more safety measures for sex workers in the City. “There is a distinct difference between consensually providing sexual services and being forced or trafficked. Efforts by opponents of Prop K to conflate these two very different scenarios confused voters. I’m speaking out about this because I think that when voters hear real stories from people like me and understand that criminalization is doing all of us more harm than good, they will support our reform efforts,” stated Kimberlee Cline, a woman working in San Francisco independently as an escort and adult film model.

Sex workers, their friends, the victims families, clients, supporters and people who want to learn more about these issues are invited to come together at Femina Potens, an art gallery owned and run by sex worker Madison Young for a memorial vigil ceremony. “As sex workers we open up our souls, our bodies, our minds and our spirits to guide others through to sexual pleasure and enlightenment.,” says Young, “We are educators, we are mentors, we are gladiators and athletes, performance artists using our bodies as a material for your entertainment and pleasure. We are survivors of a world that is so often ashamed by its sexual desires and frightened to engage in communication about sexual needs. This day, this moment is to acknowledge the damage that this fear, shame and hatred has inflicted upon our fellow sex workers. And I do hope that through our awareness and visibility we might prevent further injustices and cultivate compassion.”

After the ceremony will be a Solidarity Stroll down Market street, with people carrying red umbrellas (the symbol of the sex workers rights movement) and signs with names and photos of those victims that will be remembered. The stroll will end at the St. James Infirmary.

Media are welcome at the pre-event press conference, at the memorial, and for the stroll.

For more information about the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, see Annie Sprinkle’s article “Remembering Our Dead and Wounded”

* Who: Annie Sprinkle, Kimberlee Cline, SWOP-SF
* What: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
* When: Press Conference 6:00-7:00pm
Ceremony 7:00-8:30pm
Solidarity Stroll: to the St. James Infirmary 8:30- 9:30pm

* Where: Femina Potens Art Gallery
2199 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

On the following evening a night of spoken word performance by Bay Area sex workers will be hosted at the Center for Sex and Culture. Details:

Ecstacies & Elegies: In Honor of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Friday, December 18th, 2009
7:30 doors, 8pm show
Center for Sex & Culture, 1519 Mission Street @ 11th, San Francisco
$10-20 sliding scale (nobody turned away)


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