international day to end violence against sex workers

Speaking up on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is just around the corner and to commemorate the day, we’re looking at the multiple ways non-sex workers can speak out against the discrimination faced by sex workers.

Scroll down to see our top five tips and other ways to work on your allyship.

What is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers?

So, what is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (17th December) all about?

This day was created as a memorial and vital for the victims of the Green River Killer in Washington, USA. However, it quickly snowballed into a worldwide annual event where sex workers and their allies celebrate the profession and advocate for sex worker rights. The day also calls attention to the stigma, misconception, and hate crimes sex workers face.

But it’s not only about the negative aspects of the job. December 17th is also a day to celebrate the strength and resilience of sex workers.

Why standing up for sex workers is everyone’s responsibility

Sex workers need to advocate for their rights, but it’s even more critical for non-sex workers to become allies and join the fight. A united force is always stronger, and by campaigning for sex worker rights, you’ll educate your friends, family, and anyone open to listening.

Non-sex workers are integral to spreading the word and helping to improve sex workers’ safety and overall quality of life. Are you interested in joining the movement? Learn how you can become an ally to sex workers below:

Becoming a visible ally: 5 ways to look out for sex workers

Get your notepad out! Here are five tips to note down:

1. Choosing words carefully

Language matters in all scenarios, but especially when discussing sex work. Sex workers face stigma from wrong assumptions, inaccurate portrayals, and age-old stereotypes. Using an outdated phrase means you’re unknowingly adding to this, making life harder for sex workers – even though you’re trying to make them more visible.

Avoid any derogatory terms for sex workers and sex in general. Instead, focus on using medically accurate and professional terms. This way, you’re perpetuating that sex work is work and reinforcing this idea to those around you.

If you hear anyone calling themself a “prostitute” as a joke, call them out on it. While they might think it’s a funny quip, remind them that it contributes to negative stereotypes and makes the world more complicated for sex workers.

2. Listen to lived experiences

Any sex worker advocacy guide will tell you to research and educate yourself (more on this below). But one of the best ways to start this process is by listening to the real experiences of sex workers.

Yes, there are many helpful resources from brilliant organisations, but you should also prioritise lived experiences. The more we uplift sex workers through their stories, the more visible they become.

international day to end violence against sex workers

3. Educate yourself

Asking questions is important, especially when trying to be informed about sex work. However, pestering sex workers with constant questions is frustrating. So, try to educate yourself on the topics rather than relying on someone else.

If you want to ask a sex worker a question but aren’t sure if it’s the right thing to do, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this a general question?
  • Could I find the answer in a resource?
  • Could I Google this question?

Generally, asking sex worker-specific questions is okay – as long as they’re not too personal. However, asking an easily searchable question is likely to fall flat. Don’t take offence, though! Put yourself in the sex worker’s shoes. Being repeatedly asked a question isn’t a pleasant experience.

4. Share your knowledge

Once you’ve tapped into new resources and listened to real-life stories, it’s time to spread the word.

Sex workers are unfavourably represented in media and pop culture. So, if a non-sex worker hasn’t done the research, this is likely their assumption of the career. Sharing what you’ve learned and providing an accurate career image is necessary to dismantle false stereotypes.

You can do this in a range of ways, including:

  • Forwarding resources and websites
  • Sharing sex worker-positive resources on Instagram
  • Speaking to family and friends in real life
  • Inviting your friends to join in-person meet-ups
  • Sending documentaries and podcasts to your loved ones
  • Initiating conversations within your local community

5. Join the larger movement

Local and personal activism is critical. However, you should also join the nationwide movement to help sex workers across the country and to raise issues with the government.

The best way to do this in the UK is through well-known charities and organisations. Great options include the SWARM collective, Beyond The Streets, National Ugly Mugs, and Decrim Now.

See our expert-approved complete UK sex worker resource list now.

Other ways to support sex workers in the UK

There are endless ways to support UK sex workers, and we can’t fit them all into one list. However, here are some more critical steps you can take to help sex workers navigate the physical and emotional impacts of misconceptions and stigma:

  • Follow sex workers on social media
  • Work on changing your own stigmas & call yourself out when needed
  • Respect sex worker-only spaces
  • Research or contact your closest sex worker charities
  • Start turning up to events or online seminars
  • Be discrete if asked by a sex worker
  • Defend sex workers in public environments

Get started as a sex worker ally today

Are you ready to start standing up and speaking out for sex workers? Vivastreet is here to help. We have hundreds of blogs about sex work, escorting, and advocacy. From International Sex Workers Day to navigating stigma and discrimination, we cover all essential topics.

We also conduct regular industry interviews to uplift sex worker’s voices and spread the word about their experiences, struggles, and opinions.

Jump to our blog now to get started.

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