International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers signals the substantial work needed to curb violence against sex workers, and the need to uplift those who face daily discrimination because of their race, gender and/or involvement in sex work. Today reminds us there is still a necessity for HIV activists to work together on movement building with the sex worker community, working in solidarity on the inclusion of sex workers in all policy and programming, and taking collective action on ending structural violence aimed at sex workers.
Two key, groundbreaking resources from sex worker organizations released this month highlights how societal violence and regressive policies target this community, making sex workers more vulnerable to HIV, harsh policing and criminalization.
Major findings and recommendations from these sex worker led reports include:
Meaningful Work: Transgender Experiences in the Sex Trade by: Red Umbrella project, National Center for Transgender Equality, and Best Practices Policy Project
- The criminalizing and stigmatizing of sex work in the United States can worsen the discrimination and marginalization that transgender people already face in society. Trans sex workers experience harassment and violence, often at the hands of police, and these experiences are heightened for transgender people of color, especially women.
- In at least 35 states, people who are HIV positive can be singled out for criminal prosecution or enhanced sentences.
Nothing About Us Without US: Sex Work HIV Policy Organizing by: Best Practices Policy Project and Desiree Alliance
- Ensure the leadership of the transgender people, especially people of color and leaders with sex trade experience, in all policy discussions pertaining to HIV and sex work
- The Office of National AIDS Policy, CDC, and other agencies charged with responsibility for implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy should form – with strong representation of sex workers and transgender people – an interagency task force on HIV policy for criminalized, stigmatized and marginalized groups to examine issues such as police violence, incarceration, the effects of policing that targets sex work (large events, gentrification “clean-ups”, etc.) and large scale arrests of sex workers, women of color and transgender people
Following the Counter Conference at the National HIV Prevention Conference, HIV PJA and partners remain committed to working in solidarity with sex worker organizations and leadership on their inclusion, issues and rights in 2016.