First celebrated in 2003 by Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, December 17th memorializes the loss through acts of violence of individuals who were sex workers. Originally started as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle, Washington, it has now evolved into an annual, international event recognizing the many lives lost. This day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe, as well as the need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is socially perpetuated allowing violence against sex-workers an acceptable practice.
Today, we also recognize that such systems allow for the abuse of people who are or are perceived to be substance users or involved in the sex trades by police and other official’s to be very similar. Sex work, as an occupation in itself, does not harm the persons involved; however, there are harms associated with sex work that can impact the many individuals involved in the trade. Most often, such harm is directed by discriminatory laws, policies, unjust civil and social regulations and, most importantly, stigma. Such forms of harm vastly implicate the complications sex workers and substance users come against on a daily basis. Such stigma means that assault and other crimes committed against sex workers or substance users is neither acknowledged nor treated seriously by any form of law enforcements. Best practices around harm reduction address a balance between components that impact the health AND safety of sex workers and substance users alike.
December 17th has empowered workers from cities around the world to come together and organize via staged actions and vigils. We recognize that violence against sex workers and people in the sex trades is a harm reduction issue, and we stand committed to ending it. Please join with sex workers, their allies, loved ones and communities around the world in standing against the violence committed within these communities. The assault, battery, rape and murder of sex workers must end!
For a list of events in your area, please visit december17.org. Also check out SWOP USA.