From Sex-workers Manifesto, theme paper of the First National Conference of Sex-workers organised by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee in Calcutta. 14-16 November 1997:

“We believe that like any other occupation, sex-work too is an occupation and not a moral condition. If it is one of the ‘oldest’ profession in the world, that is because it must have continued to meet an important and consistent social demand.”

Well said!

If not obvious from the content, I’m coming from a pretty explicitly first-world and white perspective (note consistent whining that does not include complaints of police brutality or acute poverty). The context of and activism around sex work in the third world is obviously a lot different than what I experience. Bound not gagged (see sidebar) has an article up about enforcement against sex workers in Cambodia, I highly recommend it, having heard a lot about what’s going on in Cambodia but not really looked into it. Also check out the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers site, the articles on the side are well organized and informative.

So admittedly, I’m just not really an activist. I hope that I have shifted the thinking of people who I’ve talked to about my work. Maybe when they hear of injustices against sex workers, they’ll be more likely to act because they’re more aware that sex workers, as opposed to the faceless subhumans portrayed by the media, are real people. Or maybe they think of me as different somehow than streetworkers, because I’m an indoor worker. I can see in my head now, the image of a woman’s backside, wearing a short skirt and high heels, silhouetted by red streetlights, as seen through a foggy windshield. This is what we see on TV.  I don’t really know what people think of me, or if my outspoken presence makes any impact, but I hope. I’d like to be an activist, but I’m still getting my footing here, in terms of my own living situation and getting to know what needs need to be fulfilled. Anyways, there’s a lot of great sex worker organizations out there, and I, for one, will be buying a T-shirt or two from APNSW. That is, once I can borrow a credit card…

Also, this article by members of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (these are the folks that got sex work fully decriminalized in NZ, mad props!) is also excellent, it covers the prevalence of safer sex practices among sex workers internationally.