Understanding Sex Work in an Open Society

I can across this article and felt it offered an excellent description of Sex Work.

Credited to: http://www.opensocietyfoundation.com

Understanding Sex Work in an Open Society

June 26, 2013Public Health Program

Who are sex workers?

Sex workers are male, female, or transgender adults who receive money or goods in exchange for consensual sexual services, either regularly or occasionally.

Why use the term sex worker rather than prostitute?

Many people who sell sexual services find the term “prostitute” demeaning and stigmatizing. As a result, the term can also contribute to their exclusion from health, legal, and social services.

Do sex workers choose their line of work?

There are many reasons why people decide to sell sexual services. Some choose to do sex work because it offers better pay and more flexible working conditions. Others enter into sex work as a result of circumstances like poverty which, while regrettable, do not involve coercion or deceit. Regardless of the reasons, sex work is work, and in an open society sex workers should have the same rights to safe working environments as all other workers.

What is the difference between sex work and trafficking?

Trafficking and sex work are different.
Trafficking is an egregious human rights violation and is universally condemned by states and human rights activists. Trafficking involves the threat of force, abduction, deception, or other forms of coercion for sexual exploitation or forced labor. But sex work is done by consenting adults, where the act of selling or buying sexual services is not a violation of human rights. In fact, sex workers are natural allies in the fight against trafficking. The UNAIDS Guidance Note on HIV and Sex Work recognizes that sex worker organizations are best positioned to refer people who are victims of trafficking to appropriate services.

What’s wrong with treating sex work as a crime?

Criminalizing the sale or purchase of sexual services puts sex workers at greater risk by driving sex work underground, making it harder to access health services, safely negotiate with clients, and carry condoms without fear that they will be used as evidence of prostitution. Because of this, sex workers are at increased risk of violence and health risks like HIV infection.
Sex workers in many settings report extreme levels of violence and abuse from clients, intimate partners, bosses, the general public, and especially police. Criminalization makes it difficult for sex workers to officially report the rights violations they experience, including from police, creating a cycle of violence and impunity that endangers their health and safety.

What is the difference between decriminalization and legalization of sex work?

The Open Society Foundations support the decriminalization of sex work. Decriminalization means removing criminal penalties that apply to sex work, allowing it to be governed by similar workplace laws and protections as any other job. Legalization of sex work involves bringing it under a regulatory regime in the way that tobacco and alcohol—for example—are controlled in many countries. Jurisdictions that choose legal and regulated sex work are likely to do so on public health grounds. But legalization can result in regulations that limit rights and protections, create mechanisms for abuse by authorities, and have other negative impacts on sex workers.

Doesn’t research show that prostitution is inherently harmful?

Some researchers and activists believe that prostitution is an institution of extreme male domination and exploitation of women that is defined by violence and abuse, regardless of individual, regional, or policy contexts. They use terms like “sexual slavery” and “paid rape” to describe sex work. These terms ignore any autonomy or choice on the part of women selling sexual services, which is paternalistic and stigmatizing.

How do the Open Society Foundations support sex workers?

The Open Society Foundations support sex worker-led organizations and advocates, and work to end police violence, ensure access to legal services, challenge and change laws and policies that harm health, and increase access to appropriate health services. For example:

The Founding of SWOP-San Antonio Chapter on April 14th, 2015

On April 14th, 2015, I met with Meg from SWOP-Chicago and Savannah from SWOP-Seattle to discuss the fact that San Antonio, Texas did not offer any support, outreach, referral, or community services for us sex workers.

I have spent the last 3 years, researching and learning all I could about the organizing of sex workers across the globe.  I must say that what I have seen was quite impressive as compared to when I first started in the industry. I have learned that there are many groups and movements involved in trying to decriminalize our industry, as well as all, all the rights that come along with that, was actually very uplifting for me. I also took note of the Anti’s too. I am not Anti-sex work, after all, I am a “pro”, lol.

You see, I have been a sex worker for my entire life, 35+ years.  I have lived in fear, shame, guilt, and have suffered the loss of many good relationships because of my chosen “profession”, and yes, I do say “profession”, because that is exactly what I was and still am…..A PROFESSIONAL in my industry.

Unfortunately, there comes a time in all professions where one must semi-retire or retire all together.  My time is almost here for full retirement, I am in semi-retirement now.

I asked myself, “what will I do now?”, I am financially stable now, so that wasn’t an issue.  The issue was, rather, “what will I do with my time, energy, and experience?”

That is when I decided to look for organizations that supported other professionals in our industry, that I could get involved with.

About that same time, I find out that an old acquaintance of mine had also gotten very involved in, what I call, “the movement”.  I was very excited for her and felt I needed a mentor, so I asked her to mentor me.  She said yes.

Unfortunately, some people, do not quite understand that role, or they become jealous/resentful, or they don’t want to see you do well, it really doesn’t matter today. But, I was berated by her, told I could not learn these things as fast as I was learning them, accused of stealing “her” people, and kicked out of the various groups, pages, and social sites that she was admin of, along with her slamming my name all over the internet.

BUT,..,

I have been through much more harm, have felt much more hate, and been shunned by so many others all my life that this did not cause me to turn tail and run.

I kept joining groups on the internet, making friends, reading and writing blog post, joined the Erotic Services Provider Union (I have not had much input from the union, but hey, she is busy challenging the Prostitution laws in California), and still not one group organized here in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

I decided I needed to make a move. I decided to go for it and contacted SWOP USA and find out why they weren’t in San Antonio.

I chose to reach out to SWOP, because, after a lot of research and sitting quietly behind my laptop, I noticed that this NGO was everywhere I look.  They are in many major cities across America and also operate in many countries, and they are still growing. In my opinion, they are a powerful force that is getting stronger and on the National level, and they have the same mission in mind that I do, which is to help the new millennial sex workers have a better experience in this profession than I did (if any anti’s are reading this, do not take that last statement the wrong way, as I have had a wonderful life).

When I first contacted them, it was via email and I was sent information on starting my own chapter here in San Antonio.

WOW!!!

That was not what I expected to hear from them.  It took me a few more weeks and a lot of soul searching to figure out if this was what I wanted to do.

I talked it over with my only sibling in town and when he said he agreed with their agenda, having been a patron of sex workers himself,and  he felt it would be good change of pace for me.

Having been a leader and a good organizer all my life, with an A.S. in Business Management, I knew this was something I could do. I finally made the decision to take the steps that were needed for me to begin this new journey and sent more emails expressing my desire to go forth with it.

So, on April 14th, 2015, Meg and Savannah came to my home. After seeing that we were all on the same page, I was given chapter filing paperwork, advice on what i needed to do to start organizing and building SWOP-San Antonio, and most importantly, they treated me with respect, and seemed to have no fear that I had a secret motive to “outshine” them, which is not a motive of mine at all, as I do believe that we should all be supportive of one another and happy for each others accomplishments.  So, on that day, April 14th, 2015, the Sex Workers Outreach Project-San Antonio Chapter was born.

Let me tell you that I became a woman who found renewed purpose and meaning in life, as going into semi-retirement had darkened my days.  I was given a mission that day, so, watch out world, lol, here come Ms Sassy Sherry.

It wasn’t long after they left my house that I started in on laying the foundation for this chapter.

In less than one week, I obtained a chapter phone number, email, built a website (still working on it), and made FaceBook account, page, and group.  I have also created a Twitter account, a Tumblr account, a Google + account, and a Google+ Business page.

I then set the date to hold the first “meet-n-greet” of SWOP-SA. Which is on Saturday, May 2nd, 2015, at 2pm CST.

For the last few days, I have been promoting all the new links, sharing some articles and whatnot, and spreading word on our first meeting.

I do know that I will eventually need help with things here.  I am not trying to be some one-woman show in San Antonio and do everything myself.  I do recognize that it may be just me for awhile, until I/we can show the San Antonio Sex Workers that this is a real organization and they are safe within our group, and that we are not here to harm them in any way, but are instead, here to built a community of support, in many areas of our lives that we need help in.

I want to extend my gratitude to Meg and Savannah for taking time to meet with me and of their having faith in my abilities to organize and of their approval of me to get things going on here in representation of SWOP.

I am including all of SWOP-SA’s Chapter’s contact and social media info at the end of this post.

I look forward to working with such an awesome, well-known, Organization such as this one.

I am excited to meet the Board of Directors and all the Chapter heads over the next few months, few years, whatever, I am just excited, period.

Please feel free to contact me for any reason, at anytime.

Bye….. until my next post…..Smiles, Ms Sassy  SWOP-SA

SWOP-SA Contact Info:

Phone Number: +1 210-446-7590

website: http://www.swopsanantonio,wordpress.com

email: swopsanantonio@gmail.com

twtter:@swopsa

FaceBook Page: https://www.facebook.com/swopsatx

FaceBook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/swopsatx/

tumblr: http://swopsatx.tumblr.com/

Google +: https://plus.google.com/u/1/1011443758882060062…/posts/p/pub

Google + Page https://plus.google.com/u/1/

I do believe that I have covered all the top social medias, I am open to suggestions, so feel free to offer them.  Smiles, Ms Sassy

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The Founding of SWOP-San Antonio Chapter on April 14th, 2015 by Ms Sassy Sherry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.