SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The Erotic Service Providers Legal Education and Research Project (ESPLERP) has announced it is joining sex workers, activists, allies and advocates from around the world in observing the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers on Dec. 17.
According to a rep, "We come together in solidarity to honor sex workers lost to violence and to renew our commitment to the struggle for empowerment, visibility and rights for all sex workers."
ESPLERP explains that the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was started in 2003 by the sexologist, educator and former prostitute Annie Sprinkle, in response to Gary Ridgeway’s killing spree from 1982 through 1998 in King County, Washington. Ridgeway may have killed as many as 90 women, many of whom were prostitutes (sex workers) — who he deliberately picked (as he said) “because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”
Maxine Doogan, president of ESPLERP, said, “The criminalization of prostitution facilitates violence against women. Crimes against sex workers go under-reported, unaddressed and unpunished. But no matter what you think about sex workers, they are part of our families, neighborhoods and communities — and they deserve to be safe.”
As part of the observances, Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (Coyote RI) has a longer press release, which can be read here, a memorial list and a memorial slideshow. The US PROStitutes Collective also has a film show, discussion and potluck at the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco, featuring Nick Broomfield’s film “Tales of the Grim Sleeper." For more information, click here.