December 17 is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. In Chicago, members of the collective Support Ho(s)e will be holding vigil with other community members, to remember sex workers who have been lost to violence. Criminalized sex workers are often forced into conditions that heighten the risk of state, intimate partner and client violence. As Support H(o)se indicated in their statement about this event, those most at risk are those who have been pushed furthest into the margins: sex workers who are forced to work outdoors, sex workers of color, those who are impoverished, queer, and trans.
As queer femmes and non-binary people of color, some of whom have engaged in sex work, we support this call for remembrance. Sex workers deserve the same safety and dignity as all workers, and a class struggle that does not account for the most marginalized and criminalized among us is not revolutionary in any meaningful sense.
Tomorrow, sex workers and their supporters will read the names of 130 sex workers who have been lost this year. Candles will be lit and tears will be shed. If you are unable to attend, you can support those holding vigil by participating in a simultaneous Twitter action. Follow @supporthosechi on Twitter for more details about the online event, and look for the hashtags #IDTEVASW, #Dec17 and #SexWorkIsWork.
As we offer support and whatever comfort we can to those who are coping with the harms inflicted upon sex workers, we echo the words of Support Ho(s)e:
“We want safe working conditions. For ALL sex workers.
We want rights not rescue.
We want self-determination, and an end to criminalization.
We want an end to violence against all workers.”