Today, December 17, is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers; a day created to bring attention to hate crime against sex workers. The day was started by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA and Dr Annie Sprinke in 2003 and we have observed it annually ever since. Today we must all come together to protect the rights and liberties of sex workers, fight against discrimination, and remember victims of violence.
Two years ago in 2018 I made a mini documentary series titled In Conversation with Sex Workers and released it for free on my YouTube channel. In the five-part series performers Moth+Rust, Maria Riot and Dante Dionys spoke about their own experiences as sex workers and told me about their coming out stories, social stigmas, relationships with clients, law enforcement and their relationship with feminism.
It just so happened that I released the series at a particularly challenging time for sex workers, especially for those in the USA, with the passing of FOSTA/SESTA and the giant hole being carved into Section 230. It had been three months since the passing of the bill, which was touted as an anti-sex trafficking measure but which actually dangerously conflated sex trafficking with sex work and put many sex workers lives at risk. The passing of the bill saw exploitation and abuse of sex workers, and websites and social networks used by the sex work community began to discriminate against sex workers or simply shut down altogether.
I uploaded the series onto my Youtube channel at the time and shortly after my account was suspended and all videos removed. There was no sex, nudity or profanity in any sense in the series; just sex workers speaking about their profession. I already knew I couldn’t show sex on YouTube, but now it seemed I couldn’t even talk about sex, or maybe I should say sex work.
Sex workers face violence not only on the street, but also online where they have to fight to exist every day. This week we witnessed it as they became the victims of the new Mastercard & Visa ban on Pornhub.
To remember that we must continue fighting for sex workers’ safety and their right to exist safely on the street and the internet, I’m trying again and I’ve uploaded the videos to my Youtube channel. We must show our support for all sex workers by listening to their stories, giving them a platform to speak, and by giving money and other resources to sex work organisations.
Please, listen to their stories below and remember, sex work is real work.