December 17th International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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To help NUM continue fighting against stigma and saving lives donate to our December 17th Appeal Today.

On December 17 2003, a memorial was held for the victims of possibly the most heinous and prolific murderer of sex workers the world has ever seen and this day has since been remembered by sex workers, allies and rights activists as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  Gary Leon Ridgeway, known as the Green River Killer, murdered at least 71 women – most of them sex workers – throughout the 1980s and 1990s in Washington State in the USA.  Ridgeway explicitly said he targeted sex workers because he believed he could kill as many of them as he wanted without getting caught.  This reflects the reason why many dangerous offenders choose to target sex workers and why I believe that this is exacerbated by laws which criminalise aspects of sex work.  They are emboldened by the belief that they’ll get away with their crimes because sex workers are less likely to report to the police and even if they do, they may not be taken seriously.  Only today we had an incident reported to us where a sex worker was told by a man who raped her that he chose her because she’s a sex worker nobody would believe her.

152 sex workers have been murdered since 1990 in the UK and, despite all the great work done by organisations like ours, sex workers are still targeted every day.  17th December is a day when we remember all our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives at the hands of these perpetrators and remind ourselves why we work so hard to fight stigma and advocate for the rights of sex workers to live and work safely, to police protection and to live without being marginalised for what they do.  In a sense, I see 17th December as the start of a new year in the context of sex worker rights and safety because it is a time when we reflect on the events of the previous year.  I feel more positive and hopeful than I did a year ago, due to both the continued growth and development of NUM and the recent vote by Amnesty to adopt a policy in favour of decriminalisation for the sake of the safety and human rights of sex workers throughout the world.  I feel that this has coincided with a gradual shift in the mood amongst policy makers towards common sense and harm reduction, in favour of evidence over ideology, and we can look ahead with some optimism.  There is a long way to go and we must keep fighting will all the energy we can muster but there is hope for a safer and less stigmatised future for sex workers.

In 2015 NUM has received over 530 reports from Sex Workers

  • 25% of reports contained a rape or other sexual assault

  • 46% of reports contained violence.

  • NUM sent out 80,000 SMS warnings to sex workers nationwide alerting them of dangerous perpetrators in their area.

Sex Worker safety is at the heart of everything we do at NUM, get your NUM badges and wristbands to show your support and help us spread awareness on December 17th. Visit our shop or simply drop us an email - Wristbands £1, Umbrella badge £2 and retro pin badge 50p.

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You can also join our thunderclap on December 17th - a great way for us to fill social media with our message.