International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has been marked on December 17th since 2003.
The event was founded by Annie Sprinkle and SWOP-USA (Sex Workers’ Outreach Project) as a memorial to the victims of Gary Ridgeway, the ‘Green River Killer‘, who murdered at least 48 women in the Washington area, over a period of approximately 20 years. Many of Ridgeway’s victims were sex workers, whom he said he targeted ‘because he could get away with it‘.
December 17 is the day sex workers commemorate those of us who suffer violence, sexual assault and death – both at the hands of individual perpetrators, and the role that the state and society play in making us vulnerable. While we are criminalised, we lack the protection of the law, and in countries where it is a criminal offence to pay for sex, the state sends a message that our consent is worth less than that of other women. While society as a whole criminalises, stigmatises and excludes us, individuals will take advantage of our vulnerability to commit crimes against us. Custom, social acceptance and criminal law make hate crimes against sex workers an easy crime to commit without fear of retribution.
The IUSW is in the process of finalising events that will take place to mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 2010. Details will be published on this page soon.