IWHC Program Officer Audacia Ray has a feature over on RHRealityCheck.org in which she discusses her experience as a part of the U.S. sex worker rights movement, and shares what she’s learned from her years in the field and a recent trip to India. She argues that “that the only way to empower people is to provide them with the tools they need to claim their rights and facilitate change” and that “the exercise of human rights should not be contingent on whether or not you think a person’s choices or circumstances are a good way to live or be,” among other things.
A longer excerpt from the excellent feature:
“Why is it that there has been a shift in how advocates describe those who experience gender-based violence from “victim” to “survivor,” but when speaking of people in the sex industry, the word “victim” has persisted? Why is it that US-funded HIV prevention programs require a denunciation of sex work by organizations best poised to reach sex workers with life-saving information and services? Why is it that while in other social justice movements, the voices of the people most affected are at the forefront, yet some feminists are quick to leap into conversations about sex work and trafficking to speak for the affected communities?
The basic answer to these questions is that many people regard the sex industry as something that must be halted, one that at its core perpetuates violence against the people who work in it, a business from which no good can come. I won’t argue that the sex industry is a well-functioning industry that respects the rights of all its workers, or that most sex workers feel safe and fulfilled in their jobs. However, there are a variety of contributing factors that might keep a sex worker in the business, even if the worker has the choice to leave it for other work….”
You can read the entire feature over at RHRealityCheck.org.
And be sure to check out our short documentary on sex worker collectivization in India.