December 17th – International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (2013)

December 17th - International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 2013 in New Orleans

December 17th route

December 17th route (back of flyer)

Facebook Event for December 17th – International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 2013 in New Orleans

We plan to honor and remember those we’ve lost with an event similar to a traditional New Orleans funeral.

A second line (when it’s in the context of a funeral) is a funeral procession, usually from the church to the cemetery, in which the attendants publicly celebrate the life of the deceased.  The scale of it varies depending on the community, the resources of the family/friends/community, and the popularity/importance of the deceased person, but it may be anything from a small group with a couple parasols or a handkerchief to a brass band and memorial t-shirts.

Sometimes, in cases where you can’t have an actual funeral for the person, you just have a second line.  That was the case with my roommate, who died earlier this year.  So, we had a second line that started at his favorite bar, and then we went down Bourbon St., stopping at several of the places he’d worked and partied at over the years, and ended up at another bar near my house that was a favorite of his.  Since we didn’t have his actual body and we weren’t burying him, we instead had a rickshaw-type thing with a huge picture of him, a sound system, etc. etc. When we arrived at our final destination, we hung out, had drinks, and told stories about him.

In the past few years, people have also occasionally had second lines for causes they support that are somehow at risk (Second Line for Sustainability, Second Line for Literacy, etc.)

So, our plan is to have a second line for December 17th.  We’ll start at one end of Bourbon St. and go its entire length and end at AllWays Lounge.  We’ll be carrying red parasols and wearing red.  As we make our way down Bourbon, we’ll be handing out:

1) SWOP-NOLA flyers explaining what December 17th/International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is (including a list of sex workers murdered in New Orleans in the past few years)

2) Promo flyers for SWOP-NOLA

3) Safe-sex kits (click for example), which contain:

We feel it is important to do this on Bourbon street because:

1)  It’s the most crowded street in the city, so we we’ll have the most public exposure

2)  People are already in a setting of debauchery, and they’re happy and partying, so we are not likely to be confronted by angry, moralistic jerks

3)  Proximity to sex workers themselves:  the majority of the strip clubs downtown are on or within a block of Bourbon, and there are always street-based sex workers around

4)  Variety of populations:  one end of Bourbon is mostly bars and clubs that cater to the LGBT customer base, and the other end of Bourbon is mostly straight-male-geared strip clubs (featuring cis women exclusively)

5)  Here in New Orleans, we’ve had two relatively high-profile cases of murdered sex workers (Jaren Lockhart, who was murdered, dismembered, and thrown into the Gulf of Mexico in 2012, and Angela Erin Ball in 2009) who were employed by strip clubs on Bourbon.  There have also been several murders in the past few years of full-service sex workers, but those haven’t drawn nearly as much attention (race and gender factors probably contribute to the media’s relative non-coverage).  We therefore think that Bourbon Street is an especially appropriate setting.

The event will no longer be open to the public when we reach Krave Bistro.  We’ll have a private gathering for sex workers and allies, and we will provide a safe-space for those attending to share as they see fit.  We did an open-share-type event like this last year, and it went really well.  Musicians performed, people gave readings, people spoke, and we read a the list of names from the December 17th website.

We believe that both parts of the event are necessary.  We want to honor those who have passed and treat the subject with the solemnity it deserves, and we are sensitive to the fact that some local sex workers cannot risk the consequences that could result from a public, visible display of alliance with sex workers (hence the private, non-festive event).  But we also want to engage the public in a non-threatening, familiar, New Orleans-specific way (second line).

Any funds we receive will go to supplies:

  • about 10 cheap red parasols for us to carry during the second line (a nod to the red umbrella, obviously)
  • printing of December-17th-specific info to hand out on Bourbon
  • refreshments to provide at Krave
  • something to give the owner of Krave as a thank-you
  • promo materials for the event itself

So, that’s our plan.  Please feel free to request more info or to offer suggestions.

One thought on “December 17th – International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (2013)

  1. Pingback: Meeting notes 11/21/13 - SWOP-NOLA - Adult Entertainment Workers in New Orleans - SWOP-NOLA

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