Email recently sent out to local providers:
New Orleans providers,
Sex Workers Outreach Project is a sex-worker run organization dedicated to the fundamental human rights of individuals who work in the sex industry. We are not a rescue group, and (as sex workers ourselves), we respect that sex work is a valid choice that can be empowering and rewarding, both personally and financially.
We also know that the stigma that surrounds sex work makes this work potentially very dangerous for us. We believe that the criminalization of sex work and the legislation of morals ultimately forces us to expose ourselves (and sometimes our loved ones) to risks. Because our work is not respected, because we are targeted by the law, and because the general public uses us as a scapegoat for society’s moral ills, we are sometimes seen as “less than”–as individuals who do not have the same rights to safety, health, and dignity as “regular” people with “better morals.”
On top of that, we are often kept in the dark regarding the information that we can use to protect ourselves. We live in fear of law enforcement, and unfortunately, people who wish to hurt us know that. So, we often tolerate violence, threats, and manipulation because we are afraid to speak up and ask for help or protection from violent predators. And if we do have a run-in with LE, most of us are not familiar enough with the law and the legal process to effectively defend ourselves in court. And many of us do not have access to accurate information about the unique health issues that apply to us. And unscrupulous individuals may take advantage of this, attempting to convince us that they are 100% “clean” or that a certain activity is 100% “safe.” And it’s not just the bad guys–some clients are also misinformed, and may truly believe that, for example, HIV is not sexually transmitted, and so condoms are not truly necessary. It can be a jungle out there!
So, long story short, SWOP-NOLA is the local chapter of SWOP-USA. The SWOP-NOLA.org website (http://swop-nola.org/) has just launched, and you can “like” us on Facebook if you so choose (click the link on the left side of the website). I’m contacting you because I know you are established providers who, together, have years of experience and knowledge. Please, please check out the website, and give your input. And join! It costs nothing, and you aren’t required to do anything except agree with our general purpose and goals. We do a few events a year (which you’re not required to participate in. Here’s an explanation from the SWOPUSA website: http://www.swopusa.org/en/node/221). Though a lot of our work is centered on the branch of sex work that is criminalized, members of SWOP are sex workers of all types–not just high-contact providers.
Please forward this email to any providers you know, or just tell them about SWOP-NOLA.org!