18 Mar

Solidarity Message from Red Umbrella Fund Secretariat

Solidarity is not an act of charity, but mutual aid between forces fighting for the same objective. – Samora Machel

In the last few days and weeks and months, the Coronavirus/COVID-19 has spread across the globe and transformed the world. Plans for the year have evaporated and the failures and weaknesses of the various governments and infrastructures have been laid bare.

As ever, the communities of sex workers are situated at the crosshairs, experiencing this new catastrophe in all its multiplicities. Headlines are highlighting the same issues that our grantee-partners and applicants and allies articulate: human rights violations in all its forms including insecure housing, income disparity, food scarcity, unequal access to healthcare and other public services, and violence.

As ever, the communities of sex workers are acting with resiliency and agility. Every hour, our social media platforms are filled with new mutual aid funds, 24-hour hotlines, sex worker guides, and other tools and resources. The sex worker movement is acting in solidarity across contexts in various ways, typical of its strategy historically.

We have a list of emergency funders on our website that may be able to provide some additional funding. We are also reaching out to other funders to create more opportunities for sex worker groups to get emergency support. We hope to have more news on this soon!

In the meantime, we are seeing the sex worker community collaborating and creating ways for all of us to provide mutual aid, which we will share on our website and social media on an ongoing basis. If you know of any that are not included here, please share them with us, on our Facebook page or via info@redumbrellafund.org

In solidarity,

Red Umbrella Fund Secretariat

 

31 Mar

Sex-workers’ resilience to the COVID crisis: a list of initiatives

http://umap.openstreetmap.fr/fr/map/covid-19-sex-workers-initiatives_440197#2/26.9/8.9

[interactive map access]

 

LATIN AMERICA

In Brasil the Observatório da Prostituição  is editing a list of national  initiatives taken by sex-workers, the list is dynamic and regulary updated on facebook! Here are the initiatives listed for now, copied from their post (07/04/2020):

GEMPAC (Group of Women Prostitutes in the State of Pará): GEMPAC registered women in the downtown area of Belem to receive food baskets and is working together with pubic officials to guarantee that the support promised by the State makes it to sex workers. A virtual channel was also opened up to facilitate communication with sex workers about Covid-19 along with a food drive for sex workers and their family. Soon more information will be available about a campaign to raise money for these efforts.
Contact: https://www.facebook.com/gempacpa/

Aprosmig (Association of Sex Workers in Minas Gerais): Organized a campaign for donations of money, food, cleaning products and personal hygiene for sex workers and the homeless. Working with local officials and hotel owners in the Guaicurus red light district to guarantee sex workers unable to return to their homes have a place to live and food while the hotels are closed.
Campaign: https://bit.ly/346NOE8
Contact: Cida Vieira +55 31 99723-8325
Donations:
Caixa Econômica
Agencia: 0084
Conta: 53456-0
OP: 013

Coletivo Clã das Lobas (Wolf Pack Collective): Working in partnership with the Coletivo Rebu for women without any support from the hotels in the Guaicurus red light district and surrounding areas. Organized an online campaign to buy food, cleaning and personal hygiene supplies.
Online Campaign: “Juntas Somos Mais Fortes” (Together we’re stronger): http://vaka.me/948763…
Contact: Jade +55 31 99549-5368

 

CIPMAC (Center of Information, Mobilization and Prevention for Sex Workers in Campina Grande) : Created a virtual campaign and channel of information about COVID-19 on WhatsApp with information about health, care, work and rights. The organization is also registering women to receive food baskets, cleaning and personal hygiene materials and accepting donations of food and fundraising.
More information: https://www.facebook.com/cipmac.milene.7
Contact: Milene (83) 98687-7478
Donations:
Banco do Brasil
Agencia: 1634-9
Conta corrente: 16.205-1

APROS-PB (Sex Worker Associaton of Paraiba): Through negotiations with local public officials, the organization has been able to guarantee food baskets and personal hygiene kits for sex workers in the João Pessoa metropolitan area.
Contact: Luza +55 83 98872-0955

AMPSAP: (Amapá Association of Women Sex Workers) Through negotiations with local public officials, the organization has registered sex workers to be able to receive food baskets during this period of social isolation.
Contato: Edna Maciel
Tel: +55 96 9912-5653 WhatsApp +55 96 9185-4629

APRORN (Sex Worker Associaton of Rio Grande do Norte): Busy organizing donations and working with local officials to guarantee food baskets for sex workers. A virtual communication network was also created to facilitate communication with sex workers about COVID-19 and provide support during this period of social isolation.
Contact:
Diana Soares +55 84 98806-5395, +55 84 3033-1651

APPS (Sex Worker Associaton of Pernambucco): Mobilizing through social networks with their members and advocating for support from the Secretariat for Women in the state of Pernambucco.
Contact:
Vania Rezende +55 81 8345-6766

APROSMA (Maranhão State Sex Workers Association) Almost all of the brothels and bars have been closed in São Luis and APROSMA is working with the Secretariat of Human Rights to guarantee food baskets to sex workers and other needy populations downtown. Soon more information will be available about an online campaign to receive financial donations.
Contact:
Maria de Jesus Almeida Costa +55 98 8419-0077

Mulheres da Luz (Women of the Light): Organized a campaign for women reached by the NGO in the Luz Park, a prostitution area in downtown São Paulo (closed due to the pandemic), and its surrounding areas. As part of the campaign, the NGO is accepting donations of money and food products (like food baskets) and hygiene (soap, toothpaste, and alcohol in gel).
More information: www.mulheresdaluz.com.br
Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/mulheresdaluz/?ti=as
Instagram: @ongmulheresdaluz

 

Fundation Margen in Chili has a fundraising initiative in Santiago, , they are receiving food and donations in this address : Portugal 623 of 11, Santiago, Chile . Their Instagram @somos.margen.

AMMAR Argentina has established a national collection to establish an emergency fund for sex workers and is sharing their banking information for direct deposits. AMMAR now also accept international donations on this paypal account  

Sindicato de Trabajadorxs Sexuales de Quito has set up a fund on gofundme to support sex workers as well as to outline the effects of governmental responses to COVID-19 on the sex-worker community.

Red Comunitaria Trans in Colombia has set up a relief found for trans women sex workers in Bogota.

AMETS Mexico is facing the COVID-19 crisis by raising donations (money or food) on Twitter.

OTRANS Guatemala has called for support and donation in order to support trans sex worker, especially the elderly, in their access to first necessities.

Mexico-La Brigada Callejera is seeking donations to support their campaign to demand support and supplies from the government of Mexico.

Miluska Vuda y Dignidad from Peru is collecting funds to distribute among those mothers who cannot access the Social Bonus from the State.

 

 

 

AFRICA

African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) has developed a sheet with safety tips for sex workers.

A solidarity fund has been created in South Africa by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and Sisonke (National Movement of Sex Workers in South Africa). It is especially drafted for allies to support sex-worker directly.

A coalition of sex-workers led group in the Republic Democrqtic of Congo (HODSAS, UMANDE and ACODHU-TS) has published an advocacy and sensibilization document available in three languages (French, Swahili and English). They also published a report on the stigmatization of Sex Workers during COVID-19. Eng_Report SW situation COVID-19_Mars2020

 

 

ASIA PACIFIC

Scarlett Alliance in Australia has worked with a national coalition of sex workers to form this fund for sex workers in all Australian territories. The link includes a tool to submit a request for assistance.

The National Network of Sex Workers of India (NNSW India) set up a fund to provide sex workers and their family food kits (equating one month for one person). They also stress the particular invisibility of sex workers in times of COVID-19, neglected by popular opinion and official help from the state.

Help support monthly packages for 500 homes of sex workers and trans people in Karnataka India for April and May 2020. Sangama is a non government organization working for the rights of the working class, non English speaking gender and sexual minorities, sex workers and people living with HIV since 1999.

Durbar Mahila in India is supporting sex-workers from the red light districts in Kolkata with food and essential commodities. For that purpose, they are asking for financial support from individuals, organisations and public administrations. You can find their banking details here (website) and here (facebook).

Sangram Sanstha, sex worker group in Sangli, Miraj, Karad, Satara, Ichalkaranji and Kolhapur is ending the first phase of its emergency fund. 689 sex workers were identified as most vulnerable and will receive a food packet. In total, that represents 3445 kilos of rice, 3445 kilos of wheat flour, 1378 kilos of daal, 1378 litres of oil, spices and tea.

EUROPE

The European Network, the ICRSE, regularly update a list of emergency funds set up by sex-workers in Europe to face the COVID-19 crisis.

In Italy, a coalition of organisations (including the main sex workers and trans led organisations of Italy) started a national emergency fund.

STAR-The First Sex Workers Collective in the Balkans, in Macedonia, called for a solidarity campaign, stressing the effect of COVID-19 and governmental policies on sex-workers and their families. They published a list of donations platform provided by their partners, mainly sex-workers led organisations.

PION, Sex Workers Interest Organisation in Norway has unlock some emergency resources to support sex workers in difficulty. You can find their contact to access this resources on their website.

UTSOPI, the Belgium national sex-worker led organisation, has set up a mutual aid fund

Sex Work Polska set up an emergency fund.

Berufsverband Erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen e.V (BesD), Germany has posted a guide in German and English on their website. Please consider donating through their emergency fund to support their work in Germany and beyond.

Red Umbrella Athens, Positive Voice, and the Athens sex workers have created an emergency fund for supporting food and basic necessities, but also to cover basic living expenses like rent, electricity, etc.

Red Edition has set up a 24-hour hotline for sex workers in Austria. They primarily focus on support migrant sex workers during this time of social isolation. Please donate via their GoFundMe page.

Dutch Emergency Fund in the Netherlands has established an emergency fund. Dutch Emergency Fund is focusing on colleagues with immediate needs, that do not have access to services/ compensation that are accessible to independent workers and brothel workers.

Sex Work Expertise in the Netherlands has provided this link with information about the financial and legal side of the income support for sex workers (self-employed / ZZP’ers, opting-inners and migrants).

The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, the only front-line sex worker led organisation in Ireland, has established a hardship fund to support local sex workers.

In France, the Syndicat du Travail Sexuel (STRASS) gathered useful information on their website regarding prevention, harm reduction, access to medical treatment and care as well as current actions and hotlines held by community associations in these times of crisis. They started a fundraiser to provide emergency help for sex workers who most need it. Finally, due to a successful media campaign, 18 deputies challenged Marlène Schiapa (from the state’s secretary in charge of equality between Men and Women) to open a state runned emergency fund for sex-workers.

Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) has launched a hardship fund (13 March to 20 March) to support sex workers in the UK.

Sex workers in Spain (Coalición Estatal De Trabajadoras Sexuales including AFEMTRAS, Colectivo de Prostitutas de Sevilla, Putas Indignados, Putas Libertarias del Raval, (N)O.M.A.D.A.S, Sección Sindical de Trabajadoras Sexuales de la IAC, Sindicato OTRAS, and Aprosex) have collaborated to establish an emergency fund to help fellow colleagues during this time of crisis. You can help them and donate by following this link.

In Sweden, Fuckförbundet has provided their banking details to support sex workers. Please mark your payment “COVID 19”.

Umbrella Lane is providing support for active sex workers in Scotland through an emergency fund. Update:  The fund reached 10,291£!

ACCEPTESS-T in France is providing financial support for trans* sex workers in their region.

 

 

NORTH AMERICA

The Network of Sex Workers to Excite Revolution Detroit (ANSWER-Detroit) and Radical Care (RADCare) launched the Detroit Sex Worker Mutual Aid Fund to support sex-workers based in Michigan or hustling in Michigan-centric. 

COYOTE-RI has collected a list of resources including information about reproductive health, working online under FOSTA/SESTA, and other materials to support sex workers

The Healing Justice Podcast hosted a roundtable on COVID-19 to talk harm reduction and community support.

The Green Light Project is running a fundraiser to support Seattle sex workers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Whose Corner Is It Anyway is a Western Massachusetts mutual aid group for street based/low income/housing insecure/drug user community of sex workers. Their gofundme is updated every 2 weeks with current information about their community’s needs. The most recent post details how they are changing their meetings to meet the needs of their members.

California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance has also shared a resource for undocumented people. It includes some resources that may be relevant for migrant sex workers in California.

Lysistrata Mutual Care Collective & Fund is accepting donations through their website and distributes emergency funds for sex workers. They have also compiled a list of mutual aid resources.

Sex Worker Emergency Endowment of Tucson (SWEET) provides micro grants to sex workers in Tucson and Pima County.

Colorado Entertainer Coalition (CEC) is requesting donations for their community of sex workers.

Portland sex workers have established a PDX Sex Worker Covid-19 Relief Fund.

In New York, Colectivo Cultural Trangrediendo is a joint initiative from LGBT Center Intercultural Collective Inc and Lorena Borjas Community Fund for trangender folx experiencing intensified precarious and poverty situations.

The Black Sex Worker Collective (BSWC) is a New York City project working to provide support for black sex workers in the area. There are a number of ways to provide support available on their website.

Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Brooklyn is also running an Emergency COVID Relief crowdfund for New York based sex workers who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Sex Workers Outreach Project in Austin Texas (SWOP ATX) has established a emergency reli-wef fund.

Las Vegas sex workers, now faced with the shutdown of the entire strip and all hotel/casinos, has started this gofundme.

Showing Up for Racial Justice – Toronto has assembled some resources in a single document including strategies and funds for collective care.

In Montreal there is a Mtl Rapid Response initiative for precarious sex workers.

Butterfly and Maggies, also based in Toronto, have jointly drafted a community guide for Sex Workers on good practices toward COVID-19. Some information are especially Toronto-based, but most information can be useful to any english-speaking sex-worker, client, third party or ally.

 

In Vancouver, PACE opened a sex-worker led fund providing up to 100-200 USD to sex-workers who self-identified with one marginalized community.

05 Mar

Vacancy

Vacancy: Red Umbrella Fund Coordinator

Note: the deadline for applications has been extended to 7 April 2020.

The Red Umbrella Fund is looking for a Coordinator, starting June 2020 and to be based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The Red Umbrella Fund Coordinator is the senior staff member responsible for the day-to-day management of the Red Umbrella Fund secretariat. This includes supervising a team of three Programme Associates and maintaining effective relations with the host organisation, Mama Cash. The Coordinator leads the organisational planning and budgeting, fundraising, and funder influencing work, and monitors the Fund’s participatory grantmaking. The Coordinator is directly accountable to the Red Umbrella Fund’s International Steering Committee, which consists of sex worker activists and funders.

Background about the Red Umbrella Fund

The Red Umbrella Fund is the only global grantmaking initiative for and by sex workers. We aim to strengthen and sustain the sex workers’ rights movements through our financial and non-financial support. Our advocacy and communication efforts focuses on catalysing new funding to support sex workers’ rights movements.

The Red Umbrella Fund is coordinated and administered by a small secretariat that is hosted by Mama Cash in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Key Job Functions

  • Support the International Steering Committee (ISC) to be able to effectively take its responsibility to provide strategic direction and oversight to the Red Umbrella Fund (RUF), set annual grantmaking priorities and select new Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) and ISC members as needed;
  • Implement decisions made by the ISC;
  • Supervise a small team of dedicated staff, in line with Red Umbrella Fund’s core principles of participation and inclusion;
  • Oversee the facilitation and coordination of the PAC, ensuring the Fund’s participatory grantmaking procedures are followed;
  • Develop an annual Red Umbrella Fund work plan and budget for ISC approval;
  • Lead the resource mobilisation work to secure the funds needed for the Red Umbrella Fund to effectively work towards its stated objectives, including preparing and timely submitting donor proposals and reports and maintaining and building new relations with (potential) funders;
  • Maintain effective relations with the administrative host organisation, Mama Cash, in accordance with the hosting agreement, including managing the work relations with the Mama Cash finance, fundraising, and management teams;
  • Develop and implement, in collaboration with team members, the ISC and/or external partners as relevant, donor influencing plans and represent the Red Umbrella Fund in external communication.
  • Promotes the ongoing visibility and leadership of sex worker community members, in all of our diversities.

Lived Experience, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Lived experience in sex work (any form of);
  • Minimum of 5 years experience in the field of sex worker rights, and/or grantmaking, and/or fundraising;
  • Experience in (project) management, including supervision of staff or volunteers, developing and managing budgets, and overseeing expenditures;
  • Excellent organisational skills and ability to manage complex tasks and prioritize competing demands;
  • Strong English written and verbal communication skills. Fluency in a second or third language is also a plus. Fluency in any of RUF’s other working languages French, Russian, Spanish, or Dutch is considered an added value.
  • An understanding of current sex workers’ rights issues and debates and knowledge of key organisations in the international sex workers’ rights movement(s);
  • Sensitivity and appreciation for diversity in many forms, including in identity, viewpoints, and communication styles;
  • A commitment to non-hierarchical organizing models and a willingness to explore models that enable staff to have participatory decision making and varied leadership opportunities. An appreciation for trust and consensus building processes and a willingness to take direction from the community-led ISC;
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills, proven experience with bridge-building and working in coalition with a diverse group of stakeholders, as well as the ability to acknowledge and manage power relations constructively.
  • Computer literate, including working with databases.

Are you interested in this position?

Both a letter of motivation and CV (resume) need to be submitted online in English, stating the job description through the form at the bottom of this page. All applications and all information provided in the process of this application will be kept strictly confidential.  The deadline for applications is 7 April 2020 (note: this is the extended deadline).
Apply for this position only through the online vacancy application form below.

In your letter of motivation please be sure to include:
1) your personal and/or professional experiences in the sex worker movement;
2) your understanding and/or experiences with non-hierarchical organizing structures that enable staff to have participatory decision making and varied leadership opportunities while maintaining effective fulfillment of an organizations mission; and
3) your experiences with strategic communications with diverse stakeholders and decision makers.

Please note this position will be based at Red Umbrella Fund’s secretariat in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply, regardless of where they are based. Candidates who are not currently in possession of an EU work permit will be supported in obtaining a visa and will be reimbursed for travel and relocation. The anticipated start date will be June 2020.

The Red Umbrella Fund values diversity and welcomes applications from persons of all gender identities and expressions. We particularly value the expertise and knowledge of people who have experience in sex work and encourage applications from those targeted by racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, and disablism.

What do we offer?

We offer a professional work environment in a small, international and innovative foundation committed to diversity, solidarity and strengthening the sex workers’ rights movements. Our office is centrally located in Amsterdam. The monthly salary for this position depends upon experience and is based on the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement CAO Welzijn scale 11, (min.) €3.259 (max.) €5.061 on full time basis, excluding 8% vacation, 13th month, and pension plan.

More information

For more information please contact Coco Jervis, Red Umbrella Fund International Steering Committee (ISC) member, c.jervis [at] mamacash [dot] org

The online form to send in your letter and cv is available on this page

25 Feb

New Grantees

The Red Umbrella Fund made 30 new grants in 2019! This is more grants than we ever made before in one year. We welcomed 19 new grantee partners and continue to supporting 21 other sex worker-led groups and networks that we have funded before.  You can view the complete list of grants here: https://www.redumbrellafund.org/grantees/

All new grants were selected by our Program Advisory Committee (PAC), which reviewed over 100 applications eligible applications from across the world. The PAC is comprised of eleven sex worker rights activists from different geographic regions and is at least 80% current/former sex workers. For three months they volunteered countless hours to review applications and select the final grantee-partners.

We  thank our 2019 PAC for their expertise and efforts to ensure Red Umbrella Fund is self-determined by the global sex worker community. They had to make extremely difficult decisions as the funds available were in no way sufficient to match the needs of the applications received.

At the moment the International Steering Committee (ISC) is meeting to reflect on the 2019 developments and achievements, and determine the new strategic plan and set the new priorities for the coming year.

16 Dec

An injury to one is an injury to all

by Nathan Desvignes

Sex workers in Europe have been facing grave attacks on their rights in recent years. Although sex workers’ organisations are under-resourced, they are fighting back fiercely and have had some notable achievements in getting others to finally care and join in. Slowly but steadily, more people are starting to realize that the denial of human rights to sex workers, will ultimately affect us all. Or as the old labour slogan goes: an injury to one is an injury to all.

The Swedish Model Expansion: A Backlash against Social Justice

In February 2014, the European Parliament voted in favor of a recommendation to criminalise sex workers’ clients, also known as the Swedish or Nordic model. This recommendation was put forward in a resolution by a Member of European Parliament (MEP) called Honeyball and it was strongly pushed for by the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). At that time I was studying about the sex workers’ movement at my university, but I did not speak up about this.

Report by Fuckförbundet, 2019

The Swedish model is based on the paradoxical idea of ‘helping’ sex-workers by criminalizing their clients and third parties (a category which includes managers but also drivers or bookkeepers). Even if these intentions to protect women who they see as victims are genuine, the model has proven to be harmful and has increased stigma and violence against women and trans people in Sweden, France and Ireland. The Swedish model does not result in a reduction of poverty, stigma and repression of women sex workers. Quite the opposite, it makes their work more difficult and more dangerous. It encourages the controlling of female migration and has resulted in deportations of women. And to sustain its legitimacy, defendants of the model conveniently ignore and disqualify the dissident voices of sex workers. This happened in Sweden, and this happened at European level.

Sex Workers’ Dissent

But the sex workers’ movement did not sit quietly. ICRSE, one of the regional sex workers’ networks in Europe, published a letter opposing the Honeyball resolution that was signed by 560 organizations. They also facilitated an academic critique endorsed by 94 academics that uncovers the bias of the resolution and its claims. And five years later, sex workers continue their protest. In September 2019, at the occasion of the 20 years jubilee of the ‘Swedish model’, activists and researchers gathered in Sweden to discuss the consequences of the model.

I spoke to Luca Stevenson about that period, when he had just joined the ICRSE as the Coordinator:

“The position taken by the European Parliament was, unfortunately, not really surprising. The shocking part was that it was the Parliament, a democratic institution, that made this report. The quality of the report is the proof that statistics can be used for anything, including denying one’s rights. The whole report is based on stigma and discrimination, not on sex workers’ demands or even scientific evidence.”

Demonstration for sex workers rights in Sweden, September 2019. Photo credit: Fuckförbundet.

Attacks on Marginalized Groups

By purposefully conflating every form of sex work with trafficking, the Honeyball resolution denies sex workers the capacity to organize and the possibility to use their own body and social skills to earn an income. According to Stevenson, this is just one illustration of a bigger trend that is happening everywhere:

“Such attacks against the most stigmatised and marginalised groups are all part of a repressive wave of populism. For us, the importance now is to develop an intersectional movement for social justice across the region and across the globe.”

Building Bridges Between Communities

Building alliances with other communities became a priority for ICRSE, both as a strategy and as an end in itself. As Stevenson clarifies:

“We wanted to make it understood that sex workers are also part of other discriminated and criminalized communities – such as LGBTI and migrants – and are often the most marginalized within them. Our aim was to mainstream the sex worker question at both grassroots and European levels.”

For instance, local migrant organizations should be able to provide support for the sex workers within their communities. And vice versa. As Stevenson explains:

“We purposefully became members of different networks. It was very important for us that the sex worker organizations would learn from others and become more intersectional as well, and to address issues of transphobia and racism in our own sex worker rights organizing.”

By making the voices of its members more visible partly though the publication of a series of intersectional resources in their diverse communities, ICRSE intended, step by step, to bring a broad range of allies to the table. As shared by Stevenson:

ICRSE building a network of allies in Brussels, September 2019. Photo credit: Nathan Desvignes

“As these networks are based on the democratic representation of their members, they should therefore recognize that sex workers are present in every sphere of society. So that sex workers’ rights are, in fact, migrants’, LGBTI, and labour rights.”

Success

And the strategy is showing success. In 2016, Transgender Europe (TGEU) spoke out in support of decriminalisation of sex work, followed by ILGA Europe in 2018 and ILGA World in 2019. More recently also PICUM integrated the decriminalisation of sex work as one of the approaches to support and empower their communities. Other organizations such as Amnesty International (AI) and Doctors of the World (MdM) have also demonstrated awareness that sex workers’ rights are not separate from their own organisational human rights or health focus and that this needs to be incorporated into their work. ICRSE has also been reaching out to women’s organisations, homeless people’s organisations, and sexual and reproductive rights advocates, among others.

What Funders Need to Learn

I then spoke with Nadia van der Linde, Coordinator at the Red Umbrella Fund, about funders’ response to the attacks on sex workers’ rights and the limited funding available for sex worker organising. She agreed there is much that funders can learn from the sex workers’ rights movements:

“The way that ICRSE has been successful at strategically building alliances across movements and communities, including among LGBTI communities, undocumented migrants, feminists, human rights activists and others, is something that I see too little of in funder spaces.”

Not having a portfolio or policy on sex work does not mean sex workers are not already included or affected by a funder’s grantmaking. Communities do not fit neatly into funder-defined boxes. As Van der Linde shared:

“When I ask funders whether they support sex workers’ rights, many funders tell me they ‘do not have a portfolio on sex work’ and therefore cannot fund sex worker groups. While they do have a portfolio on women, LGBTI, health, or HIV! They have still not made the connection or are not willing to acknowledge the overlap, intersections, or implications.”

Demonstration for sex workers’ rights in Sweden, 2019. Photo: Fuckförbundet.

Legislation passed in the name of ‘equality’ has been detrimental to the health and rights of those most harmed by inequality, while their – sex workers’ – experiences have been systematically ignored or dismissed. Funders concerned about refugees, civil society, drug users, HIV, human rights, women, gender based violence, and labour rights, among others, should all be reflecting on the extent to which their grants are reaching the most marginalized and stigmatized within those communities. In the current social political climate and economic structure, this usually includes sex workers. Funders should be encouraging bridges to be built between communities and movements.

Final Reflections

It is through my recent work experiences at the ICRSE and the Red Umbrella Fund that the intersections between movements and necessity and urgency for allies to speak out and support sex workers’ rights activism has become clear to me. If we want to be effective in our fight against the reactionary and populist waves here in Europe, we have to acknowledge that the sex workers’ fight for self-determination is right at its heart and will impact us all.

 

***
This article was written by Nathan Desvignes. Nathan graduated with a master’s degree in history of political philosophy (a partnership between Sciences Po Lyon and ENS de Lyon) in 2019, specialized in sociology of sex work, history of feminism and history of anarchism. He has a general interest in social sciences: “As a feminist and anarchist activist, the fight for sex workers’ rights always appeared to me as a primary place of intersectionality from which anarchists and feminists have a lot to learn.” While volunteering for ICRSE, the European sex worker network, followed by the Red Umbrella Fund, the only global sex worker-led fund, Nathan wrote his Master’s thesis on the common history of anarchism and sex work activism (in French): “Emma Goldman face au Mann Act de 1910: un regard anarchiste sur la prostitution”

01 Aug

Artivism: A guerrilla tool for sex worker movements

By Aline Fantinatti

I was 20 when Daspu was created in 2005 by Gabriela Leite, a pioneer of the sex workers movement in Brazil. Daspu is short for “Das Putas”, meaning (designed) by the whores. It is the name of a clothing brand created to raise funds for the sex worker NGO Davida. The name Daspu is also a parody on Daslu (“Dasloo”), a famous luxury department store created by and for socialites from São Paulo, the richest city in Latin America.

Coincidentally, Daspu’s creation was launched just before the rich, elegant and well educated owner of Daslu became the target of a federal investigation against tax evasion crimes. Daspu was thus perceived as a sharp provocation which awarded them much public attention and opportunity to share their political message. Daspu inserted itself into the Brazilian mainstream culture, giving a new meaning to the puta identity by performing fashion catwalks in telenovelas, official fashion weeks, cultural institutions and street events. Sex workers participating in Daspu catwalks recreated themselves as fashion models of their own clothes in a celebratory occupation of the catwalk, a territory that up to then had been reserved to Dasluzettes.

Photo: Daspu Catwalk at Satyrianas theater festival 2016, in São Paulo, Brazil. Credit: Daniela Pinheiro

Reporting on Artivism

During my internship at the Red Umbrella Fund, I analyzed if and how their grantee partners have used artivism in their political and social interventions. I could not help but think back about how I had been influenced as a young woman growing up in Brazil when Daspu reached the mass media. These affective memories helped me to understand the significance of the artivism initiatives described by the 63 Red Umbrella Fund’s grantees whose reports I scrutinized. At least 2 in every 3 sex worker groups reviewed mentioned one or more examples of using artivism in their reports. And this was even higher specifically for national and regional sex worker networks. Using arts in activism is common across all regions, although groups reported it most often in Europe, North America and the Caribbean.

Sex worker activists make use of appealing visual elements such as color and shapes, poetic strategies such as word sounds and repetition, and performance to give strength to the messages. Creative methods such as storytelling and graphic design organize and simplify sex workers’ narrative. By making complex political issues more easily understandable, the targeted audience is finally able to connect and to relate to sex workers. A basic example of how social movements regularly use art to empower their message is the creation of rhythmic political mottos.

Somos lindas, estamos listas, somos puta feministas! We are beautiful, we are ready, we are whore feminists!

Photo: Activists chant during a meeting of Sindicato OTRAS (Sex workers organization in Barcelona). The scene was portrayed in the documentary Crossings: The Stories of Migrant Sex Workers.

Guerrila Tactics

Leila Barreto, former member of the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes and GEMPAC (Women Prostitutes Group of Para State) and researcher of sex workers’ movements in Brazil1, explains that a specific characteristic of the sex workers’ movement is that it is oriented towards a guerrilla fight to occupy new spaces2. Expanding your visibility means to get out of your comfort zone and create and be present in conversations with wider audiences that are distanced from their realities.

Art offers sex worker groups guerrilla tools to achieve political visibility among different audiences. It is also used specifically to fight against the stigma imposed on sex workers, with the understanding that stigma is a collective political problem and not an individual fault. Artivism constitutes a useful strategy for many sex worker groups to establish a dialogue with civil society. As with the case of Daspu, many artivism actions that promote public visibility also target the community itself by introducing or affirming a joint identity as sex workers. To build and maintain strong community engagement in the movement, sex worker organizations are determined to tackle the stigma internalized by sex workers themselves.

Silenced

Argentinian anthropologist Dolores Juliano describes the mechanisms of silencing used to control marginalized groups of women in hierarchical societies. In these societies, recognizing which discourses are legitimate and which ones are not is a tool to grant or to deny access to power.

“The division between good and bad women benefits the stability of the system. Prostitution stigma has nothing to do with what sex worker are or do. It represents a potent element of control for the women who are not in the industry. The model of the selfless wife and mother demands a lot of sacrifice. […] the only way to make sure that women adapt to it is to ensure that the other possibility is worse.” 3

The social panic about what sex workers can unveil about gender and sexual roles is the reason why sex workers are denied the possibility to speak for themselves. Sex workers’ discourse is thus constantly undermined and only validated when it presents them as victims. According to Juliano, the silencing of sex workers is used as a power maintenance strategy4.Sex worker organisations make use of the multiple conventional political dialogue tools: reports, formal advocacy actions, meetings, and field work, but only a narrow audience is able and interested enough to dive into dry policy reports. Sex worker activists therefore try more creative strategies to get their messages across.

Creativity as a Path to Success?

Georgina Orellano, secretary general of AMMAR (Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina) in Argentina, disclosed that a street art intervention in 2013 allowed the organization to realize that sex workers activism should take on a creative path. Together with an advertisement team, AMMAR developed an action to call the attention of the public to their mission using short and incisive communication elements. The campaign was based on data from AMMAR’s community based research which revealed that many sex workers in Argentina were single mothers and their family’s main source of income.

AMMAR came up with a street art intervention to get attention for the need to protect these women from exploitation and police violence. Illustrated black and white decals were placed on some of the busiest corners of Buenos Aires. On one side you could see a sex worker, but once you turned around the corner you could see that she carried a baby stroller or two kids by her hand. The message: “86% of sex workers are mothers – we need a law that regulates sex work”. AMMAR’s name and mission were clearly communicated. The murals went viral on social media platforms and received extensive local and international media coverage, including in The Guardian

“Street Corner Moms showed AMMAR that creative interventions can generate social consciousness among society in general and that it took the movement away from the sectors AMMAR always intervened, amplifying the message of the workers.”
– Georgina Orellano (interview April 2019)

Photo: Street Corner Moms. Credit: AMMAR

AMMAR has since developed many other creative strategies using documentary and cultural festivals to “occupy spaces” beyond the usual, introducing counter narratives to oppose the stigmatizing discourses on sex work. One such example is their collaboration in 2017 with MAMBA (Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires), where AMMAR hosted guided tours during the exhibition of Argentinian painter Antonio Berni. Berni’s 1970s critical realism depict narratives about the world of sex work embodied by his muse Ramona Montiel. AMMAR’s members organized a tour covering different topics such as the street and stigma.

“A lot of the images settled by art history is present in sex workers narratives until today. For instance, people still think that we are always wearing high heels and fishnets. We were there to intervene in this narrative.”
– Georgina Orellano (interview April 2019)

Mock Arrests and Condom Seizures

Empower, a longstanding sex worker organization in Thailand, develops street performances through its Honey Bee Troupe to create awareness among the local public on sex workers’ issues. They pressure policy makers through media exposure and direct interactions with relevant stakeholders. By using basic props and costumes that are understood across cultures and languages, the group gets their message across in diverse locations.

The organization further developed their format to directly respond and to influence political decision makers during conferences. At the AIDS Conference in 2018, in order to protest against the “condom as evidence” policies used in many countries, the group dressed as police officers and performed mock arrests of delegates to get them to sign a ‘subpoena’ demanding end to the use of condoms as evidence and to decriminalize sex work. Approaching ‘suspects’ with typical verbal and gesture commands, the police characters seized over 1,000 condoms and attracted much attention.

Photo: Honey Bee Troupe during AIDS Conference 2018. Credit: English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP)

Establishing a puta conversation

As I grew up in a conservative suburban town around São Paulo, Daspu was my first point of contact with the sex workers’ movement in Brazil. Sex workers’ artivism sparkled in me a reflection on gender roles long before I came across feminism. The sex worker movement needs guerrilla tactics to occupy new spaces, as this struggle is not won with conventional strategies. Artistic elements in activism contribute to empathy and call attention to different and often larger audiences. Art has allowed sex worker activists to create opportunities to build support, influence opinions, and to challenge longtime encroached ideas.

What if I would never have seen sex workers perform on a Daspu catwalk?

…Perhaps I would still have become a sex worker ally, but there would certainly be fewer chances for sex workers’ political messages to be seen and heard without such artivism.

 

***

Aline volunteered as a research student at the Red Umbrella Fund while completing her masters degree in Gender Studies at the Utrecht University. She also a BA in International Relations from Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. After working for 10 years in the corporate sector, she started to investigate and to write about sexual rights related issues. During her work at the Red Umbrella Fund, Aline investigated how sex workers use art to create and to sustain a wider debate about labour, exploitation, agency, class and gender roles.

***

With special thanks for the generous interviews offered by Georgina Orellano, Secretary-General at AMMAR in Argentina, Liz Hilton from Empower Thailand and Leila Barreto, former member of GEMPAC (a sex worker group from the State of Para) and the Brazilian Network of Prostitutes.

***

Footnotes:

1 Barreto also likes to point out her identity as a Filha da Puta, daughter of a whore. Barreto is the daughter of Lourdes Barreto, one of the founders of the sex workers movement in Brazil. Leila Barreto also created the annual cultural political event Puta Dei which takes place in various cities of Brazil since 2012. It is organised along with the International Sex Workers’ Day, celebrated by the global sex worker community every 2nd of June.

2 Barreto, L. (2016). Prostituição: a história recontada: transas sociais e institucionais em Belém (Prostitution, a retold story: social and institutional intercourses in Belém)(Specialization in Education in Human Rights and Diversity). Universidade Federal do Pará.

3 Juliano, D. (2002). La prostitución: el espejo oscuro. Barcelona: Icaria.

4 Juliano, D. (2017). Tomar la palabra: mujeres, discursos y silencios (To take over the word: women, discourses and silences). Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra.

19 Jun

Red Umbrella Fund is looking for new PAC members to join us in Amsterdam!

** This process is closed for 2018 – new opportunities are expected in 2020 **
We are looking for dedicated sex worker activist from the regions of Africa, Asia and Latin-America for our Program Advisory Committee (PAC)!

Every year our PAC comes together for the final part in the decision making process for the new grants that the Red Umbrella Fund will make. The reading of these grants takes place from from mid-August until early October. The 2019 PAC process ends with a 4 day meet up from 7 to 10 October in Amsterdam.

If you are available and your English is well enough to communicate with other group members, nominate yourself to Red Umbrella Fund before the 21st of July 2019!

Please read the requirements in the attached documents (don’t forget the endorsement letter) and hopefully we see you in October?

PAC Self Nomination form 2019

27 May

“We are Human Before Anything Else” – Sex Worker Organising in Mauritius

by Claire Gheerbrant

Parapli Rouz, meaning ‘red umbrella’ in Mauritian Creole, is the only community-based organization promoting the rights of sex workers in Mauritius. The group has been a grantee partner of the Red Umbrella Fund since 2015. Working in a small island-nation has its particular challenges, like making yourself visible and heard in the increasingly global and connected sex worker movement. But Mauritian sex workers have a lot to say and are getting people to listen.

Public campaign from Parapli Rouz – “I have the same rights as you”

An underestimated sex worker population

The latest national survey (2014) estimates the sex worker population in Mauritius at 6,223 female sex workers and 1,649 transgender sex workers. Parapli Rouz only comes across a very small number of male sex workers every year. Beyond working in the streets, workplaces include homes, massage parlors, nightclubs, bars, restaurants but also beaches and catamarans. A number of Mauritian sex workers travel back and forth to the neighboring French island of La Reunion, where the pay is better. According to Parapli Rouz, those statistics are copiously underestimated and should be multiplied by two or three to reflect reality. In 2017 alone, Parapli Rouz met with more than 2,000 sex workers through its outreach work.

One of the main challenges sex workers in Mauritius face is the arbitrary arrests of street-based workers. Even if brothel keeping is the only criminalized activity under Mauritian law, street-based sex workers get arrested for “being on the streets at night”, “having condoms in their bags” or “wearing an indecent dress”; although these do not constitute formally punishable offenses.

Arrested for “being on the streets at night”

In order to be released, street sex workers are forced to sign erroneous investigation reports and are often denied their right to make a phone call from the police station. The charges they incur often relate to “soliciting”, “importuning” or “idle and disorderly”. When those cases are brought before the court, sex workers are sentenced with fines from 2,000 to 8,000 Mauritian rupees (50 to 200 euros) and prison terms of up to 3 months.

This comic strip – designed by a group of sex workers and drawn by former Parapli Rouz President Dany – is used as a sensitization tool directed at media, parliamentarians and police. It demonstrates in one page the extent of the challenges and abuses faced by sex workers: clients refuse to pay and are violent, police officers are abusive and charge sex workers for soliciting instead of filing their complaints, and health care providers don’t treat their injuries seriously.

A caravan to fight police abuse

To counter these violations of street workers human rights, Parapli Rouz used parts of its first grant from the Red Umbrella Fund to buy a caravan in 2015. The team uses the caravan to do outreach  once a week at various workplaces around the island. The mere presence of community workers in the areas of street work has visibly helped against the impunity of police officers, who know they are being watched.

On the sign “Despite violence and discrimination, we are still standing strong”

 

After a first court case was won in 2016 – Parapli Rouz provided legal support and a lawyer to the sex worker exposed to charges and those were dropped by the court- a precedent was set and police stations are now aware that Parapli Rouz is standing with sex workers and that they are no longer easy preys.

This work is paying off: recently a sex worker in Quatre Bornes was arrested but was, for the first time, granted her phone call. Sex workers now carry cards from Parapli Rouz which they present to police officers when they have contact with them. These cards send a strong message that sex workers are not alone nor powerless.

In addition to the caravan, Parapli Rouz expects to set up a telephone hotline for sex workers, reachable 24/7 and free of charge. The aim is to be able to react quickly in cases of emergency, such as violence from clients or the police, when the team is not on the ground, and increase safety of sex workers at all times. 

From an HIV/AIDS focus to a lobby and advocacy agenda

Soon after its creation in 2010, Parapli Rouz received funding from the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to carryout activities related to HIV/AIDS prevention in the sex workers’ community. Sophie Ganachaud, Coordinator of the organization, explained that Parapli Rouz always wished to work more on advocacy, but it was never recognized as a priority by their potential funders and promoting sex workers rights remains highly controversial.

Indeed, funders tend to focus strongly on HIV/AIDS on the African continent (to which Mauritius is attached), which often makes it difficult for civil society organizations to extend their activities beyond health services and to work on a rights-based approach.

On the sign : “’We are human before anything else.Thank you Parapli Rouz”

With Red Umbrella Fund’s flexible core funding, Parapli Rouz decided to restructure the organization and dedicate more time for external advocacy. While still working on HIV prevention, the group now has a comprehensive advocacy plan targeting health providers, politicians, police and media.

The group organized a workshop for journalists to shift the moralizing tone and unrealistic portrayal often used in reporting about sex work. This resulted in more and better coverage of the work of the organization in the local press (in French). Based on this success, Parapli Rouz is hiring a communications officer to further expand their outreach and media presence.

Hypocrisy as a worst enemy

Developing relationships with institutional representatives is one of the most challenging aspects of Parapli Rouz’s work. Their experience is that if officials take pro-sex work positions in private meetings, they never share those publicly. The political risk is still high in Mauritius, and religious doctrines too influential. As Sophie Ganachaud, Coordinator of Parapli Rouz, explains: “for Mauritian politicians, supporting sex workers’ rights means signing your own political death warrant and risking the end of your career.”

Public campaign sign from Parapli Rouz Coordinator Sophie that says: “Stop hypocrisy”

In 2016, the Minister of Gender Equality joined Parapli Rouz’s commemoration on December 17th (the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers) and publicly offered to collaborate. Unfortunately, she resigned two days later. Parapli Rouz continues to invite government and police officials, hoping they will one day speak out and take a position outside of closed office doors. On December 17th 2018, Parapli Rouz organized a Pacific March and held a formal speech in the “Jardin de la Compagnie” in capital city Port Louis. This was a huge achievement for Parapli Rouz as it was the first time they got the authorization to demonstrate and march in front of the Parliament house. The demonstration was joined by many sex workers and allies and received good media coverage (in French).

On the sign: “We have the right to take care of our health”

Recipe for Success

Following the restructuring of the organisation in 2018, the team moved their office from the capital of Port Louis to bigger and more affordable offices in the central zone of Beau Bassin which is home to a large part of the island’s population. Following this move, Parapli Rouz has successfully organized community gatherings between sex workers from the two regions at their new center in order to increase solidarity between the two groups and decrease issues of territory and competition. Their recipe for success is a concept they refer to as “co-rity”: a mix of “collaboration” and “solidarity’. It is their goal to join the forces of different sex worker communities (trans sex workers, female sex workers, street-based sex workers and workers working from other venues) to face their common enemies and fight for their rights together. 

This article was written by Claire Gheerbrant based on an interview with Sophie Ganachaud (coordinator), Shameema Boyroo (Community Mobilization Officer) and Mélanie Babet (Community Mobilization Support Officer). 

The comic strips included in the article were designed by Dany, former President of Parapli Rouz who recently passed away, to whom this article is dedicated.

08 May

Time to Turn Up the Volume

by Nadia van der Linde

Please cite this article as: N van der Linde, ‘Time to Turn Up the Volume’, Anti-Trafficking ReviewAnti-Trafficking Review, issue 12, 2019, pp. 194-199, www.antitraffickingreview.org.

I remember my first self-organised donor panel well. It was at the Global Social Change Philanthropy Conference in Washington, DC in 2013. I had just started work as the first coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund—the newly established fund for and by sex workers. I organised a session that would clarify the distinction between sex work and human trafficking and emphasise the need to fund sex worker organising. We had a strong panel: an awesome sex worker activist, a knowledgeable academic, a passionate service provider, and a committed funder. I was, however, in for a rude awakening: even though the line-up was great, the audience was scarce. I thought to myself, if we can’t even get funders to show up and learn about sex workers’ rights, how will we ever meet the needs of sex worker organisations fighting for their basic human rights?

Why the Need for Donor Support?

Sex workers are criminalised for their means of making a living in all but a handful of countries and jurisdictions. Addressing stigma and violence are key priorities of sex worker groups everywhere. For most sex workers, police are not there to protect them but perpetrate most of the violence against them.[1]Harassment, confiscation of condoms, extortion, arbitrary arrest, and rape are common examples of police violence. Even in the Netherlands, where sex work is regulated, most sex workers do not report cases of physical or sexual violence to the police.[2] A rare exception is New Zealand, where sex work is decriminalised and the government helps fund a sex worker organisation to provide information, services, and support to their peers. The New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and police work together to prevent violence and encourage sex workers to file a report when they experience sexual assault and other violent crimes.[3]

Sex workers across the world are organising against criminalisation, which puts not just their livelihood at risk but their entire lives—and those of their loved ones. They are generally recognised as marginalised and highly vulnerable in today’s societies, embodying multiple layers of stigma because of the work they do, and also because they are often poor, lack formal education, belong to Indigenous or migrant populations, identify as trans or gay, or are single mothers. However, funding to support sex worker organisations and their community mobilisation efforts is scarce.[4] In 2013, foundations invested a meagre USD 11 million in grants to support sex worker rights worldwide.[5] Most sex worker organisations have no funding at all, but those that do receive an institutional grant usually still have annual budgets below USD 70,000 and their reliance on volunteer work remains high. At the same time, raid and rescue programmes and rehabilitation centres continue to be generously funded as, supposedly, models of supporting or ‘helping’ women in the sex industry.

Sex worker organisations call on funders to provide more funding that is long term and covers rent, salaries, trainings, legal services, and advocacy. They also want funders to speak up in support of sex workers’ rights.[6] A conversation I had recently with another human rights funder revealed that, while they had given some grants to sex worker groups before, they had never realised that most peer human rights funders still do not fund such work. We clearly need to more effectively leverage our access and knowledge to educate and activate our philanthropic peers.

Changing Perspective

The best way to educate funders is through people’s lived experiences. We interviewed staff of funding organisations who had changed their perspective from assuming all sex work (or prostitution) is exploitation and trafficking to recognising sex workers as human beings who are entitled to rights, including in relation to their work. This revealed that academic evidence, UN documents, and human rights organisations’ public support for sex workers’ rights are all helpful, but the main lever to a more nuanced understanding comes from direct interactions with sex workers.[7] We need to bring funders and sex workers in the same room.

The international donor-activist dialogue on sex work and trafficking that took place in 2008 was one notable success of getting funders to listen to sex workers.[8] Members of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) played a crucial role in subsequent donor education, speaking from lived experience about the harms of many anti-trafficking initiatives on sex workers. By the end of the event, funders were united in their acknowledgement that sex workers need funding to effectively organise and stand up for their rights. Four years later, the Red Umbrella Fund was launched.[9]

So far, the Red Umbrella Fund has awarded 158 grants to 103 sex worker-led groups in over fifty countries. These investments have resulted in stronger organisations and leadership and increased solidarity and connections within the movement and with other movements. This is not, however, nearly enough to foster real change. For every grant awarded, applications by many other groups had to be declined due to the limited money available.

Self-organising for Labour Rights

Since the fund was established in 2012, our grantee partners have taught us how the conflation of sex work and trafficking plays out in their daily lives. It is not just that anti-trafficking policies often harm them; stigma and criminalisation also create a social climate where sex workers are at greater risk of being trafficked and survivors of trafficking may have few other options to make a living than sex work. Although they hardly ever mention it in their own publications, many sex worker groups provide crucial services and support to people who have experienced trafficking.[10] Similarly, labour unions and women’s organisations that stand up for domestic workers or agricultural labourers who work in poor conditions do not force them to quit their work or support incarcerating them, but instead focus on improving their labour conditions and self-organising capacity. As one sex worker at a donor-activist meeting organised by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) in Bangkok in February 2018 stated:

We are fighting for our rights, for our labour rights, for better working conditions. Sex workers and clients, for the most part, are against trafficking and exploitation. Sex workers support trafficked people, and we protect them from the police.

It is no surprise that a review of the grant applications we received over the years shows that, although local contexts differ greatly, ending stigma, violence, and criminalisation are the key priorities for sex worker organisations everywhere. Sex worker organisations prevent exploitation and trafficking by providing safe spaces, information, support, and accompaniment to relevant services.[11] Their campaigns for decriminalisation of sex work are crucial to build safer work environments where problems can be reported to police and justice can be sought. And where, as is highlighted by the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, sex workers have the right to say yes, but also the right to say no.[12]

Conclusion

A peer activist funder recently explained the evolution of their donor advocacy strategy to me, which had gone from ‘philanthro-shaming’ (highlighting the urgent need to increase funding in a particular area to avoid or address a certain problem) to unapologetically using the popular concept of FOMO, the fear of missing out. Too often, he shared, we highlight funding gaps and needs, hoping it will persuade funders to fill the abyss. That may help some allied funders to expand their grantmaking, but it will not convince the sex worker rights funding ‘virgins’. The reality is that even many self-identified social justice funders still claim ‘neutrality’ on the topic of sex workers’ rights, or simply lack the courage to speak out. Those funders need to realise that they are not the first sheep to leap over the ditch. In the case of this peer activist funder, their new donor advocacy strategy, therefore, intends to take a ‘jump on the bandwagon or miss out’ approach, highlighting that funding sex worker organising is the thing to do, and now!

I don’t think this bandwagon approach alone will do the trick, but at least we have started forming a band and developing some common tunes. Different funders have started coming together in a new collaborative effort to ensure that more funding is directed to the sex worker rights movements. Now it’s time to turn up that volume and reach the right audience.

Nadia van der Linde is the Coordinator of the Red Umbrella Fund. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Geography from the University of Amsterdam and has years of international experience, particularly in the field of sexual and reproductive rights, advocacy, and (youth) participation processes. Nadia has worked for the Youth Coalition, the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, the People’s Health Movement, Stichting Alexander, the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). She is the chairperson of the Prostitution Information Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Email: nadia@redumbrellafund.org.

Notes:

[1]      M Bhattacharjya, E Fulu and L Murthy, The Right(s) Evidence: Sex work, violence and HIV in Asia. A multi-country qualitative study, UNFPA, UNDP and APNSW (CASAM), Bangkok, 2015, retrieved 19 December 2018, http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/content/dam/rbap/docs/Research%20&%20Publications/hiv_aids/rbap-hhd-2015-the-rights-evidence-sex-work-violence-and-hiv-in-asia.pdf.

[2]      M Kloek and M Dijkstra, Sex Work, Stigma and Violence in the Netherlands, Aidsfonds, Amsterdam, 2018, https://www.soaaids.nl/sites/default/files/documenten/Prostitutie/Sex%20Work%20Stigma%20and%20Violence%20in%20the%20Netherlands%20Report%28digital%29.pdf.

[3]      E McKay, ‘World-first partnership between NZ Police and Prostitutes’ Collective’, NZ Herald, 17 December 2018, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12178217.

[4]      J Dorf, Sex Worker Health and Rights: Where is the funding?, Open Society Institute, New York, 2006, https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/where.pdf.

[5]      Mama Cash, Red Umbrella Fund and Open Society Foundations, Funding for Sex Worker Rights. Opportunities for foundations to fund more and better, Mama Cash/RUF, Amsterdam, 2014, https://www.redumbrellafund.org/report.

[6]      Ibid.

[7]      N van der Linde and S Bos, ‘Mind the Gap—What we learned about how funders can be moved in the right direction’, Alliance Magazine, 7 September 2016, https://www.alliancemagazine.org/blog/mind-the-gap-what-we-learned-about-how-funders-can-be-moved-in-the-right-direction.

[8]      CREA, NSWP and SHARP, Sex Work and Trafficking A Donor/Activist Dialogue on Rights and Funding, CREA, NSWP and SHARP, 2008, https://www.redumbrellafund.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Donor_Dialogue_Final_REPORT_December2008.pdf.

[9]      Red Umbrella Fund, The Creation of a Collaborative Fund for and by Sex Workers, 2017, https://www.redumbrellafund.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Red-Umbrella-Fund-The-creation-of-a-Collaborative-Fund.pdf.

[10]     See, for example, Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, Sex Workers Organising for Change: Self-representation, community mobilization, and working conditions, GAATW, Bangkok, 2018.

[11]     Ibid.; see also: W Volbehr, ‘Improving Anti-Trafficking Strategies: Why sex workers should be involved’, Open Democracy, 17 July 2017, https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/wendelijn-vollbehr/improving-anti-trafficking-strategies-why-sex-workers-should-be-inv.

[12]     NZPC, Our Right to Say Yes, Our Right to Say No, n.d., http://www.nzpc.org.nz/pdfs/Right-to-Say-Yes-or-No-Poster.pdf.