SWOP Tampa’s first international interview & International Sex Workers’ Rights Day 2015

SWOP Tampa Bay’s first major interaction with the media coincided with March 3rd, which is International Sex Workers’ Rights Day.

We had a live interview with Radio Caaracol, a Miami- based radio station that is affiliated with stations in Colombia and Spain. The reporter, Juan Salas, was eager to get SWOP’s perspective on the recent news of  Stephen Johnson, Miami Gardens chief of police.  He was arrested for soliciting a prostitute when he answered an ad and the provider turned out to be an undercover cop from a neighboring police department. Johnson immediately apologized resigned.

This news comes at a time when the Miami Gardens police department is facing accusations of sexual harassment and also, during a time pf public outcry about a mentally ill man who was shot and killed by police.

The interview went very quickly. It was nerve-wracking for me to speak as a sex worker advocate, as this type of advocacy is new to me and can be easily misconstrued. I learned that even if it is off topic, I must get all my important points out right away, directly after being asked the first question, or I may not have time to make those points later.

It was a good first try for us in SWOP Tampa though.

Here are some of the points I wanted to make about this story (with much help from my fellow advocates Susan, Lindsay and Savannah.)

–This police chief was popular. he had cleaned up corruption in his department and was now facing more tough issues. He engaged in a an activity between two consenting adults (not minors or trafficked women). is this really a good use of city resources–to publicly shame this man?

–The average arrest costs something like $4,000 in tax payer money. meanwhile, the crime rate in Miami gardens is high, which includes the domestic violence rate. Is the police force using its resources to really protect folks who are in danger or is simply making an arrest that will be sensational, for a crime that caused harm to no one…? Lawyers, judges, and politicians have long been famous for bring escorts. Why is it still a priority to go after these clients? Who is it really helping? As in Johnson’s case, it very often has nothing to do with “getting violent criminals off the streets”.

–The woman Johnson hired was advertising as an escort on Backpage.com. It is not illegal to advertise as an escort of to be a paid companion. Now, with the hype of the Johnson case, escorts who depend on their work to feed, clothe and shelter their families, to pay for school, etc, will be forced into taking more unsafe risks, seeing more potentially “dangerous” clients, or lose their livelihood all together. Johnson’s arrest will not end demand, but escorts may be forced now to see more marginal clients, clients who are actually a threat to the community. Does Johnson’s arrest really help women? What about the women who are regularly sexually harassed by cops?  Is this justice or is just morality for the sake of scandal? 

–There are thousands of transactions made like this every day. Does it really make sense to arrest thousands of people? This also adds to incarceration costs.

SWOP advocates for the basic human rights of escorts and other workers in the adult industry. One way to get better human rights and safer conditions is to work toward decriminalization–where cleats and providers are given options and protections within a regulated structure–instead of endless amounts of tax payer being wasted on stings that do not get to the root of supply or demand.

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@SWOPTampaArea Join in the international conversation around the sex workers’ rights movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Observing International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

This week (Dec. 17/2014), sex workers and their allies across the world observed International Day to end Violence Against Sex Workers. Whether or not people like the idea of sex workers (sex workers being those who are prostitues, strippers, escorts, those growing in alternative sexual helaht fields such as erotic massage, and porn actors, for instance), most people can agree that sex work, the world’s oldest profession, is made up of human laborers who have basic human rights. That means, the right to police protection, respectful language in the media, healthcare, shelter, and other needs.

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Sex Workers Outreach Project of the  Tampa Bay Area  is very new to the sex worker social justice community. In fact, we are the only SWOP chapter to exist in the Southern states. Our mission is to call to attention that fact that people working in the sex industry, are just that, people…and they deserve basic human rights. We commit to holding a virtual pressence, here on this website and on Facebook, while we strive to grow strong in numbers. Many SWOP Tampa members actually live scattered across the state and so it is difficult for us all to come together in person.

For now, let this post serve as our observance of IDEVAS.

This autumn, there were three gruesome sex work murders. Two were in Jacksonville and one was in Titusville. Respectively, they were  Angelia Mangum (19) and Tjisha Ball (18). They were thrown from an overpass, there naked bodies bound together. They worked as exotic dancers, and to date, very little has been done to find their killer. You can read more about it here.

 

unnamedThere was also Jennifer Hedges (24), mother to a 5-year-old. Her murderer has been convicted.

Let us come together to advocate for safer conditions and create a support network. You do not need to be an outspoken advocate to join us, just someone who has a heartfelt stake in the cause.

 

–Buttons Berry

 

 

 

Celebrate March 3rd with Self-Care for Adult Entertainers!

Celebrate International Sex Workers’ Rights Day with massage, Reiki, breathwork

Advocacy and social acceptance starts with the self and massage therapists, erotic educators, dancers and other people in the adult entertainment biz don’t often have the time, funds or sense of trust to get the self-care they need. So, come sip wine or smoothies with us, nibble chocolates and get free shoulder massages, Reiki and deep breathing guidance. Meet new friends and help us plan for future events. Adult entertainer allies welcome. Festive, rejuvenating community vibe, no hardcore partying stress.

Gathering goes till midnight and is walking distance from downtown St. Pete night life!

Read about the hsitory of this empowerment day here.

Email swoptampastpete@gmail.com or call 727 280 6778 for details and EXACT LOCATION.

 

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In light of much news about the Floirda MBI and sex traficking,

SWOP Tampa Bay would like to say that while every effort should be made to prevent the trafficking of adults and children into the sex market (or any other labor market), SWOP maintains that sex work is not synonymous with human trafficking. SWOP supports all workers involved in the sex industry–either by choice, coercion, or circumstance. SWOP does not recruit sex workers nor does it try to rescue them. SWOP Tampa Bay exists as a network of current and former sec workers and their allies, as a community resource.

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Some gorgeous images from SWOP events around the world!

Since we are so new, we have not had a chance to take our own photos. Here is a lfyer for our first SWOP event, in honor of a national day to promote healing and safety in the sexual entertainment industry.

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Please come, we can’t wait to meet you!

Meanwhile, here are images from SWOP events and events from related groups all over the world. They don’t belong to us. You can find them by doing a Google search for “sex worker rights”. In other parts of the world, the term “sex worker” has come to mean “empowered adult entertainer. These photos show that.

 

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 Thanks to Eros Guide for putting money towards events for Dec. 17, 2013!

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