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Neon light. Berlin, Germany.
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The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella was first used as a symbol for sex worker solidarity at the 49th Venice Biennale of Art in Italy in 2001. Italian sex workers marched through the streets of Venice with red umbrellas as part of the “Prostitute Pavilion” and CODE:RED art installation by Slovenian artist Tadej Pogacar. The red umbrella march drew attention to the bad work conditions and human rights abuses sex workers faced. Four years later the red umbrella was adopted by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) where it became the emblem for resistance to discrimination. Since then the red umbrella has become the international icon for sex worker’s rights around the world. It symbolises protection from the abuse and intolerance faced by sex workers everywhere but it is also a symbol of their strength.

March 3rd – International Sex Workers’ Rights Day

The International Sex Workers’ Rights Day was founded in 2001 by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a sex worker collective in India. Over 25,000 sex workers gathered for that inaugural festival, and since then, participation the day is observed globally by sex workers and those showing solidarity to them.

“We felt strongly that that we should have a day what need to be observed by the sex workers community globally. Keeping in view the large mobilization of all types of global sexworkers [female, male, transgender], we proposed to observe 3rd March as the Sex Workers’ Rights Day.

Knowing the usual response of international bodies and views of academicians and intellectuals of the 1st world [many of them consider that sex workers of third world are different from 1st world and can’t take their decision] a call coming from a third world country would be more appropriate at this juncture, we believe. It will be a great pleasure to us if all of you observe the day in your own countries, too. We need your inspiration and support to turn our dreams into reality.” – Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (2002)

June 2nd – International Whores’ Day

The International Whores’ Day commemorates the occupation of the Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon by over hundred sex workers on 2 June 1975 to draw attention to their situation. The day has been celebrated annually since 1976. In the 1970s, French police kept sex workers under increasing pressure. The police reprisals increasingly forced women to work in secret. As a result, sex workers’ safety decreased and led to more violence against them. After two murders and the unwillingness of the government to improve the situation, sex workers in Lyon occupied the Saint-Nizier Church in Rue de Brest and went on strike. The police cleared the church after eight days. The event marks one of the starting points of the global sex workers’ right movement.

June 29th – Korean Sex Workers’ Day

On this day in 2005, Korean sex workers adopted the “National Solidarity of Sex Workers Day” in response to the passing of the Special Anti-Sex Trade Laws, adopted a year earlier, which include a Prevention Act and a Punishment Act that criminalise sex workers as well as their clients and third parties. (In 2016, the laws were upheld by the Constitutional Court.) Since then, the date is commemorated as Korean Sex Workers’ Day to honour all sex workers who have contributed to the struggle against sex workers’ discrimination. To learn more about human rights abuses against sex workers in South Korea, please visit Research Project Korea. You can also follow the project via Facebook and Twitter.

August 3rd – China Sex Worker Day

Founded in 2009 at the Chinese Grassroots Women’s Rights Center as a day to fight against discrimination against sex workers. (Source: NSWP)

December 17th – International Day To End Violence against Sex Workers

The International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers was created to call attention to crimes committed against sex workers all over the world.

“Originally conceptualized by Annie Sprinkle and initiated by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle, Washington, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has empowered workers from cities around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence. During the week of December 17th, sex worker rights organizations and their allies stage actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers.” – SWOP-USA – Click to continue reading.

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