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Thousands of sex workers and sex worker-led organisations will gather to remember sex workers who have lost their lives during 2017

December 17 2017 marks International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (#IDEVASW). The day remembers those sex workers who have lost their lives in the last year, which in 2016, was a list that included more than 150 sex workers who were murdered between 1 January and 1 December.

This year, events will take place over two days to mark IDEVASW:

Sunday 17 December

The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) and the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) will be holding a sex worker-only vigil, with details to follow.

Monday 18 December

On Monday, there will be a public event from 12-2pm. The ECP and SWARM will build a memorial in New Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament with a roll call of those killed since 2016.

The 18 December also marks the closing date for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) inquiry into “pop-up brothels”. The ECP and SWARM invite MPs and APPG members to join them and speak to sex workers from around the world.

The APPG is currently proposing that the UK further criminalise the sex work industry.

Violence against sex workers is at epidemic proportions. A 2014 study found that 77% of street based sex workers and 17% of inside workers had suffered violent attacks. Evidence, including from Amnesty International, shows that prostitution laws, “make sex workers less safe and provide impunity for abusers with sex workers often too scared of being penalized to report crime to the police.”

Evidence that austerity cuts have increased prostitution must also be heeded. The ECG calls on the government to implement the Home Affairs Committee recommendations to:

“[C]hange existing legislation so that soliciting is no longer an offence and so that brothel-keeping provisions allow sex workers to share premises” and that legislation should be drafted to provide for the “deletion of previous convictions and cautions for prostitution from the record of sex workers”.

All are welcome to join ECP and SWARM at New Palace Yard on 18 December

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Danielle Mustarde

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