Tag Archives: violence

In Memory December 17th 2016


Videos shown:

2008 DC March:  https://vimeo.com/81905792

HIPS 2012:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51XI9XyGuv8

Asia Pacific Series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLXnXrJefVnLJe-1ZMrq-GK7qHF_yMwoUH&v=O3XG5565ow4

SWOP Denver Holds Vigil in Remembrance for International Day to End Violence, December 17th, 2015

List of memorialized names.  Warning:  contains details of deaths as well as names and in some cases images of the deceased.

December 17 names 2015


Media coverage of event.

KGNU covers Denver event


2015 Events.


Videos shown.


Additional videos.

(Above includes 8 linked videos from APNSW)






SWOP Denver

Rachel Carlisle





Denver, Colorado – SWOP Denver commends Amnesty International for calling today for the full decriminalization of sex work, including the removal of criminal penalties against “prostitution,” “soliciting,” “patronizing a prostitute,” “promoting prostitution,” “loitering with intent” or “prostitute making display,” “brothel-keeping,” and more. The vote was finalized on August 11th at the 2015 International Council Meeting in Dublin, Ireland. Amnesty International joins several other international human rights and health groups including Human Rights Watch, the World Health Organization, and UNAIDS in calling for the full decriminalization of sex work. The decision has been lauded by the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, which includes 237 organizations in 71 countries, including SWOP Denver, and whose petition in support of Amnesty’s draft policy garnered over 10,000 signatures. The resolution did not contain any recommendations for removing criminal penalties against forced or coerced labor or trafficking, and encouraged governments to take steps to ensure protection against the exploitation of children.

“We want to offer our sincere gratitude to Amnesty International for voting to uphold our human rights,” said Rachel Carlisle of SWOP Denver. “Decriminalization is essential to our efforts to fight for our rights and against violence, stigma, discrimination, and mistreatment.” SWOP Denver is a group of current and former sex workers and allies who are organizing for rights and justice. SWOP Denver’s activities include the maintenance of a “Bad Date List” of violent clients and holding events such as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th of each year.

The purpose of the resolution is to “adopt a policy that seeks attainment of the highest possible protection of the human rights of sex workers” and it is the result of two years of consultation with members and human rights advocates, including Amnesty’s own independent research into the impact of legal models on the rights, health, and safety of sex workers in Argentina, Norway, Hong Kong, and Papua New Guinea. This research confirms the findings of many other researchers and human rights groups. Amnesty notes, “[s]ex workers are criminalised and negatively affected by a range of sex work laws—not just those on the direct sale of sex.” In Norway, laws against “promoting” prostitution make sex workers working together for safety into criminals, and police interventions such as “Operation Homeless” “ led to the systematic and rapid eviction of many sex workers from their places of work and homes.” The name of this intervention calls to mind the US DOJ’s “Operation Chokepoint,” in which the personal bank accounts of sex workers and other groups of people were seized.

The medical journal The Lancet, in their 2014 series on HIV and sex workers, concluded that the decriminalization of sex work in all settings would avert 33-46% of HIV infections in the next decade. The Lancet also states that criminalization increases the risk of violence and abuse by clients, police, and the public, and decreases sex workers’ access to human rights such as healthcare. The conflation of sex work and trafficking is common but “clouds the issue of safety for sex workers” and leads to “difficulties with definition and harm to sex workers on the ground” as well as “conflicts that undermine HIV prevention.” They also note that the “self-regulatory board (SRB) developed by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (Sonagachi, India) and replicated by Ashodaya Samithi (Mysore, India) reports better antitrafficking and antiviolence results at every stage—identification, protection, case management, and follow-up—compared with the raid and rescue model.”

In a letter of support for Amnesty International’s draft policy, UNAIDS director Michel Sidibé wrote, “It is Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International, who reminded us that “the candle burns not for us, but for all those whom we failed.” Sex workers are among those whose rights we have failed to protect. I urge you and the Amnesty International Council to keep the candle burning for them until their rights are upheld and their humanity fulfilled.”


SWOP Denver Supports the Memorial and Remembrance of Slain Transgender People in 2014

The Gender Identity Center of Colorado will hold a celebration of life for the transgender women and men who died at the hands of others during this past year at the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden at 7pm. SWOP Denver will be there as always to show our support. There is always overlap with the members of our community who we memorialize on December 17th.

SWOP Denver Supports the Memorial and Remembrance of Slain Transgender People in 2013

For Immediate Release


SWOP Denver Supports the Memorial and Remembrance of Slain Transgender People in 2013

Denver, CO

The Gender Identity Center of Colorado will hold a celebration of life for the transgender women and men who died at the hands of others during this past year at the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th at Jefferson Unitarian Church in Golden at 7pm. SWOP Denver recognizes and values the transgender members of our communities and all transgender people everywhere. Transgender people, particularly transgender women, are overrepresented in our community due to the many difficulties society places in the paths and lives of transgender people.

In particular, we would like to remember and honor Dora Oezer, a female transgender sex worker who was murdered by a customer in her home in Turkey on July 2nd. Dora Oezer will be memorialized this year during both the Transgender Day of Remembrance and at SWOP Denver’s December 17th memorial for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

On July 12th, the Turkish sex workers rights organization Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Association held a protest and read a press release in Ankara about Dora’s murder and transphobic and whorephobic murders in general. On July 19th, Dora’s murder and the murder of Swedish sex worker and sex workers rights activist Petite Jasmine inspired an international wave of protests against violence against sex workers in thirty six cities across the globe outside of Turkish and Swedish embassies.

Event Details

Host: Gender Identity Center of Colorado
What: Transgender Day of Remembrance

Where: Jefferson Unitarian Church,
14350 W 32nd Ave,Golden CO
When: 7pm November 20th

Event Details

Host: SWOP Denver
What: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Where: The Bakery, 2132 Market Street, Denver CO

When: 6pm December 17th

About SWOP Denver: SWOP Denver is the Denver chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project. We are a grassroots organization that provides peer support and advocates for the human and labor rights of sex workers and people who trade sex. We have monthly member meetings, educational and memorial events, and social get togethers. We also collaborate on weekly street outreach and coordinate a bad date line.


Denver Speech for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Hi, I’m Robin,

And I’m Angelika

And we’re with the Sex Workers Outreach Project – Denver.

Robin:  This is the 8th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and the 2nd Annual Denver event.  Today, we remember those we have lost to violence, oppression, and hatred.  Whether perpetrated by clients, opportunistic serial killers, partners, pimps or traffickers, the police, or the state, we must stand against the cycle of violence experienced by sex workers around the world.

Angie:  This day was founded in 2003 to memorialize and honor the sex workers who were murdered by Oregon serial killer Gary Ridgway who said, “I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed.  I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing.  I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without being caught.”  The song Deep Red Bells by Neko Case, which we played during our slideshow, was created to memorialize Ridgway’s victims as well.

Robin:  And that quote by Gary Ridgway really illustrates a lot of what we’re up against.  We’re seen as easy victims, particularly vulnerable.  Gary Ridgway, also called the Green River Killer, took advantage of the stigma around sex work, the fact that so many sex workers can’t be out to their loved ones, and the fact that we are seen as disposable, almost as refuse (garbage).  Stigma is a really powerful thing.

Angie:  There’s some good news, though.  This past spring, the U.S. approved recommendation number 86 made by Uruguay during the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review to “pay particular attention to the rights and vulnerabilities of sex workers.”  This was the first time the U.S. was subject to this review, and they gave the following response:  “We agree that no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on sexual orientation or their status as a person in prostitution, as this recommendation suggests.”  In response, sex workers rights activists organized a number of “86 the violence” events around the country, and we’re going to show you a video of the Denver event.

[show the video of the Denver event]

Robin:  This U.N. recommendation marks the first time that the U.S. has specifically denounced violence and discrimination against persons within the sex industry as distinct from the issue of human trafficking.  Sex workers who are not trafficking victims also face huge issues in their lives, including the effects of violence and criminalization, especially the varied effects of prostitution arrests or convictions on housing, custody, immigration, and future job applications.  If a person with prostitution convictions is hired the convictions can lead to discrimination and harassment on the job.  Sex workers are often the victims of police violence, including forcible rape and offers to not arrest sex workers in exchange for sexual services, which is also highly coercive.  Sex workers also often face discrimination in accessing services such as health services.  While sex workers can be or become victims of pimps and/or traffickers (I personally identify both as a former sex worker and as a former victim of violence and coercion in the sex trade by a third party), sex workers who are not victims of pimps or traffickers face huge issues as well.  “The U.S. has finally acknowledged that sex workers face issues separate from those of human trafficking victims,” said Natalie Brewster Nguyen, an artist and member of the Sex Workers Outreach Project of Tucson. “We were long overdue for the United States to take the needs of sex workers seriously, particularly the need to stem violence and discrimination,” says attorney Sienna Baskin, Co-Director of Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York.

Angie:  We are now going to show you a video of the 2008 March on Washington.  This march took place on December 17th.

[show video of March on Washington]

Angie:  We hold out hope for a better world.  One where sex workers are free from violence and are not criminalized or looked down on.  A world where people may exchange sexual labor for money if they wish to, and have appropriate and non-coercive services available to them if they do not.  A world where violence against sex workers is taken as seriously as violence against anyone else, where that violence is not excused as part of the job but is seen as unacceptable.  A world with labor rights and human rights for sex workers.  As they say, “only rights can stop the wrongs.’

Robin:  We also don’t want our customers to be criminalized even when they are not violent.  There’s a big push in the U.S. for “End Demand” legislation which increases penalties on johns and creates “john schools.”  Advertising venues are also being targeted.  You have to keep in mind that when you decrease demand, sex workers have to compete for scarcer and scarcer customers.  This gives the customers more power to demand unsafe sex practices, and those who are left tend to be more violent.  Sex workers also have to meet customers in more remote locations to avoid the police, which also increases their vulnerability to violence.  This legislation also, obviously, makes it more difficult for sex workers to meet their survival needs.  The sex workers who are most affected by this are survival sex workers and street sex workers.

Angie:  While possibly well-intentioned, these policies cause a lot of harm.  The people pushing this legislation claim to want to see sex work decriminalized for the sex worker, but the legislation they push through doesn’t do this.  Prostitution is still illegal in Colorado, and being an HIV+ sex worker is still a felony.  Felony convictions make it even more difficult to leave sex work, and most HIV+ sex workers are survival sex workers.  They also may not be exposing anyone to HIV, as there are a number of low-risk and zero-risk activities that still violate Colorado’s prostitution laws.

Robin:  I just want to bring this back around to our memorial for sex workers who have been victims and survivors of violence.  This is a very somber day and I want everyone to just take a moment to reflect on and honor victims and survivors.  [pause]  And now, we will have the reading of the names of those we have lost.  I especially want to honor Shelly Jay Resnick, who was one of our own, a dedicated sex workers rights activist.  Shelly took her own life in an Oregon correctional facility.  And now, the names.

[reading of the names]

Robin:  And now we’re going to have a speakout.  If anyone has any poems, writings, or anything you would like to say, please come up.  I would like to start it off with a poem that was written for December 17th, in response to the murders by Gary Ridgway:

Green River Cry  By Daisy Anarchy

Robin:  If anyone else would like to share, please come up now.


Angie:  Thank you.  To wrap up our event for the evening and to end on a slightly lighter note, we will show the video Every Ho I Know Says So.  This video was created as a resource for lovers and partners of sex workers.  This especially goes out to those of you who have had sex workers in your lives who you’ve loved.

[show Every Ho I Know Says So].

Highlights and speeches from the first National March for Sex Worker Rights in Washington DC held on December 17, 2008.