Regional updates: North America and the Caribbean
Our members are listed on the left or you can click the red umbrellas on the map.
Regional Board Members
Shaunna-May Trotman (Guyana Sex Work Coalition), Guyana
Natasha Potvin (Peers Victoria Resources Society), Canada
NSWP Regional Network
The Caribbean Sex Workers Coalition (CSWC) is a regional network of organisations representing female, male and transgender sex workers. It was founded in 2011 and is based in Georgetown, Guyana.
News articles from North America and Caribbean region are listed below.
In the state of Alaska in the United States, a legal battle over the right of police officers to engage in sexual conduct with sex workers before arresting them is bringing public attention to a national issue. Two bills HB112/SB73 introduced earlier this year would add an addendum to expand the definition of sexual assault to include instances of “peace officers” engaging in sexual conduct or penetration with a perpetrator that they are in the process of investigating.
The Winnipeg Working Group for Sex Workers’ Rights is speaking out against claims that a major sporting event will increase “sex trafficking” in their city. In the lead up to the Grey Cup, a football event, government officials have set up over $45,000 CAD worth of funds to combat “human trafficking” in Winnipeg. The funds will be used to set up a phone hotline and an awareness campaign called Buying Sex is Not a Sport.
Local LGBT, sex worker, and Haitian women’s groups are speaking out against the violation of their rights in the Dominican Republic, reports Diario Libre. Haitian women and members of the LGBT community are often cited as victims of “sex trafficking” in the Dominican Republic. Many work in the sex industry due to job discrimination. NSWP’s Briefing Paper, Sex Work is Not Trafficking, explores this topic.
Squirt, a Canadian gay sex website owned by Pink Triangle Press, announced October 21st that they have pulled escort ads from their service according to Daily Xtra.
NSWP, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, emphatically condemns the actions of the USA’s Department of Homeland Security and federal prosecutors in New York for the raid on the offices of Rentboy.com and the arrests of seven of its staff members.
This action appears to be a blatant, morally-driven discriminatory attack on gay consensual sex. The New York Times Editorial Board have stated that the criminal complaint that resulted in this raid was ‘so saturated with sexually explicit details, it’s hard not to interpret it as an indictment of gay men as being sexually promiscuous.’ Many USA activists, LGBT community members and commentators have highlighted the increasing climate of homophobia that they identify as having accompanied the tenures of Mayor De Blasio and the Commissioner of NYPD, William Bratton.
NSWP’s opposes all forms of criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work (including sex workers, clients, third parties, families, partners and friends). The term ‘third parties’ includes managers, brothel keepers, receptionists, maids, drivers, landlords, hotels who rent rooms to sex workers and anyone else who is seen as facilitating sex work. Sex workers and our allies actively campaign for full decriminalisation of sex work for a number of reasons, including promoting safe working conditions and labour rights for sex workers; Increase access to health services and reduce sex workers’ risk of HIV and STIs; Increase sex workers’ access to justice; Reduce police abuse and violence; Help to tackle exploitation and coercion when it does occur.
Sex workers need to be able to communicate openly with clients and managers without constantly fearing arrest, police harassment or worse. Sex workers often use advertising websites to screen clients for their own safety.
The timing of this raid could not be more acutely out-of-step with the overwhelming body of evidence and the findings of international bodies such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, who recommend that governments should work towards the decriminalisation of sex work and The Lancet which recently published a special series on HIV and Sex Workers, which also recommends the decriminalisation of sex work.
Amnesty International’s global movement recently voted to adopt a policy to protect the human rights of sex workers, including the full decriminalisation of sex work at their International Council meeting this August. Amnesty joins a growing list of other major international agencies such as the World Health Organization, Human Rights Watch and the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women in the call for decriminalisation of sex work.
You can download this 2 page statement below.
Geneva- Representatives of U.S..-based sex worker rights organisations will travel to Geneva, Switzerland next week, March 15-21st, to meet with members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), and to call for greater human rights protections. As the HRC prepares for a review of the U.S.’ human rights record later this spring, civil society organisations from throughout the U.S.. are travelling to Geneva to educate members about violations of civil, political, economic and social human rights in the U.S..
On January 26th, an Arizona appeals court overturned Monica Jones’ conviction of intent to commit prostitution. Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen found a lower court had denied Jones a fair trial by doubting her credibility (the judge in her trial, Judge Hercules, had said she was not a “credible” witness because she had a prior conviction for prosecution).
Shannon Williams, a tireless advocate for sex worker rights, died on January 20th in San Francisco. She was 48 years old and had been taken off life support upon her request following complications from a recently discovered brain tumour.