The Legal Aid Society of New York and the law firm Cleary Gottlieb have launched a constitutional challenge on behalf of women of colour, many of whom are transgender, who have been wrongly arrested under New York Penal Law Section 240.37. “The plaintiffs challenge Section 240.37, loitering for the purpose of prostitution, because it is unconstitutional on its face and also because it is unlawfully enforced by NYPD officers who target women for arrest based on race, gender, ethnicity, gender identity, and/or appearance,” says the Society. The Society goes on to note that, “under Section 240.37, a woman can be improperly arrested and detained simply because an officer takes issue with her clothing or appearance and decides that her purpose is to engage in prostitution.”
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.
Sex workers and sex worker rights organisations in the United States are joining many HIV/AIDS, LGBT, and other civil society organisations to oppose Proposition 60 – “The California Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act.”
“The sex worker community has really stepped up,” says Alex Andrews when referring to the success of SWOP Behind Bars, which launched in late April of 2016. “It’s so awesome to see sex workers do tangible things like donating a book to an incarcerated sex worker and writing a letter. I mean that’s a lost art!
In May of 2009, Marcia Powell died after being tortured in an Arizona prison. She was a 48-year-old woman who was sentenced to 27 months in prison for doing street based sex work.
Sharmus Outlaw, declared Most Amazing HIV-Positive People of 2016 by HIV Plus Magazine, died on the 8th of July from cancer. Outlaw is currently being honoured by her devoted colleagues at the Desiree Alliance Conference for the very session she planned: Trans Rights, Sex Work, HIV, Resilience and Organizing.
On the 20th of May in Brantford, Ontario (Canada), a report was released by Dr. Stacey Hannem and the organisation REAL that assesses the needs of rural sex workers. The report is called “Let’s Talk About Sex Work: Report of the REAL working group for Brantford, Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk. Assessing the Needs of Sex Workers in Our Communities.” The full report is available here.
The Desiree Alliance Conference is an event many sex workers and allies attend if they are capable of travelling to and within the United States. It is an opportunity to network, skill share, learn and advocate for the rights of sex workers. This year’s conference is from 10-15 July, 2016 in New Orleans. The preliminary conference schedule is available here.
On the 11th of June, Canadian sex workers and their allies are mobilising in a National Day of Action. In June of 2013, as a response to Bedford v. Canada and the lack of sex worker representation during the debates around anti-sex work legislation being introduced, sex workers, sex worker rights groups and their allies across the country came together to raise awareness around the need for evidence-based sex work law reform.
Dr. Kamala Kempadoo made local news in Barbados after calling for the decriminalisation of sex work in the Caribbean.
An Oklahoma sex worker has pleaded guilty to charges after being caught on camera by a vigilante’s drone camera. NSWP has chosen not to reproduce the sex worker’s name to reduce the harm of media visibility in her case. She has been sentenced to one year in state prison for the misdemeanor charge. Her alleged client’s case remains pending.
An Oklahoma City resident has made it his personal mission to surveil sex workers and post the footage on his website and YouTube Channel. In this case, he also sent the footage to the police.