Sex Worker-Led Organisation formed in Iceland

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European Regional Correspondent

Iceland adopted the harmful “Swedish Model” in 2009, which criminalises the clients of sex workers.. There is no sex worker-led organisation or service provider for sex workers in Iceland. Stígamót - Education and Counseling Center for Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Violence - is the only organisation that provides services to sex workers. However, they consider all sex workers as victims of violence.

Loi, who was interviewed by NSWP’s Regional Correspondent in Europe, says, “During the Pride week I took part in a talk about sex work and trafficking and the difference between them. People don't want to speak out here, so I am on my own. There is a lot of shame to overcome”

“I also contacted IWW- Iceland (Industrial Workers of the World) asking if they would be interested in supporting me in organising sex workers in Iceland. They answered ‘definitely’”, continued Loi.

On the 30 of July IWW organised a meeting for sex workers, their supporters and decriminalisation activists.

"We want to support sex workers working in Iceland to seek better working conditions, as well as to fight the dangerous Swedish model laws which are currently in operation… Virtually all nations have laws that severely restrict the freedom of sex workers to organize. Sometimes their entire profession is subject to criminalization.

It does not matter much whether the state has decided to formally prosecute those who purchase or those who sell sexual services: The result is that the workers are subject to police harassment, legal penalties, homelessness and/or loss of child custody, as well as being prevented from speaking out in public and organizing effectively.

In the worst cases sex workers are forced "underground" to rely on the ‘protection’ of criminal and sometimes violent networks" states IWW on their Facebook page.

“Seven people came to the meeting on the 30 of July. We were very strict with who we gave the location to due to the sensitive nature of the meeting and to keep identities of any sex workers present safe.  We discussed decriminalisation and the harmfulness of the Swedish model, as well as formally deciding to set up a solidarity fund. We also agreed on strategies to reach out to workers, which are being put into action currently”, said Loi.

“We have created the solidarity fund for sex workers. I’ve made badges that we’re selling for donations. There’s been an overwhelming amount of interest in donating and everyone wants a badge or 10. The next step is to create an online crowd funder so people anywhere can donate and show solidarity. The money we raise will firstly go to sex workers who approach us needing help with medical bills or childcare because those things are expensive here. Then when there is more money it will  act as a more general pot of money sex workers can access for anything they need”, adds Loi.

Loi is planning to officially register the sex worker organisation in Iceland and wishes to join NSWP.