Sex Workers and Allies Translate, Edit + Design (SWAT) Project Launched


Katherine Koster from SWOP-USA and Matthias Lehmann from Research Project Germany have launched the Sex Workers and Allies Translate, Edit + Design (SWAT) project.

According to their announcement, which has so far been translated into 13 languages, “SWAT aims to become a network of sex workers and allies able to translate, edit and design reports, briefing papers, academic, blog and news articles, presentations, posters, or even photo captions to share sex work knowledge across cultural and language barriers.”

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Many sex work resources are only available in one or two languages. Sometimes, organisations are unable to translate them because they do not know anyone who can, or they do not want to ask because they do not have the funds or feel they have asked too often in the past. The SWAT project proposes a new kind of system.

SWAT is a way of connecting volunteers to organisations in need of translation, editing or graphic design services. It also proposes a way to track the amount of hours worked by volunteers so that when paid positions do come up, those who have volunteered the most are offered the job first.

 “We want to help reward people who are contributing a lot to the sex workers’ rights movement as volunteers by trying to make sure they have access to the few paid opportunities that come up,” Katherine Koster told NSWP.

“Don’t get us wrong, volunteerism is a good and valuable thing,” Matthias Lehmann added, “but if a person volunteers a lot, we think it’s nice if they’re offered a paid position once in a while.”

“If we bring sex worker activists from around the world together, who are native speakers of many different languages, to help each other translate and edit sex worker rights materials and literature, we will be a more connected, multi-lingual, and effective movement,” said Katherine.

“We've noticed that advocacy literature from certain parts of the world, especially in languages that aren't French, English, or Spanish, often isn't read or used by the global movement, which is unfortunate because there is amazing, important information in German or Hungarian or Polish or Korean or Hindi,” continued Katherine. “We hope this project will increase information-sharing across languages.” Matthias added, “There are so many courageous and creative Spanish- or Chinese-speaking sex worker activists, including migrants. We hope that SWAT will contribute to amplify their voices.”

Katherine and Matthias would like to encourage sex workers and allies to join the SWAT Facebook Group or reach out to the coordinators directly. They also stress that people do not have to be bilingual or have translation or editing experience to contribute, and encourage broad participation.