The St James Infirmary (SJI) in San Francisco is running a poster campaign with the tag line of Someone you know is a sex worker. The campaign is their first major media campaign featuring local sex workers to raise public awareness about sex workers rights. The campaign is based on a number of photographs of sex workers with different slogans. St James wanted to run a bill board campaign, but like swaay found no advertising company would run it. Instead it is being run as posters in the public transport system and will be featured in an art exhibit and launch party at Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission Street, San Francisco, on October 16 2011 from 5–8pm.
The media campaign promotes SJI’s philosophy that social stigma contributes negatively to the health and wellness of sex workers. Their goals are to raise awareness of the important work of SJI and to educate the community that sex workers are equal members of society. The vast majority of media coverage on the topic of sex work focuses on sex trafficking, leaving little space for important coverage of other issues pertinent to sex workers. The statistics quoted by anti-trafficking media campaigns are often highly inflated and under-researched, as evidenced by the recent article “Real Men Get Their Facts Straight” by Martin Cizmar et al that appeared initially in the Village Voice and also in the SF Weekly (June 29, Volume 30 Number 23). SJI believes that biased research leads to harmful policies, and leads legislators to channel funding to law enforcement rather than housing and health care.
SJI opposes trafficking, but additionally seeks to give voice to the wide range of individuals who work in the sex industry by choice—including erotic dancers, escorts, adult film industry professionals, and street-based sex workers. They believe that sex workers themselves need to be heard on the issues facing their community, including lack of access to health care and city services, violence, oppression, stigmatization, and unequal treatment by law enforcement.
Coverage of this story appeared in the Huffingtonpost. The original source for this story is the SJI http://stjamesinfirmary.org/?page_id=1741.