Colorado’s sex workers have come up with a five-point plan to help them remain safer. It’s surprisingly pragmatic. Would you believe that getting police to stop arresting them is one of them?
Colorado’s sex workers have come up with a five-point plan to help them remain safer, and surprisingly pragmatic. It’s surprisingly pragmatic, because sex workers are legally vulnerable and fear retribution for supporting or supporting and learning about their rights. But for the trafficked, undocumented, and LGBT workers in particular, the “Safe Reporting” guarantee that the state hasn’t included is key: their safety hinges on being able to come forward, and so this guarantee would help legitimize their clients or clients’ identities.
Brody Stern, director of feminist strategy at Safe2Tell, the anti-trafficking hotline that has promised to enforce the Safe Reporting promise, first proposed the plan in response to conversations with sex workers, and decided it had to be included in the Safe Reporting guarantee.
Women’s safety organizations, particularly in Boulder County, where Brownstein lived before working in the sex industry, have come out as ardent advocates for decriminalization and sex worker rights. Sherri Christian, a sex worker who started a nonprofit that provides medical and emergency services for trans folks and sex workers (its name is INABASS), spoke to the state legislature about the policy.
Sex workers have a right to a safe environment so they can make a living and be healthy, and they need that support in law enforcement to catch traffickers and ensure that we are giving sex workers the protection they deserve. Whether it’s simply what we call a ‘hotline’, or the Safe Reporting – Colorado guarantee – that would make a difference in sexual violence survivors’ lives. It’s the way to build safer sex worker cultures that looks like a real safety network that has every service provider, from the sex worker organizations to police, trained and equipped to deal with the needs of survivors and not see them as victims.
Sex Workers’ rights is more than a political fight. It is a safety issue. [Barrett Brownstein]