March 14, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY
As representatives of U.S.-based sex worker rights organizations prepare to travel to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland next week to call for greater human rights protections, human rights violations against sex workers and people profiled as such continue in New Jersey. The New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance - an organization dedicated to defending the human rights of sex workers in New Jersey — is expressing deep concern about the arrest and detention of two women of color in Hackensack after an overnight police sting operation. NJRUA is calling on the media to respect the gender identity of the women and to refer to the women by their preferred gender pronouns. “Using terms such as ‘transvestite’ and referring to a person who is presenting as a women as ‘he’ is discriminatory,” notes Derek Demeri of NJRUA, “Arresting people profiled as sex workers does nothing to help them. We need harm reduction and rights based services for those in need, not arrest and public humiliation.”
The problem of violence perpetrated by law enforcement and security in New Jersey has been highlighted by the current case being brought against an Essex County Sheriff’s officer. Last month officer Dinis Oliveria used both his badge and a handgun to intimidate a Newark woman and then forced her to have sex by threatening her with arrest for being profiled as a sex worker. Media has reported on the case by repeatedly referring to his alleged victim as “a prostitute” - an insulting and inappropriate term. This type of police behavior has also been documented in New Jersey in a shadow report to the United Nations. “This violence must end,” said Janet Duran of NJRUA, “The media in NJ should treat victims of crime with greater respect.”
NJRUA advocates will continue to highlight the rights violations experienced by NJ sex workers — and people profiled as such.