Newark, New Jersey On December 17, community members will gather in front of Newark City Hall in recognition of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This will be the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance’s (NJRUA) second public event in recognition of the day, and will be co-hosted this year by the African-American Office of Gay Concerns (AAOGC), a community based organization dedicated to HIV prevention among the greater Newark LGBTQ population.
Sex workers, their friends and allies will gather at 6PM in front of Newark City Hall where community members will recount instances of violence and call on public officials to enact change that allows sex workers to take action when they do experience violence. The demonstration will then move to AAOGC’s office, a few blocks away, where food will be provided for participants. An event flyer can be found by clicking here.
It is fitting that this message is sent out on December 10, International Human Rights Day. Social marginalization and criminalization creates an environment in which violence against sex workers is allowed to happen undeterred. When a sex worker faces violence, they are unlikely to report crimes committed against them due to a history of police violence and police inaction when crimes are reported. In 2006, four sex workers were found murdered in Atlantic City and nine years later their case still remains unsolved.
NJRUA recognizes that the most marginalized members of our community experience the most violence. According to the Sex Workers Outreach Project, of the 41 known sex workers killed in the United States this year, about a quarter of the victims were transgender women of color, and many others were women who had a history of drug use. Unfortunately, it is often people living on the intersections of oppression that bear the brunt of failed governance and social marginalization.
We call on policymakers to recognize and change the failed model of criminalizing the activities of sex workers and their clients. While discretion is given to local law enforcement agencies and individual officers to give amnesty for sex workers who report violent crimes, we call on local municipalities, counties and the state to enact legislation that gives blanket amnesty to any sex worker who does come forward to report acts of violence and to ensure their protection. We call on the public to embrace and love sex workers in their community, and to end the social marginalization that allows perpetrators of violence to act without thinking twice.
As we prepare for December 17, we remember all those whose lives we have lost. No longer will the community hide in the shadows and remain silent. We demand action for the living!