Tomorrow marks the seventh annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, celebrated every year on December 17th; vigils and demonstrations are being held across the world to honor those who have been assaulted or, in too many cases, who have died during the past year.
The annual event began in 2003 as a memorial for the four Seattle prostitutes murdered by Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer; in his guilty plea, he told the court that he targeted prostitutes specifically because he knew no one would notice that they were missing.
From the national chapter of the Sex Workers Outreach Project:
Unequal protection under the law is what allows prostitutes to be pimped, enslaved, beaten, raped and murdered. If decriminalized, sex workers would have access to protection from criminals just like every other citizen. In addition, enormous amounts of public safety revenues are spent enforcing sex “crimes” that occur in private, in which the participants are consenting and there is no victim.
Vigils are scheduled across the US, Canada, and Australia, as well as in places as far-flung as Hong Kong and Bangladesh. There’s nothing scheduled for Providence, unfortunately, though there is a vigil in Boston honoring Julissa Brisman. As you probably recall, Brisman died in April at the hands of the so-called Craigslist Killer.
Another vigil and protest is scheduled for Tucson, where a mentally impaired woman named Marcia Powell died while serving a twenty-seven month sentence for solicitation of oral sex. Prison guards locked her in an outdoor holding cage without shade or water in triple-digit temperatures.
Since indoor prostitution was criminalized in Rhode Island last month, fourteen arrests have been made in two sting operations. Surprisingly, police have yet to raid any of the area spas, which people kept insisting were hotbeds of crime and trafficking; instead, they have mainly been trolling Craigslist, and (to their credit, I suppose) have arrested more men soliciting sex than women offering it.