International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is observed annually on December 17 by sex workers, their advocates, friends, families and allies. Originally conceived as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington, United States (US), it has evolved into an annual international event. The day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers worldwide, as well as the need to remove the social stigma and discrimination that have contributed to violence against sex workers and indifference from the communities they are part of. Sex worker activists also state that custom and prohibitionist laws perpetuate such violence.


First observed in 2003,[1] the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was founded by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA),[1] an American sex worker rights organization. In a public letter, Sprinkle states:

Violent crimes against sex workers go underreported, unaddressed and unpunished. There really are people who don't care when prostitutes are victims of hate crimes, beaten, raped, and murdered. No matter what you think about sex workers and the politics surrounding them, sex workers are a part of our neighborhoods, communities and families.[2]

Logo of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Red umbrella symbol[edit]

The red umbrella is an important symbol for sex worker rights and is used for events that are held on December 17. The red umbrella symbol was first used by sex workers in Venice, Italy in 2001. Slovenian artist Tadej Pogacar collaborated with sex workers to create the "Prostitute Pavillion" and CODE: RED art installation for the 49th Venice Biennale of Art. Sex workers also held a street demonstration, the Red Umbrellas March, to protest inhumane work conditions and human rights abuses.[3]

The International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) adopted the red umbrella as a symbol of resistance to discrimination in 2005. A corresponding march was organised as the closing event to the European Conference on Sex Work, Human Rights, Labour and Migration conference, held in Brussels, Belgium, at which almost 200 participants appeared.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Susan Blake (17 December 2003). "Candlelight Vigil Calls for an End to Violence Against Sex Workers International Memorial Day Focuses Attention on Violence Against Sex Workers" (PDF). Urban Justice Center. Sex Workers Project. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "A public letter from Annie Sprinkle". 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Under the Red Umbrella". Intl. Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE). Intl. Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE). 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

  • [1] - December 17 Events aim to raise outrage at violence against sex workers and strengthen sex worker communities and responses to the systematic, daily violence and exclusion sex workers experience.
  • [2] - A group of current and former sex workers, sex trafficking victims, and our allies working towards safety and protection in Alaska’s sex industry.