Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
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|Formation||August 13, 2003|
Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA (SWOP-USA) is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy. The organization was founded by Robyn Few on August 13, 2003, and their first major action was to organize the first annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (December 17) with the Green River Memorial for the victims of Gary Ridgway, the "Green River Killer."
The original Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) was founded in Australia and the United States (US) SWOP has developed into the largest sex worker rights organization in the country, with chapters active in Tucson, Arizona; Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles/UCLA, California; Sacramento, California; San Francisco, California; Denver, Colorado; New York City, New York; Seattle, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Portland, Oregon.
In 2004, SWOP spearheaded a voter ballot initiative to decriminalize prostitution in Berkeley, California. Other work focused on amending so-called "protective" legislation, like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 (and its reauthorization in 2005 with the new "End Demand" provisions), with the goal being to increase its efficacy in protecting trafficking victims, while decreasing the number of arrests of independent sex workers who have never been victims of human trafficking.
In April 2014, SWOP-Chicago activists attended a rally at the JW Marriott hotel in Chicago, where Amnesty International USA held its Human Rights Conference. The activists addressed a protest by a group that included Attorney General Lisa Madigan, former sex workers and others opposed to Amnesty International USA's discussion on the decriminalization of sex work. Donald Bierer, chairman of Amnesty USA’s Priority Subcommittee, stated to the media: "We think it’s great that people are having that conversation publicly in Chicago. This is what democracy looks like. What we’re hearing from both of these groups will inform whatever Amnesty ultimately does and says about the human rights of those who are engaged in sex work."
SWOP-Chicago has provided a variety of resources over the years including a monthly sex worker support group, free legal services, a warm line, trainings for providers and social service agencies working, social and community engagement events, street outreach, and sex worker art shows.
SWOP Sacramento was established by Kristen DiAngelo and Stacey Swimme on June 27, 2014 and is dedicated to reducing harm, improving healthcare, and upholding both the civil and human rights of sex workers and their communities. Its focus is on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy. It addresses the health and well-being of both trafficking victims and those engaged in survival sex. In conjunction with Safer Alternatives through Networking and Education (SANE), SWOP Sacramento conducted a needs assessment of sex workers in Sacramento. It found significant problems with homelessness, trafficking and survival sex by an underserved population. SWOP Sacramento has developed a program called Better Lives through Bundles that raises money to provide basic needs items for sex workers working on the street.
- Ann Harrison (22 December 2003). "San Francisco sex workers demand legal protection". The Age. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- "Home". SWOP Portland. SWOP Portland. 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Maudlyne Ihejirika (5 April 2014). "Protesters rally against sex-work discussion". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Raheem F. Hosseini (2 July 2015). "Sacramento's red-light district is a 9-mile trail of violence, disease and hopelessness—and it's busier than ever". Sacramento News & Review.