Rights, Not Rescue: A Response to AF3IRM in Defense of DSA Resolution #53

Red Canary Song
Aug 2 · 25 min read
DecrimNY Canvassing Team
DecrimNY Canvassing Team
DecrimNY canvassing team, featuring members of NYC SocFem
Cambodian garment workers and sex workers unite in solidarity actions to protest the forced “rehabilitation” of sex workers in sweat shop labor camps. Please watch this video made by the grassroots sex worker advocacy group, Women’s Network for Unity in Cambodia.
Cambodian sex workers protest against American anti-trafficking laws that have led to violent police raids and unlawful, abusive detention of sex workers in labor camps formerly used by Khmer Rouge. (Human Rights Watch reports) Sex workers in Thailand also created community-led research and wrote this statement against American anti-trafficking “rescue” imperialism, which has led to deaths by police violence and increased exploitation in sex trades pushed further underground.
Red Canary Song — vigil for migrant sex worker Yang Song, who died in November 2017 during a police raid.
Indian construction workers forced to work in Dubai — according to the ILO, the most deadly and common forms of human trafficking is not in the sex trades but actually in construction and farming, which are both also punitive forms of (gendered) bodily labor. Domestic workers also face labor exploitation and sexual abuse from employers. To tackle force, fraud, or coercion, we have to empower migrant workers to organize and legislate against these forms of exploitation, across industries. Criminalizing the purchase of farmed produce or raiding the private homes would not help trafficked farmers or domestic workers. Why would these broad and violent tactics help people trafficked in sex trades?
This is our modern day prostitutes’ resistance movement. We are organizing against exploitation and violence, to transfer power to workers. Dear sisters at AF3IRM, why, oh why, won’t you include our voices?
Meeting monthly: our Asian American / Pacific Islander Coalition for the Rights of Migrant Informal Workers, to include sex workers, street vendors, day laborers, domestic workers, and restaurant delivery workers. With the support of Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, including progressive AAPI organizers from DSA.
Instead of being forced back into low-wage jobs, many people in sex trades want to work more safely and save. Many immigrant survivors of sex trades have paid for their own education, started their own businesses, planned their own “exit” — and quietly put this trade behind them. Instead of post-arrest, court-mandated counseling contingent on immediately leaving the sex industry, they want access to substantive resources: housing, healthcare, education & comparable job training/placement, and non-judgmental support in planning how and when to leave the sex trade.
Cecilia Gentili, a trans Latina leader in the Steering Committee of DecrimNY, spoke at this rally for Layleen Polanco, a trans Afro-Latina woman who traded sex. She died in solitary confinement, unable to pay $500 of pre-trial bail, after missing a single court date and failing to complete mandated “counseling” services by the Human Trafficking Intervention Court. Black, indigenous, and Latinx trans women in sex trades face the highest levels of police profiling and state violence.
Swedish sex workers speak out against the Nordic Model. Swedish worker activist, Jasmine Petite, was killed in 2003, after being denied child custody as a sex worker under a highly discriminatory state, which put her directly into the murderous hands of her abusive partner. Credit: Swedish Sex Worker Collective https://www.fuckforbundet.com
“Let us survive!”
Image credit to our fierce movement-family at DecrimNow in Washington D.C. — led by black feminist organizers through an intersectional understanding of gender-based violence that includes police violence & state violence. https://www.decrimnow.org
“Save us from saviors”: Trans sex workers protesting in India against American imperialist charities.
#SayHerName — DecrimNY wheat-pasting guerilla poster art by Micah Bazant, Ashleigh Shackelford, and M.
Indian sex workers form world’s largest labor union of 65,000 workers at Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, which fought to maintain a higher standard wage, to mandate the use of condoms, and bar youth from working in the red light district. Decriminalization and labor organizing are most effective in eliminating minors in sex trade, protecting all workers from exploitation, and improving public health.
Red Canary Song — Community teach-in with know-your-rights trainings, in front of the Flushing Library
We want bread— and we want roses too!

Red Canary Song

Written by

Organizing with Asian and migrant sex workers in NYC.

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