Emily Turner, Outreach Worker at Basis Yorkshire
Safety of sex workers is so important to us here at Basis. In fact, we talk about it every day. Sadly, like so many other colleagues and sister projects across the UK, we have experienced the murder of one of the sex workers we worked with. Daria was murdered on the 23rd December 2015 and we are coming up to the 1st anniversary. We will be remembering her, and other murdered sex workers on that day with a little ceremony.
But thinking about violent crimes, sexual assaults and murders of sex workers is normal for us, and we strive to tackle these crimes in the work that we do. We coordinate the Ugly Mugs scheme in Leeds, where sex workers can report crimes committed against them to the police or to create alerts which can warn other working girls of dangerous individuals. We give women safety alarms and advice on how to work in as safe a way as possible. Crucially though, we fight sex worker stigma. We know sex workers can be targeted because perpetrators think they won’t report crimes against them, and even if they do, the police won’t believe them. And if the police do believe them, jury’s certainly won’t. This for us is not acceptable. Furthermore, other people’s bad attitudes continue to drive sex workers underground, away from a range of support, safety and health services.
At Basis we support the full decriminalisation of sex workers and we are involved in the partnership approach to sex work, including Leeds “controversial”and mostly misunderstood managed approach, the first of its kind in the UK. The managed approach is grounded in the idea of a harm reduction model with safety at its core. We are not interested in the moral judgements of others or silly sensationalist stories. We are interested in sex worker rights and safety.
December is always our busiest month and December the 17th the most important date in our calendar, as its International End Violence Against Sex Workers. This year we have run a 17 day campaign to raise awareness packed full of events. Here’s a low down of some of what we have been up to…
Throughout #17daysofaction, pics were posted all over social media with support and pledges from our friends and partners with the hashtags #17daysofsction #17dec #redumbrella and #endsexworkerviolence
The Art of a Profession Exhibition:
This was an evening to analyse people’s perception of sex work through the medium of art. Works were donated to be auctioned off using secret bids! The Exhibition will be on in The Brunswick from 17th Dec – 19th December.
All night outreach and Drop In from Friday 16th to Sat 17th 8pm – 4am:
A team of staff, volunteers and supporters delivered an all-night outreach in shifts throughout the night with live donations at the office of chocolate, warm clothes and toiletries.
Find out more from our website at www.basisyorkshire.org.uk
Whoever you are, be safe! We all have the same right to that!