May 3, 2011
We know that each of our experiences of the sex trades are unique, and there are no one-size fits all solutions. We are members of families and communities struggling to survive and make the best possible choices given the options available to us. For many of us, the truth about the sex trade is somewhere between a completely empowered experience of the sex trade, which requires only decriminalization to eliminate harms, and a completely harmful experience of the sex trade which negatively presumes all of us to be victims in need of “rescue.”In response to increased media and philanthropic attention on young people in the sex trade, a collective of radical women of color, queer people of color, and Indigenous people who identify as people in the sex trades, affiliated with INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, are working to center the voices of young people in the sex trades in conversations about policy reform that directly impacts their lives. You can read their statement (excerpted above) in full on the INCITE! blog. Over at Feministing, Jos Truit has a powerful post giving some context and background to how social justice movements can meaningfully include young people in the sex trade. Third Wave has also released a statement (in September 2010) on why we prioritize the expertise of young people in the sex trade.
August 16, 2011
Third Wave lends our support to this statement, released on August 15th, 2011. You can also download (PDF) a version of this statement to share. DHS’ DECISION TO UNILATERALLY MOVE FORWARD WITH SECURE COMMUNITIES PUTS WOMEN IN DANGER Immigrant Rights and Women’s Rights Groups Denounce the Decision Nationwide On August 5th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would unilaterally terminate all contracts with states and localities in an attempt to further implement the “Secure Communities” program nationwide, despite calls for the agency to suspend the program. Immigrant rights and women’s rights organizations strongly oppose this unilateral decision by DHS, before the local hearings on Secure Communities' effects have even taken place. DHS' announcement demonstrates that the hearings are a farce, and that DHS is determined to implement Secure Communities, regardless of public opposition or its demonstrated impact on survivors of crime. We continue to oppose Secure Communities and any law that encourages ICE to transfer its responsibility to local law enforcement. Secure Communities undermines local law enforcement's commitment to community policing, which puts immigrant women, their families, and their communities in danger. Since its introduction, the “Secure Communities” (abbreviated “S-Comm”) program has been opposed by local and state civic leaders, elected officials, law enforcement agents, religious leaders, and human rights advocates. S-Comm forces local law enforcement agents to act as an arm of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by detaining persons who are arrested, but not charged with a crime, so that they can be processed for deportation. Since implementation began, more than one million people have been deported under S-Comm, the vast majority of whom have no criminal history, despite DHS’ claims that the program targets individuals who are dangers to society. Instead, the program promotes racial profiling, destroys families, and undermines community relations with police that are essential to public safety. Continued ambiguity on the part of DHS regarding S-Comm has led to the Office of the Inspector General to initiate an audit into this controversial program. S-Comm puts survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault at increased risk. It is threatening the progress our country has made in the last three decades to bring violence against women out from behind closed doors by making women afraid to call the police for help, for fear of arrest and deportation if they are undocumented. The program encourages violence against women and destroys the community trust in law enforcement that is necessary for safe neighborhoods for all members of a community, regardless of immigration status. Immigrant women are increasingly breadwinners and often provide more stability for their family. Yet they are criminalized, and sometimes brutalized, for trying to keep families safe and healthy. Immigrant mothers, who are simply working to make ends meet, are bearing the brunt of these anti-immigrant policies. They risk being arrested for walking their kids to school, they must worry about who will provide care for their children if they are suddenly detained or deported, and when families are indeed separated by deportation, the well-documented psychological effects on both parents and children continue to devastate families for years. Immigrant communities and women’s rights advocates are coming together to oppose the deeply problematic “Secure Communities” program. We pledge to speak out during DHS community hearings on S-Comm, and at other local, state and national public events. We urge local and state leaders to join us in declaring S-Comms unsafe for women and children. ASISTA Immigration Assistance Break the Chain Campaign Casa de Esperanza National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum National Day Laborers Organizing Network National Domestic Workers Alliance National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Opportunity Agenda Rights Working Group STITCH Third Wave Foundation
May 12, 2011
Writing at The Guardian (UK), Third Wave's Melissa Gira Grant argues that outlawing the sex trade has contributed to a social economy of violence against people who exchange sex for what they need to survive. In addition, she questions how anti-prostitution stings re-enforce race, gender, and class inequalities:
...women, men and transgender people who are targeted in anti-prostitution street sweeps and internet stings may be charged with breaking laws against solicitation, but not all sex workers face the consequences of the law equally. Those who can afford to find clients away from the street, who have a mobile phone or computer access, are less likely to interact with the police. For those who are arrested, if they are in possession of condoms, these may be confiscated and used to build a case for prostitution against them. False arrest – sometimes, simply for walking in an area known for prostitution – is not uncommon, particularly for young people, people of colour, LGBTQ people and people perceived as gender nonconforming. In this fashion, discrimination and economics regulate the sex trade in tandem with the legal system.
March 8, 2011
Young Women United (YWU) is a Third Wave grant partner organization working to end violence against women with a two-fold campaign: calling attention to the deaths of young women in their community in New Mexico, and holding the media and public officials accountable for the ways these women's lives and power are erased, even in death. In the wake of the mass shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's town hall in Arizona, YWU's director Adriann Barboa shares a powerful remembrance and vision for "an America to be as good as these women needed it to be:"
Two years ago today, in a story that shook me to my core, a woman walking her dog found a femur in the desert. She alerted the police, who began a three-month dig, covering a vast area of the mesa near my home. The police found the bodies of 11 women, one of whom was four months pregnant. Many of the women were close to my age and grew up here like me. Were brown like me. Had struggled here, like me. But when these women were found dead, President Obama did not come to town. There was no jam-packed memorial to mourn their lives cut short. What we had instead were devastated families whose greatest fear had been realized when their daughters' remains were discovered on the mesa. As the story unfolded, terrible sounds echoed in my ears. Not the sounds of shovels in the desert, but the sound of these lives being erased. Not only through death, but through the official description of the events. The women were not brave heroes who faced histories of poverty, abuse and trauma with the best tools they could find. They were “addicts.” And because they used drugs, many earned money the best way they could—by selling sex. And so they were “prostitutes.” The authorities thought the story could begin and end there: bodies found, case closed. 11 more prostitutes dead. Done.Read the rest of Adriann's call on Young Women United's website and learn how to support their campaign to end violence and strengthen young women's power.
March 10, 2011
Gender JUST is a grassroots organization that seeks to build power and develop leadership among queer youth of color by organizing for racial, economic, and gender justice. Gender JUST has worked successfully within Chicago Public Schools to implement policy changes to ensure that all young people receive a safe and affirming education. With Third Wave’s support, Gender JUST will apply their successful organizing strategy towards winning comprehensive sexuality education and increased access to health resources for queer youth of color in Chicago. In this video, Sam Finklestein, an organizer with Gender JUST, explains why comprehensive sex education that includes all students is a critical part of ending violence in schools. He also discusses their leadership development model for building young people's power to make this kind of change in their own community.