This Saturday, January 21 2017, the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency, women-led marches are taking place all over the world as part of an international day of action for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The policy statement published by Women’s March on Washington is a radical statement of solidarity with trans and LGBTQ folks, migrant workers and sex workers – groups that are often left behind by feminists in positions of political power. However, this week the inclusivity of the platform has been undermined by policy backtracking, during which an updated manifesto erased sex workers and implied that sexual labour is inherently exploitative. This position denies the agency of sex workers, and the right of individuals to make choices regarding their own labour and bodies.
After public outcry, and with an unfortunate lack of transparency, the Women’s March statement has been changed again, and currently expresses solidarity with sex workers. However the labour rights of sex workers is still clearly a contested issue within the global justice movement. In light of this ambiguity, we wish to publicly state our solidarity with sex worker’s movements, and our support for the global decriminalisation of sex work – a policy supported by health and human rights organisations including the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, the Royal College of Nurses, and Amnesty International.
As an organisation, Backlash works to defend the sexual rights and freedoms of individuals, and recognises the value of consent. We hold that the state does not have the right to intervene in the sexual choices of consenting individuals, regardless of whether commerce is involved. We recognise that the criminalisation and stigma of sex work impose the heaviest burden on people of colour, trans people, and migrant workers; and that decriminalisation is the legal model that best enables sex workers to resist exploitation.
This Saturday at the Women’s March on London, Backlash members will join the English Collective of Prostitutes to march in solidarity with sex workers. We are proud to support this global movement for justice, freedom and human rights.