On Thursday December 17, Sex Workers Outreach Project Boston held a memorial and a march in honor of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
I gave a short speech about my experiences making the film “Happy Endings?” When I began the film, the “Rhody Ripper” Jeffery Mailhot was on trial for murdering 3 women in Woonsocket. 12 women escaped. It is unfortunate that none had gone to the police, it is possible that Mailhot could have been stopped before graduating to murder.
After I spoke, there was a presentation from the Sex Worker’s Internet Radio Library (or SWIRL) with recordings of people who work in all forms of sex work, from phone sex operators to erotic dancers.
Some people came out of the audience of over 20 to speak. One transgendered woman spoke about her experiences. She said that between 40-60% of all transgendered women have been a sex worker at some point of their lives. She told of the violence she had faced as a sex worker, she had been robbed, beaten, and even raped three times. She also spoke of more nuanced violence, like housing discrimination. While she spoke, I sat and came to the realization that sex worker rights are just a natural extension of gay, lesbian, transexual rights. I believe all glbt rights, woman’s rights, and sex worker rights fall under the same umbrella. Maybe the red umbrella is a perfect symbol for these rights, as they all are HUMAN RIGHTS.
A man also spoke, for the first time in his life he stated he was a sex worker. He had given erotic massages.
One African American woman spoke as well. She said that only recently had she been able to come to terms with the “Nice white man who would visit her mom once in a while was actually a John” and her mom was a sex worker.
After 5 speakers, names of sex workers who had been victims of murder were read. The names were followed by the country, a few victims were listed as “Unknown”. 4 of the victims were pregnant.
After the memorial, participants grabbed red umbrellas and marched in the frigid cold to the Copley Marriott where a moment of silence was observed for the most notable victim, Julissa Brisman.