Rape is not…

6 11 2007

Rape is not an occupational hazard

Rape is not “theft of services”

Rape is not justified by the way a woman keeps food on the table as a single mother

Rape is violent

Rape is a community problem

Rape is not inevitable

Rape is something you can help to stop

Sex workers are not expendable people

Sex workers are not less entitled to make decisions about their own bodies than anyone else

Sex workers are not less human than you

Sex workers are particularly targeted by rape culture

Sex workers are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and precious loved-ones

Sex workers are speaking bravely in solidarity with Our Sister Survivor in Philadelphia

Sex workers deserve peace and justice, even if Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni thinks otherwise

People you know are sex workers

People you know are survivors of sexual violence

People you know are targets of sexual violence even now

What are you going to do about it?

Find out more here:

~~~
PRESS CONFERENCE

Thursday November 1, 2007

1pm

Outside Municipal Court (Criminal Justice Center)

1301 Filbert St, Philadelphia

Monday October 29, 2007

To the Editor:

We were appalled to learn that on Oct 4 Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni dropped all rape and assault charges in the case of a woman gang-raped at gunpoint. Because the woman was working as a prostitute, Judge Deni decided that she could not have been raped and changed the charge to “theft of services.” Deni later said that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

As groups organizing against rape and in support of victims, we could not disagree more. All women have the right to protection from violence. The idea that any woman is “asking for it” is a lie that we fought for decades to destroy. It is especially offensive to see it revived by a female judge, who reached her position as a result of the women’s movement and is now using her power to deny justice to the most vulnerable women.

Deni told Daily News columnist Jill Porter that the victim met another client before reporting the rape. We have learned that this is completely untrue; the transcript of the hearing proves it. For a judge to make a false (and self-serving) accusation against a victim in the press, in addition to her prejudiced and reckless contempt for women’s safety, confirms that she is unfit to serve. The outcry following Deni‘s decision shows how out of step with public opinion she is and that most people believe that prostitute women deserve the same protection from violence that we all have a right to expect.

No woman is safe when prostitute women aren’t safe. Serial rapists and murderers often target prostitute women knowing that they are more likely to get away with it. Labeled criminals by the prostitution laws, women are less likely to report violence for fear of arrest themselves. When sex workers do report, the violence is often dismissed. Here, the same man and his friends gang-raped another woman four days later. Decisions like Deni‘s are a green light for further attacks.

The victim in this case was a Black single mother with a young child. In Philadelphia, where one in four people lives in poverty and welfare has been almost completely dismantled, many women have been forced into prostitution to survive. This should not make them fair game for rapists.

We are glad that the District Attorney is pursuing the original rape charges. The public can make our voices heard in the November 6 election: vote “No” on the retention of Teresa Carr Deni as Judge of the Municipal Court of Philadelphia.

Mary Kalyna

On behalf of

Global Women’s Strike

Philadelphia, PA

and

Women Against Rape

US PROStitutes Collective

Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP)

Legal Action for Women

Every Mother is a Working Mother Network

Wages Due Lesbians

Payday Men’s Network

Posted on November 2, 2007 by staceyswimme

For immediate release

Contact: 877-776-2004 info@DesireeAlliance.orgRape is NOT an Occupational Hazard!

Sex Workers Join Women’s Groups and Sexual Assault Survivors’ Groups to Urge PA Voters to Vote ‘No’ on the Retention of Judge Teresa Carr Deni

Judge Teresa Carr Deni spawned outrage from all directions after ruling on October 4th that a sex worker that was raped at gunpoint by multiple men was NOT sexually assaulted, rather she was just robbed. Deni commented in an Oct. 12th interview that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Grassroots activists around the country, including nationwide sex worker-led organizations such as the Desiree Alliance and regional advocacy groups from coast to coast responded with anger and disgust for Deni’s disregard of the basic human rights of the rape victim in this case. “Deni’s decision in this case sends a message that sex workers can be targeted for violence with impunity. Rape of sex workers is common, alarmingly under-reported, and rarely taken seriously by authorities,” Kitten Infinite of Sex Workers’ Outreach Project said. “Violence against sex workers is perpetuated by the state through discriminatory laws and judicial rulings such as this.”

Sex workers in the US and abroad are organizing and becoming more vocal about the violence and discrimination that they face. “Because prostitution is criminalized, our human rights and our boundaries are clearly not respected,” Mariko Passion, a board member from the Desiree Alliance commented, she continues, “…forcing or manipulating sexual intercourse by fraud, fear or coercion is rape.” On Oct 30th, after considerable pressure from sex workers and feminists around the country, the PA Bar Association issued a statement condemning Deni’s action, stating that, “The victim has been brutalized twice in this case: first by the assailants, and now by the court.”

The Desiree Alliance applauds Association Chancellor Jane Dalton’s review of the matter and we find some satisfaction in the fact that the District Attorney’s office has re-filed rape charges against the perpetrator of this despicable crime. However, we still call on voters to vote ‘No’ on retaining Deni in the election on November 6th. The Desiree Alliance will hold a virtual press conference and rally on Monday, November 5th at 5pm Eastern for sex workers and allies to comment publicly about this case and how to prevent further discrimination against sex workers.

Who: Desiree Alliance and Affiliates

What: “Rape is NOT an Occupational Hazard!” Virtual rally

Why: Judge Teresa Carr Deni should not be retained as a Municipal Court Judge in Philadelphia

When: Monday, November 5, 2007 5pm Eastern, 2pm Pacific

Where: http://www.BoundNotGagged.com





New Video and Article from the Day of Truthtelling

3 05 2007

Performance of ‘Litany for Survival’ at the rally for “Creating a World without Sexual Violence: A National Day of Truthtelling” held in Durham, NC on Saturday, April 28th.

~~~

article from Workers World:

Day of Truthtelling demands: ‘End rape culture’

Published May 3, 2007 1:28 AM

An important march and rally took place here April 28 against sexual violence and assault. The protest was called Creating a World Without Sexual Violence—National Day of Truthtelling (DOT), and it deserved national and international attention.

Lead banner at April 28 march.

Lead banner at April 28 march.

WW photos: Monica Moorehead

The organizing DOT coalition was made up of Black Workers For Justice (BWFJ), Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Independent Voices, Men Against Rape Culture (MARC), North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA), Raleigh Fight Imperialism—Stand Together (FIST), Spirit House, Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and UBUNTU. Fifty other organizations endorsed the event.

Those who came out on this beautiful sunny day were mainly young women of all nationalities—African-American, Latina, East Asian, South Asian, Arab and white—along with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and gender variance communities, as well as male supporters. Despite the diverse social, political and cultural backgrounds, the protesters, numbering in the hundreds, spoke on this day in one voice with the resounding demand to “End rape culture.”

Police blocks woman trying to put<br>protest sign at Buchanan house,<br>site of Duke sexual assault.

Police blocks woman trying to put
protest sign at Buchanan house,
site of Duke sexual assault.

 

The vast majority of those who came out were either survivors of sexual assault themselves or knew someone who was. The main idea of the protest was to break the silence on the issue of sexual violence and help give a voice and sense of empowerment to the survivors.

In North Carolina from 2005-2006, local rape crisis centers received almost 26,000 calls and came to the assistance of over 8,700 people who were sexually assaulted. It is estimated that millions of incidences of rape and sexual assault go unreported around the country.

One of the main highlights of the more than two-mile march was a stop in front of 610 Buchanan St. This house, located on the campus of Duke University, was the place where a young Black single mother, college student and exotic dancer reported to authorities that she was sexually assaulted by three white Duke lacrosse players at a fraternity party back in March 2006. The district attorney recently dropped the charges against the players before a trial could allow her to give her account of what happened.

Alexis Gumbs, a Black graduate student at Duke, read a moving open letter to the crowd in front of the Buchanan house. Called “Wishful Thinking,” the letter focused on what it means to be a survivor of sexual assault. Many in the crowd were moved to cry and hug each other as she read the letter.

The main rally was held on the steps of the Durham County Courthouse. Speakers there included Serena Sebring, UBUNTU; Monika Johnson Hostler, NCCASA; Paulina Hernández, SONG; Tyneisha Bowens and Laura Bickford, Raleigh FIST; Shafeah M’Bali, Women’s Commission of BWFJ, and Phoenix Brangman, Dasan Ahanu and Bryan Proffit of MARC. A number of the speakers linked the issue of sexual violence to the struggle for immigrant rights and against racism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism and imperialism.

The march ended up in the Black community at the W.D. Recreation Center, where workshops, film showings and cultural performances were held. A June 9 town hall meeting will be held on “What will it take to end sexual violence in our communities?” E-mail dayoftruthtelling@gmail.com or call 919-870-8881 for more information.


Articles copyright 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org
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From Lex: On May Day (J says: I love love love this one!)

1 05 2007

Since it is May Day, one day of many to celebrate the contributions and demand the rights of immigrant workers, it seems appropriate to share a historical precedent through which Women of Color in London organized at the intersections of immigration policy and sexual violence.

In November 1982 a broad coalition of organizations came together to put together a one day event (sound familiar yet?). The coalition included English Collective of Prostitutes, Housewives in Dialogue, Women Against Rape, Wages Due Lesbians and others who had collaborated to takeover a community center in their region (Camden). Only a few days after their first big event “Bringing it All Back Home:Black and Immigrant Women Speak out and Claim Our Rights”, the conference attendees supported the English Collective of Prostitutes as they occupied a local church to claim sanctuary from the constant police harassment and brutality they were experiencing. If you can’t tell…I am inspired and thrilled by the bravery of these women (mostly women of color, mostly with threatened immigration status) who not only demanded fair wages for the “private” labor of nurturing, but who also repeatedly took over public spaces and spoke out against sexual violence.

Anyway..at this particular conference Women Against Rape released a statement entitled “Racism is Rapism” which explicitly calls out the way in which sexual assault impacts the most vulnerable among us through the same mechanisms as racism, classism and xenophobia:
“On arriving in another country, we have found ourselves threatened again by the tacism which stems directly from one government after another saying ‘you are not welcome, don’t expect any rights!’ Such policies set us up as easy targets and legitimise every kind of racist attack against us, whether from immigration officers, the police, the courts, employers or individual men.”

They also protest the absurdity of immigration laws that make residency contingent on staying with a husband and explain the complexity on going to the violent state to mitigate intra-community violence.

“We have been afraid to go to the police for help, particularly when attacks have comefrom within our own community, since we have seen how a woman’s cry forhelp has been usedas an excuse to rampage in our community, particularly if we are black.”

and
“We have seen how sexism combines with and reinforces racism….
As women we have all experienced, if not rape itself, then the threat or fear of rape. We know how rape has been used to limit our movement and our lives. We refuse to be locked into our homes or into our countries. A WOMAN’S PLACE IS EVERYWHERE!”

Just another example of the history we move in…
love,
lex





THANK YOU!!!

29 04 2007

Thank you so much to all who planned, attended, supported, believed in the Day of Truthtelling! I will post more in detail about yesterday’s events shortly, but it was incredible…thank you!

In addition, we are so very grateful for the support and solidarity from the bloggers who have joined us in speaking truth – we are still learning how many of you all out there have been by our side this weekend. In particular, we are grateful to Brownfemipower for her constant support (and general brilliance) and for spreading the word about the DOT. Thank you! Thank you to:

…who we know posted on the Day of Truthtelling as powerful voices for change. Thank you for moving the struggle to end sexual violence out in all directions on line, as we moved it down Main Street in Durham yesterday!





Aishah Simmons: But Some of Us Are Brave

15 04 2007

The following essay is from acclaimed filmmaker and activist Aishah Shahidah Simmons in support of the National Day of Truthtelling. Please read her powerful words, forward this email to everyone you know, and JOIN US IN DURHAM ON APRIL 28 AS WE TELL THE TRUTH AND BEGIN TO CREATE A WORLD WITHOUT SEXUAL VIOLENCE!!!

For more information, visit our website at http://truthtelling.communityserver.com and do the following things…

1) Register to let us know that you are coming

2) Get your organization to endorse the event

3) Contribute funds to help us reach our goals for the day. Your contribution is tax-deductible.

Thank you

Day of Truthtelling Organizing Committee

But Some of Us Are Brave—In Support of the April 28, 2007 National Day of Truthtelling in Durham, North Carolina
By Aishah Shahidah Simmons

While there are many folks who are rejoicing that Imus was fired, I fear that we may have won a battle but could have *temporarily* lost this relentless racist/sexist war against Black women in the United States. While most eyes were focused on the outcome of Imus’ fate, the accused members of the Duke Lacrosse team were exonerated. Very, very tragically, many of the same Black (overwhelmingly male) voices who were demanding the firing of Imus, haven’t said a peep about the recent dropping of charges against the accused members of the Duke Lacrosse team. Additionally, in the ongoing mainstream media discussions about Imus calling the predominantly Black women’s basketball team at Rutgers University “nappy headed-ho’s,” there hasn’t been any mainstream media correlation/analysis/commentary/discussion about the fact that:

1. Some of the (White) Duke Lacrosse team members called the two (Black) women “niggers” and “bitches”;
2. One of the (White) Duke Lacrosse members threatened to rape them with a broomstick;
3. Another (White) Duke Lacrosse team member spoke of hiring strippers in an e-mail sent the same night that threatened to kill “the bitches” and cut off their skin while he ejaculated in his “Duke-issued spandex;” and
4. Another (White) Duke Lacrosse team member shouted to the (Black woman) victim as she left the team’s big house, “Hey bitch, thank your grandpa for my nice cotton shirt.”

Instead there were subtle and not-so subtle racist implications that hip-hop is the cause of Imus’ racist/sexist comments; and that the Black woman stripper/whore (not daughter, not mother, not college student, not sex worker) lied on/set up the innocent White Duke Lacrosse team members (who hired her and her colleague to perform for them).

So, in this very direct way the corporate owned media message to the American public is that Black people, especially Black women, are the perpetrators of violence against White men (and I would argue Black men too).

Based on the overwhelming deafening silence from mainstream Black (predominantly male) ‘leaders’ and organizations about the documented racist/sexist comments made by the White Duke Lacrosse team members, it’s clear to me that no one will speak for us– Black women–but ourselves. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rape survivor, a child sexual abuse survivor, a domestic violence survivor, a stripper, a prostitute, a lesbian, a bisexual woman, a heterosexual woman, a single mother (especially with several children from different fathers), on welfare, a high school drop out, college educated, working in corporate America, working at a minimum wage job with no health insurance, or working in the film/music/television entertainment industry. Yes, I placed what some people would view as very different/distinct categories of Black women in the same category because I firmly believe that if any of the aforementioned Black women are at the wrong place at the wrong time (which could be at any time), we, Black women, will be left to heal our very public wounds alone.

I was the young Black woman who in 1989, at 19 years old six weeks shy of my 20th birthday, said “Yes”, while on a study abroad program. I was the Black woman who broke the rules of the university where I attended by agreeing to sneak out, after hours, to meet the man who would become my rapist. I was the Black woman who after breaking the university enforced rules started to have second thoughts but was afraid to articulate them and was afraid to turn around because my friends were covering for me. I was the Black woman who paid for the hotel room where I was raped. I was the Black woman who said to my soon-to-become rapist, “I don’t want to do this. Please stop.” I didn’t “violently” fight back. I didn’t scream or yell to the top of my lungs” because I was afraid. I didn’t want to make a “scene.” I blamed myself for saying, “Yes” for breaking the rules for paying for the hotel room.

I am one of countless women, regardless of race/ethnicity/national origin, age, sexual orientation, class, religion who experientially learned that the (often unchallenged) punishment for women who use poor judgment with men is rape and other forms of sexual violence. And the reward for those same men who perpetrate the sexual violence that we (victim/survivors) experience is the opportunity to perpetrate again and in turn say “WOMEN LIE.”

“For all who ARE survivors of sexual violence. For all who choose to BELIEVE survivors of sexual violence. For all who KNOW WE CAN end rape culture.” come to Durham, North Carolina on Saturday, April 28, 2007. Join the numerous individuals and organizations from across the United States who will come to Durham, North Carolina on Saturday, April 28, 2007 to participate in “Creating A World Without Sexual Violence – A National Day of Truthtelling.”

This mobilizing event is organized by a coalition of organizations including North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Ubuntu, Men Against Rape Culture, SpiritHouse, Raleigh Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Southerners on New Ground, Independent Voices, Black Workers for Justice, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization/OSCL).

For more information on the National Day of Truthtelling, visit:
http://truthtelling.communityserver.com/
https://iambecauseweare.wordpress.com/
www.myspace.com/ubuntunc

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is a Black feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, writer, and activist based in Philadelphia. An incest and rape survivor, she spent eleven years, seven of which were full time to produce/write/direct NO! (The Rape Documentary), a feature length documentary which looks at the universal reality of rape and other forms of sexual violence through the first-person testimonies, activism, scholarship, cultural work, and spirituality of African-Americans.
www.NOtheRapeDocumentary.org
www.myspace.com/afrolez
*******************************************
Following is a non-inclusive list of books by Black feminists who address Hip-Hop and Feminism
(There are many more books than those that are listed):

Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip-Hop’s Hold On Young Black Women by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
http://www.amazon.com/Pimps-Up-Hos-Down-Young/dp/0814740146/ref=sr_1_1/104-7242712-0915962?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176220047&sr=1-1

Prophets in the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip-Hop by Imani Perry
http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0822334461/ref=sib_dp_pop_toc/104-7242712-0915962?ie=UTF8&p=S009#reader-link

When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down by Joan Morgan
http://www.amazon.com/When-Chickenheads-Come-Home-Roost/dp/068486861X

From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and Feminism by Patricia Hill Collins
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Power-Hip-Hop-Nationalism/dp/1592130925/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3/104-7242712-0915962?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176220157&sr=1-3

Gender Talk: The Struggle For Women’s Equality in African American Communities by Johnnetta Betsch Cole and Beverly Guy-Sheftall
http://www.amazon.com/Gender-Talk-Struggle-Equality-Communities/dp/0345454138/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-7242712-0915962?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1176219973&sr=1-1





some statistics on sex work and sexual assault

17 03 2007

It is difficult to find statistics about sex workers and sexual violence;
due to the once widely-held perception that sex workers could not be victims of rape, scientists only began to study the prevalence of sexual violence against sex workers very recently. Here are a few of the things we do know:

  • One study of violence against women engaged in street prostitution found that 82% reported being physically assaulted in prostitution, and 68% reported having been raped (Farley & Kelly, 2000).
  • This extreme prevalence of violence against sex workers includes both indoor and outdoor sex work –indoor sex workers were also found to be frequent victims of violence (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004).
  • A study of exotic dancers found that 100% had been physically assaulted in the clubs where they were employed, with a prevalence ranging from 3-15 times over the course of their involvement in exotic dancing. Violence included physical assault, attempted vaginal penetration, attempted rape,and rape (Holsopple, 1999).
  • In another study, 51.2% of women working as exotic dancers were threatened with a weapon (Raphael & Shapiro, 2004).

References: Read the rest of this entry »