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:


Thursday November 1, 2007


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


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!: “NO!” Study Guide

14 10 2007

Unveiling the Silence: NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide

Created by Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D. and Rachel Afi Quinn

With the Creative and Editorial Direction of Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Producer, Writer, and Director of NO!The Rape Documentary

Graphic Design by Kavita Rajanna & NO! Logo Design by Traci McKindra

Funded by the Ford Foundation

NO! The Rape Documentary Study Guide  (available as for free as a downloadable pdf in its entirety and in sections; and for purchase)

A tool for educators and workshop facilitators. This study guide may be used within a workshop, class session, or semester-long course. You may decide to screen the documentary film in its entirety or use segments integrated into a broader course addressing race, gender, and sexuality. Viewing the film in segments allows for discussion related to themed sections. You may choose to work through the study guide chapter by chapter, or use it as a jumping off point for student-led exercises or longer activities.

A tool for everyone. Our hope is that this study guide will be used as a companion to the film NO! by all individuals who are taking action in their communities to educate themselves and each other about rape and sexual assault. The film will get conversations going in your communities and on your campuses. You might host a screening of the film as a one-time event in your dorm, classroom, church, mosque, rape crisis center, shelter, correctional facility, living room, or in a community space, and facilitate a group discussion immediately following the screening or in the days following.

This 100-page guide includes:

• Producer/Director Statement

• Summaries of the different DVD chapters of NO! The Rape Documentary

• Excerpts from the transcribed testimonies of rape survivors and quotes from the documentary to spark discussion

• Myths and facts about rape and sexual assault so participants in discussions have relevant information regarding the truth about sexual violence and its impact

• A glossary of terms useful for talking about sexual assault in the African-American community

• Discussion questions about the subject of sexual assault to promote positive and informative conversations for participants

• Worksheets and handouts for participants to use to reflect on what they think they know about rape and sexual violence in their communities

• Additional essays on the role of religion in violence against women and the role of dance in healing sexual violence

• Production stills from the documentary.

• A bibliography of books, journals and articles on sexual violence

• A detailed listing of national organizations that address all forms of sexual violence



“A Song for New Orleans” featuring Monica Dillon

Check out the most recent media coverage on Aishah and NO! (The Rape Documentary) http://www.notherapedocumentary.org/reviews_press.html

“I have seen a lot of documentaries about sexual violence in my 15 years as a film programmer, and ‘NO!’ is by far the most well made, riveting, and poignant… The strength of ‘NO!’ in reaching its viewers is significant, it’s scope and ability to compel are astounding- all women can relate to this film.”
KJ Mohr, Film & Media Arts Programmer, National Museum of Women in the Arts

“If the Black community in the Americas and in the world would heal itself, it must complete the work [NO!] begins.”
Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, The Color Purple

J: AMC Follow-up – thoughts on grassroots publishing as a response to sexual violence

26 06 2007

At the AMC this weekend, Lex and I ran a workshop called Wrong is Not My Name: Poetic Healing as a Response to Sexual Violence where we shared our experience creating our interactive anthology Wrong is Not My Name: A Tribute to Survival Via June Jordan. Here’s a description:

This hands-on workshop will highlight the theory and practice of grassroots publishing as a response to Sexual Violence. Participants will learn about how this form of media fits into the work of UBUNTU, a women of color/survivor-led coalition committed to replacing gendered violence with sustaining transformative love. Based in Durham, NC. UBUNTU is practicing a model of community creation centered around healing, expression, sustainability, internal education and awareness raising. Participants will experience the UBUNTU model of community creation, through the production of a group publication during this workshop.

In the course of preparing to lead the workshop, we had some really interesting conversations about grassroots publishing in the context of our work – I wanted to share some thoughts from these as well as some things I learned about zines and resources for exploring further.

Grassroots publishing (by which I mean to include a wide range of mediums that allow writers to share their words without going through commercial publishing institutions – independent presses, zines, community newsletters, booklets, brochures, blogs, etc.), can be a powerful resource in the context of personal and community healing because:

The process of creating and writing – ‘coming to voice’ on paper – can be an accessible and concrete way for survivors to engage in healing. For some of us, the processes of emotional and physical healing can feel intimidating (big, mysterious, painful) and we often cope by avoiding and shutting down emotionally. Survivors of sexual violence are sometimes silenced by feelings of isolation, shame, self-doubt, and fear. Talking through experiences of violence or their aftermath with another person or people that we trust is a crucial element of the healing process (click here for information on supporting a survivor of sexual assault). Writing is no substitute, but healing is an ongoing process and putting things down on paper can be useful at any point along the way. Writing – journaling, poetry, freeform, essays, or really in any form – allows us to acknowledge and express feelings and thoughts at whatever pace and time feels right. When it is just us and the paper (or the screen) we don’t have to worry about being judged, or blamed, or disbelieved. We can share our truths, or not share them – either way, in writing we learn to hear and honor our own voices.

    …and when we speak we are afraid
    our words will not be heard
    nor welcomed
    but when we are silent
    we are still afraid

    So it is better to speak
    we were never meant to survive

    Audre Lorde
    ‘Litany for Survival’

    When we publish our writings (on blogs, in zines, or elsewhere) it is a way of meeting the world as a part of healing – this is important because we honor eachother’s humanity by speaking our truths, and because as Lex reminded us, “silence is already a form of death.” Speaking truth is also a powerful and transformative act of resistance within the context of a rape culture that demands our silence. Research tells us that there are an estimated 21 million survivors in this country today, and that every 2 1/2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted – yet, too often people speak about rape as though it were a rare occurrence and isolated to back alleyways and “other” people. When survivors speak up, we challenge popular misconceptions about rape. We also make it easier for other survivors to do the same.

      Being part of a writing community within UBUNTU has allowed us to connect to other survivors, to support and celebrate eachother. And in sharing our stories and experiences with eachother we are able to bring our analysis of sexual violence to a systemic (rather than individual) level. When we observe the commonalities between these experiences, we can clearly see the structural roots of sexual violence and understand rape culture as situated within the context of interlocking racial, gendered, sexual, and class-based oppressions. Taken as a body of work, the writings of survivors (in UBUNTU and elsewhere) speak to and document the prevalence of sexual violence and to the physical and emotional costs of rape culture for real people – both survivors and our loved ones. In this way, these writings are also a political resource or tool that can be useful in educating and calling for change. Through the use of grassroots publishing methods we are able to share our writings quickly, easily, and widely with little or no overhead costs – making the process accessible to all who know ‘it is better to speak’.

        What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?
        The world would split open.

        Muriel Rukeseyer
        ‘Kathe Kollwitz’

        The S.A.F.E. Center needs your help!

        20 06 2007

        Please consider donating clothes to the S.A.F.E. Center –


        The SAFE Center is in desperate need of your help. As most of you know we have a clothes closet, located at the SAFE Center, for victims to wear clean clothes home after an exam. We typically keep the clothes closet stocked with shorts, pants, shirts, underwear, and socks. Our supply is running extremely low. If you or anyone you know would be willing to donate shorts, t-shirts, underwear, and/or flip flops, I know our clients would be eternally grateful. We need all ranges of sizes.

        Please feel free to forward this email to anyone that could help us out. I really appreciate any assistance that you can provide. If you know of any other resources that could help with donation of clothes, please feel free to contact me.

        Thank you again for your help.

        To Contact the S.A.F.E. Center about making a donation:

        follow this link:  Development/Donations
        or call: 919-828-7501


        S.A.F.E Center
        The purpose of the Sexual Assault Forensics Examination (S.A.F.E.) Center is:

        To collect evidence that can be used to prosecute rape cases collected in a private, confidential and safe location by a certified forensic nurse examiner

        To provide the opportunity for survivors of rape and sexual assault to access support services from an Interact counselor

        To give law enforcement the opportunity to begin their investigation without delay

        The S.A.F.E. Center at WakeMed offers evidence collection and counseling for survivors who are 14 and older. Certified forensic nurses, using state-of-the-art photographic equipment and standardized collection techniques, can collect evidence within 5 days of an assault.

        The S.A.F.E. Center also has an exceptionally strong counseling component. This allows for the clients emotional and physical needs to be met immediately by trained professionals. Together the forensic nurses and counselors have a chance to build rapport and encourage continued medical and counseling services and enable law enforcement to take a report as soon as possible after the crime.

        The S.A.F.E. Center provides survivors of sexual assault with safety, support and individualized attention at a location within the hospital but away from the hustle and bustle of the emergency department.

        Check us out at the Social Forum! (Updated!)

        19 06 2007


        time: Friday at 20:30 PM (8:30)
        location: Horizon Theater room at the Little Five Points Community Center

        This workshop will invite participants to interact with a performance
        of Audre Lorde’s Need: A Chorale for Black Women’s Voices as a forum
        to discuss the war on women and how we can overcome the silence that
        perpetuates violence in oppressed communities.

        We want the participants to leave with strategies for breaking silence
        in their communities. We want them to leave enabled to use art as tool
        to engage with issues and problems in their own communities,
        relationships and personal lives. We also intend for participants to
        take away their own copy of Need and the sample curricula that we have
        developed and the art that they will have created in conversation with
        the piece.

        The presenters will perform the piece NEED and lead a discussion in
        which participants discuss their responses to the piece. Then the
        participants will break into groups to explore sample workshops that
        they may be able to use in their communities.

        Our workshop/performance will be conducted in English. We do not have
        a sign language interpreter or a vocal translator who has signed on so
        far. We are very open to being paired with people who could provide
        these services.
        (This workshop is co-facilitated by SpiritHouse and UBUNTU. And is listed in the USSF schedule under SpiritHouse)

        Feminism: Gender, Race and Class

        time: Saturday at 18:00 PM (6:00)
        location: Atlanta Ballroom B room at the Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown

        The Feminism: Gender, Race and Class workshop will initiate a
        strategic process for rebuilding/building the women’s liberation
        movement. Solidarity, a national co-sponsor of the USSF, is lead
        organization. This workshop acknowledges attacks on the gains of the
        women’s liberation movement and the impact of gender, race and class
        contradictions inside the women’s liberation movement. This workshop
        will educate on the intersection of the women’s movement with the
        civil rights, labor and peace movements of the past 40 years.
        Historical analyses will illustrate how gender, race and class have
        been factors in the struggle for unity in the women’s liberation

        This workshop is co-sponsored by Solidarity; Centro Obrero (Michigan); Circle Connections; NOW; PEP (New York); SisterSong; Ubuntu; Project South; Black Radical Congress; SpiritHouse; Highlander Center and is listed in the USSF schedule under Solidarity)

        Traveled Bodies – Policing Blackness and the Technology of State Violence

        (A HERstorical Artistic Reflection)

        location: Task Force for the Homeless, 477 Peachtree St

        Traveled Bodies – Policing Blackness and the Technology of State Violence (A HERstorical Artistic Relfection) is a multimedia meditative collaboration on the pervasive tapestry of police brutality as it progresses from slavery to now. The artists pay homage to the evolutionary women arts movement, our resilient bodies who continue to create under this haunting violence, and our sisters and brothers locked up in modern day plantations here and abroad.


        Also look for Southerners On New Ground in ATL – their Social Forum schedule can be found at: southernersonnewground.org

        A Survivor’s Response

        30 05 2007

        This powerful post comes from the blog Taking Steps. If you follow the link, you will also find a really interesting conversation going on in the comments section. Thank you to little light (blogger) and to Pigeon (guest poster)!

        on the record

        This is another guest post by Pigeon, in response to the huge mess going around right now in relation to the accouncement regarding the Duke lacrosse rape case. I didn’t feel qualified to offer an opinion myself, certainly not one that’s not already been offered by folk who know better than I do, but this is important to read. If this doesn’t bring it home for you and hurt, I’m not sure you’re a person.
        Anyway. I should leave it at that.
        Except this, considering how many trolls are out running around right now: if you so much as consider being an asshole about this, I will moderate you so hard your ancestors will feel it, capisce?

        i tried to write about this post a few days ago, a few days after the duke verdict came out.
        i tried, and erased and rewrote and erased, and gave up.
        i want this to come out right. i want this to be so many things, i don’t much think it will be. but i think i need to write this anyway.i didn’t expect the duke case to shake me so much. i feel like i hear about, talk about, read about, think about rape every day. i like to think i’ve built up some callous at this point, a tough, thick covering to take the edge off.the whole thing caught me off guard. i didn’t follow the case very closely, mostly just reading feminist analyses on various blogs, snippets on npr. closely enough though, to know that the whole thing was deeply fucked up, that something happened to that woman that night, whether or not it fit the official charges or was perpetrated by the three accused.and now they’ve been proclaimed not guilty, and that’s fine. i don’t know if they did it, but let’s presume innocence. glad they got their names cleared.

        except now you hear the news, following “three boys innocent” with “she was never raped” and liar and whore. and no one seems to notice that the accused men’s innocence has nothing to do with whether or not she was raped, only that they didn’t do it. she called 911 for a reason, she went to the hospital afterwards, the examination supported her claims of sexual assault. we have no reason to think those results were wrong, no new information to contest it. perhaps she picked the wrong guys from the line-up, but that has little to do with what actually happened to her.
        (go to feministe for more intelligent, coherent and thorough thoughts on this. read the comments at your own risk. i wish i hadn’t.)

        but no one seems to remember that. instead it’s just liar, liar, liar. as if survivors aren’t called liars often enough as it is. this case just adds fuel to the fire of news media crying out, “she says she was raped, but what if she’s lying!” perpetuating the idea that women routinely lie about sexual assault to deflect attention from their own misdoings.

        i don’t know a lot of statistics, and am never quite sure when to trust them, but i do know a lot of women, and i trust them a whole lot. of all the women i know, more than not have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused at some point in their lives. of these women, more than not never reported. and of the few who did, more than not suffered pretty intense negative consequences because of it.

        Read the rest of this entry »

        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
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