Dignity and Respect
In the past “respect” and “dignity” were used against sex workers and other “un-pure” women to kill or imprison them. In our struggle for human rights we choose to reclaim these words and give them renewed meaning.
Through dignity we honor the unique diversity that is intrinsic in all people. We also choose to respect each person’s unique traits, abilities and oppressions which through our mutual respect lets us work together in a complimentary fashion to achieve our mutual goals.
The Sex Workers Outreach Project strives towards the conscious building of community, with consensual decision making, out of respect for all individuals. Communities help to keep us strong and safe by networking and enabling our own education and support systems. This community is strengthened by acknowledging diversity among its members and assisting members’ rights to self-representation. SWOP USA and its individual chapters aim to build communities which support, educate and unite its members. These communities facilitate our political voices and our ability to protect basic human rights. SWOP’s force as a community is fortified through the expression of solidarity among other sex worki positive groups and activists sharing common interests and goals. The Sex Workers Outreach project and its affiliates create a professional community and offer agency.
Sex Workers Outreach Project is committed to justice, equity, and compassion for sex workers and their communities. This commitment requires unity within our organization and within the global sex workers’ movement as a whole. We agree to value the diverse experiences and politics of our members, while placing group principles before individual passions or pursuits.
Our bodies are our own. Individuals retain the exclusive right to determine what they do and how they use our bodies under all circumstances. This choice remains proprietary to each individual in all aspects of life including occupational, health, lifestyle, sexual and reproductive choices. Self-determination and harm reduction are intrinsically linked. Our choices are always constrained by external forces. We believe in empowerment within these constraints along with social justice strategies to increase access to resources and services. We also acknowledge that the boundaries of self differ from culture to culture, and person to person. We protect and cherish the diversity of definition and of each individual and their rights to their bodies, thoughts, feelings, forms of expression and methods of living their lives.
With the right to self determination of the propriety of choice and consent regarding our bodies, we state unequivocally the right to determine that sex worki is different from violence, sexual assault, slavery and trafficking in persons. Individual rights and consent determine the difference. We also reject the notion that sex worki is inherently linked with violence. Our visibility, awareness, rights and bodily integrity do not perpetuate, but directly oppose sexual violence. The presence of sex workers in social movements, the visibility of sex workers in communities of all kinds, and societal awareness of sex worker rights as fundamental to human rights in no way perpetuate violence, sexual assault, slavery and trafficking in persons. The converse is true-our visibility and knowledge directly oppose sexual violence.
- We agree to recognize and challenge all forms of oppression.
- We are committed regardless of the form of oppression; be it racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, trans-phobia, ageism, elitism, prohibitionism, and all other systems and behaviors of discrimination which marginalize, exclude or de-humanize any one person or group.
- We realize that the most important work for us is within ourselves and our community. We take responsibility for our own prejudices and actions which perpetuate oppression thru individual action and active participation in addressing privilege when it’s recognized and being constantly vigilant for privileged actions both within ourselves, and those around us. To this end, we continually work to identify our individual, systematic and organizational privileges, how they intersect our lives both internally and externally, and learn how to be allies with our privileges by recognizing the benefits and costs.
We express our commitment to anti-racist/anti-oppressive principles as a group by engaging and constantly evolving a PROGRAM OF ACTION around these principles.