Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of people involved in the sex trade and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.
On the national level, SWOP helps build stronger communities and a stronger movement through technical assistance, funding, and direct support and advocacy. On a local level, our chapters address structural, cultural, and interpersonal violence individuals in the sex trade face by working to change attitudes, change policies, and create alternative community-led systems of support.
SWOP was founded in 2003 in the Bay Area, with it’s first major action being the coordination of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, a global vigil that continues to be a cornerstone of SWOP’s awareness-raising work. Since it’s founding, hundreds of individual activists have engaged in local SWOP chapters and national projects geared towards educating the public and policy-makers on the direct and institutional harms committed against sex workers and their communities.
SWOP promotes decriminalization as the best means of decreasing harm and promoting agency amongst people in the sex trade. SWOP adopts the principles and practices of nonviolent action in order to reduce violence and achieve dignity and rights for sex workers. SWOP is committed to the respect, safety, and autonomy of all sex workers, and seeks to amplify the voices of those who are often left out of discourse around the issues we address colletively as a social justice movement.
A Brief History of SWOP:
Community is at the core of SWOP and has been since its inception in 2003, when Bay Area sex workers rallied around school teacher and fellow sex worker Shannon Williams,protesting her arrest and mistreatment.
In 2004, SWOP co-founders Stacey Swimme and Robyn Few teamed up with Dr. Annie Sprinkle to honor the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle, designating December 17th as International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. SWOP-USA continues to honor Dec 17th by hosting a multilingual website with advocate toolkits, global event details, and annual list of names, as well as providing event funding to local SWOP chapters and related groups.
Since it’s founding in the Bay Area, SWOP has grown into a national network of regional chapters and local activists. This network works together to address stigma and criminalization through peer support, community outreach, media engagement, allied collaborations, and direct action. As the issue of sex worker rights emerges into mainstream consciousness, SWOP will be here to serve as a vehicle to bolster the work and voices of social justice advocates across the nation.