Sources have shared with us a letter written by the sex worker rights group COYOTE (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics) related to the recent police harassment and arrest of sex workers at the Foxy Lady in Providence. Below is the text of a petition that you can add your name to by clicking here.
To City of Providence Officials:
We are writing to condemn the December 11th arrest of three sex workers by undercover law enforcement officers for charges of soliciting for prostitution at the Foxy Lady in Providence. Local police have also threatened to have the club shut down, citing public health and safety concerns. We stand in support of the three women who are scheduled to appear in court, and against any efforts to shut down an establishment based solely on this type of conduct.
The raid on the Foxy Lady confirms that Rhode Island law enforcement’s policing of sex workers serves to harass and intimidate workers under the guise of protection. This raid is a grotesque misuse of taxpayer dollars to oppress adult women whose only alleged crime is selling services to consenting adults in a private location.
Criminalization of sex work has done absolutely nothing to curtail “the oldest profession.” Instead, it has led to increased rates of violence and stigma against sex workers, and even adverse health outcomes. A recent study showed that that repressive policing was associated with having three times the odds of experiencing sexual and physical violence from clients or other parties. That is why such diverse and respected groups as the World Health Organization, United Nations AIDS, and Amnesty International all recommend decriminalization of sex work to reduce violence against, and incidence of HIV among, sex workers.
This raid comes in the same week as the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Originally conceived as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle, the day calls attention to crimes committed against sex workers worldwide, as well as the need to remove the social stigma, discrimination and violence that criminalization has contributed to.
In short, moralistic raids on sex workers trying to provide for themselves will not “save” them, but rather will contribute to long-term harm and their continued marginalization. Arrests like these don’t stop crime, but instead only create more victims. We urge City officials to drop the charges against these women and end the ongoing harassment of sex workers.
Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE) Rhode Island
in addition to:
Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR)
Soar Institute – New York City
SWOP Behind Bars
BAYSWAN (Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network)
Steve Brown, Executive Director, ACLU of Rhode Island
Jacqueline E Goldman
Meghan Peterson, Brown University School of Public Health
Elena Shih, Professor
Chistine Hanavan, MSW
Jonathan W. Pressman
Bella Robinson, Executive Director, COYOTE-RI
Joelle Ruby Ryan, PhD
Annie Atwater, BSW
Monica Smith, Executive Director, RICares
Shannah Kurland, Esq.
Barbara A. Gianola, LCSW
Devon Clifton, M.A.
Michelle McKenzie, MPH
Cris Sardina, Director – Desiree Alliance
Denise Crooks, MPH, LCSW
Abdullah S, MPH Candidate, Brown University School of Public Health
Alex Andrews, Co-founder, SWOP Behind Bars
Megan C. Smith, MSW
James F Pivonka
Hilary Rasch, M.A.
Lisa Peterson, LMHC
Julianna Brown, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Kendall French, Mills College Alumni
Ceyenne Doroshow, Executive Director, G.L.I.T.S
James Hernandez, MBA
Radhika Rajan, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Arie Davey, Brown University Undergraduate
Steve Ahlquist, Reporter, UpriseRI
Norma Jean Almodovar
Jesse A. Johnson
Carol Leigh, Director, BAYSWAN (Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network)
Renata Mauriz, Student Success Coordinator, Brown University
Cole A Ewing
Ms Dante, SWOP Behind Bars
Dana Holmgren, RN
Avery G Mauel
Savannah Sly, SWOP-Seattle
Elliot Ruggles, LCSW, PhD