I’ve been linking to this recent study (cited below as “Jana et al., 2013”) a lot in discussions on trafficking and how ‘rescue’ orgs perpetuate violence against sex workers, but I know that it’s behind a pay wall. So I’m posting a summary of what the article said, for those who can’t access it. This is an excerpt from an academic paper I wrote on sex worker organizing in India and how it functions as a form of resistance to interpersonal and structural violence. If you’re going to quote it, link back to me. Thanks. (A link to the other source cited here: SANGRAM/VAMP Team, 2011)
Sex workers in the Sonagachi red light district of Kolkata, West Bengal have been organizing formally since 1995 as the DMSC [Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee], and they’ve been notably successful in helping the trafficked women and children in their midst. (Jana et al., 2013) The group has implemented a total of thirty-three self-regulatory boards, eight in Kolkata itself and twenty-five elsewhere in the state. (Ibid) Through community outreach and careful documentation of the changes that are noted in these outreach efforts, the members of DMSC identify trafficking victims and provide “assistance with reintegration— to return home or find alternative placement.” (Jana et al., 2013:2) Unlike the state, sex worker organizations do not detain or forcibly repatriate victims but provide them with options from among the community’s social and financial resources. (Jana et al., 2013) (SANGRAM/VAMP Team, 2011)
The DMSC also has several programs in place to help prevent trafficking through educational and economic empowerment of women and their children, including “savings and credit schemes [that] have reduced dependency on sex work.” (Jana et al., 2013:1) Further, all of these initiatives protect the privacy of the victims first and foremost, unlike the state-sponsored raids. (Jana et al., 2013) The success of these programs is therefore measurably greater than those initiated by local police and NGO’s: a full 80% of successfully rescued trafficking victims in the state of West Bengal between the years of 2009 and 2011 were rescued by DMSC. (Ibid)
ETA: And here’s why you should start listening to actual sex workers and stop relying exclusively on academia as the only valid source of information, i.e. fuck you and your respectability politics (another excerpt)
There is one final method of sex worker organizing that serves as a form of resistance against violence, and it is often overlooked because the violence it combats is indirect. It is a method of resistance present in both Jana et al.’s study on human trafficking and the case review written by Ahmed and Seshu: getting involved in academic research. Smarajit Jana is a member of DMSC, and Meena Seshu is the head of VAMP. Through their insistence on shaping academic discourse, they are challenging institutionalized prejudices against sex workers and sex work experiences and producing a new scholarly body of knowledge that can affect the amount of funding given to structurally violent governments and NGO’s for the purposes of ‘rescuing’ workers.
Sex workers need to be leading this discourse, and I made damn sure to cite those directly involved instead of perpetuating neocolonialist academic bullshit. The fact that I couldn’t out myself as a sex worker in this paper because of the threat of expulsion was enraging and humiliating, and I wish to god I could call out the whorephobia in that course from a position of authority without risking my education.
In conclusion: FUCK THAT SHIT (Ibid)
Thanks so much for the kind words :)
Tumblr is a great way to share ideas/theories that can be put into action & to connect with others already doing amazing social justice organizing. I’m in NYC, too, & I can suggest a few places you might want to consider to meet other radical folks!
- Free University: This mainly student organization is working against militarization campaigns within the CUNY system as well as fighting for the Morales/Shakur Center right now. Check out their March on the CUNY Machine rally/speak out on Nov. 25 at noon at 42nd & 3rd Ave. Find out what else they’re up to here.
- The NYC Anti-Eviction Network: This organization is just starting up, but it’s going to be a direct-action focused group with a lot of OWS organizers involved. I’ll make sure to post any upcoming news/events with them on our FB.
- Bluestockings: You need to visit you haven’t been already. Not only do they have a great selection of radical literature, zines, etc., they also host weekly bookclubs, speakers & a prison letter writing group!
- The Brecht Forum: Here you can find teach-ins, lectures, book readings, etc. you might be interested in! Richard Wolff frequents the Brecht Forum with his lectures on the economy & workers self-directed enterprises.
- Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung NYC: I stumbled upon this place a few months ago when I went to a talk on racial justice post-MLK & how to move forward in light of events like Trayvon Martin’s murder. It’s an international non-profit, but the Harlem location often hosts a number of really good talks.
- DSGN AGNC: I’ve been to a few events recently centered around the commodification of space & how it feeds our current housing injustice crisis & DSGN AGNC has been a part of most of these discussions. It’s an interesting mix of activists & architects who explore politics through art & space.
- 596 Acres: This is an awesome interactive project that maps out various empty lots/private vacant spaces where people can organize to start neighborhood art venues, community gardens, etc. It’s a great way to see what people are currently working on & what the possibilities are for future projects.
These are just a few organizations/spaces I can think of in NYC where you may want to get involved or at least meet people who are organizing here!
People should also feel free to leave links/suggestions in the comments for other places to check out in the city.
(PS tinypancakegirl, I love your icon.)
We are dealing with life itself, so the first place we get power is by aligning ourselves with the forces of life. That is why the act of seed saving is such an important political act in this time. And that is the part that is linked to self-organizing—organizing yourself to save the seeds, have a community garden, create an exchange, do everything that it takes to protect and rejuvenate the seed.
But at this point, industry is hungry to have absolute control. They will not tolerate a single farmer who has freedom in his seed supply. They will not stand a single seed that grows on its own terms.
Vandana Shiva on resisting GMOs