From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Feb 11 11:51:02 2000
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
Why the international prostitutes collective is supporting global women's strike on 8 March
From Women's Strike, 10 February 2000
The International Prostitutes Collective is a network of women, Black and white, of different nationalities and backgrounds, working at various levels of the sex industry. We campaign for abolition of the prostitution laws and for legal, civil and economic rights for sex workers, including the right to protection from violence, to health care and to form or join trades unions.
For refusing poverty by putting a price on sex, prostitute women have been criminalised and stigmatised. By joining with non-prostitute women and striking in whatever way we can, we are refusing to be divided into 'good' and 'bad' women. We want to show that whatever job we are doing, we are all the same women - mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, partners, neighbours, friends. We all urgently need and demand that our work and our lives be valued. As a result of being criminalised, we face rape and murder, including by police who refuse to take violence against us seriously.
Sex workers have been essential to the survival of millions of families, entire communities and even countries. We have also supported liberation movements for women's and civil rights, against slavery and colonialism . . . We have recently published a book, "Some Mother's Daughter - The hidden movement of prostitute women against violence", a chronology of resistance in England and the US which makes proposals to make all women safer. (See http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/crossroadswomenscentre for details of how to order the book).
For most of us, especially those of us in the South and in the poor inner city areas of the North, the "choice" is between destitution, domestic work and prostitution. Our children are also discriminated against: in many countries they are refused access to education because their mothers are prostitutes. We are joining the Global Strike to demand that sex workers be acknowledged as workers, and get the legal and civil rights we are all entitled to. We demand the same for our families. The Task Force on Prostitution set up by the city of San Francisco recommended that sex work should be included in the city's accounts, and that it should be decriminalised. We are also demanding money and resources for the first job all women do - housework and caring work - so that we have a real choice to refuse exploitative working conditions and to get out of prostitution if we want to.
Please, send/call/fax/e-mail us with your reasons why as a worker in the sex industry your are supporting/joining the strike. We'll add them to our Strike website so that prostitute women all over the world can know what we are all doing.
Stop Press: Some women working in the red light area of Soho, Central London, are considering stopping work for some or all of the day to protest about their lack of recognition. They want to hang a banner outside their working flats saying "Soho On Strike".
I want to strike to make visible the work of leading a double life. We face constant discrimination and abuse not only from police, politicians and the media but from "feminists" and even our own families. Many of us are scared to come out to our mothers, daughters/sons, in case they turn against us or feel ashamed. But we are not ashamed of what we have had to do to survive and we demand that other women support us just like we support them. NO BAD WOMEN JUST BAD LAWS!
I only went on the game for the money. It was not a career move. I was a single mother on welfare doing cleaning jobs to make life bearable. Hooking gave me more money and more time with my children. And we could all go on holiday at last. But then I was an illegal worker and for 13 years I've had to hide what I do in case my ex-husband or the school or a neighbour or someone in the community decided to report me and my partner to the police, social security or social services. I've know many prostitute women labelled unfit mothers and lose custody of their children and nearly lose their minds because it, when all they were doing was earning money so they could get decent food and clothes for their kids.
I'm not going to hook on 8 March. I'm going on strike against those horrendous prostitution laws which have destroyed so many women and children's lives AND for a raise in social security - Tony Blairs salary will do, he looks comfortable. Then I won't need to hook any longer.
CALL TO JOIN THE WOMEN'S GLOBAL STRIKE ON 8 MARCH 2000
Dear sisters, we invite you, your relatives, friends and colleagues to join the Global Women's Strike on International Women's Day, 8 March 2000. You may already be part of the World March organised by La Federation des Femmes de Quebec/The Federation of Women in Quebec, Canada. We are too. We have written to them, and they welcomed our proposal that we combine our events and support each other. The strike was called almost a year ago by the National Women's Council of Ireland, and was made global by the International Wages for Housework Campaign and the International Women Count Network which Wages for Housework co-ordinates.
MOST OF THE WORK WOMEN DO IS UNWAGED, UNRECOGNISED AND UNVALUED
The Strike focusses on women's enormous contribution to every society and every economy. Women make the world go round, and raise and look after its entire population; but most of the work we do is unwaged, unrecognised and unvalued. This lack of economic and social recognition is a fundamental sexist injustice which devalues women and everything women do, including keeping our wages 25%-50% below men's. In fact, though a few women are now in highly paid managerial positions, the gap between women's and men's wages is growing.
WE ARE CALLING FOR A MILLENNIUM WHICH VALUES ALL WOMEN'S WORK AND ALL WOMEN'S LIVES
Women and girls need and deserve a reduction of our workload, and financial recognition for our enormous contribution. Less work, more time, more resources. A strike is the best way to make visible women's contribution, needs and demands, because WHEN WOMEN STOP, EVERYTHING STOPS! Women have taken strike action before - from Iceland in 1975, to a decade of Time Off for Women in 24 countries (24 October 1985-1994), to Switzerland in 1991 and Mexico in 1999. . . Such actions have won increased recognition for all the work women do, waged and unwaged, and more bargaining power for our demands - from pay equity to welfare benefits and childcare.
WE ARE NOT STRIKING FOR A FEW WOMEN TO RISE IN THE HIERARCHY
We have had enough of pinning our hopes on women who urged us to support their rise in the economic and political hierarchy with the promise that when they had attained powerful positions our needs would be addressed. In fact, women who have climbed the power ladder have all too often been used against us, to disguise the attempt by governments to sacrifice our lives on the altar of the "global market". Just as people everywhere are accusing governments of not representing any of us against corporate greed, we are accusing women in governments of not representing women. We as a movement are learning not to confuse the personal ambitions of some women with the road to all women's liberation and the complete transformation of society.
WE MUST CHANGE THE WORLD'S PRIORITIES
As the year 2000 approaches, more and more people are aware that such a transformation is vital: the world cannot go on as it is. From war, famine and disease to global warming and other ecological devastation, racism and every other kind of exploitation - high tech has not increased happiness and well-being for the great majority of us, and has often had terrifying consequences, as protests against the arms trade, genetically modified foods, NAFTA and the World Trade Organisation have highlighted. It is not the money that's lacking but the political will to change the world's priorities. Global figures on military spending - $700 billion a year - compared to spending for essentials for living - $20 billion - demonstrate that for all to see.
There are many ways that women can get the money and resources we are owed. Add your own demands to this list.
SUPPORT AND PUBLICITY
Please include information about the Strike in your publications and if you have a website link it up to the Strike Webpage http://womenstrike8m.server101.com Women in the European and Latin American Network of Pirate Radios (Women Creating Communication Spaces) are broadcasting a jingle they have composed in Spanish and German, which you may want to translate for your own network and broadcast in your country. Some trade unions have started to take up the call for the Strike. Men and boys are being asked to support it too.
HOW YOU CAN JOIN
Please visit our WEBPAGE and send us your comments and suggestions on how you want to participate, and on how women should be remunerated for all their work, in time, money, land, housing, healthcare, childcare, education, technology . . .
So far our Strike leaflet is in: Arabic, Basque, Bengali, Catalan, Chinese, French, Gaelic, German, Gujerati, Hindi, Italian and Spanish. We also have attractive Strike T-shirts, badges and postcards (with English logos) for sale.
Power to the sisters to stop the world - and change it!
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