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This week, Kumars and guest-host Shanti Singh welcome Jessica Raven. Jessica is a mother, community organizer, and Executive Director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), a DC-based grassroots organization working to build safer public spaces using community-based, non-criminal solutions. In this role, she has spearheaded the growth of the Safe Bar Collective, which works to end harassment and discrimination in nightlife. She is also a former youth survival sex worker working with the Sex Workers' Advocates Coalition (SWAC) to decriminalize sex work in DC.
Jessica joins us to talk about the recently passed FOSTA-SESTA legislation, which holds internet companies liable if users post ads for illegal sex work. Jessica describes the negative consequences of this legislation for sex workers, particularly those who are most marginalized. We discuss the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and homelessness as relates to sex work, and explore the incongruity between narratives about sex work and sex trafficking and reality. Jessica explains how the goal of the well-funded, white-male-dominated anti sex-trafficking movement is to end the sex trade, not to protect trafficking victims and definitely not to protect the vast majority of sex workers who aren’t trafficked. We talk about the risks of criminalizing any aspect of consensual sex work, particularly given that sex workers are often victimized by police themselves. Jessica also discusses the importance of language choices in either breaking or reinforcing the social stigma around sex work, leading to real consequences for sex workers, particularly those most marginalized. Finally, we hear about the work Jessica is doing in Washington DC to educate the community about the reality of sex work, and to organize to meet the needs of sex workers.
Check out the sex worker lobby day in DC planned for June 1st (part of a broader National Day of Action), and keep an eye out for direct actions happening in a city near you for International Whores Day on June 2nd. Follow Jessica on twitter @thejessicaraven.
A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.