Monday December 17th 2018 will mark the 15th annual International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers (IDEVASW). This memorial day event draws attention to the high rates of murder and violence perpetrated against sex workers in the UK and around the world. The first such #IDEVASW was held in 2003, in response to Gary Leon Ridgeway, the ‘Green River Killer’ who murdered at least 71 women who were involved in the sex industry in Seattle, Washington. Ridgeway, other murderers and dangerous perpetrators believe that they can prey upon sex workers because they have little access to justice, and are denied equal rights and full social protection.
Unfortunately, the violence continues and everyday sex workers report crimes to NUM. This means that everyday predators believe that they can physically hurt or emotionally harm sex workers with impunity due to the marginalised positions sex workers are forced to occupy within our societies.
In the UK, 182 people involved in sex work have been murdered since 1990. These individuals were part of our families and communities. They were important to their loved ones and friends, and they are important to us!
This year we invite you to Say Their Names and remember those who have lost their lives. Too often we see media reports about the serial killers and perpetrators, but there is little lasting recognition of the valuable lives of sex workers that were taken so violently. Even less attention is paid to the contexts and conditions that exacerbate violence against sex workers.
NUM staff members, the Research and Development (RAD) team of experts-by-experience, and our Board of Directors urge you to join us in fulfilling our mandate to End Violence against Sex Workers.
Download our #IDEVASW2018 Memorial Card and distribute it as part of your December 17th events or to family, friends and colleagues. Invite the people in your life to acknowledge violence against sex workers and encourage them to Say Their Names as a starting point.
- Explore how stigma and criminalisation combine to reduce the power that sex workers have over their work and lives;
- Commit to listening to sex workers and sex worker-led organisations. Help end their victimisation by refusing to be silent. Work with sex workers to eliminate the social conditions and the harmful policies that limit their life chances.
Let’s work together to ensure no more sex workers die at the hands of predators or due to ill-informed policies.
Say their names so that you don’t forget them.
Say their names so that no one ever forgets them!
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of sex workers who were murdered in communities around the world.
Dr. Raven Bowen
National Ugly Mugs
 This number reflects those murdered, who are in the public domain and who have been identified as sex workers.