International Sex Workers' Day 2023: Why it is celebrated on June 2 & What is its importantance?
International Sex Workers' Day 2023: Every year on June 2 International Sex Workers Day is observed.The day honours and recognises the exploited working conditions of sex workers. It aims to encourage people to respect individuals irrespective of their profession.
According to the Global Network of Sex Projects (NSWP), the theme for International Sex Workers Day 2023 is the same as every previous year, ‘Access to Justice’. This way the organisation aims collective efforts to ensure rights and justice for all sex workers.
International Sex Workers' Day: History
Approximately 100 sex workers on 2nd June, 1975 collected at Saint-Nizier Church in Lyon, France, to express their anger regarding their criminalised and exploitative living conditions.
There they hung a banner from the Steeple which reads 'Our children don't want their mothers to go to jail’, and also launched a media campaign to precise their grievances across the world.
Do you know that this action made national and international news headlines, strikes followed all over France by the sex workers, and created a legacy of activism that is observed annually on International Sex Workers' Day?
Sex workers that are occupied at Saint-Nizier Church demanded several things including an end to police harassment, re-opening of the hotels where they worked, and a proper investigation into a series of sex worker murders. Across the country, French sex workers joined the action by participating in an eight-day-long strike.
In spite of the national impact of the protest, the police refused to occupy with the grievances of the protestors and threatened increasingly harsh punishments. After eight days, eventually, the police cleared the Church and the occupation and strike did not result in any law reform but the sex workers considered it as a spark that ignited their rights movement in Europe and the UK.
Therefore, on 2nd June, every year, NSWP focuses on the theme of Access to Justice when commemorating International Sex Workers' Day.
Let us tell you that International Sex Worker Rights Day is also observed on 3rd March and the history goes back to 2001. At that time around 25,000 sex workers gathered in India for a festival in spite of the efforts from prohibitionist groups who tried to avert it taking place by putting pressure on the government to revoke their permit.
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee organised this event and is a Calcutta-based group that has over 50,000 sex worker members and members of their communities. Therefore, sex worker groups across the globe celebrate 3rd March as International Sex Workers' Rights Day annually.