SWARM is a sex worker led collective based in the UK. The project was founded in 2009 (under our former name Sex Worker Open University) to advocate for the rights of everyone who sells sexual services. Our goal is to build a diverse and inclusive community of sex workers who work together to improve our working conditions and resist violence. 

We stand for the full decriminalisation of sex work

We advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work. That means we believe that sex workers will be safer and better able to assert their human and labour rights if laws and regulations related to selling, buying or organising sex work are removed. This includes current laws that criminalise soliciting, renting premises for the purpose of sex work, and working together with other sex workers.

We stand up for our right to speak for ourselves

We are not “pro sex work” or “sex industry advocates” and we reject the simplistic portrayals of those who would cast us so. We are intensely aware that for many people, the entrance point into sex work is one of exclusion or desperation – why wouldn’t we be aware of that? We are those people. But we assert that no one can label us victims and use our experiences to silence us, because we’re resourceful, resilient and the experts on our own lives.

We stand for workers’ rights

We recognise sex work as work. Currently, workers across the sex industry have little power to assert our rights as workers or improve our working conditions. We want to change that. We believe that full decriminalisation is an essential pre-condition for improving working conditions. And we believe that by working together, we can achieve the improvements in safety and conditions that the international labour movement has achieved in other industries.

We stand for migrants’ rights

Many of us are migrants. We believe every human being should be free to travel, cross borders and look for a better life. Rising xenophobia has created a situation where migrants are both more likely to be doing sex work due to lack of recourse to public funds and job market discrimination, and more likely to experience violence when they do sex work. Migrant sex workers in the UK are being targeted by the state for surveillance, raids and forced deportations. Resisting violence against all migrants, including migrant sex workers, is at the heart of SWARM.

We resist gender oppression

We recognise that sex work is done overwhelmingly by women and gender non-conforming people and together we fight for our liberation from gender oppression. In a society where men own most of the power and resources, sex work is a tool of survival, or the best among limited options, for those who experience gender oppression. This is particularly the case for women who experience multiple marginalisations, such as women of colour, trans women, working class women, disabled women, or women who are single mothers.

We believe that if you want fewer women to do sex work, you have to focus on expanding women’s options, not criminalising them for doing what they have to do to survive. We are feminists, but we denounce the carceral feminism which seeks to take away our livelihood and our survival. Policies that increase violence against marginalised women will not end patriarchy.We call on all feminist groups and organisations to listen to sex worker-led organisations and open their doors to us so that we can work together towards the eradication of gender violence.

We are in solidarity with the trans liberation movement

Deep-seated transphobic and transmisogynist attitudes in our society limit employment options for many trans women, trans men, and gender non-conforming people and make the sex industry an option for livelihood or survival. We applaud the courage of all trans sex workers who worldwide are working against  abuse and violence, and are fighting for the rights of all sex workers.