Today, on International Workers’ Day, Sex Worker Open University (SWOU) is re-launching as Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM).
As sex workers, we understand how vital it is that we advocate for ourselves on the issues that affect us and build solidarity with other marginalised or criminalised communities. And we need a strong, organised resistance movement to fight the threats we face.
- We must resist the growing economic inequality between rich and poor, cuts to social security and the increasing precarisation of labour that drive many of us to sell sex.
- We must resist privatisation of healthcare and cuts to specialist healthcare services for sex workers, while fighting for services to be truly holistic, non-judgmental, and sex worker-led.
- We must resist the continued attempts to criminalise clients of sex workers, which amounts to an attempt to force us out of sex work through increasing our vulnerability to poverty and violence.
- We must resist prohibitionist agendas which seek to drive a false distinction between sex workers and survivors, erasing the experiences and politics of sex working survivors, and co-opting the harms we are subject to into an argument for further harmful criminalisation.
- We must resist state violence against sex workers through police raids, harassment, arrest, detention, and deportation.
When we founded Sex Worker Open University in 2009, we chose our name as a radical rejection of the notion that policies that affect sex workers should be discussed only by academics and “experts” with no lived experience of sex work. Rather than being spoken about and for, we would be our own “university”, a place where we could learn from each other, build our knowledge and community: “nothing about us, without us”.
In the last nine years, SWOU has hugely grown and strengthened in membership numbers, and in the range of work we do. When we began we were an informal collective based in London: we are now a registered as a Workers’ Cooperative, with members all over the UK, and beyond. To mark this change and prepare ourselves for a new era of resistance, we are proud to launch SWARM: Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement. We invite you to explore our new website, share our statement, donate, or – for sex workers – JOIN US!