On Saturday, members of SWARM attended the Shut Down Yarls Wood protest. We stand in solidarity with migrants being detained in detention centres across the UK against their will. We stood as a sex worker bloc alongside the trans sex worker organisation, Sex Worker and Trans, to ensure that sex worker voices are visible and recognised within the fight for migrants’ rights.
Migrant sex workers are targeted and attacked by racist immigration policy and law enforcement, including raids of working premises leading to the seizing and confiscation of workers’ earnings and the detention and deportation of migrant sex workers, under a guise of “rescue” and “protection against trafficking”.
We made our presence at the protest known with banners declaring “Migrant Sex Workers Welcome Here” and “Stop Deporting Sex Workers”, as well as with our red umbrellas and flyers, and heard the stories of women who were inside, forced into detention, and ripped away from family and friends. We were inspired by their resistance to violence at the hands of a state that views them as “illegal” and “undesirable”. This “desirability” status that all migrants to the UK are forced to abide to is something that sex workers, trans people, and people of colour are the least likely to achieve, and is part of a sweeping anti-migrant rhetoric that is making us more vulnerable to detainment, state violence and deportation.
No human is illegal. We stand against racist immigration policy, the constant scapegoating of migrants by the media and the government, rising xenophobia and hate crime, and all forms of state violence. We continue to demand full decriminalisation of sex work and an end to immigration detention centres across the country. All migrant sex workers are welcome here.