International Sex Workers Day 2020: International Sex Workers Day History, Significance and more facts

International Sex Workers Day: International Sex Workers Rights Day is observed on June 2nd every year. It is to mark the anniversary of the first major protest that took place in Europe to forward sex workers’ rights. International Sex Workers Day is also known as International Sex Workers Rights Day. Read on to know more about the reason behind observing International Sex Workers Day.

Updated: Jun 09, 2020 17:43 IST

International Sex Workers Day 2020: International Sex Workers Day History, Significance and more facts

Suganya Vedham

Who are Sex Workers?

Porn stars, phone sex operators, cam girls, strippers, agency escorts and street prostitutes all sell their sexual services in some form or the other, but through different channels and with varying degrees of exposure to their clients. The striking disparities in the associated risks and benefits imply that there’s no such thing as a unified “market” for sex work, nor universal labels agreed upon by its various communities. 

History of International Sex Workers Day

International Sex Workers Day is celebrated on 2nd June not only in Europe but around the world. In 1975, approximately 100 sex workers gathered at Sant-Nizier Church in Lyon, France, to express their grievance and anger about their exploitative living conditions and work culture due to their occupation. Henceforth, The Church was brutally raided by the police forces on 10th June. This action became a national movement and so, now celebrated in Europe and worldwide. Hence, International Sex Workers Day is observed on 2nd June every year.

Difficulties Faced by Sex Workers

As human beings, each one of us has the right to live our lives the way we would want to, and most of the time, people do have legal support. If you are unaware, there are certain sections of our society that are not legal. One such group involves sex workers, who have been denied their basic rights only because of their work. 

While the term sex work usually denotes prostitution, it, however, comprehends several other things like phone sex operators, dancers in strip clubs, adult video performers, webcam models, and many other sexually-related services. 

All around the world, sex workers still do not have the same rights as every other human being doing a different job does. There are laws against prostitution, pornography, and many other occupations related to sex that would portray most of these sex workers as criminals, which is a violation of their rights. They do not have fundamental rights, as the work they do, leaves them stigmatized and marginalized, and in a country where sex work is illegal, they cannot even seek legal help.

In many cases, women and men are forced into sex work as it turns out to be their only way of earning a living. Decriminalizing what they do, would ensure they have the same rights as all other human beings do. It would at least help in tackling problems of them being exploited, abused, or trafficked.

Sex workers are more vulnerable to violence, including rape, assault, and murder in countries where sex work is criminalized. They are seen as easy targets by attackers, who know that since their work is not deemed legal, they would not seek justice from the police.

Importance of International Sex Workers Day

International Sex Workers Day aims to spread awareness about the rights of sex workers so that they too can live a life of respect. Observing this day on June 2 will remind people that even sex workers are human beings and deserve to be respected and treated the same way as others with a different job. 

In India:

According to an official estimate, there are over 12,00,000 sex workers in India. People in sex work face discrimination and violence owing to their criminalized status and the continued conflation of sex work with trafficking. 

The Supreme Court of India has noticed that sex workers are given the right to live and must be allowed the protection guaranteed to every other citizen. It also instructed the State to provide recommendations on the “rehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave sex work of their own will and to provide conducive conditions for sex workers who still wish to continue working as sex workers”.

Life of Sex Workers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic all over the world has affected everyone's life in one way or the other. It also has a profound effect on sex workers. Social distancing has made their life more miserable. Due to the pandemic, these workers find it very difficult even to have two meals a day, and some of them are on the verge of starvation. According to reports, more than 60 percent of sex workers have returned to their home states.

International Sex Workers Day - FAQs

1. Why is the reason for observing International Sex Workers' Day?

The purpose of celebrating international sex workers is to make people aware of the rights of sex workers. So that sex workers can live a life of honor in society.

2. When was the first International Sex Workers' Day observed?

International Sex Workers' Day was first observed in the year 1976, June 2nd to mark the 1st anniversary of the protest that took place in 1975.

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