BACKGROUND on DECRIMNOW
DECRIMNOW is a campaign and movement to decriminalize sex work and to promote the well-being and safety of people in the sex trade.
DECRIMNOW DC was created by the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (SWAC), a group of individuals and organizations promoting the human rights, civil rights and liberties, health, safety, and well-being of sex workers and people profiled as sex workers in Washington, DC while advocating for legislation and other policy changes to challenge the system of criminalization of sex work.
Through DECRIMNOW, we’re canvassing, creating art, organizing actions, engaging in political education, and getting together as a community to fight for justice and autonomy for people in the sex trade.
It is our birthright to be able to live free and healthy lives. Our communities deserve radical change from our society's current reality where Black and brown lives are criminalized, incarcerated, and stigmatized. We imagine a world where we all have the power and resources not only to survive, but to thrive.
Policing and criminalization of sex work is one of the primary sites of racial profiling, police violence, and mass incarceration of Black and brown women, girls, and trans and gender nonconforming folks. This violence is compounded when they are also denied access to housing, health care, transportation, healthy food, and other basic human needs based on discrimination and stigma. The decriminalization of sex work is one step in ending this violence.
We believe that sex work is work and that people in the sex trades are worthy of full economic, political and social empowerment, and humanity. We believe in sexual agency and freedom. We believe in divestment from police and investment in resources to keep our community members safe. This is why we're fighting for the decriminalization of sex work in DC.
DECRIMNOW in the STREETS
We are sex workers. We are organizers. We are allies. We are survivors. We canvass, hold community political educations, lobby on the Hill, engage in direct actions, host workshops, and create art to fight for the decriminalization of sex work. Our coalition is led by Black and brown people, trans and queer people, gender nonconforming people, and people with lived experiences in the sex trades.
Will you join us? Learn how to take action here, and see our upcoming events here.
DECRIMNOW in POLICY
As a part of SWAC, we're pushing for the bill Reducing Criminalization to Improve Community Health and Safety Amendment Act of 2017, a bill that will remove criminal penalties from the selling and buying of sex in DC.
Do you believe in decriminalizing sex work? Sign this petition to get a hearing for the bill in DC City Council!
In addition to decriminalization, we seek to achieve the following policy goals:
Decrease criminal system involvement for sex workers, people profiled as sex workers, and the purchasers of sexual services;
Repair past harms resulting from criminalization;
Work to end coercion and human trafficking into the sex trade while respecting sex workers’ rights and freedom of self-determination, rejecting the conflation of sex work and trafficking, and educating the public on the difference between sex work and human trafficking;
Collect data to assess the health and well-being of sex workers;
Increase access to social services that are culturally competent, non-judgmental, and non-coercive;
Promote the overall health of sex workers — physical, emotional, sexual, and mental —through culturally competent and trauma-informed care;
Prevent the use of condoms and other items as evidence of sex work; and
Ensure sex worker leadership and oversight by current and former sex workers and people profiled as sex workers.
We oppose the criminalization of sex work and seek legal and policy changes that both decriminalize sex work and reduce criminalization of sex workers, people profiled as sex workers, and purchasers of sexual services.
We engage in advocacy rooted in a fact-based, harm reduction framework that takes a holistic, intersectional view in its activities and centers marginalized communities, led for and by sex workers and people with lived experiences in the sex trades.
We embrace diversity and challenge stigma and prejudice about sex work. We combat stigmatization of people based on age, size, race, ethnicity, economic status, immigration status, substance use, gender identity or sexual orientation. We will not sacrifice the well-being of immigrants, street-based workers, people who use drugs, or trans people who are most often the targets of violence, punitive laws, and law enforcement officials.
We will support policy changes backed by empirical evidence to benefit those impacted by the criminalization of sex work.
We seek to shift public narratives about sex work and provide public and community education about the criminalization of sex work and relevant policy changes.
We strive to work in partnership with other organizations and movements to achieve these goals.
DECRIMNOW Campaign Squad
We're a group of directly impacted individuals, community members, organizers, and accomplices who are committed to the well-being of sex workers and people profiled as sex workers.
The organizations in the DECRIMNOW campaign are listed below.
Contact: HIPS DC
HIPS believes that those engaged in sex work, sex trade, and drug use should be able to live healthy, self-determined, and self-sufficient lives free from stigma, violence, criminalization or oppression. HIPS achieves this through engaging sex workers, drug users and our communities in challenging structural barriers to health, safety, and prosperity.
Contact: UndocuBlack DC
The UndocuBlack Network is a multigenerational network of currently and formerly undocumented Black people that fosters community, facilitates access resources and contributes to transforming the realities of our people, so we are thriving and living our fullest lives.
The DECRIMNOW campaign squad is made up of dozens of people who commit their time to fighting to decriminalize and destigmatize sex work. New organizers and volunteers join us everyday.
Bios from a few people on the campaign squad are below. Learn more about some of the faces behind the campaign from the following organizations: Collective Action for Safe Spaces, HIPS, and BYP100.
Nona Conner, Job Training Program Manager with Collective Action for Safe Spaces
Nona Conner is a former sex worker, organizer, and Program Manager with Collective Action for Safe Spaces. She oversees the Safe Bar Collective job training program, which gives four trans women of color, one gender queer person, and one non-binary person the opportunity to learn front of house restaurant skills, including serving, waitressing, hosting, and bartending. She also worked with Casa Ruby as a secretary and monitor in their housing shelter. She believes that sex work should be decriminalized because it's any individuals right to do what they feel with their bodies—not to mention that most sex workers are in the work for survival.
Pontiànna Ivàn, Job Training Fellow with Collective Action for Safe Spaces
Pontiànna Ivàn is a 21 year-old Black trans woman who was born in Lusaka, Zambia and migrated to the United States. She is the founder of Ivàn Entertainment, bringing talented people from all walks of life together to create art, promote each other's work, and expand their networks to achieve their collective goals.
As a former sex worker, she is an advocate for sex work decriminalization and investments into sex work. She now works with the organization CASS, she is enrolled in a workshop, and she canvasses in various locations in the city to talk to people about the decriminalization of sex work. Pontiànna recognizes that the lack of housing is one of the reasons that the sex trade is big in DC and across the country. The lack of housing also causes the human trafficking predicament to rise. She is a survivor and is advocating for a better tomorrow where all people can thrive, not just survive.
Tamika Spellman, Peer Advocate and Policy Fellow with HIPS
Tamika is originally from Buffalo, New York, but she’s lived in Washington, DC on and off since 1988. Tamika has worked with HIPS on their policy and advocacy team since June 2017. She has served as a peer educator and then worked in the needle exchange program. She’s volunteered her time with mobile services, giving new work and safer sex supplies to people throughout the District.
Tamika knows first hand what the war on drugs has done to the community. She is dedicated to helping others and working to create positive policies and laws to help those involved in sex work and drug use. She has testified on behalf of HIPS at the DC Council, spoken on several harm reduction panels, and is very active in both SWAC and the DC LEAD Coalition.
Cyndee Clay, Executive Director with HIPS
Cyndee Clay is an internationally recognized expert with over 20 years experience in program development, nonprofit management and evaluation for improving the health and safety of injection and non-injection drug users, sex workers, and transgender individuals.
She is a graduate of the UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program at UCLA Business School, convened DC’s first working group on drug user health, and serves as the DC Prevention Planning Group’s community co-chair elect, DC community representative for the Urban Coalition of HIV/AIDS Prevention Services UCHAPS, and the DC Recovery Advisory Council.
Kendra Allen, Organizer with BYP100
Kendra Allen is interested in creating a world where Black people, and especially Black queer people, are able to fully express their humanity without being targets of violence.
A queer writer, abolitionist, and native of DC, Kendra began organizing with BYP100 in October 2017. She believes the only way to keep our communities safe is to divest from police and prisons and invest in resources. This is why she supports the sex work decriminalization bill and is passionate about canvassing neighborhoods in the District to talk with community members about supporting sex workers.
Jonathan Butler, Organizer with BYP100
Pronouns: He/Him/His, They/Them/Theirs
Jonathan Butler is a queer organizer, writer, and artist. A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Jonathan moved to the DC area in 2016. Through his work as an artist, Jonathan helps to curate community-engaged art workshops, trainings, and curriculum as a form of cultural resistance and empowerment. As an organizer with BYP100 DC and DECRIMNOW, Jonathan organizes through a Black queer feminist lens, curates cultural works that help empower communities, and advocates for policies that help meet the material needs of people at the margins of society with a emphasis on Black people and communities of color.
Jonathan is committed to the fight for justice, equity, and liberation with the resolve of making a more just world a reality for everyone. This includes divesting from prisons and police and investing in resources and alternatives that keep communities safe and healthy. Jonathan believes in both the possibilities of a brighter future and the radical possibilities of change now.
SUPPORTERS of DECRIMNOW
The organizations listed below are supporters of the fight for decriminalizing sex work and supporting the well-being and safety of people in the sex trade.
Is your organization interested in signing on as supporters of the DECRIMNOW campaign? Contact us!