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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers 2023- December 17

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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - December 17 2023The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is annually observed across the globe on 17 December to focus attention on hate crimes committed against sex workers worldwide, as well as the need to remove the social stigma and discrimination that have contributed to violence against sex workers.

  • The Day has empowered sex workers from cities around the world to come together and organise against discrimination and remember victims of violence.

The global observance of the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is led by the NSWP- Global Network of Sex Work Projects.


i.The day was started by the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), United States of America (USA), and inaugurated by Dr. Annie Sprinkle, an American certified sexologist on 17 December 2003.

ii.The 1st International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was observed on 17 December 2003 as a memorial and vigil for the victims of Gary Ridgway, also known as the “Green River Killer” in Seattle, Washington (USA).

iii.A memorial organised by Annie Sprinkle and Robin Few, Co-Founder of SWOP-USA was held on the lawn of San Francisco City Hall (USA) on 17 December 2003, the date of Ridgway’s conviction.

  • Since then the day has been observed annually on December 17 by sex workers, their advocates, friends, families, and allies across the world.

Note: SWOP, USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers focused on ending violence & stigma.

Symbol of Sex Worker’s Rights:

Red Umbrella‘ is the global symbol of sex worker rights across the globe.

  • It gained significance in 2001 when sex workers in Venice, Italy used red umbrellas as part of the 49th Venice Biennale of Art.
  • In 2005, the International Committee of the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) adopted the red umbrella as a symbol of resistance to discrimination and the marches began to take place internationally.

Other Global Observances Related to Sex Workers:

  • International Sex Worker Rights Day- 3 March
  • International Whore’s Day or International Sex Workers’ Day – 2 June
  • International Sex Worker Pride Day- 14 September

2023 Events:

SWOP-Sacramento in California, USA organised a March and Vigil on 17 December 2023 to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

Rights of Sex Workers in India:

i.In 2022, the Supreme Court of India (SCI) ruled that sex workers fall under the protection of Article 21 of the Constitution which assures every person the right to life.

  • It recognized that sex workers are entitled to equal protection under the law.

ii.The court directed both central and state governments to ensure sex workers are not subjected to arrest, penalties, harassment, or victimisation during brothel raids.

  • Recognizing individual sex work as distinct from running a brothel (illegal in India), the judgment reinforces the legality of individual sex work.

Sex work in India is primarily governed by:

  • Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA) of 1956;
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860;
  • Indian Constitution of 1950; and
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) (JJA) Act 2015

and various state legislations have been enacted to combat prostitution and prostitution AND trafficking.

ITPA of 1956:

It was amended and renamed in 1986. In pursuance of the International Convention signed by India in 1950 about the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking, a comprehensive Act called the ITPA was enacted in 1956.

  • It makes the sexual exploitation of males and females a cognizable offense.

About NSWP- Global Network of Sex Work Projects:
President– Phelister Abdalla (Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA)), Kenya
Headquarters– Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)