Sex worker advocacy group rally in support of Monica Jones

Activists at a rally for sex workers in Times Square. (Photo by Felice Leon)
Activists at a rally for sex workers in Times Square. (Photo by Felice Leon)

HOST INTRO: A group of activists for sex workers rights held a rally in Times Square today. It was to call attention to the case of Monica Jones. She’s a Black transgendered sex worker who went on trial today for prostitution. The activists say she’s really on trial for speaking out.  Felice León Reports.
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A couple dozen activists stand in an isle in Time Square, a few of them hold red umbrellas and they chant.

AMBI: Sex workers’ rights, sex workers’ rights.

Red, they say is the international color of sex workers rights. They are all members of Sex Workers Outreach Project, or SWOP.

Kate D’Adamo is a Community Organizer for the New York branch of the group. She says the protest was to call attention to a case of discrimination—they call it ‘walking while trans.’

DADAMO: We believe that she was profiled not only as a trans woman of color, which is incredibly common when policing for sex work and prostitution related crimes.

But Jones is also an outspoken critic of Project Rose, a program aimed at getting sex workers into other occupations. Jones and SWOP members say sex workers are coerced into enrolling in the program after they’re detained by law enforcement, and that the program makes them feel like victims. D’Adamo also says Project Rose deprives sex workers of their livelihood.

DADAMO: Going through the program puts you into low-wage work

But Jones was also an outspoken critic of

The broader goal of SWOP it to get people to understand that many sex workers choose to do this work.

Manko, who didn’t give her last name, is from London. She says there is a world of difference between sex work, and sex trafficking.

MANKO: If you think about it for a minute, you realize that sex work is something that is chosen, and sex trafficking isn’t.

Lea Lana is a dominatrix from Brooklyn. She used the rally as an opportunity to do some public outreach.

AMBI: Would you like to support sex workers’ rights?

Not all bystanders are receptive.

LANA: A lady asked what we were about and she said, are you promoting sex work, and I said, that we support sex worker rights and she ‘oh, I… no,’ which is a pity.  

But, she says many are.

LANA: It’s really great to have conversations with people about what we’re about and actually get a of really interested and caring responses from people.

Still, Lana is undeterred. She hands out flyers with a smile.

Jones’ is getting international attention, as well. Advocates are in the process of bringing her case UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva.

Felice León, Columbia Radio News.

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