Call to join the Global Women's Strike from the International Prostitutes Collective

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Subject: Call to join the Global Women's Strike from the International Prostitutes Collective
From: Women's Strike (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 09:09:28 EST


The International Prostitutes Collective is a network of women, Black and
white, of different nationalities and backgrounds, working at various levels
of the sex industry. We campaign for abolition of the prostitution laws and
for legal, civil and economic rights for sex workers, including the right to
protection from violence, to health care and to form or join trades unions.

For refusing poverty by putting a price on sex , prostitute women have been
criminalised and stigmatised. By joining with non-prostitute women and
striking in whatever way we can, we are refusing to be divided into 'good'
and 'bad' women. We want to show that whatever job we are doing, we are all
the same women - mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, partners, neighbours,
friends. We all urgently need and demand that our work and our lives be
valued. As a result of being criminalised, we face rape and murder,
including by police who refuse to take violence against us seriously.

Sex workers have been essential to the survival of millions of families,
entire communities and even countries. We have also supported liberation
movements for women's and civil rights, against slavery and colonialism . .
. We have recently published a book, "Some Mother's Daughter - The hidden
movement of prostitute women against violence", a chronology of resistance
in England and the US which makes proposals to make all women safer.
for details of how to order the book.)

For most of us, especially those of us in the South and in the poor
innercity areas of the North, the "choice" is between destitution, domestic
work and prostitution. Our children are also discriminated against: in many
countries they are refused access to education because their mothers are
prostitutes. We are joining the Global Strike to demand that sex workers be
acknowledged as workers, and get the legal and civil rights we are all
entitled to. We demand the same for our families. The Task Force on
Prostitution set up by the city of San Francisco recommended that sex work
should be included in the city's accounts, and that it should be
decriminalised. We are also demanding money and resources for the first job
all women do - housework and caring work - so that we have a real choice to
refuse exploitative working conditions and to get out of prostitution if we
want to.

Please, send/call/fax/e-mail us with your reasons why as a worker in the sex
industry your are supporting/joining the strike. We'll add them to our
Strike website so that prostitute women all over the world can know what we
are all doing.

Stop Press: Some women working in the red light area of Soho, Central
London, are considering stopping work for some or all of the day to protest
about their lack of recognition. They want to hang a banner outside their
working flats saying "Soho On Strike".


I want to strike to make visible the work of leading a double life. We face
constant discrimination and abuse not only from police, politicians and the
media but from "feminists" and even our own families. Many of us are scared
to come out to our mothers, daughters/sons, in case they turn against us or
feel ashamed. But we are not ashamed of what we have had to do to survive
and we demand that other women support us just like we support them. NO BAD

I only went on the game for the money. It was not a career move. I was a
single mother on welfare doing cleaning jobs to make life bearable. Hooking
gave me more money and more time with my children. And we could all go on
holiday at last. But then I was an illegal worker and for 13 years I've had
to hide what I do in case my ex-husband or the school or a neighbour or
someone in the community decided to report me and my partner to the police,
social security or social services. I've know many prostitute women
labelled unfit mothers and lose custody of their children and nearly lose
their minds because it, when all they were doing was earning money so they
could get decent food and clothes for their kids.

I'm not going to hook on 8 March. I'm going on strike against those
horrendous prostitution laws which have destroyed so many women and
children's lives AND for a raise in social security - Tony Blairs salary
will do, he looks comfortable. Then I won't need to hook any longer.

Dear sisters, we invite you, your relatives, friends and colleagues to join
the Global Women's Strike on International Women's Day, 8 March 2000. You
may already be part of the World March organised by La Federation des Femmes
de Quebec/The Federation of Women in Quebec, Canada. We are too. We have
written to them, and they welcomed our proposal that we combine our events
and support each other. The strike was called almost a year ago by the
National Women's Council of Ireland, and was made global by the
International Wages for Housework Campaign and the International Women Count
Network which Wages for Housework co-ordinates.


The Strike focusses on women's enormous contribution to every society and
every economy. Women make the world go round, and raise and look after its
entire population; but most of the work we do is unwaged, unrecognised and
unvalued. This lack of economic and social recognition is a fundamental
sexist injustice which devalues women and everything women do, including
keeping our wages 25%-50% below men's. In fact, though a few women are now
in highly paid managerial positions, the gap between women's and men's wages
is growing.

Women and girls need and deserve a reduction of our workload, and financial
recognition for our enormous contribution. Less work, more time, more
A strike is the best way to make visible women's contribution, needs and
demands, because WHEN WOMEN STOP, EVERYTHING STOPS! Women have taken strike
action before - from Iceland in 1975, to a decade of Time Off for Women in
24 countries (24 October 1985-1994), to Switzerland in 1991 and Mexico in
1999. . . Such actions have won increased recognition for all the work women
do, waged and unwaged, and more bargaining power for our demands - from pay
equity to welfare benefits and childcare.

We have had enough of pinning our hopes on women who urged us to support
their rise in the economic and political hierarchy with the promise that
when they had attained powerful positions our needs would be addressed. In
fact, women who have climbed the power ladder have all too often been used
against us, to disguise the attempt by governments to sacrifice our lives on
the altar of the "global market". Just as people everywhere are accusing
governments of not representing any of us against corporate greed, we are
accusing women in governments of not representing women. We as a movement
are learning not to confuse the personal ambitions of some women with the
road to all women's liberation and the complete transformation of society.

As the year 2000 approaches, more and more people are aware that such a
transformation is vital: the world cannot go on as it is. From war, famine
and disease to global warming and other ecological devastation, racism and
every other kind of exploitation - high tech has not increased happiness and
well-being for the great majority of us, and has often had terrifying
consequences, as protests against the arms trade, genetically modified
foods, NAFTA and the World Trade Organisation have highlighted.
It is not the money that's lacking but the political will to change the
world's priorities. Global figures on military spending - $700 billion a
year - compared to spending for essentials for living - $20 billion -
demonstrate that for all to see.

There are many ways that women can get the money and resources we are owed.
Add your own demands to this list.
* The abolition of "Third World debt". The work women do - massively
increased by structural adjustment programmes imposed by the International
Monetary Fund - has more than repaid the debt. How can "loans" a few
decades old compare with 500 years of colonial theft and genocide?
* Accessible clean drinking water and ecologically sound technology for
every household - we all deserve cookers, fridges, washing machines,
computers . . . just because we're poor doesn't mean we have fewer needs.
* Affordable and accessible housing and transportation.
* Protection against all violence - at home, in the factory, in the office,
on the farm, on the street . . .
* Pay equity for all - equal pay for work of equal value internationally.
* Wages for caring work, whether in the family or not. What work is more
valuable than raising children and caring for others?
* Paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks and other benefits that
recognise women's biological work rather than penalising us for being women.
* Women in Ireland are demanding that International Women's Day, 8 March,
should be a paid public holiday every year starting in 2000.

Please include information about the Strike in your publications
and if you have a website link it up to the Strike Webpage
Women in the European and Latin American Network of Pirate Radios (Women
Creating Communication Spaces) are broadcasting a jingle they have composed
in Spanish and German, which you may want to translate for your own network
and broadcast in your country.
Some trade unions have started to take up the call for the Strike. Men and
boys are being asked to support it too.

Please visit our WEBPAGE and send us your comments and suggestions on how
you want to participate, and on how women should be remunerated for all
their work, in time, money, land, housing, healthcare, childcare, education,
technology . . .

So far our Strike leaflet is in: Arabic, Basque, Bengali, Catalan, Chinese,
French, Gaelic, German, Gujerati, Hindi, Italian and Spanish.
We also have attractive Strike T-shirts, badges and postcards (with English
logos) for sale.

Power to the sisters to stop the world - and change it!


Yolanda Benito
Mujeres por el Salario para el Trabajo Sin Sueldo (Spain)
Apartado 109, 08080 Barcelona

Margaretta D'Arcy
Women Count Network (Ireland),
10 St Bridget's Place Lower, Galway

Selma James
International Wages for Housework Campaign (England)
Crossroads Women's Centre, 230a Kentish Town Rd, London NW5 2AB

Margaret Prescod
International Black Women for Wages for Housework (USA)
PO Box 86681, Los Angeles, California 90086-0681


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