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Student Sex Worker Outreach Project

Student Sex Worker Outreach Project

The PSU Women's Resource Center supports the right of all students to seek and access safety in all aspects of life, including in the workplace. For students working in the sex industry, this can be a unique and isolating challenge.

Students working in the sex industry can face some additional challenges that can affect their academic life and/or their safety in the campus community.  These challenges present tangible barriers to student success and over-all well-being. These can include:

Non-traditional work schedules making required class attendance difficult, Fear of "coming out" in collaborative classroom settings designed for student sharing and connecting, Anxiety about fellow students or faculty as consumers of the sex industry. Fellow students, University staff, or faculty recognizing a student on campus from their time at work, calling them by their performer name or doing other things that violate their confidentiality and separate work identity. "Outing" students as sex workers to other students, faculty or staff.

On campus conversations about the sex trade are often focused on trafficking and victimization which may not match up with every student sex workers complex and varied experiences. 

Students participating in the sex industry often feel like aspects of their life are compartmentalized, and access to non-judgmental support and mentorship on campus is not available. Student workers who have experienced interpersonal violence are less likely to report or seek help because of bias or fear of law enforcement and reporting structures.

If you are a student sex worker who would like to organize events around awareness and safety for student sex workers, feel free to contact the Women's Resource Center. 

The Women's Resource Center's Student Sex Worker Outreach Project advocate is available to meet with student sex workers who are seeking support on campus. Services available can include: Planning class schedules to go around work, interacting with other students/when to “come out” if you want to, how to answer questions, dealing with non-consensual disclosures of sex worker status, disclosing to professors and staff, accessing student resources like Student Health Centers, Legal services, and Women’s Resource Centers to address issues related or not related to work.

FAQ: 

What do you mean by the term sex worker? How is that different than sex trafficking?

People that choose to voluntarily enter the sex trade often have a different lived experiences and needs than people whom are trafficked or coerced into the sex trades. We recognize that the spectrum experience of peoples in the sex trade is widely varied due to factors such as: ability, ethnicity, citizenship, class, geographic location, gender, sexuality and other considerations. 

Working Definitions: 

Sex Work: exchanging sex or sexual services or sexual energy for money drugs transportation, housing, or something that is needed. Many sex workers make a decision to enter and work in the sex industry. 

Sex Trafficking: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, or deception…” (Definition from Urban Justice & the Sex Workers Project)

Harms with Conflating Sex Work and Sex Trafficking:

Confusion in the media and in public perception

Obstacles to implementing effective public policy, and in practice disregards the human, social, and economic rights of sex workers

Social Service agencies can focus on the needs two different populations more effectively when the two are not conflated

Policies that criminalize and stigmatize sex work, make it hard for victims of sex trafficking to come forward as they fear they may be victimized further

Vast majority of women who have been “rescued” will return to their work in order to support their families.

(Schreter, Jewers& Sastrawidjaja, 2007)

What if I am not currently in the sex trades but I need support?

The student sex worker outreach project advocate, Adrienne can meet with students currently or formerly involved in the sex trades. 

Will the Women’s Resource Center tell my professors or other students I am a sex worker?

The Women’s Resource Center can offer you privacy, but not confidentiality. This means that we will not discuss you or your situation with other students.  We will not talk with other University staff unless we have to.  We are required to disclose situations in regards to interpersonal violence when we have identifying information about the perpetrator. 

I want to organize activities for other student sex workers on campus! 

Contact Adrienne for more information, collaboration, and WRC volunteer opportunities.  

Additional Resources

 

Check out the Sex Worker Outreach Project at PWCL for great info and support options, including events such as International Sex Worker Rights Day.  Their Sex Worker Outreach Advocate is available via 503-419-4355.

Rahab's Sister is a drop-in center offering 'radical hospitality with no strings attached' to local sex workers and other women marginalized by the sex industry, drug addiction and/or homelessness. They provide hot meals, hygiene items, and good company to attendees of their Friday night outreach.

The Sex Workers Outreach Coalition is a Portland Oregon based coalition of social service providers concerned with the safety, dignity, and diversity in needs of those working in the sex industry. Their mission is to promote basic human rights and personal safety for all individuals working in the sex industry.

Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP) is dedicated to supporting organizations and advocates working with sex workers, people in the sex trade and related communities in the United States. We produce materials for policy environments, address research and academic concerns and provide organizations and advocates with technical assistance. Everything that we do is guided by principles that protect the rights of people who engage in commercial sex in all its forms. http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/

The Desiree Alliance is a diverse, sex worker-led network of organizations, communities and individuals across the US working in harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers. We provide leadership and create space for sex workers and supporters to come together to advocate for human, labour and civil rights for all workers in the sex industry.  http://www.desireealliance.org/

The Red Umbrella Project amplifies the voices of people who have done transactional sex, through media, storytelling, and advocacy programs. We are a small and feisty community-based organization in New York that is peer-led and works to ensure that cisgender and transgender women, cisgender and transgender men, LGBQ people, people who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, people who are parents, people of color, people struggling with addictions, people with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities, and people with complex experiences of the sex trade have space to share their experiences with a wide audience, fight discrimination, and use this platform to advocate for change. http://www.redumbrellaproject.org/about/

Persist Health Project is a peer-led health organization in New York City, which links sex workers, trafficking survivors and anyone who has traded sex for money, food, drugs, or other resources with nonjudgmental health services. We believe that when we take control of our health and wellness together through peer education and community health care, it is an act of empowerment and a tool for positive change. http://www.persisthealthproject.org/

St. James Infirmary offers free, confidential, nonjudgmental medical and social services for sex workers (current or former) of all genders and sexual orientations in San Francisco, California. We are the first occupational safety and health clinic for sex workers run by and for sex workers! http://stjamesinfirmary.org/

Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) exists to uphold the voice of sex workers globally and connect regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers. http://www.nswp.org/

Every student deserves to be heard and safe. Contact Adrienne at the WRC for more information at ipv@pdx.edu or 503-725-5605.