ICRSE Conference

Between the 4th and 6th of June 2015 SWAI took part in a conference involving sex workers and supports from 8 European countries. The event organised by the ICRSE was held to mark the 40th anniversary of the Lyon protests where sex workers occupied the Église Saint Nizier in order to demand their rights and to end police harassment. The event, seen as the start of the modern European sex worker movement is now marked every year by International Sex Workers Day celebrated on the 2nd of June.

This year once again sex workers gathered on the streets of France to demand rights and fairness

* We want full decriminalisation

* No criminalisation of our clients

* Labour rights as given to other workers

* The right to work in a safe environment

* End to police harassment

* To be given full agency and allowed to speak for ourselves

In the 40 years since the Lyon protests Sex Workers have become more organised, forming groups, collectives and trade unions. Despite this however we still face much in the way of discrimination, stigma and lack of support.

In Ireland and France sex workers face laws criminalising their clients – laws which have been shown to cause stigma and increase violence.

In the Netherlands and Germany sex workers face repressive legislation and over-regulation. In Amsterdam 100s of sex workers and their supporters have taken to the streets to protest the closing down of windows in the red light district against the workers wishes and depriving them of safe places to work.

Also in Germany new laws plan to introduce mandatory health checks, something which goes against UN AIDS recommendations.

In Norway sex workers are kicked out of their homes by the police under the aptly titled “Operation Homeless”. They have also faced increased violence and immigrant sex workers including from the EEA face forced deportations.


SWAI was proud to stand with our fellow workers in Paris and to speak with one voice:

We want an end to stigma and an end to criminalisation and for our human and labour rights to be respected.