Statement by the Sex Workers University on their exclusion from #NWC2013

Posted on September 21, 2013


We are disappointed by the confusion being created by the Nottingham conference organisers around why current sex workers were excluded from their conference.

 We are aware that this is being presented as a ticketing issue. This obscures the deliberate choice the organisers made to invite organisations to discuss the issue of sex work, without inviting sex worker led organisations to offer the perspectives of current sex workers. We’re not asking to come in as individuals, especially not to such a hostile and unsafe environment. We were asking to come in as an organisation; a collective that speaks with collective solidarity from all a huge range of sex working experiences. Our collective contains undocumented migrant sex workers, single mothers who do sex work to pay their bills, and sex workers who work on the street or work to fund our educations. We’re not able to speak without that collective solidarity, especially in a context where organisations advocating for legal frameworks that have been shown to harm sex workers, organisations who were invited, have described current sex workers such as ourselves as “paid shills”. Do you doubt that we need collective solidarity, to enter such a space?

The extent to which this is clearly not a ticketing issue is demonstrated by the fact that the organisation Feminist Fightback offered to step aside in order for us to go in, and were refused. They merely thought that current sex workers might have something of value to add to a conversation about sex work. We’re surprised that the organizers don’t agree – and we’re even more surprised that they’ve chosen to portray this as a ticketing issue, when another organisation offered to give up their place for us. This isn’t about numbers or fire escapes. This is about a deliberate choice that the organizers made to exclude current sex workers who do not conform to their pre-decided ideas of what sex workers should do or say. In a conference dedicated to discussing the harms of objectification, we’re downhearted to see this familiar form of objectification, whereby sex workers opinions, words and voices are inconvenient and can be dismissed, erased and silenced, play out again in another feminist space. 

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