Regional updates: North America and the Caribbean

Our members are listed on the left or you can click the red umbrellas on the map.

Regional Board Members

Shaunna-May Trotman (Guyana Sex Work Coalition), Guyana

Natasha Potvin (Peers Victoria Resources Society), Canada

NSWP Regional Network

The Caribbean Sex Workers Coalition (CSWC) is a regional network of organisations representing female, male and transgender sex workers. It was founded in 2011 and is based in Georgetown, Guyana.

News articles from North America and Caribbean region are listed below.

Regional updates

13th July 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

Image: Screenshot of Backpage.com homepage.

The online classified web site Backpage.com, long used by sex workers as a low-cost means of advertising their services and screening clients, has announced that it is allowing users to post ads for free to the adult services section of its site.

Backpage has been sending e-mails to users of the adult services section of the site informing them that they could use free promo code "FREESPEECH" until their payment situation was resolved to post ads.

3rd July 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

In the aftermath of Canada’s new “end demand” style policy on sex work, migrant sex workers (including those with legal status) are being swept up in crackdowns and police sweeps, which they say are endangering them.

3rd July 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

On Tuesday the 30th of June, MasterCard announced that its credit cards can no longer be used to pay for ads on the Backpage.com website, following a request from Chicago’s Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, who claimed the site is used by sex traffickers. The following day Visa announced that it, too, would no longer allow its credit cards to be used to make transactions through the website.

3rd July 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

Thirty-five mayors from across the United States, including Bill de Blasio in New York City, Rahm Emanuel in Chicago and Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles, have lent their support to a growing campaign for an “end demand” style of law enforcement to be used against the clients of sex workers.

3rd July 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

Sex workers in Canada held a national day of action across the country on Saturday, the 13th of June. The third annual Red Umbrella March was especially significant this year, following the introduction of new sex work legislation late last year. 

3rd July 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

Within the last few months, two new chapters of the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA) have formed in the US state of Texas.

28th May 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

When Canada’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay presented the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (the Conservative Government’s new plan for legislating on sex work, implemented late last year), he presented, as a major selling point, the promise of providing funds to people in the sex trades who wish to exit the industry.

28th May 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

Last year, on 25th June, the San Francisco-based advertising/community website MyRedbook, which featured free listings and discussions forums for sex workers; a review section, and a bad date list, was shut down and seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Two employees were arrested and last week one was sentenced to 13 months in jail. Eric Omuro had entered a guilty plea, admitting that from 2010 to 2014 he owned and ran MyRedbook.com with the intent to facilitate prostitution.

22nd May 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) a piece of bipartisan anti-trafficking legislation that has been criticised for its prioritisation of law enforcement, passed the US House of Representatives by 420 votes to three on 19th of May. The legislation will now head to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

20th May 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

In Ottawa, Canada late last month police raided 20 massage and body rub parlours in a three-day long bust that they claimed was part of a human trafficking investigation. While no criminal charges were made, last week Ottawa police announced that 11 women will be deported as a result of the raids.

Sex worker groups have spoken up against the decision to issue removal orders for the 11 women, saying that undocumented workers in Canada are more vulnerable to violence and are far less likely to come forward as witnesses to report crime if they fear deportation.

11th May 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

At the beginning of this month Honolulu police arrested more than a dozen sex working women over a weekend. Instead of charging the women with prostitution – a misdemeanor that carries a maximum 30-day jail sentence – they were instead charged with sexual assault in the fourth degree. If convicted, the women would have to register as sex offenders.

Honolulu police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said, in a statement, that the police operation was prompted by public complaints.

8th May 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

Geneva–Representatives of U.S.-based sex worker rights organisations are in Geneva, Switzerland, meeting with members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), and advocating for greater human rights protections. The HRC will hold its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the U.S.’ human rights record on May 11th at 9am (3am EST), at the U.N. in Geneva. The UPR is a peer-based review process, through which the human rights record of each member state of the U.N.

21st April 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

 

Maggie de Vries on this TED Talk exposes her own life story in order to expose the stigma and discrimination around sex work.

Maggie remarks on how she had to come to terms with the life that her sister Sarah lived.

20th April 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

At a meeting in St. Lucia earlier this month, NSWP member group, the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) was invited by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS, which is made up of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to be part of a Regional Coordinating Mechanism.

15th April 2015 | Region: North America and the Caribbean

In the United States, the Georgia House has approved a constitutional amendment charging strip clubs to “help combat child sex trafficking.”

The charge would be $5,000 or one percent of revenue on adult entertainment businesses, whichever is greater. The funds will apparently go towards a new commission responsible for coordinating services for victims of child trafficking, although details on this are very vague.