This rainy Sunday, sheltered by trees and surrounded by a circle of supporters, Julia Salazar gave a short speech that covered a number of her core concerns, from labor rights to stable and affordable housing. Salazar, who’s challenging incumbent Democrat Martin Dilan for the New York state Senate’s 18th district seat in North Brooklyn, related all of these issues back to the cause of the day: sex workers’ rights, and the fight for decriminalization.

At the end of her remarks, Salazar heralded the historic meet-up—a canvassing event to talk to voters about Salazar’s sex-work platform—as a step toward “liberation for sex workers, and for everyone in our communities.” Gatherings like this one, in which sex workers, activists, and allies convene in parkstown halls, packed rooms, and even Congress, have taken on an increasingly urgent tone in the wake of SESTA/FOSTA, an anti-sex trafficking law that has further criminalized an already criminalized community, putting sex workers out of work and reportedly pushing them into unsafe and exploitative positions. Despite SESTA/FOSTA, which also threatens online communication between sex workers, sex workers’ rights activists have continued to organize—not just against the legislation, but for nothing less than liberation.

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Inside Sex Workers’ Fight for the next Ocasio-Cortez by Amy Zimmerman

Aug 20th, 2018