”Nothing about us – without us”
This is the headline for the Danish sex workers’ organisation – SIO (in Danish: Sexarbejdernes Interesseorganisation; Sex workers’ Interest Organisation). We demand worker rights for sex workers, and we demand to be heard in political matters concerning us.This is in correspondence with the resolution from 2007 presented by the European Council regarding the rights of sex workers.
We demand that every sex worker should be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of nationality and gender. Migrant sexworkers deserve the same rights to work and live in Denmark as do the Danish sex workers. We therefore urge the Danish authorities to respect international conventions and resolutions on sex work, including those meant to protect victims of trafficking within the sex industry. Unfortunately, they rarely do.
A response to the risk of criminalisation
SIO was founded in the spring of 2008, mainly as a response to the general political ambition to criminalise our profession. The establishment of SIO was a reaction to several discussions among Danish politicians regarding the possibility to criminalize men for buying sexual favors from professional sexworkers. One of the arguments for prohibiting sex trade has been that all migrant sexworkers are working as slaves with no free will and no earnings of their own because migrant women are being kidnapped in their native country or tricked into the sextrade. Danish sexworkers know this is not true, we know that many women travel to Denmark to make good money selling sex to support themselves and their families.
Moreover, sex work in Denmark is officially not regarded as a profession, but as a social problem. As sex workers we find this view illogical and degrading. However, we do believe that the struggle for sex workers’ rights must begin with securing rights and good working conditions for those who are in dire need of it – meaning the most fragile among us sex workers. Therefore we devote a lot of energy to raising awareness about migrant sex workers, and sex workers who work on the streets.