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Rights in Light of Covid-19: Sex Work, Prison Abolition and Public Health

POSTED: 25 August 2020

Couldn’t make the event? Watch the video here.

Last week a panel of community organisers joined us for the third event in Autograph’s series exploring human rights in light of Covid-19, to discuss how the virus has impacted sex workers and prisoners in the UK, and how the logics of the carceral state continue to criminalise their survival.

The conversation is hosted by Lola Olufemi, with panellists Elio Beale, Kelsey, and Dr Aviah Sarah Day. Watch the full video below, with captions and BSL interpretation by Ali Gordon and Sharan Thind.

Please note that Elio Beale's camera isn't enabled in the video, and they are not visible on screen.


Resources and reading related to this event

Bent Bars - a letter-writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain. The project seeks to develop stronger connections and build solidarity between LGBTQ communities inside and outside prison walls.

CAPE (Community Action on Prison Expansion) – a network of grassroots groups fighting prison expansion in England, Wales and Scotland.

Cradle Community – a collective of facilitators, organisers, educators and artists with a mission to build a world with transformative justice responses to violence. They help individuals to develop the skills to support radical approaches to collective care and healing in our communities.

SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement) – a sex worker led collective, campaigning for the rights and safety of everyone who sells sexual services, and advocating for the full decriminalisation of sex work.

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4Front Project – a member-led youth organisation empowering young people and communities to fight for justice, peace and freedom. Supporting individuals with experiences of violence and the criminal justice system to create change in their own lives, communities and society.

Angela Davis – an American activist, academic and abolitionist. Author of Are Prisons Obsolete?

Decriminalised Futures – a collaborative project using creative tools and popular education to explore sex worker lives, experiences and movement struggles.

English Collective of Prostitutes - an organisation of sex workers working on the street and in premises with a national network throughout the UK. They campaign for the decriminalisation of prostitution, for sex workers' rights and safety, and for resources to enable people to get out of prostitution if they want to.

JENGbA Joint Enterprise - a grassroots campaign, run by volunteers against the the use of joint enterprise law.

London Renters Union – a member-led campaigning union taking action to transform the housing system in London.

Prisoner Solidarity Network - a group committed to dismantling the criminal justice system and building a society based on collective care. Their members include people inside and outside of prisons.

Ruth Wilson Gilmore – a prison abolitionist and scholar. Author of Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California
Sisters Uncut – a feminist direct action group opposing cuts to UK government services for domestic violence victims.

Sisters Uncut – a feminist direct action group opposing cuts to UK government services for domestic violence victims.


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Supported using public funding by Arts Council England
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Image: Sex workers demonstrate outside a parliamentary debate in London on the 4th July, to protest discussion of a UK version of FOSTA (A US law that criminalises the advertising of sex work on the internet) and to draw attention to their campaign to fully decriminalise sex work, 2018. Courtesy of Creative Commons.