Dear City Councilor Salvatore,
I am writing on behalf of The Womxn Project, a statewide organization focused on leveraging the power of art, activism, advocacy and education to advance the principles of reproductive justice, which demands that we all have the right to determine when and how we build our relationships, families and futures and that we have the ability to live and raise our children with dignity. We are speaking out along with our partners at COYOTE RI to oppose the proposed ban of VIP rooms in local dance clubs.
Too often the policies related to sex workers nothing to do with safety or certainly protecting the rights of workers. They are about punishment or politicians who are uncomfortable and decide to push their personal beliefs instead of focusing on public health or what is best for individuals doing or utilizing sex work. We have an example right now in the proposed ban. We recognize the need to close these spaces temporarily due to Covid and the need for social distancing, but that is not what this proposal would do. This is about using a time of crisis to permanently close down these spaces.
We are upset that in a pandemic when dancers and other workers are denied access to relief under the CARES Act and often stigmatized when they try to utilize many local programs or mutual aid, this is where attention is being diverted. Dancers and other sex workers are struggling to obtain the resources needed to stay housed, pay bills and self-isolate as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Plainly, people need to eat, feed their kids, support their families and stay mentally and physically well during this difficult moment. We should be making sure that people have what they need to get by, not wasting our time meddling with the operations of local establishments out of a misguided and puritanical agenda.
Sex work is work. People who dance or provided other services are part of our community. They should be treated with respect and dignity and we should do all we can to come together and make sure we can all get by, make ends meet and get through this time of global crisis together. Thank you.
Jocelyn Foye, Director
The Womxn Project