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Event: -Press conference-COYOTE's Beijing representatives report the success of the delegation of The Network of Sex Work Projects at the Beijing U.N. Women's Conference
Location: United Nations Plaza, Market Street, San Francisco
Date and Time: Tuesday, October 3, 12:00 Noon
Contact: Carol Leigh (415) 435-7931

COYOTE announce success in Beijing, thwarting the abolitionist efforts that call for the elimination of prostitution. Working in tandem with the Human Rights Caucus, a handful of representatives from The Network of Sexwork Projects successfully revised the Platform language to distinguish between forced and voluntary prostitution. In keeping with the 1949 UN position in favor of decriminalization of prostitution, the Platform for Action does not call for legal measures to abolish prostitution.
"Hopefully, these revisions will send a message that laws and policies should target those who abuse prostitutes rather than targeting the prostitutes themselves. Historically, prostitution laws, those supported by feminists and women, have increased the vulnerability of prostitutes by making them criminals," says COYOTE representative, Carol Leigh.
"As long as the laws exist, which criminalize my work, the police department, the judges, the prisons all work to abuse prostitutes, not help us. You want to make laws against the pimps? Make sure that you make the distinction between forced prostitution, and those who want to be in prostitution by choice. Go after those who actually abuse us. Just as in marriage, some husband are abusive of women. Not all husbands are that way. Don't take away my husband because he's really, really good to me. But if you want to help women, go after those people who actually abuse us, but be very, very careful how you word legislation that goes after those who you think exploit and abuse us, because those laws ultimately get used against us."
Norma Jean adds that she is pleased with the success of the sex worker attendees, and a number of others who successfully revised the early draft of the Platform.
"Women at the conference were very open minded. Although many didn't know much about prostitution from a prostitutes point of view, they listened to us, and responded to our concerns," said Norma Jean.
"We are calling for women who support sex workers' rights to voice their support. Women in and out of the sex industry must make their views known to their legislators and law enforcement officials. We know that many women are opposed to the repressive and discriminatory nature of anti-prostitution policies. Unfortunately, politicians have not been getting this message often enough, and anti-prostitution campaigns are actually seen as an easy way to pander to female voters. Until more women show that they are made of smarter stuff, female voters will continue to have this rather easy reputation, " says Tracy Quan of PONY (Prostitutes of New York.)
Also present at the press conference will be Margo St. James, ex-prostitute, and candidate for the Board of Supervisors. "The laws against prostitution are a crime of the state against women, condoned violence against us, for daring to ask for the money. Sexual autonomy includes whores; we are wives, we are lesbians and we are the breadwinners. Every woman, every right," says St. James.