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Sex workers in Lyon, France are going up against City Hall.
The City of Lyon has been pushing prostitutes into less-traveled areas of the town, a dangerous policy we experience (and oppose) in cities all over the world.
According to Cabiria, it’s a game called “hide the whores” or (if you want to practice your French) “cachez ces putes.” Some background:
on May 17, 2010, the prostitutes of Gerland united collectively to oppose the methods that push them further into precarious situations. The collective of prostitutes published an open letter in the press alerting all the elected officials of the central City Hall about the consequences of this policy. The women invited the elected officials to work together to find real solutions, concrete and livable, respectful of their rights, to correct the problems that sharing space and their presence seems to raise. (Read the rest here.)
The collective asked us all to circulate and sign this petition – available for download here in English. French version of the petition is here and Spanish here.
Lyon is important to us. In 1975, 150 prostitutes occupied a local church and caught the attention of the international media. The occupation of St-Nizier inspired church occupations in Paris, Marseilles and elsewhere. Prostitutes in other countries heard about the strike and formed new organisations.
Earlier this year, Australian sex workers commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Lyon strike, drawing attention to the ugly violence which ended the occupation: the women were assaulted with police clubs.
The Lyon protest was a turning point. It put prostitutes on the political map and changed the way we thought about ourselves. (PONY came into existence almost a year later.) Read what Nicolette Burows from Scarlet Alliance, Australia says about the streetwalkers who gave birth to a global movement.
In 2010, a lot of the issues bothering sex workers in 1975 remain. Our ability to organize and communicate has improved though, and local groups are less isolated. We’re also more diverse. In 1975, the French collective saw this as a women’s rights issue. We evolved into a movement for human rights, with transgender and male sex workers playing a central role.
Cabiria’s petition came to us via the International Union of Sex Workers. We urge you to print the PDF, collect signatures, scan your signed petition, and send it as a PDF to cabiria[at]wanadoo.fr
Questions about any of this? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org