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Many assumed all sex workers in Sweden would have been rescued by now, but some managed to escape the rescue party and their therapy & tea-sessions, and they have been keeping themselves very busy.

Tired of being treated like children and labeled psychologically damaged, they decided to expose their oppressors and their evil acts of discrimination to the world, hoping to prevent disaster striking in yet another country. They had nothing left to lose and time was running out....

Rose Alliance proudly presents
A Team of Light production
Supported by Open Society Foundations
Introducing the new report from

Those who cannot consent
...then again they are not totally stupid either

Coming every second day to a webpage near you,
starting 4 November, in 23 groundbreaking episodes.

The report

Writing this report has been like giving birth to a giant elephant baby that luckily has many parents, aunts and uncles. It feels like it has been an eternity in the making and it has truly been a community effort. Not only have many sex workers in Sweden been involved, but many activists and allies from across the planet have contributed one way or another.

When we started this project, it was just a small project on discrimination and sex work in Sweden funded by the Open Society Foundation, and was mainly some interviews with sex workers about experiences of discrimination. Once we were done with the interviews and had started putting the pieces together, we felt that although the stories were powerful in themselves, we somehow needed to place them in the social, political and legal context that surrounds sex workers in Sweden. In writing this report we wanted to give readers a real sense of what it feels like to be a sex worker under the Swedish Model. The two of us writing this report were already considering moving somewhere else because of the negative impact it had had on our lives.

We started collecting quotes. Lots and lots of quotes. Quotes from politicians, the police, researchers, social workers, self-proclaimed feminists and many others who clearly feel that they have something to contribute to the debate. We found the quotes in the media, parliament protocols, governmental reports, statements done by NGO’s, public speeches, tv-interviews and debate articles. Another year passed, both of us had left Sweden to live elsewhere (pheeew, finally), and the report had somehow moved with us.

It continued to grow into a much larger piece of work than anticipated. We had created a monster. A monster that craved more and more material and more and more text to make sense of it all. We started joking about how it was like finding out you were pregnant, getting heavier for every passing day but thinking: “It is only a few more months”. Then in the ninth month you realize you are pregnant with an elephant baby, and if it is going to be born healthy and fully developed, you need to carry it at least another year. It seemed like it would never end.

There were also a million things delaying us such as: two crashed hard drives, a dead memory stick with all the reference material, a laptop thrown into a fountain, a problematic UN High-level meeting, a letter to Iceland, stress related hair loss, the loss of a very beloved cat called Jossie, an evil chair on a power-trip, a detention centre, high blood pressure and some flesh-eating bacteria. (Update: This text was written in May. We thought it couldn't possibly get any worse. It could. Now we are staying indoors, doors locked and helmets on until this report is published.) While all of this was going on we tried to keep Rose Alliance alive and ourselves out of Sweden. We didn’t manage to do both. So, now when the day has finally come, and it is time to set the elephant baby free we are both back in Sweden. Neither of us made a conscious decision to move back, it is the result of circumstances outside of our control. Yet somehow it seems logical. We are going to carry this baby until the end.

There are a few reasons why we have chosen to launch the report in smaller instalments. First, it gives us some additional time to do proof reading and keep the overwhelming sense of panic and “WTF are we doing, are we crazy?” under some sort of control. Secondly, we need to stop adding stuff. We have tried…. But it is hard in a country where every new week means more material (as in complete and utter nonsense and lies stated as facts by state representatives). But this report has been part of our lives for so long that we might be suffering, just a tad, from separation anxiety. What if we find something tomorrow that everybody just must know? So, we are giving ourselves some time to make sure we can add things if needed, and letting go slowly; chapter by chapter, quote by quote and word by word. Finally, we are so delayed already we might as well add some extra days and maybe get to enjoy the last bit of this bumpy ride.

Sweden would be so much colder without our global community, so this is us giving back to all the fierce, amazing activists out there. Hopefully we can educate a few civilians (non-sex workers) in the process as well, and provide our allies with more ammunition. Our elephant baby is ready to see the world, make sure to introduce them to as many people as possible. We must warn you though, this is one impatient, sarcastic, savvy, kick-ass little brat of a baby. On the other hand, why on earth should we have to ask for our human rights politely? We have been entitled to them all along, and we have already tried playing nice.

So, we have decided to change our tone from "please understand our health would benefit immensely..." to "hand over our rights now you f****ng as**ole or else we will write a report and tell the world what you have been up to".

They didn't take us seriously. That was a mistake.

Pye Jakobsson & Carina Edlund
on behalf of Rose Alliance

baby

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About Rose Alliance

Rose Alliance started out as an organisation of sex workers and allies in 2002. Soon the allies took over, and fewer and fewer sex workers were involved. After a couple of years, the few sex workers that were left said “thank you and see you around” to the allies, and became a member organization for current and former sex workers. When we started Rose Alliance it was primarily to advocate for policy change and a rights-based approach to sex work. We were very clear on that being our main purpose and our activities the first few years clearly reflect that.

Overtime, and as more members joined, we lost focus to some extent and had less and less identity as an organization. As a young, under-resourced organization we struggled trying to be too many different things to both members and allies with very diverse expectations and ideas of what Rose Alliance should be; social support network, provider of health and safety information, participant in seminars and festivals, lecturer and trainer, resource for other activists and advocate for policy change. The more things we tried to be, the less we achieved.

Last year we nearly closed down Rose Alliance as we were going through some major internal challenges. It has always been a lot of hard work, but we used to know why we were doing what we were doing, suddenly it came to a point where we had completely lost our identity as an organisation.

In the end, it turned out we hadn’t lost our passion for activism, and we weren’t ready to give up just yet. Instead we took a step back, refocused, discussed strategy and took the time to think, and feel, what our main role as an organization should be, right here, right now. Once we decided to have a serious discussion about Rose Alliance future, the rest was surprisingly easy. We decided to go back to doing what we used to do quite well; political advocacy focused on challenging the current state of affairs, changing the narrative on sex work in the Nordic countries, advocate for policy change and promoting a rights-based approach to sex work. We have gained quite an extensive experience over the years and it is time to put that to good use.

We are from now on doing it a little different than before. We have joined forces with activists in Norway, Iceland and Finland, and now Rose Alliance is governed by a steering committee with sex workers from all four countries. We are also in the process of inviting some trusted allies to join us. The last decade we have been an organization for, and by, current and former sex workers. We needed to prove to the world, and to ourselves, that we could do it on our own, even in Sweden. We did that, we have nothing more to prove to ourselves, our allies know what we are capable of, so does everybody else whose opinions matters to us.

We are in many ways a brand-new organization, less of a membership organisation, more of a network where sex workers and allies in the Nordic countries can form alliances, strategize and coordinate, Rose Alliance is simply the vehicle we all can use in our policy work, as if we are ever going to achieve any kind of policy changes in our countries, then we need an army of advocates and some super hero-activists on our side. It is time to prepare for the Olympics of law reforms, and we are getting our team ready.

We were lost for a while, without direction or goal, placing Rose Alliance in an organisational role where our strengths, experiences and resources were of little use - as we were running in circles in frustration. Once we took a moment to breath, we also remembered why we do what we do: and it certainly isn’t about twitter-followers and cute t-shirts. It is about changing harmful political discourses through long-term advocacy and too little sleep, to challenge injustice and discrimination through solidarity and individual acts of amazing bravery.

Finally, it is about doing right by our wonderful and diverse community. A community that stays so strong and full of love despite being subjected to so many lies and so much hatred, often from those who claim they want to save us (by denying us our labour rights). Somehow attacking and discrediting sex worker right activists is seen as an acceptable thing to do among some self-proclaimed feminists. Why? Because we disagree with them.



They think they have
monopoly on the truth,
that their hate and lies
will keep us silent.
They don’t,
it won’t.
We have truth on our side.
We are sex workers,
hear us roar.

boo
Sweden thought no one would care about what sex workers had to say…
They were wrong.

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