NO HUMAN INVOLVED
“We were at our wits end. We were sick of going to jail, of being abused. Do you realize that the police would sometimes let their dogs loose on us?”
The opening line to La Revolte des Prostitutuees succinctly explains the feelings and experiences of French sex workers in the late 20th century. The documentary, produced by Eurydice Aroney and Radio France Culture, details the eight-day, nationwide strike by French sex workers in 1975. In response to years of horrific treatment, executed by police, French sex workers took action against the oppression and violence they experienced on a daily basis.
In their efforts, the sex workers of France found an unlikely ally: Father Louis Blanc of the Church of St. Nizier. When plans to occupy the church of St. Bonaventure went awry, it was Father Blanc who redirected the sex workers to the Church of St. Nizier. With his cooperation and some quick footwork, the protest was relocated and the safety of all those involved was secured. Father Louis Blanc was also instrumental in spreading the efforts beyond Lyon, by encouraging other priest to cooperate with the protestors.
While the work of sex workers in Lyon is the most well known and created the original movement, similar events occurred across France. Notably, in Paris, 200 sex workers protested in the Chapel of Saint Bernard.
Eight days after the start of the strike, police were instructed to remove the striking sex workers from locations across the nation. However, this end was just the beginning for sex workers across the globe. Movements all over the world have taken inspiration from the events of 1975, some mimicking the church occupation, others creating their own form of peaceful protest. An event organized by the Black Sex Workers Collective in New York on June 2nd--beginning at noon--will take inspiration from the work of the French sex workers in 1975. Members of the sex worker community and allies will gather at Washington Square Park in New York City and symbolically storm Judson Memorial Church. Later, this action will join a protest in front of StoneWall a few blocks away.
International Whores Day, also known as Puta Dei, is June 2 to commemorate the original strike and occupation by French sex workers in 1975. Across the word, June 2nd is a day of celebration, advocacy, and protest. At the time of the sex workers’ strike in France, they had the support of the Catholic Church. Today, sex workers are joined by allies from different standpoints, backgrounds, and lifestyles. The human rights of sex workers cannot be ignored. Join the cause in your local community in solidarity with sex workers to denounce the violent and oppressive systems that make their lives difficult.
Posting for No Human Involved by Dayna Beatty.