The United Kingdom’s Sex Workers’ Union has shared a statement declaring their stance on Palestine, according to an X post made from their account on October 26.
The statement read: “We, the Sex Workers’ Union, stand in explicit and unequivocal solidarity with the people of Palestine.
“There are no words that can adequately convey the depth of our horror, and the strength of our condemnation, at the dehumanisation and genocidal violence enacted upon the Palestinian people by the settler colony of Israel.
“We mourn for the loss of civilian lives, of Palestinians, Israelis and foreign nationals, who have been made victims of the ongoing occupation and conflict. The number of deaths, almost half of which are children, cannot be allowed to grow any further.
“We cannot stand back and watch as the state of Israel continues to enforce an illegal occupation, blockade and apartheid, forcing the people of Gaza to live within the largest open air prison in lands they have been continually dispossessed from.
“The escalating violence, specifically the indiscriminate destruction of Gaza, of homes, hospitals, schools, churches, mosques and the Rafah crossing, as well as the collective punishment of civilian population of Palestine, must be met with global condemnation and most importantly, direct action.
“We all upon our fellow trade unions to heed the call of Palestinian trade unions:
“’to end all complicity with Israel’s crimes – most urgently halting the arms trade with Israel, as well as funding and military research.’
“1. To refuse building weapons destined for Israel.
2.To refuse to transport weapons to Israel.
3. To pass motions in their trade union to this effect.
4.To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution.
5. Press governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the US, funding to it.
“As sex workers, we stand against the violence of borders, imperial and colonial violence, and all state sanctioned violence against oppressed and marginalised peoples.
“We recognise and want to make clear, that this is a struggle against a colonial entity and not a religious conflict. Standing with the people of Palestine is not a stand against Judaism, not Jewish people, and we hold strong in solidarity with our Jewish members and Jewish comrades in their fight against antisemitism and colonialism.
“As workers united, we must speak out and take action to prevent any further colonial brutality, and for the liberation of all oppressed peoples.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
Our statement of solidarity with Palestine: pic.twitter.com/3ax9LcQODE
— Sex Workers’ Union (formerly USW) (@swunion_uk) October 26, 2023
The union has removed the ability for accounts not following them to reply to the X post.
The response to the statement has been mixed
One user wrote: “Y’all are so funny. A union of misinformed sex workers naively siding w a group who would dead a** murder them for doing their “job”. I can literally feel my brain cells individually killing themselves. gtfoh”
Y’all are so funny. A union of misinformed sex workers naively siding w a group who would dead ass murder them for doing their “job”. I can literally feel my brain cells individually killing themselves. gtfoh https://t.co/92HBaOmosr
— klaymation (@piffnspliffs) October 29, 2023
While another user emphasized their support for the statement, writing that “The vile misogyny and whorephobia that’s been piled onto our statement has been absolutely vile, and it’s really sad seeing how few comrades have supported it and us”
The vile misogyny and whorephobia that’s been piled onto our statement has been absolutely vile, and it’s really sad seeing how few comrades have supported it and us https://t.co/juiPL4zKJ5
— Amélie (@afrenchstripper) October 28, 2023
Mia Khalifa, another powerful figure within the sex work industry, has also published several X posts against Israel. In one post, the Lebanese porn actress wrote: “I just wanna make sure there’s 4k footage of my people breaking down the walls of the open air prison they’ve been forced out of their homes and into so we have good options for the history books that write about how how they freed themselves from apartheid. Please worry about your sad little company lacking direction and purpose before you utter my name again I stand with all people fighting oppression, now and always, do your research before begging for my investment in your little project, I’m from LEBANON, are you insane for expecting me to be on the side of colonialism you f***ing weirdo”
I just wanna make sure there’s 4k footage of my people breaking down the walls of the open air prison they’ve been forced out of their homes and into so we have good options for the history books that write about how how they freed themselves from apartheid. Please worry about… https://t.co/sgx8kzAHnL
— Mia K. (@miakhalifa) October 8, 2023
Laws on sexual morality and womens’ autonomy in Palestinian territories
The Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) claims that in Gaza, the Jordanian Penal Code (1960) and Egyptian Penal Code (1936) are both applied by the Palestinian authority. Both these codes criminalize forcing a woman into sexual relations unless the “woman is not a prostitute and is not known for her immoral character.”
The JIJ also reported that Palestinian women are often forced into marriages decided exclusively by their male guardians.
Additionally, in Gaza the legal marriage age for women is 17, women in the West Bank can be legally married at 15. However, the minimum age can be overturned by a judge. The JIJ has also claimed that many child marriages are legitimized through the mosque, and not registered with the government.
A woman can end a marriage under certain circumstances, according to JIJ, but those circumstances do not include emotional mistreatment while a man can apply for divorce for any reason.
Similarly, while adultery is a criminal offense in both Gaza and the West Bank, women face much harsher sentencing if found guilty. A woman, on average will receive a sentence of between six months and 2 years, while a man will averagely serve between a month and a year, JIJ claims.
“Statistics surrounding sexual violence in the West Bank and Gaza are staggering. In 2014, the PA reported that 53% of Palestinian women had been exposed to violence with 18% of unmarried women reporting being victims of sexual violence. Some 45.9% of these cases saw the woman’s father as the perpetrator, with 25.5% the brother as the perpetrator. From 2011, 76% of callers to SAWA’s hotline were under the age of 21. Between 2011 and 2013, female callers reported a total of 10,663 cases of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual violence, attempted rape, rape, and sexual abuse within the family,” the organization claims.