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27 NOVEMBER 2015

100 Women 2015: Life for women in Islamic State's Raqqa

"Nour is a woman from Raqqa, the so-called Islamic State's (IS) capital inside Syria. She managed to escape the city and is now a refugee in Europe, where she met up with the BBC. This story is based on her experiences and those of her two sisters, who are still inside the IS-held city. Names and the timings of some events have been changed to avoid compromising the safety of Nour or her family."

(BBC News, 2015)

Video produced by Vladimir Hernandez, Faisal Irshaid and Najlaa Aboumerhi. Animation by Luis Ruibal.

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TAGS

2015asylum seekersautonomy • BBC 100 Women • BBC News • burka • burkha • burqa • civil liberties • cleric • clothing • concealment of the face • control societycruel mendaeshdignity • draconian law • dress code • face • face covering • face-covering • Faisal Irshaid • flagellation • flogging • freedoms • full face veil • gender inequality • harsh penalties • headgear • hesba • hyena • inspirational stories • life for women • Luis Ruibal • Najlaa Aboumerhi • niqab • oppression • perversion • punishment • Raqqa • refugeereligious fundamentalism • religious police • so-called Islamic State • subjugation • subordinate womenSyriaveil • Vladimir Hernandez • whipping • womens clothing

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 NOVEMBER 2013

The x:talk project: a sex worker-led knowledge sharing co-operative

"In early 2006 several activists based in London who are involved in sex worker rights activism, organising within the International Union of Sex Workers in particular, began to conceptualise and organise around the x:talk project–one that would seek to explore and expand the ideas and confidence we have developed in criticising the mainstream human trafficking discourse, drawing on insights we have gained from sex workers', migrant and feminist struggles.

The racist and anti–feminist trafficking rhetoric of 'protection', mainstream anti–trafficking campaigns that reduce women to only passive victims, under the control of organised crime or of cruel men produces and justifies deportation of migrant sex workers and increases the criminalisation and exploitation of workers in the sex industry. It creates divisions between migrants' and sex workers' forms of organisation and resistance.

We found language and communication to be crucial elements to directly challenge and change conditions of work and life, and to come to together and to organise. Communication is in our view central to change. Language is a basic individual and collective power that improves both possibilities to work and possibilities of resistance.

Central to our vision stands the autonomy of all people moving across borders and the dignity of every gender employing their resources in the sex industry. Central to our understanding of gender and social relations is an understanding of sex work as labour. People who sell sex are involved in a labour process in many respects similar to other paid personal services exchanged on market. At the same time we recognise that the ways in which sex work has existed are also deeply interrelated to the ways in which 'female' services, such as caring, domestic, sexual and reproductive activities are supposed to be provided. It is important to consider that the demand for money for sex in a transparent and potentially contractual way is often a break and significant shift in the way women are expected to give these services for no remuneration.

We consider that a feminist analysis and practice is crucial to changing the sex industry. Women represent the majority of workers in the industry and gendered sexualised and reproductive labour have historically constituted a central part in the structures that subordinate and oppress women. The people that have taken the main initiative of this organisation and project are women. Starting from the ground up, in a grass roots way we nevertheless aim to work with the whole industry. Due to the demographics of the workforce in the sex industry, women play a central role in the organisation and are expected to make up a majority of participants in the classes. We/they represent the majority and we/they enjoy the strongest voice at the moment. However issues of gender and transgender difference–at their intersections with racial and sexual issues are taken into account in the development of activities in order to include people from across the industry and from diverse backgrounds.

In contrast to the current mainstream anti–trafficking policies and discourses we work towards the improvement of working conditions in the sex industry; for rights and recognition of workers; the right to change work and not to be forced to stay with the same employer and the right to stay and not to be deported. Our organisation is based on a practice of sex workers self organisation and our projects are primarily built on an activity of networking with those that have already organised similar projects according to these principles."

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TAGS

2006activism • anti-trafficking campaigns • anti-trafficking discourses • anti-trafficking policies • autonomyborders • co-operative • collective power • criminalisation • cruel men • deportation • dignity • domestic services • empowermentexploitation • female services • feminist analysisfeminist perspectivefeminist struggles • forced labour • gender and social relations • gender difference • gendered labour • grass roots • human trafficking • immigrant experience • International Union of Sex Workers • knowledge sharing • labour process • language barrierslanguage learnerslanguage of thingslanguage skillslanguages of legitimationLondon • migrant sex worker • migrant struggles • migrant workers • organised crime • passive victims • personal services • power relationsprostituteprostitutionprotectionracist language • remuneration • reproductive activities • reproductive labour • rights and recognition • safeguarding • safer conditions • sexsex industry • sex work • sex worker • sex worker rights • sex workers • sexual exploitation • sexual issues • sexual slavery • sexualised labour • subordinate womentrafficking • trafficking rhetoric • transgender difference • victimwomenworkforce • working conditions • x:talk project

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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