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How the HIPS Organization is helping sex workers survive

HIPS, also known as Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, right away captures the attention of any on viewers. The organization’s website is colorful, full of helpful information, and offers resources for those who have careers in sex work.

This organization fights against places that criminalize sex work. It acknowledges the dangers of sex trafficking, drug usage, and other topics that some may deem uncomfortable.

Originally created in 1993, HIPS was formed in Washington, D.C., with the main goal of providing youth who were involved in sex work, supportive services. It offers items for practicing safe sex, syringe disposal and access, HIV and Hepatitis C testing and treatment, crisis hotline, and so many other incredible resources.

Some organizations tiptoe around the fact that many sex workers are drug users and don’t always have a safe way of going about this lifestyle. HIPS helps people by giving them clean needles/syringes and resources that help them to wean off of drugs.

The fact that HIPS does this shows how emblematic of altruism its overall mission is. HIPS cares about every individual who seeks help.

A group within HIPS, called the Chosen Few, organized an event on International Overdose Awareness Day in 2017.

This event involved around 500 fake tombstones staked in the ground and encouraged onlookers to take a sharpie and write the name of someone they knew who died from drug overdoses. The tombstones were in a huge cluster and showed how serious the issue is.

Another advocacy group within HIPS is the Sex Worker Advocates Coalition (SWAC). These advocates support the notion that sex work is safest when there is no criminalization of the career. They’ve openly supported a couple of Safety and Health Amendment Acts in the hope to make changes for people.

The Executive Director of HIPS, Cyndee Clay, explains why decriminalization is important for sex worker’s rights. Clay calls sex workers “individual entrepreneurs” and admits that some sex workers have been victims of sex trafficking.

Violence against sex workers happens often, especially under our noses since most of the perpetrators are police, clients, institutions, etc.

Decriminalizing sex work makes it easier to find those exploiting sex workers because the survivors know they won’t be punished when they seek refuge.

It’s time to speak out against the violence that sex workers face every day. Let’s join HIPS in making sure that everyone feels safe in their place of work. This is something that should have always been a given.

It says wonders about the world we live in that people have to fear for their health and safety because no one will recognize their job as one to respect.

Group of NFL players calling on league, owners to support social advocacy

NFL players are continuing a dialogue with the NFL and the owners over social and racial issues in our country.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett is part of a group of NFL players advocating for the support of league owners to help push an agenda that includes criminal justice reform, police brutality, and women’s rights.

Bennett spoke to reporters on Sunday after the Seahawks defeated the Giants,

“I think we should go meet and talk about that issue and talk about the other issues and bring it up. I don’t really care for the word owner. But I like the word employer. So when you get a chance to talk to your employer and get the opportunity to bring up what you want to make a change in, I think one of the changes should be bringing Kaepernick in.”

As for Colin Kaepernick, he reportedly was invited to a previous meeting and may show up for the next one.

Joe Lockhart, NFL vice president of communications and public affairs, said the NFL embraces the opportunity to speak with Kaepernick, “I expect he will be invited to this meeting. We look forward to him joining the conversation.”

Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles safety and another player who is part of the group advocating for change, said Kaep was invited but didn’t show. When asked about why Kaepernick didn’t come to the meeting, Jenkins replied, “I don’t know. I can’t answer that question.”

Jenkins was one of three Eagles, along with Torrey Smith and Chris Long, to speak to Pennsylvania legislators about criminal justice reform in Harrisburg on Tuesday after a Monday night victory over Washington.

Michael Bennett revealed that he speaks to Kaepernick regularly and hopes he gets back in the league, but Bennett also credited Kaepernick for starting a movement that reaches far beyond football,

“I’m hoping he has an opportunity to play. Obviously I believe that he’s had an impact in the country. You see what he started, taking a knee, and how he’s affected the communities from young children to even older Americans and finding a way to have an impact. I believe that if this conversation is happening with the commissioner and happening with our employers, his job situation should be brought up and it should have some kind of resolution.”

And while many NFL players took knees or sat down during the national anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick, this movement is about actually affecting change in our country,

“It’s always been about justice and discrimination in America, police brutality, women’s rights, all these different issues – clean water; Flint, Michigan – issues that are pertaining to America that we all need to pay attention to because it’s not that it happens to one of us that [makes it] important. It’s important every single day regardless of what we’ve got going on.”

This group of NFL players has shown that this goes far beyond Kaepernick taking a knee. Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins, and others are calling on the higher-ups at the NFL to help them in their push for equality.

The NFL has made the first step by taking these meetings, but putting their massive platform and finances towards social advocacy projects would signal true, tangible support for their players.

This will be an intriguing space to watch over the coming weeks and months.