advocacy by Kira Carney July 24, 2020
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.
Tombstones at the Washington D.C. #OverdoseAware2017 day represent 550 people who have died and will die from overdoses between 2014&2018 pic.twitter.com/byzV0u9N76
— Chris Cioffi (@ReporterCioffi) August 31, 2017
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.
Repost! Retweet! Join us! #DecrimNow #packthehearing
The public hearing on the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 is today! pic.twitter.com/V5fyyF2uH0
— HIPS (@HIPSDC) October 17, 2019
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.
"I’m so incredibly angry at the lack of empathy, basic decency, or any sense of shared humanity that should be a basic requirement of an executive department supposedly dedicated to ‘health and human services.’" -Alexander/a Bradley, Outreach Manager at HIPS pic.twitter.com/3dQrCuOtsq
— HIPS (@HIPSDC) March 5, 2020
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.