Prostitutes in Copenhagen Use Free Sex As Protest

Sex workers in Denmark have offered free sex in response to Copenhagen Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard's attempt to discourage prostitution during the COP15 Climate Change Conference. The City Council had postcards delivered to 160 hotels where conference delegates and associates of COP15 would be staying and paid for advertisements in local newspapers that read:

'Be sustainable: Don't buy sex!'

However, prostitution is legal throughout Scandinavia and sex workers have formed unions to protect themselves from exploitation and harassment. In response SIO (Sexarbejdernes Interesse Organisation; or the Sex workers Interest Organisation) announced on their website that this was a political attempt to criminalize sex work in the city:

In Denmark - as in the other Scandinavian countries - the left wing parties are dominant when it comes to the criminalization of sex work. They have the majority in the City Council of Copenhagen, and their aim is to use the media attention on COP15 to further their own interests: a criminalization of sex work.

Even though the issue about sex workers rights has nothing to do with the summit, you are inadvertently drawn into this fierce, local debate about sex work.

We do not encourage or discourage you to buy sexual services; we encourage you to concentrate on the climate issue.

They also announced that anyone who had received such a postcard could use it instead of payment:

If you are a delegate at COP15, Sexworkers in Copenhagen are accepting the postcard as payment for sex. In other words - we offer free sex for your postcard. We do this as a protest against the unjust and degrading campaign of the City Council. . .

Employees and politicians of the Municipality of Copenhagen are exempted from the offer.

It's unlikely many will take them up on the offer, considering that they need to send SIO their contact information in order to get reimbursed. However, as Mandy Van Deven has suggested, it's unfortunate this strategy wasn't used as a way to influence the stalemate in the current climate negotiations. Copenhagen could have followed the model of Germany where a brothel offered discounts to clients who supported the environment. Tuvalu's proposal of capping global warming at 1.5°C might have seemed a lot more appealing and the conference could have concluded with a happy ending for everyone.

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While I generally agree with SIO, what I really love about this is the idea of turning your opponents pamphlets into a coupon.

Whoever says sex workers can't be activists? When she was a member of the Italian parliament, La Cicciolina aka Ilona Staller advocated sex for prisoners. She was a porn star. She uses sex as activism. Is she any less valid than, say, Berlusconi? Nope. I know who I respect more.

By Salina Christmas (not verified) on 15 Dec 2009 #permalink

I could understand if right wing christian conservatives would like to criminalize sex works because they think in any way sex as sin. But I don´t unrerstand west wing radicals. In sexual revolution they were against conservatives´moralism.

By Ollitapio Pursiainen (not verified) on 15 Dec 2009 #permalink