Sex Worker Open University is a project created by and for sex workers. You might be working in a parlour, brothel, from flats, hotels, cars, or from the street; acting in porn, as a dominatrix or submissive, as a cam worker, or selling dances – this is a place to socialise, learn new skills, get support and campaign for the rights and safety of everyone who sells sex or sexual services. Our aim is to build our community and organise our workplaces through drop-in sessions, workshops, actions and art projects, as well as fighting against our criminalisation.
Since 2009, we have been organising skill-sharing workshops, bringing academic work back to our community, holding art shows and performance nights, public education workshops and international sex worker rights conferences, as well as several hugely popular film festivals in London.
In April 2013, we helped halt the further criminalisation of sex work in Scotland by organising a massive grassroots community response. Our community mobilization included street-protests, public education, sex worker-only workshops on safety, the law, and fighting stigma, and the presentation – to packed audiences – of evidence as to the effects of criminalisation, from sex workers and academics from around the world.
We run professional development workshops for sex workers (massage, pole-dancing, marketing, BDSM skills, taxes, help with leaving sex work, IT and self-defence). We also help facilitate weekly breakfast drop-in sessions for sex workers in London, where attendees can get face-to-face support and non-judgemental listening, as well as help with EFL, immigration, and ‘know your rights’ help with regards to landlords, managers, the police and the jobcentre.
Our Glasgow branch runs Confide, which is one of the only sex worker-led projects delivering services to sex workers in the UK. Confide offers a confidential, non-directive listening space to current and former sex workers, or anyone who has sold or exchanged sexual services, no matter how you self-identify.