Sexual Freedom in the News- April 3, 2019

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is the only national human rights organization working full time to protect the fundamental human right to sexual freedom. Our work includes fighting sexual violence, eliminating discrimination based on gender or sexual identity or family form, and protecting the right to engage in consensual sexual activity and expression. We do this through advocacy, education, and coalition building.  

Every other Wednesday, our bi-weekly newsletter aggregates seven articles central to Woodhull’s mission and work. This week, the newsletter covers the following topics:

  • An op-ed arguing for domestic workers to be offered robust labor protections and security in a traditionally vulnerable profession;
  • A recently released study on pregnancy in prisons and the intersection of reproductive justice and criminal justice reform;
  • The danger posed by Trump’s budget cuts to the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program;
  • The Global Gag Rule and its impact on communities affected by HIV/AIDS;
  • A piece honoring Sylvia Rivera and her incredible contributions to queer and trans activism;
  • Fifteen Latina advocates who dedicated their lives to human rights advocacy;
  • Changes in how the porn industry works with HIV positive performers.

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Domestic Workers Like My Mom Deserve Protection and Security (Teen Vogue)

(Alamy)

In 2017, Mariana Viera’s mother became unexplainably sick. As a domestic worker, her mother was especially vulnerable—with few labor protections, her illness placed her in an extremely precarious situation. Viera writes, “Ninety-five percent of domestic workers in this country are women, immigrants, or persons of color, most of whom have little bargaining power when it comes to fair working conditions. My mother didn’t work for a year and a half, a period that proved tremendously difficult for our family financially. But she was lucky because she had support: She had my father, my brother, and me to lean on. She also had access to quality health care and no young children to care for. That is not the reality for many domestic workers. I often think about how different that year and a half would’ve been for any one of those women and how devastating it would’ve been for the children who depended on her. It’s heartbreaking to think about. No one who works full-time hours should have a financial situation that is hanging together by a thread or a work life defined by uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. But the precarious nature of domestic work and the fragility of domestic workers’ financial stability is evidence of the unfair way this country treats its most vulnerable people.” Read more.

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First-of-Its-Kind Study Fills in Decades-Long Blank About Pregnancy in Prison (Rewire.News)

(Shutterstock)

Launched by Advocacy and Research on Reproductive Wellness of Incarcerated People (ARRWIP), the Pregnancy in Prison Statistics (PIPS) project is the only systematic study of pregnancy outcomes in prisons across the U.S. As Victoria Law contends, examining the intersections of reproductive justice and criminal justice is imperative to understanding health conditions among incarcerated people. To explain the results from PIPS in greater detail, Law quotes Dr. Carolyn Sufrin, the lead ARRWIP researcher on the study, and her co-authors, “Being in prison or jail during pregnancy can be a difficult time for many women, fraught with uncertainty about the kind of health care they might receive, about whether they will be shackled in labor, and about what will happen to their infants when they are born. Some pregnant women in custody may experience isolation and degradation from staff and insufficient prenatal care.” Read more.

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Trump’s Budget Would Deny Food to 400,000 Children and Pregnant People (Truthout)

(Lynn Koenig/Getty Images)

Trump’s recently announced budget calls for cutting funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program by $3.5 billion over the next decade, a decision that will devastate the millions of low-income women and their children that enroll in the program to access a basic human need: food. Dean Baker writes, “The proposed cut would reduce projected spending by roughly 5 percent over the next decade. That may sound insignificant, but for the beneficiaries of the program it is a big deal. WIC is an efficient, well-run program. If spending is cut by 5 percent, it probably means that the number of beneficiaries will drop by around 5 percent, or 400,000 per year. That means 400,000 fewer children and pregnant mothers would benefit from access to food supplementation from this vital nutrition program. That is especially bad news for those without family support to help make up the gap.” Read more.

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Trump’s Global Gag Rule Is Making It Harder to Fight the AIDS Crisis (The Nation)

(Sipa via AP Photo/Erik McGregor)

While Trump’s supposedly “humanitarian” global agenda posits to put the U.S. at the forefront of ending the AIDS crisis worldwide, it undermines health care in the communities most prevalently affected by HIV/AIDS through cutting funding toward public healthcare infrastructure. Michelle Chen writes, “Trump’s boasts about tackling the AIDS crisis fly in the face of one of his key foreign-aid policies: the so-called Global Gag Rule. As one of Trump’s first executive orders, issued just after the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, the rule expanded a Reagan-era policy barring U.S. funding for family-planning services that could be deemed to be supporting, referencing, or even explaining abortion in any way. […] Though the gag rule is primarily aimed at abortion, the restrictions it places on health-care provision have also been linked to an ongoing erosion of HIV/AIDS-related public-health aid in the Global South.” Read more.

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Sylvia Rivera Changed Queer and Trans Activism Forever (them.)

(Harvey Wang)

A legendary queer and trans activist, Sylvia Rivera pushed against the mainstream white, middle-class LGBTQ+ movement to promote a liberation inclusive to all. Elyssa Goodman offers  a brief history of Rivera’s incredible work: “Today, Rivera is revered as a legendary transgender activist. She vehemently fought for early legislation banning gender discrimination; sought to create safe spaces for queer homeless youth; and spoke loudly and powerfully that her community of transgender individuals, homeless and incarcerated among them, be fought for in the move toward equality. […] Though Rivera passed away in 2002, her legacy and dedication to her community still thrives.” Read more.

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15 Latina Activists Who Inspire Me (Bitch Media)

(Creative Commons)

In honor of Women’s History Month, Emily Prado has compiled a chronological list of fifteen Latina women who have “dedicated their lives to unwavering advocacy and trailblazing.” In her profile on the most recent activist, Berta Cáceres (1971-2016), Prado writes, “Cáceres was a renowned environmental activist and advocate for the protection of indigenous peoples’ land in Honduras. While she has also fought for the rights of women and the LBGTQ community, she is best known for the successful, decade-long campaign she organized against the Agua Zarca Dam. In addition to grave environmental repercussions, construction of the dam violated international laws protecting indigenous people as it would have denied the Lenca people’s access to water and self-sustainability. Cáceres’ efforts were commemorated with a Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. But after years of increasing death threats, she was killed earlier this month in what the people of Honduras are calling an assassination by the government.  COPINH, the organization she founded in 1993 to preserve the Lenca land and culture, continues to fight and operate within the country, although with caution. Her death has been widely criticized and protested around the world.” Read more.

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The Porn Industry Is Rethinking How It Works With HIV Positive Performers (Jezebel)

(Angelica Alzona/GMG)

This past January, the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas hosted the annual Adult Entertainment Expo. Tracy Clark-Flory attended one of the many seminars tucked away from the exhibit halls, a panel discussion that, in her words, “became a lightning rod for industry debates around HIV, sex worker rights, and homophobia” by way of discussing a new testing system to meet the needs of HIV positive performers. Clark-Flory writes, “Currently, the industry’s centralized opt-in testing system, Performer Availability Screening Services (PASS), tests performers every 14 days for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Anyone who tests HIV positive is permanently barred from the system. The HIV panel, which featured a mix of porn performers and health experts, began by surveying the latest research, including well-documented evidence showing that when antiretroviral treatment lowers an HIV-positive person’s viral load to 200 copies per milliliter of blood—what’s often called an ‘undetectable’ status—they pose ‘effectively no risk’ of sexually transmitting the virus, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put it. A 2016 statement signed by several dozen major global HIV organizations similarly said that the risk of transmission from someone with an undetectable viral load is ‘negligible to non-existent.’” Read more.

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