International Sex Workers Day
International Sex Workers Day, or International Whores' Day, on June 2 of each year, honours sex workers and recognises their often exploited working conditions. The event commemorates the occupation of Église Saint-Nizier in Lyon by more than a hundred sex workers on 2 June 1975 to draw attention to their inhumane working conditions. It has been celebrated annually since 1976. In German, it is known as Hurentag (Whore's Day). In Spanish-speaking countries, it is the Día Internacional de la Trabajadora Sexual, the International Day of the Sex Worker.
In the 1970s, French police kept sex workers under increasing pressure. The police reprisals forced sex workers to work increasingly in secret. As a result, protection of sex workers decreased and led to more violence against them. After two murders and the unwillingness of the government to improve the situation, sex workers in Lyon occupied the Saint-Nizier church in rue de Brest and went on strike. The striking workers sang political chants and demanded decent working conditions and an end to stigma.
[Protest song penned by sex workers who occupied French churches during an eight-day strike in 1975]
The police cleared the church after eight days. The event marks the starting point of an international movement of sex workers for sex workers' rights.