We are a Sex Workers+ (SW) collective in Lithuania. We created a regular SW lunch event to provide a safer space for people to come, relax and eat food together – a place where they are not pressured to change but are supported and accepted as they are, and even provided with other free support if they want it (free STI testing, harm reduction supplies). In the end it was a varied group made up of SW, sex educators, activists, SW researchers and sexologists.
These lunches were important because this is the very first time (that we know of) SW themselves are trying to organise in Lithuania. Sex work is illegal here and even the biggest ‘feminist’ organisations here are considering SW victims and sex work – exploitation. These meetings are a counter reaction to these views and laws. Additionally, we are slowly building a network of support for SW and sex educators and organizations and help reduce stigma here.
We faced a few challenges – mainly reaching sex workers. Since it’s illegal we had to consider lots of safety concerns and it proved challenging to not only find other sex workers who wanted to join the collective or at least come for lunch, but also ensure they are safe for others. For the lead organiser it was also sometimes difficult mentally regarding their own and everyone’s safety.
We will continue having SW lunch, and quite likely become an association (with non-Sex workers of our collective leading it) and have started collaborating more closely with another non-governmental organisation and have a sexual health project in the pipeline. We hope we can continue spreading the message that ‘sex work is work’ and change the law, eventually.