SWAT Constitution

  1. Name:

    1. The group is called the Sex Workers' Alliance of Toronto or SWAT.

  2. Principles and beliefs:

    1. SWAT is an organization controlled by sex workers, including prostitutes, strippers, porn workers, and phone sex workers.

    2. Sex work is valid and valuable work.

    3. Choosing to do sex work is a human right.

    4. All sex work is equally valid, whether it be prostitution, stripping, pornography or phone sex.

    5. Most of the problems people experience in sex work (including exploitation and violence) are not a result of the work itself, but of legal and social systems that disregard our worth and rights. When people do sex work because of a lack of choice, it is the lack of choice that is the problem, not sex work.

    6. SWAT opposes all laws and regulations that criminalize sex work and discriminate against sex workers, and all abuses of the rights of sex workers. SWAT opposes legalization of sex work because it creates a division between legal sex workers and criminal sex workers. All sex work must be decriminalized. SWAT would support any system that regards the rights and worth of all sex workers.

    7. AIDS and STDs are spread by unsafe sex and needle sharing, not by prostitution, and they must be stopped by education, not by stopping prostitution.

    8. SWAT opposes mandatory health checks of prostitutes and quarantine of HIV positive prostitutes because such compulsory measures would drive prostitutes away from the health care system, and would discourage the use of condoms by undermining the safer sex message and by encouraging customers to believe that prostitutes were guaranteed by the government to be free of disease. The end result would be the further spread of AIDS and STDs. SWAT supports all voluntary efforts to stop AIDS.

    9. HIV positive prostitutes who continue to work are not a public health threat as long as they follow the safer sex guidelines established by the Canadian AIDS society. HIV positive prostitutes should not be blamed for their condition but should be treated with compassion, their rights should be respected and every thing possible should be done to ease their suffering and find a cure for AIDS.

  3. Membership and meetings

    1. Membership in SWAT is open to anyone who agrees with the principles and beliefs in section 2 above and who is invited by a SWAT member to join. Sex workers are voting members and non-sex workers are associate members who cannot vote.

    2. Only voting members in good standing may vote. Being in good standing means not having missed three consecutive meetings without reasons satisfactory to the voting members. Once a member loses their good standing, they regain it automatically on the third consecutive meeting that they attend. New members must attend three consecutive meetings to become voting members. It is the responsibility of each member to know when are where meetings are and what their standing is.

    3. A sex worker is anyone who has exchanged sexual stimulation for financial gain in the last six months, who considers themself to be a sex worker, and whom the group considers to have sufficient sex work experience. Anyone who describes themself as such will be considered a sex worker unless the group has reason to believe otherwise.

    4. A person can lose their membership if a majority of members in good standing so decide.

    5. Meetings are open to all members, unless the voting members decide otherwise.

    6. Decisions are by majority rule and require a quorum of members in good standing. Changes to this constitution require the presence of two thirds of the members in good standing and can be made by two thirds majority vote of the members in good standing.

    7. Minutes will be taken at each meeting recording decisions made and members present and a minute book will be kept by a delegate of the group. A chair will be selected at each meeting.

  4. Confidentiality policy

    1. SWAT members may learn certain facts about other members and people in the sex trade that are of a highly personal or confidential nature. Examples in this information include medical condition, involvement in the sex trade, gender background, HIV status, sexual orientation, drug use, home or work phone numbers and addresses, criminal charges or record or other personal facts. All such information must be considered confidential and is to be treated accordingly. SWAT members agree not to disclose any such information to any person without the specific permission of the individual concerned.

  5. Public speaking

    1. SWAT members may be asked to represent SWAT to the media or in other public forums. Any member of SWAT can convey to others the specific policies that SWAT has adopted. If a SWAT member offers an opinion that is not that of SWAT they must tell people that this is their personal opinion and not that of SWAT.

    2. When speaking publically on behalf of SWAT it is not advisable to share internal problems and politics as this weakens the organization. Internal debates should remain internal unless the group decides otherwise. SWAT members are expected to promote the organization, not publically attack or embarrass it.

  6. Financial policy

    1. Monetary honoraria received by SWAT members for representing SWAT will be turned over to SWAT unless the group decides otherwise. The member who received the honoraria may decide how SWAT spends that honoraria. Non-monetary honoraria may be kept by the member to whom it is given.

    2. All money received by SWAT will be deposited into an account that requires the signature of two members for withdrawals and cheques. Expenditures require the approval of the group.

[Rights Groups]

Created: February 24, 1996
Last modified: September 16, 2000

SWAT Sex Workers Alliance of Toronto
Tel: +1 (416) 921-SWAT
Email: s.w.a.t.@sympatico.ca