Sex Work and Umbrella
What do you think of when talking about umbrellas? To you, does an umbrella have a symbolic meaning?
Umbrellas are usually used for protection against the rain or the sun. However, in recent protests demanding political reforms, civilians used umbrellas to block the pepper spray from the police. Umbrellas have become a symbol of restraint and non-violent way to fight for genuine universal suffrage in Hong Kong. On the contrary, LEUNG Che-cheung, a member of the Legislative Council and a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), based on the fictional stories of Wong Fei Hung, put forward the view that umbrellas are "offensive weapons."
The red umbrella was first used by sex workers during an art performance in Venice, Italy in 2001, to draw attention to the poor work conditions and the human rights abuses facing them. In 2005, the red umbrella was adopted by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) as a symbol of resistance to stigma and discrimination related to sex work.
17 December is the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. First observed in 2003, it was initiated by a sex worker organisation in the United States to commemorate the dozens of sex workers murdered by the same serial killer in the United States, and to call on the international community to pay attention to and to end the violence against sex workers. On this important day, and throughout the fights for the rights of sex workers, red umbrellas can always be seen, symbolising resistance to all kinds of discriminations, injustices and violence caused by ignorance and biased moral judgements, as well as protection for sex workers who have been harmed.