Arts & Culture

Rights in Light of Covid-19: Sex Work, Prison Abolition and Public Health

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm | 18 August 2020
Online | Free

Coronavirus has exacerbated the consequences of a decade of austerity, decimating infrastructures of social care, housing and public health in the UK, pushing those already unable to access resources further into the margins.

Join us for a live-streamed conversation about how Coronavirus has impacted sex workers and prisoners, and how the logics of the carceral state continue to criminalise their survival. This is the third online event in Autograph’s series exploring human rights in light of Covid-19 – and what this means for civil liberties now and in the future. Our focus will primarily be on the UK.

The conversation will be hosted by Lola Olufemi, writer, organiser and author of Feminism Interrupted (Pluto Press 2020) and panellists Elio Beale, grassroots organiser with SWARM (Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement) and Bent Bars; Kelsey, activist and grassroots organiser with Cradle Community and CAPE (Community Action on Prison Expansion); Dr Aviah Sarah Day, lecturer in criminology at Birkbeck University and grassroots activist with Sisters Uncut.

Our panellists will elaborate on their work in mutual aid and public education around demands for the decriminalisation of sex work, the abolition of the prison system, and notions of transformative justice.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Register here


  • How has coronavirus impacted the livelihoods of sex workers and the living conditions of prisoners?
  • Why is abolition a public health issue?
  • How do we build and sustain networks of care for those outside the scope of state protection?
  • What do decriminalised futures look like? How do we build towards them?


Lola Olufemi is a black feminist writer, organiser and Stuart Hall Foundation scholar from London. Her work focuses on the uses of the feminist imagination, its relationship to political demands and futurity. She is author of Feminism Interrupted: Disrupting Power (2020) and a member of ‘bare minimum’, an interdisciplinary anti-work arts collective.


Elio Beale is a grassroots organiser with SWARM and Bent Bars, and project co-ordinator for Decriminalised Futures, a collaborative project using creative tools and popular education to explore sex worker lives, experiences and movement struggles. Elsewhere they organise, work and research around abolition, health, popular education, creative interventions for movement building, and queer and trans liberation.

Dr Aviah Sarah Day is a Lecturer in Criminology at Birkbeck, University of London as well as an activist in the East End chapter of Sisters Uncut. Sisters Uncut is a national direct-action collective fighting cuts to domestic violence services as well as state violence.

Kelsey is an organiser and educator with CAPE and Cradle Community, grassroots abolitionist groups. CAPE is part of a network of local campaigns resisting prison expansion in the UK and Cradle is a collective focused on transformative justice and community accountability, supporting our communities to build the skills we need to support each other.


This event will take place online only, and everyone is welcome to join us. We will use Zoom for this event. Tickets are ‘pay what you can’, and there’s no obligation to pay in order to attend the event. Autograph is a registered charity, all donations support our arts and learning programmes.

Here’s how to join us:

  1. Book a free ticket on this webpage, on Eventbrite, or the Facebook event. To ‘pay what you can’ (and support Autograph’s work), just add a donation with your tickets
  2. We’ll send you an email confirmation of your booking
  3. This online event will use Zoom. For the best experience, we recommend using the Zoom app on your computer or mobile device. You can download the free software here. Or, you can access the event through your web browser without a download
  4. On the day of the event, we’ll send you a welcome email with a link to the event on Zoom. You will be able to join for the start of the event at 7pm (BST)
  5. If you want to ask questions in the Q&A, you can submit them via the Q&A feature on Zoom.

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