Sex workers and activists clutched red umbrellas as they walked down a runway in Brazil today. They were advocating the rights and safety of sex workers at a charity fashion show, but it's not the first time we've seen the red umbrella. Why? It's not because it's Winter in South America!
The red umbrella is a symbol for sex workers' rights around the world. It was first used in 2001 at a Venice, Italy, art show and later carried by sex workers walking the city's streets during the 49th Venice Biennale of Art. It not only identified them, but it also drew attention to the abuses they face.
Red was chosen for its beauty and its strength, and the umbrella is meant to symbolize protection. In 2005 the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe adopted the red umbrella as its symbol for the rights of sex workers. Since then it has been seen increasingly around the world during events and on days like Dec. 19, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.