Bad Encounter Line
The Bad Encounter Line: A project of the Street Youth Rise UP Campaign by the Young Women’s Empowerment Project
Written by C Angel Torres and Naima Paz
Abstract: The Young Women’s Empowerment Project is a community based youth lead project that was founded in 2001 by a radical feminist and harm reduction based collective of women and girls involved in the sex trade and street economy and our allies. We offer girls and transgender girls involved in the sex trade and street economy ages 12-23 non-judgmental support, harm reduction information and resources and we even have job opportunities and paid volunteer positions.
In 2009, YWEP completed a youth led research study on ways girls and transgender girls in the sex trade and street economy are resistant and resilient to violence. Now in this research we looked at two categories of violence, individual and institutional. Although both have some surprising results, we were most surprised at the amount of girls and transgender girls facing violence from institutions.
We wanted to tackle this problem from a Transformative Justice approach, so the Bad Encounter Line (BEL) was born. The BEL is a way to report bad experiences you have had with institutions such as police, the health care system, public aid, DCFS, CPS, etc. In our research we noticed so many girls and transgender girls reporting bad encounters from systems that are set in place to help them. So we wondered is the same happening to boys as well; so we expanded the BEL to reach them as well, and as we have been receiving data we have learned that these systems are affecting all genders. Based off the BEL, we started a task force for street based youth and wrote a Bill of Rights that we want non-profits to sign so they have to be accountable to us and can’t get away with denying us help.