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None of that prepared her for the meeting she attended at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where a psychiatry patient who was recovering from a heroin addiction who had danced on The Block for several years drew a map of the clubs and detailed the illicit activities that happened inside each corner. As was the case with her research, Sherman hopes that the from both SAPPHIRE and the new study, as well as testimony from SPARC visitors, will help move the political needle on issues such as decriminalization of sex work, a topic that has recently gained national traction.

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The team then spent six months monitoring women who were new to exotic dancing to determine how their pick to the clubs impacted them. Known for her unapologetic methods of pushing through red-tape barriers, Sherman wanted to get inside the clubs—past the bouncers and managers—to find out what was really going on. After all, she had gotten used to people paying to see her, watch her, touch her. When she stopped to read theRiegger, now the clinical prostitute of the SPARC Center, came to the door, explained that the center was new to the neighborhood, and invited her inside.

They quickly formed an outreach team and went back to their roots, returning to the streets on foot and via van baltimore where out harm-reduction supplies to women in need. That afternoon, the group spent a few hours laughing, dancing, and taking photos in the community room before cutting into dessert—a sheet cake with a picture of Alyn and some of her favorite SPARC staffers emblazoned in icing.

A shared crisis has a way of galvanizing relationships. But she wanted to know more; she wanted to understand the impact of the illegal activity in clubs on the women who worked there.

One of the men arrested resides in catonsville. the operation took place in howard county.

In the meantime, the SPARC team will continue their work, making a difference in the lives of women like Cecile, who hasn't used in more than a year, and Alyn, who plans to marry her partner of 11 years this September. After all, no one else was asking them questions, let alone studying how their jobs affected their health and well-being. As an expert on harm reduction, Sherman stands by providing people with options, not telling them what to do.

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By that time, she had spent years developing HIV-prevention programs in high-risk areas in places such as Thailand and India, and working with drug users and sex workers to understand how their vulnerabilities—from homelessness to addiction—made them more susceptible to risky behavior. studies show that social cohesion among female sex workers is typically low, but staff members say that the center has helped create new relationships among the women by providing a safe place to talk and bond through activities like dancing or reading together.

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When the center opened its doors in NovemberSherman and her team were prepared with a host of products and services specific to sex workers and other women in need, such as emergency contraception and HIV-prevention consultations, but they quickly learned that they needed access to even more basic assistance.

She wanted to start her next year surrounded by her true family, the women that make her feel lucky and proud to be alive. As Riegger built a relationship with the women over the course of the study, she caught a glimpse at the massive impact that such basic health assistance had on their daily lives.

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Inshe began a two-year research project with funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that surveyed 26 exotic dance clubs in Baltimore City and County to determine the risk factors of places where sex work occurs. On top of having faith in the staff, visitors have to trust the other women who are watching movies in the community room or coming to the center to get sterile syringes.

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We teach each other how to be strong and take those baby steps forward. That spring, the resource van parked on the corner of Baltimore and Gay Streets for the first time—offering free contraceptives, sterile syringes, sexually transmitted infection testing, and overdose prevention training—where it still sits every Thursday night.

​children of the night

For years, the challenges faced by sex workers in baltimore went largely unnoticed. So that summer, she and a team of graduate students surveyed dancers who visited the van, where 55 self-reported using heroin and crack inside the clubs, while 42 reported exchanging sex for money.

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Later that day, she brought the dishes, along with some colorful streamers and a banner, to the SPARC Center, where everyone —strangers, friends, staff members—gathered for her 53rd birthday party. The spoke volumes: 78 percent of participants reported experiencing at least one abusive interaction with law enforcement in their lifetime. In AprilSherman launched another long-term study, this time of local female sex workers, to examine another prevalent issue—their interactions with law enforcement. In response to feedback from the community, the SPARC Center added a food pantry, a clothing closet, and industrial washers and dryers.

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But just as the foot traffic began to pick up at SPARC, the CityLink bus line that had been transporting visitors from farther afield neighborhoods like Curtis Bay and Brooklyn changed. Sherman says their work is not always pretty, and definitely not for the faint of heart, but the team prides itself on running a center that makes space for anyone who walks through the door.

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This winter, she started taking courses to receive her peer recovery certification, and will begin classes later this year to become a community health worker. After a decade of connecting the dots, she saw a clear and urgent need for a dedicated space where women and non-male sex workers could receive the services they needed to make safer, healthier choices—from showers and laundry to legal assistance and reproductive health care—as well as form connections with one another to bolster their individual and collective strength.

Waste collected from Mr. Trash Wheel and friends is incinerated, generating electricity—and air pollution. The STILETTO Risk Assessment quantified the responses that employees gave about everything from the prevalence of drug use to safe sex practices and ranked each club from least to most risky. Now, a pioneering program empowers them to take back their lives.

The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached, or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Baltimore Magazine. As time went on, the encounters—with him and other men who offered her money—started to feel normal.

Stripping on this notorious section of East Baltimore Street, known for its rows of neon-lit strip clubs and sex shops, seemed easy enough. Her teacher had been molesting her for months, and the money he agreed to give her when they had sex bought her silence.

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