An unlikely mobilization: The occupation of Saint-Nizier church by the prostitutes of Lyon

A journal article by Lilian Mathieu which examines the occupation of Saint-Nizier church in Lyon, June 1975 by prostitutes protesting against police repression. It highlights the difficulties these politically inexperienced women encountered in mobilizing, namely preventing defections and choosing an appropriate mode of action; difficulties they were able to surmount thanks to resources provided by outside supporters endowed with practical knowledge in matters of collective action. Despite this assistance, however, the prostitutes' mobilization quickly declined and soon expired, in part because of the leaders' defection.

Submitted by wojtek on January 19, 2012



11 years 8 months ago

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Submitted by wojtek on October 4, 2012

Les Prostituées de Lyon parlent (The Prostitutes from Lyon Speak) was also a production by Carole Roussopoulos with Vidéo Out, this time concerning the first strike by prostitutes in 1975, during which the street workers found refuge in a local church that they occupied with the help of the minister. [19] In the video, the prostitutes denounce the government’s hostility towards them: the insults and aggressions by the police, imprisonments, fines and state taxation. Roussopoulos uses the traditional video-portrait but departs from familiar techniques by giving special attention to the video’s immediate audience. The material she videotaped each morning was broadcast in the afternoon on monitors hung outside on the church’s façade — this way the women could speak to the street without being arrested by the police. [20] Footage of these transmissions was integrated into the final production, and shows a crowd composed of clients and pimps, along with some male and female bystanders. Unexpectedly, all appear astonished and speechless; not only have they learned that prostitutes’ concerns are, in many respects, similar to those of other women, citizens and taxpayers, but they have also realised that a debate on an issue as taboo as prostitution can overtly take place in the public space.


9 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by wojtek on May 13, 2015

English transcript of the radio documentary La Revolt des Prostituees (2015) produced by Eurydice Aroney for Radio France Culture and Radio Belgium.