2004 – A Battle Hymn for the Sex Workers’ Revolution

“A Battle Hymn for the Sex Workers’ Revolution” is the anthem of the Asia and Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW). The 4 minute long song, developed by Philippines- based trans* sex worker activist and “whore of the law”, Tonette Lopez, was launched at APNSW’s first regional Human Rights workshop in 2004. The song was subsequently performed by an ad-hoc sex worker choir and recorded at the Women’s Network for Unity boat, in Phnom Phen, Cambodia, at the APNSW event.

The track, which was also performed by Tonette in Cambodia, Pattaya and Bangkok at a variety of workshops and international conferences, was officially adopted by APNSW as the network’s “battle-cry” in 2004.

Tonette was due to perform the track at the first APNSW Star Whores Show in Toronto at the 2006, International AIDS Society conference; however, due to a sudden illness for which she had no funds or health insurance to cover the cost of treatment, Tonette unexpectedly passed away in 2006 in Cebu, prior to the conference.

“A Battle Hymn for the Sex Workers’ Revolution” subsequently inspired APNSW to create a new karaoke-style pro-sex worker rights song for performance at every bi-annual International AIDS Society conference’s sex worker zone.

Full lyrics:

This we vow, we shall stand,
We shall fight and together we can,
Rights for all we cry!
Sex workers rights! We too are human!
We feel, we cry, we laugh, we love,
Like the way you do!


We dream for a just and loving world
We believe, we shall survive.
Different in race, sexuality and faith,
Still we dream and believe we survive.

We sail away in this journey,
Brought us together as one,
United in this struggle, united in this dream
United in this vision in hope.

This we vow, we shall stand
We shall fight and together we can,
Rights for all we cry!
Sex workers rights! We too are human!
We feel, we cry, we laugh, we love,
Like the way you do!

Sex work is work let us live,
Let us survive! let us live!
Give us life, this is our battle cry
We shall fight, we struggle, we fight.

This we vow, we shall stand
We shall fight and together we can,
Rights for all we cry!
Sex workers rights! We too are human!
We feel, we cry, we laugh, we love,
Like the way you do!

People all over the world,
We want to let you know,
We need you as you do,
Let all the people unite.

APNSW call upon us,
Be one in this struggle, Be one in this fight,
Be one in this dream,
Be one in this love!

This we vow, we shall stand
We shall fight and together we can,
Rights for all we cry!
Sex workers rights! We too are human!
We feel, we cry, we laugh, we love,
Like the way you do!

We sail away in this journey,
Brought us together as one
United in this struggle, united in this dream
United in this vision in hope.

We still dream, we believe,
We shall survive!