Bella’s Bio



Bella Robinson is the Executive Director of COYOTE-RI and a 2022 FREEHER Fellowship Facilitator. She has over 40 years of experience working as a criminalized sex worker. Her personal experiences with the criminal justice system over the past four decades give her exceptional expertise in the areas of sex worker rights and trafficking. 

COYOTE-RI builds and strengthens support networks for sex workers. They conduct community-based research, engage in policy work, draft legislation, and create educational toolkits & resources.   #creatingcommunity

Learn more at



BELLA’S STORY: “From Teenaged Prostitute to Sex Workers’ Rights Advocate. Activist Bella Robinson feels victimized by laws intended to help people like her”   [Link]


From 2012 to 2018, Bella also serves as a board member and secretary of The Erotic Service Providers Union Legal, Education and Research Project (ESPLERP), a diverse community-based erotic service provider-led group which seeks to empower the erotic community and advances sexual privacy rights through legal advocacy, education, and research. In our legal advocacy, we seek to create change through a combination of impact litigation, policy statements, and voicing our concerns for our community in political arenas. Through educational training and outreach, we will empower and capacity builds to address discrimination of erotic service providers and the greater erotic community. Lastly, we strive to archive and rate much of the research which has been done by and for the sex worker community and build on this history with research that seeks to be increasingly inclusive, respectful, and ultimately, relevant to the erotic service providers and the larger erotic community.

Bella is also on the advisory committee of the Sex Worker Outreach Project Behind Bars (SWOP Behind Bars), an organization that supports incarcerated sex workers. With SWOP Behind bars, Bella works to send over 1,000 incarcerated sex workers a newsletter every month. Incarcerated sex workers are also supported through pen pal programs, a book program, and 6 paralegal correspondence courses every year. SWOP Behind Bars and COYOTE also act as case managers and help those being released to access reentry services.  Most importantly, Bella works to create a community, among sex workers and advocate for their collective rights.

Through COYOTE, Bella also networks with several other sex worker rights organizations nationally and internationally. Through these networks, we can rally around people within the sex workers’ community who have been victims of physical violence as well as state-sponsored violence. COYOTE has worked to support many youths who have engaged in survival sex and the criminal justice system refused to acknowledge their status as domestic sex trafficking victims. Bella works with activists from other organizations to educate public defender offices county by county, so they better understand how to best defend people with prostitution-related charges.   

Bella has also upheld COYOTE’s history of advocating for a more just sex work policy nationwide. In 1976, COYOTE sued the Rhode Island Attorney General, in the landmark case COYOTE vs. Roberts, regarding the constitutionality of the state’s prostitution laws, resulting in the decriminalization of indoor sex work between consenting adults. In 2009 indoor sex work was recriminalized and since then Bella has undertaken research projects within the state to better understand how this policy change impacted sex workers directly. Bella is a vocal advocate for the rights of sex workers and the creation and implementation of a policy that protects the safety and autonomy of sex workers.

Bella was also featured in the 2013 award-winning film American Courtesans as Gina Robinson.  Bella is now known around the world as an authentic activist and advocate with a lifetime of lived experience in the sex industry.   




December 10th, 2012 Bella and Christina Parreira presented on “Sex Worker Rights” for Vicky J Wysoczanska’s Human Sexuality Class at Rutgers University



July 2013 Bella and Maxine Doogan presented on ESPLER v GASCON and the Erotic Service Providers Union at the 5th Annual Desiree Alliance conference

November 4th, 2013 Bella presents “Sex Workers’ Rights, the trafficking narrative and the effects of criminalization” at the University of New Hampshire for Dr. Ryan’s class, After a screening of the 2012 award-winning Film “American Courtesans” which featured Bella as Gina Robinson

December 11th, 2013 Bella presented on “Sex Worker Rights” for Vicky J Wysoczanska’s Human Sexuality Class at Rutgers University


May 5th- May 11th, 2014 Bella and Miss R, both members of ESPU (The Erotic Service Providers Union) attend the Regina v Polk Women’s Labor Leadership Conference

July 26 -July 31st, 2014 Bella attends the 39TH Annual Northeast Regional Summer School for Union Women at Queen’s University

October 2014 Bella is certified in “Human Trafficking” by Ohio University in affiliation with Coursera Online learning, becoming more acquainted with the many flaws of conflating trafficking with sex work.

November 5th, 2014 Bella presents on Sex Workers’ Rights at the University of New Hampshire for Dr. Ryans’s class.

August- November 2014 Bella participated in a weekly study group by phone conference with members of several sex worker’s rights organizations in the US, and they studied the book “Taking the Crime Out of Sex Work, New Zealand Sex Workers Fight To Decriminalization”


March 12th, 2015 Bella attended an alumni event at Brown University and confronted Katherine Chon the co-founder of Emerita Polaris Project regarding “Polaris Project” publishing false statistics on trafficking. This resulted in Polaris Project,  taking down the page on their website that said the average age of entry was 13.

April 27th, 2015 Bella presented on the “policing identities panel” at Brown University.

April 30th, 2015 Bella and Professor Shih attended a conference  “R.I. task force developing protocols on handling sex-trafficking cases”

November 10th, 2015 Bella presented at  Southern Connecticut State University for DR Alan Brown, Assistant Professor of Criminology

July 26th-30th 2015 Bella and M Dante who are members of ESPU (The Erotic  Service Providers Union) attended the 40th Annual Northeast Regional Summer School for Union Women at Penn State University

September 19th, 2015 Bella was a keynote speaker at The Libertarian Party of Connecticut 2015 convention

November 18, 2015, Bella hosted Alaskan native Tara Burns for a class “Community Action Research Methods: Policing and Sex Trafficking Alaska” which is the work we mimicked the RI survey after.

December 6th, 2017 Bella meets with Chris Sowa to organize activists nationwide to participate in a podcast called “Fighting the Trafficking Narrative from Alaska to Rhode Island” Episode 26

December 17th, 2015 Bella organizes and hosts Providence’s first “International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers” event at the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center

CoyoteRI 2015 Annual Review & Reflections 

CoyoteRI 2016 Annual Review & Reflections

Coyote RI 2017 Annual Review & Reflections

Coyote RI 2018 Annual Review & Reflections

Coyote RI 2019 Fact Sheet – Coyote RI At A Glance

Coyote RI 2019 Annual Review & Reflections

Coyote RI 2020 Annual Review & Reflections

COYOTE 2021 Annual Report

COYOTE RI 2022 Annual Report

Bella Robinson- 2019 Resume for Soros Justice Fellowship

Bella CV Resume- 2023