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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

Project ROSE is a diversion program like a person who pushes ten people onto the train tracks and pulls three off is a hero.  -  Ryan Beck Turner

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

It’s especially satisfying when a vice cop is the victim:

…Denver police detective…Michael Ryan…[is under] investigation [for] solicitation of a prostitute…Ryan works in DPD’s Vice and Narcotics unit and was instrumental in the investigation that led to federal judge Edward Nottingham resigning in the face of accusations he had patronized prostitutes.  Ryan…also served on a human trafficking task force…

A False Dichotomy 

Another good essay from Belle Knox:

…The concept of the desperate exchange permeates discussions about sex work…People assume that my support for sex workers and porn is somehow invalidated because I chose to do porn for the money rather than for love.  They act as though this is some shocking victory for them because being a sex worker wasn’t my dream job…it now somehow reverts to being morally wrong, and I become another pitiable whore to be dismissed at leisure…of course I do porn for money.  It’s a job, not a summer retreat…The majority of people don’t work every day for fun; they do it because they want…something in exchange.  Do you honestly think that the people working at McDonald’s flipping burgers and responding to rude customers on a daily basis would come to work every day if they weren’t getting paid?  Moreover, do you think as a child their dream job was to do this?…

Rooted in Racism

Police in southern France have been accused of racism after asking local hotel owners to report the arrival of Eastern European guests, in a bid to crackdown on certain crimes like pimping…a national police union official [pretended]…”(It) would not violate the values of the Republic by advocating snitching…in the fight against pimping speed is essential”…French authorities have taken a hard line against the presence of Roma people from Romania and Bulgaria, repeatedly bulldozing their unsanctioned settlements and expelling them from France…

For more examples of “sex trafficking” and “the fight against prostitution” as excuses for racism and xenophobia, see here, here, here and here.

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

It takes a special kind of stupidity for a reporter to call for censorship:

Young girls are being sold online for sex…but not much is being done to stop…the most popular websites…Backpage.com…makes millions of dollars each month from “escort” and “body rub” listings.  Portland police…said it’s frustrating to know Backpage.com makes money off illegal activity, but if it went away, another similar site that is less cooperative with law enforcement would likely pop up…

Divided We Fall

when…Queer Strike “named and shamed” LGBTI organizations who they said were refusing to help decriminalize sex work in the [UK], the picture they gave was misleading…in most cases it simply wasn’t part of those organizations’ remits.  This is a particular issue under British charity law, which means they have to stick to their stated “charitable aims”…

Feet of Clay

I’m really pleased to see Reason doing a lot more on sex worker rights these days, and doubly glad to see “sex trafficking” in scare quotes:

…If you could put a date on when modern-day progressives fully re-inhabited the moral rigidity of their…forebears, it might be September 24, 2012.  That’s when Village Voice Media…split off…Backpage.com after a years-long, progressive-led campaign to shutter the site over claims that it facilitates “sex trafficking”.  “If street pimps go to jail for profiteering on under-age girls, should…Village Voice Media really get a pass?”  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn’t exist in 2003.  “Paradoxically, Village Voice began as an alternative newspaper to speak truth to power.  So it’s sad to see it accept business from pimps”…Kristof had the paradox almost exactly backward.  It is he and his fellow crusaders, not the buyers and sellers of controversial products and services, who are aggrandizing power at the expense of the little guy and mangling truth in the service of that unseemly goal…

True Colors

This title of this New Yorker article would seem to indicate a general piece about HIV in the American South, but it’s really much more about Deon Haywood, Women With a Vision and the arson which destroyed their offices on May 24th, 2012.  The responsible party was never caught, but here’s a clue:  the fire was started by piling up all the reproductive health models and posters in one room and setting them ablaze.

Think of the Children! (TW3 #23) Christy Mack

Sex rays can apparently enter one Lego construction and be randomly emitted from other Legos elsewhere, presumably via quantum tunneling:

[In January]…Christy Mack…tweeted [“Whoever builds me the best Lego creation to put in my house gets a blow job”]… The response on Twitter was enthusiastic, to say the least…Unfortunately for Mack’s fans, and toy store proprietors nationwide…the Lego challenge drew to an abrupt close…[when] lawyers for the company had contacted her, objecting to her usage of the Lego name…

Broken Record

They won’t stop until they extend the “gypsy whores” myth to every possible event:  “An undercover sting operation targeting prostitution and child sex trafficking netted five arrests in Augusta [Georgia]…because of the Masters Golf Tournament…

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism” (TW3 #36)

Who cares that a woman was stabbed?  The sadfeelz of naïve prudes are much more newsworthy!

Hookers are using…Airbnb…to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels…One apartment…belongs to publicist Jessica Penzari…But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the…apartment over the price…Penzari got a call from cops…Airbnb put her up in the swanky InterContinental hotel in Times Square for two nights…and also paid to change her door locks, clean her apartment and replace her pillows and other belongings…Airbnb said…“we have zero tolerance for this activity”…

According to the Post, having a snack at your desk is “turning prime office space into a temporary restaurant”.

Under Every Bed

The underworld of prostitution and human trafficking is a dark one, often hidden from the public eye, but it exists in [Alabama] a lot more than one may think…”We used to be just a pass through state,” said Pat McCay with the Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force.  “They would come from Atlanta to Memphis…Now they are staying”…

The event which sparked all this portentous talk of vast criminal cartels?  A cop arrested a massage girl.  Of course the reporter has to get the usual self-important bile from a “legitimate” masseuse.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) 

As the days pass with no sign of [missing 8-year-old] Relisha [Rudd], some…believe she may have been sold into a child sex trafficking operation.  They point to the wads of cash and expensive items Relisha’s mother and boyfriend flaunted on Facebook in the days following the little girl’s disappearance…Andrea Powell…of FAIR Girls…says, “There’s kids as young as 5, 6, 7.”  The average age of entry into this dark and devastating underworld is 13…Relisha RuddIn Washington, D.C. alone, the trafficking of children is a $100-million industry…

Given that the population of the Washington metro area is 5.8 million, that would make the “trafficking of children” worth over $5 billion in the US as a whole.  The level of mathematical illiteracy required to believe such a blatant absurdity constitutes a national crisis vastly greater than “sex trafficking” could ever be.

I Saw My Brain

Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Fla…brought felony charges…in October 2013 against two girls, 12 and 14, after the suicide a month earlier of a third girl, Rebecca Sedwick…[Judd] charged the two girls, Katelyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, with aggravated stalking and released their names and mugshots…He made it sound like they posed an urgent risk…A month later, prosecutors dropped the charges after…failing to find evidence of [Judd’s claims]…Judd’s tendency to overdo it isn’t news to the voters who elected him…a…suspect [was shot]…68 times…he boasted of arresting a man for running an Internet pornography site out of his home…[he] took the basketball hoops out of the local jail and stopped supplying inmates with underwear…[he uses] pepper spray on detained juveniles

Micromanagement

Is there anything more worthless than an “authority’s” promise?

French investigators began taking DNA samples…from 527 male students and staff at a high school…as they searched for the assailant who raped a teenage girl on the closed campus…All those who received summonses…were warned that any refusal could land them in police custody…Authorities have promised to discard the DNA collected once a donor is eliminated as a suspect…

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #338)

A French fundamentalist priest repeatedly raped three teachers at the school he ran in…Paris during so-called exorcisms…[he] was indicted this week on charges of rape, cruelty and torture…he had first raped one teacher during an exorcism to purge her of the “evil” from a previous sexual assault…[then] used his “spiritual influence” to convince two [others]…to undergo similar exorcisms…[which included torture with] a broom, a toothbrush and scissors…Police became involved only last year when two of the women reported the rapes to authorities…[but] several years ago the…society of St. Pius X tried him in a religious hearing and sentenced him to two years in a monastery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #343)

A strong criticism of the ethical bankruptcy of Project ROSE from academics studying “human trafficking”:

This program is ostensibly designed to “rescue” victims…of sexual exploitation, yet there is no form of victim identification at any point in the process.  Rather than attempting to assess whether someone is being coerced…they threaten the arrested person with prosecution…If sex trafficking victims/survivors do not meet the “perfect victim” criteria and are convicted, they will face mandatory minimum sentencing in Arizona’s particularly brutal prison system…It…bears little resemblance to anything that could be considered an anti-sex trafficking program…and…is a tragically absurd version of a “diversion” program.  Instead of keeping people out of the criminal justice system, it sweeps them up and funnels them in…Project ROSE is responsible for at least 100 percent more incarcerations than “diversions”…ASU social workers…are acting like colonial missionaries – they offer to “save” the sex workers they perceive as helpless and damaged, but should [they] not gratefully accept…“help,” then armed…men are at the ready – “for their own good.”

Crumbling House

We are aware of certain allegations that have surfaced…regarding Somaly’s history…We are treating these accusations with the utmost seriousness…the Foundation has recently launched an independent, third party investigation to further examine these claims …

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

According to STRASS, sex workers are increasingly marginalized and insecure since the parliamentary debate on the criminalization of clients…attacks against prostitutes have increased…On the night of March 31…a Chinese prostitute was stabbed to death…“Her assailant was known to be a bad customer so she would have refused him if she had the means.  But she had been unable to work for several days, due to constant police operations targeting Chinese women, and was therefore unable to take the time to choose her customers” said a STRASS statement…The police harassment has been repeatedly denounced by Doctors of the World…

Surplus Women (TW3 #413)

Remember, three weeks ago they were saying there was no serial killer.

Two registered sex offenders have been arrested in connection with killing four women in Orange County…[targeting them] because of their ties to prostitution or escort services, and investigators suspect there are more victims yet to be identified…Franc Cano…and Steven Dean Gordon…were arrested Friday evening…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #415)

the Upper House of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat, passed a resolution calling for an objective debate…amid plans by the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats to reform the German Prostitution Act of 2002…The Bundesrat found that debates in the public sphere and in the media were still based on prejudices, a lack of knowledge and sensationalism.  The Bundesrat particularly opposed the blanket equation of prostitution and human trafficking…[and] opposed the introduction of mandatory health checks, judging them as unreasonable and hardly expedient…

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For regular readers, this month’s guest columnist needs no introduction; Laura Lee is a sex worker and activist who lives in Scotland, but is active in the fight against criminalization both in the UK and in her native Ireland.   You can find many stories about her (and videos in which she appears) in the subject index, most of them under the subtitle “The Public Eye“.  I admire Laura for her incredible courage in coming out as a sex worker and facing down politicians both in committee rooms and on television, but for this essay she preferred to speak of the courage of others; I’d say she’s well qualified to judge that particular quality.

Laura Lee CNNIn the current debate raging about further criminalization versus decriminalization, sometimes it’s very easy to lose sight of the real people behind the statistics, those sex workers on the front lines.  This week in Perth, Scotland, some of the bravest women I have ever encountered took the stand to give evidence against a vicious rapist; their courage took my breath away.

I could summarize the circumstances surrounding the case, but I think the voices of the sex workers concerned are far more powerful.  With their kind permission, I will replicate some of the email correspondence I’ve had below, changing some personal details to maintain their privacy and right to anonymity.

Myself and a few other girls travel from Edinburgh/Glasgow up to a flat in Perth for shifts, one of girls phoned in a state.  She had let a punter in, he demanded money from her, when she said she didn’t have any, he raped her and punched her in the face very violently.  She cried through the whole attack, that was around November last year.  We begged her to report the attack to the police which she was adamant she was not going to do fearing her family would find out what she did for a living.

Early February I was working in the flat, and although there had been reports of a guy hanging around the flat all week, I’d calmed down by then and thought I was out of danger.  A punter called, he knew where the flat was and I assumed he was a regular.  He came into the flat, told me I could do things the easy way or hard way.  He had to say it twice as I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but knew I was in big trouble.

I told him I had no money (understand the other girls he raped were tiny, I body build, plus I’ve got teenagers and don’t appreciate cheek).  There was obviously a “don’t mess with me” stance which had taken over in me without my knowledge.  He threw me on the bed and spread my legs apart.  I knew he was going to rape me.  I screamed at the top of my lungs, he jumped off me and made a run for the front door, curling his fist into a ball as I ran after him to get the door shut, that was his warning to stay away as he fled.

Within 15 minutes I’d phoned the police and reported the crime.  Laura, I know what I work as makes people disgusted and they think I’m a lesser person because of that but I’m not, I’m proud, this job has supported me and my kids and given me a support system financially that a lot of single mums can only dream about.  I refuse to go to work to be abused, battered or raped.  I never signed up for that, I am proud of who I am and what I’ve achieved!!!!!

The police were lovely and very supportive, they had no clue that sex workers were even in Perth, my friend was asked by the police if she would approach other flats in Perth with the promise there would be no charges for the other girls, they were not interested in what they were doing as they wanted this lowlife caught.  After a bit of persuasion it turned out that another two girls had been attacked, anally raped and battered by the same guy which they identified.

I can’t forget what he said to me – “You can’t phone the police, you’re just a prostitute!!!!”

That will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Perth High CourtSo that’s their story.  One by one those women took the stand against the man who thought “you’re only a prostitute”.  Isn’t it time that we acknowledged that they are far from “just prostitutes”?  They are women, they are mothers, working to support their children and they deserve the full protection of the law.  The police in this case have been wonderful and very supportive of the women, and have now appointed a liaison officer so that they can report their worries in private.  He was found guilty last Tuesday, and will be sentenced on the 30th; let’s hope it’s a long, long one.

Too little, too late.  The time has come to acknowledge that whatever your moral judgment on sex work, those who work within the industry deserve to do so in safety.  Had these women not had such immense courage to go forward and report these crimes, who’s to know where it would have stopped?  We need to decriminalize sex work right now, so that every sex worker can work with others for safety, and so that the stigma and vulnerability attached to sex work can begin to be peeled away.  When this lady told me the rapist’s  words will haunt her for the rest of her life, I resolved to fight for decriminalization with a ferocity rarely tested.  That, at least, I can promise them.

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For a model that is supposed to help prostitutes…[the Swedish model] shows them remarkably little respect.  –  Mishka Gora

Rough Trade Danford Grant on video

Accused rapist says it wasn’t rape because his victims were only whores:

Danford Grant, a prominent Seattle lawyer…is charged with six counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and one count of burglary for allegedly attacking multiple women at massage clinics…Grant’s lawyers claim Jie Shao, owner of Carnation Massage:  “deleted all the footage that recorded what really occurred…to destroy what was evidence of prostitution, not rape or attempted rape”…attorney…Richard Hansen…has repeatedly put…responsibility …on the…victims…saying…“a lot of these…(massage businesses) were advertising on Backpage…that should tell you something”…

The Lesser of Two Evils

An excellent Christian argument against criminalization of sex work, especially via the Swedish model:

…To criminalise male purchasers while simultaneously exonerating female vendors…is a violation of natural justice…this…“denial of consent”…fails to understand the motivation of women who…prefer prostitution to the alternative…the duplicity and irrationality of wanting to eliminate prostitution…while simultaneously denying the moral agency of prostitutes…is mind-boggling.  The contortions of the mind needed to support this feminist narrative have…also led to…prostitutes [being treated]…like children incapable of taking responsibility for their actions…[while] male clients…are…“sex offenders”…along with rapists and child abusers…According to Dr Melissa Farley, upon whose dubious “research” seemingly every justification of the Swedish model is based, they are “predators”…For Christians, promiscuity has [always] been the defining aspect of prostitution…medieval canonists agreed that although it was wrong for a prostitute to practice her trade, there was no wrongdoing in her receipt of money for her services…It is…hypocritical and inconsistent to criminalise only this one form of promiscuity…It is not…criminal…for a woman to have a different sexual partner each night…nor…for a man to buy his mistress an apartment, clothing, etc…integrity would demand…prohibition [of sex work] apply to all illicit sex…Such a prohibition…was ludicrous in Catholic medieval Europe, and…even more so in a modern western democracy…

Actually, This is Good News

The more sex workers are treated as other professionals are, the better:

Prostitutes could be sued for breaching the Consumer Guarantees Act, the same as any other service provider, a law professor says.  A man who tried to sue a prostitute for compensation and damages  had his claim dismissed…But…Professor Cynthia Hawes said prostitutes were…no less accountable than other service providers…”if you’ve made a contract with somebody there could be a case.  A contract of prostitution is not unlawful in itself”…

Maggie in the Media

On Wednesday I was a guest on the Inspireland podcast; you can listen to it at that link or download it on iTunes.

Parable white slave girl

For April Fools’ Day, Jenny Heineman wrote a satire entitled “It Happened To Me:  I Read And Believed Nick Kristof”:

Despite ample warnings about the prevalence of con men seeking to prey on easily malleable puppets like me…I almost became the victim of a murky, seedy, dark, sex trafficking ring operated by equally murky, seedy, dark (-skinned) men…prostitution…is never a victimless crime…all fact-based evidence to the contrary should be deeply scrutinized…Furthermore, prostitution and sex trafficking are synonyms because if you disagree…you’re a pedophile…

Somehow, I Doubt She Thought This Through

A [Connecticut] woman faces prostitution charges after…she reported being robbed by a man who responded to her ad…Nikoletta Herman…became nervous about the way he was acting…changed her mind and…the man got upset, assaulted her and stole her cellphone…

Marching Up Their Own Arses

The newest anti-whore fad:  using “licensing” to jack up prostitution fines:

…Wausau [Wisconsin] Police Chief Jeff Hardel [wants]…an escort license…ordinance [which] would impose fines in the $2,000 to $5,000 dollar range, and [require] licensed escorts to be fingerprinted, pass background checks, and file a…business plan.

Full of Themselves (Updates Galore)

Massage parlors are victims of licensing as well:

…Minneapolis will require massage businesses to be licensed…to prevent sex trafficking…With cooperation from…victims, prosecutors are…working to drive down the demand…through aggressive prosecuting of “johns.”  The city also has conducted training sessions to educate hotel and motel owners and employees to recognize, report and stop sex trafficking…

coffee crack pipe
To paraphrase one line from the article, “The new law is intended to make Minneapolis a safe police state to call home.”

Gullible’s Travels

Coffee smoking is a dangerous new trend that could be going viral among teens…But the side effects can be dangerous. People have reported trouble breathing, dizziness, vomiting and even hallucinations.”

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

violence and assault against sex workers by the police…has come under the scanner of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission…Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) filed a complaint…on behalf of the sex workers…”Women have been beaten up just for standing on the road, or while walking towards the bus stop…Women have been…compelled to pay money, failing which they are threatened that false cases will be filed against them,” Professor Rajendra Y J of PUCL said…

The Prudish Giant (TW3 #9)

PayPal is at it again; here’s a letter sent out on Monday by the crowd-funding platform Patreon (which lets patrons pledge a set amount to an artist for every new work created) to artists who create “adult” material:

…we had to change your custom URL and set your Patreon page to “private”…users must [now] have a specific link to view your page, as it no longer appears in our search results.  We got a notice from Paypal this morning that they were shutting down their entire integration with Patreon because of “adult content” on our site!  As you can imagine, this would be detrimental to creators – hundreds of thousands of dollars were to be “frozen” unless we flagged all adult content pages, made them private, and removed Paypal functionality from their individual pages…We have already emailed your patrons who signed up to become your patron through Paypal, and we have asked them to switch over to a credit card.  No action is needed on your part, however, if you would like to email your patrons as well, that could be helpful in converting patrons from Paypal to credit card…

Above the Law 

Kansas jailer Kenneth Reese “has been arrested, accused of sex crimes against jail inmates”; the first allegation a year ago didn’t go anywhere, but a second accusation seems to have tipped the balance.  Meanwhile, in Louisiana, “Richland Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dewey Allen has been arrested on charges of sexual battery and malfeasance…

Held Together With Lies

Emily J does a splendid job of ripping apart prohibitionist nonsense:

…here are the basic numbers of their claims:  140 girls & women in Ottawa right now are trafficked sex slaves…[each makes] $260 000 – $280 000…on average…[at] $200/Hour average price…$260 000 per year at $200/hour…[is] 1300 sessions in a year…if each one works 365 days per year, they earn $712 per day…[and] 3.56 clients per day, every single day…that’s 498 unique men seeing trafficked girls in Ottawa…[and] 182,000 sessions per year…[which would mean] 65% of all men in Ottawa have had sex with a trafficked sex slave…

Number Puzzle

The invaluable Wendy Lyon debunks another bogus “trafficking” study:

There’s been much in the Irish media…about a new report on sex workers’ clients…You’d need a pretty small population size for 58 [respondents] to…tell us anything about clients as a class – and the authors can hardly claim simultaneously that the population size is small enough, and that it spends €250m a year…if the respondents amounted to even 10% of the sex-buying population of Ireland, that would still require them to pay an average of €431,034 per year for sex…the…survey…asks…Have you ever changed your mind and walked away because the person seemed…a list of options follows, including “scared”, “controlled”, “unwilling”, “unhappy” and “too young”…a client who…walked out of an appointment with an independent escort who was in a bad mood…[was] recorded as having encountered a sex worker who he believed was exploited or trafficked.  This…is a gigantic leap that undermines whatever credibility this survey might otherwise have had…

Under Every Bed

This collection of single sentences  about the “sex trafficking problem” in Boise, Idaho (population 200,000; known chiefly for lumber and potatoes) is not actually organized into a coherent article; apparently, its “writer” is a dual devotee of the “sex trafficking” cult and the Hemingway software.  The gems found therein include (multiple sic):  “a child is taken in…they’re used not only for prostitution but also in gang organized crimes”; “victims…go through a ‘moral development’ period…in order to stay safe they must go along with their captures”; and “investigators…believe that a major problem stems from the Internet…‘where kids play online’”.

Bottleneck (TW3 #324)

This breathless article from the Canberra Times is clearly intended as an attack on decriminalization in New South Wales:  it spouts “sex trafficking” nonsense; quotes cops, politicians and an NGO named “Brothel Busters”; and does not quote any sex worker organizations at all.  But like many prohibitionist screeds about the “failure” of legal sex work regimes, it ignores a vital point:  the women it discusses are only victims because they are specifically excluded from working legally via some legal bottleneck, in this case the inability to get visas for sex work.  Naturally, Scarlet Alliance has repeatedly warned the government about this exact issue.

Bootlickers (TW3 #326) 

Because surely there are scads of women who think escort to barista is a good career move:

[Sheriff's Sgt. Darrell L. O'Neill] was charged…with felony promoting prostitution…for allegedly tipping off bikini baristas in exchange for sexual favors…[cops claim] Java Juggs stands hire young women who have worked as strippers and escorts and “essentially operate as drive-through strip clubs or brothels”…

Innocence Never Had

Another useless public policy based upon the absurd notion of magical “pimp” mind control powers:

[Los Angeles] officials are exploring a plan to require more…training for foster parents and group home workers to help them recognize …signs that children and teens under their care may be victims of sex trafficking…pimps sometimes recruit underage sex workers from group homes…Rachel Thomas, a sex trafficking survivor [said]…”There’s a grooming process…with recognizable signs.”

The Punitive Mindset (TW3 #352) 

Campaigners fighting the Ministry of Justice over a ban on books being sent to prisoners…threatened to take their battle to the courts…Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has offered his services for free, said…justice secretary Chris Grayling [is] acting “unlawfully and irrationally”…to inflict “cruel and unusual punishment” on literate prisoners.  “Grayling is not a lawyer, he is a politician who seems to think he is above the law,” said Robertson…”He has no power to impose additional punishment on prisoners over and above that which is imposed by the courts.  The action has nothing to do with prison security or any other legitimate purpose”…Grayling [pretends]…”the arrival of thousands of unknown parcels in our prisons each day”…would undermine the…battle against drugs…

R.I.P. Andrew Hunter

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

Sex workers from across the UK and rest of Europe crammed into a select committee room in the House of Commons to argue against plans to change prostitution laws that would criminalise clients…

Whither Canada? 

Canadian prohibitionist is sad because he can no longer force sex workers traumatized by arrest to listen to his “rescue” sales pitch:

A prostitute rescue program…is now on hold because police are no longer laying prostitution charges in Saskatoon, says…Don Meikle…once an arrest was made “we would be sitting at the police station waiting for them…It’s…very disappointing…It’s taken away that crisis that quite often created change”…

The rest of the article is littered with words like “combating prostitution” and the program is praised by a pro-Swedish model prohibitionist group.

Delightful Conversation

Go back and look at the text below the second picture on yesterday’s column (which I actually posted on March 8th) before reading this:

…[Miranda Barbour] made up the claim that she killed more than 20 people and is drawing on the escapades of television serial killer “Dexter,” her sister said…”She takes a lot of truths and puts the lie in the middle so when people…see all these truths…they believe the lie”…Ashley Dean said Elytte Barbour loved the TV show Dexter and suggested that her sister…”is using descriptions from the show”…

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We call on the Government of Canada to join with global leaders, community, researchers and legal experts in rejecting criminalization regimes, including those that criminalize the purchase of sexual services, and instead support the decriminalization of sex work…as scientifically-grounded and necessary to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers.  -  The Gender & Sexual Health Initiative

Maggie in the Media

Here’s an interview with me on the Euvoluntary Exchange podcast, and a guest column I did for Radley Balko’s blog at the Washington Post.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Steve Smith

The Robbinsdale [Minnesota] police chief resigned from his position…after…he was arrested in a prostitution sting…ten people were arrested…including…Steven Smith…

The Scarlet Letter

Richmond, California’s…police department…plans to…post…photos of men arrested in prostitution stings to Facebook and Twitter…even though these men might not ever be convicted of any crime…

And Speaking of Victim Blaming…

It’s blessedly absent from this story:

Two…thugs bound and gagged a prostitute after robbing her — thinking that she wouldn’t call the police.  Jason Barton…and John Coulter…were joined by David Coulter from Northern Ireland, in a sickening attack on the 27-year-old Polish woman…[who] was found in her flat after her muffled cries for help were heard.  She pleaded with the tower block caretaker not to call the police but he ignored her protests…the vile trio…[was] found guilty… Book of Legendary Lands

Presents, Presents, Presents!

This week I received Playing the Whore and The Book of Legendary Lands from Korhomme and The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection from Gumdeo.  Thank you both so much!

The Sky is Falling!

The arrival of…Seeking Arrangement…has caused…consternation in France…40,000 French “sugar babies” have already signed up…“Seeking Arrangement takes advantage of the financial misery of students.  The site hides violence against women in beautiful wrapping paper,” said Anne-Cecile Mailfert…[of] Osez le Feminisme…“We hope lawmakers will [ban] websites when they…adopt…the law criminalizing the purchasing of sex”…

Thou Shalt Not

Because prohibition always works so well:

Leading doctors have called for a ban on cigarette sales to those born after 2000 in a programme of “progressive prohibition”…They urged the British Medical Association to lobby for a complete ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born in this century…

Above the Law 

Maryland Transit Administration Officer Martez Johnson…[gave a woman] a ride…after an MTA bus hit her car about 3 a.m. March 13…Martez walked the woman to the front door of her home…[then] forced his way inside…pushed her onto her couch and raped her…After he left, she called 911…Earlier this week, a Baltimore City police officer was charged…[with buying sex from] a 14-year-old girl advertising prostitution services online…

Finding What Isn’t There

In science, theories change to fit facts.  In politics, facts change to fit beliefs:

…a law designed to catch human traffickers…has netted few charges and even fewer convictions in Canada, anti-trafficking advocates complain.  There have been [only] 35…convictions since new laws…came into effect in 2005…MP Joy Smith…says more charges and convictions [must be created]…Jennifer Mann, a…Crown attorney, said…it’s…under-reported…But…John Ferguson, a retired RCMP superintendent, says the lack of convictions…may indicate that it is not that widespread…

Only one man is willing to accept that women have agency; all the women interviewed insist that childlike women are “controlled” by evil men.

An Example To the West (TW3 #39) Rajib Boy

The impoverished son of a sex worker in Calcutta…has been selected to participate in a Manchester United soccer training camp…Rajib Boy, 16…will head to the U.K. in April…amid hopes that the sport will liberate them both from poverty…”I am not ashamed of being a sex worker’s son…She is my main source of inspiration.  But I want to take her out of the red-light district as early as possible”…

Buried Truth

[Illinois] State Rep. Keith Farnham stepped down…after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided his home and his state office [for child porn]…Farnham…has…co-sponsored two laws cracking down child pornography [including] one…stiffening penalties for its possession…

Prudish Pedants (TW3 #133)

A federal appeals court…upheld the convictions of…fetish filmmaker…Ira Isaacs…A three-judge panel of the…9th Circuit Court of Appeals…rejected Isaacs’ arguments that the lower court…abused its discretion by excluding [his] proposed expert testimony.  Defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond said he would discuss with Isaacs whether to file a petition for rehearing before the full 11-judge appeals panel…

The Proper Study (TW3 #319)

Porn Studies has released its first issue:

…In the introduction…editors-in-chief – Feona Attwood…and Clarissa Smith…write:  “Recent years have seen a resurgence of public discussions (and scares) about…pornography-related topics, perhaps most notably the expansions of pornography across the internet, its putative links to rape and sexual violence, and erotic life-styling or the oft-cited ‘sexualisation of culture’”…

Predictably, Gail Dines used the occasion to bark at the moon.

FearusOscillation (TW3 #321)

You’ve probably seen this image floating around the internet, and since it contains the address of a long-abandoned website someone bought that domain in order to debunk the image.  The nutshell version: in the original 1979 survey, students were given a five-point range from “always” to “never”, and this chart counts all responses except “never” as a “yes” response.  It certainly changes one’s impression to know that the “yes” percentages are actually four different gradations of agreement added together, doesn’t it?

Unmentionables

Chase Paymentech…told Lovability founder Tiffany Gaines…that the company considers it a “reputational risk” to handle online payments for condoms, which it classifies as an “adult-oriented product”…Gaines…created Lovability with the goal of making it less awkward for women to buy condoms

Micromanagement

Dr. Feelsad wants DNA surveillance of sex workers because of his sadfeelz:

…DNA…can be a powerful tool in combating human trafficking, according to forensic scientist Timothy Palmbach…[who] set out…to…develop…a DNA database of victims and at-risk persons…Palmbach ventured to a number of places, including Costa Rica, Nepal and Djibouti to see if he could successfully identify and obtain DNA samples from victims and possible perpetrators…in Costa Rica…police asked for help investigating a hotel known for sex tourism… he eventually found himself alone with a 14-year-old girl…[who would have charged him] $400 an hour…Palmbach [said] “I really almost started to cry…I just saw the depravity of the situation and how much it’s all driven by money and demand”…

O, Canada! (TW3 #405)

More harassment of legal sex workers in Canada:

…CEASE, the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation…[is harassing sex workers with offensive] texts…Any sex worker with a phone number listed in the Edmonton…Backpage.com has likely received one of [the]…messages…Project Backpage [is] a new collaboration between the University of Alberta, Chrysalis Network…and CEASE…Because the sex industry has mostly moved from the streets to the Internet, [rescue industry] groups are finding it more difficult to [annoy] women…Susan Davis…[of] the West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals…takes the view that the texting tactic is a preferable alternative to police raids and sting operations, such as Operation Spotlight…

ritual shaming
Deafening Silence (TW3 #407) 

China aims to prove it can be at least as stupid and brutal as the US when it comes to destroying businesses and hurting the economy through liberal use of cops and dysphemisms:

The vice crackdown that began in Dongguan last month has resulted in the arrest of more than 850 suspects and will expand across Guangdong before it wraps up in May…the three-month campaign against the illegal sex trade has already led to the break-up of more than 60 criminal gangs…[and] cost more than 3,000 hotels, saunas and massage parlours their licences…In addition, some 854 websites and more than 96,000 public instant-messaging accounts have been closed for promoting sex services online…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

Articles like this give me hope that we’ll eventually start seeing similar ones about “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The nation’s largest and most influential anti-sexual-violence organization is rejecting the idea that culture — as opposed to the actions of individuals — is responsible for rape…Recently, rape-culture theory has migrated from the lonely corners of the feminist blogosphere into the mainstream.  In January, the White House  asserted that we need to combat campus rape by “[changing] a culture of passivity and tolerance in this country, which too often allows this type of violence to persist.”  Tolerance for rape?  Rape is a horrific crime, and rapists are despised…there’s no evidence that it’s considered a cultural norm…Rape-culture theory is doing little to help victims, but its power to poison the minds of young women and lead to hostile environments for innocent males is immense…But now…RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)…repudiates the rhetoric…and…is especially critical of the idea that we need to focus on teaching men not to rape…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #410)

A poll…shows that over half the population of the UK is opposed to the criminalisation of prostitution.  Only three in ten nationwide were in favour.  In London it was only one in four…The exact wording for the poll was:  Currently in the UK under certain circumstances, it is legal for men and women to pay for sex.  There are some people that wish to make it illegal for the user to pay for sex.  Do you think such a criminalisation is a good idea or not?…51% agreed that “No, paying for sex should not be criminalized.”  31% agreed that “Yes, it should be illegal to pay for sex.”  The other 18% had no opinion.  There was little difference between the sexes with 53% of men and 49% of women opposing criminalisation.  Under a third of both sexes were in favour…

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #411)

25 exotic dancers filed suit against the [San Diego Police] Department for violating their civil rights…during a routine permit inspection…10 unidentified officers detained the dancers under no stated suspicion and began photographing…[them] against their will for roughly one hour…

Whither Canada? Joy Smith

It’s good to see real information in the public discussion of sex work in Canada:

The Conservatives say they are listening to all the submissions they receive before they draw up Canada’s new prostitution law…But the…government [is using] a report by Conservative MP Joy Smith, titled The Tipping Point, as the intellectual underpinning for…the so-called Nordic model…The problem is much of the research cited in The Tipping Point is highly selective — ignoring truths that are inconvenient or cast the Swedish model in a poor light…The…report contends that countries like New Zealand that have decriminalized…have seen a dramatic increase in sexual exploitation and violence.  But anyone who reads the Prostitution Law Review Committee report assessing New Zealand’s legislation comes away with a very different impression…

And here’s one from the Ottawa Citizen:

…In Canada, we’ve been sold a false dilemma that presents only the possibility of a “Nordic”…regime or…“Dutch” approach…But Canadian sex workers…know that New Zealand’s model…merits much closer consideration…Sex workers in New Zealand are now covered by labour laws…the Prostitution Reform Act has not resulted in any growth of the sex industry or increase in number of sex workers, nor has the sky fallen.  The Prostitution Law Review Committee…found that there has been a marked improvement in employment conditions and a decrease in violence…

And an open letter signed by 300 academics:

We…are profoundly concerned that the Government…is considering …new legislation to criminalize the purchasing of sex.  The proposed legislation is not scientifically grounded and evidence strongly suggests that it would recreate the same…harms of current criminalization.  We join other sex worker, research, and legal experts across the country and urge the Government of Canada to follow the Supreme Court…decision and support decriminalization of sex work as a critical evidence-based approach to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers…

Surplus Women (TW3 #412)

What if…Orange County [California is] dealing with a serial killer preying on prostitutes?…Orange County…formed a multi-agency task force when homeless men were being fatally stabbed over a few months…but [are] not doing so now when the victims [are] female prostitutes…Are cops making a judgment call on which type of victims are worthy of their attention?  Anaheim Police Lt. Tim Schmidt…[says] “We don’t have the evidence to say they’re connected”…of the cases involving missing persons Kianna Jackson, Josephine Vargas…Martha Anaya…Tina Hoang and Jarrae Estepp…[rescue industry figure] Lois Lee…of Children of the Night…[says] “It’s just a high-risk job”…

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The cost of noticing is to become responsible.  -  Thylias Moss

cop about to rape sex workerLast Thursday, everybody suddenly noticed that cops think it’s all right for them to rape sex workers before arresting us.  Of course, nobody used that word; all the stories said “have sex”, as though the interaction were consensual…despite being accomplished via deception for the express purpose of harming the victim (which qualifies as rape in my book, and no I don’t want to debate it).  The immediate cause of this sudden revelation was that Hawaiian cops took the unusually-blatant step of asking politicians to explicitly grant them the right in state law, rather than leaving it implicit or officially tolerated as in the other 49 states:

Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations…Authorities say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act…they made assurances that internal policies and procedures are in place to prevent officers from taking advantage of it…

I’ll give you a moment to recover from choking after reading that last line.

…A…bill cracking down on prostitution…was originally written to scrap the sex exemption for officers on duty.  It was amended to restore that protection after police testimony…advocates were shocked that Hawaii exempts police from its prostitution laws, suggesting it’s an invitation for misconduct…

The fact that Melissa Farley is described as an “advocate” will give you ample description of the rest of the article.  But as I’m fond of saying, even a stopped clock is right twice a day; the  Farley quote, “Police abuse is part of the life of prostitution,” is missing only two words to make it true: “under criminalization”.  Since that’s as close to the truth as Farley ever gets on this subject, we’ll let it count as “right”; it’s far truer than the ideas of most of those commenting on the story, who seem to be laboring under the delusion that this is somehow unusual.  Let me make it clear for y’all:  This is standard operating procedure everywhere in the United States, and the only thing unusual about Hawaii is that it’s spelled out in law.  Just in case you’re a new reader or have a short memory, here are three examples from just last year:  Indiana, Florida and Pennsylvania are all especially shameless in their defense of government-authorized rape, excusing it by claiming that sex workers are “sophisticated” (while simultaneously being pathetic, infantile victims).  As long as prostitution is criminalized this will keep happening every day all over the country; one of the reasons New South Wales decriminalized was to put a stop to such behavior.

Sex worker activists have labored for forty years to get the public to notice this kind of revolting thuggery, and for the past few years it’s happened with increasing frequency.  But I think it has less to do with our efforts than with “sex trafficking” hysteria; ironically, the crusade to pretend a normal, everyday activity is part of an international criminal conspiracy has resulted in the media paying much more attention to what was once widely viewed as a ho-hum non-story fit only for inclusion on a slow news day.  And when reporters shine light upon police interaction with sex workers hoping to find stories of brave heroescop caught beating woman rescuing crying (and half-dressed) underage “sex slaves”, what they often find instead is cops arresting women for carrying condoms, wearing attractive clothes or walking down the street; sometimes they even find them committing rape without the excuse of a “sting operation”.  So thank you, “trafficking” fetishists, for your unwitting help in exposing cops’ vile behavior.  And thank you, media, for at last beginning to notice; I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I ask what took you so long.

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If you believe that selling sex means selling women, you believe that a woman’s value equals her capacity to have sex.  -  Kate Heartfield

The Slave-Whore Fantasy Timothy Jay Vafeades

Yet another example of what  real sex slavery looks like:

A Utah truck driver kept sex slaves in his semitrailer for months at a time while he traveled the country, filing down their teeth, forcing them to alter their appearance and beating them until they nearly passed out…The charges against [Timothy Jay Vafeades] include kidnapping, [Mann Act violations] and possession of child pornography, and could bring a life sentence if he is convicted…

Sisters in Arms

When I miscarried at 22 weeks in 1994, the cops weren’t even informed, much less involved.  If that happened today, it might be very different (especially if I weren’t white).  This detailed article on the Rennie Gibbs case touches on other, similar travesties, but also establishes the case as part of the pattern of willful incompetence perpetrated by Steven Hayne, Mississippi prosecutors’ go-to medical examiner for over 20 years because he was willing to declare just about anything a murder without the slightest scrap of valid scientific basis.  Veteran Agitator readers will no doubt remember Hayne, whom Radley Balko wrote about many times.

Surplus Women

Prohibitionists use a young woman’s murder as an excuse to deny her agency and talk about short skirts:

A…nonprofit that works with sex workers is holding a candlelight vigil for a 21-year-old woman whose naked body was found last week on a conveyor belt inside an Anaheim [California] trash-sorting facility…No Boundaries International…said they had frequent contact with Jarrae Nykkole Estepp in Oklahoma City in 2012, when she was featured in several videos…on…JohnTV.com…Detectives believe the woman was probably [murdered, then] dumped in a garbage bin and…delivered to the plant by a trash truck…

See No Evil

Graphic illustrations of child molestation in a vintage book have landed librarians in…Sweden in…trouble with police…I Last Och Lust…contains illustrations…to show how sexuality has been depicted historically…head librarian [Anna-Karin Axelsson said]…”We cannot go back and clean up history…that’s not what libraries are meant to do”…the title [will now] be kept for…research only…

Hark, Hark, the Dogs Do BarkFree To Be You and Me

On March 11, 1974, ABC aired Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be…You and Me” — a musical program celebrating gender-free children…and…[envisioning] a world…[of] non-gendered human persons…But, after 40 years of gender activism, boys and girls show few signs of liking to do the same things.  From the earliest age, boys show a distinct preference for active outdoor play…with…clearly defined winners and losers…[while] girls…are more drawn to imaginative theatrical games…the…preferences…hold cross-culturally and even cross-species…ignoring differences between boys and girls can be just as damaging as creating differences where none exist…

Above the Law 

Another week, another rapist cop:

A San Jose [California] police officer has been arrested and charged with raping a woman…after she had argued with her husband…  Geoffrey Graves…and three other…officers responded to a [domestic violence call]…the woman…[said] she wanted to spend the night at a hotel…Graves…[followed her] to her room…and…[forcibly] raped her…Police Chief Larry Esquivel called the case…”an isolated incident”…

It’s so very isolated that I have another one right here:

Sheriff’s deputies arrested [an]…Irwindale police sergeant on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman…David Paul Fraijo…stopped [a newspaper carrier on her route, then groped and orally raped her]…the [resulting] lawsuit…was [settled] in January…for $400,000…Fraijo faces a maximum penalty of life in…prison…

Some cops don’t even “isolate” their attentions to one woman at a time:

A U.S. Border Patrol agent [who raped] three undocumented immigrants was found dead in his Texas home, likely by his own hand…a…woman…told officials that [Esteban Manzanares] had attacked her, her 14-year-old daughter, and another 14-year-old girl…She and [her daughter] had been raped and left for dead…[Manzanares tied up the other girl in his home] until he finished his shift…then returned…raped her, and committed suicide…

An Example to the West 

Megan Schmidt-Sane and Meena Seshu respond to rescue industry types:

In a CNN piece…last year…Jane Wells and John-Keith Wasson…blatantly ignore the voices of sex workers…As representatives of two of the largest sex worker rights organizations in India and Uganda, we hope to ensure that [their] voices…are heard…Wells and Wasson…cite imaginary statistics…[and] falsely state that a “small percentage of voluntary sex workers” are somehow condemning a vast number of women into sexual slavery…

Broken Record

The latest gypsy whore tale is among the funniest yet:  “High school tournament season in Des Moines…[has] a dark side…human trafficking victimizes over 25 million…worldwide each year…The state of Iowa is not immune to this crime…”  Yes, 4% of the world’s population has been “sex trafficked” since the hysteria started, many at high school football games.

Pull the String!

Turns out Ed Wood made a few commercials in the late ‘40s, before he embarked on his movie career; note that these are generic so the local sponsor could insert a card for his specific business.  Look for Wood himself as the magician in the last one.

King of the Hill

Two for one!

…the film Chosen…was produced by Shared Hope International…and portrays true experiences of two young All American girls who were lured into sex trafficking…Oregon and Washington along the Interstate 5 corridor leads the nation in the number of victims…

Lying Down With Dogs (TW3 #44)

A group of Tunisian sex workers have demanded to be allowed to return to work, 18 months after their brothel in the coastal town of Sousse was attacked by Salafists and closed down.  A delegation …[presented] a petition signed by 120 women calling for their brothel…to be allowed to reopen…

Skin To Skin

The Netherlands is known for its social subsidies on everything from education to housing, but it’s also subsidizing sex for the disabled…While there is no direct “sex grant” per se…benefits…can be spent however they like…social workers, caretakers and affected individuals are calling for increased access to sex services for citizens with disabilities…

First They Came for the Hookers… (TW3 #322) Reema Bajaj

The spectacle of lawyers censuring other lawyers for lying probably exceeds safe levels of irony for a public facility:

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to a three-year suspension for a solo lawyer who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of prostitution and failed to disclose her illegal work history on her bar application.  Reema Nicki Bajaj…was suspended [for not mentioning sex work she did to put herself through law school]…in response to a question about jobs she held in the last 10 years…

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

An agreement has been reached with the City of Vancouver and the provincial and federal governments to pay $50,000 to each of 11 families whose relatives were victimized by serial killer Robert Pickton…The civil suit was launched last May by the children of four women whose remains…were found on  Pickton’s…farm after his arrest in 2002.  Other families had since joined…The lawsuit claimed police…failed to warn women on the Downtown Eastside that a serial killer may have been on the loose…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Jerry Barnett…of…Sex & Censorship, said he was “delighted” with the turnout at the “Don’t Censor Me!” protest…against the Stop Porn Culture conference, including representatives from the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open University and Queer Strike campaign groups…Stop Porn Culture [leaders]…Gail Dines and…Julie Bindel…aim…to expand the “antipornography feminist movement” in the U.K…Dines and Bindel appeared outside…to debate with the…crowd…for about 15 minutes…

Catastrophic Consequences (TW3 #406)

Police carried out inspections of Edinburgh’s…saunas hours before a new system came into force that is likely to make brothel raids more difficult…police will [now] need a warrant to search premises…Margo MacDonald MSP said…”Last year’s raids have backfired badly on the police…There was a successful policy in place for 30 years, but now the women have less protection and police will have less access to intelligence.  Trust has been shattered”…

Gingerbread House (All Traffick, All the Time) arrested teen girl

If a sex worker doesn’t see herself as a victim, the state must victimize her to prove her wrong:

A [Florida] bill…was temporarily postponed after senators determined that placing human trafficking victims in a locked facility is not a good idea…The…bill…was created by the House Healthy Families Subcommittee, where…[its sponsor] said…[it] was designed to break young trafficking victims away from former lives…“So many of [them] don’t see themselves as victims”…

An earlier version of the story informs us that “Florida [has] the third-highest rate of child sex-trafficking in the country.  Jacksonville is third in the state…

Traffic Jam (All Traffick, All the Time)

More busybodies who want to help cops brutalize and cage women:

…three St. Louis area women…are developing a website of hotel room photographs that can be accessed by police…hoping to track down…victims of sex trafficking…and their pimps…millions of [sex workers post]…pictures of [themselves in] their rooms [in their Backpage ads]…the website is in initial development and needs about $200,000 in funding.  When it is ready, images…will be cataloged by hotel name, city and date taken and possibly made searchable by room color or other basic decor…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #408)

The European Parliament recently recommended that its member states should criminalise sex work.  This has prompted 26 Danish researchers to sign a protest letter against the proposal, as they believe that…politicians have ignored the majority of the research in this field, including reports from the UN, WHO and Human Rights Watch, who all recommend a decriminalisation of sex work…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

The ACLU actually did something for sex workers for a change:

Dozens of supporters packed the courtroom…in support of…activist Monica Jones…[whose] lawyer filed a motion to challenge [the law] on constitutional grounds, resulting in the trial being postponed until April 11th.  Ms. Jones [stated], “We will be back with twice as many people”…Sex Workers’ Outreach Project (SWOP) of Phoenix is continuing to build momentum for Monica Jones’ case with the support of the ACLU motion…

The Public Eye (TW3 #410)

Noah Berlatsky proves himself a valuable ally to sex workers with another good article in The Atlantic, this one using the hubbub surrounding Belle Knox to launch a sensible and well-informed discussion of student sex workers which also quotes Melissa Gira Grant and regular reader Christina Parreira.

Whither Canada?

The Canadian government’s consultation on prostitution laws ended on Monday, but it hardly seems likely to have much influence over politicians, who have already decided to pursue some form of criminalization instead of listening to the sensible advice of sex workers, human rights advocates and even many criminologists.  By the public discourse, one would think the New Zealand model didn’t even exist; editorials like that in the Globe and Mail pretend that the only two legislative models in the world are the Dutch and Swedish modelsdisguised cop (which criminalize either some or all sales of sex, respectively).  And though a sizeable fraction of the members of the Liberal Party (whose past leader Pierre Trudeau famously said, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”) support decriminalization, a motion to adopt that as official policy was pulled in the name of political expediency.  So though most of the Canadian media oppose blanket criminalization (even under its fake-moustache Swedish disguise), only the Ottawa Citizen has come out in favor of full decriminalization:

…supporters of the Nordic model…say [prostitution] is a commodity sale [that] is inherently objectifying and exploitative…A woman who believes she is freely choosing her job…is a victim whether she knows it or not…that same notion underpins many of the world’s most sexist ideas — including the idea…that rape is a property crime.  We in Canada don’t generally talk about rape that way any more, but we still use that language when we talk about prostitution.  We use phrases like “selling her body” or even “selling herself” — rather than “selling sex”…We don’t say that a hairstylist “sells her hands” or that a doctor “sells herself”…a woman’s value as a human being has nothing to do with whom she chooses to have sex with or how often or what conditions she imposes on that choice…sex is merely the service she sells…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on February 16th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Bedford victoryAs you probably know unless you’ve been living in a cave, three months ago the Supreme Court of Canada overturned the laws which made the legal activity of selling sex much more difficult and dangerous, just as similar laws in the UK, India, parts of Australia and many other countries do.  As I wrote in “What Next?” just two weeks after the decision, “there is nothing in it to prevent the imposition of American-style criminalization”:

Were this the United States, you can bet the legislature’s immediate response would be criminalization. However, it’s a little different in Canada…[which] has since the late 1960s maintained a [relatively] strong tradition…that “the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation”…On the other hand, the government has heavily invested its…case in neofeminist rhetoric, and recently adopted the Swedish model as its official position; several MPs have released long-winded “explanations” of the “fact” that women are permanent victims who shouldn’t be allowed to choose sex work.  There is little likelihood that a system proven to increase violence and stigmatization of sex workers would pass muster under Bedford, yet at the same time it would be rather embarrassing for the government to push for the direct criminalization of sex workers after proclaiming us too weak to avoid being controlled by morally-superior clients and “pimps”…

Once politicians started returning to work after the holidays, they immediately began to issue the predictable torrent of nonsense and panic-mongering.  The chief font of this flow of sewage has been Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who emitted the ludicrous (but typical) claim that Canada would become “a haven for sex tourism” (despite the fact that New Zealand and New South Wales have not), and the even more absurd statement that the sex industry is more complicated than the medical industry; he then pontificated on the “significant harms flowing from the sex trade” (ignoring the court’s finding that the laws he supports are the cause of those harms) and delivered a pitch for the abominable Swedish model (which, as pointed out above, could not possibly stand under the Bedford decision because it’s at least as harmful as the laws that were overturned, if not more so).  He also boasted that the new laws would be ready “well before” the court’s December 20th deadline.

Say NO to the Nordic Model in CanadaBut outside of Conservative Party enclaves, evangelical Christian churches and anti-sex feminist cults, there just isn’t much support in Canada for the puritanical pretense that consensual sex magically becomes violent and sinful merely because money overtly changes hands.  Young Liberals in British Columbia are pushing for their party to officially adopt a pro-decriminalization stance and have castigated Justin Trudeau and other party leaders who seem ready to get in the Swedish bed with the Conservatives.  The Vancouver City Council has “unanimously passed a motion to accept recommendations intended to increase safety and services for sex workers”.  British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta are all declining to pursue ordinary prostitution charges, and Newfoundland has had virtually no new cases since the Himel decision in 2010.  Newspapers routinely print sex worker-friendly articles, and editorials like this one are typical:

You’d think the sky was falling with all of the misconceptions circulating concerning the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision striking down our prostitution laws.  No, the Supreme Court has not legalized prostitution…[which] was [already] legal…No, sex trade workers will not be flocking to your neighbourhood any more than they already have…They are already in many neighbourhoods…[seeing] clients in the warmth of their homes, apartments, condominiums and hotel/motel rooms…albeit illegally…because the use of any home, apartment or even a hotel room on a frequent basis for the purposes of prostitution violates the brothel prohibition.  No, the Supreme Court decision won’t increase the number of sex trade workers…Does anyone think…[they] decide to get into the business after a thorough study of the criminal law and the legal risks of prosecution?…No, the decision won’t increase the incidence of sex slaves and human trafficking…attempting to enforce a moral code by criminalizing prostitution, or the activities surrounding it, is a waste of resources…

There’s still no way to tell how long and winding a road Canada will have to traverse before it reaches the inevitable conclusion that Canadian courts, sex worker rights activists, the UN and organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are correct in saying decriminalization is the only moral and effective model for sex work; it may be mere months, or years, or decades, and the way may be littered with the corpses of failed attempts to re-criminalize it before the busybodies eventually give up.  But unlike the UK (which seems to be going in circles) or the US (which is insanely marching in the wrong direction), the Canadians at least seem to be on the right course.

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Come children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.  -  William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

As regular readers know, the chief organization crusading for imposition of the Swedish model on Ireland is Ruhama, the new mask worn by the orders of nuns who for centuries enslaved many thousands of women in the horrible Magdalene laundries.  Just barely over a year ago I published “Puppet Show”, in which I shared information from Irish and British activists exposing Ruhama’s chief puppet, Justine Reilly, as a convicted “pimp” with a long history of “reframing her experiences” to transform herself from ruthless businesswoman to naïve hooker to pathetic victim of “pimps” herself (whichever was most profitable at the time).Rachel Moran  But soon after that column appeared, Ruhama unveiled a new star, Rachel Moran, whom they paid to present herself as the author of a fabricated memoir entitled Paid For.  I say fabricated because over a year before it appeared a correspondent wrote to me saying that during a bad time she had shared her own unfinished memoir with people from Ruhama and had reason to believe they had photocopied much of it and would in the near future build some tragedy porn around it; when this book appeared she confirmed that much of it was plagiarized from her manuscript.  But while Moran’s pantomime performance as victim-turned-author seems credible to True Believers and ignoramuses, it is utterly unbelievable to those involved in the tiny and close-knit world of sex work in Dublin.  For months now, activist Gaye Dalton has been “tweeting” about the holes in Moran’s story, and on February 26th she actually filed an affidavit swearing to that testimony.  When I expressed an interest in publicizing the affidavit Gaye kindly provided me with both scans and a transcription; I have combined the scans into a PDF for your perusal (her address and phone number have been pixilated to preserve her privacy), but here’s the heart of the document:

I sold sexual services on Waterloo and Burlington Roads in Dublin…between approximately June/July 1987 and March/April 1993…I worked there 5 or 6 nights a week…usually [arriving] at about 9:30pm and [working] until at least 2:30am.  I spent most of my time on the streets either walking or in two places:

  • At the top of Waterloo Road by the corner of Wellington Lane
  • Near the corner of Burlington Road outside Dublin Institute of Advanced technology

In cold or wet weather I might also sit in my car either at the top of Waterloo Road, or on Burlington Road looking out on to Waterloo Road.  The sex workers and regular clients were a small community that could be compared to the regular clientele of a pub, we all knew each other, at least by sight and were very much aware of new people, unusual occurrences, or any form of crime or abuse.  Every woman I knew at that time worked independently, for herself, apart from two women who were in personal relationships that would have been abusive and coercive in any environment…Anyone who seemed underage was prevented from working, sent home if possible and reported to Gardai.  Many of the women had teenage children of their own and were not easy to fool in this respect…Drug abuse was extremely rare and many women were actively involved in the “concerned parents” movement in their local communities.

At no time did I ever see, or hear of “Rachel Moran” author of Paid For and founder of “Space International” nor anyone resembling her, working in that area.  In her book she claims to have worked near the corner of Wellington Lane from early evening until “the small hours”, which would have placed her within 15 yards of me for several hours most nights.  I have asked several people…from that time and nobody else can remember her, or anyone like her, not only there but in any form of sex work indoor or outdoor, at any of the times she claims to have worked, between 1991 and 1998.  Beyond this, in her book Paid For and…blog The Prostitution Experience she has described several people, but not one of them even resembles anyone I ever met or heard of.  Like any small community of people there was gossip…we knew plenty about each other’s lives and were familiar with the known details of any abusive, awkward, or even interesting clients.  She does not allude to anyone recognisable  to me at all.  At no time does she show any awareness of the terminology we used, nor even the material realities of our work.  She has also, at times, claimed to have been arrested for soliciting before 1993.  Not only was this impossible, but also, one of the first things you would be told as a sex worker at that time is that you could not be arrested for soliciting. She did not even know that.

Rachel Moran is making money from her book and speaking engagements as well as…making significant input into Justice Committees both sides of the border through totally misrepresenting herself and that entire community and time.  Meanwhile real sex workers are denied all…self representation to refute [her claims]…I understand that it is unlawful for a person to obtain financial advantage from deceit, but I am personally more concerned with the damage to vulnerable, voiceless people that Rachel Moran will do with her lies.  The idea of anyone so unscrupulous having any degree of control over sex workers’ lives in future…absolutely horrifies me.  Justine Reilly, her partner in “Space International” (all reference suddenly removed from website in past few weeks) was discovered to be a convicted pimp in February 2013, after…putting herself forward in the media as a helpless victim.  RuhamasharonaI have never observed her to show any remorse towards the women she exploited, while at least one of these same women has been openly chastised by Ruhama for “disrespect” for alluding to her convictions.  During consultations in both North and South of Ireland genuine sex workers have been treated as animals who cannot think and speak for ourselves while dishonest persons such as these have been put forward as speaking for us. Genuine sex workers have been abused, intimidated and excluded while blatant lies are treated with the greatest courtesy and respect…

I wish that I could believe that this affidavit will help to undermine Moran’s credibility with the Irish government, but I have little hope for that considering the obsequious deference it has rendered and continues to render to the Magdalene orders, both on the issue of compensation to their past victims and the issue of their current attempts to bring sex workers under their control once more.  But I can and do hope that it has some deleterious effect on her credibility with the Irish people; each revelation like this one adds to the growing heap of evidence that Ruhama, like all prohibitionists, is a pack of sociopathic liars who will stop at nothing to subject all human sexual behavior to police and institutional violence.

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Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds.  -  Thomas Jefferson

This is not a real news story; I cobbled it together out of bits and pieces of five real articles, removing identifying details and changing just a few words here and there to make the point I wish to make.

miniskirtsLast Friday, the President signed the new Anti-Pornography Act into law; in addition to banning actual pornography it outlaws suggestive music videos and revealing clothing, specifically miniskirts and tops that show cleavage.  Then on Monday, he signed into law another bill toughening penalties for prostitutes after legislators agreed to remove a clause criminalizing those who do not report them to the police.  The new law allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated prostitution”, which includes prostitution while infected with HIV; coercing anyone into prostitution; and paying for sex with a minor whether the customer was aware of her age or not.  The bill originally proposed the death penalty for these offenses, but that was later removed amid international criticism.  A section imposing a 14-year sentence for first-time offenders was removed, but a sentence of seven years for “attempting to commit prostitution” remains in the law.  It also criminalizes the “promotion of prostitution”, which includes allowing prostitutes to advertise in a publication or on a website; businesses or non-governmental organizations found guilty of “promotion of prostitution” would be fined $40,700 and have their certificates of registration cancelled, and directors could face seven years in jail.

The President said in an interview that prostitution is “unnatural” and not a human right.  “They’re disgusting.  What sort of people are they?” he said.  “I’ve been told recently that what they do is terrible.  Disgusting.”  He denied that prostitution had always been practiced in the country, claiming instead that it was a recent import from the West caused by pornography and the other “immoral influences” banned by the bill he signed Friday.  Lawmakers said the influence of Western lifestyles risked destroying family units.

Activists sharply criticized the new laws, claiming that both of them are designed solely to win votes from the evangelical churches in the 2016 elections.  “They are shallow and oppressive pieces of legislation that violate a host of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom from discrimination, to privacy, freedom of association, peaceful assembly, opinion and expression and equality before the law — all of which are enshrined in the constitution and in the international treaties the legislature has ratified,” said one activist who wished to remain anonymous.  It was also alleged that the ministerial task team asked by the president to advise him on prostitution falsified the information contained in the report given by legal and psychological experts, twisting it to show that prostitution should indeed be further criminalized.  The Scientist Consensus Statement concluded that prostitution “needs regulation like any other human behavior, especially to protect the vulnerable”, and concludes:  “Prostitution has serious Public Health consequences and should therefore not be tolerated.”

The President insisted that activists are motivated by “mercenary reasons”, and stated that prostitution is more common in Western societies because “on account of random breeding, they have generated many abnormal people.”  His views are espoused by 96% of the population, leading activists to fear violence against those whose names appeared on a list of the “200 most wanted prostitutes” a tabloid published the day after the law was signed.  The front-page story included some pictures and many addresses, and carried the headline:  “EXPOSED!”

sexual minorities UgandaMost of you have probably already guessed that the real country is Uganda, the real president is Yoweri Museveni, and the real activity being prohibited is homosexuality rather than prostitution (except for the first sentence, which is almost verbatim from the original article).  All the quotes from the president and others are also essentially verbatim.  There is one major difference between my patchwork construct and the originals, however:  the originals contain statements like, “The White House issued a statement [saying] ‘Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward’…”  But as we know all too well, there isn’t a government in the world with the nobility and decency to openly criticize other countries’ abusive legal regimes against sex workers, and the Hypocrite-in-Chief of the United States feels entitled to criticize one other country’s treatment of one sexual minority while at the same time he actively promotes horrific abuse of another all over the world.

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A slave is one who waits for someone else to free him.  -  Rosellen Brown

Save Us from SaviorsAsian sex worker activists are my heroes; they are everything I wish American sex worker activists could be.  Here in the US, we let the media run so absolutely wild in spreading the prohibitionists’ poisonous lies that the few of us who do speak up almost seem like proof of the prohibitionist myth that we are “unrepresentative”.  But when they use that same asinine strategy on Asian sex workers, it merely makes them look foolish: consider, for example, Nicholas Kristof’s claim that all 65,000 members of DMSC are “pimps”; it made him look like a clown rather than a savior, and has not exactly entered into the prohibitionist arsenal of slurs as he might have liked.  Read that number again:  sixty-five thousand.  And Durbar is only one of many such organizations in India:  SANGRAM, VAMP and others are so numerous and so influential that if it were not for the vast resources pumped into the country by American prohibitionists I have no doubt they would have achieved decriminalization long ago.  Sex worker organizations in Thailand, Cambodia and South Korea are equally formidable, and like India wouldn’t suffer nearly the level of criminalization and police abuse that they do were it not for the flood of American money and busybodies pouring into them via both governmental and non-governmental channels.  Yet unlike sex workers in the US, they refuse to take this abuse lying down, crawling into the shadows to cry like whipped dogs; on the contrary, they band together to fight all the harder, holding massive demonstrations and press conferences, doing their own studies to counter rescue industry mythmaking, and otherwise acting in their own defense instead of waiting for someone else to “save” them as all too many American sex workers are wont to do.  It’s terribly ironic: the people whom prohibitionists characterize as most in need of “rescue” are actually those least in need of it.

That’s why I am glad to see today, Sex Worker Rights Day, finally beginning to gain the attention it deserves; you see, it is the only one of the “big three” sex worker observances with an Asian origin:

[Sex Worker Rights Day]…originated in India in 2001 as a festival organized by the sex worker rights organization Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, and attended by 25,000 sex workers despite efforts from prohibitionist groups who tried to prevent it by pressuring the government to revoke their permit.  In celebration of their victory over those who wish to criminalize and marginalize sex workers, DMSC proposed it as an annual, international event the following year:  “We felt strongly that that we should have a day what need to be observed by the sex workers community globally…Knowing the usual response of international bodies and views of academicians and intellectuals of the 1st world (many of them consider that sex workers of third world are different from 1st world and can’t take their decision) a call coming from a third world country would be more appropriate at this juncture, we believe.  It will be a great pleasure to us if all of you observe the day in your own countries too…

Though the day caught on fairly rapidly in Asia and Africa, it was still virtually unrecognized in Europe and North America in 2008, and only barely recognized the first time I wrote about it in 2011.  But it’s quickly gained ground since then; by 2012 a number of Westerners were writing about it online, and last year it seemed to get even more attention than Whores’ Day.  As I wrote in my column for the latter occasion, “The sex worker rights movement was born in the West, but it has come of age in the East and South, and it is their example which is most heartening to those of us struggling under the near-constant persecution of our profession in the United States.”  While it’s true that the movement in Australia and New Zealand has succeeded in winning the best conditions for sex workers, those activists didn’t have to contend with the racism, colonialism and blatant interventionism against which Asian sex workers must struggle for every tiny gain; furthermore, they’ve succeeded in moving forward while Europe has been trapped in a dramatic backslide.  That’s why I’m proud to hold them up as an inspiration for Western activists, and to do my small part in promoting a celebration which they created. Sex Workers' Freedom Festival

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