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Posts Tagged ‘disease’

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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I’ve been dismayed at the condescension toward and willful ignorance of the experiences of sex workers that is prevalent among…those…who…try to impose their values through criminalizing their work.  -  Peter Shafer

Barbie

Every once in a while, it’s nice to see a woman whose name isn’t Maggie McNeill attacking mainstream feminist claptrap:

Barbie is a safe way for girls to explore dangerously adult concepts like sexuality…says [psychoanalyst] Joyce McFadden…she likens young girls’ play-acting Barbie sex with them trying on their mothers’ makeup or bras…Anti-Barbie arguments have a tired ring to them…when I look back at my own Barbie-influenced youth, I have a hard time pointing to anything but positive effects.  “The feminist perspective is she has this unattainable figure,” McFadden says. “But Barbie was the only doll that had breasts, the only one to create a space where girls could start to fantasize about that”…Barbie is sexualized by adults, not kids…

Maggie in the Media

For those who couldn’t catch it live, the podcast version of my February 16th appearance on The Bob Zadek Show is now available.

Legislators Gone Wild

Harry ReidHarry Reid is on his anti-whore hobby horse again:  “Las Vegas is one of the cities in contention to host the 2016 Republican National Convention, but Nevada’s prostitution laws may jeopardize the city’s chances of winning its bid…” The idea of a convention-rich state criminalizing a whole industry to win one single convention would be hilarious if it didn’t display such a blatant disregard for his constituents’ lives.

Somehow, I Doubt He Thought This Through

Unfortunately, it’s the sex workers who suffered from this idiocy:  “A disgruntled punter made a complaint to Harrow Council…after a prostitute refused to have sex with him…at a brothel in the borough…The brothel is now being closed…

Follow Your Bliss

The officer in charge of a police pilot project created to combat human trafficking and rescue sex trade workers…[engaged] in sexual acts and [sent] lewd messages and photos of his penis to sex workers and colleagues.  Sgt. Derek Mellor…once the lead of Hamilton [Ontario] Police’s…“Project Rescue”…[pleaded guilty] to [nine] charges…

Good News, Bad News (TW3 #10)

Western Australia politicians keep playing with this diseased carcass:

Professor Catharine MacKinnon said Perth was perfectly placed to prevent human trafficking from Asia…because it was used as a gateway…by criminals.  However…the…Government would have to…overhaul prostitution laws to target the people who pay for sexual services rather than the prostitutes…

By “carcass” I mean the Swedish model; MacKinnon is still alive and flapping around belfries for the time being.

The Rape Question

Cherry 2000 sex contractConsidering the doctrine that consent can be retroactively revoked months or years after the fact, I sincerely doubt an informal contract without  a lawyer witness  would really offer much protection against future rape charges, but I guess it couldn’t hurt.  It’s just sad we’ve come to this.

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #15)

Everything is magically right and moral when state actors do it:

…[Washington state] prosecutors had [a rape and kidnapping victim] arrested…The 43-year-old woman…has not been charged with any crime.  She just wasn’t showing up for pre-trial meetings with prosecutors…[in other words] the woman [is being held] against her will so she can help convict someone else of holding her against her will…

And just in case you think I tend to exaggerate about neofeminists:  Amanda Marcotte approves of the state’s actions.

Bullies With Badges

Big masked heroes in riot gear prove their manhood by attacking Asian women:

Birmingham [Alabama] police raided an Asian massage parlor…taking four women and three patrons into custody.  Police, along with FBI and ICE agents [pretended] the raid was in response to complaints of prostitution and possible human trafficking…

Her poster
The Pygmalion Fallacy

In the entire history of futurism, has any futurist ever been right about anything?

…a prominent futurologist has claimed that AI girlfriends…like the one…in the…film Her could become a reality by 2029.  Ray Kurzweil…claims…a virtual body with a tactile sense…“will…certainly be completely convincing by the time an AI of the level of Samantha is feasible”…

Femme Fatale

A man died of a heart attack while in the embrace of a prostitute at a brothel in Ticino [Switzerland]…police confirmed that…there were no third parties involved and no criminal case…seven customers have died in brothels in the canton in the past ten years…

Imagination Pinned Down

This is just a typical lurid “survivor” narrative, but contains an unusually telling passage near the end:  “For 17 years, Lloyd told no one what she had been through…Six years ago, she contacted the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado and met people who convinced her that she was dragged into a life of prostitution — and that it wasn’t her fault…” As usual, all events are conveniently decades in the past, with no witnesses, and she only came out with it after others convinced her that it happened.

Broken Record

You should’ve known we wouldn’t get through an Olympics without at least ONE “sex trafficking” scare story, and here it is courtesy of XO Jane.  I’m sure we can all think of more credible explanations for this scam that don’t involve the Russian Mafia and sentences like “The Olympics is a huge draw for trafficking…and American women are typically sold for more in foreign countries.” Peter Schafer Whores & Madonnas

Real People (TW3 #36)

Photographer and regular reader Peter Schafer on his project Whores and Madonnas:

Opportunities are extremely limited in the Dominican Republic for women to make a decent living…After reading about how central the responsibility of being a mother was to their motivation to pursue sex work, it got my mind going as these women seemed to explode the well-worn dichotomy that classifies women as either Madonnas or Whores…I became their client…explained I was working on a photo project and showed them some of my other work…I paid them for their time being photographed…because prostitutes in Sosúa are the economic drivers, with all other businesses…dependent on them, they enjoy…status and respect…

Not To Be Taken Internally (TW3 #39)

An adult entertainer was sentenced in Mississippi…to seven years in prison for helping set up an illegal silicone buttocks injection that killed…Karima Gordon.  Stewart, who goes by the…[stage] name…Pebbelz Da Model, took $200 to refer Gordon to the injector and falsely claimed the person was a nurse…Tracey Lynn Garner, the one suspected of administering the injections, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the deaths of Gordon and another woman, Marilyn Hale…She has pleaded not guilty, with her trial scheduled for March…

With Friends Like These…

The title is, “For Smart Prostitution Laws, Ask a Prostitute”.  The first couple of paragraphs sharply criticize the Canadian laws which were struck down, and the middle section discusses misconceptions about sex workers and implies we need to be consulted on new laws…then the author rapidly descends into evil pimps and helpless victims, and concludes by advocating the Swedish model.

Watershed

Slowly but surely, it’s becoming acceptable for female public figures to declare their support for something other than criminalization of sex work. Legal journalist and former assistant district attorney Robin Baton recently published “Why Prostitution Should Be Legalized in the U.S.”, and while she fails to see the problems with the license-and-regulate view that’s probably just because she hasn’t thought it through; she uses arguments based on the principle of self-ownership, the lack of a bright, clear line between prostitution and other female behaviors, and the sports analogy.  And though (as Scott Greenfield expressed it) “she’s no Maggie McNeill”,50 Canadians Who Changed The World it’s still good to see this in a US medium.

Book Reviews (TW3 #339)

Another honor for Chester Brown, the acclaimed cartoonist (and friend, and reader) who drew the cover for my book:  he’s been included in a new book entitled “50 Canadians Who Changed the World”.  Chester says the book isn’t very good and downplays his hiring of sex workers (depicted in Paying For It), but I still think it’s great that he was picked out of the many notable Canadians the author could’ve written about.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #345)

On March 14, 2014 human rights defender and transgender advocate Monica Jones will…go…to trial…for “manifestation of prostitution”…after she [was arrested for protesting]…Project ROSE …Two members of SWOP Phoenix and the Best Practices Policy Project intend to travel to Geneva to…educate the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee about human rights violations perpetrated by Project ROSE and the Phoenix police…and call on the Committee to pressure the U.S. government…This unique opportunity has emerged because the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the U.S.’s human rights record…on…the same date as Monica’s trial…

Deafening Silence (TW3 #407)

This Hong Kong reporter seems to be trying out for a job in Beijing’s propaganda ministry:

Hong Kong police are planning to focus special attention on illegal sex trade operations in response to a wide scale crackdown on prostitution…in…Dongguan…Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung has expressed concern about a likely increase of prostitution in Hong Kong, but also expects additional criminal activity to accompany this vice…Prostitution was banned in China after the Communist revolution in 1949.  However, it reappeared three decades ago…and…is greatly responsible for a significant increase in sexually transmitted diseases…

Though the talk of criminality and disease is typical in the West, I simply cannot fathom why so many people whose minds were not broken by Mao are nevertheless happy to repeat the ludicrous propaganda that prostitution magically ceased to exist after his official proclamation.

Drawing Lines

[At the turn of the century]…an adult performer openly escorting was relatively rare…[but in the past few years] the industry…changed drastically: the talent pool [is] larger, the number of available roles much smaller, and the advent of digital piracy [has] driven performers’ rates down.  Escorting…has become one of the most lucrative ways for adult performers to supplement their flagging incomes…up to thousands of dollars for a single booking…The issue…is fairly divisive among performers…[and] was largely stigmatized within the adult film community until recently…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #408) yay for sisterhood!

After all the attacks, the Duke porn actress decided to speak for herself:

…I couldn’t afford $60,000 in tuition, my family has undergone significant financial burden, and I saw a way to graduate from my dream school free of debt, doing something I…love…my experience in porn has been nothing but supportive, exciting, thrilling and empowering.  The next question is always:  “But when you graduate, you won’t be able to get a job, will you?  I mean, who would hire you?”  I simply shrug and say, “I wouldn’t want to work for someone who discriminates against sex workers”…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #408)

Two sex workers’ flats in Soho, central London were…re-opened by a judge…[who] rejected police evidence that women…were being controlled or incited into prostitution for gain…Judge Kingston’s decision brought for the first time some common sense to legal cases, which have been rumbling through the courts since mass raids at the beginning of December…

What Next? (TW3 #408) 

If you’d like to answer the Canadian consultation but aren’t confident in your ability to make good points, Maggie’s (the Toronto Sex Workers Action Project) is here to help with simple guidelines (both general and question-by-question) which will help you not to get tripped up the way the government wants you to with its “when did you stop beating your wife?” phraseology.  Read them, get your own answers ready and submit them in the next sixteen days.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #408)

Mary Honeyball, desperate to smear the 549 organizations (it has since grown to 560) who spoke out against her revolting scheme which this week imposed the Swedish model as a non-binding standard for all of Europe, fell back on the usual ridiculous neofeminist ad hominem by branding them all “pimps” (savor the absurdity of that for a moment before proceeding).  The ICRSE naturally had an answer to that, and here our friend Laura Lee and ally Dr. Belinda Brooks-Gordon confront Honeyball on Newsnight.

The Swedish model’s detachment from reality is so profound even Time magazine can’t miss it, despite the reporter’s belief in “sex trafficking” myths.

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If the patriarchy is about men making decisions for women…why do some feminists want to control other women’s decisions?  -  “Lauren”

Gorged With Meaning

The situation described by this article – girl does sex work to pay for university – is so typical as to be a case of “dog bites man”, and nowadays doing porn won’t stay secret for long.  But the article actually says more about its author than about its subject:  “Lauren” seems like an intelligent, sensible, pragmatic young woman, while writer Katie Fernelius appears to be a supple-spined airhead who lets other people do her thinking for her.  In response to this:

I worked as a waitress…and not only did it interfere with my school …but also I was making $400 a month after taxes…For people to tell me that doing porn and having sex, which I love, is more degrading than being…somebody’s servant and…being treated like a lesser, second-class citizen, that…makes no sense…I felt more degraded in a minimum wage…service job than I ever did doing porn…

…Katie  crawls into her navel, quotes Gloria Steinem and babbles about “patriarchy”, “power dynamics” and words being “problematic”.  Yet I’m sure she thinks she’s better-adjusted than Lauren is. African artists protest in Korea

Where Are the Protests? 

There’s a word missing here, but I just can’t think of what it might be:

African artists hired by a Korean museum have been laboring under conditions “similar to indentured servitude”…The 24 artists came from various countries…to sculpt, perform, and do other tasks at the Africa Museum of Original Art in…Pocheon…They…were promised salaries of…minimum wage — 1,269,154 won ($1,183) per month — and comfortable accommodations; instead, they were paid [only] 500,000 or 650,000 won…and forced to live in cold, mice-ridden rooms.  Their salaries barely covered the cost of three meals a day, and the museum gave them only spoiled rice to eat.  Their contracts stipulated three performances per day, but they were often forced to do four to six performances…when they complained…their concerns were either ignored [or] dismissed…

Held Together With Lies

The new claim:  “The number of British children being trafficked for sexual exploitation has more than doubled over the last year…The figures…are thought to be just the tip of the iceberg…”  And the truth:

…these statistics are…drawn from…the National Referral Mechanism…a…process adopted in 2009 to identify…potential victims…the most recent NRM statistical bulletin states…“the number of referrals…is not a measure of human trafficking in the UK”…[but only those suspected by officials]…

The Scarlet Letter (TW3 #19)

Human rights activists in Kyrgyzstan are concerned that…police…[are] forcing sex workers…to undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases…and…[have] carried out numerous raids since…November…Prostitution by individuals has been decriminalised in Kyrgyzstan, although organised activities like running a brothel are illegal. Sex workers report widespread harassment and extortion by police…

Whorearchy (TW3 #19) Spain protest 1-16-14

Prostitutes in Spain…[protested] a planned crackdown on streetwalking…Hetaira said it would rally…against plans to fine prostitutes and [clients]…fearing it will force them to work in dangerous conditions….[a new] law would make offering or soliciting sex in prohibited areas punishable by a fine of between 1,000 and 30,000 euros…

Backwards Into the Future (TW3 #41)

Theatre for a Change says there has been tremendous progress…in its efforts to raise awareness on rights of sex workers…[in] Malawi…Eric Saforo…says since 2012 the Malawi Police Service is beginning to recognize that abuse against sex workers is…not acceptable and that the police service is opening up to…[improving] working relationships between the two parties…

Due Consideration

Jennifer Whalen…was charged…with felony and misdemeanor counts for ordering…misoprostol and mifepristone online…for her 16-year-old pregnant daughter…She said she couldn’t find an abortion clinic nearby, she didn’t want to go out of state, and she didn’t know she needed a prescription…The felony…is for “medical consultation and judgment”; the misdemeanors are for not being licensed as a pharmacist, endangering the welfare of a child, and “simple assault”…The same thing happened to a mother of three in Idaho in 2012 who took RU-486…[because]…the closest clinic was hours away, would have charged $500, and because of state law, required multiple trips…

Monsters

A mob armed with wooden clubs and iron bars, screaming that they were going to “cleanse” their neighborhood of gay people, dragged 14 young men from their beds and assaulted them…Four of the victims were marched to a police station, where they…were kicked and punched by…officers who…threatened that [they] would be incarcerated for 14 years…under Nigeria’s new Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act…[activist Ifeanyi Orazulike said] “They were told ‘If you come back, we will kill you’”…The walls of [their] houses…have been painted with graffiti declaring “Homosexuals, pack and leave”…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Trafficking math is hardThis mostly-typical “sex trafficking” gobbledygook is only notable for “Michigan is one of the top five states for human trafficking” and for its use of “sex worker” rather than “prostituted woman”, “trafficked child”, etc.  But the picture that came with it, borrowed from one of the numerous Christian sites linking porn to “trafficking”, has some interesting math:  6000 total “rapes” (i.e. transactions) over 7 years is only 857 a year…awfully low for “50 per day”.  Even with weekends off that’s just over 3 per day, which is pretty realistic; obviously somebody is deviating from the program.

Unclean Situation (TW3 #330)

Justice for Magdalenes Research has hit out at the “subterfuge” being employed by the Government [against]…victims of the laundries…the department is writing to women offering formal lump sum payments, while stating that all other aspects of the scheme remain subject to legislation or discussions with other Government departments.   Despite the fact that the full terms of the scheme are not finalised, women are requested to sign a waiver accepting “all the terms of the scheme” and waiving “any right of action against the State or any public or statutory body or agency” arising out of their time in a Magdalene laundry…

Opting Out

The UK government’s futile and ham-fisted attempts to purge the Internet of all of its rough edges and naughty bits are about to see international escalation…David Cameron’s government has long-stated they want this filtering to eventually extend to websites deemed “extremist”…and it appears that…[ISPs] will soon [be ordered] to include websites declared to be promoting terrorism…as we’ve seen with the porn filters, there’s probably no limit to the number of entirely legal and legitimate websites UK citizens will find suddenly inaccessible.

UK readers who use Chrome and haven’t yet installed “Go Away Cameron”  should probably do so immediately.

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #344)

Nine men [arrested in a November raid]…were convicted of prostitution and sentenced to between three and nine years in prison…[followed by] a three-year…period for rewiring…in…mental institutions…The police report…and the results of anal examinations do not connect the…men to prostitution.  But…the arrest and prosecution of men who don’t fit acceptable standards of masculinity reassures Egyptians that the ruling military regime is as conservative as any Islamist party…

Remembrance

The moral purification of the Armed Forces continues:

The commander of the Naval Ordnance Test Unit at Port Canaveral has been relieved of duty for allowing two strip clubs to sponsor a military-related golf tournament last year…“Those type of organizations just don’t reflect positively on the Navy” [a spokesman]…said…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #349)

Matthias Lehmann has put together a short video of highlights from a symposium about the German Prostitution Act last December.

Where Are the Protests? (TW3 #350)

Miranda Barbour has a delightful conversation with credulous cops:

A Pennsylvania woman charged in the…slaying of a man she and her husband met through Craigslist [claims]…she killed many more victims…A law enforcement source close to the investigation said Miranda Barbour’s new claims could be “the real deal”…the 19-year-old Barbour [said] she participated in at least 22 killings in the past six years in Alaska, Texas, North Carolina and California.  “When I hit 22, I stopped counting…I can pinpoint on a map where you can find them”…Barbour [said] she had her first experience with killing when she [was] just 13, shortly after she…joined a satanic cult in Alaska…she [says that she] felt no remorse for her victims and…killed only “bad people”…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #350)

No justice for victims of the Soho pogrom:

…at least six sex workers have fought the closures, [saying] they had not been coerced into working and that closing the brothels would make their work more unsafe.  In the first of three appeals…two women…lost their battle to have their flats reopened after a judge [claimed] that unknown figures were “controlling” prostitution in the area…However…the Reverend Simon Buckley wrote that trust in the police had been severely undermined by the “seemingly ham-fisted” nature of the operation.  “The girls who continue to work in the unclosed flats say that they would not feel confident in turning to the police if they were a victim of crime…[they] previously…had a good rapport with the police”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

As preparations for the World Cup accelerate, Brazilian authorities are attempting to sanitise the country’s image by clamping down on sex-related businesses.  More than 2,000 websites have been targeted, and prostitutes are being threatened with prison sentences for…[advertising]…according to Thaddeus Blanchette…media hype…rests on the false assumption that fans will…seek out sex with children…Tatiana Mauro…of Promundo Brazil…points to a report published by the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, which finds no evidence that large sporting events cause an increase in trafficking or prostitution.  Sensationalist reporting on trafficking and mega-events is not only unfounded, it is also paving the way for a more repressive prostitution policy…

What Next? sex work is real work

Canadian readers, here’s your chance to be heard:

The Conservative government wants to hear from Canadians about how to rewrite the country’s prostitution laws [which] were struck down by the Supreme Court…A month-long online consultation period on the Justice Canada website…runs to March 17.  The high court gave the government one year to come up with new legislation…the…government has made it clear that simply allowing the laws to lapse…is not an option…

Predictably,

The [survey]…is being criticized for…loaded questions and misleading information about available options…It assumes prostitution is dangerous and that all sex workers want to be saved, said Chris Bruckert…[of the] University of Ottawa.  She also criticized government for not conducting town-hall style consultations where people have more time to unpack their opinions…She also says the Nordic model could contradict the reasoning for striking down the Canadian laws in the first place…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #404)

549 NGOs and civil society organizations…have signed letters to the members of the European Parliament asking them to reject a report by MEP Mary Honeyball, which asks EU Member States to consider the criminalisation of the clients of sex workers.  The letter…denounces the conflation of sex work and trafficking, the disregard for sex workers’ health and safety and the lack of evidence [in] the report…signatories include…many women’s rights groups such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation …Another document drafted and signed by [45] academics and researchers…[analyzes] the lack and misrepresentation of evidence in [the] report…amongst other astounding errors…Honeyball completely misinterpreted a [Dutch] report…by…“mistaking” data on coffee shops for data on brothels…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #404)

As thousands of cash-strapped Italians take to the streets to protest against their tax bills…[prostitutes] are instead…fighting against a tax code that does not recognise their profession, even though paying for sex is legal, leaving them no chance to…qualify for a pension…What has really irked prostitutes is that…the tax office has now decided to fine them for tax evasion, even though it has given them no way of paying tax…Playing the Whore

The Public Eye (TW3 #406)

Another good interview with Melissa Gira Grant about her new book, Playing the Whore; she speaks to Noah Berlatsky of the Atlantic about sex work as work, the range of sex worker experiences, anti-sex feminism and the similarities between the gay and sex worker rights movements.

Drawing Lines

Because obviously sex work isn’t a profession, uses no creativity and nobody earns a living through it:

…Mercy Mushaninga…has taken to social network sites to address her bitterness over the labeling of models as prostitutes…“Modelling is a career…and a profession with some people earning a living through it…Models…use their natural endowment and creativity…”

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The human body is not essentially…pornographic, and I think to make it so is a mistake.  -  Pat Robertson

This was one of those weeks in which I couldn’t be sure who was going to take the top position; it went back and forth several times before Radley Balko took it with six.  Popehat and Grace were tied for second place with four each (“irony”, “911″, “nanny”, and “fireman” for Popehat; “Palm Beach”, “3rd”, “hair”, and “spray” for Grace);  Jesse Walker (“gothic”, “Pat Robertson”),  Cop Block  (“10″, “20″) and Edward Cunningham (“together”, “test”) had two each,  and the rest of the links were provided by Franklin Harris (“RIP”), Walter Olson  (“physics”), Police Misconduct (“cop-lovers”), Jasper Gregory (“scrolls”), Jason Kuznicki (“cost”), Jemima (“strip”), Mike Siegel (“ABC”), and Lenore Skenazy  (“sign”).  The Via North Carolina Harm Reduction requested I share the second video, and I discovered the first while reading this article in order to answer a reader question.

From the Archives

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Slavery is so intolerable a condition that the slave can hardly escape deluding himself into thinking that he is choosing to obey his master’s commands when, in fact, he is obliged to.  -  W.H. Auden

OBEY eye posterI have come to the conclusion that statism rots the brain.  In order for a free mind to accept the delusion that someone else as human as himself has the right to tell him what to do, he has to inflict damage on his own psychic organs of self-determination; in order to accept the patent absurdity that such superiority can be conferred by merely putting on a special costume, carrying a little tin amulet or giving oneself an interesting title, that damage has to be severe indeed.  And if the subject is to believe that this right of state functionaries to control him extends even to what he does with his own body, the damage has to be both irreversible and so dramatic that it renders the statist incapable of recognizing the truth about nearly anything in which the state is involved.  The individual so afflicted not only identifies with the overlords, rationalizing that because they have the divine right to rule him they legitimately represent his interests (“Government is just a word for the things we choose to do together”); he will also obediently line up in front of the slaughterhouse and praise the wisdom and goodness of the butcher (for example, in the recent cacophony of bootlicking which began with and included a federal judge’s declaration that the NSA’s blatantly-unconstitutional universal surveillance is in fact constitutional).

In really advanced cases, the victim’s mind is so warped that he cannot imagine things another way from the status quo; if something is currently illegal, it must have always been that way, and when faced with evidence to the contrary he will misinterpret it to support his lawheaded perception.  If he sees an example of government coercion inflicted upon something which was previously free of it, that simply will not compute because holy governmental control is, was and ever will be, forever and ever amen.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Let’s take a look at how historian William Moss Wilson recently described the imposition of a licensing regime on Nashville whores during the occupation of the city by Union forces in the early 1860s.  Remember, prostitution was not illegal in and of itself anywhere in the US prior to 1910; it was often regulated, or restricted to certain areas, or banned from certain areas, and streetwalkers were often harassed by cops using laws against vagrancy and the like.  But since a lawhead cannot imagine that something now regarded as “criminal” could ever have been seen otherwise, we get nonsense like this:

…By June 1863, the large numbers of soldiers hospitalized in Nashville for venereal diseases led surgeons and regimental commanders to…[attempt to] rid the city of its prostitutes.  Deportation would prove no easy task; nearly every structure along…“Smokey Row”…was a house of prostitution, and other brothels were scattered about town…several hundred women were dragged onto requisitioned steamboats…but [other cities refused them]…and…black prostitutes…filled the void left by their white colleagues…Once deportation proved a failure, [officials instead] released orders that required all of Nashville’s prostitutes to register with the military government, which would in turn issue each woman a license to practice her trade…for a weekly fee of 50 cents…these women would receive a regular medical checkup, and if healthy, issued a certificate.  Infected prostitutes would be hospitalized and treated at no additional charge.  Failure to register would be penalized with a 30-day sentence in a workhouse…

Wilson’s brain is so warped by statism that he cannot see the imposition of licensing, mandatory health checks and pimping fees for what they are, the intrusion of government into a field with which it had previously been uninvolved; the very idea of an unregulated profession is anathema to him.  Accordingly, he misnames the regime “legalization”, ignoring the fact that prostitution wasn’t illegal to begin with and therefore could not be “legalized”.  The attempt at deportation was not, as he himself explains, the normal status quo in Nashville, but rather an act of martial law by the military governor of an occupied city.  He is “shocked” by the fact that the press and city government viciously attacked the deportation plan but accepted the licensing scheme, and he willfully misinterprets the whores’ acceptance of the regime as a desire to be “protected by regulation” rather than as a welcome respite from the harassment which had preceded it.

government outlays to GDPThis is not an isolated incident; for example, articles about Storyville usually describe it as a “legalized red-light district” when in actuality its establishment represented the restriction to a small area of a business which had previously been allowed everywhere in the city.  I’ll bet that before most of y’all started reading this blog, you believed that prostitution had always been illegal in most of the US; most people are surprised to learn that criminalization was a 20th-century notion, enacted in the same general time period as Prohibition and enforced by large, standing municipal police departments which had only existed for a generation.  The fact of the matter is that prior to 1913, the US federal government was tiny and the state governments not much bigger; however, the busybody laws which began in the “Progressive Era” gave the swelling numbers of government officials many new excuses to meddle in people’s lives, and the new permanent income tax provided the funds with which to do it.  Government began to grow at a pathological rate and has not stopped since, and the minds of most who were born, raised and conditioned to it can no more imagine another way than the members of a lost underground civilization could imagine the sky.

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What would it mean to think of sex workers not as traitors to feminism but as feminist forebears?  -  Mattilda Sycamore

The Swedish Pimpocracy

A…man facing rape charges is free after…claiming in a [Swedish] court…that the woman’s screams of protest were simply part of a violent sex game.  “I recognized [from other girls] the way she said no as a part of the sex”…[he] said…the two met…through a common acquaintance and he invited her back for a drink…”I expressed very clearly that I didn’t want to, so there was no way he could misunderstand me,” the woman told investigators…however…the man became more aggressive as her protests increased…he covered her nose and mouth so she couldn’t breathe and slapped her in the face…[she fled] under the pretense of taking a shower following the incident…Witnesses…encountered her lightly clothed and sobbing…

Meanwhile, a retired Swedish prosecutor explains why the Julian Assange situation should never have occurred, and says “the prosecutor-general should…rescind the decision to reopen the investigation, rescind the arraignment ruling, and rescind the arrest warrant.

Aggressive Ignorance

While bogus “trafficking” studies by hired researchers are misleading and dangerous, those performed by “trafficking” fetishists themselves are just plain hilarious.  This one from the Imagine Foundation studied online sex work ads for three months in order to reach the exciting and important conclusion that hotels tend to be clustered along busy highways.In Bed with Susie Bright   I’ll bet you’d never have guessed.

Maggie in the Media

Last Wednesday afternoon I spoke to Susie Bright for her podcast In Bed With Susie Bright, and the show is now available; individual episodes cost $5.95, but are free with a subscription.

A Procrustean Bed

A [Louisiana] panel vowed…to pursue the johns…and…create courts dedicated to human trafficking …“We want to make Louisiana the gold standard in protecting our children (by) dealing with this scourge that can easily destroy a society,” said…Gerald Long…Valarie Hodges…said officials need to dispel the notion that prostitution is a victimless crime.  For every act of prostitution, she said, there is a victim…

The idea that prostitution can “easily destroy a society” is beyond hilarious.

The Enlightenment Police

A French court…convicted a young woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil in public and threw out her bid to have the…ban  declared unconstitutional.  Cassandra Belin, 20, was also convicted of insulting and threatening three police officers at the time of her arrest, which sparked two days of rioting…in July, 2013.  She was given a one-month suspended prison sentence for the clash with the police and a 150-euro ($200) fine for wearing the veil…

I’ve often pointed out that controlling what Muslimahs do with their bodies is exactly the same as controlling what whores do with ours, and Julie Billaud & Julie Castro agree with me:  “The interest of studying veiled women and prostitutes together lies primarily in the fact that their bodies…have been identified by the state as problematic and, therefore, as requiring political intervention…” Willie Greer

Above the Law

One rapist cop from Tennessee:

A…deputy has been terminated after handcuffing a woman and forcing her to perform oral sex on him…Willie Marshay Greer…was…charged with aggravated rape and official misconduct.  Greer reportedly stopped [the] woman for speeding…[and used the threat of] arrest [to extort sex]…

And another from California:

A woman who was shown on camera tumbling out of a moving LAPD squad car last year said she fell out…to avoid being sexually assaulted by her arresting officer…Kim Nguyen, a 27-year-old pharmacist, says she was handcuffed…when [he]…began opening her legs.  [After the fall] Nguyen…spent two weeks in the hospital [with] her jaw…wired shut [and] lost all of her teeth…

An Example To the West (TW3 #14)

In 2011, the Hyundai Research Institute published the findings of a survey commissioned by the Hanteo National Union of Sex Workers.  It examined “the changes in public opinions…after the enactment of the Anti-Trade Sex Law” in South Korea based on [telephone] interviews with 1,000 adults from different age groups and all walks of life…The report…has now been translated into English

Stand-Up Guys

Here are two audio files featuring male allies; in the first Christopher Ryan (Sex At Dawn) interviews Thaddeus Russell (A Renegade History of the US), and in the second Zander-Dexter Falcon debates a prohibitionist on Canadian radio.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #29)

Thanks to “gang” rhetoric, “sex trafficking” is becoming a new excuse for locking up young black men:

Twenty-four street-gang members…have been indicted on charges of conspiring to run an interstate prostitution ring…in San Diego, Arizona and New Jersey…At a national “Players Ball,” one of the defendants received an award as pimp of the year.  Pimps…have a liking for chalices and scepters, known as Pimp Cups and Pimp Sticks…[and] “often” have removable dental “grills” made of gold and costing thousands of dollars…the U.S. attorney is seeking forfeiture of such trophies…Of the 60 sex-trafficking victims [arrested], 11 were minors…Some…were “branded” with tattoos of gang monikers, bar codes or the name of their pimp…[they were recruited with] rap videos on YouTube…

Worse Than I Thought

Kudos to Reason TV for doing a short documentary on how horrible California’s “anti-trafficking” CASE Act is, and for interviewing sex workers about how criminalization increases exploitation.  Unfortunately, they also interviewed the superlatively awful Dennis Hof, who as usual used the opportunity to spread lies about independent sex workers (in this case, that we’re diseased) in order to argue for imposition of the Nevada system which enriches and empowers people like him.  I’ve spoken to video producer Zach Weissmueller, though, and asked for his help in getting Reason more on board with (libertarian) decriminalization rather than (crony-capitalist) Nevada-style legalization. Proposition 35 ad

King of the Hill

It’s always deeply satisfying to catch a “trafficking” lie in the process of expanding; in September we were told that Tampa ranked third in Florida for “sex trafficking”, but now they’re claiming it’s third in the whole country.  I suggest they discuss this with Miami and Toledo.

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #131)

Despite a decreasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS among…sex workers [in Myanmar], health workers say the stigma…and…harsh laws…are undermining sex workers’ access to HIV-related services…Even possessing a condom could be used as circumstantial evidence of prostitution until 2011…most of the public are unaware of the directive…[banning the practice, and fear] carrying…condoms because they could be targeted as sex workers…karaoke bars and massage parlours…frequently change locations due to harassment by police…[and] managers…deny health workers access…for fear of prosecution…

Checklist

These self-appointed “trafficking experts” claim they can identify “sex traffickers” (in South Dakota.  Seriously.)  But after all the “abduction” and “Stockholm syndrome” mythology, it still comes down to harassing women: “it may be easier to determine whether someone is a trafficking victim, than it is to figure out a trafficker.”  The “signs” include staying out late and having a generous boyfriend.

Pimping the Pimp Annie Lobert

Community leaders and law enforcement…presented a…documentary [on]…sex trafficking in Nevada… Trafficked No More…[compiles] true…sex trafficking cases and their impact on…prostitution of children…One person who knows firsthand the damage the underground sex industry can do is Annie Lobert…of…Hookers for Jesus…

Long-time readers will remember we’ve seen Liars for Jesus before.

Lying Down With Dogs (TW3 #324)

More clueless anti-whore pomposity from Zambia:

…a plan of reforming sex workers…is something that [they] should have…embraced…However, the…sex workers…refused to relocate to their respective villages where financial help…could have been accorded to them.  Some of [them] even attended meetings that were organised to help them reform only to demand money instead of assistance in form of material and equipment…sex workers…should have taken advantage of this noble gesture…the sex workers were not looking beyond their noses.  To them it was about here and now…

Bad Girls (TW3 #331)

A club boss has told a court of the moment he was kidnapped by three lapdancers and their manager – with the women wearing ”miniskirts, stilettos and Daisy Duke shorts”.  Curtis Woodman was outside his work premises…when the women and two men drove up in two BMWs…the group ”surrounded him” before bundling him into one of the vehicles and driving off.  It is alleged that Mr Woodman…was…robbed of £60 cash and his £4,650 Brietling watch…[and] forced to transfer £4,800 into the bank account of the lapdancers’ manager, Charlotte Devaney…The women believed he owed them more than £42,000 for work they carried out at his pop-up nightclub during the Cheltenham Festival in March 2012…he had received calls demanding the money…for months…

The Public Eye (TW3 #340)

Laura Lee’s ill-treatment while giving testimony to a parliamentary committee in Northern Ireland:

Traffic Jam (TW3 #343)

the Best Practices Policy Project worked with SWOP-PHX to send a report to the Human Rights Committee for consideration during the review of how the United States has fared in meeting its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights…The submission describes…mass police “sweeps,” arresting scores of…people the police profile as sex workers.  Arrestees are handcuffed and transported…to the Project ROSE center, where they…have no opportunity to speak to a defense attorney…even if they request one…

Rhinoceros (TW3 #344)

There are a lot of sleazy strip club owners, but licking badges and using “sex trafficking” hysteria to sic the pigs on rival strip clubs and massage parlors is a new low.  I first introduced COAST in the titular item, but this article tells you more about them than you really want to know.  Caution: You’ll probably feel like you need to need to shower after reading this.

Shame, Shame

The author of this internet article, Iman Idiot, thinks internet censorship and expanding the “sex offender” registry are good things:

…Now, Israel has become the first country in the world to make revenge porn illegal…anyone found guilty of uploading sexually explicit content…without the consent…of the person being portrayed can expect to be designated as a sex offender, and may be punished up to five years in jail…Brazil introduced a bill in October to ban [it but]…only two [American] states have passed legislation…to stop it:  New Jersey and California…Project ROSE warning

Traffic Jam (TW3 #347) 

Remember how that article about Project ROSE was censored by Al Jazeera?  Here’s an interview with reporter Jordan Flaherty about both the censorship and the unethical practices of the project itself.

Subtle Pimping (TW3 #351)

Patricia Adler, the University of Colorado…professor…who was  forced to retire over a controversial prostitution lecture, has decided to return to the campus…[after] an executive committee …allowed [her] to resume teaching the course…provided [she] gets consent from all the students to go ahead with the [whore stereotype] skit…

I have been informed that SWOP Denver has contacted Adler to offer real information in place of the nonsense she’s been teaching; we’ll see how that turns out.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #351)

A new review of Sex Workers Unite says that it…

…jettisons the tired generalizations about erotic labor (and laborers), and instead places sex workers at the center of recent movements for social justice.  Author Melinda Chateauvert  reminds us that those who rioted against police violence and control…in the late ’60s (marking the beginning of the gay liberation movement) were…”sex workers, transgender people, hustlers, tricks, drug users, and drug sellers”…Similarly, [she] points out that sex workers were routinely engaging in conversations about the messy intersections of sex, desire, intimacy, love and (im)propriety long before feminism…

Cops and Robbers

Peru sex worker attackAfter a graphic video showing a vigilante group meting out violent punishment to sex workers in Cajamarca [Peru] made international headlines, authorities…told press that the violent raids conducted by the so-called Cajamarca Committee for Urban Patrols represented a serious infringement on the rights of the women they attacked…”  Unfortunately, the statement soon degenerates into “sex trafficking” nonsense, ignoring the fact that violent “rescue” raids by “authorities” are even worse.

Bootlickers (TW3 #401)

Since the cops are just inventing these “charges” anyway, it’s up to them whether they “cease”:

…Everett [Washington]…officials…deemed the Hillbilly Hotties coffee stand…a chronic-nuisance property…and…[demanded] that alleged prostitution, indecent exposure and violations of city adult-entertainment codes…cease…the stand owner won’t hire baristas who have criminal history and that employees who break the rules will be fired…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on December 8th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

stack of newspapersIn the process of writing my blog, I read and scan a tremendous number of news stories every week, from websites based all over the world.  I get many of them from links on Twitter, and my readers send many others; some of them I stumble onto by chance while looking at other things.  The majority of sex work-related items end up in my weekly “That Was the Week That Was” news summary, which normally appears on Saturday; other interesting stories appear in my weekly “Links” column, which normally appears on Sunday.  Some are worth quoting in a longer discussion, and others aren’t noteworthy enough to get any coverage in my work at all.  But every once in awhile a story comes along which is so interesting, funny, horrible, odd or whatever, that I like to analyze it at length.  Today I present such a story; it appeared in the Edinburgh News on October 30th,  but the date hardly matters because it’s illustrative of so much of what’s wrong with the way the news media report on sex work.

Two prostitutes are plying their trade just yards from a bustling police station amid warnings that private flats are increasingly being used for business by sex workers.  The cheeky sex workers are operating from a plush £700-a-week mews house in Dewar Place Lane to the rear of the busy West End police base in Torphichen Place.  Their decision to “set up shop” in the shadow of the key station follows an unprecedented period of focus on the Capital’s sauna trade…

One distinguishing characteristic of the truly awful sex work story is its use of inane, annoying and dysphemistic language to pretend that sex work is “dirty”, “seedy”, titillating, lurid or otherwise fundamentally different from other kind of work.  The language in many such articles is positively Victorian, but even when it isn’t, it’s still of a type only found in reference to sex work.  It starts in the very first sentence: can you imagine caterers, carpenters, cartographers or cab drivers being described in an early-21st century article as “plying their trade”?  Or that a reporter would find it noteworthy that a pub, pawnbroker, photographer or piano-tuner had set up shop near a police station (or to enclose that phrase in scare quotes)?  The UK is not the US; prostitution is not illegal in Scotland, no matter how much the leadership of Police Scotland might wish otherwise.  While I agree that it is a bit “cheeky” to do business so close to the hideout of a gang with a long history of violence against sex workers, that’s not the “spin” this reporter appears to be trying to put on it.  Finally, there’s the mention of the rent…which would certainly not appear were the story about a medical practice or a law firm.

…one…Police Scotland insider said…“We’re going to see a lot more sex sold from private flats like this…with all the unique problems that can bring with it.”  Sex industry insiders say more prostitutes are now operating from flats.  And today Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald warned it would lead to a rise in sexually transmitted diseases and attacks on prostitutes…

Edinburgh saunaSex has been sold from private residences for as long as private residences have existed; this is neither new nor “uniquely problematic”.  Stories about sex work often present minor shifts in the number of women working in one type of venue or another as some sort of mass migration; in the US, it is commonly claimed that indoor sex work was practically nonexistent before the advent of the internet, when in reality the change was from about 15% of all sex workers on the street to perhaps 10% or a bit less…hardly a seismic shift.  The same can be said about brothel workers starting to go independent in Edinburgh.  And though I’m sure MSP MacDonald means well, if she’s concerned about STIs she should turn her attention to the amateurs; we professionals have far lower rates than they do, even without government nannies looking over our shoulders to be sure we wash properly.

…Our investigation was sparked by members of the public concerned at the comings and goings in the well-heeled cobbled street.  The attractive pair – who aren’t linked to the saunas – are only believed to have arrived in the city a week ago.  Their arrival, however, has merely swelled the ranks of a burgeoning scene which leaves prostitutes vulnerable to the whims of…violent pimps…

Can you imagine two new members of any other profession being described as “swelling the ranks” when there are already about 700?*  As for “public concern”, that’s utter nonsense; escorts know how not to attract attention, and in the next section the reporter admits to making an appointment through a website.  Without the directions provided by the sex workers, neither he nor the supposedly “concerned public” would have known where they were.  But the worst part of this short paragraph is the insulting pretense, so beloved by prohibitionists, that whores are largely at the mercy of “pimps”, when actually nothing could be farther from the truth.

…Incredibly, officers pass the flat, as they use the lane for access, unaware of the seedy activities inside…a girlish voice called out to come up the spiral staircase to…a large and immaculate living room with…two empty wine glasses…on a low table alongside untouched finger food…Wearing heavy eye make-up and scantily dressed in a see-through negligee, black underwear and red high heels, she welcomed our reporter…

Every sentence has words intended to evoke a lurid atmosphere.  A legal business is “seedy”, the sex worker is “girlish” (implying “underage”), the cleanliness of a business-place is somehow considered remarkable (would a hotel lobby be similarly described?), the empty glasses hint at a recently-departed client, and the descriptions of the sex worker’s makeup and attire would be more at home in a cheap novel than a serious news story.

…Asked whether she knew about the nearby police station she rolled her eyes, smiled and said: “I know, I know.  I don’t mind.  I’m doing nothing wrong.  I don’t sell drugs, I pay my taxes.  I’m quite happy about it”…She claimed to be working alone from the house, but the Evening News has learned that she is one of two prostitutes based there…The offence of brothel-keeping is only committed when two or more women work from the same home…Police officers have been informed by the News of [the] brothel…

In revealing that the women work from the same place, the reporter has guaranteed that the police will subject them to mindless violence in the name of upholding an asinine law, especially since he helpfully provided them the address in violation of every principle of journalistic ethics.  This wicked game of outing sex workers is woefully common in UK journalism of the sleazier sort…which is to say, most of it.

But the worst part about the entire article is that the reporter seems to imagine himself to be genuinely concerned about sex workers’ safety, or is at least trying to convince the reader that he is.  A reporter chooses whom to interview, which quotes to feature, how to parse them and how much weight to give each interviewee, so two different people with opposite agendas could produce two extremely different articles from the exact same set of interviews; this story comes back over and over again to the harm Police Scotland’s new harassment policy will inflict upon sex workers.  Yet at the same time, it wallows in the lurid, is peppered liberally with dysphemisms and tortured phrases, presents sex workers as weak, dirty victims and even goes so far as to directly betray two of them to the tender mercies of the police, hinting that they have a lot of money so as to make them a more attractive target for a profit-motivated raid.  If this is what passes for “sympathy” in British journalism, I’d hate to see what hostility looks like.

*This number comes from Scot-Pep, and though it seems a bit low to me we’ll go with it.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on October 27th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Nearly three years ago I wrote an essay entitled “Social Autoimmune Disorder”, in which I compared modern society’s persecution of sex workers to a disease “in which the body’s protective systems turn from attacking pathogens and other invaders to attack some portion of its own tissues instead”:

The bodies of societies sometimes also develop such syndromes; the systems which were meant to protect society from invaders or other troublesome organisms are instead turned against some of its own systems, sometimes even vital systems.  And just as in biological autoimmune disorders, those who are affected most are usually women…one…[example] is the continuing persecution of prostitutes in England and the United States, despite the obvious social function we serve…

macrophages killing cancer cellIn the past few decades police, especially in the United States and countries over which it has a powerful influence, have gone from primarily fighting those who harm the body of society (violent criminals) to primarily attacking the body itself (ordinary citizens accused of violating any of the countless laws against nonviolent, consensual behavior).  And when these infected police departments attack the mechanisms society has evolved to channel its libido, the metaphor folds back upon itself:  the figurative disease may result in the spread of literal disease.

Many of the persistent myths about sex work are exactly the opposite of the truth.  For example, prohibitionists often claim that pornography and stripping increase “violence against women”, when in fact the prevalence of rape, child molestation, domestic violence and other social ills decreases with the increased availability of, and decreased stigma against, porn and other forms of sex work.  Another looking-glass claim is that whores spread disease; in fact, the incidence of every kind of sexually-transmitted infection in developed nations is much higher in the sexually-active portion of the general population than it is among prostitutes, and only 3-5% of all STIs can be traced to either side of a paid sex transaction…which is to say that over 95% of them come from unpaid sex.  The reasons for this should be obvious: sex workers have a vested interest in keeping ourselves clean and we enter into relations calculatedly rather than in the heat of passion or as the result of inebriation, so we scrupulously use condoms while a great many amateurs (especially those under 25 and above 50) do not.

In a sanely-run world, sex workers would be held up as examples of how to have an active sex life while protecting oneself from the potential dangers thereof…but no part of this world is sanely-run.  Instead, sex workers are widely stigmatized where we aren’t outright criminalized, and the tools we use to protect ourselves are labeled “prostitution paraphernalia” in the diseased minds of the police.  In many places (including most of the United States), cops steal sex workers’ condoms and represent them as “evidence of prostitution”; the obvious effect of this is to discourage the use of condoms among everyone likely to be harassed by police, professional or not, thus resulting in a public health nightmare.  Unfortunately, the concept of harm reduction is completely alien to those who are obsessed with conformity, “law and order”, arbitrary rules and “sending messages”; they are wholly unable to recognize that their precious laws pose a clear and present danger to society, and therefore endeavor to enforce compliance even when the facts are directly before them.

sauna raidNor is this self-destructive behavior limited to countries where it is well-established by precedent; even in places where officials have by some miracle been made to see the wisdom of harm reduction policies, the police can be counted on to act in ways which endanger everyone unless they are forcibly restrained from doing so.  Scotland provides a perfect example: until recently, the country had eight different police forces; but when they were all brought under one umbrella, prohibitionist fanatics from Glasgow got in control,  and in only a few short months have done their level best to wreck the system of tolerated brothels which has kept Edinburgh sex workers safe for decades.  But in late October, they unveiled their crowning idiocy:

…Police chiefs [sent]…a letter…[asking] the city council to add new conditions to licences, including that “no items of a sexual nature will be permitted on the premises”…[HIV group the Terrence Higgins Trust and sex worker organisation Scot-Pep savaged the proposal, which they said would ruin decades of sexual health education]…A recent report by the World Health Organisation…read: “Condoms should never be considered to be evidence of sex work, either in official laws or through unofficial law-enforcement practices, and condoms should never be confiscated from sex workers”…[and] MSP Margo MacDonald said…“this…makes the police look…rather amateurish”…

The police, who were obviously unprepared for such strong resistance, backpedaled furiously:  “Police Scotland does not advocate the banning of condoms…at no point do the recommendations make reference to the banning of condoms…”  Pull the other one, gents; only the hopelessly gullible could believe that you didn’t intend the purposefully-vague “items of a sexual nature” to include condoms.  Fortunately, the council proved somewhat less credulous than they might have been, only allowing themselves to be bullied out of cancelling the licenses of six out of the thirteen saunas; the other seven were renewed without the foolish and dangerous restrictions demanded by the police.  It seems unlikely that this will deter their attempts to harass sex workers into hiding for very long, however; remember that the violent raids to which the saunas were subjected in recent months came despite the fact that their licenses were duly renewed last year.  Unless the burgeoning power of police to victimize peaceful people is radically amputated, it must eventually result in catastrophic consequences for any society so afflicted…and as I have warned many times before, though such consequences always start with sex workers or other marginalized groups, they never end with us.

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I am writing this on my phone, for the living and the dead.  -  Jemima

Rough Trade Daniel-Nicolae Ilie

A man who raped a prostitute…has been jailed for [forty] months.  Daniel-Nicolae Ilie…paid £20 for sex…[but] when she refused his demands for further sexual acts, he attacked her…Judge Horton said…”A sex worker, like any other woman in this country, is entitled to her consent”…

The Red Umbrella

As usual, there were a number of articles for the December 17th observance, but for me four really stood out.  In the first, Siouxsie Q interviewed Dr. Annie Sprinkle, who first conceived of the idea; then UK politician James Shaddock published “As Liberals, We Must Stand Up for Sex Workers”; Jemima wrote a powerful poem called “For the Living and the Dead”; and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects released its new consensus statement, “On Sex Work, Human Rights and the Law”.

Ashley Madison

A [North Carolina] man blames the breakup of his marriage not only on the other guy, but also on the online infidelity service that he says made it happen…Robert Schindler…is suing her alleged partner…along with Ashley Madison…alienation of affection…laws have survived numerous efforts…to repeal them, and in recent years they have led to million-dollar judgments for wronged spouses…

Subtle Pimping

Another person who profited from whore stereotypes without consulting us or giving us any support in return:

Patricia Adler…[announced] that she would be leaving her tenured position teaching sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder…[after] officials told her that one of the highlights of [her] course…had to go.  That is an annual lecture on prostitution…to illustrate that status stratification occurs in various groups considered deviant by society.  She seeks volunteers from among…teaching assistants…to dress up as various kinds of prostitutes — she named as categories “slave whores, crack whores, bar whores, streetwalkers, brothel workers and escort services.”  They work with Adler on scripts in which they describe their lives as these types of prostitutes…

The Leading Players in the Field, Not

Mira Sorvino is VEWWY SEWIOUSWhen CNN wants a “human trafficking expert”, you can be sure they won’t call on anyone who’s actually studied migration or sex work or anything; no, it’s always a has-been actress trying to reinvent herself as a “human rights champion”, accompanied by (usually religious) rescue industry types.  You may also be sure nobody’s going to even acknowledge the existence of any local activists, because otherwise we’d be cheated of a white savior’s journey into the Heart of Darkness, complete with serious-faced selfie.

Peeping Toms

A federal judge…in Utah ruled portions of the state’s anti-polygamy law unconstitutional…polygamists in Utah can’t apply for multiple marriage licenses, but neither can they be prohibited from living together as…husband and wives…The case was brought to court by Kody Brown…whose family is featured in TLC’s Sister Wives

Setting Women’s Rights Back a Century

Cathy Young published an excellent article on “How the government encourages kangaroo courts for sex crimes on campus”; it covers not only material from the above-linked column, but also topics explored in “Lower Education”, “False Target” and several other essays.  Definitely worth reading in its entirety.

The Crumbling Dam

The Canadian Supreme Court will announce its final decision in Bedford vs. Canada today; some have speculated that the timing may indicate that it will not be to the government’s liking.  Here’s law professor Kyle Kirkup:

…In 1967, the Supreme Court upheld a decision placing a man in indefinite detention after he was convicted of sodomy and deemed to be an “incurable homosexual.”  In 1969, largely in response to the decision, the federal government…decriminalized sodomy…Forty-six years after the decision, it is safe to say that the…Court…was on the wrong side of history.  Last week, the Supreme Court of India was widely criticized for upholding a similar law criminalizing gay sex…history will not be kind to the decision…the Supreme Court of Canada…has the opportunity to focus its analysis on the harms caused by…criminalization…instead of sending messages about good sex and bad sex.  What side of history will the Court be on?…

UPDATE:  The court was on the right side of history.  Unfortunately Parliament may not want to be this time…

The Law of Averages

A whole convention full of trafficking loonies in the formerly somewhat-sane Rhode Island gathered to swap disinformation, including ridiculous nonsense about pimped streetwalkers working out of strip clubs.  The writer pretends to have done research by explaining that “the average age of a child forced into prostitution is 12,  according to the U.S. Department of Justice…other studies place the age range at 12-15 years old.”  Of course, no study says anything of the kind, and the official DoJ study on the subjectThe Ladies of Trade Town put the average underage sex worker’s debut at roughly the same age found by every other study – about 16.

Presents, Presents, Presents!

I’ve received a number of presents in the past two weeks.  Sasha Castel sent me Strapless, a lovely scarf, some perfume and an Australian chocolate bar; Sailor Barsoom sent The Ladies of Trade Town; Eddie JC1 sent The Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part 1 and The Lurker in the Lobby, and Krulac sent Family Christmas.  Thank you all so very much!

Gingerbread House

The Alameda County [California] Juvenile Hall is…creating a girl’s camp for victims of sexual exploitation…Esa Ehmen-Krause, the deputy chief probation officer…says the plan is to convert some vacant detention units into a safe harbor…[by retrofitting] the space to make it feel comfortable…But [advocate Venus] Rodriguez…[asks] if the goal is to teach girls about healthy relationships and how to live independently…“How does that work in a lock up facility?”…

Unclean Situation

More on Ireland’s inbred prohibitionist cabal:

The Turn Off The Red Light (TORL) political campaign…is led by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), who are funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.  ICI have received $5,903,868…so far.  13 other TORL organisations have…received a whopping $40,710,493…in total…the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) which have provided TORL with extensive pro bono legal advice…have had $10,419,298…Ireland’s human rights organisations have fallen silent on the issue of further criminalisation of sex work…It turns out they are all funded by Atlantic Philanthropies also…a total of $17,762,683 between them…In Harm's Way cover

Long Spoon

The long-awaited call for decriminalization by Human Rights Watch has arrived, in a report on rampant human rights abuses committed by Louisiana “authorities”:

Louisiana state laws and practices that prohibit access to sterile syringes and criminalize sex work contribute to an uncontrolled HIV epidemic and an extremely high AIDS death rate, Human Rights Watch said…New Orleans police regularly interfere with sex workers who carry condoms, putting them and their clients at risk of HIV…“In Harm’s Way:  State Response to Sex Workers, Drug Users, and HIV in New Orleans” documents government…abuses of at-risk populations in New Orleans.  It calls for changes in state and local laws and policies that stigmatize, discriminate against, and facilitate police abuse of sex workers and drug users, and interfere with health services…

Rough Trade (TW3 #337)

California officials voted…to overturn a discriminatory rule that prevented sex workers who are physically or sexually assaulted from receiving money from a special victim compensation fund intended to help the victims of violent crimes…sex workers will now be eligible for state assistance to pay for medical and related expenses they incur as a result of the assault.  Members of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board said they were compelled to change the “repugnant” rule after hearing the testimony of sex workers who have been assaulted and left without recourse or support following the crime…

Sex Rays

It isn’t only children who are harmed by sex rays; infantilized women are too!

Lap dancing club plans for Doncaster…have been rejected following serious concerns about the possible effect on the sensitive work carried out at a neighbouring women’s centre…[“authorities”] said the venue would…alter the perception of vulnerable women, significantly harming the service the centre provides…

Here’s a previously unknown property of sex rays; they “alter perception”, presumably like LSD.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

Melissa Gira Grant on a pro-Swedish model New York Times editorial:

…The alternative the Times offers?  Sex workers should instead be treated as “victims,” which the editorial claims can be accomplished by increasing criminal penalties against their customers.  But there’s no evidence, in the editorial or elsewhere, to support that assertion …[and] leading global health and human rights organizations have …condemned that approach, as have sex workers themselves.  Passing stronger laws against buying sex and treating sex workers as victims does nothing to actually protect [their] health, safety, or rights…and only perpetuates a system in which sex workers are endangered by the police.  The proposed French law introduces new penalties for activities related to buying and selling sex, only one of which is the highly publicized “fines for johns.”  The law is quite broad, and targets many more people who are involved in the sex trade than customers…Sex Workers Unite

Dr. Melinda Chateauvert also comments on both the New York Times article and the French law in this interview introducing her new book, Sex Workers Unite.  Meanwhile, the pending law has emboldened anti-whore fanatics:  “Forty people rallied…on the road between Beziers and [Nissan-lez-Ensérune]…to drive prostitutes out of their sight…they chased prostitutes until dusk…[in order to] prevent them from working…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #349)

A company set up to run brothels in Utrecht has applied…to set up a pension fund…The company, named Freya, says footballers and prostitutes both do heavy work and so should be treated equally in terms of pensions.  Footballers can save up to €5,000 tax free a month to put into a pension fund for when they are no longer physically able to play.  Prostitutes should be given the same rights to do this, [said] board member and lawyer Wil Post…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #349)

All you need to know about this Australian example of yellow journalism is its overlong title:  “Girls kidnapped by drug gangs and sold as sex slaves to cash in on the 2014 FIFA World Cup”.  Here’s the truth, courtesy of Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette’s commentary on a nearly-identical Time article:

…Fortaleza, one of the host cities of the World Cup, currently has open twenty cases of underaged prostitution (six of which involve foreigners) and TWO THOUSAND cases of sexual exploitation of children that have nothing to do with prostitution or tourism…in ten years of work researching Rio de Janeiro’s brothels…I have not encountered a single child prostitute.  Frequent police raids on these establishments also generally come up a cropper.  There are a few cases, of course, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand, from over a ten year period.  Where, then, are these legions of child prostitutes?  If the police and I and my co-researcher, Dra. Ana Paula da Silva, can’t find more than a handful in all the hundreds of commercial sex venues in Rio de Janeiro…where are these kids?…apocalyptic claims that the invasion of legions of sports fans would lead to an increase in prostitution…have NEVER been substantiated:  in fact, they’ve been consistently debunked…

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #350)

Sex workers in London’s Soho had their doors kicked in by riot police…[who] brought along journalists to photograph cowering women who were desperately trying to cover their faces…Working flats have been closed, throwing women out on to the street…migrant workers…were taken away…for compulsory “counselling”…and…removal from the UK, despite protesting that they were not trafficked victims…Kay Thi Win, a sex worker in Burma, has said:  “We live in daily fear of being ‘rescued’…[by] police, who break into our workplaces and beat us, rape us and kidnap our children in order to save us”…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #350) the alert Mary Honeyball

Tim Worstall replies to European politician Mary Honeyball’s claims of “growing disillusionment in places where [prostitution] has been legalized”:  “No, there is not growing support for such a framework.  You’re lying…[prohibitionists] are…wildly lying…There simply isn’t any evidence that ‘sex slavery’ is anything other than an appalling and vile and very rare indeed crime…

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Slavery works as a public fantasy through which the real problems of the world can be pushed to one side and replaced with…“evil slave-owners” who allegedly lurk behind such phenomena.  -  Frank FurediSWAT thugs

The Slave-Whore Fantasy

Many organizations…receive inquiries from potential volunteers whose primary desire is to kick in doors and rescue…victims…once a potential volunteer learns that the organization does not have a covert SWAT team…they seem shocked and in disbelief.  The concept of private entities using…armed…[“rescue”] teams…is fueled by Hollywood and…non-governmental organizations…who play DVDs at anti-human trafficking events indicating their organization uses [such] teams…some even indicate their activities are unhindered by the bureaucracy of governments…

Handy Figures

I find this number very credible, given that 1% of comparatively-prudish Western women have worked as whores, plus an unknown (but certainly larger) number in other kinds of sex work:

…economist Yasuyuki Iida…says that five percent of women in Japan have [done some kind of sex work.  He]…begins by estimating that there are 10,000 clubs, bars and parlors offering sex nationwide… “each employs 30 women on average…That puts the number of women…at 300,000”…Iida settles on 10 years as the average tenure…based on data from the Ministry of Justice…the average woman enters the biz between the age of 25 and 29.  Census data…indicates that a total of 700,000 women fall within…that…group.  If 30,000 women [per year]…enter the fuzoku trade, that would represent…4.29[%] of that total…

The Course of a Disease

The Vietnamese government has just passed a decree under which clients of prostitutes will be punished more severely than the call girls…sex buyers will be fined VND500,000-VND1 million (US$23.7-$47.4)…prostitutes…will be issued a warning…in less severe cases or a monetary fine of VND100,000-VND300,000 (up to $14)…If the prostitutes are foreigners, they can be deported from Vietnam…

Legal Is As Legal Does (TW3 #7)

Another example of the need for eternal vigilance:

A delegation of former prostitutes…[and] advocates have appeared before…Parliament calling for a change to prostitution laws…the organisation Freedom from Sexual Exploitation (FFSE)…says…”the Prostitution Reform Act…not only encouraged more men to buy sex, but transformed prostitution into an acceptable, even attractive job for young, poor woman in New Zealand”…FFSE is asking the government to…[criminalize] the purchase of sexual services…

Above the Law

Three more “isolated incidents”:

Nearly twenty years after two young women were shot and stabbed to death at a Kentucky massage parlor…former [cops]…Edward Carter and Leslie Duncan are among three men charged…Tammy Papler, the woman who once ran the parlor, claimed years ago that she had been bribing police…and that the killings took place after she stopped paying.

Of course, it isn’t only whores they target:

A…San Antonio [cop raped a young woman]…Jackie Len Neal pulled [her] over…[on the pretext] that her car was reported stolen.  Even though [she] produced a sales slip…Neal insisted on patting her down…[then] placed [her] in handcuffs…[in] the back of his patrol car…[and raped her]…video cameras mounted in Neal’s cruiser were not functioning…[but] a GPS tracking system did corroborate that…[it] was parked for 18 minutes…as the woman had claimed…

And an update from the original “Above the Law”:  “A victim of a…Pittsburgh police officer…filed a federal lawsuit…Adam Skweres…failed his psychological examination before [hiring and]…the city [allowed him to keep working]…after it received complaints against him…[for] three years…Frankenstein - angry mob

The Widening Gyre

You know a moral panic is nearing its zenith when you start seeing mobs with torches:

Hundreds of people [gathered]…on Long Beach Boulevard in Compton to march against the sex trafficking of children and teenagers along the notorious strip.  The march…[followed] the route often used by johns and pimps in buying and selling young victims…”We are marching tonight to shine a light in the darkness and let these men know we see them,” [politician Mark] Ridley-Thomas said…”And to let businesses that profit from this vile trade…know that we’re coming for them”…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (TW3 #34)

Don’t believe our data; believe our dogma instead!

In Maine…its hotline netted 19 of what Polaris Project defines as high- or moderate-level indicators of trafficking in the most recent year…Destie Sprague…[of] the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said…Mainers should not reach the conclusion that only 19 people in the state were victims of trafficking in the past year…the number is in reality much higher…

Lower Education

The federal government is backing away from the nationwide “blueprint” for campus speech restrictions issued this May…the new head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR)…said that “the agreement in the Montana case represents the resolution of that particular case and not OCR or DOJ policy”…the Montana agreement included an overly broad definition of punishable sexual harassment: “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” including “verbal conduct” (i.e., speech)…Serious First Amendment and due process problems remain with…other recent OCR pronouncements…

The Crumbling Dam (TW3 #326)

Wouldn’t you love to see articles like this in the US?

Media organizations worldwide have been busy crucifying Rob Ford for his alleged crimes and intoxicated buffoonery…but mainstream outlets in Canada…need to apologize for repeatedly presenting Ford’s crimes in conjunction with allegations of “prostitution”…Having sex for money is not a crime in this country.  Even though many activities associated with it remain illegal, having sex for money…is a job…Every major mainstream media source in the city latched onto the “hanging out with suspected prostitutes” allegations…what makes someone a “suspected prostitute,” anyway?  Fishnets?…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #329)

Though registration is a poor idea because of the inevitable bottleneck, the general tone of this article is far more sensible than anything from the US:

…Swaziland’s sex workers are not a major contributor to the spread of HIV…[it] is spread widely by people in [unpaid] sexual encounters …However…if HIV is to be contained in any country the need to protect sex workers from HIV is a requirement…Identification of sex workers is the first step, allowing a registry of sex workers for contact and communication.  Thus reachable, these individuals can receive advice on health issues, HIV testing…counselling…treatment …and a supply of condoms…public health crises require realism…

Migliorini in PlayboyLittle Boxes (TW3 #332)

A woman who sold her virginity…for $780,000 but was unable to consummate the transaction has decided to put herself back on the market…Catarina Migliorini  was initially promised to a 53-year-old Japanese millionaire, but the deal fell through after Natsu ended up being a 21-year-old who looked nothing like his online profile.  She also had a falling out with the documentary filmmaker who recruited her…

Decentralization (TW3 #334)

Another example of “sex trafficking” as default bogeyman:

…bitcoin…is not backed by any central bank or government and can be transferred “peer to peer” between any two people anywhere…By largely eliminating intermediaries, bitcoin allows individuals to conduct transactions without being subject to anti-money laundering controls, which makes it an attractive currency to criminals — particularly those who prey on the weak.  Sex slavery and human trafficking generate $9.5 billion yearly in the United States alone, with each trafficked child yielding between $150,000 to $200,000 to her pimp, who controls four to six girls on average…

It’s That Time Again (TW3 #334)

The cuckoo clock is striking 13:

Cindy McCain slammed the National Football League…for not being “willing to deal” with the issue of sex trafficking at the Super Bowl…McCain…said the Super Bowl is the “largest human-trafficking venue on the planet,” but she will be working to tackle the issue in [Arizona] in 2015…McCain emphasized the necessity of bringing the issue to…Congress.  “This issue’s not sexy on Capitol Hill yet, but we’re going to make it sexy”…

Given all the one-handed writing politicians do about “child sex slaves”, I’d say they already find it plenty sexy.  But McCain’s comments, however idiotic, are at least coherent, which is more than I can say for those of her sidekick:

…Saada Saar spoke about her involvement in shutting down “adult services” ads on Craigslist in 2010…“I will never forget that morning getting calls from some of the girls who were still out there saying, ‘Oh my God!  The pimp’s [sic] are losing their minds because they can’t put us up for sale.  We are no longer for sale’…”

Imaginary Evils

Slaves found in London 'tip of the iceberg' Daily MailI knew this would turn out to be bogus, but I’m very pleased that it came apart so quickly:

The first stories in the London slavery reports…all gave the same horrifying account:  three women had been rescued by police after thirty years held against their will…But as details emerged, it seemed to be an entirely different affair…after contacting the charity, the women were encouraged to leave the house, which they did…with no dramatic police raid…[they] had joined a radical Marxist collective…which…was like a microcosm of a Soviet state- workers toil unrewarded for the benefit of the leader…”social services, education and housing departments had all had contact with the household” and…both the leaders had been previously arrested.  The presence of these women in the house was not a new discovery by any means…

And in Spiked, Frank Furedi uses the incident as a springboard for a strong criticism of the way the word “slavery” is used to describe phenomena which are absolutely nothing like chattel slavery.

Everything Old is New Again

Here are two more stories in which “sex trafficking” is described using ludicrous Victorian phraseology; this one from Ohio tells us that the mustache-twirling villains behind the “perfidious crime” are not usually stopped by “swift apprehension”, and that arresting sex workers “[fights] the vexing scourge” by “helping to restore a semblance of normalcy to [their] lives”.  The other, from California, gasps in horror at the idea of “children…at risk” from people having sex “in a home right across the street from an elementary school,” opines that “the horror of human trafficking…has destroyed the meaning of what it means to be ‘safe’ in a free world,”  and tells us that “expanding shackles” (presumably, a technology related to “invisible handcuffs”) are “fueled” by “assumptions that these are consensual interactions with women flaunting their sexual desire alongside pimps in outlandish suits with expensive cars.”

Meanwhile, if you click back to the original column by this name you’ll see something about how New Port Richey, Florida has a scheme to allow “authorities” to persecute “known prostitutes” at will.  Well, here’s an open letter to the town from its most famous daughter, Dr. Brooke Magnanti:

…Profiling has a false positive rate greater than zero, and some of those false positives will no doubt lawyer up.  Also, picking up people because you think they might possibly commit a crime in the future is not the same as detecting people who are actually breaking the law.  It is – hm, how you say? – oh yeah, now I remember the word.  “Unconstitutional.”  (My time in Florida’s schools did not go to waste, as you can see)…

Think of the Children! (TW3 #346)

Buried down near the bottom of this farrago of pearl-clutching nonsense about a persecuted Calgary massage parlor:  “Human trafficking is not a widespread problem among sex workers in Calgary massage parlours, police say…Mary Ann Franks threatens to beat up website owners

Shame, Shame

Activists seeking to criminalize “revenge porn” say they are…[preparing] federal legislation that would force Internet companies to take [it] down…law professor Mary Anne Franks…is helping draft the bill…”Going after intermediaries is a really bad idea,” says Matt Zimmerman…[of] the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  “The entire speech ecosystem…[suffers] because those service providers…decide what people can and cannot post”…Internet companies would likely respond to such a law by removing content any time there’s a complaint, to reduce their liability and…save time…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #347)

This ugly exercise in arse-backwardness repeats lurid nonsense about “sex tourism” in Brazil using Justin Bieber clickbait while describing dry stories about sex workers’ language lessons and business improvements as “titillating”; it then dismisses UN recommendations for decriminalization in a flurry of “sex trafficking” hoo-hah (describing the fringe group Equality Now as “many NGOs”), and adds insult to injury by mentioning Gabriela Leite’s Davida without stating that it’s a sex worker rights organization.  Compare it with this one, which despite being fixated on “grittiness” is at least basically honest.

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