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Posts Tagged ‘end demand’

Marijke Vonk is a Dutch sex-positive psychologist who specializes in working with sexual minorities; besides working as a therapist, she is a writer and lecturer on various topics concerning sexuality.   Since I discovered her blog a few months ago I’ve been repeatedly impressed by both her thoughts and the way she expresses them; if we had a thousand allies like her sex worker rights would be all but accomplished.  So naturally, I had to ask her to do a guest column for me!

When it comes to sex, the Netherlands is known as a tolerant country.  We’ve got marriage equality for same-sex couples, a usually laid-back attitude towards sexual diversity, famous red-lights districts and since 2000 legalised brothel-keeping.  But in recent years, the human trafficking panic has caught on and attitudes towards sex work have changed.  “The happy hooker does not exist” claimed Dutch politician Gert-Jan Segers, one of the initiators of new legislation to criminalise clients of sex workers.  “All prostitutes are forced” states Frits Rouvoet, an “expert” on sex work.  It’s interesting how these men will not change their minds, not even when numerous sex workers contact them to let them know they are indeed happy and not forced.

cops at brothelAs in the rest of the world, inflated numbers of incidences of trafficking are used to reduce sex workers’ rights.  The National Reporter on Trafficking in the Netherlands claims thousands of reported cases of possible victims of trafficking, but these reports include registration of non-sex worker women travelling alone (!) and sex workers visiting family abroad.  Even sex workers who buy new things, have a lot of friends or like their workplace are regarded with suspicion and reported as possible victims.  Sadly, these “thousands of reported cases” are repeated by politicians and NGO’s who claim more action (and money) is needed to combat this extensive problem.  When confronted with the inaccuracy of their claims they seem wholly uninterested.  “Maybe the problem is slightly exaggerated.  If that means we get more help for victims I have no moral objection”.

Most people involved in the Dutch rescue industry don’t seem to mean any harm towards sex workers themselves, they genuinely appear to want to help victims.  They don’t see the harm, and I think that’s where one of the major issues in Dutch sex workers’ rights lie.  They truly don’t see how their actions are harming both victims and sex workers.  And from a psychological viewpoint this makes sense:  it feels good to fight for a just cause, to help powerless innocent victims, to be one of the good guys.  Accepting that the “victims” not only refuse your help but are actually victimised by your actions causes a great deal of cognitive dissonance, something we all try to avoid.  It’s no wonder then that rescuers deny facts and sex workers’ experience, but their ignorance is far from harmless.

During recent raids on legal brothels hundreds of policemen violently forced their way into the workplace of twenty or thirty sex workers, smashing up their belongings, taking their earnings and bringing the women, their clients and anyone else near the establishment to police stations for questioning.  Scaring clients of sex workers is currently a popular method, not only by harassing them during raids but also by lying about the prevalence of forced prostitution: This has caused a noticeable drop in business for Eastern European sex workers in red light districts.  New legislation is being proposed to criminalise clients of sex workers when they “should have known” those sex workers are forced to work.  To be clear, sex with people who are obviously forced is of course already illegal and called rape.  But the major initiator of this new legislation is of the opinion that all sex workers are forced, this is simply a step towards end-demand laws.  Eastern European women are disproportionally stalked by police under the guise of anti-trafficking, they are followed around airports and stopped and questioned in public areas.  Prostitutes working from home are raided, their belongings confiscated and are even kicked out of their homes.  Necessary permits for brothel-keeping are impossible to get, which has resulted in a strong power imbalance between brothel-workers and the proprietors, a situation which almost begs for abuse and exploitation.  Sex workers have no legal way of arranging a work place for themselves.  The lies about trafficking and forced prostitution have resulted in increased funding of rescue organisations and ceased funding of sex workers’ rights organisations.  Actual victims are becoming more and more invisible under all the bloated claims, making them harder to reach.  Outside of the Netherlands the situation is even worse; anti-trafficking laws and regulations have hurt the position of sex workers and has increased police brutality towards sex workers.  Rescue organisations are currently the biggest perpetrators of human trafficking in the world, abducting women and girls from their homes and workplaces, keeping them in shelters against their will and forcing them to do manual labour under terrible circumstances and for a criminally low wage.

A stone bridge, Gapstow Bridge, in Central Park, NY.In order to change this, we need to make people see the harm they are doing.  But it’s difficult to convince people of the idea that they believe in lies and that their actions have resulted in the harm and even death of others.  In couples therapy I often explain the idea of “the golden bridge out” of a conflict.  If you and your partner disagree you need to give the other person a graceful way of admitting they are wrong; if the only way they can change their mind and agree with you is by agreeing they are a lying piece of garbage with no sense of empathy, they’re not going to agree.  Always give the other person a golden bridge out, a graceful way of changing their minds that doesn’t necessarily involve crushing their self worth.  I think we need such a bridge out for the antis, the rescuers, a graceful path for them to change their minds without having to state they were the bad guys.  They need a story in which their egos can stay intact.  They need a golden bridge out of their far from victimless crimes.

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Law enforcement stings designed to shame men who pay for sex are nothing more than the state blowing its own morality horn.  –  Jim Norton

Rough Trade Jason Oates

A convicted rapist…has been jailed for 11 years…Jason Oates…approached [a sex worker]…and agreed to pay £20…but…produced a large-bladed hunting knife…and demanded that she submit…to sex without charge…Oates…[previously served] three…years [for another rape]…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

I just can’t imagine how it got there:

Gardai are investigating after a laptop and documents belonging to a garda were discovered in a brothel in Amsterdam…The high-level investigation will probe how the individual’s bag was found in the brothel…

Check Your Premises

Cops in a country preparing to criminalize the purchase of sex insist men won’t be arrested if they confess to attempting to buy sex:

…PACT-Ottawa [reported that] more than half of…sex buyers they surveyed…said they…would call police if they suspected coercion.  That jibes with research…by sociologist Chris Atchison…Sextrade101 founder Natasha Falle, who [claims] she [was] trafficked…[in] her teens…[pretends that] “They never questioned our bruises, our broken bones…I used to see between one and five guys a night and I was in it for 12 years”…Det.-Const. Chris Lavergne has yet to field a call from a client…”Is there a way to make Johns understand, you’re not going to get in trouble for calling the police and giving us the information”…

1) Falle is full of shit; I bruise easily and was quizzed every time I had an unusually large one. I daresay nearly every sex worker has had that experience.  I do, however, think it’s interesting that she reports a realistic number of clients; I’m sure it will grow later.
2) Lavergne can’t conceive that the reason he “has yet to field a call” is that overt coercion in the sex industry is actually pretty rare.

The Scarlet Letter

What is it with New York state DAs and their sophomoric attempts at “humor”?  “Albany County DA David Soares rolled out a new initiative…to combat sex trafficking…Frontpage…will post a photo of every person convicted of paying for sex in the county…”  And this op-ed commenting on the “strategy” is so over-the-top it almost has to be a joke:

Some people say that prostitution is a victimless crime…but…there are victims.  A lot of them.  Children are often forced or compelled into prostitution at an early age…drug addicts sell their bodies to support their habits…prostitutes are often beaten and raped in order to keep bringing in the money for their pimps.  Families are harmed by the “johns” patronizing prostitutes.  Full neighborhoods fall victim to the plague.  Diseases are spread. Human trafficking — a $32 billion-a-year business in New York alone — is now an international crisis…

Saving Them From Themselves

If it had been pictures of himself, I’m sure the cops would’ve taken action:

A mother in South Carolina called sheriff’s deputies on her [15-year-old] son…after finding porn playing on her living room TV…the [woman] “immediately turned off the TV” and ushered her 2-year-old daughter out of the room…before calling the police on her son…the sheriff’s office did not make an arrest or issue a citation…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic Joshua Baron

A federal judge has sentenced a 40-year-old suburban Chicago doctor to nearly six years in prison for using a classified-ad site to trade prescription pills for sex.  Joshua D. Baron…blamed what he called “demons” of sexual addiction…the pediatric neurologist placed ads on Craig’s List [sic] offering pills for sex and requesting photos of respondents.  He later e-mailed hospital website links to prove he was a physician…

An Example To the West

Patoo Abraham has led protests…to ensure that prostitution is legalized in Nigeria and that sex workers be protected and respected…“We are tired of dying in silence; we want to be able to practice our profession with pride like every other person…Sex work is normal work and there are sex workers everywhere under one form of disguise or the other”…

Stand-Up Guys 

Comedian Jim Norton’s article in Time is definitely flawed, but I applaud any client who comes out and has the balls to write about it:

I’m not ashamed to pay for sex—and other men shouldn’t be either…The illegal aspect of prostitution has never deterred me, nor would legalizing it cause me to engage in it more…in a free society, people must be allowed to make choices for themselves that are incomprehensible to others.  By keeping prostitution illegal and demonizing all of its parties, we (you) are empowering pimps and human traffickers and anyone else who wants to victimize sex workers…

Traffic Jam

This farrago of racism, xenophobia and “sex trafficking” nonsense is even over the top by Daily Mail standards:

…London has become the hub, the epicentre for a global trafficking enterprise involving thousands of children for exploitation, sexual abuse and even…ritual voodoo killing…Hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the UK…Many are raped and sexually abused…there is a vast reservoir of lost children…anonymously shuffled from flat to shabby flat – a dark pool feeding child exploitation and misery across the planet…Britain’s generous child benefits system has become an international magnet for fraudsters who…traffick…thousands of children into this country every year to take advantage of payments and these young victims are prey for other vices, too – a ready made market for sexploitation…

I love the way it grows from hundreds to thousands in just a few paragraphs; in his next article I’m sure it will be millions. naughty girls

First They Came for the Hookers…

These “complaints” are always from cops:

An Oshkosh [Wisconsin] strip club is closed [after]…the…District Attorney’s office filed a civil suit against the owner…in response to several prostitution complaints…The assistant district attorney says Naughty Girls is a nuisance to the community.  He is asking a judge to close the business for a year and that all moveable property be sold…

Yellow Fever

Bars and clubs = “hub for underage prostitution” because travel agents say so:

Indian men are flocking to Kazakhstan in droves, if travel and tour operators are to be believed…Reason?  The thriving sex industry.  Thailand, Singapore and Dubai have been the traditional destinations; but that is changing…Kazakhstan…has become a hub for underage prostitution over the past few years…bars, cafes and club [sic]…are used as pick-up joints…

King of the Hill

Are you slipping, Toledo?  In the original “King of the Hill” entry you were #3, but according to WKYC you’ve dropped to fourth place.  Maybe if you give grants to “pimps” to build more hair salons you can reclaim your lost glory from Miami or Tampa Bay.

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (TW3 #135)

The term “rescue” used in this context is utterly tone-deaf:

…[South African] University students…[designed] a device intended to…help sex workers’ organisations keep an eye on the safety of their members…[it] has eight Wi-Fi transmitters linked to armbands that will be worn by the sex workers in the vicinity…the armband…[has] four buttons…on-line, off-line, jump [check in to a call] or panic…Should a sex worker send a distress call, the control room will forward her…precise location…to sex worker organisations who will alert the emergency services…

I Saw My Brain

Polk County, Florida…Sheriff Grady Judd assembled a press conference…[to brag about a huge sting operation, but] either didn’t realize – or didn’t care – that a number of the 132 men whose faces appeared on his mugshot “big board” had already been cleared of committing crimes…”It’s fair…Because…when we arrest them as ‘sexual perverts on children,’ I’m going to call them [that]…we have a very liberal…criminal justice system, sometimes it’s more difficult to prove ‘beyond…every reasonable doubt’…”

Given that our “liberal” incarceration machine imprisons five times as many people as civilized nations do, imagine the nightmare that would result if maniacs like Judd got their way.

Dysphemisms Galore 

Even by the low standards of the modern American press, this article is hilariously yellow:

…Domestic sex trafficking…is an increasingly common and highly lucrative underground business …involving American girls and young women (but sometimes boys) forced into sex slavery by sick pimps…in places as unassuming as a mall or a train station.  Pimps can earn $150,000 to $200,000 a year on each victim they force into prostitution…experts say Philly’s location creates a particularly attractive opportunity for the brokers of enslaved women.  “We are sort of in a unique hub area because we’re between New York, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., Harrisburg – all of which have child-prostitution problems,” said Michelle Morgan, an assistant U.S. attorney…”There are a lot of places for pimps to go from here to make more money, to buy new girls, to trade girls, so it’s a lucrative area”…Tiffany…[was] swept into the dark underbelly of sex trafficking…she [was forced]…to sell her young body to dozens of men…she would have sex with them or do whatever else popped into their twisted minds…

One can barely help picturing “journalist” Morgan Zalot masturbating furiously as he writes those last few lines.  The mall occupies the place in modern “white slavery” hysteria that the ice cream parlor did in the first cycle a century ago.

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Because “rehab” to “get us off the streets” is a perfect “solution” for the 90% or more of sex workers who are neither “on the streets” nor addicted to any drug:

Members of the Zanesville City Council attended a neighborhood barbecue…to discuss…prostitution…Sandy Gentry…said…the…ideal response…would be to create some kind of rehabilitation facility where prostitutes could go to get help and get off the streets…helping reform their lives would be the best solution…

Vendetta

Buried under all the monstrous male-demonizing and female-infantilizing rhetoric is the unstated fact that the “National Day of Johns Arrests” ballyhooed in this article is the brainchild of one sad, sick woman acting out her twisted psychodrama on thousands of strangers who never did anything to hurt her:

Law enforcement agencies across the country collaborated in a recent series of sex stings that netted the arrests of almost 500 men seeking to buy sex and 14 pimps and traffickers…[as] part of an annual “National Day of Johns Arrests”…Officials said 111 prostitutes were recovered during the operation, including 13 juveniles…

“Recovered” means “arrested and caged”.  Note that this big “rescue” found only 13 underage girls in 14 states; so much for the “epidemic of child prostitution”.  Phoenix can always be counted on to put an extra-stupid spin on a story like this; a cop with the Dickensian name Trent Crump blathered, “We want people to understand this is not because of Super Bowl, but with the Super Bowl coming, this may be a venue in which people believe and people believe they can come here.”  Trent, Maggie McNeill believes and Maggie McNeill believes that you are an idiot.

Remembrance (TW3 #410)

A sequence of a dozen images…taken by [an English] Lieutenant…are believed to be the only photographs ever to surface of British officers from the 1914-1918 war inside a “blue lamp” – the refined category of brothel reserved by secret edict of the British army for the officer classes…Other ranks…were restricted to crude “red-lamp” brothels…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #415)

This is mostly a lot of asinine and self-contradictory political “sex trafficking” bullshit; for example, the mayor belches out “The program saves women’s lives,” but two short paragraphs later the women morph into teens (all of whom are said to be “12 to 14 years old”), and four paragraphs later they’re vomiting out “the needs of the child”.  The really interesting thing is the continued harping on “gangs” and the obvious grooming of “sex trafficking” to be the new excuse for the police state once the drug war inevitably dies: “Gangs and other criminal organizations prefer humans [to drugs] because they’re a reusable resource; they can be resold…

Facts in the Case of Monica JonesLaverne Cox

Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox of the hit series Orange is the New Black is lending her support to [Monica] Jones [during Jones' appeal of her conviction for "manifesting prostitution"]…Cox, like Jones, is a transgender woman of color.  She has some serious concerns about the Phoenix law, which some call “walking while trans”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 22nd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

There’s a persistent belief that some areas in the United States are more liberal and urbane than others, and while I suppose that’s true to some extent the differences are generally cosmetic.  It would be more accurate to say that some areas enjoy pretending to be more sophisticated than others, or at least that they delude themselves into believing they’re more sophisticated.  But pull back the curtains or lift the rug just a bit, and you’ll find the vilest and most disgraceful ignorance collected there, just out of view.

Seattle stereotypeTake the state of Washington, for example; it has a reputation for being very liberal, modern and forward-thinking, as exemplified by its being one of only two states to decriminalize recreational cannabis, and by being home to grunge rock, Microsoft and Starbucks.  But while Washingtonians may be very accepting of tech, drugs and rock and roll, they behave like pearl-clutching Victorians when the subjects is ess-ee-ecks and positively foam at the mouth if such impurity exists anywhere in close proximity to money.  For example, Washington is one of several states that forbid alcohol in strip clubs, and cities there regularly enact bizarre and schoolmarmish restrictions on lighting levels, the distance dancers must keep away from patrons, etc.  And when it comes to prostitution, they’re completely barking mad:

…some of the silliest, most absurdly exaggerated and just plain  stupidest “trafficking” tripe in the entire country erupts forth from the Pacific Northwest at least once a week these days…in the name of “fighting sex trafficking” the Washington legislature actually passed a law which would have totally destroyed the internet as we know it, and despite a federal slapdown they’re at it again; this is also the state which devotes hundreds of man-hours to trying to trick coffee-stand waitresses into flashing their tits so they can be charged with “prostitution”.  And who could forget the hilarity which ensued when Shared Hope International held a program warning high school girls, “Don’t run off to the other side of the country with strange adult men after turning over your life savings to them, because pimps are cool and abortion is sex trafficking”.  Or something like that…

white trash capital of the worldThe crusade against caffeine-dispensing harlots mentioned above is largely concentrated in Snohomish County, in other words suburban Seattle.  The police of the county’s largest city, Everett, are especially obsessed with the wanking fantasy that there are whores hiding in every coffee stand, and have aggressively persecuted a number of shops for years.  But they’ve apparently tired of this game, and decided to go after a bigger target:  rather than trying to “end demand” for coffee, they now want to regulate the sun on the grounds that it causes “sex trafficking”:

When the weather gets nicer in Everett, the number of suspected prostitute sightings increases…(the SUN) appears to be a strong factor in the increase in traffic.  Although, website traffic for prostitution maintains a steady pace throughout the year [sic].  We believe there is evidence that people are brought to Everett from neighboring states/counties by pimps…

I can’t help but be fascinated by this reporter’s idiosyncratic capitalization, fondness for sentence fragments and creative use of scare quotes:

…there are many factors that may lead someone into the “sex trade” and…some women are independent “workers”…

But the cops’ un-self-conscious hypocrisy is even more fascinating:

…There are many reasons and/or intricate layers involved for someone to enter the sex trade (either voluntarily or by force).  Drug addiction, mental health, lure of money, survival and forced/coercion just name a few [sic].  The bottom line:  Women are human beings; someone’s daughter, sister, mother or friend.  Treating them with respect and dignity is our priority…

Because deceiving, hunting, beating and caging a woman, subjecting her motivations for consensual behavior to state scrutiny, denying her right to choose her own work, thinking of her not as an individual but only in relation to some man, and referring to her normal economic needs with the dysphemistic phrase “lure of money”, constitute dignified and respectful treatment in the minds of Everett cops.  The rest of the article refers to other “end demand” practices embraced by the Everett police, including “Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution” orders, which are essentially similar to Britain’s ASBOs; in the United States, however, such practices are flagrantly unconstitutional and can only continue until challenged in court – which, needless to say, means they’ll probably be around until at least the end of the “sex trafficking” panic.

As I said at the beginning, there’s a persistent belief that some areas in the United States are more liberal and urbane than others; the actual truth is that they’re all pretty authoritarian and unsophisticated where sex is concerned.  It’s just that some places seem less aware of how ridiculous, childish, bluenosed and tight-arsed their anti-sex policies make them look to the adults of the world, and within those areas are cities which, due to being surrounded by normalized prudery, feel free to carry their priggishness to truly clownish levels.

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I don’t believe I have to give it away for free no matter how many district attorneys and politicians say I do.  –  Norma Jean Almodovar

Peeping Toms

Keep in mind that the subject of all this state snooping, prying and pompous posturing is consensual adult sex:

[Utah] police…found the man in charge of a state-run polygamous trust in a motel room with a suspected prostitute…and prosecutors say he has since failed to appear as a subpoenaed witness at the woman’s trial.  Bruce Wisan…has not been charged with any crimes…and…the 26-year-old woman…did not appear [in court] either…[so the] judge…issued a $2,000 warrant for her arrest…[prosecutor Scott] Cowdell said the woman could have been tried in absentia if Wisan had appeared…[and] he is prepared to force Wisan to…explain his absences…

Surplus Women

A “sadistic” construction worker murdered a 55-year-old woman with a Stanley knife before mutilating her body…Nicolae Patraucean, 20, strangled Rivka Holden and slit her throat before dismembering her body…Ms Holden, who worked as a prostitute, was found dead on March 16…

Meanwhile, in Michigan:

…25-year-old Charles…Oppenneer’s decapitated body…[was] found in a park last [week]…his…[pregnant] girlfriend, [Brooke] Slocum…could not be located…on Slocum’s computer, police found e-mail exchanges with a local man named Brady Oestrike…[who planned] to meet the couple at…the park where Oppenneer’s body was subsequently found…and pay them for sex…investigators saw him leave his home in a car, setting off a police chase…[which] ended when Oestrike’s car crashed into a [concrete] barrier.  Police found him…dead from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head…they found Slocum’s body in the trunk.  An autopsy determined that she had been strangled…Oestrike often traveled to different states…for his…church…as a missionary…

Sex, Lies and Busybodies Emma Livry

I’ve often pointed out the similarities between “art” performers and sex workers, but this is an interesting parallel I hadn’t heard of:

…[The legendary ballerina] Emma Livry…was…[critically] burnt when her costume was set alight by the open flames of stage lighting…the French government had introduced legislation years before…which required costumes to be treated with flame retardant chemicals…[but] a number of dancers had refused to wear the treated tutus because the chemicals made their skirts dingy and stiff, spoiling the ethereal effects they went through years of punishing physical training to achieve…After [her accident but before her death by infection]…someone asked Livry if her opinions…had changed.  She…maintained that she still would not wear them if she were ever able to return to work.

Dancing in a stage production [is much] like performing in an adult film…Risks are taken and sacrifices are made for a chance at success.  That success [is] a slim possibility, and even if it is achieved it lasts for a very short window of time…Like Emma Livry’s distaste for stiff skirts spoiling her illusion of weightlessness, I dislike the idea of being forced to use barrier protection when the accompanying friction impedes my ability to deliver the best performance possible.  If members of the French government had listened to the dancers they were trying to protect, they could have explored options like moving the lights two feet forward or enclosing them in cages…

End Demand

The petty absurdity of social engineering:

…A new [“end demand”] campaign is distributing beer mats to bars and hotels with the [lurid tale] of a 15-year-old survivor of human trafficking.  She [claims to have been] forced to have sex with 15 men a day before she escaped.  The Immigrant Council of Ireland, supported by a European Commission [grant] project, is trying to [frighten]…young men [out of hiring sex workers]…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

A German single mum who has worked as a nurse caring for disabled people for 17 years has been fired after her bosses discovered that she had taken a job as an erotic model to make extra money.  Lisa Burger, 38, had worked for the evangelical church owned care home…since she was 21, and after struggling to make ends meet had also taken on jobs as an erotic model wearing sexy underwear for catalogues.  But…when she also agreed to do a porn movie…her employers were told about it…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #31)

Still think prostitution laws don’t affect you?

A Zambia Reports reader sends in a complaint about the Zambia Police and their patrols in search of prostitutes in the mining town of Solwezi… “I was shocked to be awaken on 24th July 2014 by…police officers in my room…at a named lodge to be told they were looking for prostitutes…Does it mean every woman they find in a lodge or guest house is a prostitute?  If they found a man in bed with his wife, because they are at a guest house or lodge they will take away his wife as a prostitute?”…

Monsters Reginald Anthony Klaiber

The original title read “Man stabbed in back”:

A transgender 15-year-old girl was stabbed in the back aboard a [Washington, DC] train…Reginald Anthony Klaiber, came up to the group…and insulted the victim’s appearance, asking why she was wearing a wig and commenting on [her clothes]…Klaiber was apprehended after witnesses pointed him out to police…

Challenge

Other than the fact that one of three editors felt the compelling need to interject such outrageous inanities as the word “consensual” in scare quotes (referring to sex work) and phrases like “[sex workers] seek independence from pimps, traffickers and intimidating customers“, this article isn’t really too bad:

…Maxine Doogan…dreams of a future when she won’t be treated like a criminal and could earn a little respect in the city that launched the fight for sex worker rights 41 years ago.  Calls by Bay Area sex workers for decriminalizing…prostitution have been spurred anew following the FBI seizure of [MyRedbook]…the battle…has lost ground in recent years in the face of the increasing influence of religious conservatives, continued opposition by [neo]feminists and the [pretended] link made by law enforcement between prostitution and sex trafficking of children and immigrants…

License To Rape (TW3 #340)

The San Diego DA says it’s better for women to be raped and innocent people jailed than for the public’s rapidly-diminishing opinion of cops to be further damaged:

[San Diego] District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis keeps a list of law enforcement officers that her prosecutors do not trust as witnesses…and…will not say how many people are on the list or which agencies employ them.  The so-called Brady Index is a closely guarded secret that includes officers and deputies with a track record of lying or other misconduct that could undermine credibility…[reporters] sought the information in advance of a civil trial requested by a woman…who was [sexually assaulted]…by…Anthony Arevalos…her lawyers allege San Diego police command staff knew about…Arevalos and did nothing to stop him from preying on young women…

How egregious a liar does a cop have to be before prosecutors won’t believe him?

Dominating the News (TW3 #342)

A woman was arrested [for "abusive behavior" on Wednesday] after posting a photograph on Twitter of chancellor George Osborne at her flat when she worked as a madame…Natalie’s home was also searched last year…after she tried to publish her memoirs…Of course this could all be coincidence.  Or perhaps more proof…that our police are being used to protect politicians’ reputations rather than catching criminals?

Traffic Circle

Tanzania’s envoy in Beijing…refuted claims that sex workers from Dar es Salaam are tricked by human traffickers into travelling to China…He refuted claims that some are hoodwinked into believing that there are hotel jobs or hair saloon work that pays handsomely in China…He said some women fall into trouble for overstaying their welcome…or for engaging in illegal activities.  He said that the women…rush to the embassy [and claim to have been "trafficked"] when trouble knocks on their doors…

Drawing Lines moral problems

Burlesque performers:  you can deny your connection to sex workers all you like, but society is going to treat you like us anyway so you may as well fight alongside us:

A troupe of circus performers has been refused a business account after bank managers described their skimpy burlesque costumes as a “moral problem”…Joshua Morris set up “Circus Uncertainty” earlier this year and applied for a business bank account with Santander so he could get grants to fund work with terminally-ill children…The performers are baffled by the decision as there is no nudity in the family-friendly act…

No Difference

This is only on procedural grounds and the law will probably be rammed through again, but a victory is a victory:  “The constitutional court [of Uganda] has declared the passing of the anti homosexuality bill into an act as null and void…on grounds that [it] was passed without the required quorum…Court also awarded the petitioners 50% of the costs of the suit…

The Missing Word

The word “trafficking” was included in the accusations [and used by protesters], but the court’s decision says it did not exist in the eyes of the State:

A Greek court’s decision to acquit local farmers who admitted shooting 28 Bangladeshi strawberry pickers when they dared to ask for [six] months of back pay has sparked outrage…Four of the strawberry pickers were badly injured in the attack…Media investigations showed the migrants to be working in subhuman conditions without access to proper hygiene or basic sanitation…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #419)

Behold the results of the mental illness I call lawheadedness:

The barriers police set up months ago in [Cincinnati] to curb prostitution were removed…one day after residents asked for damages and a restraining order against the city…police [pretended the roadblocks] would stop johns from picking up prostitutes along West McMicken Avenue…resident Vanessa Sparks…said once the barriers started blocking her neighborhood, public transportation was no longer close by, and her friends and family were afraid to drive through the area to her home…Attorney Peter Stackpole represents the city…[and pretends that]…the lawsuit…”lacks merit”…

Property of the State 

Jennifer Goodall of Coral Gables [Florida] was informed [by]…letter…that because she decided to attempt vaginal delivery before agreeing to cesarean surgery in her fourth pregnancy, her prenatal care providers intended to report her to the Department of Children and Family Services [and] seek a court order to…perform cesarean surgery on her “with or without [her] consent” if she came to the hospital…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Lawheads are mystified their proclamation didn’t “abolish prostitution”:

Indonesian police…fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters at the… “Dolly” red-light district, where workers are refusing…government orders to close shop. Around 300 protesters…tore out and set alight a sign erected by the Surabaya city that read:  “This area is free from brothels and prostitution”…”We reject the instalment of this sign here.  And after Ramadan, we will operate as normal.  We refuse to shut down,” said head of Dolly’s workers’ forum Ari Saputro…Hardline Muslim groups have threatened violence if brothels continue to operate beyond the end of Ramadan.

Whatever They Need To Say (TW3 #429)

I’m sure his sending miscreants to threaten to burn them alive had NOTHING to do with it:

Tangail…mayor Shahidur Rahman Khan Mukti has come up with a most intriguing theory explaining why more than 600 sex workers left the Kandapara brothel in a single night.  If he is to be believed, these women…[all suddenly] decided to quit the work they have been doing for years.  What motivated them all of a sudden into deciding, and collectively too, to go for a change of profession is not explained…

The Widening Gyre (Traffic Updates) 

Perhaps the “sex traffickers” got sick of her melodramatics?

A missing…teenager who disappeared more than two weeks ago has been found alive and safe…Anji Dean, 17, [has] been returned to her family…[despite claims she had been "sex trafficked", cops found] Dean [alone] at a mall…Earlier [that]…day, a woman known only as Jennifer…told [reporters] she had spent several days with Dean and was trying to help her…[the girl's mother denied her agency and competence, claiming earlier] “She can’t be doing this on her own, so we’re really, really afraid for her”…

Tour Diary:  Week Nine

Here’s the video SWOP Chicago did while I was there:

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 Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard.  –  Sharee Sanders Gordon

Acting and Activism Scully confused

Another entry in the clueless celebrity division of “sex trafficking” fetishism:

Hollywood actress Gillian Anderson says the growing problem of human trafficking must no longer be ignored, and hopes her new film [Sold] about a young Nepali girl sold as a sex slave will highlight the horrors of the trade…Anderson…rose to fame playing Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files

Remember, kids, an actor doesn’t actually have to be skeptical or rational to play a rational, skeptical character on TV.  But really, Anderson’s right at home in a story based on ridiculous, exaggerated conspiracy theories, so I guess it makes sense.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

This otherwise-typical collection of “sex trafficking” tropes contains an interesting inflation; prohibitionist politician Jeffrey Chiesa claimed that his favorite masturbatory fantasy “is most likely to occur at large stadiums or arenas with a steady stream of events”…in other words, he’s claiming that the so-called “trafficking” occurs at the stadium itself, merely than in the host city.  It’ll be interesting to see if this particular absurdity catches on.

Law of the Instrument

The need to see all transactional sex as coercive is a mental illness:

The Gucci handbag often gives her away.  Along with the expensive lingerie, the sex toys, the designer watch and the multiple iPhones.  But the dead giveaway is the tattoo, often of the pimp’s street name, marked on the back of her neck or the inside of her wrist.*  Sometimes, there is another woman in the hotel room known as the “bottom bitch” who is in charge of…ensuring the working girl hustles seven days a week and has sex with up to 15 men a day…young girls…are being trafficked by pimps…having sex with countless men and never seeing a dollar of their earnings**.  Everyone agrees they are victims…The girls are often beaten to keep them in line and some are fed drugs to get them addicted…[usually they] are hostile and refuse help, often suffering from Stockholm syndrome…

**See “The Widening Gyre” below.
*Except for the money they use to buy the Gucci handbags, expensive lingerie, designer watches and multiple iPhones, of course.

Maier’s Law

When the facts don’t fit the theory

…South Carolina…investigators are looking…for…indicators that [arrested masseuses] were involved in a larger-scale human-trafficking operation…the women…specifically told authorities they weren’t [coerced].  One…drove a BMW and another a Mercedes, and each explained to authorities that “this was just their job”…but the…case does share some similarities with many recent cases…that have been described as human trafficking.  From Colorado to Michigan and from Alabama to the Carolinas, dozens of…trafficking rings have been uncovered.  Many times, the businesses are masquerading as…massage parlors, but they offer no licensed therapists…

The obtuseness of both cops and reporter is almost Pythonesque.

The Law of Averages 13 cult

This particular myth-element has grown so large, it has become a cultic totem:

April Bentley…stood alongside more than 50 volunteers …on the steps of the Milwaukee Central Library to promote the campaign dubbed  “Unlucky Thirteen,” which…is meant to call attention to sex trafficking …through the number 13 — the average age a person starts being trafficked for sex…

As is typical, Bentley’s experiences supposedly took place decades in the past…much too long ago to actually check on.

Profit from Panic

Notice that none of those supposed activities actually produce any concrete, measurable results that might have to be reported to investors:

Through EPCAT USA, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization…the travel industry is taking an active role against sex tourism…with continued support ECPAT USA can continue fighting for these child victims of exploitation. A gift of $50, $100, $250 or any amount will be used to…advocate for improved…laws…Raise awareness that children are being commercially sexually exploited…Equip…students to fight this problem…[and] collaborate with ECPAT affiliates around the world…

The Widening Gyre

There’s a PhD dissertation in examining the absurdities people will believe without any proof whatsoever if they’re part of a moral panic:

Sharee Sanders Gordon…an…attorney in Los Angeles, said…One middle school…is having a serious problem with prostitution…“Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard”…According to Gordon, a pimp in San Diego County brands his girls with tattoos inside their mouths, as if they were property.  The branding is all part of the pimps’ indoctrination process…

Worse Than I Thought

However horrible a fad law is already, Louisiana politicians can figure out a way to make their version worse:

Governor Jindal signed four bills into law that will crack down on human trafficking in Louisiana…HB 1025…[creates] the crime of “unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity” and…expands the definition of “racketeering activity” to include pornography involving juveniles [and] computer-aided [violation of any prostitution law]…It…[also permits] the court to seize…personal property…HB 569…[establishes]…human trafficking courts…HB 1105 …requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in outpatient abortion facilities.  Often perpetrators of human trafficking force women and children to undergo abortions so that the victims can continue working in the industry…HB 1262…requires that, prior to undergoing an…abortion, a woman must be provided with information on coerced abortions and human trafficking…

Yes, the first law defines any sex worker who advertises on the internet and any client who contacts her via the internet as a gangster.  Note also the increasing connection between “sex trafficking” hysteria and abortion restrictions, which activists have been predicting for several years now.

Thought Control would-be censor Andrea Lavigne

Grosse Pointe Park [Michigan] residents demanded that the Metro Times be banned in the city and in libraries…[the excuses] went beyond typical complaints about obscenity when some charged the…tabloid’s advertisers with promoting human trafficking…the editor…countered that [sex work] ads are no more sexually explicit than many of the books on public library shelves.  And she said that complaints about sex trafficking should be taken to police, not to librarians…officials…[insisted] that constitutional freedom-of-speech guarantees would trigger a lawsuit…The…Library Board…then voted…to stack the Metro Times out of sight…Patrons…will have to ask for copies from now on…

King of the Hill

Forget about states or even cities; a New York politician claims he can place the “epicenter” of “sex trafficking” on one particular street:

…Sen. Jose Peralta…said…“Roosevelt Avenue is a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and throughout the five boroughs…[gangs] are participating in bringing women from all over the world…right to Roosevelt Avenue…It’s really a hub and epicenter of human trafficking”…

Checklist

This article includes the following telltale indicators of “sex trafficking”:

Warning signs include sleeping bags in nail salons…or workers who appear exceptionally young…a young girl might refer to an older man as her…”daddy”…Other signs might be security measures…[such as] barbed wire inside a fence or bars covering the insides of windows…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) Tracy Dean

A young woman leaves home after telling friends that she was in some kind of trouble; naturally, all possible explanations are instantly discarded in favor of the panic du jour:

A 17-year-old Washington girl missing for the last [month] left a chilling message in her journal…”If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead”…Authorities fear she’s become a victim of human trafficking…The blue-eyed brunette left behind her cellphone, ID, bank cards and the eyeglasses she needs to see…”She had been telling some people for a while that she was involved in something, that she was in over her head, that she was scared. But they couldn’t get any more information than that out of her,” [said] her…mother, Lynda Jorgenson…

Dysphemisms Galore

Cops and prosecutors do their best here to make a perfectly ordinary escort service, much like the one I owned, seem like a sinister and nefarious criminal conspiracy; of course, any sex worker or client can tell this was written by a pompous clown:

Investigators say [Amber Batts, who is] accused of sex trafficking to roughly 800 clients in [Alaska] maintained a slick website and multiple payment methods — which led straight to her bank account [as opposed to where?]…“The website advertises for escort services…and is organized into different sections, including a…‘providers’ (listing the women being trafficked)…the Blog section… describes a sexual encounter for money.”  The material on the website also included advice for patrons of the sex trafficking ring…

Profit from Panic (TW3 #321)

Other countries teach their young people math and science; we indoctrinate ours in ridiculous myths and teach boys to demonize their own sexuality:

…20 [high school] seniors…watched a documentary about child sex trafficking and wanted to do something about it…The students…visited with a [cop] who specializes in [persecuting sex workers] and talked with [a politician]…”Harsher punishments for johns,” said Ben Prewitt.  “If there were harsher punishments, the demand would go down”…Prewitt wanted [paying for sex] to be a felony with a requirement to be registered as a sex offender…the average age of a victim is 16 with some as young as 8…Jeff Goode said he used to live behind three strip clubs…and saw some of the ugliness surrounding the places…

That “as young as 8″ is popping up often now; look for the focus to shift to that number soon.

Schadenfreude (TW3 #322) Paul Libri

More of this, please:

…Tim Taylor of the Metro Atlanta Human Trafficking Task Force…isn’t Tim Taylor.  His real name is Paul Michael Libri.  He has a criminal record and currently faces trial for impersonating a police officer…Libri…is seen as a pest by police officers – someone in the way when they are trying to solve trafficking cases…

Long Spoon

These people are NOT allies!

…anti-human-trafficking advocates raised concern about the arrests of adult females [in FBI raids]…even adult women in the sex trade likely began as trafficked children…“The vast majority of those people…are currently victims, or they have been victims,” said Lauren Hersh…Traffickers and pimps subject their victims to a process called  “seasoning,” involving rape and forced drug use to break down the woman who is to be sold…

Lauren Hersh is a prosecutor who resigned in disgrace for railroading men for rape; she’s a sleazy prohibitionist whose most recent scheme involved trying to set up fake sex worker organizations to lobby for imposition of the Swedish model.  Also note the latest “trafficking” fantasy-term no actual sex worker ever heard of.

Vendetta

There’s never a shortage of politicians willing to lick Swanee Hunt’s arse:

The city of Boston has launched an initiative to reduce demand for prostitution…by going after the men who buy sex…Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the program…at a [prohibitionist circle-jerk]…Boston…is partnering with Demand Abolition…to develop and implement campaigns…to disrupt the commercial sex industry…

A Mound of Filth

It’s hard to imagine how this article could be more fellatory:

…Young women who used to be dismissed as bad-girl prostitutes are now recognized as victims…That’s where Arizona is now, as police, prosecutors and courts look for realistic ways to deal with people whose histories left wounds and unspeakable scars…Making the effort to identify victims of sexual trafficking among minors arrested for…other crimes is part of the new paradigm…Gov. Jan Brewer gets credit for naming a task force…to look into how little girls become merchandise in the sex trade…Take a moment to savor this shining example of public officials doing absolutely the right thing.

Nice While It Lasted

How can the perpetrators of this violent GFE “circuit” hope to outwit a genius who can violate the Law of Conservation of Energy at will?

In an effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking, California’s Oakland police department is engaging in…public humiliation…On a new website, the department lists the mug shots of alleged pimps and johns, along with their names, dates of birth and charges…Kevin Wiley…describes Oakland as “the hub of the West for child prostitution.”  Oakland and Eastern counterpart Atlanta, he says, tend to be entry points into “the circuit,” a human-trafficking ring that cycles victims around the country…Prostitution is becoming more…closely associated with shootings, homicides and the illegal drug market…“We don’t have a lot of resources,” he says. “But the ones we have, we dedicate 110%”…

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Sex work is part of the human story.  Accepting and embracing sex work…should be our humane, as well as our pragmatic, approach to the reality of our human lives.  –  Richard Horton and Pamela Das

Rough Trade

Two [Frankfurt] men were sentenced…to long prison terms for raping and abusing two prostitutes…A 34-year-old has…ten years and three months…[while] his 33-year-old accomplice was sentenced to eight years and three months…

License to Rape

Two American paratroopers stationed at a US military base in Italy have been arrested for allegedly beating, raping and robbing a pregnant Romanian prostitute…The suspects…agreed to pay…But after the three reached a secluded area, they allegedly decided to get what they wanted for free.  The two…beat up and raped the prostitute…for…three hours…then…left [her]…in the…field…and made off with her purse…

Lying Down With Dogs

From Vietnam:

…the People’s Committee has asked the National Assembly to…[increase] the…penalties on sex buyers and publicly naming them in the local community and…[to replace] the words “sexual intercourse” with “sexual satisfaction” [in the law] in order to cover behavior causing sexual arousal and the sex trade of homosexuals…

Saving Them From Themselves

The UK continues its drive to become a colony of the US:

Police have warned teenagers of the risks that…”sexting”, can pose to their safety, with the possibility they could wind up on the sex offenders’ register.  Several teenagers have already been cautioned over the practice…and police have stressed the risk that sexting poses to teens’ future welfare, as well as their criminal record…

Schadenfreude 

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing rescue industry figures exposed as frauds:

…Lady Katerine Nastopka…was surprised to see [reporters] at her fundraiser for the Rescue Children From Human Trafficking Foundation…In 2011, she made national headlines when she called herself a “Countess”…[and] claimed she had a connection to the famous Guggenheim family of New York.  Police arrested her and two others on charges of fraud for lying about the connection.  As part of a plea deal, she promised the court she would never use the Guggenheim name again…Nastopka…agreed to [speak to reporters but]…the interview never happened because [she] ran away…none of [the politicians she claimed as members of her board of directors]…know anything about [it]…

The Sky is Falling!

A reporter breathlessly asks if dating sites have a “prostitution problem“, in other words if sex workers use them to advertise.  You know, like sex workers have been using personal ads to advertise for as long as such things have existed.  But poor little Caitlin seems to imagine that the practice only started with “the advent of Craigslist”, and furthermore that large numbers of professional escorts will waste their time going on dates without first ascertaining whether money is forthcoming.  Her ignorance is so pronounced that it merely comes across as cute rather than deeply insulting when she suggests that it’s sex workers who need (presumably compulsory) “safe-sex education” rather than her fellow amateurs.

A Broker in Pillage

…the US Embassy in Pretoria…announced that the Department of Justice was conducting a workshop to teach South African law enforcement the practice of civil forfeiture…civil forfeiture is anti-democratic, and allows law enforcement agencies in the executive branch to attain some degree of independence from civilian or democratic oversight…foreign partnerships in law enforcement investigations allow the DOJ the ability to use worldwide NSA dragnet surveillance to find and acquire targets for asset forfeiture, particularly under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

An Example To the West

retired sex workers in Zimbabwe have opened a prostitution consultancy…to help young women protect themselves from being taken advantage of.  Lima Mankarankara (65) said they teach the new sex workers about the industry and how it works.  They also teach them how to handle clients…pizza girl

The Widening Gyre

I have a mental bet with myself about how silly these “slavery” claims will get before the end of the panic.  Bonus meme: pizza!

…Newspaper Expressen reported earlier this week that human traffickers had gone from “just” selling sex to selling women as lifelong slaves.  The newspaper’s sources said the cost for a slave…is €2,000 ($2680).  For 700 kronor ($100) one can rent a couple of girls for a day, for cooking, cleaning, or anything else…”It’s like ordering a pizza,” Per Hjort, a Stockholm detective, [said]…

King of the Hill

Most of this is the typical masturbatory filth (including the vile claim that most men who pay for sex are pedophiles), but it does include a link to the DoJ fantasy “report” which produced the infamous “top 13 child sex trafficking hubs” list: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Tampa, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, New York, Washington, Las Vegas and St. Louis.  I do not believe these are intended to be in order of magnitude, so I’ll just count them as “top 13″ claims. Lancet sex work infographic

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #44)

The biggest news story of the week was the release of a World Health Organization report calling for total decriminalization of both drugs and sex work; it was accompanied by this reiteration of The Lancet‘s support for our position:

Sex work must be decriminalised if the world is to stand a chance of controlling the AIDS pandemic, say scientists contributing to a series of research papers in the Lancet medical journal.  Sex workers…are subject to repression, violence and abuse…at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold the law, according to the series of seven research papers presented at the International AIDS Conference…decriminalisation of sex work…across all settings…would reduce HIV infections by 33% to 46% over the next decade…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Neofeminist rhetoric and pop “addiction” charlatanry has now been completely incorporated into evangelical Christian beliefs about sexual “sin” to form a fully-developed “sex trafficking” religion:

Opposition to sex trafficking is almost universal…But many also…believe pornography production and distribution is a “victimless crime.”  They don’t connect the dots that lead from pornography directly to sex trafficking.  Pornography is a powerful stimulant that can actually alter brain patterns, creating addiction…Our sexualized culture, with its constant sexual portrayal of women, affects not only boys and men but girls and women, too.  Mass-marketing advertising campaigns directed at young girls seem to dictate that they must dress and act like prostitutes to be valued…girls increasingly view themselves as objects in a process called “sexual self-objectification.”  One result is today’s epidemic of “sexting”…Catherine Mackinon says that consuming pornography is an “experience of bought sex and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen.”  Pornography, she says, is “advertising for trafficking”…

Pimping the Pimp

Nevada “authorities” continue to use ridiculous “pimp” myths to enrich themselves and increase their power:

…A bill which would provide more resources for victims of human trafficking passed in the House of Representatives…Metro Police’s Vice Section rescued 91 women from the slave trade last year and 148 the year before.  The legislation could have an impact on men who trap these women. The prosecution of pimps wouldn’t be possible without the rehabilitation of survivors…The bill accesses millions of dollars for non-profits, who apply for money to serve homeless, runaway victims of severe trafficking…

Presumably, “rescued from the slave trade” actually means “arrested and caged for consensual sex”, because all the police departments in the entire country don’t discover anything like 91 coerced prostitutes per year.  And “serving victims” seems to mean “locking up whores indefinitely until they agree to participate in kangaroo courts.”

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324)

Cathy Reisenwitz spoke to some German sex workers:

…Germany’s decision to legalize prostitution not only helped sex workers, but actually decreased the number of human trafficking victims…According to the data, violence against sex workers is down, while sex workers’ quality of life is up…From 2001…to 2011, cases of sex-based human trafficking shrank by 10 percent…The mean age of a sex worker in Germany is 31.  Besides not being supported by data, the claim that legalizing prostitution increased human trafficking also defies common-sense economics…sex slang

Nasty Words (Extra Edition) 

The guy who did the massive Timeglider charts of slang terms for genitalia has unveiled three new ones: slang for sexual intercourse, for oral and anal sex, and for orgasm, bodily fluids and contraception.  Because he could.

Whimsical Notions

A group of former prostitutes has filed a lawsuit against the South Korean government seeking more than $1.2 million in compensation, alleging that it exercised significant control over their activities…The women worked in special government-designated areas near U.S. military bases beginning in the late 1950s…[the regime included] mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and women who were infected were sent to government-run camps…[where] their human rights were violated…It is thought to be the first such legal action taken by women — now elderly, but known as “western princesses” during their youth — who once worked in brothels that catered primarily to U.S. troops…in the decades after the Korean War…

Catastrophic Consequences

SCOT-PEP…exposed proposals from Police Scotland to impose unannounced “welfare visits” on sex workers who work from home…”Operation Lingle”…includes a programme of increased online surveillance of suspected sex workers, a clear violation of the civil liberties both of sex workers and the general public.  Members of the public will also be asked to speculate about which of their neighbours might be a sex worker and report them to the police, despite the fact that selling sex remains legal in Scotland…

As you may recall, we’ve seen this tactic before in Canada.

King of the Hill (All Traffick, All the Time)

Having his ridiculous numerical claims debunked multiple times in the national media hasn’t stopped Texas politician John Cornyn from making more of them:

Child sex trafficking has historically had a huge effect on the current immigration crisis in the U.S., and according to two Texas congressmen…hundreds of thousands of victims [have been] identified…”At least 700,000 people were reported as victims of international trafficking each year, 14,500-17,500 of which are women and children who are trafficked specifically into the United States”…

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #413)

Since their local case was dismissed, they took it to the feds:

…30 strippers are suing the San Diego police department after cops…forced…[them] to pose “nearly nude” for photos taken by members of the police department’s vice squad…approximately 10 officers detained the women for nearly an hour without a warrant or probable cause, and…cops made “arrogant and demeaning comments” while “ordering the women to pose in various positions and expose body parts so that the police could ostensibly photograph their tattoos”…Police department spokesperson Lt. Kevin Mayer described the raids and photos as a “routine” part of the city’s permit to regulate establishments with nudity…and…is meant to deter the women from engaging in “illegal acts”…

The Public Eye (TW3 #423) Land of Smiles poster

This is a refreshing change:

The phrase “human trafficking” conjures thoughts of sex slaves.  Most people mentally picture oppressed and exploited women…chained to a life of prostitution from which they must be freed…Erin Kamler…[traveled] to Thailand…and…found that things are not that simple…she discovered a world where politics and morality trumped human rights…feeling the need to educate the masses, Kamler…wrote a musical about Thailand’s anti-trafficking movement.  The Los Angeles premiere of Land of Smiles will run Wednesday-Saturday, July 23-26, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, before heading to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August…[in] the story…Emma…arrives in Thailand an abolitionist wanting to “rescue” all the sex workers.  After speaking with Lipoh, who is being held at a detention center following a raid of the brothel where she worked, Emma begins to question what “rescued” really means…

Nice While It Lasted

Like hell it doesn’t:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence…Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system…he said…”This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 15th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Emperor JulianDuring the reign of the Emperor Julian a man named Numerius, who was governor of Narbonensis (what is today southern France), was accused of embezzlement by one Delphidius; because Numerius was a high official his trial was presided over by the Emperor himself.  Numerius’ defense consisted entirely of denying his guilt, but since Delphidius had no actual evidence this was enough.  When it became clear that his attempts to trick Numerius into self-incrimination had failed, and that the charge would fail with them, Delphidius cried out, “Oh, illustrious Caesar!  If it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?”  Julian’s famous (and quotable) reply was, “If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?”

The principle was not new in 4th century Rome; it is clearly stated many times in Roman law, appeared in both Athenian and Spartan legal codes, and traces of it appear in Deuteronomy.  From Rome it passed into the Western legal tradition, and it is one of the pillars of English common law.  Indeed, every schoolchild knows that a person on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  However, this is no longer true in many cases; all over the West, but especially in the United States, this powerful defense against tyranny once enjoyed by everyone from beggar to prince has been slowly eroded away in the name of expediency.  Prosecutors eager to “score” convictions take advantage of the vast arsenal of overlapping laws to charge people with so many different crimes for one supposed act that conviction on even a small fraction of them would result in decades of imprisonment; the frightened (and often completely innocent) victim nearly always agrees to some lesser charge rather than face the prospect of spending most of his life in a cage where he may be repeatedly raped, tortured  and denied even the respite of death.  Intimidating a victim into confession circumvents the need to have any evidence at all, much less enough to secure conviction in court.

In some kinds of cases, however, prosecutors don’t even need this kind of barbaric threat to induce a confession, because the presumption of innocence is either directly weakened or effectively nullified by other prosecutorial weapons; or, the accusations are handled in special kangaroo courts where the presumption does not exist; or, the accused is simply punished directly by the police without the need for a trial, evidence or anything else.  And what kind of crime, you may ask, is so heinous that it justifies undermining a venerable principle and virtually ensuring that huge numbers of people will be punished for things they did not do, or else receive punishments that are wildly disproportionate to something they did do?  Mass murder, perhaps?  High treason?  Burning down orphanages?  Stealing war widows’ pensions?  Plunging whole countries into economic depression?  No, something that in the minds of American is far worse than any of those:  pleasure-seeking, especially sexual pleasure.

In many American states, if a neighbor calls the cops because the couple next door is fighting, “the husband is arrested…no matter what the wife says…and prosecuted.  Because many wives rightly refuse to cooperate with such proceedings, the Office on Violence Against Women…authorized so-called “evidence-based” prosecutions, kangaroo courts in which…hearsay…is allowed and the accused man is denied the constitutional rights of confrontation and cross-examination.”  On university campus, a similar third-party accusation can subject a young man to a “campus tribunal” such as the one described here:

…the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved…for citizens’ protection…the…allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible…Nor were [they] supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.  The [accused]…was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel…The many pages of written documentation…were dismissed as somehow not relevant…witnesses against him were not identified…nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser… 

The war against people who enjoy ingesting substances spawned an even viler abrogation of the presumption of innocence:  civil asset forfeiture, by which the police or a court can steal a victim’s property under the ludicrous pretense that it (the property) has committed a crime; since inanimate objects have no rights, the state can take it unless its owner can prove its innocence (a reversal of  the normal burden of proof).  From the drug war the practice expanded to the War on Whores, and in the US and UK the police now routinely rob sex workers and clients of money, vehicles and other property.  And when there’s nothing else for greedy cops to steal, there’s always a victim’s reputation:

[St. Louis, Missouri] police are reviving a push to…humiliate…those prowling the streets for prostitutes.  “Johns”…will receive postcards…admonishing them for their crime, giving reminders about…sexually transmitted diseases and listing their court dates…In addition, police say they plan to routinely provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes…

Pillory stocksThese so-called “Dear John” letters are not unique to St. Louis, nor even to the United States; the practice of publicizing “mug shots” on television, the internet  or even billboards is also widely used.  The pretense used to justify this is that these shaming tactics are not punishments but merely “public records”; I’m sure people who lose their jobs or families due to these actions are comforted by the distinction.  The truth is obvious to anyone whose mind is not warped by the “law and order” sickness:  all of these practices – the extrajudicial punishments, the legally-sanctioned robbery, the kangaroo courts, the plea bargains – are just ways to get around the inconvenient necessity of actually having to prove a person has done something wrong before subjecting him to violence.  Oh, well, presumption of innocence had a good run, almost 3000 years; I suppose we should be grateful for that much.  But it sure was nice while it lasted.

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