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Posts Tagged ‘violence vs. sex workers’

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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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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Theoretically, all children in the United States are at risk of being trafficked.  Theoretically, I’m at risk of drowning in a bucket or getting eaten by a cannibal.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Savaging

Enjoy this thorough denunciation of sex work “abolitionism” as “the worst abomination created by [neo]feminism” (from the French):

…these vile bastards…attempt to starve the prostitutes, to make them homeless, to…force them to change jobs…They claim that the vast majority of prostitutes are sex slaves enslaved by pimps…[feminists] are…[as] proud of the damage [they do] as the soldiers were once proud banner of the Crusades because each pillage every rape, every murder was an expression of superiority over the enemy…they pull figures out of nowhere…and prostitutes are not allowed to talk at their meetings unless they “repent”…

Parable

Another excellent parody of “sex trafficking” nonsense, this one from Marijke Vonk:

…“Marriage is happening right in our neighbourhoods” warns Angela Tite, co-founder of Concerned Maidens for America, a non-profit organisation against domestic abuse and romantic slavery…“Young women are lured in with promises of love and respect, only to find themselves entrapped in what can only be called modern-day slavery…it is estimated that over 70% of wives experience some form of violence or coercion…Nobody would choose that kind of life voluntarily” …According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in romantic relationships between 13 and 15, and some 500,000…are at risk of becoming victims of marriage and domestic violence every year.  “Child abuse is most commonly found inside homes” explains Mary Addington of No Child Left At Home…Over three thousand children and women  have been taken out of homes into…protective shelters, where home-raised children and wedlocked women are rehabilitated…deputy [Tom] Kreapy makes it very clear: “if it saves just one child, we must continue home-stings and neighbourhood raids”…

Saving Them From Themselves 

Cops want to create “child porn” to prosecute teen for creating “child porn” of himself.  I am not making this up:

A Manassas City [Virginia] teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which…police and…prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis…by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said…The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration…but inclusion on the…sex offender data base for…life…

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

the “indicia” of drug-dealing has always been…bizarre…The defendant had $324 in cash in his pocket?  Proof he’s a drug dealer…If he has no cash…it’s proof he’s a major drug dealer…[who has] people who do the dirty transactions for [him]…It used to be the beeper that proved someone was a drug dealer…Then it became cellphones…The prosecution will put a cop on the stand…to explain to the ignorant…jury why that cash in the defendant’s pocket is so fundamentally different than the cash in their pockets.  (Hint: It’s because he’s a criminal)…the latest…is  [representing icons of] Santa Muerte…[as] “tools of the drug traffickers’ trade”…the…notion [of] “narco-saints” borders on incomprehensible…But give it a cool name like “narco-saint” and it suddenly turns religion into proof of guilt…

Finding What Isn’t There

At least US “authorities” don’t yet lock up people who debunk “sex trafficking”:  “Police in [The Gambia]…detained Sanna Camara, a journalist…as a result of a story…[in which police officials] admitted that [they] face challenges in combatting human trafficking…due to the unwillingness of victims or their families to aid investigations…”  In other words, those identified as “victims” refuse to play their assigned roles.

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, ruled on July 4, 1984, that sex workers on the Davie Street stroll were a “blatant, aggressive, and disorderly public nuisance”…and…banned [them] from their neighbourhood…[they] were forced to relocate…to what became the killing fields of…Downtown Eastside, with 65 women murdered since the mid-1980s…we seek a formal, public apology from Vancouver…[and] financial reparations…for a permanent memorial near the corner of Bute and Davie streets…

Innocence Never Had

Emi Koyama on how the “trafficking” paradigm harms young sex workers:

…please don’t refer to the youth as “children”…most are 16- and 17- year olds who resent being referred to as “children”…”Rescue” approach presumes that young people have a safe home to go back to and the only problem is the presence of the “trafficker.” That is not the reality for the vast majority…Youth often engage in sex trade in order to escape from violence and abuse at home or in the child welfare system…”Rescue” only sends them back to the unsafe situation that they are escaping from in the first place…It may be convenient for…society to pretend that…violence only comes from pimps and sex buyers, but it is not true…police, hospitals, and schools are much larger source of violence than pimps in the life of street youth…

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

The parental filters of U.K. ISPs are blocking 20 percent of the 100,000 most-visited websites…according to the Open Rights Group…”Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people…can’t access their websites…there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked”…

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof really is a revolting excuse for a human being:

The man who owns a well-known brothel in Nevada…is submitting plans to Phoenix city leaders asking permission to open a similar business…a month before the Super Bowl and then close it down a month after…”After [an] initial $500,000 up front, the city would take in additional tax dollars…I was raised in Phoenix…and prostitution was rampant then and is still a problem now…I do background checks on all my girls, they get tested frequently, I will cut down on the pimps and the clients will not go to an illegal source for sex if they have a legal source…Phoenix is one of the worst sex trafficking places in America and this will combat that”…

Drawing Lines

Another good one from Belle Knox, this time on Jezebel:

…I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers.  The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no.  We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity.  But what I’ve learned about the…whorarchy…has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another…

Meanwhile Margaret Corvid, the dominatrix whose writing I criticized in the original of this title, apologized for her original wording and wrote this article to demonstrate her real feelings on the subject:

…I’ve seen the reports of people…forced to do sex work.  They are called trafficked women, and are often depicted at the point of a police raid, with flashing cameras shoved in their faces…I write today to stand with Agustin, Grant, and Maggie McNeill, who have so powerfully argued that this portrayal, and the very concept of “sex trafficking” that underpins it, is a myth…[which] deprives sex workers of agency and identity, as it…fetishises our lives and bodies…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

If your local cops claim that “prostitution is…one of the biggest problems they face,” I suggest it’s time to stop wasting money on a police department.  The most hilarious part of this article: the idea that there is such a thing as a “legal escort service” that can be “differentiated from illegal prostitution”.  Blah blah blah “not a victimless crime”, blah blah children, blah dirty whores, blah disease, blah licenses, booga booga SEX TRAFFICKING!

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

Elizabeth Brown analyzes the danger of the latest “sex trafficking” Trojan horse:

The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act“…would…require all sites that host adult advertising (whether paid or free)…to review ads before publication, request a valid telephone number and credit card number from each poster, “prohibit the use of euphemism and codewords”…and prohibit the use of prepaid debit cards or cryptocurrencies in placing paid ads.  For sites that run paid adult advertisements, publishers would be responsible for verifying the identity of every person who placed an adult ad by obtaining a copy of a government-issued ID containing their name, photo, and date of birth.  The publisher would have to hold on to these records for seven years and make them…available to the ["authorities" on demand]…The bill insists that information won’t be used against registrants in criminal proceedings unrelated to sex trafficking.  But knowing how fond government and law enforcement officials are of privacy and keeping promises, you can see why those advertising adult services…may be reluctant to hand over such information…

The most important real-world effect of this law would be to drive virtually 100% of adult advertising to sites hosted outside of the US.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

A landmark bill in France that would see clients of prostitutes hit with fines of up to €1,500 may never see the light of day after senators voted to scrap the legislation…Senator Esther Benbassa cited the bad example…[of] Sweden where…it has failed to reduce prostitution and simply made life more dangerous for sex workers…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) C-36 protest

The proposed prostitution bill could make sex work even more dangerous and may be unconstitutional, more than 200 legal experts said in an open letter to the prime minister …In fact, they argue, it’s no better than the old law struck down by the Supreme Court late last year for violating sex workers’ Charter rights…

If Men Were Angels

A job centre employee has admitted demanding sex from unemployed former prostitutes in exchange for work…[and] is now facing sexual assault and bribery charges…The man had been responsible for a project since 1990 in which women who wanted to escape prostitution were found work…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Digging through the prohibitionist nonsense in this article yields this kernel:

…Dolly has been home…to 1,187 sex workers and 311 pimps (according to official data)…Unofficial reports found no fewer than 9,000 people, including those operating hundreds of lodges, cafés, karaoke bars, massage parlors and food stalls, were involved either directly or indirectly in the…sex industry…The possible massive exodus of former Dolly residents has caused great concern among provincial and regional governments…health campaigners, women and human rights advocates and members of community-based organizations across Indonesia, especially in Bali, which many consider a…perfect spot for sex tourism…“Within the framework of our [Bali’s] efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the closure of Dolly could become a time bomb — a social and health disaster for the island,” a doctor who conducts outreach programs for sex workers…said…

Bread and Circuses

The June 25 seizure of…MyRedBook…by the FBI has been heralded by some as another win in the war against…child sex traffickers…the FBI and CNN…fail to mention that the site also functioned as a critical exchange for sex workers looking to reduce harm and share best practices…the seizure has not only cut off a source of income for sex workers, but also a source of information and community…among crusaders committed to criminalizing sex workers and the people who purchase their services…sex workers…are either trafficked girls shackled to beds when they’re not servicing sadistic ghouls, or they are thrill-seeking degenerates blissfully unaware of their privilege…The former daydreams of a police raid that will liberate her…while the latter feverishly supports the “Pimp Lobby” from Twitter…The massive gulf of silence between these two caricatures gives space to a convenient narrative that…the overwhelming majority of sex workers require intervention by benevolent law enforcement agencies…

Lucy Steigerwald points out that there are scary implications for amateurs, too:

…The warning on My Red Book states that domain names count as property, therefore they can be taken under racketeering laws.  But that is a wide and rocky road towards censorship which needs to be challenged.  A website is speech…Shutting one down without due process is nothing more than censorship.  Just because the federal government wants to shield our eyes from prostitution doesn’t mean we should let it…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 29th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

MyRedbook seizureOn June 25th, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the venerable San Francisco escort website, MyRedbook, under the usual vague and evidence-free charges the US government always uses when it wants to destroy peaceful businesses who have hurt no one.  This time, as you can see above, the pretenses are “money laundering” and “racketeering”, but others cases include “conspiracy”, “mail fraud” and “tax evasion”.  You may believe that these are actual crimes, but the truth is they aren’t (except on paper); they’re simply blunt instruments defined so vaguely that any competent prosecutor can jam nearly any business into one or more of them.  Here’s how it works: “racketeering” can mean criminals operating a legitimate business, like when a mobster owns a restaurant.  So a “racketeering” charge usually means “we think you committed crimes but can’t prove them, so we’re just going to assume you’re a criminal and prosecute you for owning a regular business.”  Any money you’ve deposited is then called “money laundering” on the grounds that you deposited “criminal proceeds” from your imaginary crimes into your legitimate account; “tax evasion” is based on the pretense that you have failed to pay taxes on imaginary income they can’t prove you actually made; “conspiracy” means merely talking about committing the imaginary crimes, and so on.  And if you believe that the targeted business is protected by the presumption of innocence, think again.  The FBI’s excuses are partly visible in this article:

…Eric Omuro, 53, and Annmarie Lanoce, 40, were arrested during a FBI raid…Both are charged with…interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise, and Omuro is charged with…twenty-four counts of money laundering…prosecutors say the pair used the mail and the Internet to facilitate prostitution…”The website hosted advertisements for prostitutes, complete with explicit photos, lewd physical descriptions, menus of sexual services, hourly and nightly rates, and customer reviews of the prostitutes’ services”…The indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million in property and assets Omuro allegedly gained by facilitating prostitution…CNN reports  that the shutdown was part of a broad FBI crackdown on child prostitution…In 2011, San Mateo County prosecutors used the site to arrest…suspects who were believed to be pimping underage girls…

The lies about “child prostitution” (unproven three-year-old police “beliefs” do not constitute evidence) are designed to throw up a smoke screen in front of the real motive for the prosecution: “…the indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million…”  That profit motive is both direct (through stealing the owner’s assets) and indirect:  though the “sex trafficking” hysteria has proven a bonanza for cops (via government “sex trafficking” grants) and “rescue industry” organizations (via gullible donors), the “authorities” need to manufacture at least a few “victims” and “pimps” to justify the tremendous amount of bread being flushed down the “trafficking” toilet.  Every year the FBI conducts a massive series of “sting” operations designed to deceive and entrap sex workers so they can be arrested by local police; their children are abducted and labeled “child sex trafficking victims”, and their spouses or drivers (and male sex workers) are arrested and labeled “pimps”.  After the first few operations the FBI announced how many adult sex workers had been arrested, but for the last two years it has hidden that data because a few in the media were beginning to question the morality of spending millions and brutalizing more than 10 women for every teen “recovered”…especially since their “pimp” conviction rate is a mere 4.06%.  Given that the label “pimp” is applied willy-nilly that low rate isn’t surprising, but actual convictions aren’t necessary to maintain the appearance of “doing something” against the phantasmal bogeymen the government has conjured to distract the populace from the real economic and social problems it can do nothing about.

Of course, somebody has to pay for this monumental show; as mentioned above, some of the cost is recouped by stealing the victims’ possessions, and the taxpayers (or rather, their children and grandchildren) are stuck with the rest.  But there is another cost, a human one, which is mostly borne by sex workers.  I estimate more than 2000 sex workers’ lives were destroyed in the latest “Operation Cross-Country”, and the attack on MyRedbook (which was timed to coincide with the “anti-trafficking” games to as to make them seem related when they actually weren’t) will have enormous repercussions for California sex workers:

…My Redbook not only served as a transparent marketplace…for…adult services — it also provided free advertising for sex workers, community for an isolated and marginalized population, and a tool for avoiding dangerous clients.  My Redbook served as a stable and thriving online business district for thousands of…workers and a centralized location for welfare, anti-trafficking, and HIV-Prevention services to reach geographically dispersed and hidden target populations.  The…action against My Redbook resulted in the sudden loss of a resource thousands of west coast sex workers use to help build community, screen clients, stay safe, and attain economic stability and well-being…The arrest of My Redbook’s owners and the site’s sudden closure epitomize the disruptive, destabilizing and harmful impact of criminalization on the lives of individuals involved in the sex trade.  So long as this industry is criminalized, any marketplaces, networks, and community spaces its’ members work to create are subject to criminal proceedings and can easily disappear overnight…

This prosecution also sets a very dangerous precedent; if it succeeds, other advertising and review sites may be next, cutting US sex workers off from the safest, most effective way to work until companies based outside the US appear to fill the gap.  One might question the wisdom of attacking an entire industry in such a way as to ensure that money which previously circulated within US borders will now flow overseas, but only if one misunderstands the purpose behind the attacks.  The “sex trafficking” hysteria in general, and gigantic police actions in particular, are Roman circuses; they are intended to pander to the bloodlust of the masses rather than to actually accomplish anything concrete, and judged by that standard these tremendous anti-whore pogroms are a howling success. 

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If [Bill C-36] becomes law, johns will become the new “fags” – the people fed into the fear factory of career-ending public exposure and the criminal underground because of their personal sexual choices.  –  Alice Klein

Think of the Children! 

But, but, he was in the same BUILDING!!!!!!!

John is a U.K.-based father and sex blogger who publishes original erotica and toy reviews on his website, the  Bawdy Bloke…Until recently, John also held what he refers to only as an unpaid, part-time “position of civic responsibility” in a local school.  Apparently John’s boss thought the two positions were mutually exclusive.  After discovering John’s career as an online erotica author, he asked John to resign from his position immediately…John…[did] not…work…with children in any capacity…it sounds like [his job was] a pretty general IT/administrative support role…

My Body, My Choice

A good essay against client criminalization; here’s the heart of it:

…I find it very ironic that many of the arguments used to suggest that it is morally offensive for men to buy sex from women are adopted from extreme feminist views.  Many of these same feminists are pro-choice, rightly declaring that no one has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body…yet when it comes to sex, these very same people are now here to say that a woman does not have the right to choose.  Her body is her own so long as she does nothing with it that these moral guardians find objectionable…

Lying Down With Dogs

This was going on at the same time as the recent FBI pogroms in the US:

Amnesty International has drawn attention to violent police harassment of sex workers in Tajikistan…as part of the government’s “morality” campaign…500 sex workers have been arrested…since…June [6th]…Men suspected of “homosexual behaviour” have also been targeted…officers beat people…and…subjected to…forced testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections…[there were also] reports…of rape and…officers demanding sex in exchange for release…police allege that this violent crackdown is because they have been “inundated” with complaints from citizens…

Check Your Premises

Because 15-year-olds are only “innocent children” until cops say otherwise:

Three women and a 15-year-old girl were arrested…and booked with soliciting and inciting prostitution…at the 7 Star Foot Massage parlor in LaPlace…[after] a month-long investigation, dubbed Operation Happy Feet, by the St. John Sheriff’s Office…the 15-year-old girl was employed to work the front desk…

Parable

Bone of Contention

This is a good article about the myths surrounding streetwalkers, including 1) That they make huge amounts of money; 2) That they’re all addicts; 3) That they’re all foreign and “trafficked”; 4) That they’re dominated by pimps and gangs; 5) That they need rescue; and 6) That arrest and prison “help” them.  Unfortunately, it’s far too accepting of the false claims made by Swedish model proponents, which in the end makes it hard to recommend.

The Enlightenment Police

[The] European Court of Human Rights judgment upholding a…ban on wearing full-face veils in public…represents a profound retreat for the right to freedom of expression and religion…The…Court recognised that arguments for the ban based on security and gender equality were unfounded.  But it accepted the argument that wearing full-face veils runs counter to established social norms…The judgment was handed down by the European Court’s Grand Chamber, meaning it cannot be appealed…

Divided We Fall

It’s always great to see enthusiastic support from the queer community:

Sorry to ruin your WorldPride.  Sexual shaming is on the prowl, not just somewhere far away but, sadly, right here, right now…While [Toronto] celebrates our beauty and our outrageousness, the government is busy unleashing a moral panic…It used to be us, my queer brothers and sisters, who were the targets.  Now…men who purchase sexual services are the…new category to be targeted for their sexual preferences.  They are to be criminalized for what?  For seeking and hopefully finding an uncomplicated and pleasurable way to satisfy their sexual hunger?…

See No Evil

More people are beginning to protest this evil lunacy:

…If I…made a throw away mail account and sent you a file called “Very Important.pdf” but it was actually a .zip file of child porn, I could call the police and claim you had child porn in a disguised file — and that might well be enough to ruin your life, even if everyone involved was pretty sure you never even saw the pictures…prosecutors are so inhuman and irresponsible [that they]…charge people with crimes they know aren’t in the spirit of the law…The career incentives are that investigations must lead to charges, and charges must lead to convictions…once something is investigated prosecutors are motivated to make sure someone goes to jail…the law effectively treats every bit of crufty data, every teenage file system mistake or selfie indiscretion as if the possessor had abused the child themselves.  This is insane, and it doesn’t help children — it distracts time and attention from the real ways children get hurt…

A Whore in Church murder of Mariana Popa

A Muslim who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque was jailed for at least 29 years…Farooq Shah, 21, plunged a knife into Mariana Popa’s chest while riding his bicycle along a stretch of road notorious for sex workers.  Miss Popa, 24, had been in Britain for just three weeks and was trying to earn the money to support her family when she was stabbed in Ilford, Essex…on October 28…

Harm Magnification (The Beat Goes On)

A recent study has concluded that the Nordic Model of prostitution laws could endanger sex trade workers…and does not affect the demand for prostitution…John Lowman, an SFU criminology professor, said that…similar policies in the 1990s…[created] “the killing field of Vancouver…where Mr. Pickton picked up most of [his] victims”…the report [states] that decriminalization of sex work…is the best way to ensure the safety of sex workers…

Above the Law

At least Los Angeles has the marginal decency to properly label sexual assault by a cop:  “A…detective pleaded no contest…to assaulting three [masseuses]…Oris Pace allegedly forced three women at separate [massage] parlors to undress…and fondled their bodies…”  Montana prefers to dismiss oral rape as “non-consensual oral sex“:

Michael Connelly…was sentenced…to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release…the victim reported that Connelly took her to a secluded place on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation…and threatened her with jail if she did not perform oral sex…Connelly was acquitted of the sexual abuse charge and convicted of the civil rights and false statement charges…

The Widening Gyre

Cops demand everyone serve them as unpaid informants, or else:

…Police say the staff at the Super 8 Motel off Route 161 knew drug deals and prostitution happened inside the rooms, and possibly tracked it themselves…police [claimed] “…the motel placed the drug dealers and prostitutes in certain rooms…to keep them isolated from other guests.”  Police say that…[constitutes] promoting prostitution …charges could lead to a ten year prison sentence…

King of the Hill

Irish Central brags that “A new US State Department report has named Ireland the top destination and transit country for sex trafficking…”  And what prodigious number of wailing victims earned this dubious distinction? “44  potential trafficking victims were identified…”  That’s potential victims, i.e. someone a cop pointed to.  It is to laugh.

Buried Truth John Balyo

John Balyo…an on-air personality at WCSG-FM, a Christian radio station [in Michigan]…was arrested…[for] sexual encounters with minors…Balyo paid…Ronald Moser…to arrange sexual encounters with…young boys…

Monsters

A New Zealand trans woman is in intensive care, after she was savagely attacked by a group of unknown men.  Anahera Rangitaawa…was reportedly attacked by three men…while on her way home from a quilting exhibition.  [She] suffered multiple fractures, including her skull, cheekbones, shoulder blades, and eye sockets…[and] will require facial reconstruction surgery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318) Anya17

I love scathing reviews of “sex trafficking” theatrical productions:

Anya17…[is an] 80-minute opera…which features an acerbic, graceless score by composer Adam Gorb  and a ham-fisted libretto by Ben Kaye, plunges the audience into the horrific milieu of international sex slavery…The degradation and brutality on display are almost unbearable…it was never clear what artistic purpose was served by these horrors.  Neither concrete enough to be journalism nor sufficiently probing or inventive for art, Anya17 winds up as simply a slog…

Tales from the Dark Side

The…conviction of a former New York City police officer in a plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women was overturned…by a federal judge…[for lack of] evidence…No women were ever abducted or harmed in the plot, but prosecutors [claimed] that [Gilberto] Valle had “crossed the line” while immersing himself in a fetish website where he communicated electronically with others…

Deafening Silence

The official narrative, touted by Western journalists and Maoist sympathizers, is that sex work was magically abolished by proclamation during Mao’s reign.  Here’s a refutation of that, courtesy of a former political prisoner:

…In China now, problems such as prostitution and crimes are often blamed as the results of spiritual pollution and capitalist liberalization due to Western influence…In fact, prostitution and crimes were not the results of the reform and opening-up but the results of Mao’s tyranny and Cultural Revolution…

Whither Canada?

A sensible article on this topic in a US newspaper is like a breath of fresh air:

…it’s clear that sex work takes place in Maine.  But public conversations…typically revolve around the same salacious and misinformed tropes…Meanwhile, just north of the border, Canada is taking a much different approach to policymaking around commercial sex…While Maine politicians, law enforcement officials, and social service agencies seem resistant to anything other than outright prohibition, more progressive thinkers should consider other ways of looking at this unnecessarily controversial issue…

And though they’re not so rare in Canadian papers, I still love them:

…non-coercive adult sexual behaviour lacks the element of potential misconduct that might justify bringing it into the ambit of the law in a free, secular society…[making] a man a lawbreaker because he offers to pay for a sexual service he could freely ask for as a gift or a favour…is a repudiation of the fundamental principles of free enterprise…Declaring female sexuality illegitimate, as patriarchal societies have done from time to time, has been as useless as declaring male sexuality illegitimate, as our matriarchal society is proposing to do.  The fact is, both are legitimate.  What is illegitimate is for the state to annoy and humiliate a taxpayer for attempting to communicate terms for a transaction that is nobody else’s business…

Rough Trade (TW3 #421)

More of this, please:

Four women raped by Danford Grant…have sued the Seattle attorney and his wife…Jennifer Grant…who helped hide her husband’s car from police after his arrest…Having denied the allegations and maligned his victims as lying prostitutes, Grant ultimately admitted to raping the women…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #422) criminals Obama wants to deport

It’s good to see the government hoist with its own petard:

The White House [wants]…Congress…to allow fast-track deportation of…unaccompanied children from Central America who cross the US border illegally…More than 52,000…have been stopped at the border since the start of October…many of them girls under the age of 13…The administration has had to adhere to anti-trafficking laws passed during the presidency of George W Bush which…[have] the potential for delaying deportation…Obama…is trying to counter a perception that unaccompanied children who arrive in the US are guaranteed the chance to stay…

The Roof Caves In

Boo fucking hoo:

In what appear to be Somaly Mam’s first public comments on…her resignation from the Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF)…last month, posts to one of her Facebook pages say that she will sell her house to support girls formerly under her care after SMF cut funding to an NGO she founded…In a number of posts…there is an outpouring of despair at SMF’s decision to cut off funding to Afesip…

If Men Were Angels

Police arrested a former church pastor on sex abuse charges…Michael George Sperou…used to be a senior pastor at North Clackamas Bible Community Church…the charges stem from a series of police reports involving juvenile girls who lived within the community in 1997…

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Every civilization when it loses its inner vision and its cleaner energy, falls into a new sort of sordidness, more vast and more stupendous than the old savage sort.  An Augean stable of metallic filth.  –  D.H. Lawrence

bagasse moundsI grew up in an area of south Louisiana whose primary industry (in those days) was sugar production; one of the places we used to play was in a sugarcane field near our street, and from the late 19th century until the 1960s the majority of the area’s population worked for a large sugar refinery.  Once the sugar-bearing juice has been extracted from the cane, the remaining vegetable matter is called bagasse; it can be burned to generate power and is also used for an agricultural fertilizer.  But as you can imagine, it has a powerful odor, and the vast heaps of bagasse which are piled up in holding areas look and smell a lot like huge mountains of manure after sitting for a while in the damp Louisiana climate.

That was the image which entered my mind unbidden when I read this article  almost two months ago.  Like bagasse or manure, there is absolutely nothing new in it; it’s the end result of other processes, piled up in a 3000-word mound (and this is only part two!) and reeking to high heaven.  And like those vegetable waste products, this type of filth is also very useful as fertilizer; unfortunately, the only crop it works on is the unwholesome one called the police state.  “Sex trafficking” hysteria is prime manure for encouraging the growth of internet censorship, mass surveillance, border control, police violence, sexual repression and state control of women’s bodies, and though humanity would be better off if these noxious weeds were exterminated, all too many “journalists” are happy to nurture them instead by generating mounds of reeking rubbish like this one:

…“The technology of…phones and…computers and everything…is also a curse because we can’t track all the places our kids go,” said Kathleen Winn…[of] Phoenix’s sex trafficking task force…“we can’t control who reaches our children.”  Social media…provides an egress for pimps into the lives of their victims, and a way for them to monitor their victims, according to…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…the Phoenix Dream Center, a task force affiliate…said…“We even try to break up Internet businesses…We are looking for ways…[to destroy] Backpage.com…they make millions of dollars a year on their adult services ads”…

One of the most psychologically fascinating things about fanatics is that they’re so completely unable to recognize their own fanaticism, they often make statements that blatantly demonstrate it.  The freakish need to “control” every interaction adolescents (the real meaning of “children” in this context) have with other people (at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be learning how to function in adult society) is used as an excuse for schemes to “break up” internet businesses and a larger campaign to destroy the internet as we know it; this and the Luddite hysteria itself are openly avowed without any attempt to disguise them to fool non-fanatics.  I’ve noticed this about many articles (whether anti-sex, anti-migration or pro-censorship) coming out of Arizona these days; due to the process of group polarization  Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships” sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles critical of Project ROSE; even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine.  But I digress:

Two years ago…a civil case was filed…“against Backpage.com and the pimps…alleging that these kids were trafficked on Backpage.com,” said Erik Bauer, a Tacoma-based attorney…

The article ignores the fate of previous frivolous suits like this one, and of every single law designed to destroy the internet in the name of “shutting down Backpage” for “THE CHILDREN!!!!!”  It also ignores the part where a federal judge forced Washington state to pay for Backpage’s defense on the grounds that it knew the law was unconstitutional when it was enacted; instead, it promotes an anti-sex lawyer’s spurious view that sexual speech is magically different from all other forms of speech:

Bauer predicted that Backpage’s future is foggy at best.  “There are some weird legal decisions in our country, and so far they have enabled Backpage to exist and even thrive,” said Bauer. “Blatant prostitution advertising is what they are…I actually believe that Backpage’s days are numbered…We have a legal theory that works and they don’t”…

Blah blah blah pimps, blah blah children, blah “promoting prostitution”.  I find it especially interesting that the only non-Arizonan quoted at length in this dungheap is from Washington…which foams at the mouth over sex nearly as much as Arizona does.  And that’s a lot of foam:

Katie Resendiz of Arizona Training and Resources to Stop Trafficking (AZ TRUST)…said…“The hypersexualization of the youth and commodification of women’s bodies is exactly why we have a sex-trafficking crisis in the United States.  We train young boys to think of women as objects and sex as something to be purchased, and we train women to think of their bodies as purchasable”…

Another astonishing aspect of “sex trafficking” rhetoric is the repeated assertion (not limited to Arizona) that prostitution is “accepted” and “normalized” in the United States, the only developed country in which the sale of sex is itself illegal.  It requires an almost incomprehensible level of provincialism and ignorance to make such a statement, yet we see it over and over again like the tenet of faith it obviously is (often in close proximity to “prostitution is not a victimless crime”).  And just in case you needed more proof of how deeply statist “trafficking” cultists are, Resendiz delivers this gem:  “If you see something, say something, because if it looks bad, it probably is.”  The conventional wisdom is that the police state, big religion and “feminism” are all different things, and some will claim that different proponents of “sex trafficking” hysteria have different motives.  But that simply isn’t so; even if it had been true before the advent of the moral panic it certainly isn’t now, and Arizona’s fascist “trafficking” establishment is a perfect example.  Much has been written about Project ROSE’s fusion of police state, religious and “feminist” social work elements, and the “Dream Center” featured in this article is no different:

…the Phoenix Dream Center is one of the municipal sex trafficking task force affiliates…There are 183 churches in the…Dream Center’s network.  Its $2 million budget is supported…[in part] through…government programs…Classes at the center are life-recovery and spiritually based, and are taught by retired police…The organization works intimately with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation…

Nor is it only streetwalkers they label as “trafficked”:

The organization is the largest strip club outreach in the region, and has handed out gifts to more than 800 women on its Phoenix route…“We have outreaches at the malls, games, concerts, and Backpage.  We’re working on the massage parlors, we will get there by 2015,” [operative Jessica] Knight said…“Whether it is a girl being trafficked…or a mom selling herself on Backpage to feed her family, we are there for them…[with] a…rescue squad that snatches the victim away from her pimp”…

Her ideas about “what sex trafficking abduction looks like” include “[letting] a person you do not know take pictures of you with their cell phone” and “kids talking to people they don’t know.”  And like Resendiz, Knight encourages adolescents to report “suspicious” people “to the proper law enforcement authorities”; after her “training”, one shudders to think how many men are being investigated by the Phoenix Stasi as “pimps”,dung critters especially given that her philosophy is “It is better to cry wolf and be wrong, than to have a friend, neighbor, or family member disappear and end up in slavery.”  Too bad for all the innocents who end up caged in Arpaio’s dungeon, I guess.

This article was a particularly large, particularly fragrant heap of prohibitionist manure, but the American journalistic landscape is dotted with them and they’re especially common in places like Arizona and Washington; puritanical control freaks are right at home in these mounds and can always be found wallowing ecstatically in their decomposing environment without as much as a clue about how they look and smell to everyone else.

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A woman has the exclusive right to decide if she wants to work in prostitution and it is forbidden for anyone to interfere…we must put an end to the condescension and paternalism of politicians and others who purport to speak for…prostitutes and determine what is good for them.  –  “Shelly”

R.I.P. Maya Angelou Maya Angelou

Poet and author Maya Angelou passed away on May 28th at the age of 86, and predictably the obituaries have all either ignored or glossed over the fact that as a young woman she worked both as a whore and a brothel madam.  Though she wrote about this period of her life in her second book, Gather Together In My Name, feminists and others who wished to make Angelou into an icon have sanitized the inconvenient fact for decades, and aren’t letting a little thing like her death change that.  Peechington Marie discusses the whitewashing in a thoughtful article on Tits and Sass.

The Red Umbrella

Like so many of its type, this article about the brutal rape and robbery of a Michigan sex worker by sociopathic twins Michael and Peter Versluys spends more ink on the bizarre, ignorant and opportunistic statements of prohibitionists than on the victim:

Websites such as backpage.com allow sex trade customers to check out who’s for sale from the comfort of their living room…“It makes it a hundred times more dangerous,” sex worker advocate Anny Donewald said.  That’s because sex workers can no longer see who is approaching them like they could when customers would drive or walk by…“You…never know who’s coming or…where you’re being sent to,” she said…So why don’t prostitutes simply find a safer occupation?  Donewald says the sex industry has a separate culture with its own rules and that it’s hard for anyone to get out…“These girls were conditioned in the sex industry since they were 12 and 13 years old, and so they don’t know another way”…

Donewald claims to have been a whore, which makes this farrago of idiotic arse-backward nonsense all the more pathetic.  Compare this from a civilized country:

…sex [workers were] confronted at gunpoint in a series of robberies of interstate escorts who came to Adelaide for four or five-day stints.  The bandit used a series of mobile phones and worked out when the women were due to leave…so that he hit when they had the most cash…[the victims were] initially unsure how detectives would treat the case, given…[they] were sex workers…“But it wasn’t like that…All of the police…were nothing but professional” [one said]…John Steven…Costi’s violence escalated [in his last robbery before being arrested]…He…died in an apparent [jailhouse] suicide…before his trial…

Maggie in the Media

I’m quoted extensively in this student article about the problems of sex work criminalization in Louisiana, and also in Elizabeth N. Brown’s Reason article on International Whores’ Day.

Cognitive Impairment

I wonder if VandeHoef plugged her Hitachi magic wand into the computer’s power strip while she was writing this lurid fantasy, or if she just used a battery-powered masturbation aid instead?

…There’s an enormous yuck factor to being groped by and copulating with strangers…But I wanted to know more about those who said they willingly did this…I expected a…diatribe about how it’s an adult’s right to choose to rent out her…intimate orifices…prostitution dehumanizes a person by reducing her (or him) to a quivering piece of flesh to be used, squeezed and thrust upon exclusively for the sexual gratification of whoever has the right amount…of cash…a Nordic-style model…[is] the best option for those who don’t want their tax dollars used to sanction an industry that reduces people to rentable sex parts…forced into a nightmare of numerous daily rapes, violence, venereal disease and substance abuse.

Tyranny By Consensus the future of porn in California

A bill that would require condoms to be used in all adult films produced in California narrowly cleared the Assembly…the measure’s [sponsor claimed] he sought to bring workplace safety standards, present in all other “legitimate businesses,” to the adult film industry…He noted that law enforcement officers, doctors, nurses and other professionals all are required to wear protective gear when risking exposure to blood-borne pathogens…

A Whore in Church

Because whores are subhuman monsters who can’t possibly have religious beliefs.

Staff at a US newspaper received a shock…when they discovered a witch profiled in the paper’s “Faith and Values” section was also allegedly a prostitute.  Intelligencer Journal…published a statement online…expressing…regret that the woman’s extracurricular activities were not picked up by editorial staff…The original story…has since been removed [from the paper's] website…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #8)

The last poll said the same thing:

…a poll…found that the majority of the [Israeli] public is against criminalizing the solicitation of prostitutes.  Some 63 percent of respondents…agreed that criminal punishment should not be given to those who buy sexual services from prostitutes if both sides agree to the transaction…The Association for the Regularization of Prostitution in Israel [explained] that legislation criminalizing prostitution would mainly harm women…

Above the Law

Only when a cop’s rape victim is very young are reporters willing to call the crime what it is:  “A Tennessee police officer is accused of sexually abusing a girl over five years…Steven Feinberg began molesting the girl when she was 12…[and] raping [her] when she was 14…”  When the victim is an adult, the crime drops to mere “sexual assault”:  “Clearwater [Florida] Police…are investigating a report of sexual assault…by an officer…attending a training conference for the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators…”  And when the victims are whores, it’s just “sex on duty”:  “A…San Bernardino [California] police officer has been convicted of forcing two prostitutes to perform sex acts on him while he was on duty…The jury found Jose Jesus Perez…guilty…of two felony counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and one misdemeanor civil rights offense…

An Example to the West 

Real People (TW3 #21)

A new Channel 4 documentary, My Granny the Escort, will reveal what it is really like being a mature sex worker.  Sheila Vogel-Coupe pulls in…£250-an-hour…and entertains up to 10 clients a week who are as young as 20…85-year-old Sheila has been working as an escort for four years, following two happy marriages.  Sadly, both husbands passed away from illness…

Imagination Pinned Down

Note how interchangeable these “sex trafficking survivor” narratives are, and remember what I explained about stereotypic conformation:

Sex trafficking is…happening right here in Southern Idaho…Rebecca Bender…was a victim…for six years…”I moved off to college, and I met a guy who was pretending to be my boyfriend”…She tried to escape numerous times, but her trafficker would find her.  She was beaten regularly, branded twice, her daughter was threatened, and she was sold to other traffickers.  “I was brainwashed and threatened to keep my mouth shut”…Stacey King…says…many of the victims in the Boise area are 11 to 13-year-old girls who are targeted at a mall…

The Public Eye

Sex workers are often the subjects (or objects) of stories, but are very rarely given the platform to tell their own story on their own terms.  There’s something profoundly refreshing about watching a sex work narrative unfold without feeling the usual…fear that sex work will be misrepresented, sensationalised, demonised, glamourised; that sex workers will be objectified; that the narrative will hinge around a worker having her…professional boundaries broken, or breaking them herself, for lurrrrve.  (Show me a mainstream narrative about sex work which is not about this and I will give you a cookie.)  [Watching]…the Sex Workers’ Opera, for the first time I felt that I could trust that whatever stories would be told, they…would be told respectfully. It was an exhilarating feeling…

Under Every Bed Pretty Woman scene

Another small town imagines bogeymen in the bushes and  claims lack of evidence as proof:

…District Attorney Farley Ward says he doesn’t know of any human trafficking cases yet in McAlester — but he has seen things that make him suspicious…Michael Snowden…of the [Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics'] Human Trafficking Unit, said…Seventy-eight percent of…women who are part of…sex trafficking are drug dependent…“But they say it’s a victimless crime…It’s the root of everything”…Snowden sounded particularly incensed at…Pretty Woman…“It’s not glamorous,” he said…“Richard Gere doesn’t exist”…

Yes, Snowden is so obsessed with his masturbatory fantasies that he denied the existence of a well-known celebrity.

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on inflated “estimates” of sex work’s contribution to UK GDP:

…Having had a close look at the methods employed to come up with their impressive total of £10 billion per year, I think they are likely to be out by as much as an order of magnitude too high…they got their estimate of the current number of sex workers from Eaves for Women…[which] has come under fire for its statistical methods…Also what about men who pay for sex with other men, which accounts for the majority of male sex workers?…The ONS then go on to guess at the average earnings based on Punternet…Why not ask escorts themselves?  It’s not as if we’re hard to find…Finally, for their calculation of how many clients sex workers see in a week, they relied on research conducted in the Netherlands. It doesn’t take a genius to spot that the difference between sex work in a country where it is legal and heavily regulated, and one where it is legal but many sex workers criminalised, is simply not going to be equal…

The accountant who writes Tax Relief 4 Escorts has an even more comprehensive analysis.

Whither Canada?

On Wednesday, the Canadian government re-introduced sex work criminalization disguised under a Swedish-flavored patina of “protecting women”; essentially the new Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act re-enacts all the laws that were struck down and also criminalizes paying for sex, advertising sexual services, porn and engaging in any commercial sex in any place that has ever contained or ever will contain children:

…This cynical, dystopic model does not resolve the problems found by the Court in Bedford to be unconstitutional, and adds new ones such as the prohibition on advertising.  The Charter rights…[of] life, liberty, security of the person, freedom of expression and equality…are [all] breached…It is an unconstitutional variation of our broken laws that impose more danger, more criminalization, and fewer safe options, contrary to the requirement of the Supreme Court of Canada…All that will be required for police to surveil and target sex workers is the suggestion that a person under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present…purchase [of]…sex…[carries] mandatory fines…from $500 to $4,000, to five years in jail…Without the ability to advertise in newspapers, online, or other forms of media, sex workers will now have severely limited means for working safely indoors…

I cannot believe that the entire Canadian government is so deranged or stupid as to believe this law will stand; it is obviously an attempt to continue the legal wrangling until the hot potato can be passed to the next government.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #412)

According to this article about the prohibitionist weirdos of “Stop Porn Culture”, Julie Bindel’s presentation on “the politics of the sex industry” consisted of “a succession of tabloid-style personal attacks on pro-sex industry activists, academics, escorts, and performers, complete with photos seemingly lifted without permission from their social-media profiles.”  Bindel listed certain names as being part of the “pimp lobby”, the prohibitionists’ version of the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion, a shadowy cabal which apparently want sex work decriminalized because it disobeys all economic principles and decriminalization would result in expansion of the black market.  Or something.  Anyhow, reporter Rachel Hills wrote down these names of people Bindel listed as key players in the “pimp lobby”:

Chris Knight
Brooke Magnanti
Sebastian Horsley
Thierry Schaffauser
Douglas Fox
John Dockerty
Amnesty International
Elizabeth Wood
The Sexual Freedom Coalition
Jerry Barnett
Belinda Brooks Gordon
Rachel Moran
Maggie McNeill
Stella Marr

Horsley has been dead since 2010, and as regular readers know Moran and Marr are well-known prohibitionist shills.  Some of the other names are almost as inexplicable, though I’m obviously pleased to see mine there; one wonders what Bindel was smoking when she compiled the list.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on May 18th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Back in February I wrote,

Until the advent of the internet, those who suffer from the sick need to control other people’s sexuality…must have felt that…they would always be able to suppress sex workers…But…the arrival of…social media gave…widely-scattered sex worker rights groups a way to connect easily and cheaply in real time, resulting in an explosion of activism…prohibitionists…too, could use social media, and…formed a global anti-sex movement dedicated to the extirpation of all legal sex work and the absolute suppression of all sex workers…robbing whores of our livelihood, subjecting us to ill-treatment by police, caging us, abducting our children and subjecting us to brainwashing in the hopes of reprogramming us into obedient menials is depicted by the prohibitionists as “rescuing” us from our own choices…But starting in the summer of 2012, the tide began to slowly turn in our favor; though the Swedish model and “anti-trafficking” legislation are still being imposed in more places, several UN agencies and a growing number of health and human rights organizations are coming out in favor of decriminalization, and the voices of sex workers are gradually beginning to be heard above the prohibitionist din…

In March of 2013, the #whenantisattack Twitter hashtag drew considerable media attention to the moral crusaders’ hypocrisy, then last January’s #NotYourRescueProject hashtag (described in the essay quoted above) drew even more despite the fact that “prohibitionists were frantically attempting damage control by interjecting their own myths, denunciations and accusations (the sex workers were really ‘pimps’ or clients, were ‘not representative’, etc) into the stream…” But last month we accomplished something which drew even more attention and also had concrete results:  we stopped a “prostitution sting” from harming even one person.  It all started on May 1st with this press release from the police department of Prince George’s County, Maryland (suburban Washington, DC):

We won’t tell you when or where, other than it’s somewhere in the county sometime next week.  The PGPD’s Vice Unit will conduct a prostitution sting that targets those soliciting prostitutes and we’ll tweet it out as it happens.  From the ads to the arrests, we’ll show you how the PGPD is battling the oldest profession.  Suspect photos and information will be tweeted.  We’re using this progressive, and what we believe [sic] unprecedented, social media tactic to warn any potential participants that this type of criminal behavior is not welcome in Prince George’s County.

PGPD viceDespite the now-obligatory “end demand” pap, the release clearly says that it’s “battling the oldest profession” and this illustration (which originally accompanied the story) made it pretty clear who “is not welcome” in Prince George’s County.  Once sex workers started attacking the plan (less than an hour later), “police media relations director” Julie Parker realized that she had made a horrible mistake by revealing the cops’ real motivations; she immediately removed the picture and began demonstrating her cluelessness (and her low opinion of our intelligence and morals) by insisting that the scheme would only target clients (apparently imagining that sex workers would be pleased by an attack on our livelihood).  Within hours, we had completely taken over the cops’ own hashtag, #PGPDVice, and were using it to tell the truth; the media quickly took note:

…It’s mystifying that the police would think that live-tweeting a sting would get them any good publicity.  After all, it was just last week that the New York Police Department saw its attempt at Twitter outreach go terribly, when they tried to start the hashtag #myNYPD to get pictures of people hanging out with the cops and instead got inundated with stories of people who had been targeted by stop-and-frisk and racial profiling…

When reporters started calling Ms. Parker, she immediately spewed out the usual police idiocy:

…Parker said…the department looks at prostitution “not simply as prostitution — that crime has the potential and [sic] very often leads to other crimes.  If you think of marijuana as a gateway drug, you can think of prostitution as a gateway crime…”

The next day, Conor Friedersdorf of the Atlantic wrote,

…PGPD won’t be embarrassing convicts.  They’re going to publicly shame suspects before their trial, despite the fact that the state is supposed to extend to them the presumption of innocence until a jury of their peers finds them guilty.  Do the citizens in Prince George’s County really want to instill in their police officers the attitude that they can mete out punishment from the street?…Do [kids] deserve the inevitable moment when their middle school classmates mock them for the photo of their dad making the rounds?  Do the wives…deserve a Twitter campaign on top of the arrest?…Twitter’s rules state, “You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment.”  If I parked across the street from a prostitute’s house, photographed the johns as they exited, and tweeted their names and photographs, would a Twitter overseer stop me?…if the answer is yes, then Twitter should stop the PGPD…

We were already making plans to report every tweet they released on the subject as abuse, and the National Center for Transgender Equality produced a blog post suggesting a number of things supporters could tweet during the event to flood the hashtag, when the cops cried “uncle” and called off the planned live-tweeting after it became abundantly clear that their evil scheme to turn people into involuntary entertainment had backfired.  Of course, they tried to spin it to make themselves look like geniuses of applied psychology:

…the unit arrests five to 10 johns during similar operations. Today, no johns were arrested…“By advertising this days ago, we wanted to put johns on notice to not come to Prince George’s County. That message was heard loud and clear.  We just put a dent in the human trafficking business without making one arrest,” said [Head Vice Thug] Dave Coleman…Due to the international attention to this publicized sting…our undercover officers became increasingly concerned about the potential compromise of their identities.  Those concerns prompted the department to change course…our Vice Unit…is dedicated to shutting down this type of illicit business and seeking help for its victims…

Lest you believe the claims that they only want to “help” those they portray as “victims”, let’s look at the less-polished statement of department spokesman Bill Alexander:  “We never said we were going to do anything related to the prostitutes or the sex workers or whatever the politically correct term is…”  Cut.  Print.  That’s all this talk of “johns” and “victims” really is:  filling in the right “politically correct” blank to justify business as usual, which for vice cops is brutalizing people for peaceful, private, consensual behavior.  They haven’t yet learned that the days of that business model are numbered, and that the wind has already begun to shift against them.  But you can bet that they eventually will, and that they’ll fight to maintain the ugly, brutal status quo every step of the way.

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Ms. Mam and her foundation banked on Western feel-good demands for intervention, culminating in abusive crackdowns on the people she claimed to save.  –  Melissa Gira Grant

Half the SkyAfter the publication of “Continuing To Crumble“, all hell broke loose for Somaly Mam.  I must admit I was surprised at just how quickly and thoroughly it happened; I suspect a lot of “sex trafficking” skeptics in editorial departments were just waiting for something like this (which is a very good sign indeed).  The day after my essay, Somaly Mam announced that she was resigning from her position as head of her foundation, and this article by Anne Moore appeared in Salon:

This week’s Newsweek…[debunked] the figurehead of the so-called “modern slavery movement”…Mam claims to have rescued more than 4,000 girls from sex slavery, but questions about her stories still arise from former staff members, her former husband and those supposed former sex slaves…Mam’s…pernicious web of obfuscations and self-aggrandizements…keep women’s economic opportunities around the world hovering somewhere near deplorable…Many of her accolades…can be traced back to her friendship with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof.  As of press time he still lists the Somaly Mam Foundation as a “partner” in Half the Sky Movement, his blatant attempt (along with wife Sheryl WuDunn) to brand and therefore profit from economic and physical violence against women and girls in the Global South…Kristof may, eventually, claim to have been duped.  I believe he’ll be lying (again)…Mam can’t be held accountable for the impact of her tales as much as she can for establishing the culture of permanent victimhood…what…anti-human trafficking NGOs do…is normalize existent labor opportunities for women, however low the pay, dangerous the conditions, or abusive an environment they may be.  And they shame women who reject such jobs…What anti-trafficking NGOs are saving women from…is a life outside the international garment trade…

The next day, the Times itself – arguably the one organization most complicit in the spreading of Mam’s evil lies – published this piece by Melissa Gira Grant:

…Mam’s…portrayal of all sex workers as victims in need of saving encouraged raids and rescue operations that only hurt the sex workers themselves.  In 2008, Cambodia enacted new prohibitions on commercial sex, after the country was placed on a watch list by the State Department.  In brutal raids on brothels and in parks…women were chased down, detained and assaulted.  The State Department commended [this]…and removed the country from the watch list…Mam’s target audience of well-off Westerners, eager to do good, often knows little about the sex trade.  It doesn’t require much for them to imagine all women who sell sex as victims in need of rescue…When Mira Sorvino arrived with CNN last year to film sex workers undercover in Phnom Penh, Ros Sokunthy of the Women’s Network for Unity [WNU] told the Asian Correspondent news site that this approach was part of the problem:  “You show the face of the mother, who is so poor that she has to sell her daughter for money?  How does this help the daughter or mother?  It doesn’t.  It helps the NGO to make money”…A “hero” like Ms. Mam lets those who lift her up feel that they are heroes, too. They can be saviors simply by repeating her stories and swiping their cards.  Now Ms. Mam has been exposed before her donors and the Western media who anointed her and made fighting sex trafficking a kind of industry in itself, while sex workers suffered the consequences.  Will Ms. Mam’s supporters consider the price of what they’ve been sold?

And speaking of Asian Correspondent, here’s their article from the day after Grant’s:

…CNN…”poverty porn” [does] not sit well with…WNU…Ros Sokunthy…said rich donors would rather support anti trafficking groups with an…agenda to stop all sex work, than those that help sex workers and their children get out of poverty…Pisey Ly…[said that the Somaly Mam Foundation] “still [praises]…Somaly and…[does] not recognize the consequences of how [they]…impacted people”…anti-trafficking organizations tend to be against all sex work, not just…forced sex work…When consenting sex workers are arrested or “rescued,” their children suffer.  With their mothers gone and no money or food coming in, they must find work, even though they are children…

What about the Great White Savior, Nicholas Kristof, who as observed above is more complicit than any other individual in enabling Mam’s depredations against sex workers?  Over the weekend, he quietly removed her page from his website; the first picture above is what it looked like before, and this is what it looks like nowHalf the Memory Hole

But if he thought the issue was just going to go away, he was sadly mistaken; it isn’t only sex workers who have been sick of his victim-pimping, snake oil and  outright lies:

…You mean, Mr. Helicopter Rich White Man Rescuer was ready to buy lurid, falsified stories hook, line, and sinker?  Who could have guessed!  Here’s a 2011 Kristof article lauding Mam and her story, in what has to be the most prototypical Kristof column.  Here’s another, on [Long Pros], entitled, “If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is?”  Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe something that actually happened…The history of prostitution reform in Progressive Era America tells a similar story.  There were Kristofs then too, freaking out about the white slavery traffic.  They wanted to hear the most lurid stories possible and then publicize them to make points about the evils of prostitution.  They didn’t bother fact-checking either.  And time and time again, these stories about young women didn’t pan out.  The impact of this movement was to make sex work illegal, making it far more dangerous, as it largely remains today.  The actions of women like Mam and useful idiots like Kristof just obscure the real problems of a lack of opportunity for women to have decent work and respectable lives in Cambodia and elsewhere, not to mention discrediting attempts to help solve real sex slavery.  But then Kristof has never been interested in people helping themselves  anyway.  He prefers saving brown people from themselves

Fittingly, Kristof issued his “explanation” and “apology” (which as you might expect was neither) on International Whores’ Day; predictably, it was not so much an admission of rescue industry fraud as a lament that Mam’s well-deserved downfall will make it harder for other rescue industry operations to continue enriching themselves at the expense of sex workers:

…I don’t know quite what to think.  Somaly stands by her story, but she also resigned, which gives credence to the allegations…serious doubts have clearly been raised about her…but I’m reluctant to be an arbiter of her back story when I just don’t know what is true and false…Whatever the situation with Somaly, there’s no uncertainty about the larger issue of human trafficking in Cambodia…One risk is that girls fleeing Cambodian brothels will no longer get help.  Another is that the debate about Somaly’s back story will overtake the imperative of ending the trafficking of young teenagers into brothels.  Let’s remember that this is about more than one woman.

I suggest Kristof heed his own closing statement, though I know he won’t; he and other prohibitionists believe the feelings, beliefs and political agenda of a vocal  minority which includes himself, politicians, neofeminists and fundamentalist Christians take precedence over the needs of many millions of  sex workers, their clients, their children and everyone else they help. Prohibitionists aren’t literally “one woman”, but their numbers are tiny compared to those of the people they wish to control and overrule.  Furthermore, I hardly think Kristof need worry about the “sex trafficking” gravy train running off of the rails just yet:

For the first time, pastors and police joined together in…Cambodia…to discuss human trafficking….IJM staff led nearly fifty church leaders through a study on the Bible’s call to seek justice for the oppressed, and then [a cop]…shared about human trafficking and how church leaders can help their communities report the crime…One pastor encouraged her peers to think creatively about how they could work with police for good…The chief of the Cambodian anti-trafficking police…shared tell-tale signs of trafficking and advised pastors of the kinds of questions they can ask if they suspect a girl is in trouble…

The “sex trafficking” hysteria is beginning to implode, and the vultures will eventually need to find another carcass to feed on.  But there’s still a lot of meat left on this one, and they won’t leave until they’ve picked off every scrap.

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Did I dream of becoming a sex worker when I was a little girl?  No.  But I didn’t dream about working at McDonald’s either, and yet that was my first job.  –  Celine Bisette

Real People

Good satire sticks close to the truth:

…stripper Nicole Timbers does not live the…exciting and scandalous life many friends had hoped for.  “When we met Nicole, we figured she would have the craziest stories,” said Diana Alvarez…“but our friend Ashlynn’s actually had sex with more guys than Nicole – and she’s a preschool teacher”…When Timbers is not taking off her clothes onstage, roommate Sarah Kelvin-Fan confirms she “mostly just studies for her LSATs” and “wears men’s sweatpants – not even the cute, booty-hugging kind.  She won’t teach me how to give a lap dance, and she seemed kind of annoyed when I asked if she could strip at my birthday party”…

Because We Say So

A report on the havoc wrought by “sex trafficking” hysteria on Nepal:

…The hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that flow into the country…enable corrupt outfits…to flourish…the groups…[claim that] thousands of Nepali women and girls are lured each year into the sex industry…NGOs…inflate the number of people they’ve helped and the size of the problem…Their shock tactics include street performances featuring young girls being dragged off to brothels by traffickers…In one remote…village, parents pulled their daughters out of school after an NGO performed such a skit for fear that traffickers would kidnap the girls if they left the house…

It Looks Good On Paper

Here’s yet another teary-eyed article breathlessly extolling the virtues of a “safe harbor” law while negating the agency of women, belching up ridiculously-inflated figures and presenting a sales pitch for the Swedish model:  “This bill is consistent…with a…policy shift around the world that recognizes the need to target traffickers, pimps and buyers and move away from criminalizing those exploited in prostitution – predominantly women and girls…

The Course of a Disease

Swedish cultists are so delusional they want disagreeing with them to be illegal:

The Nordic Model Australia Coalition “NORMAC”, has…[called on the government] to cut funding to the Scarlet Alliance and redirect it to [Swedish model proponents]…Scarlet Alliance is clearly focused on lobbying for liberalised sex laws, rather than [promoting belief in]…human trafficking.  Their estimate of the number of ["victims"] is alarmingly low…“Scarlet Alliance’s core beliefs and ideology seem deeply opposed to [believing in Swedish ideology]”…

Above the Law

Sometimes the state mildly punishes rapist cops:

Bradley Schnickel, the…Minneapolis police officer who used the Internet to lure adolescent girls into sex…was sentenced…to 30 months in prison, minus 197 days for time already served…his remaining prison time could be reduced to less than 14 months…Judge James A. Cunningham sentenced Schnickel…to less than one-fourth of the nearly 12-year sentence that prosecutors sought…there were 18 known victims…

And sometimes it punishes their victims instead:

The former madam of an escort service in Hawaii alleges she was sexually abused and extorted by a federal agent she has known since childhood.  Malia Arciero [says]…Ryan Faulkner…forced her to work as his confidential informant….[after handcuffing] her to a table…and sexually [assaulting] her…He told her:  “I’m your handler and I own you.”  Arciero faces 10 years in federal prison after Faulkner arrested her on drug charges in October 2013…Faulkner [has been obsessed with her since]…1997 when she was a 16-year-old [stripper]…

The Law is an Ass

A prostitute and her parents [were] arrested in [a Tennessee sting]…Christy…Huxoll’s parents…were arrested [for]…bringing condoms…[because] it [kept] her off the streets…”  The state expects parents to “control” their 33-year-old daughter, abandon her, or turn her in to the cops.

Bullies With Badges

police officers physically and verbally abused the manager of a tanning salon and massage parlor during her arrest…and [threatened her with death]…the cops [eventually realized they were] on camera…[and looked for the recording to destroy it] but didn’t find it because the video was stored off-site…two of the officers…were accused of abusing an immigrant [sex worker] in a previous lawsuit…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If they can use these tactics against legal businesses, is anyone safe?

…Club Lace…[was] accused of maintaining a house of prostitution…[Phoenix] police began investigating…several years ago…[making] seven traffic stops near the…club…[and interrogating] customers…they stopped a security guard…[and searched] his vehicle [without a warrant,  supposedly finding] numerous used condoms and envelopes containing ledgers of earnings…

Translation:  they threatened the customers and security guard with bogus charges, and promised the guard immunity to keep his mouth shut about the manufactured “evidence”.  Unless you really believe that drivers go around with loads of other dudes’ used condoms, and that brothel managers maintain records with names, sex acts and exact amounts on them.

See No Evil (TW3 #31)

So, would a photo of a “topless” male baby also be banned?

…Heather Bays, a [Toronto] maternity photographer…said her [Instagram] account was deactivated…[the night] before Mother’s Day…[after] someone posted a negative comment on a selfie of her breastfeeding her 20-month-old daughter…Hours later, Bays…received several emails from [Facebook-owned] Instagram saying some of her pictures violated its terms of use…After…a…social media [backlash]…Instagram agreed to reactivate her account but with…seven photographs removed…a horrible, dirty, evil, dangerous selfiebecause [they] showed Bays’…daughter topless…Facebook’s community standards state that it has a “strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved…”

Soap Opera

It really is like a cult:

…Indiana State University students…will…shine a light on human trafficking ahead of next week’s Indy 500…SOAP…volunteers will…visit hotels, bars and strip clubs near the…Speedway to distribute soap labeled with the human trafficking hotline number…”Most people don’t know that human trafficking is the second leading crime worldwide*, and that it happens in Indianapolis too,” [Tracy] Pruitt said. “Unfortunately, victims are sometimes picked up on college and university campuses…Research is still being done on the effectiveness of outreaches like this**, but we do know that at least 20 girls were rescued during the Super Bowl***”…

*No, it isn’t.   **No, it isn’t.   ***No, they weren’t.

King of the Hill

There are eight Ivy League schools, so I’m going to count this bizarre assertion as a claim to the top eight:  “…Milwaukee is known nationwide…as the ‘Harvard of sex trafficking’, [Sandra] Malone said…’It’s pervasive.  Everyone is at risk’…Part of it…is [being] near Chicago…

Pearls Firmly Clutched

Is the Crown Prosecution Service now hiring bad TV writers to produce the scripts for their accusations?

A lesbian madam…forced a record-breaking athlete into prostitution …Tatiana Shmyrova…exploited the Bulgarian former runner after she was lured to Britain with the promise of work…[defendants] were…part of a “ruthless” sex ring which ran a lucrative business “by bartering in human…bodies”, said [an absurd little] prosecutor…

What a Week! (TW3 #336)

Kim Jong-Un’s ex-lover who he ordered to be executed is said to be alive and well.  The Korean singer, Hyon Song-Wol…appeared on state television…[where she] expressed gratitude for Kim’s leadership and pledged to work harder to “stoke up the flame for art and creative work”…

Torture Chamber 

A…mentally ill inmate at [Miami prison]…was [forced] into [a] locked shower [under scalding water]…and…left…unattended for more than an hour [until]…his skin was so burned that it had shriveled from his body…nearly two years after [Darren] Rainey’s death…the…medical examiner has yet to complete an autopsy and…police have not charged anyone…The shower treatment was only one [tactic used]…by…guards to [terrorize] mentally ill patients…In September, another inmate…hanged himself from an air conditioning vent…[leaving] a suicide note…claiming he and other prisoners were sexually and physically abused on a routine basis…

Secret Squirrel (TW3 #344)

Among the latest gadgets…is the MiniBrake:  A remote control for your child’s bike…Go into any AT&T store and you can buy the FiLIP,” a cute little tracking device…Japan has taken kiddie surveillance once step further and developed a prototype…worn on the chest, measuring a child’s heart rate.  If that rate goes up, the…monitor immediately snaps a photo of whatever…the child is facing.  The idea that the child’s heart is racing because she’s running around doesn’t seem to come into play…Parents may go so far as to give their kids ingestibles” — tiny, swallow-able sensors that emit signals that can be picked up by a smart phone.  These already exist, but their signals are weak.  Eventually, these may be strengthened and fine-tuned to measure whatever [biological] metric parents want to know about…

Down Under (TW3 #350)

In New Zealand, sex workers are protected from buyer’s remorse; I’m not optimistic Texas will be that enlightened:  “A Houston…stripper is being sued…by one of her customers…Robert [no last name]…says she owes him about $3,000 worth of Harry Potter DVDs, a laptop and cash…

Traffic Circle (TW3 #402)

We’re seeing more and more stories like this:

…a myth that comes up every year there’s some big…draw like the Super Bowl…[is that] there’s an influx of sex trafficking.  Last week the Comic-Con of the oil and gas industry, the Offshore Technology Conference, came to [Houston], and with it there was an alleged bump in business for…prostitutes…[and] strip-club[s]…but…that’s just not the case, and the whole sex-trafficking myth is usually perpetuated by…faith-based groups…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #413)

While US newspapers print ignorant opinions from cops and prohibitionists, the Ottawa Citizen publishes articles by sex workers:

Member of Parliament Joy Smith…claims that people only engage in prostitution due to “economic need”…As far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of people…in any field engage in labour because of “economic need”…people work for money, not for fun.  Some of us are lucky enough to wake up every day and feel thrilled about going to work, but most of us probably don’t.  Folks work in the fast food industry for money.  They work in retail for money, and they collect garbage for money.  Do any children dream of doing these jobs when they grow up?  Probably not…We all need to work, and we can’t all be the next Stephen Hawking or Madonna…

The Missing Worddefinitely not trafficking victims, no sirree

As we all know, the New York Times hates “human trafficking”, yet the word is entirely absent from this article about exploited workers in Abu Dhabi.  Their agency is recognized; their motive is correctly stated as money rather than a bad childhood or being abducted by “pimps”; the paper doesn’t call for their work to be abolished or the people who hire them to be prosecuted; there is no talk of sending cops to arrest them under the guise of “rescue”, and Nick Kristof is nowhere to be found.  But of course these workers are men and their work doesn’t involve sex, so that makes it completely different.

Rough Trade (TW3 #417) 

Having attacked his accusers as vengeful prostitutes and attempted to hide evidence of his crimes…Seattle attorney…Danford Grant pleaded guilty…as a jury was being selected…Grant, a former city prosecutor…was…a serial rapist, “obsessed with Asian women,” who preyed on immigrant masseuses…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #418)

Another excellent essay from Felicia Anna:

In the summer of 2007 the city…of Amsterdam [began to]…close…dozens of windows.  Not because they found criminal activities, since they lost every single court case on that…[they] simply…bought out the owners…Where the women have gone…nobody knows…Did the city government offer them…another job?  Did they offer them another place to work?  Did they ever ask…how these girls could now pay the rent to their apartments?  Did they ever ask those girls how they could live without a place to work?  No!  The city government didn’t do anything, for those girls they supposedly were “so worried” about.  Instead, all they did was buy more windows, leaving less room for girls to work in, pushing them away into nothingness…

Choke Point

Gun retailers say the Obama administration is trying to put them out of business with regulations and investigations that bypass Congress and choke off their lines of credit, freeze their assets and prohibit online sales…Operation Choke Point…has prompted some banks to cut ties with online gun retailers, even if those companies have valid licenses and good credit histories…

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