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Posts Tagged ‘violence vs. sex workers’

[To a prohibitionist California judge] “help”…means keeping a pregnant teen locked up in juvenile jail because she accepted payment for sex, but still talking to her in really nice tones.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Think of the Children! Moongoyle

I’m sure this sleazebag reporter is proud of himself:

…Slicing Beauty is a fairly typical…slasher flick, featuring gratuitous nudity…[which] was produced and directed, under an alias, by the principal of [a Connecticut] Middle School.  And the film’s script…was written, also under an alias, by a guidance counselor at [another] Middle School…Mark D. Foley…[and] Aaron Vnuk…have been making movies together since at least 2008…the pair formed a company that became Moongoyle Entertainment…in movie credits, they use the names Mark Daniel and Aaron Thomas Howell…[but busybody Matthew Kauffman] determined their identities by comparing information in state corporation records…to state educator records…

And this, kiddies, is why Maggie McNeill, LLC is registered in Delaware.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A…Dallas…vice detective accused of giving a prostitute protection in exchange for sexual favors coached the woman to say she was his confidential informant if questioned about the relationship…Jose Luis Bedoy…was…charged with…obstruction of…justice…Bedoy met the woman…in early 2009 during a raid…[he] alerted her to police investigations and sought sex in return…

Sales Pitch

At least a few Swedish politicians seem to get it:

Sweden’s new coalition government is trying to make it an offence for Swedes to use prostitutes when they are…in other countries…But their plans look set to be blocked by the centre-right parties that made up the former governing Alliance…Some argue that making it illegal for Swedes to pay for sex in places where prostitution is…legal, could lead to other countries starting to punish their citizens for activities that are allowed in Sweden…”It would be terrible if people got punished because they had a homosexual relationship…or…an abortion in Sweden,” [said] Moderate party Justice spokesperson Beatrice Ask…

Schadenfreude 

Yet another rescue industry fraud:

…Frits Rouvoet regularly walks in Amsterdam’s Red Light District…most prostitutes see [him] as “this idiot that always brings flowers”, and often try to get rid of him by pretending to be on the phone…[he] regularly claims to have “saved” a woman…and has been doing so for years, while I still see the same girls at work every day…how come nobody has noticed the women that have gone missing, because he has “saved” them?…It also makes one wonder [why]…these “oh so violent pimps”…let Frits…take away “their girls” without a fight…Does Frits Rouvoet possess some kind of supernatural…powers, that [protect] him…?

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

Somaly Mam and Uncle Sam will not be happy:

New [Cambodian] government regulations for the entertainment industry…aim to offer sex workers…increased protection under the Labor Law…Chan Dyna…of the National Entertainment Workers’ Network, said…“The government has finally recognized that entertainment workers are actually workers, like all others”…

Above the Law 

Rapist cops come in two main types, the sleazy:  “Florida sheriff’s deputy [Ted Arboleda] was arrested…after he was accused of allowing a woman to avoid arrest in exchange for oral sex…”…and the openly brutal:

Authorities have arrested a…[Colorado] sheriff’s deputy…The woman told investigators she was driving [Timothy Joseph] Hay home after drinking at a bar…when Hay asked her to pull over at a warehouse…[he then slammed] the woman’s head to the ground and [raped] her…

Finding What Isn’t There

This story makes much more sense when one realizes that the word “evidence” was substituted for the proper term, “propaganda”.  Here, I’ll demonstrate:

New figures…which…show a continuing decline here are “very alarming”…said the Immigrant Council of Ireland.  The figures are contrary to European [propaganda]…There was…just one reported case of a trafficked child, compared to 16 last year…[Denise] Charlton said…“It is worrying that the figures have come down…There is so much [propaganda] that those who enter the sex trade do so as teenagers.  Why are we not finding these children?”…

Damned If You Don’t

New York…Port Authority police…have arrested more than 60 [men] this year in the bus terminal on public lewdness charges…Most…were accused of masturbating in the second-floor bathroom…by plainclothes officers…[spying on] them at an adjacent urinal…the Port Authority’s interpretation of the law [seems] to criminalize the use of public urinals…

Enough is Enough

Monkey Business

They certainly deserve it more than zygotes:

…a New York court will decide whether or not Tommy the Chimpanzee qualifies as a legal person…late last year…lawyer Steven Wise discovered him being held in a small, unclean cage and receiving inadequate care…if Tommy is declared a legal person, it does not mean he is human…it would just afford him protection beyond existing animal cruelty laws.  Personhood would give him rights pertaining to his self interest that would hold up in a court of law, similar to a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a child or disabled adult…The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP)…acts on behalf of nonhuman animals who are intelligent, self-aware and autonomous, including great apes, elephants, and dolphins…

That Old Black Magic

Scotland Yard has received 27 allegations of ritual child abuse linked to witchcraft in the past year, with police believing many more remain “hidden” by families…one child was swung round before being smacked over the head in order to “drive out the devil”.  The Telegraph reported instances of children having chili rubbed into their eyes…[or] dunked in baths and forced to drink noxious liquids in exorcism ceremonies…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #316)

Watching pornography could soon be banned in Telangana…as a means to reduce crimes against [women]…state police said they have been asked to…use technology similar to the one used by the Chinese government to block content on search engines…banning pornography may not have any effect in ensuring security of women as several studies have shown that such content does not instigate…rape…

In fact, studies show it has exactly the opposite effect, but prohibitionists never care about little things like facts.

Monsters

This has been a month of horrible violence against transwomen, from Australia:

…Marcus Volke worked around the world as a male prostitute before moving to Brisbane just weeks before he murdered his wife and cooked her on their…apartment’s stovetop.  Volke, who was found with Mayang Prasetyo’s dismembered body…the couple had both worked in a Melbourne brothel and Volke had also made a living from sex work in Copenhagen.  After moving to Brisbane he was working under the name of Heath XL while his wife was [working] as a “top high class Asian shemale”…Volke took his own life while fleeing police…

To the Philippines:  “A US Marine has been detained over the murder of a transgender woman…26-year-old Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck was found dead by strangulation…with her head in the toilet…”  To New York:  “A 28-year-old trans woman was beaten by four men on a Bushwick street…with a 2 X 4…She is…in stable condition…but [may]…have permanent brain damage…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

Another stupid “sex trafficking” play:

It’s Not Fair is a collection of tales taken from all over the world…from the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast to the dingy bars of the back streets of Thailand, behind the respectable facade of a London home and into the offices of an anti-trafficking organisation…Using a unique blend of theatre, storytelling and music, the performance brings these stories to life in an entertaining, powerful and moving way…that raises awareness of the problem…

Hussies

The horror of good customer service:

…Anna Burgese…says she was attacked early last year in the lobby of a South Beach W Hotel by drunken hookers who mistakenly believed she was competition…As a result…[she] hired undercover agents to visit W Hotels all over the country…[and] claims that they found…prostitution runs rampant in the hotels…The filing also alleges that The W…provides guests with free condoms and that its website advertises sex toys.  “These agents engaged…employees who openly, and without hesitation, procured the services of prostitutes for the agents…”

In other words, these supposed agents “found” that a W concierge does exactly what the concierge in any expensive hotel will do.

Broken Record (TW3 #333)

The lies in this article are outrageous even by “sex trafficking” standards.  First, cops’ arrest of 25 underage sex workers and 45 other people (labelled “pimps”) magically transmogrified into “[NGO members] successfully rescued 66 children, and made more than 120 arrests.”  But the second claim was even more egregious:  “a group of experts went to Sturgis, SD during the large motor cycle rally and were successful in rescuing more than a dozen young girls.”  In fact, no sex workers were arrested (“rescued”) at all; photos of adult women were supposedly “age-regressed” and the results were used to entrap seven men.fat prat

Innocence Never Had

Because people don’t like the idea of teens engaging in sex work…they want the government to do something about it, and the way to get people under state jurisdiction is to define them as either criminals or helpless victims.  So if teen sex workers aren’t criminals, they must be children whom the state has an obligation to protect coercively…”to prevent them from returning to their pimps”…Teenagers may not have the full capacity to consent…but they’re not mentally incapacitated.  The government shouldn’t be able to lock up a 15-year-old girl ’til her 18th birthday to stop her from having sex in a way of which it disapproves…

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time)

The idea that women might have minds and agency is unacceptable to Canadian Cops:

…Called Operation Northern Spotlight, the officers in each city used ads on the Web to book “dates” with escorts over two nights last week — then met to [harass and intimidate them]…“Almost all the girls we meet, they say they’re independent,” said Sgt. Rob Huber…Despite denials…Huber suspects most are turned out by someone who reaps the bulk of the lucrative profits.  “But until that girl basically tells us, we don’t have a victim”…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #416) 

Most of this article is the usual ludicrous nonsense from one of the usual suspects (in this case, Washington DC “rescue” opportunists FAIR Girls), but it does have one notable line:  “…the average victim is sold three to five times per night…”  Not 50 or 100?  Very interesting.

Business As UsualThissera's victim

a video showing a policeman beating a young woman…in…Sri Lanka…has generated heated discussion in the media…the police…first…[pretended that] the video [was] unreliable…[then admitted] that the particular policeman…has been identified…but that [the sex worker he beat] appeared to be in hiding…[meanwhile] the woman…began to reveal her ordeal in public…The [attacker's] name has now been revealed as P.P. Thissera…he…has not been arrested or charged with a criminal offence…

Bad Girls (TW3 #438)

Remember the sex worker who killed the cop, and I said there was more to it? 

…the 29-year-old woman told the police that she killed the constable as an act of revenge as it was he who had pushed her into prostitution and ruined her life…although she could have easily escaped after the murder, she chose to…set the body on fire [as]…a warning to corrupt cops…the deceased constable…sold her to a brothel [in 2002, then] three years ago, the woman again met…him…and [he] would often visit her…When she refused to give in to his demands, the constable would…threaten to arrest her…

Wise Investment (TW3 #440)

I’ve heard this woman is actually kind of a nasty character, but it’s still good news if her lawyer can get a raid thrown out:  “The defense attorney for a Salem, N.H., woman accused of running a…brothel wants a police search of his client’s home and vehicle tossed out as evidence in the criminal sex-trafficking and prostitution case.  Lori Barron…is accused of hiring young women [to work in an ordinary massage parlor]…

The Roof Caves In (TW3 #440)

Somaly…Mam’s ex-husband Pierre Legros [said]…”Simon Marks…did his job as a journalist and verified the facts.  I have not met Abigail Pesta who wrote the Marie-Claire story and I…doubtful…[of] her version…Somaly has at least two different versions of her biography …you know fabricated stories are used by everyone to get funding.  But I received death threats from Somaly and her entourage, telling me not to speak”…

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It is an obnoxious and unacceptable conceit, a form of abuse, to deny sex workers their agency.  –  Graham Scrambler

Think of the Children! buttle opener

Sex rays are so insidious they can even radiate from pieces of plastic via the principle of sympathetic magic:

A week after Mark Gregory was elected chairman of the Williamson County school board, an online petition was launched  …demanding [he] step down from the post because of his role in creating the ButtleOpener, a novelty bottle opener shaped like a female rear end…

The Red Umbrella

Matthew Carney, 18, walked with [a sex worker] to a secluded area…after paying her…But as soon as they were alone Carney…repeatedly [punched] and [kicked] her in the head, causing severe injuries to her face.  He then walked off with her handbag…the courageous victim went to the police…[and] Carney was sentenced to seven years in prison…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

[Pittsburgh-area cop] Joshua Rush was [arrested]…[for] texting a prostitute he had a sexual relationship with…When police busted [her]…she showed them a string of text messages…in which he allegedly said he would distract officers from [going into her stroll]…

Check Your Premises

Earlier this year, Bensalem [Pennsylvania] police participated in Operation Cross Country…While the overt goal was busting pimps and prostitutes, the underlying objective was to create connections to help law enforcement find and stop child sex trafficking…“You need an approach that develops trust”…

You read that correctly:  these cops are so disconnected from reality that they think deceiving, raping and caging women is a good way to “develop trust”.

Validation

It’s always nice to be backed up by academics:

…the wealthy and powerful should not be permitted to swap policy-based evidence for evidence-based policy…Stereotypes of sex workers are simplistic, replete with errors of commission and omission…most public health researchers…respect…sex workers and oppose…any attempt to (further) criminalize them…[but] the weird admix of radical feminists and Christian…right-wingers who [push] “sexual trafficking”…are resistant to data:  they…wish the public to believe that [all] sex workers…have been trafficked.  Their…”moral crusade” is to legislate for the abolition of the industry…

Public Service Announcement Brooks Newmark

Just in case you thought only American politicians were this foolish:

…Brooks Newmark quit as Minister for Civil Society after he was caught sending an explicit photograph of himself…to someone he believed was a woman…as part of a tabloid newspaper sting operation …Mr Newmark initiated a private message conversation on a social networking website and sent a graphic picture exposing himself…

Surplus Women

Authorities are looking for the killer of a woman found in Lake Lucerne and identified…as a 36-year-old Bulgarian prostitute…Work colleagues…[contacted] police… because they had not been able to contact her for a long time on her cell phone…

Legal Is as Legal Does

Almost all countries criminalise some aspect of sex work, including…Australia…sex work under “legalisation” is still…conceived of as a crime for which the law makes allowances.  These laws that govern sex work can be found in the criminal code…and…the police [enforce the]…regulation.  When I asked Jules Kim…of Scarlet Alliance…about the effect of all these regulations on the lives of sex workers in Victoria, she pointed out that many were deeply invasive of privacy…

See also “Bottleneck” below.rapist pig Michael Arnold

Above the Law 

Michael Arnold sexually assaulted a female prisoner shortly after she gave birth in 2012:  He pleaded guilty…[but spent] no time in jail…a just-filed lawsuit [names]…Arnold…the [rent-a-cop] firm for which he worked…[and]  Arapahoe County Sheriff David Walcher…Angela Weishoff…was [still] groggy [from an epidural] when [Arnold orally raped her until]…a nurse noticed the dimmed lights and entered the room, causing Arnold to quickly re-zip his pants…

An Example To the West

I hope this is available outside of India, too:

…a music band led by children of Sonagachi sex workers…[launched] their maiden album…Nijhum Raater Taara (Star of the Silent, Still Night)…[is a] compilation of seven adhunik gaan (Bengali modern songs)…The band [is backed by] DMSC…

Wise Investment (TW3 #23)

Let’s hope we see many more cases like this:

Fairview [New Jersey] has agreed to pay $145,000 to a [massage] business that had accused police officers of trespassing and…illegal search and seizure…during a prostitution sting…After five years of legal wrangling…the parties this week agreed to settle rather than go to trial…

The Widening Gyre

All it takes to be a “sex trafficking expert” is to declare yourself one, and to be able to tell tall tales with a straight face:  “Detective [Bill] Woolf said he’s seen some horrifying things working with victims.  ‘Girls have been…locked in refrigerators as punishment for not performing various sex acts’…

Bottleneck

Despite the fact that she found some sex workers to support this precursor to criminalization, remember that about 90% of whores worldwide prefer to work illegally than submit to licensing:

A…[politician] wants to force sex workers in Buenos Aires City to register their names with authorities…[as] part of a larger bill that seeks to impose regulation…in order to “distinguish sexual work from human-trafficking”…Maria Rachid…insists [the registry] will be confidential and only accessible to competent authorities…

The “competent authorities” are the most dangerous ones.

King of the Hill

Prince George’s County…[is] seeking to crack down on human trafficking…by banning hourly rentals of hotel rooms…The Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force has called the state a “hot spot” for trafficking on account of…Interstate 95…bus stops and truck stops…The state ranks eighth in the country for…human trafficking-related reports.  Police in Prince George’s County have conducted a number of high-profile prostitution stings in recent years…

With Friends Like These…

I’ll bet this delusional ignoramus thinks he’s being “fair” and “sensible”:

…Most of the women who enter the sex trade have done so before a true age of consent.  They are…dependent on their pimps and usually on one or more narcotic substances, they have entered the sex industry as serfs…They age at an exponential rate of maybe 5 to 1…The average age is 13.  Some victims are as young as 9 and 10…many…are…literally…abducted…the reality for most…lured into this work is…a seven-year life expectancy…I think that regulating the sex work industry — granting and renewing licenses…would give sex workers some of the protections they want and make it possible for…authorities to rescue teen sex slaves…this…recognizes both the reality of human behavior…and this new…exploitation of children…There is an explosion of pornography…and…perversion.  Americans are oversexed…Something is deeply wrong in our culture and…spiritual life.  And I have to think that this is related to the sexualizing…of children…

Dysphemisms Galore 

“Authorities” have no idea how moronic they sound:

Ramona Judith Mora Garcia…pleaded guilty…to two felony counts of conspiracy to commit pimping…Garcia is a pimp/ modern-day slave owner who exploits women and/or children for financial gain.  She required the victims in this case to turn over half the payment they received for performing unlawful sex acts from sex purchasers…

Book Review:  America’s War on Sex

At long last, Dr. Marty Klein has made a public statement against “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…if you define trafficking broadly enough, it does look like there are a million or more victims…Some…define [it] to include all prostitutes…[and] porn actresses…No wonder these…“researchers” get such enormous, scary, numbers…activists keep warning of the number of people “at risk” for being sex trafficked…because they’re poor, or unloved, or drug-addicted, or have trouble with English.  Using that logic, 45 million Americans are “at risk” of dying in plane crashes every month, and twenty million Californians are “at risk” of dying in car crashes every week…

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Ohio now has “trafficking court” as well:

Judge Paul…Herbert’s five-year-old human trafficking court…[is] the first…in Ohio…The court is an intensive two-year commitment that starts with women arrested for prostitution pleading guilty before Herbert.  They’re required to enter counseling programs…Erica Cortez said…”I had to completely surrender to what they were trying to show me”…

China and Vietnam recently abandoned coerced “re-education” for sex workers, but Americans are embracing it.  Welcome to the future.

Rough Trade (TW3 #351)

Jillian Keenan is proving herself a worthy ally:

…If history is any evidence, serial rapists target sex workers first.  And when they get away with it, they’re…free to hunt all women…Prostitutes who report sexual assault to police can be laughed at, ignored, accused of lying, arrested, or worse…New York State’s…rape shield law—which protects rape victims from having their sexual histories used against them in criminal proceedings—explicitly does not apply to anyone with a prostitution conviction…And when an…Oakland [California] sex worker…applied for state-funded victim compensation after…rape left her unable to return to work immediately, she was denied support…The police and criminal justice systems treat sex workers as though rape were a mere “occupational hazard” of their work — an accusation that would never be thrown at a bank teller who survived a robbery…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

This parody springs from the absolutely true observation that “if the risk of sexual assault on campus were truly one in five…no parent in their right mind would send their daughter to coed universities.”

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #431)

File this one under “100% predictable”:

…Surabaya…mayor…Ibu Tri Rismaharini…[assumed] that Dolly’s sex workers would be eager to take up a lower-paid…vocation, such as cookery or garment making…[but] only 476 sex workers bothered to claim their $400…severance package…the overwhelming majority of ex-Dolly sex workers are now…undercover – working Surabaya’s streets, hotels and karaoke bars…prior to the shutdown the sex workers…told us that they would…go on selling sexual services no matter what…But…the shutdown went ahead regardless…

Bait and Switch

If you believe this, I suggest you reread the original of this title:

Long Beach police…arrested 91 suspected pimps and johns during an eight-month investigation aimed at combating sex trafficking.  Authorities also recovered 22 young women who they alleged were working as prostitutes…In one case, a man arranged to have sex with two children under the age of 10…When the trunk of his car was searched…a large roll of carpeting, several rolls of duct tape, handcuffs, and a magazine full of bullets were found…

“Recovered” means “abducted and caged”.

Surplus Women (TW3 #439)

Peechington Marie on the lack of media concern for Tjhisha Ball, Angelia Mangum and black sex workers in general:

…Little has been said about the murder of…these young women, and what has been said either glosses over or luridly magnifies one very important factor…Tjhisha and Angelia worked as exotic dancers…Even in…mostly positive [articles]…I walked away…feeling both shameful and shamed, as if they were written to say, “News reports say they were exotic dancers, quick, let’s fight to erase that so the girls can appear deserving of our sorrow and rage”…

The fundraiser for their funeral expenses is still open for donations.

The Roof Caves In (TW3 #439)

Somaly Mam’s…comeback scheme…hinges on that one Marie Claire interview, acquired in the course of four and a half days on the ground by Abigail Pesta…the interview is spurious.  It paints all of the allegations against Mam as unique to Newsweek, when in fact they are of a compendium of years’ worth of investigative work…Simon Marks…had done at the Cambodia Daily…one of the…Marie Claire sources, Thou Soy, works for AFESIP…and…holds a stake in seeing Mam’s reputation restored…only 49 percent of…women and girls at AFESIP shelters…could be considered “trafficked” under any definition of the term…and…the job training…[they] receive…is largely suited for employment in the service industry and Cambodia’s $5.53 billion garment sector…It’s one reason the global garment industry may be one of the primary sources of funding for anti-trafficking NGOs…C-36 hearings

Whither Canada? (TW3 #439)

Unlike their US counterpart, the Canadian media are not only politicians’ lap dogs:

…Alan Young…had a lot to say…about the constitutionality of…bill [C36] and where his focus would be if he…[challenges] it.  Few Conservative senators seemed terribly interested…apparently they’re content with assurances from Justice lawyers that the bill is constitutionally sound.  This is the same Justice Department, of course, that argued the previous law was constitutional…I wouldn’t trust these people to tell me it’s raining…What does it say about the Senate if everyone already knows what they will do with one of the most hotly debated and controversial bills in recent memory?  Forget about sober second thought.  Can we at least get some thought?

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We have to accept the truth…the oldest profession in the world [will only disappear] when humans no longer exist.  –  Khuat Thu Hong

Who Did Your Tits? 

A Tampa massage therapist, Jasmine Tridevil…contacted more than 50 doctors before finding one who would give her [a] third breast…The surgeon she found couldn’t create a silicone areola, though, so she had one tattooed onto the implant, which is made from silicone and skin tissue from her stomach.  While Tridevil’s dream is to star in an MTV reality show, she [said]…she had the surgery to become “unattractive to men” in addition to gaining fame.  “I don’t want to date anymore,” she said…

Alas, there is strong evidence that the story is a hoax.

Safe Targets

Here’s a good example of how criminalization makes sex workers vulnerable to extortion; Terra Jones not only shares the actual letters, but details the total uselessness of Alaska cops in responding to them and explains how “sex trafficking” laws have made conditions even worse.

Anatomy of a Boondoggle

Any amount of criminalization, no matter how slight, gives “authorities” an excuse to harass whores, even to the point of paying men to rape them:  “Fred Allen…is a gun for hire, having received tens of thousands of dollars from Sydney’s…councils in exchange for crucial evidence that is presented in court to help expose and close underground parlours.  In short, Mr Allen has paid sex with prostitutes and ratepayers foot the bill…”  Yes, I would class having sex with a woman for the express purpose of harming her – stealing her job or even getting her deported – as a form of rape.  No, I don’t want to debate it.

Halfway Whores

VIP partyPearl-clutching sociologist agonizes over the “exploitation” involved in recruiting models for VIP parties; she says “This is a system of trafficking in women” and thinks it’s a problem that “the girls don’t seem to mind all that much”, indicating that she absolutely Does Not Get the halfway whore concept at all.

Welcome To Our World

surrogacy opponents…include…social conservatives and Christians, especially Catholics, who either see surrogacy as unnatural and immoral or a gateway for gay parents, and some feminist groups, who see surrogacy as exploitative…Even the ostensibly pro-surrogacy crowd seems to favor making surrogacy more complicated and less accessible…[such] solutions [are billed] as “pro surrogacy” because they don’t outright forbid or criminalize the practice but…create more categories of people who can’t participate and raise financial costs and privacy invasion for those who do…

The Proper Study

A new Canadian study won’t surprise anyone who’s been listening to sex worker activists, but the backup comes at a crucial time:

Researchers have released…the first national report on the sex industry in Canada…based on five studies undertaken in St. John’s, Montréal, Kitchener, Fort McMurray, Calgary, and Victoria…“Many of the people linked to Canada’s sex industry—workers and their intimate partners, managers and clients—have much in common with other Canadians”…The average age of sex workers’ first sale was 26 years old…29 percent of sex workers first sold…sex…before …19…The average sex worker has 10 years of experience…67 percent of sex workers finished high school, and 15 percent have a bachelor’s degree or more…77 percent…identify as women, 17 percent as men, and 6 percent as other genders…Sex buyers purchase a sexual service a median of four times a year…only 17 percent bought sex on the street…

Surplus Women

Angelia Mangum & Tjhisha BallThe bodies of two Tampa teenagers…Angelia Mangum, 19, and Tjhisha Ball, 18, were found…[on a Jacksonville roadside] bound with zip ties and lying on top of one another…both…had been…working there as exotic dancers…”  Naturally, the media cares more about recounting their record of a couple of petty offenses than about two young women whom society considered disposable.  A fundraiser has been started to assist their families with funeral costs.

Follow Your Bliss

No, he didn’t “turn pedophile”; he took this job on purpose to enable and cover up his crimes:

…Gregory Pyle…of…Illinois…was sentenced to 50 years in prison…after confessing to sexually abusing a child and distributing images…online.  Pyle was a 10-year veteran of his police department who…worked in a child predator task force…and…used his position…to obstruct the investigation into his actions…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

88-year-old grandfather, Edwin Venn, was arrested…for prostitution, along with his john Amanda Pearson, 23.  Police had been watching Venn for several months and noticed a peculiar  pattern…Mr. Venn stood most weekend nights with cardboard sign on Hollywood Blvd that read:  “I’m for sale.”  Pearson admitted during her arraignment that when she found the 88-year-old Venn trying to turn tricks she and her friends decided it would be funny to sleep “with an old guy”.  Word spread and lots of girls paid Venn for sex.  Pearson said he only charged five dollars and gave them lollipops afterward.

The Public Eye

Here’s another sex worker on a reality TV show:

Kate McGrew [says sex work] is…”an aspect of my feminism…sex workers…have good strategy.  People say it cheapens the experience [of sex]…No, it doesn’t, it makes it more expensive”…

And one who was previously on a show runs for office:Charlotte Rose

One of the independent candidates for the Clacton by-election is Exeter sex worker Charlotte Rose…[who] previously appeared in a…TV series…called Love For Sale…[with] Rupert Everett and Russell Brand.  “My main policy is about sexual freedom…I also want there to be better sexual education in schools”…The former teacher and mother-of-two…was hounded out [of her neighborhood] by locals following media attention sparked by the TV show…

Smoke and Mirrors

Another case in which the truth is so obscured by exaggeration, dysphemisms, myths and lies that we’ll probably never know what really happened:

A…[Missouri] Judge sentenced 24-year-old Tiffany Piper to eight years in prison for selling two high school girls for sex…managed the [girls' work]…and placed ads online…[prosecutors claim that]  someone was [previously] trafficking Tiffany Piper for sex…[and] said…”At some point she was no longer a victim…because she perpetrated the same crimes that were perpetrated upon her”…[they] can`t say who first trafficked Piper, or who worked above her, because Piper never said…

The narrative simply doesn’t allow the prosecutor to admit that there is no shadowy “pimp” pulling the strings here, so Piper becomes the scapegoat.

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #42)

in recent months a fierce debate over whether to legalise and regulate the sex industry [in Vietnam] has sprung up online and in the official press…even the National Assembly is due to address the issue at its next session in October…Researchers estimate there are around 200,000 sex workers in Vietnam…”We should legalise prostitution because it is part of human rights. Everybody has the right to enjoy sex,” said sociologist Le Quang Binh…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #311)

Given that the Immigrant Council is one of the groups trying to impose the Swedish model on Ireland, I trust you can see the endgame here:

A report…finds that victims of sex trafficking are left vulnerable to further abuse in…[Ireland's] direct provision centres because they can be easily contacted or intimidated by pimps and traffickers…the Immigrant Council of Ireland said…”traffickers have actually used the asylum system for residency and accommodation while simultaneously trafficking victims”…

rubber stampLack of Evidence (TW3 #316)

California Governor Jerry Brown [signed]…legislation which now requires district attorneys to get a court’s permission to use possession of more than one condom as potential evidence [of]…prostitution…”  How this will play out in real-world courtrooms:

DA: Your honor, I need permission to use these condoms as evidence, because “sex trafficking”.  It’s for the children!

Judge:  Granted.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #403)

sex workers…and advocates submitted a report to the United Nations…on human rights violations committed in the U.S. against sex workers…and those profiled as such…Best Practices Policy Project (BPPP), Desiree Alliance and Sex Worker Outreach Project-NYC (SWOP-NYC) [documented] extensive violations of the right to equal protection before the law, the right to be free of cruel and inhuman punishment, and the right to health…Due process violations are also rampant…The report…[calls] on the U.S…to make good on a [2011] commitment…to address discrimination and violence against sex workers…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #410)

Another good article attacking the “rape culture” myth:

…Both critics and supporters…note [that]…While the CDC estimates that nearly 2 million adult American women were raped in 2011 and nearly 6.7 million suffered some other form of sexual violence, the NCVS estimate for that year was 238,000 rapes and sexual assaults…[the high numbers result from a loose definition of rape, but by this standard]…the…CDC [found] that women rape men as often as men rape women.  The CDC also reports that men account for over a third of those experiencing…“sexual coercion”…defined as being pressured into sexual activity by psychological means:  lies or false promises, threats to end a relationship or spread negative gossip, or “making repeated requests” for sex and expressing unhappiness at being turned down…We must either start treating sexual assault as a gender-neutral issue or stop using the CDC’s inflated statistics…

The Scarlet Letter (TW# #413)

At least a few reporters are publishing critical views of currently-fashionable “john shaming” tyranny:

…“This violates the bedrock principle that punishment should not begin until you are convicted,” says Jonathan Simon…[of] Berkeley Law…“It’s the police saying, ‘We’re going to punish you upfront’…This isn’t just a few days in jail.  It’s distinctly degrading treatment, public exposure that puts people at risk of long-term internal trauma …it’s the kind of thing that the 8th Amendment…was designed to prevent”…assistant professor Andrea Roth says…“Public humiliation affects a lot of people besides the johns…People say, ‘I saw your dad or husband on Facebook,’ and that can be devastating.  Your career can be affected—maybe permanently, given that once something goes up on the Internet, it’s there forever. It can disrupt entire families”…

Full of Themselves (TW3 #418)

Of all the semi-whores, none are as pompous as masseuses; they even infect those who write about them:

…Many [massage parlors] are locally owned small businesses staffed by well-trained professionals who provide high-priced services.  On the other hand, some are fronts for brothels…California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new bill that acknowledges that the state’s last attempt to regulate the massage industry struck the wrong balance…centralizing power moved massage parlors outside the authority of local governments, which are more likely to know when a business is illegitimate…

Given that most unlicensed massage parlors are Asian-owned, there is a strong whiff of racism in phrases like “locally owned” and “high-priced services”.

The Roof Caves In

Somaly Mam has spoken out to defend herself for the first time…in the new issue of Marie Claire, Mam tells Abigail Pesta, “I didn’t lie”…she adds that she didn’t mount a legal fight against the claims because “I didn’t need a lawyer…I did nothing wrong.  My heart is my lawyer”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) 

Alan Young…summed up…bill [C36] as “a very confused response to a very clear judgment”…when…asked if the bill could be amended, he was unequivocal:  “No.”  As a constitutional lawyer, he said, he’d “have a field day” with the bill, given…irreconcilable inconsistencies between the objectives, as laid out in the preamble, and the text of the proposed laws…Young also challenged the assertion that the government had struck the appropriate balance…”How can you even talk about ‘balance’ when you use the word ‘asymmetrical’…I’ve never seen anything in the history of [Canadian] criminal law that sets up asymmetrical prohibitions”…

A Whore in Church (TW3 #433) 

If George is smart, he’ll call off his protests first:

…A letter to Pastor Bill Dunfee of New Beginnings Ministries and Foxhole North strip club owner Thomas George was sent by city officials asking them to stop the weekly protests of each other’s establishment…the feud is straining local law enforcement and hurting the community…[but] they can’t legally be stopped from protesting…George explained to [reporters] that he…believes it is necessary to draw attention to…harassment by Dunfee and his congregation…

Above the Law (TW3 #434) 

Another one from Oklahoma:

A Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy…accused of sexual assault and indecent exposure resigned…as investigators search for more victims…Gerald Nuckolls…was arrested…[after using drugs as a pretext] to ask [a woman] inappropriate questions and…exposed himself to [her]…Nuckolls reportedly said he had a problem with pretty women…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on August 31st; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

To those who aren’t sex workers and don’t make a full-time job out of following the developments in our  persecution, it must sometimes seem as though I’m exaggerating the awfulness of the situation.  Furthermore, those same people may not think the difference between decriminalization (as practiced in New Zealand) and legalization (as practiced in The Netherlands) is all that big a deal; many times I’ve been asked some variation of “every other job is regulated these days, so why should sex work be an exception?  And what about all the trafficked children?”  So I’m always glad to see someone else write about some specific aspect of the War on Whores in a degree of detail that neither my format nor my crowded schedule allow me time to match.  Today I present highlights of a recent article by the Dutch sex worker Zondares; the original is almost 5000 words and only the last in a series of six.  However, it is well worth your time, especially if you’re skeptical about the situation as I’ve described it; I’m hoping to whet your appetite by these selections, so that you’ll be moved to read the whole thing.

…very hostile actions against prostitutes have become not just accepted by the general public, but are actually viewed as productive efforts to combat trafficking…It started out with police raids on window prostitution areas.  The neighborhood would be closed down, a huge police force would storm the streets, with a ratio of more than 8 policemen per girl…These policemen would force their way into the work areas and take the sex workers to…government buildings for an all-night interrogation.  Meanwhile, police ravage the working areas and adjoining rooms, destroying any closed lockers, boxes, suitcases or bags…Police claim the women are free to go during these raids.  However…if you do try to leave they can order you to stay, and you’ll be arrested if you don’t comply…Every raid is claimed to be a success…[but] very few arrests are attributed to raids – and on closer inspection, this is always found to be false.Die Wallen  So far none of the raids have started any investigation ending in conviction…

So if the raids don’t do what they’re supposed to do, what’s the profit in doing them?

…Communications equipment like telephones or computers are taken, mostly never to be returned, and…there is…great emphasis on tracing your money.  If they can track down where your money has gone, it will be impounded, and never be released.  This is supposed to strike at the heart of trafficking.  If you don’t have a pimp to siphon off your earnings, you can lose much.  Hiding it at home doesn’t help you, because while you’re being interrogated, police has broken down your home door and is ransacking the place…As long as [your money was] moved legally, they can easily find it and take it…They claim you could get it back if detective work shows it to be clean, but so far I haven’t heard from anyone who actually had any returned.  Procedures to get anything returned are a waste of effort…

Think it’s better for independent escorts? Think again:

…The municipality is informed you’re working without a license…whether you need [one] or not…you’ve been in violation during your whole career, and they’re able to fine you tens of thousands of Euros…unless you submit to some other stipulation, like leaving the municipality or joining a licensed brothel.  Police will inform your building society, landlord or mortgage bank that you’re “running an illegal bordello” in your house.  This very often means eviction…If you’re the owner of your house, and it is not mortgaged, there is still the option of evicting you because you’re in breach of zoning laws…If [a part time] sex worker is caught…and they manage to track down where you work, they commonly inform your employer.  This very often ends in dismissal…In rare cases, insurance companies and banks have been informed their client was a sex worker.  Even those few financial institutions that don’t flat-out refuse services to hookers will do so after being “warned” by police.  Whether this is done intentionally to further ruin the sex worker or is a side-effect of police trying to track down money to impound is unclear…As if all the above weren’t enough, they go after your loved ones.  Not only do they tend to inform parents if you’re still in your early 20s, but if you have kids, those will come into the sights of youth services….Men in the house must mean violent pimps, another woman must mean that this was a crowded brothel where clients are tag-teamed, and when a 15-year old girl was present…the press…[didn't ask who she was]…Prostitution to them is a world of cardboard cut-outs, who don’t have relatives, who can’t babysit for a neighbour when between clients, who don’t live in houses where they also have a family, so anyone near them must be part of the misery porn story…

So why all of this torture; is it just petty sadism?  Not quite:

Once they’ve threatened you with all they’re willing to do to make you miserable, childless, homeless and jobless, they explain that if you would turn out to be a trafficking victim, then all this would disappear.  You would even get help, if you wanted.  All you have to do is claim that you were coerced, and accuse somebody.  Then everything will be right…every time a sex worker doesn’t want to give enough information to actually put anyone in prison, the cops are baffled…the National Rapporteur in her reports calls for even more explicit explanation of the choice between the government ruining your life or you coming up with an accusation.  Because if it isn’t because we’re too stupid to understand the decision we’re making, then she doesn’t understand why we would choose bearing the brunt of what government can throw at us over falsely accusing an innocent.  It can’t be morals, whores don’t have any, right?

The driver for all this, as you may have guessed, is “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The police [are] pretending to be fighting…gangs that don’t exist anymore, mafia structures that never did exist, claiming success after success, but never getting any real gangsters.  They use excessive violence to force whores to help them shore up their fantasy war on trafficking…the media are completely uncritical of government…and…choose to be complicit in hoaxes…pornographic element in the stories is camouflaged by pretending it is a story of heroism and courage…A small number of semi-professional victims dominate the soft news, misery porn books and documentaries.  They get new fake names for each publication, and because their stories change each time to fit prohibitionist fashion, the public tends to view each appearance as a new case…Nor are the media ever disillusioned when large scale police raids fail, over and over, to uncover any significant amount of trafficking, let alone coercion…

And absolutely everything constitutes “evidence”:

…If your husband picks up your work phone, he is obviously controlling you.  If you both testify you love each other, then that is an obvious lie, because no real loving husband would tolerate his wife doing something so vile as prostitution…If you work during your period, you’re working while sick, and that’s proof of coercion.  If your friend spots for you by calling for security words before and after bookings, that’s controlling your work and therefore evidence of coercion.  If your man bought lingerie or condoms, then he is supplying your work and this is proof of coercion…If [your husband] carries your handbag, he’s controlling your documents …If there are deeds to his name, that’s evidence of him exploiting you – and if the deeds are to your name, that’s evidence he’s using you as a shield…

There’s a lot more, but I think you get the idea. Of course, some who read this still won’t believe it:

People are very hesitant to question trafficking dogma, even if they can see that it defies facts.  They will not…doubt the overarching mythology despite seeing it conflicts with reality in any part they can actually see for themselves…They view us as bizarre caricatures, and find it difficult, inconceivable, embarrassing, painful even, to consider that we might be people in charge of our life, with different choices and different values…Toy theatre c.1845-50

Cardboard cutouts are useful for acting out childish narratives; they can be moved around and put in any part of the flat, simply-colored background picture one wishes.  And unlike real people, they don’t argue and refuse to play the parts for which they were created.

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To believe that we can eliminate sex work…without…affecting other industries…operates on the assumption that sex work happens in isolation—that what happens on the back page doesn’t affect the front, when, in fact, it’s financing the whole operation.  –  Alexandra Kimball

Think of the Children!

The Telegraph‘s headline writer obviously doesn’t know the meaning of the term “graphic novel”:

A council worker who wrote a “raunchy” novel was sacked from her job at a children’s centre after complaints from parents who compared the book to Fifty Shades of Grey.  Bettina Bunte…was…told…that her book damaged the reputation of the…centre…

Five Women in Whitechapel Russell Edwards with supposed Ripper shawl

You’ve probably heard all the hubbub about Jack the Ripper being “definitely” identified by DNA testing of a shawl supposedly found next to the mutilated body of Catherine Eddowes (cue Maggie’s goose pimples).  Unfortunately, we’ll still have to put up with the endless speculation for a while yet:

…Leaving aside…the claim that the shawl was never washed or cleaned at any time during the past 126 years, the biggest problem in carrying out such sensitive DNA analysis is the question of cross contamination…When other labs have worked on the ancient DNA of important samples…they have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid the possibility…They have also worked…“blind”…to ensure they do know which sample they are analysing in order to avoid unwitting prejudice…None of this, as far we know, has been done in this case.  Dr Louhelainen may be satisfied that he has found the culprit, but many other scientists are not, including Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, the man who invented the DNA fingerprint technique…“An interesting but remarkable claim that needs to be subjected to peer review, with detailed analysis of the provenance of the shawl and the nature of the claimed DNA match with the perpetrator’s descendants”…Sir Alec [said, adding]…“Kosminski was long regarded as by far the most likely perpetrator.”

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

[Florida cop James Yacobellis, who was]…busted in a…sting of a Boca Raton Asian massage parlor…isn’t a stranger to trouble…in one instance…he…[threatened] a suspect by putting him in a bathtub, turning on the faucet, and pointing his taser…between October 2011 and February 2013, Yacobellis was on paid leave while [other] allegations were being investigated.  He was still drawing a $87,000 a year salary…In nine years, Yacobellis was involved in six …internal affairs investigations.

Perquisites

Funny how the truth doesn’t get as much press as silly lies about sports:

…So far there are about 13,000 delegates lined up to attend 18 events when the Nova Centre opens in 2016.  Local sex workers expect that will make business busier than usual.  “A lot of businessmen have an entertainment allowance”…said one Halifax-based sex worker.  “Out-of-town clients are about 60 percent of the business right now.”  Business travellers are why one local sex worker allows clients to pay by credit card—with the nature of the transaction concealed.  “A lot of them will use [their company credit card] or write it off as a business expense,” she says…

The Law of Averages 

It’s good to see this in as mainstream a publication as The Atlantic:

There is little basis for the claim that 13…is the age that most sex workers begin working in prostitution.  It’s hard to pin down where exactly the…claim originated, partly because it’s so often repeated without a citation or context…Most organizations, if they refer to a source at all, reference [the Estes & Weiner] study…Most current government and nonprofit policies on sex work define their goals as “rescue,” which makes perfect sense if the age-of-entry statistic is central to your understanding of the sex industry…But…in reality, many sex workers come into the industry as adults and without coercion…

StruwwelpeterAuthor Chris Hall does discuss the Silbert & Pines study, but does not mention Melissa Farley’s distortion of their data.

Presents, Presents, Presents! 

Daz sent two presents while I was on the road, so I only saw them after I got home last week!  One was Acolytes of Cthulhu, and the other Struwwelpeter (in English).  Thank you so much!

Confined and Controlled

Another idiot who doesn’t understand the bottleneck effect and thinks women are too stupid and weak to be allowed to manage our own sexuality:

A mayoral candidate says he wants Ottawa to be the “test city” for legalizing prostitution and is in favour of legalized bordellos.  Darren W. Wood…says he wants prostitution to be “tightly controlled and highly taxed” as a means of protecting sex workers and generating revenue…Under his proposal, sex workers would be…regularly checked for sexually transmitted infections, protected from pimps and johns via an onsite security system and fined or jailed if they are working without a license…

The Last Thirteen for Fourteen

Here’s another excellent column from Marijke Vonk; this one’s on how to be a good ally to sex workers:

…By vocally supporting sex workers we can challenge the  assumptions of the people around us…As professionals, academics, social workers, educators or people in a position of social power we can…even influence legislative reform…It can be scary to openly disagree with the current discourse of sex workers as either victims or dirty whores who were asking for it, but as a non-sex worker you have the privilege of staying relatively safe as you speak out about these injustices…

The Public Eye

Pop singer Lowell spent some time as a stripper in Canada…[but while] a lot of singers might cover up that past…it became immediately obvious that she has nothing to hide…She’s been [drawing on her stripping and bisexuality]…since her brilliant 2013 EP, I Killed Sarah V(Sarah Victoria was her name when she was a dancer).  She told Rolling Stone, “There can be something really empowering about [stripping]…by making it taboo, we alienate these girls and allow…victimization to happen.”  It’s important to bring those kinds of ideas into the mainstream…


Feminine Pragmatism (TW3 #133)

You’d almost think reporters were historical ignoramuses who didn’t know that up until a century ago, the professions of actress and whore were indistinguishable:

Shweta Prasad, one of India’s best known former Bollywood child stars, has been arrested for prostitution…she said…she and many other actresses had been lured into prostitution when Bollywood roles dried up and the money ran out.  She had not found a film role in eight years…Inspector P Murali Krishna…said…“We are treating her as a victim and she’s been sent to a rehabilitation home.  We have arrested the person who exploited her”…

A 23-year-old woman voluntarily doing productive work is an “exploited victim”, but she wasn’t at all exploited when others pimped her in movies at the age of 11.  But in India, unlike the US, some are willing to point out the truth:

…the law clearly says that the practice of selling…sexual service is…not a crime…the actress…had not been coerced, kidnapped or tricked…but had chosen this from among the options available to her…the media [should] refrain from gleefully jumping in with police stings that are unauthorised and illegal…it wasn’t the activities of the actress that were illegal but the actions of the police…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Canadians feminists prove themselves just as obsessed with trivia as their sisters in the mother country:

A Vancouver catering company that offers sushi served on women’s naked bodies is sparking controversy among feminists who call the practice disgusting and degrading…“We’re not hijacked into doing this,” [said] Vancouver model Jessica Perry…Naked Sushi…offers nyotaimori— the Japanese practice of serving sashimi or sushi on a naked female body adorned with strategically-placed flowers and leaves…women’s rights activists are asking health officials to shut [it] down…the health authority does not have jurisdiction over the catering company as it serves its sushi after the food is prepared in an approved kitchen…

My First Million (TW3 #343)

I reached a total of three million page views soon after 2:30 PM CDT Thursday.  Thanks so much to all the readers who have helped make this blog a success! 3,000,000

O, Canada! (TW3 #405) 

Cop gets in trouble for unofficially doing the same thing other cops do officially:

Six guilty verdicts…against an Ottawa [cop] who…repeatedly…[accessed] confidential police records for personal reasons could result in dismissal.  Sgt. Rohan Beebakhee…took it upon himself to book dates with escorts, showing up in full uniform and having what he called a “safety briefing” with sex trade workers…He would often bring along junior officers…An internal affairs investigator…ordered in 2011 that Beebakhee stop all contact with escorts.  He didn’t…Beebakhee…was charged with sexual assault…in 2007 [but the] charge was withdrawn in 2009…

Property of the State

Note that at 12 weeks abortion is totally legal:

A [Montana] woman…is now facing a felony criminal endangerment charge for putting her unborn child at risk by taking illegal drugs.  Casey Gloria Allen, 21…[tested] positive for the presence of benzodiazapines, THC, and opiates…Allen is 12 weeks pregnant…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) 

Excerpt from a press release by Terri-Jean Bedford:

This afternoon I testified before the Senate Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs.  I gave my speech and then was ejected from the question and answer session for failing to stop speaking when the Chair asked me to.  I apologize for losing my temper.  I was barely able to read my speech because I was so angry at the government for parading victims with repeated irrelevant information and then organizations who were shilling for government handouts on which they are dependent.  The shameful use of victims by the government in this process, and their disregard for life by ignoring court findings, refusing to listen to their own legal staff and refusing to answer questions from legitimate sources made me snap…

If Men Were Angels

So now joining a cult is “sex trafficking” too?

Four members of [an Israeli] messianic group have been arrested on charges of kidnapping young women and forcing them into prostitution …the group would control women with a combinations of drugs, alcohol and heavy brainwashing techniques and convince them to have sex in exchange for money…Police allege that the girls were taught that “lying with non-Jews would hasten the redemption” of the Jewish people and that by having sex with non-Jews, the girls would purify them and bring back their “holy sparks” to Israel…

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Another good call for Canadian queers to oppose criminalization:

The government…[has] a…history of criminalizing consensual sex to promote the majority’s sexual morality.  Think of the ban against gay sex, lifted in 1969.  Nobody suggests that ban really changed people’s desire to engage in gay sex or reduced its incidence.  Instead, it cast a stigma and criminal status over a class of individuals [and]…impaired their ability to participate as full and equal members of society.  It also made people who had gay sex vulnerable to blackmail and less able to seek police protection when threatened…If you are a trans person…many obstacles still face you in Canada.  But if you are gay or lesbian…it’s a good place to be…[because] of political and legal struggles over past decades.  The beneficiaries of these reforms have a responsibility to fight a law that flies in the face of our experience…the commitment to sexual justice that underlay our earlier struggles entails fully decriminalizing adult sex work.

Bait and Switch

You can bet that “minor child” in this context actually means “young woman above the age of consent but below 18″:

…Timothy S. Griesemer was found guilty of attempted sex trafficking of a minor and…faces up to life in prison…he sent a text message to a female acquaintance indicating he was looking for a minor child.  The woman contacted…police who…[called] the U.S. Secret Service…

Another Fine Mess

More about the long pre-internet history of sex work advertising:

…There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangeredWhile most sex workers are online…many also use free dailies and weeklies to reach markets that aren’t as amenable to the Internet…online ad sites [are also more] vulnerable to government shutdowns…and…clients who are wary of online transactions are liable to see escorts with print ads as less likely to cheat or scam them…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on July 13th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

massage parlor raidAfter generations of ignoring the violence against sex workers which is directly or indirectly caused by either full (as in the US) or partial (as in the UK) criminalization, the public is slowly beginning to wake up to the reality: most of it is perpetrated by the police.  Prohibitionists and “authorities” want everyone to believe the opposite, that clients and “pimps” inflict the most violence, and that the police are welcome “rescuers” from it.  Nothing could be farther from the truth; in every study of violence against sex workers ever done (such as this one from India), police are the largest victimizers and clients and pimps the least, with domestic partners and people empowered or emboldened by the marginalization of sex workers in the middle.  And despite the best efforts of those who need the public to support ever more criminalization in order to punish men for being men or to enlarge the police state, the truth is beginning to leak out, and we see new stories of police violence against sex workers almost every month.  Some of this is due to the efforts of sex workers ourselves; some is due to the diligent efforts of allies and ethical journalists; some is due to the stupidity and hubris of the police; and some is simply the natural result of omnipresent surveillance, the internet and a 24-hour news cycle always hungry for lurid stories.

In just the past few months, there have been a number of incidents that provoked public outcry on sex workers’ behalf against the heavy-handed behavior of governments and the violence of police.  In December, sex workers in Soho were subjected to a pogrom in which they were manhandled, robbed and dragged out into the street in freezing weather in their underwear; the public learned about it first from news photographers the police had themselves invited along.  In March, the world was scandalized to hear that cops in Hawaii wanted the explicit legal right to rape sex workers before arresting them.  In April, the general public finally began to notice Phoenix, Arizona’s Project ROSE, in which women profiled as sex workers are arrested in mass sweeps, denied legal representation and forced into religious brainwashing programs under threat of incarceration in Arizona’s brutal prison system; later that month, the world heard of the US government’s threats against financial institutions to get them to “voluntarily” cut off services to sex workers and other target groups.  In May non-sex workers were shocked to see the surveillance video of a Chicago massage parlor raid in which a handcuffed, kneeling woman was beaten and subjected to racist insults and death threats; only a week later, Newsweek published an article exposing the lies and fabrications of Somaly Mam, who pays Cambodian police to abduct sex workers and lock them in filthy, crowded cells at her “rescue centers”, where they are beaten, robbed, gang-raped and starved while their “savior” hobnobs with celebrities and receives accolades from anti-whore fanatics.

These stories all have two things in common.  The first is that, while they are shocking to the general public, sex workers and those who work closely with us have known about them (or in the case of single-instance atrocities, many others like them) for years or decades; it’s simply that until recently, nobody wanted to listen.  The second is that those who shocked by them generally believe them to be isolated incidents rather than recognizing them as business as usual, merely visible outcroppings of the police violence that underlies the entire landscape of criminalization.  While I was glad to see people upsetcop rapes sex worker about Somaly Mam’s torture porn and abusive practices, they need to understand that these are endemic to the rescue industry everywhere.  Though I was grateful at the outcry over Project ROSE, I am frustrated at the media’s cover-up of similar rights-violating programs which are merely less obvious because they lack that special Arizona lunacy.  Though I was relieved at the disgust people expressed toward the racist Chicago thugs, I am sad that most of them seem to think this was unusual, when in fact it is wholly typical behavior during any massage parlor raid.  And despite the apparent public belief that the situation in Hawaii was unique,

…This is standard operating procedure everywhere in the United States, and the only thing unusual about Hawaii is that it’s spelled out in law.  Just in case you’re a new reader or have a short memory, here are three examples from just last year:  Indiana,  Florida and Pennsylvania are all especially shameless in their defense of government-authorized rape, excusing it by claiming that sex workers are “sophisticated” (while simultaneously being pathetic, infantile victims)…

The sad fact is that none of these scandals is unusual in any way, except for the fact that they came to the attention of the public.  And they will continue to be business as usual until that public stops pretending otherwise and demands the abolition of prohibition.

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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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