Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. – Paulo Freire
One new item, ten updates and two meta-updates.
The President’s Nanny
On Tuesday the AP published the terribly sad story of Evie, a transgender woman who was little “Barry” Obama’s nanny when his family lived in Indonesia from 1969-1971. “When the family left…things started going downhill. She moved in with a boyfriend…three years later…she became a sex worker…soldiers often…loaded them into trucks, and brought them to a field where they were kicked, hit and otherwise abused.” After one especially brutal raid in 1985 in which a friend was beaten to death, Evie went back to dressing as a man, found solace in religion and now at 66 “says she’s just waiting to die.” She only recently realized that the US president was her old charge, and says she’s proud: “Now when people call me scum…I can just say: ‘But I was the nanny for the President of the United States!‘” The White House had no comment.
Celebrities (August 20th, 2010)
English football star Louis Saha explains why footballers prefer escorts to amateurs: “…women are the greatest temptation…a young player…can quickly be taken in, seduced by the girl who will cash in with a kiss-and-tell to the newspapers. So it’s hard to know who to trust and you become paranoid where women are concerned. Some players therefore prefer to use escorts.” This confused a writer at Deadspin, who apparently cannot comprehend that an indiscreet whore is soon an unemployed one.
Election Day (November 2nd, 2010)
Though activists have been trying for decades to call attention to the insanity of allowing cops to use condoms as “evidence of prostitution”, and a bill to ban the practice was introduced into the New York state legislature several years ago, the light bulb appears to have just gone on for the mainstream media. The Daily Kos and The Atlantic both noted that though the asinine policy is widespread, New York is the first state where a legislator had the sense to introduce a bill to prevent it. Both stories mention that Human Rights Watch will release a report on American “condom possession” policies in July, and both interviewed representatives of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, whose link was recently added to the “Organizations & Allies” box on the right. NCHRC has also asked me to call attention to their video on sex worker violence prevention, and I’m happy to do so.
License To Rape (November 16th, 2010)
One would expect a publication named Reason to oppose criminalization of sex work, and one would not be disappointed; here’s its coverage of a hooker-raping cop:
A New Mexico state trooper is on paid administrative leave after being arrested…for coercing prostitutes to have sex with him. Timothy Carlson first came to the attention of the Albquerque PD…when they caught him in his car with a prostitute…Why he wasn’t arrested then is a mystery…[after] a nearly year-long investigation…[he was caught]…with a prostitute…[who was] a confidential informant…[she told investigators] Carlson threatened to arrest her if she didn’t sleep with him…[He] faces extortion, bribery, public corruption and rape charges. Advocates of decriminalizing prostitution often point out that sex workers suffer appalling violence and extortion at the hands of…law enforcement officers…
The story also links several other “isolated” incidents.
Coming and Going (February 10th, 2011)
“Davidson County [Tennessee] Sheriff Dacron Hall…[said] “If you weigh out what happens here – the police time, the arrest, the booking, all of this…what’s the net effect?…the criminalization of this process is very expensive,” he said. “I’m just not sure it can’t be done in other ways.” If you think county streetwalker stings are expensive, how about this? “…[The case against] Anna Gristina was…built from a five-year-long investigation by a Manhattan district attorney’s office unit…[involving] hundreds of hours of surveillance…Minors were involved in some of the encounters Gristina arranged, the prosecutor said…” Of course they had to add the bit about minors (which is almost certainly a lie) to avoid the inevitable questions like why the hell the average New Yorker should approve of this multi-year, multimillion dollar boondoggle.
Backlash (March 22nd, 2011)
It’s truly sad that actions of American cops in the three previous items are nearly indistinguishable from those of South African cops:
…Cape Town sex [workers say]…it was a regular occurrence for police to herd together sex workers at night and strip them naked before throwing them into their vans. They would then take photos to “identify them in case they go missing”. It was not uncommon for the sex workers to be pepper-sprayed, even on their private parts…In a recent study conducted by the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC), 12 percent of Cape Town’s sex workers reported having been raped by police, 46 percent threatened by police, and 28 percent forced into sexual favours by police…National police spokesman Vishnu Naidoo said…“It (sex work) is a crime…In the handling of these cases, it’s often misconstrued as harassment”…
Well, Naidoo’s statement certainly clears that up! The police are allowed to beat, rape and pepper-spray prostitutes, so it’s “official handling” rather than harassment, and that makes it OK.
Mind Reading (June 1st, 2011)
More on the suit against Utah’s “acting sexy” law:
A federal judge excused Salt Lake City’s police chief from a lawsuit filed by escort services…Utah’s attorney general remains a defendant. Utah law…[was amended] last year…to include any person who performs acts such as exposing or touching themselves…[which] the escort services argued…[criminalizes stripping]…Andrew McCullough, who is representing [the services]…said [an] escort already has been arrested under the amended law…[after] an undercover officer “tried everything he could…[to trick her, then] arrested her anyway…for touching herself…” State lawyers argued that people can be charged…only if they use those gestures as a sign they’re willing to engage in sex for money…
It takes a special mixture of balls and stupidity to defend unconstitutional laws with tautology.
Where Are the Protests? (December 3rd, 2011)
“Hello, Mr. Kristof; we thought you’d like to report on a trafficked slave who was held right here in New York! What’s that? No, there was no sex involved…Mr. Kristof? Hello? Hellooooo…?”
A wealthy New York woman is facing criminal charges…[for] keeping an illegal immigrant as an indentured servant and forcing her to live in a closet for nearly six years. Documents posted on the Smoking Gun allege that Annie George, 39, and her now-deceased husband, Mathai Kolath George, hired an illegal immigrant [identied as V.M.] from the Indian state of Kerala…[promising her] about $1,000 a month in wages to…care [for] the Georges’ four young children [and perform] household duties in the mansion…instead…V.M. received 85 cents an hour, working 17-hour days, seven days a week, over the 67 months she was kept inside the George residence…Annie George…[faces] charges of encouraging and inducing an illegal alien to reside in the U.S…
So a middle-class independent escort with a six-figure income is a “trafficked slave”, but a woman lured from India under false pretenses, paid starvation wages and locked in a closet at night is an “indentured servant” in a “forced labor situation”. Furthermore, the escort’s legal husband could be imprisoned for decades and robbed of everything he owns for the “crime” of “human trafficking”, but someone who actually held someone captive is only charged with “encouraging an illegal alien”. Nice.
Scapegoats (January 26th, 2012)
The Daily Mail published mug shots of the three “conspirators”, but had to settle for a stock photo of the “victim”:
A husband, his wife and her lover have been charged with conspiracy to commit bestiality after using Craigslist to find a dog for the wife to have sex with. Shane Walker and his wife Sarah Dae, who describe themselves as swingers in an open marriage, were arrested [with her lover Robert Aucker] after an undercover sting operation…The two men were to watch while Sarah Dae had sex with the dog…Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio…wrote to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster after the arrest of two people for using the website to solicit dogs for sex. Arpaio asked for closer monitoring of the site, but said after the latest arrest: “I remain extremely disappointed in the leadership at Craigslist.com for refusing to do what they can to stop this. While they aren’t doing anything to stop it, I will continue to enforce all animal cruelty laws.”
This is the same sheriff who didn’t bother to investigate over 400 sex crimes reported to his office, including 32 child molestations (some of the victims as young as 2). But I’m sure the parents of those molested kids will agree that it’s much more important for the sheriff’s office to pester businessmen and set up elaborate “sting” operations in order to perform the vital state function of preventing dogs from screwing air hostesses…oops, I mean “enforcing animal cruelty laws”.
Good News, Bad News (February 18th, 2012)
American politicians, afflicted as they are with Puritanism and a medieval “law and order” mentality, can almost be forgiven for their incredible stupidity on prostitution issues. But Western Australia has several examples of successful legal models right next door, yet has descended into “trafficking hysteria” and may even succumb to the Swedish disease, as explained in this email from a WA politician:
…the Government’s proposed legislation will…greatly reduce the legality and visibility of prostitution…[via] the ‘Swedish model’ of targeting clients and brothel owners…If we actually wish to tackle trafficking in Western Australia, then this bill is our best hope…Any other approach will only serve to increase the elements of organized crime in prostitution and only perpetuate many more victims…
New South Wales and Queensland beg to differ about “any other approach” increasing “organized crime”…
A Whore in Church (January 10th, 2012)
Reverend Lia Scholl has advocated for sex workers for more than 10 years and is currently on the board of the Red Umbrella Project in New York. She recently wrote an excellent essay entitled “Church and Sex Work” which argues that churchgoers should not merely refrain from fighting prostitution or trying to rescue prostitutes, but should actively welcome sex workers in their community. Please read it in its entirety; we definitely need more people like Reverend Lia!
The bizarre competition between various jurisdictions claiming to be the most important source, destination or route for “human trafficking” has a new entrant, which insists that it’s all three simultaneously:
…“The 2011 Trafficking in Persons report notes that Zimbabwe is a source, transit and destination for human trafficking…” said [International Organisation for Migration (IOM) spokeswoman Folen Murapa]…[she] said although the magnitude…was difficult to ascertain due to the clandestine nature of the phenomenon, government recognised the problem and is currently in the process of tabling…a bill…Murapa said anyone could be a victim of trafficking regardless of nationality, sex, age and profession…
Everybody panic! You never know when those “traffickers” will jump out of a tree and traffick you away somewhere, but by golly a law will stop it dead. And though we haven’t seen any evidence of it, a bunch of foreign politicians on the other side of the planet wrote it in a report, so it must be true!
…[A new study]…found those who regularly have dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt score better in tests of mental ability than people who never, or rarely, consume dairy products. It follows another US study…[which] found that older people with higher levels of beneficial fats in their blood had less brain shrinkage typical of the Alzheimer’s disease…our mental functions depend heavily on a good supply of fat. Our brain is composed of 60 percent fat. The brain cells are insulated by sheaths of myelin composed of 75 percent fat…[which] needs to be replaced constantly…
One Year Ago Today
“Check Your Premises” examines the nonsense which arises from following the underlying premises of “consensual crime” laws to their logical conclusions.