Innocent people should not be trapped for engaging in their legal right to ask to have sex in private with another adult. – Ezekiel Edwards
It isn’t often we hear anything credible about sex work in strict Muslim countries, which are among the few places in the world more oppressive of sex workers than the United States, but this one seems both realistic and relatively non-judgmental:
…In Yemen, sex work is punishable by stiff prison sentences of up to three years…women earn 50,000 to 60,000 riyals [$230-$280] per client…Wealthy Gulf playboys are known to drop 100,000 riyals [$470] or more per woman…[but women] picked up at a restaurant or club…earn [only] 10,000 [to] 15,000 riyals ($47-$70). Condoms are standard…testing for sexually transmitted diseases is less common but not rare…Because of the illicit nature of the work, sex workers have virtually no protections against abuse. It is not uncommon for men to refuse to pay. Sometimes, a woman will meet a client, only to discover his three friends have accompanied him…
The reporter’s source is a Somali woman working in Yemen who, like so many of us, has been in and out of sex work for much of her life.
At least British juries recognize that a prostitute can be raped: “Arturas Vasilivas attacked the girl…on October 13 last year…Prosecutor Mary Loram…[said] ‘He clearly viewed her as an object with which he could do as he pleased. She was absolutely terrified’…” He was convicted after only 3½ hours of deliberation and will be sentenced next month. In the United States, however, the rapist usually has to be shockingly violent to ensure conviction:
A limo driver faces up to 14 years in prison…[for] running down a teenage prostitute…Adekunkle Adefeyinti, 42, of Chicago, [was convicted] of two counts of aggravated battery…[for injuring] the 16-year-old girl while fleeing in his Hummer to avoid payment…part of her scalp [was] ripped off and [she suffered] facial nerve damage…
…Ernesto S. Tapang, 42, and Shuzhen Santos both have been charged with misdemeanor prostitution…Tapang…paid Santos $120 for an hour of sex…[but] twenty minutes later she allegedly told him…it was over and…refused to give [him] a refund so he flagged down a patrol car and reported her to police…
Beyond the simplistic dichotomies within western feminism on the nature of sex work there is a complex picture in which many women take a pragmatic approach, negotiating with their sexuality an income while withstanding the “occupational hazard” of rampant violence, says Sehin Teferra. In Ethiopian cities…many young women become sex workers having failed to make ends meet by waiting tables or working as house-help, or [after] personal hardship such as an unplanned birth…[or running] away from home…Nearly all the women [Teferra] spoke to had faced violence at some point…[but] did not portray themselves as victims, and neither were they presented as victims by the men…Despite the low stature of women in Ethiopia in general, sex workers [including casual ones who do not identify as such] are recognized as making good money…[so] many couples and families [depend] on a young woman who sells sex. Many male partners of sex workers expressed frustration that as unskilled labour, they cannot find work that pays as well, and as regularly, as their partners’ sex work…while many sex workers…express a desire to leave their line of work, others recognize that [it] has allowed them to provide for themselves and their families…
Until I read this thorough and sensible article, I hadn’t realized that both major American presidential candidates this year are descended from polygamists (and much more recently in Obama’s Kenyan family than in Romney’s Mormon one). But that fact has not escaped the notice of those fighting for the right to live in whatever consensual arrangement suits them, who also point out that banning a practice because a minority abuse it is tyranny. This should obviously sound familiar, but the similarities don’t stop there; Romney has stated, “I can’t imagine anything more awful than polygamy,” which is exactly the same sort of absurdly-exaggerated denunciation politicians usually emit when talking about sex work.
Y’all may discuss this in the comments as you wish; please just keep it factual and avoid “mutilation” hyperbole and unverifiable claims about sensitivity:
A 20-year decline in male circumcision has cost the country $2 billion in medical costs that could have been prevented, Johns Hopkins researchers say in a [new] study…boys who are not circumcised are more prone to sexually transmitted diseases and other [costly] health problems over a lifetime…”The economic evidence is backing up what we already know medically,” said Dr. Aaron Tobian…about 55 percent of the 2 million baby boys born each year are circumcised, compared with a peak of 79 percent in the 1970s and 1980s…Studies have long shown that when babies are not circumcised…bacteria and viruses can get trapped in the extra layers of skin left on the penis…circumcision reduces the number of infant urinary tract infections. Men who are uncircumcised are more at-risk for cancer-causing HPV, HIV, herpes, bacterial vaginitis and other sexually transmitted diseases…
As I’ve stated many times, any artificial bottleneck in the legality of sex work (such as licensing, venue restrictions or immigration controls) inevitably creates problems in the restricted sector. This excellent article by Christian Vega explains the problems Asian sex workers face in the legalized system in Victoria.
Considering the progress of Swedish Rot in Ireland, it should come as no surprise that Northern Ireland has contracted the disease as well:
…the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill…aims to enhance services for victims as well as making it an offence to pay for sexual services from a prostitute…Lord Morrow said…”In Sweden, there’s a very clear message of zero tolerance for the purchase of sex that has had a clear impact on trafficking”…
His Lordship is correct: it has made trafficking worse.
If these women were vulnerable to arrest for prostitution, would this have turned out the same way?
The six-year-old daughter of a sex worker, who was allegedly being tortured by her mother and her partner for the past few months, was rescued by other sex workers…[who heard her] yelling out in pain…and…took her to Medical College and Hospital Calcutta for treatment…The little girl, who looked relieved, kept saying that she did not want to return to her mother…”If the girl meets this kind of treatment from her own mother, she would surely become a victim of circumstances soon…we want the girl to stay at a safer place,” said a member of DMSC.
“Tampa Police have arrested nearly 20 women at area strip clubs as part of a crackdown ahead of the Republican National Convention…Tampa Police said they are investigating prostitution and human sex trafficking of minors based on tips that prostitutes may be coming to Tampa to work in adult establishments during the convention.” Because if Telisia Espinosa says pimped, trafficked streetwalkers work out of strip clubs, that’s good enough for them.
Maybe if this sort of thing keeps happening, the ACLU will get off its collective arse and actually start challenging these laws:
The South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is accusing the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office [of] routinely making unlawful arrests of women they suspect of being prostitutes and men who have sex with men, even though they haven’t broken any laws. The ACLU says it sent a letter [outlining] “several incidents in which undercover officers approached people parked in their cars, sitting on their own porches or walking down the street and asked suspects to engage in illegal sexual activity, including prostitution and having sex in a public place. The individuals either declined or offered to engage in lawful private sexual contact, but were arrested anyway”…
It looks like the Indian Supreme Court is starting to back down from its year-old decision to move toward decriminalization:
A year after trying to provide a dignified life to sex workers, the Supreme Court on Thursday said its orders should not be construed as an encouragement to prostitution…Justice [Gyan Sudha] Mishra said, “I prefer to add…sex workers have a right to live with dignity but the collective endeavour must be on part of the sex workers to give up the trade in case they are given alternate platform”…Justice [Altamas] Kabir said: “It is all very good for your (government’s) policy to say prevent prostitution but will you provide to fill their stomach. Even a prostitute has a right to live with dignity”…
The other judges waffled even more, and one claimed he was only talking about “sex trafficking” victims. Well, at least they rejected the government’s attempt to remove DMSC from the advisory panel.
A news release of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), said…[a human trafficking] hotline…established a year and a half ago…”has received 11,000 calls from local and overseas sources, with…165 case calls, of which 52 are reportedly victims of human trafficking”…the CFO said “many victims still do not file charges against their recruiters.”
Would that be “many” more than the 11,000 callers, the 165 operators opened files on, the 52 staff represent as real or the much smaller, undisclosed number which actually turn out to be cases of victimization?
Here’s another article by Matthias Lehmann on sex work in South Korea, this one in response to an article written by a woman who seems to believe that volunteering at a woman’s shelter for a few months makes her a “sex trafficking” expert. It includes an excerpt from this excellent letter (dated last September) to “human trafficking ambassador” Luis CdeBaca from Ann Jordan and other respected academics:
“…[W]e are concerned that the Obama Administration has produced a document that asserts as matters of proven fact a number of statements, which…are unsupported or unproven by valid research methods and data…the document is illogical, misleading and therefore potentially damaging to on-going efforts globally to prevent trafficking and protect the rights of trafficked persons…these assumptions are not proven in any empirically meaningful way, and [we] believe that they only serve to deflect attention away from the structures and actors that in fact lead to trafficking of women, men and children. The proposals and statements in the document threaten to divert precious resources from protecting victims of trafficking who urgently need help into a politically contested and futile anti-prostitution campaign…”
Interestingly, Lehmann also compares the “anti-trafficking” campaigns in South Korea with California’s Proposition 35, about which I wrote last week.
Barcelona’s ill-considered and Swedish-flavored campaign to drive vulnerable women into poverty continues:
…[As of ] 17th August, street prostitution will be totally banned in Barcelona…the…ban will persecute both prostitutes and clients; although the later will have to pay significantly higher fines. Clients might be fined between €1,000 and €3,000…[while] prostitutes will…[be fined] €100 [to] €750, depending on the situation…
This Week in 2011
I examined a claim that porn causes terrorism, described my “girls’ night out” with two other whore activists, discussed attempts to restrict adult behavior under the excuse of “protecting children”, expressed my opinion on a conflict between two activists, published the tale of an experiment in sexual robotics, looked at several examples of sex work scams and criticized the demonization of “sexting”.
This Week in 2010
What happens when an escort already knows her client personally or because he’s famous? How should clients treat hookers, and what sorts of presents do they give in addition to fees? What kinds of tricks do unscrupulous whores use? What do we think about people who try to “rescue” us? And what does one do with a talking painting?