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Archive for October 27th, 2012

She was not sold to a brothel like they said…the people here always pitied and loved her.  –  Men Voeun

Safe Targets

How would this have played out if prostitution were fully legal in Canada?

Calgary police have arrested an Ontario man accused of making fake emergency calls…claiming that distraught women were being held against their will, either at gunpoint or knifepoint.  “It is alleged two individuals were responsible for numerous calls to police in an attempt to reveal and disrupt competition in the escort business.  These same individuals are also believed responsible for extorting escorts by calling or threatening to call police if the women refused to work for the two accused”…

Backwards into the Future

Add Rwanda to the list:

Commercial sex workers must be protected from assault and any other kind of mistreatment, lawmakers said…criminalisation of prostitution denies sex workers easy access to crucial services, with devastating consequences on their health, their clients and partners of their clients…The legislators called for more support to sex workers by encouraging and facilitating them to form and join cooperatives…[and] called for the review of the Penal Code…to avoid cases where the law might…be a liability to society…

Down Under

Dr. Marty Klein’s post about his trip to Australia discusses the absurdity of prohibitionism, properly brands “sex trafficking” a moral panic and starts by teaching me something I actually did not know:

…in Australia…it [became] legal to PURCHASE and POSSESS adult porn in 1983.  But all Australian states ban the SALE of X-rated video…Enforcement…is very low, so there is a gray market…[and] Australians buy it anyway…the government loses tax revenue, as well as respect.  The foolishness of attempting to ban a popular, victimless activity like watching adult porn is even more obvious when considered in light of Australia’s decriminalizing of most adult prostitution in 1992…

It’s Different Because It Involves Sex, Part Umpteen

Predictably, the New York state appeals court agreed with tax officials against a strip club.  Unpredictably, the dissenting judges clearly “get it”:

…A very divided New York Court of Appeals has ruled that lap dances are not art…“The court split 4-3, with the dissenting judges saying there’s no distinction in state law between ‘highbrow dance and lowbrow dance’”…Judge Robert Smith pointed out…that the majority ruling here does not actually comply with the…state’s legislation… “[T]he only question…is whether the admission charges that the State seeks to tax were paid for dance performances.  There is not the slightest doubt that they were…It does not matter if the dance was artistic or crude, boring or erotic.  Under New York’s Tax Law, a dance is a dance…I do not read Hustler magazine; I would rather read the New Yorker.  I would be appalled, however, if the State were to exact from Hustler a tax that the New Yorker did not have to pay, on the ground that what appears in Hustler is insufficiently “cultural and artistic”…discrimination on the basis of content would surely be unconstitutional”…

Presents, Presents, Presents!

I enjoyed Chester Brown’s Paying For It so much I asked him which of his other books I should read next, and he responded by generously sending me four of them:  Louis Riel, I Never Liked You and two short works which are not commercially available.  Thank you so much, Chester; I’m very much looking forward to reading them!

Above the Law

…Tacoma police said when Sylvester Haliburton tried to convince a prostitute he was an undercover police officer, she didn’t believe him, and when she tried to get out of his car, Haliburton wouldn’t let her…police…are looking into the possibility that he committed similar crimes before…

Much Ado About Nothing

I don’t think I can adequately explain how ridiculous this looks to any experienced escort; there’s about a 70% chance that the “shocked” officials have done the same thing themselves, and a better than 95% chance they knew others who did:

An investigation into the U.S. Secret Service prostitution scandal…contradicts Secret Service director Mark Sullivan’s adamant assertion before Congress that “this just is not part of our culture”…The report…revealed that one of the agents who was in Cartagena…admitted to soliciting a prostitute on two previous occasions…and…mentioned allegations of similar misconduct by agents on trips to Romania and China…

Meanwhile, Dania Londoño (her last name was previously reported as “Suarez”) is writing a book.

Naked Truth

Melissa Gira Grant on how the equation of “human trafficking” with prostitution harms the more than 75% of people whose exploitative labor conditions are not sex-related; I strongly suspect it won’t be long before The Guardian officially adopts an anti-trafficking hysteria editorial position.

True Colors

On May 24th the offices of New Orleans activist group Women With a Vision were destroyed by arson, but you can’t keep good women down:

As of October 1, 2012, we are well on our way to securing a new home for WWAV, and have a targeted reopening date of January 1, 2013.  In anticipation…we have officially closed our temporary office location…Please call 504.301.0428 for further information on how to access services while we are rebuilding.

You can also call that number to donate, or just go to their website.

First They Came for the Hookers…

The extension of “sex trafficking” hysteria to stripping continues:

Albuquerque city councilors…adopted a host of new regulations for strip clubs aimed at discouraging human trafficking, prostitution and other crimes.  The ordinance sets out record-keeping requirements on the identity of performers and calls for signs to be posted telling employees how to report human trafficking.  It also prohibits “adult cabaret entertainment” in private areas of the club that aren’t open and visible to others…Voting “no” were…Rey Garduño…[who] repeatedly questioned whether anyone had actually been arrested for human trafficking in an Albuquerque strip club…[and Trudy] Jones…[who] asked why other businesses that might involving the trafficking of minors weren’t covered by the bill.  She mentioned hotel maids and landscaping workers…

Though I’m disgusted by the registration, infantilization and attacks on women’s livelihood, I’m encouraged by the questions asked by the two dissenters.

Imagination Pinned Down

What, no UFOs or Satanists?

…a British woman has claimed that she spent five years being raised by monkeys in a Colombian forest…Marina Chapman says the colony of capuchins cared for her after she was kidnapped and then abandoned…[she] survived by catching birds and rabbits with her bare hands until hunters found her…took [her] to a nearby city and sold her to a brothel.  However, she managed to escape to Britain and…worked as a housemaid…[her] story has been made into a book…and TV crews plan to make a documentary…Chapman believes she was born…about 1950 and…was kidnapped when she was five before being abandoned in the jungle.

Shift in the Wind

Three UN agencies have officially called for total decriminalization across Asia, specifically naming New Zealand and New South Wales as examples:

…[A] study issued…by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)…examines 48 countries in Asia and the Pacific to assess laws, legal policies and law enforcement practices that affect the human rights of sex workers and…effectiveness of HIV responses.  Where sex work has been decriminalized, there is a greater chance for safer sex practices… “evidence from the jurisdictions…that have decriminalized sex work – New Zealand and New South Wales (Australia) – indicates that the approach of defining sex work as legitimate labour empowers sex workers, increases their access to HIV and sexual health services and is associated with very high condom use rates”…

Metaupdates

Welcome To Our World in February Updates (Part Two)

From Ireland, another example of the inevitable result of the idea that sex is a horrible thing from which the “innocent” must be “protected”:

…One would assume that [40-year-old Mandy Finlay]…is entitled to enjoy an intimate sexual life with her partner…[but] not only is [that] socially unacceptable…it is also a crime…the…Sexual Offences…Act, 1993, criminalises sexual relations between two adults with intellectual disability…who are not married.  This includes mild disability and autism…

Schadenfreude in TW3 (#17)

Somaly Mam has been caught in another huge lie:

For years now, the scarred face of Long Pros has symbolized…sex slavery in Cambodia…“My eye was stabbed by a brothel owner,” Ms. Pros recounted in [Nicholas Kristof’s documentary] Half the Sky…with blood still flowing from the destroyed eye socket, Ms. Pros said that she was still forced to have sex with clients…”when I returned home, my mother and father didn’t want me around”…[but] Pros’ parents…denied that their daughter was ever a victim of human trafficking, had ever been enslaved in a brothel, or had lost her right eye at the hands of a savage brothel owner.  Long Hon, 60, and Sok Hang, 56, described…their daughter’s…eye condition:  a non-malignant tumor that had developed when she was just 7 years old…[and] was…removed by an eye surgeon…in 2005 when she was 13…Te Sereybonn, the…director of the…hospital…said that…medical staff…contacted [Somaly Mam’s organization] to…admit Ms. Pros to one of their vocational training programs…it had nothing to do with the sex industry…

The parents’ statement was confirmed by doctors and medical records.  Brandee Baker of the Somaly Mam Foundation insisted that the girls’ parents, doctors and medical records were all wrong and wrote in an October 21st email to reporters, “you are now bullying victims of sex slavery…”  Furthermore, Keo Thea, chief of Phnom Penh’s anti-human trafficking police bureau, said he had no record of any complaint about a brothel girl stabbed in the eye, and even the type of the supposed attack has changed; in its first published form in 2008, Pros claimed to have “lost her eye after a pimp kicked her in the face.”

Neither Addiction nor Epidemic in TW3 (#20)

As I’ve stated before, “sex addiction” is not the same thing as hypersexuality; the latter is a real disorder which may be included in DSM-V, while the former isn’t and won’t be.  But since “sex addiction” is too good a myth to discard just yet, we’ll just lie by redefining the former to mean the latter:  “…New research shows that sex addiction is indeed a mental health disorder–one that can be easily and accurately diagnosed…It’s formally called ‘hypersexual disorder,’ and it’s much more than enjoying sex a little too much…”  I shall now prove the existence of the Tooth Fairy by redefining the word “fairy” to mean “ache”.

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#26)

Here’s something rather unusual:  a short anti-Swedish model play.  I have included it not for its dramatic qualities (which are, I’m sorry to say, essentially nonexistent), but rather as evidence of the fact that there is considerable anger toward the model in Norway, home of those who inspired the play.  Furthermore, its central philosophical point is that since all sex is transactional in some way, the Swedish model technically outlaws sex completely.

Change of Heart in TW3 (#41)

This article about the journalistic ethics of outing Alexis Wright’s clients is an excellent example of a journalist just starting to wake up.  Though he recognizes “end demand” as bunk and rightfully compares persecution of sex work to persecution of homosexuals, he doesn’t actually challenge the morality of the laws per se; furthermore, though he understands that stigma can harm families, he thinks only of the clients’ families rather than those of the hookers.  Still, this is a big improvement over most of the American journalistic establishment, and therefore deserves recognition.

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Three of these columns were about Japan:  there was a brief history of Japanese prostitution, my husband’s experience at a “soapland” bath house, and a study of Filipinas working at hostess bars.  I also presented the stories of two eccentric New Orleans characters, two columns full of hooker songs, and two columns in which I answered questions about anonymity, the fraction of men who hire us, hotels, STDs, female sex tourists, pimps, parents, spam and circumcision.  Finally, we looked at the “pedophilia” heffalump and the prostitution elephant, a thorny BDSM case, the ethics of egg-selling and short articles on Bob Guccione, Clarence Thomas, Gardasil, funny album covers, horror comics and vampire whores.

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