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Archive for November 3rd, 2012

Why are feminists so afraid of sex?  –  Gopinath Arunima

Lying Down With Dogs

Take a good, hard look at the prohibitionist company the US prefers to keep:

…fundamentalist Islamists, though…shut out of power in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, nonetheless manage to promote their…agendas — often taking the law into their own hands, and in this case threatening…prostitutes and their customers and driving away the only industry in [the town of Ain Leuh].  “The economy is in free fall here,” said Ali Adnane…“The girls rented.  They had cash.  They bought things”…Exactly what happened…is in dispute.  [Campaign leader Mohammed] Aberbach says the Islamists never did anything illegal.  The campaign, he said, largely involved demonstrations in the main square.  No one threatened anybody or used violence or stood at the entrances to the village demanding identification from men who wanted to enter…But others, including Haddou Zaydi, a member of the town council, say all those things, and more, took place.  Sometimes, he said, the Islamists used padlocks to imprison the prostitutes in their houses after a customer had gone in.  Then, they called the police…Mourad Boufala…said he was not in favor of prostitution…but…was offended by the Islamists’ methods.  “The way they did it was really rough,” he said.  “They hit girls…scared them…and…offered them no alternatives”…

Coming and Going

From the big booming metropolis of Muscatine, Iowa:

Sixteen agencies worked together on a human trafficking and prostitution investigation that led to 27 people being arrested…County Attorney Alan Ostergren said…that agencies across Iowa have participated in these stings lately.  He claims that agencies chose Muscatine…because the law enforcement there wanted to investigate the prostitution problem.  Investigators took two months to set up the sting…The prostitution charge is an aggravated misdemeanor…[but] Robert Kennedy, 56, of Peoria, Illinois was charged with felony human trafficking…

Even if you believe that prostitution is a “crime” worth persecuting people for, do you really think tying up 16 different organizations for two months – literally thousands of man-hours and many tens of thousands of dollars – is really worth it for 27 misdemeanor arrests, many of which won’t even bring in a fine?

Dirty Whores

Here’s a short Guardian article on the history of the Contagious Disease Acts, including a rather odd epilogue:  Cambridge University continued its own version of the national laws – complete with arrest powers – for ten years after the latter were repealed!

A Whore in Church

The fact that people think there is something remarkable about this brothel’s location is a sign of the deep Western weirdness about sex:

Two women were arrested on suspicion of prostitution after seven rooms were found in a [Moscow] building close to Sretensky Monastery where sexual services were offered from 1,750 roubles (£35) per hour.  Father Tikhon, the abbot of the monastery, is said to be a religious counsellor to Mr Putin…There were conflicting reports over the ownership of the brothel, found in one of a chain of mini-hotels called Podushkin…

Much Ado About Nothing

Wow, déjà vu!  “Two women from the Dominican Republic [said] that…New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez paid them for sex earlier this year…they claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500…but in the end they each received only $100…”  When will reporters learn?  A government official paying for sex is not even news; the scandal here is that he cheated two women out of money he agreed to pay.

The Last Thirteen for Fourteen

If you’ve been looking for a meaningful opportunity to speak up for sex worker rights, now’s your chance:

Rhoda Grant MSP believes that “prostitution…is a form of sexual violence against women…[which] is inherently harmful and dehumanizing” and that “the majority of those who are involved in prostitution are unwilling participants.”  She is proposing to make it illegal to purchase sex in Scotland…The public consultation on Rhoda Grant’s proposals for a new law to criminalise the purchase of sex is open until 14th December.  This is an open consultation – you do not have to be a resident of Scotland or the UK to respond…

That bears repeating:  YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A RESIDENT OF SCOTLAND to reply; responses from sex workers, clients, allies or just those who care about liberty are all welcome.  You don’t even need to “out” yourself”:

…the consultation document asks specifically for answers to 8 questions – but you can also just write in with your opinion if you prefer.  Your letter will be much more powerful if you can add your own views and experiences, although at Scot-PEP we have prepared some template letters here which you can use as a guideline…or simply print the letters off and sign them.  You don’t need to use your real name, for example you can use your work name or an alias to send in your opinion…email your letter to:  Rhoda.Grant.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

The Public Eye

Yet another generally-balanced profile of several sex workers, including Audacia Ray of the Red Umbrella Project.  Nobody could accuse it of “glamorizing” sex work because it’s a bit too enchanted with the lurid, but it does clearly present the position that “it is patronizing to view all sex workers as victims” and “choosing to become a sex worker is self-determination in its own right.”

Bottleneck

Some politicians just can’t resist cutting off their noses to spite their faces:

…Experts from 11 countries [who] have converged on Sydney…expressed dismay at the NSW government’s proposal to remove decriminalisation of sex work…The Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) has apologised to the international visitors, who have come to Australia looking to pick up tips on best practice…

The Day of the Dead

In Taiwan, traditional funeral processions and festivals for the dead include strippers; this is a short trailer for Dancing for the Dead: Funeral Strippers in Taiwan, a documentary made last year by anthropologist Marc L. Moskowitz.

Metaupdates

The Leading Players in the Field, Not in TW3 (#14)

Indian women’s studies professor Gopinath Arunima responds to Gloria Steinem’s April 2nd lecture at Jawaharlal Nehru University:

…witnessing the saviour Gloria [lecturing about]…rescuing hapless victims of ‘prostitution’ trafficked, abject and forever victimized…set me thinking…of what it is about sex work that makes…feminists so deeply uncomfortable…the anti-trafficking lobby maintains that prostitution is violence against women, tantamount to rape and coercion, and requires abolition…in [her] impassioned plea…Ms. Steinem spoke…of her…crusade to rid the world of that heinous crime prostitution, akin to yet far worse than slavery…After all what could be worse than the bodily abuse that is prostitution (“they are inflicted with multiple penetrations, daily”) except possibly only the vicious stranglehold by traffickers…significantly the areas that sex workers identify as most damaging to them like societal opprobrium and police violence did not find any mention in Ms. Steinem’s talk…By compulsorily desexualising the prostitute and rendering her as perpetual victim, the feminist anti-trafficker can then validate her own position as saviour…

Wholesale Hypocrisy in TW3 (#25)

While US courts have repeatedly blocked governmental attempts to interfere with escort advertising, China has no such mechanism in place and Apple was happy to lick its boots for the almighty dollar:

…When a Mandarin speaking Siri first arrived in China this summer, she generally responded to the question “Where can I find hookers” by pointing people to a nearby location — usually a bar or a club…but a customer service rep for the company told China Daily that the company has…cut off Siri’s ability to help people find prostitutes, escorts and brothels…

Legal Is As Legal Does in TW3 (#32)

What’s a politician to do when a court ruling protects the civil rights of someone he’s bigoted against?  Make a new law overruling the decision, of course!

Hotel and motel owners across [Queensland] will have the right to evict guests they believe are sex workers under new legislation put forward today by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.  The amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act will be debated next year and will likely be passed by the LNP-majority Parliament…Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O’Gorman slammed the move, saying it…targeted a “particular class of people” and enabled arbitrary discrimination on the grounds of personal prejudice, the likes of which was seen during the 70s when some motel owners refused accommodation to indigenous Australians…

Something Rotten in Sweden in TW3 (#36)

We keep explaining that, despite prohibitionist claims, “end demand” campaigns actually hurt sex workers.  However, it usually isn’t quite this direct:

…Illinois prostitution law…is among the harshest in the country…any repeat prostitution misdemeanor is eligible to be upgraded to a felony—one of two states allowing such upgrade after a single charge.  On paper, sex workers are still not as likely to face felony charges as their patrons, who can be charged with a felony on their first offense…But…analysis of the…data shows that prostitution-related felonies are being levied almost exclusively against sex workers.  During the past four years, they made up 97 percent of the 1,266 prostitution-related felony convictions in Cook County.  And the number is growing:  Felony convictions among sex workers increased by 68 percent between 2008 and 2011…

Follow Your Bliss
in TW3 (#37)

a TSA agent [named Paul Magnuson] has been  arrested for the rape of a boy he was mentoring…the TSA attracts pedophiles.  Several that we’ve documented.  The TSA attracts criminals and those with personality disorders that exaggerate control and sociopathic tendencies…

Little Boxes in TW3 (#40)

The winning bid for Catarina Migliorini’s virginity was $780,000 US, offered by a Japanese man identified only as “Natsu”.  However, busybody control freaks just can’t resist trying to interfere with other people’s mutually-agreeable business deals:

Justin Sisely, the director who helped [Migliorini]…may face sex trafficking charges…Brazil’s attorney general, Joao Pedro de Saboia Bandeira de Mello Filho, ordered an “urgent investigation,” to look into the auction, which he equated to “people trafficking”…He also said Migliorini, who currently lives in Australia, should have her passport revoked and she should be returned to Brazil for “the exercise of prostitution”…

Backwards into the Future in TW3 (#41)

Pakachere Institute of Health and Development Communication (PIHDC) will launch a national wide Alliance of sex workers in Malawi on November 7, 2012…[to provide] a platform [for] sex workers [to] discuss issues affecting their…lives…Executive Director Simon Sikwese said the alliance is targeting all sex workers across the country and that it is one of the forums aimed at ensuring that sex workers rights are protected…

Shift in the Wind in TW3 (#43)

The reaction of the world’s most prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, to the UN’s call for decriminalization could be summed up in two words:  “We agree”.

…Law can be used to protect and promote the human rights of sex workers…and…Legal empowerment of sex worker communities has been shown to be an effective approach in HIV prevention.  However, law is often used to criminalise and penalise sex workers, resulting in their exposure to violence and discrimination from society in general, and law enforcement officers and health-care providers in particular.  This situation limits access by sex workers to health and social services they need, and increases the risk of HIV for them and their clients…It is imperative to review and reform the current laws, ensuring that sex workers and sex worker organisations are fully and centrally engaged in improving legal environments to safeguard their human rights.

This Week in 2010 and 2011

Besides my two previous Halloween columns, All Hallows weeks have featured columns on both porn and horror movies, the War of the Worlds panic and another H.G. Wells comparison, deadbeats and death goddesses, Amsterdam, Election Day and Roman prostitutes.  They also saw short articles on a Spanish city’s harassment of streetwalkers, Charlie Sheen’s meltdown, the FBI raid on Escorts.com, labioplasty, sexual satisfaction in marriage, a yogurt-tainting creep, “end demand” programs, an app for arrestees, Detroit’s persecution of parties and Florida’s criminalization of questions.

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