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Archive for December 7th, 2013

Prostitutes…will be forced to continue to hide…because even if they are not risking arrest, their clients are.  And their survival depends on their clients.  –  Tim Leicester

The Lesser of Two Evils

A rabbi makes an argument familiar to students of medieval Catholicism:

Britain should…[legalize] brothels and…[implement] basic controls over safety and hygiene…without monitoring activities too closely and thereby discouraging usage of them…It may be more messianic to want to end the sex trade altogether, but perhaps it is more religious to seek to channel it safely.

Feminine Pragmatism

Layal has…turned to sex work in [Beirut] to support her two children…“I don’t have any products to sell…I have myself to sell, and I’d much rather earn my money [like that] than I would begging on the street”…Layal says her Iraqi husband…sends her a monthly allowance from Baghdad, but…it’s not enough to cover her $900 rent…and allow her to send money to her family back in Syria.  He has no idea his wife is supplementing their income with prostitution …“A woman should never depend on anyone else for money, even her husband,” she says defiantly…

A Procrustean Bed

Note the assumption that there is always a “trafficker” hiding somewhere:

[Massachusetts’] new human trafficking law has been on the books since early last year, but Bristol County has not charged anyone and Plymouth County has brought charges against one man…[law sponsor] Mark C.W. Montigny…said the problem of human trafficking exists everywhere…and…the attitude that it doesn’t happen here is part of the problem…Law enforcement should use cases involving johns and prostitutes “to go up the ladder” and identify and prosecute the trafficker, he said…

Marching Up Their Own Arses
Slave Hunter

Remember Chris Baughman, the Las Vegas cop claiming to be an “expert” on “pimps”?  Pay especial note to the “magical pimp” trope:

[MSNBC’s]…new series, Slave Hunter: Freeing Victims of Human Trafficking…reveals…what happens behind closed doors in the sex trafficking underworld.  The series highlights the…work of human rights advocate, Aaron Cohen and his partner, former Las Vegas vice detective, Chris Baughman…MSNBC’s cameras follow Cohen and Baughman as they…identify trafficked women via on-line ads and then arrange to meet them in New York City hotel rooms with Cohen posing as a potential john.  When the women are open to help, Cohen and Baughman…[help] them to escape their bonds and build a new life…other times, the trafficked women sadly succumb to the powers of their “pimp”…

We can only hope this blows up in NBC’s face the way To Catch a Predator  eventually did.  Hey, guys, do you know the word for men like you who prey on women in order to enrich and aggrandize themselves?  Oops.

An Example to the West

over 1,500 sex workers…[voted in Delhi on] December 4…thanks to an enrollment drive by the state election commission…over 80 per cent [of] sex workers [are now registered]…”We all will vote…for the person who will fulfill our long-pending demands,” Munni Begum…of GB Road Sex Workers Association…said…

And in Mysore:

…Ashodaya Samithi…is…a powerful collective…of 336 members…[and] a network of volunteers operating in six districts of Karnataka.  It reaches out to 8,000 sex workers through its different initiatives…such as providing knowledge of legal and human rights…running drop-in-centres, operation of a crisis management unit, a restaurant…and a training academy predominantly run by members …they also offer HIV and STI testing facilities, counselling and free condoms…90 percent of sex workers in Mysore have been contacted monthly, 70 percent…visit…drop in centres regularly and 65 percent have become consistent condom users.  Ashodaya Samithi has successfully reduced STI prevalence within three years…

The Power of Myth

As I’ve explained before, even cases which could credibly be called “trafficking” rarely fit the myth:

…Since Australia introduced tough laws to crack down on trafficking a decade ago…eight of 15 people…convicted…were…female…migrants, born in the same…country as their victims and typically from similar…socio-economic backgrounds.  Most…involved…[debt-bonded] Thai women…[and] three…had reportedly been victims…themselves…[none] were involved in “high-end organised crime”…

Mythbusters

Eight common migration myths debunked, including “Migration is on the increase”, “Strict border controls reduce irregular migration”, and “Migrants take jobs that would otherwise go to natives.”Thompson & Hurd

The Widening Gyre

The words “sex trafficking” and “pimp” do not appear in this story; however, I think we all know what was going through these cops’ sick minds:

Houston Police have refused to explain why they took a 13-year-old white girl from her two black guardians…and [gave] her [to]…Child Protective Services.  Landry Thompson’s mother had signed notarized papers giving dance instructor Emmanuel Hurd full guardianship over her during a trip from Oklahoma to Houston…Thompson, Hurd and another dance instructor had stopped at a gas station…when they were surrounded by police cars…All three told the police the same story, but…“They still put handcuffs on me and it really scared me”…Thompson [said]…At first officials…demanded that the mother fly to Houston to get her daughter, but 11 hours later, the girl was released back into [Hurd’s] custody…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #28)

The French parliament has backed part of a bill that imposes a 1,500 euro (£1,250) fine on anyone paying for sex…Protests…took place outside the National Assembly in Paris as the debate took place…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #47) Sidse Babett Knudsen as fictional Danish Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen

The Danes weren’t just satisfied with rejecting the tyrannical Swedish model; they also dramatized the events in a political television show:

…in the internet age, it is simply not good enough to pretend to be speaking for a “voiceless” group, as the surprised politicians learned in Borgen…Sadly, the biggest fiction…was the bit when the politician found herself impressed and moved by the voices of sex work activists…frighteningly few people in power have been willing to listen…

First They Came for the Hookers… (TW3 #132)

For those who still pretend government is different from organized crime:

…Houston Mayor Annise Parker…cut a deal with a group of strip clubs allowing them to…operate freely in exchange for an annual tax of $1 MILLION!…According to [a Houston Chronicle] article, “The city…has reached a settlement…that would halt enforcement of the three-foot rule and allow dancers to be fully topless in exchange for an annual $1 million donation to help combat human trafficking”…for those who have not completely removed the wool from their eyes, this is what is known…as a…shakedown.  But wait, only 16 clubs were included…so where does that leave the 50+ other strip clubs that have been purposely excluded from this deal?…I would venture…that…vice raids and harassment at these other clubs…will increase tremendously…the Mayor…herself…all but said that the other clubs will now be more routinely targeted…

Another, more obsequious blog reversed the roles by calling the deal “Houston’s dance with the devil” and breathlessly informed its readers that “Houston…has long been regarded as the nation’s hub of human trafficking”; I’d call that a claim for the #1 spot, wouldn’t you?

Due Consideration

I must admit, this one shocked even me:

…a pregnant Italian mother flew to England for a two-week…training course…she had…a panic attack when she couldn’t find the passports for her two daughters, who were with her mother back in Italy.  She called the police, who arrived…when she was on the phone to her mother…who explained [to cops] that her daughter was probably over-excited because she suffered from a “bipolar” condition and hadn’t been taking her medication…The police…[took] her to…a psychiatric hospital [where]…she was restrained…[and] sectioned under the Mental Health Act…five weeks later she was…strapped down and forcibly sedated, and when she woke up hours later, found she was in a different hospital and that her baby had been removed by caesarean section while she was unconscious and taken…by social workers.  She was…[then deported] to Italy without her baby…[who was] placed for adoption…Polaris King of the Hill

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324) 

Matthias Lehmann debunks more prohibitionist lies:

Re…“Germany is having second thoughts on legalized prostitution”…Alice Schwarzer’s… book and her appeal against prostitution have been widely criticized for using entirely unreliable data.  The counter-appeal…has been signed by numerous experts, including counseling centers for sex workers and victims of human trafficking as well as social scientists, social workers and sex workers themselves…a majority of the German public has consistently shown not to support a move to roll back the…law…

Number Puzzle (TW3 #326)

I don’t think many sex workers are unhappy about this:  “Germany’s biggest political parties have agreed to ban so-called flat-rate sex offered by some brothels…they view as exploitative the special offers…where men can have unlimited sex for 100 euros ($136)…

R.I.P. Petite Jasmine

In Sweden, sex workers are considered “unfit parents”; child molesters, on the other hand

A Swedish man convicted for molesting a five-year-old girl…has been [allowed] to adopt a child of his own…the man…has been found guilty of more than 90 crimes, mostly different types of fraud…and was also suspected of raping a…teenage girl…the…social affairs committee…found that his risk of relapse was…low…but…members were not given access to…details about his…sex crime…[and] there were no supporting documents to back up the assessment…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #334)

Utrecht city council has agreed [on] a new location for…prostitutes, five months after the licences for most of the…floating brothels were withdrawn…because of concerns the boat owners were involved in human trafficking…The prostitutes, some of whom had attempted to take over the boats themselves, will be relocated to a new location with 162 workspaces…The city is also introducing a minimum age of 21…and…in order to prevent a monopoly…owners will only be given three-year licences for no more than 20% of the windows.

Under Every Bed (TW3 #335)

I take back anything nice I’ve said about Al-Jazeera and “sex trafficking” mythology; this example of the new “gang” myth-motif (complete with the magic mind-control philter and confusion about the meaning of the verb “to sell”) is as bad as anything in the American media:

Washington DC…gangs are prostituting underage girls…Prosecutors say the pimps gave their victims drugs…to keep them submissive… “[prostitutes] can be considered a ‘reusable resource’…if you’re going to deal marijuana or cocaine; you use it up, you have to find another source or supply”…

The article does admit that “relatively little is known about the overall nature or extent of juvenile prostitution in the United States,” but of course that never stops prohibitionists from making grandiose pronouncements.

A War for Peace (TW3 #336) Femen at Artemis

Oh, the irony:

…Femen staged a topless protest outside one of Germany’s biggest brothels, as part of a campaign promoting [the Swedish model]…The women chanted “Go rape yourselves” and…briefly scuffled with the club staff…before being led away by police…Femen held a similar protest in Amsterdam earlier this month…Femen leader Inna Shevchenko said…”Prostitution is not a women’s industry, it’s a business controlled by men”…

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #336)

Still more victims of the Satanic panic released from prison:

Fran and Dan Keller…[were] released after 21 years in prison…The case…was part of national hysteria over alleged sexual abuse with Satanic overtones…therapists were subsequently criticized for having implanted the bizarre allegations into the minds of children…[Defense attorney Keith] Hampton…has vowed to work to completely exonerate the Kellers…

Whimsical Notions

Think this would’ve happened if legal, professional whores were available to soldiers?  “Female soldiers at Fort Hood [Texas] testified…that they were recruited for a prostitution ring set up by a sergeant involved in the sexual assault and harassment program…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #345)

This might make sense if selling sex were a bona fide criminal act, AND if nearly all clients only paid once in their lives:

…public defender Edgar Lin [had] filed motions to dismiss the two counts against Alexis L. Smith…99 percent of…arrested [clients]…never faced criminal charges, while 40 percent of the prostitutes were criminally charged…The discrepancy formed the basis of Lin’s argument that his client’s right to equal protection had been violated…But…Judge Mark McGinnis ruled that the patrons and prostitutes are not similarly situated, because the prostitutes…have ongoing criminal activity, while the johns typically only commit a single crime…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #348)

Another lurid, dysphemism-laden article on Brazilian sex work; this one conflates child, underage and adult prostitution, plays a shell game with agency, blames sex workers for the sadistic actions of police and has a faint Swedish odor in places.  All in all, a truly noxious mixture.

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