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Posts Tagged ‘agency denial’

Different people have different types of sex for all sorts of reasons that are really no one else’s business.  –  Steve ChapmanNew Zealand coat of arms

Down Under

Here’s a good article on how New Zealand achieved decriminalization:

…Tim Barnett…became involved with the PRA shortly after he won his first campaign for Christchurch Central’s parliamentary seat in 1996.  He did so on the request of Catherine Healy, the national coordinator of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective (NZPC), who actively sought out his support for decriminalisation after the election…Barnett entered into an already vibrant political field.  The Massage Parlours Act of 1978 was, nearly a decade after its implementation, suddenly causing controversy because police had announced that the legislation effectively allowed indoor commercial sex work.  As a result, a working group comprised of NZPC and mainstream liberal feminist groups…began work on a pro-decriminalisation reform bill…

The Last Shall Be First

Anti-trans people just can’t get their minds out of the toilet:

…Jared Woodfill…and his group, the “Campaign For Houston”, are trying to get “no” votes for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance…which voters will vote on in November…“No men in women’s bathrooms,” the ad actually begins. “This ordinance will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.  That is filthy, that is disgusting, and that is unsafe,” the [female announcer says, claiming] to represent “all moms, sisters, and daughters”…

Too Young To Know

Far too many sex worker rights activists are afraid to discuss this topic:

…Generally, if someone is working underage, it’s because they’re aware their alternatives are worse.  With a system that entirely fails to protect and serve young people, either forcing them back into abusive homes or shuffling them into new, potentially even more violent environments such as group homes, foster homes, and juvenile halls, it’s no wonder these young people take their fate into their own hands.  The few jobs that will hire young workers pay a pittance, and signing a lease isn’t even an option for minors…

Sexual Predators

If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip this badge-licking article; it is, however, refreshing to see “sex trafficking” mentioned only in passing after all the talk of “morality” and dirty whores.  Note also the bizarre use of scare quotes around ordinary words like “time”:

…Websites like Backpage.com are a playground for people looking for “escorts,” and the people who put up ads are barely discrete [sic] about what they’re selling.  While some allege that anyone who responds is paying for their “time” and “companionship,” others say things like, “No pimp, no drama”…Some people believe that prostitution arrests are just about the actual sex acts…Police say they’re not.  “It was important to make these arrests for the sake of prostitution itself, but it also curtails other crimes as well, such as drugs and robberies…You have to realize prostitution not only offends some citizens as far as moral standards, it can become a nuisance to businesses and residents”…

Uncommon Sense (#435)

The number of prostitutes using Zurich’s [tippelzones] has nearly doubled over the last year say city authorities, who are hailing the two-year-old scheme a success.  Around 25-30 sex workers are now using the guarded drive-in brothel, up from around 15 this time last year…

The Face of Trafficking

This is what really happens when a wannabe “pimp” abducts a girl:

A 16-year-old girl snatched right off an Indianapolis street and sold into prostitution is back home after a terrifying weekend…The victim [was] walking home when a young man pulled up and offered her a ride…the…man…24-year old Kevryn Gaines-Dukes [raped her] then met up with a second suspect, Myeisha White…the two [drove her to]…Nashville, Tenn., where White took pictures of the teen and posted them on backpage.com, a site known by solicitors and investigators for sex trafficking…”If they ever outlawed backpage.com, we’d have trouble finding victims,” said Sgt. Jon Daggy, who investigates human trafficking as part of the Vice Unit with IMPD.  The 16-year old told police her captors made a thousand dollars that weekend, forcing her to have sex with at least 10 men…She had been secretly texting messages like “police” to her father and sister….Gaines-Dukes then texted the father, demanding $25,000 in ransom…The texts were traced to a Nashville motel…

Yet we’re supposed to believe that 100,000 cases a year go unnoticed. By the by, John Daggy “investigates human trafficking” by making excuses for cops who rape sex workers.

Choke Point (#511) 

Ashley Madison (#557) 

I did try to tell y’all:

…the world of Ashley Madison was a far more dystopian place than anyone had realized.  This isn’t a debauched wonderland of men cheating on their wives…it’s like a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots…the more I examined those 5.5 million female profiles, the more obvious it became that none of them had ever talked to men on the site, or even used the site at all after creating a profile…the overwhelming majority of men using Ashley Madison weren’t having affairs.  They were paying for a fantasy…About two-thirds of the men, or 20.2 million of them, had checked the messages in their accounts at least once.  But only 1,492 women had ever checked their messages

And all those guys who didn’t listen to me?  Well, they’re not very happy:  “Two Canadian law firms have filed a $578m class-action lawsuit against the companies that run Ashley Madison after a hacker group’s data breach exposed some 39 million memberships in the adultery website earlier this week“…

Seizing Power (#559)

As I said, nearly toothless:

A federal judge…denied a preliminary injunction request that would have forced Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to retract statements he made in lobbying credit card companies to block their cards from being used to buy sex ads on Backpage.com…Judge John Tharp wrote that the “cease and desist” letters Dart wrote to Visa and Mastercard…could have been construed as threats.  But they did not amount to censorship, since the sheriff had no legal authority to force the credit card companies to act…The judge also said he considered “the profound interests of the victims of the human trafficking that Backpage’s advertising facilitates”…The ruling does not affect the underlying lawsuit against Dart seeking damages…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#564)

Dave Ross of KIRO radio interviews Mistress Matisse about her debunking of Seattle politicians’ agency-denying garbage; what never ceases to amaze me is the tenacity with which reasonably-intelligent people cling to stupid preconceptions and asinine myths when the subject is sex.  And that crack about her age…really, Dave?  Matisse was much more charming to you than you deserved.

Not Good Enough (#565) 

Just in case you didn’t think the approval of flibanserin could’ve been any shadier:

If you happen to be a woman interested in taking Addyi…your doctor will…tell you…You absolutely cannot drink — at all — as long as you’re taking the drug, because alcohol has been shown to exacerbate its side effects, including fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure…but…Nobody actually even knows what would happen if a woman taking Addyi were to cheat and have, say, a glass of wine with dinner — because the research…was done almost entirely on men.  The alcohol-safety study included 23 men, and a grand total of two women…alcohol affects men and women very differently…and women are more susceptible to toxicity effects than are men…

What Were You All Waiting For?

It’s as though every anti-prohibitionist was just waiting for Amnesty:

Banning things you don’t like has a long history, though not a happy one.  Americans have tried banning alcohol, marijuana, pornography and homosexuality.  All of them persisted anyway.  So we learned to not only tolerate but allow them.  Nowadays, you can have a glass of scotch in a gay bar while looking at porn on your iPad, and the police won’t care.  In Colorado and Washington, you can walk out and buy weed at a state-licensed dispensary.  Prohibition has also been a failure for commercial sex…banning prostitution doesn’t get rid of it.  It merely pushes it underground, where abuses are more likely and harder to detect…The denunciations of decriminalization come from a strange alliance of feminists who regard all sex workers…as victims of oppression and Christians who see them as drenched in depravity.  Both exploit the sense that some types of sex are shameful, dangerous and intolerable — an attitude that long fueled the persecution of gays…

And speaking of gays, this denunciation of Amnesty by two Swedish politicians taking their travelling medicine show to Los Angeles could win some kind of award for bad timing; it was published the day after the federal raid on Rentboy.com triggered a groundswell of public support for decriminalization, thus making its moronic representation of sex work as a form of gendered violence look utterly tone-deaf in addition to being dishonest and fascist.  The Swedes refer to their snake oil as a “middle way” between criminalization and decriminalization, which is exactly the same as saying, “There is a middle way between Jim Crow and treating black people like human beings.”

Now They Notice

As I pointed out yesterday, many people who didn’t give a shit about the criminalization of sex work when it was women, our clients and our advertising venues being attacked, suddenly care very much now that they see the anti-sex machine is also going to be turned loose on the queer sex trade.  And while I absolutely welcome these folks as allies, I’m not going to accept this kind of sexist, patronizing bullshit from queer boys who couldn’t be bothered to speak up for me and my sisters last week:

Yesterday’s raid on the offices of Rentboy.com…was a bizarre, unprovoked crackdown on people it’s easy for “respectable” folks to stigmatize or ignore…this thoroughly unnecessary bust should be the impetus to legalize and regulate consensual sex work.  It should become the “Stonewall” of sex workers, the moment in which they and their allies say:  Enough…this is not about sex trafficking…it’s not alleged in the government’s complaint in this case…Want to fight sex trafficking?  Fight sex trafficking.  Not Rentboy…No one is disputing that prostitution can be exploitative, especially to women and minors, and that the global sex trade is often a kind of slavery.  Even legal prostitution can trap women in exploitative power relationships.  The question is how best to address these problems, and the emerging answer is that legalization-and-regulation…is better than criminalization…

Fuck you, Jay Michaelson.  Fuck your patronizing picket-fence queer bullshit.  Fuck your attempt to pretend that sex workers (backed by Amnesty International and many others) are asking for “legalization and regulation” because women (though obviously not men) are too fucking weak and stupid to protect ourselves from “exploitation”. Fuck your trying to co-opt our movement, which was already going on for forty fucking years before you deigned to fucking notice it.  Stonewall was the fucking Stonewall of sex workers, you asshole; the riot that started the avalanche that gave gay amateurs their rights was started by professionals.  And I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to remain silent while sleazy douchebags like you call for my body and my choices to be “regulated” by the same kind of fucking pigs those rioters were fighting against, just so middle-class vanilla fucks like you don’t have to feel threatened by my unregulated sexuality.

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The criminalization of sex work is based in nothing more than petty moral outrage.  – Chris Sosa

RentboyWhile sex workers were  celebrating the growing recognition among decent people that sex work prohibition is nothing less than the violent suppression of consensual sexual behavior, the most rabidly-prohibitionist government on the planet was scheming to prove the pro-decriminalization forces correct by unleashing yet another act of violence against peaceful businesspeople.  Like Escorts.com and MyRedbook before it, the venerable gay escort site Rentboy was raided by federal officials anxious to put on a good show:

Federal agents raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com as part of a money laundering and state prostitution investigation Tuesday…Seven people, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, were arrested…Department of Homeland Security agents and members of the NYPD, which assisted in the raid, were seen removing boxes from the offices…More than $1.4 million from six bank accounts was seized in connection with the probe…the government said it was taking steps to shut down the website…”Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this Internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” Acting U.S. Attorney…Kelly Currie [bloviated]…

As it later turned out, the raid was not justified under the typical excuse of “money laundering”, but rather under a different infinitely-elastic federal “crime” statute, the Travel Act of 1961:

…the Travel Act makes it a federal crime to use the mail or interstate or international travel or communications for the purposes of engaging in certain illegal acts or for distributing the proceeds of certain illegal acts.  The list of illegal acts covered by the law includes crimes like gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, and arson.  This is not a complete list…these…acts don’t have to be federal crimes to be covered by the Travel Act.  They can be violations of the laws of the state where the crime took place…Rentboy.com allegedly violated New York’s laws against prostitution, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office…is arguing that Rentboy.com facilitated and promoted prostitution crimes across state and international borders…

Though by the timing it may seem that this was intended in retaliation for Amnesty International’s call for decriminalization (which essentially reveals the US as among the world’s most oppressive regimes as far as sexual freedom is concerned), or in reaction to the Ashley Madison debacle, in actuality the feds can’t do anything that quickly; this has been planned for months.  The usual “sex trafficking” rhetoric used to cram these pogroms down the credulous public gullet was notably (and tellingly) absent here; it was all talk of sin crime and chastisement prosecution rather than “rescue” and “exploitation”.  Because while women are delicate, chaste little fluffy-bunnies who could never ever ever conceive of a pragmatic motivation for sex, men are perverted abusers who are never more than an errant thought away from criminality (unless they’re government actors, of course, in which case they’re totally incapable of evil).  But all snark aside, the government actually had very compelling reasons for the raid…1.4 million reasons, to be exact.

In the long run, though, it may prove very expensive for the prohibitionists.  As I’ve complained on a number of occasions, mainstream gay rights organizations seem unconcerned at best and hostile at worst to sex worker rights, despite the fact that members of the GLBT community are disproportionately represented among both sex workers and clients (many closeted gay men rely almost entirely on escorts for male contact).  Gay, Inc has obsessively pushed its white-picket-fence married-couple big-table fantasies to the exclusion of the majority of queers who will never want lifelong committed monogamy, despite the fact that the entire gay rights movement owes its origin to sex workers.  But special-interest groups don’t simply disband once they’ve achieved their original goals; indeed, they actively seek out new goals so as to justify their continued existence.  Now that picket-fence queers have every conceivable right their straight vanilla counterparts enjoy, Big Gay will need a new campaign to pursue…and the feds may have just provided it.  The personal information of thousands of closeted gay men is now in the hands of evil monsters who view human beings only as points to be racked up, and if that’s not a gay rights issue I’m not sure what is; even the hopelessly-square Advocate reported on Lamba Legal’s pro-decriminalization stance (though its headline idiotically asked, “Decriminalize sex work?” as if they didn’t quite get it).  When the victims are women, most Americans seem content to swallow the patronizing & agency-negating “rescuing trafficked girls” narrative, but since the victims are men this time journalists seem to have suddenly awakened en masse.  The Huffington Post‘s reporting on the issue is typical of what I’ve seen since Tuesday:

The site has operated within public view for many years. This is not a secretive, dark web enterprise hidden from the public eye.  It’s a popular online destination that allows escorts to set their own rules and rates.  RentBoy’s platform gives its escorts a degree of agency that sex workers forced to walk the street or be managed by a pimp simply do not have…The Department of Homeland Security…took millions of dollars and ripped six employees from their homes.  While these employees face huge financial and reputational damage, thousands of sex workers who rely on RentBoy as a safe place to conduct business could find themselves in genuine danger…The United States has a responsibility to reform its outdated and violent laws around sex work.  RentBoy’s high-profile raid should make us think about all the quiet acts of violence committed by our government against sex workers…We supposed-progressives chant about bodily autonomy and criticize the American Right for denigrating women, but we participate in the same denigration when we shame sex workers who conscientiously exercise authority over their bodies…

There’s nothing in that excerpt that doesn’t also apply to female sex workers and our advertising venues, but without the “sex trafficking” smoke and mirrors many of these writers appear to be recognizing it for the first time.  Though I have the deepest sympathy for everyone who will be hurt by this monstrous injustice, it may be that the Rentboy raid was the biggest blunder the prohibitionists ever made; if it attracts the big Gay guns and makes sex worker rights “safe” for ordinary people to talk about again, decriminalization is already on the way.

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The forms of “rescue” and “victim rehabilitation” promoted by…NGOs often contradict their benevolent positions, because the labour requirements of such minimum wage work perpetuate the…restriction and coercion that they associate…with sex work.  –  Elena Shih

Think of the Children! 

The City of West Linn [Oregon] has ordered a local man to stop operating a bondage and discipline-sadomasochism room out of his home…Mead Hall Dungeon is advertised as a private play space available for rental.  David Levine said he hosts parties at the space twice a month…after a neighbor complained about several cars parking along West A Street…police determined no criminal activity was taking place, but the city then issued a cease and desist letter when they learned Levine did not have a business permit…The dungeon is in a soundproofed, converted garage that sits off a long driveway…[a pearl-clutching busybody] said she was shocked when she found out about Mead Hall, especially because it’s located a few blocks down from West Linn High School.  “I just find it just totally inappropriate…in a neighborhood”…

For Their Own Safety

Prostitutes in Italy will now be forced to replace their miniskirts and revealing tops for a reflective jacket and trousers worn by road workers…sex workers gathering on a main road into Milan…face a 500 euro fine if they refuse to wear the unappealing high-visibility attire.  Authorities…[pretend] the prostitutes caused a road-safety problem…and should be treated as construction workers…

A Moral Cancer

The crypto-moralists have been relatively quiet for a while:

People with a family history of cancer should seriously consider stopping drinking alcohol altogether experts have warned…The study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) concludes that drinking just a small amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancer in women and men who smoke…After allowing for other risk factors…they found that light to moderate drinking – less than two drinks a day for women, and three to four drinks daily for men – is linked to…a 13 percent increased risk of cancer regardless…no association was found in men who had never smoked…

13%!  Why, that’s a virtual CERTAINTY!!!!!!

Against Their Will

In India, the…[law] equates prostitution with commercial sexual exploitation.  [Arrested adult] women…ostensibly…victims, are then placed in institutions from which they are forbidden to leave until released by a court.  The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA) of 1956 prescribes state…custody for them until the suitability of their families or guardians to “take charge of them” is verified…activists have long questioned the constitutionality of this provision vis-a-vis the fundamental rights to life and liberty…After verification, courts can either order their release to a suitable guardian’s custody, or commit them to be detained in the protective home for one to three years for “care and protection”.  To appeal against detention orders, women must approach an appellate court, for which they seldom have the resources…Rainbow Love

Size Matters

The Seattle prosecutor claims that whores “have nothing to fear from us”:

Rainbow Love…dodged jail time in 2010 when she was caught running “temples” in Seattle and the suburbs.  Now, though, the Marysville woman could see prison as King County prosecutors accuse her of operating a string of brothels out of apartments in and around Seattle…Love is alleged to have admitted…to taking thousands of dollars in prostitution earnings from women she managed…Love has now been charged with three counts of second-degree promoting prostitution related to a sting operation conducted in May 2014…Last prosecuted five years ago, Love had been caught in mid-2008 running a chain of “goddess temples” deemed to be brothels by investigators…Prosecutors claim Love was again operating brothels presented as religious spaces…

I’ve never met Rainbow, but some of my friends have (some have even worked for her). The idea that she’s some sort of criminal, and that her beliefs are insincere, is evil coppery of the highest magnitude; note the dysphemistic phraseology here such as “taking thousands of dollars” (in other words, receiving thousands in fees like any agent would).  This is the “new and improved” regime of sex work policing we aren’t supposed to fear.

Schadenfreude 

The only “training” women receive at Prey Speu is in how to be beaten, robbed, gang-raped and starved:

Authorities in the capital’s Daun Penh district rounded up dozens of sex workers…before sending them..for “re-education” at the notorious Prey Speu detention centre…43 sex workers and 10 homeless people were arrested…as part of ongoing efforts to rid Phnom Penh of its so-called “undesirables”…Since it opened in 2004, Prey Speu has been plagued with allegations of abuse.  Staff and former detainees have [reported] that it is ill-equipped to offer any of the advertised training…

The Public Eye

This story on Seattle sex workers’ reactions to the pompous posturing of prohibitionist politicians quotes three friends of mine:  Maggie McMuffin, Vignette Velo & Savannah Sly; the show mentioned in the text was this one, and in the recording you can hear a tiny bit of my attempt at emceeing at the very end.  Unfortunately, the ignoramuses get to vomit out their lies and agency-negating myths in the story, too.

Skin To Skin

Deliciously Disabled held its first official event…at Toronto’s Oasis Aqualounge…it was not an “orgy” like so many media outlets had purported it to be…the event was there to allow people with disabilities of all forms to interact with each other in a space where they felt both comfortable enough to express themselves and safe enough to retract and just watch the show….[it] was designed to be fully accessible, with gadgets like hydraulic lifts and harnesses being set up to allow participants to explore each other sexually and, if they want to, even get some good ol’ banging going on.  There was also booze—lots of booze—along with various forms of entertainment, from DJs to burlesque dancers, all for the reasonable price of $20…

Little Boxes (#138)

It amazes me how worked up some people can get about tits:

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising to take action against women who pose nearly naked for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash.  The practice seems to be on the rise…many…wear only body paint and a thong.  They charge a few dollars to pose for photos with tourists.  Police say they can do little to stop it, and some local politicians and newspaper editorials are calling for a ban of the practice.  De Blasio says…he believes the practice is “wrong”…

Tamara Dominguez
Ever notice that consensual transactions prudes want to ban are always claimed to be “on the rise”?

Monsters 

Gee, I can’t imagine why they think this was done hatefully: “Kansas City police say they still cannot say if the murder of a transgender woman was a hate crime.  Tamara Dominguez, 36, was hit by a truck early Saturday morning, then driven over by that truck again and again…

Business As Usual

What makes this newsworthy is that the cases were actually thrown out:

Three prostitution cases have been thrown out this month by…judges and the Minneapolis city attorney, who said Minneapolis undercover police investigators went too far.  The officers’ [rape of sex workers] also drew a sharp denunciation from the county’s chief public defender, Mary Moriarty…two of the cases were dismissed…in rulings that found the officers’ actions constituted “outrageous government conduct”…Minneapolis police said the department has discontinued such undercover investigations pending a full review of its policies…[but] none of the three officers involved in the cases is [being charged]…

Unfortunately, Moriarty then rudely follows up her denunciation of the cops by vomiting prohibitionist filth all over the reporter.

Schadenfreude (#434) 

anti-trafficking NGOs have created a cottage industry of “victim repair” through vocational training…Numerous faith-based and secular NGOs…focus on selling wares made by the women they employ…Jewellery, tote bags, blankets, and placemats are among the many products sold online and at anti-trafficking conferences and fairs..for most of the women [their wages] represents only one-third to one-fifth of their previous monthly earnings as sex workers…NGOs rely heavily on moral rehabilitation to “repair the victim”.  The NGO employing [one Chinese intervewee] requires workers to contractually agree to neither sell sex nor patronise their former entertainment establishments in the future.  They are also required to live in mandatory shelter housing, have a nightly curfew, and are forbidden from receiving male visitors during the weekdays.  There is also optional daily Bible study, but if they choose not to attend, they must work through the hour making jewelry…

Worse Than I Thought (#532)

Under the new Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA)…anyone who solicits or engages in prostitution with a person under age 18 is subject to federal sex-trafficking charges…So why wasn’t former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle booked on federal sex trafficking charges?  In addition to Fogle’s alleged child-porn collection, he is accused of traveling to New York City on two occassions to pay for sex with 16- and 17-year-old girls.  Whether these girls were forced into the sexual activity is irrelevant as far as federal law is concerned; the JVTA makes very clear that anyone paying for sex with a teen is…guilty of the crime of human trafficking…But the feds didn’t even attempt to book Fogle on sex trafficking charges, instead charging him with “traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor”…not even the media have been throwing around the words “sex trafficking” in conjunction to Jared, though they seldom miss an opportunity to work the phrase into coverage of consensual sex work of any kind…

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Sex…is the only area where amateurs are respected more than professionals.  –  Anna Leventhal

The Red Umbrella 

Client gets angry when he recognizes that his whore is a whore:

A businessman…shot a sex worker when she ended their relationship…Jonathan Kovacik, 58, gave Rosalynde Pitcher £6,000 in cash towards [breast enlargement] cosmetic surgery…He also offered her £50,000 to “give up drugs, alcohol and the work” and marry him…However, armed with a Walther CP88 competition air pistol, Kovacik is alleged to have flown into a fit of rage when he suspected the 21-year-old was “stringing him along” for his money…Miss Pitcher was working…[as a cam girl] for the website adultwork.com…Kovacik, who has a property portfolio and owns a car garage, frequently “lavished” Miss Pitcher with a car and other expensive gifts…

A Procrustean Bed

The law is definitely unconstitutionally vague, but that would be a politically unpopular finding right now:

The constitutionality of a Massachusetts law that targets sex trafficking was upheld…by the state’s highest court, which rejected claims by two men that the statute was vague and its scope too broad…the two men…are…the first people convicted under the statute…lawyers for Tyshaun McGhee and Sidney McGee claimed the statute’s language, particularly the phrase “commercial sexual activity,” was unconstitutionally vague.  They said the law also lacked the elements of use of force and coercion that a federal sex trafficking statute requires to establish the crime…

The Proper Study

We’re seeing this sort of thing more and more:

When I first began looking into the research on decriminalizing prostitution, I didn’t know where the evidence would take me. I was familiar with the arguments on both sides of the debate, but I had little idea what the empirical literature said.  But after reviewing dozens of studies, papers, and articles and talking to researchers, the issue is much clearer to me:  Sex work should be fully decriminalized and regulated, similar to other businesses…prohibition doesn’t appear to have any good empirical evidence behind it…

One Size Fits All

Is there any behavior in Ireland that isn’t “trafficking”?

…the Office of the Registrar General has been given more extensive powers to prevent the institution of marriage being abused for immigration purposes…An unexpectedly high occurrence rate of marriages between women from Eastern Europe and Portugal, and men from the Indian subcontinent has been noted…The Registrar will now have…the right to refuse a marriage registration form if they feel that a marriage is not legitimate…The Minister…[is] concerned that sham marriages [are] leading to a proliferation of women being trafficked into Ireland for this purpose…

Above the Law Bryan Lee

An Ohio State Trooper has been sentenced to five years in prison after using his authority to force women into sexual acts, using Facebook to send his victims vague threats, and using Craigslist to advertise for “traffic stop sex.”  The investigation into Trooper Bryan Lee, 31, began in October of 2013 and he was allowed to resign prior to being terminated and prosecuted…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates)

Tara Burns turns in a top-notch piece of long-form investigative journalism on the case of her friend, Amber Batts, who was this week sentenced for “sex trafficking” in Alaska.  I’m not even going to attempt to excerpt it; the piece needs to be read in its entirety so you can get the full picture of the sort of people the State destroys in order to support its lurid and melodramatic “sex trafficking” narrative, and the way that neither facts nor evidence has the slightest power to halt or even slow the machinery of injustice once cops and prosecutors have thrown someone into it.

Shift in the Wind (#433)

There’s nothing unusual in this article from The Economist explaining why decriminalization is a good idea; however, I’m very pleased to see that the paper hasn’t made its pro-decrim stance a one-time thing.  I hope it continues to debunk prohibitionist nonsense on a regular basis, even though the writer in this case subscribes to the dumb canard that Rhode Island “accidentally” decriminalized in 2003 (when in fact it purposefully did so in 1980).

Think of the Children! (#445)

Since no outside charity will take money contaminated by “sex rays”, Rentboy decided to create its own charity:

Rentboy.com has created a “Cash4Class” scholarship fund designed to help escorts who advertise on their site to afford school.  To win the $1500 fund, the boys can either submit a 500-1000 word essay or a 1-5 minute video that answers the following question: “Why is going to school part of achieving your dream?”… adult film star Colby Keller will be the official judge of the entries…deadline [is] September 15th, and [the contest is] open to current Rentboy.com advertisers who have proof of enrollment in…classes…

Seizing Power

For those who forgot why Backage started taking payment in the first place:

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal…was leading the charge to force all social networks to police adult content and establish age and identity verification tools…As part of that agreement, Craigslist began charging for ads in its erotic services section at the end of 2008.  “Requiring phone numbers, credit cards and identifying details will provide a roadmap to prostitutes and sex traffickers — so we can track them down and lock them up,” Blumenthal said in a statement…he…[called] the erotic services section an “online brothel” and “hooker haven,” and asserting there was a link between adult entertainment and “human trafficking, drug activity and child exploitation”…

An Example To the West (#554)

Journalists like to pretend the bad consequences of US “anti-trafficking” policy are unintentional; they most certainly are not.  American “anti-trafficking” policy has not “failed” in Southeast Asia; it is doing exactly what it is intended to do:

…the U.S.-led anti-trafficking agenda…has failed or even hurt migrants and refugees.  It has fed a chaotic global obsession with policing and prosecutions, but resulted in few concrete policies to address the underlying causes of trafficking or to assist its victims.  This has been acutely felt in Thailand, a politically volatile country seesawing between military coups and failed democratic governments.  In recent months the ruling junta has led an aggressive anti-trafficking campaign to satisfy its Western critics.  But instead of reducing trafficking and forced labor, these efforts appear to have marginalized human rights and trampled on the most vulnerable…

Not Good Enough (#555) flibanserin

The dangerous psychotropic drug flibanserin, which poorly treats a normal variation in female sex drive which is being defined as a “disorder” by an industry hungry to cash in by selling people drugs they don’t need, has now been approved:

…critics said the campaign behind Addyi had made a mockery of the system that regulates pharmaceuticals and had co-opted the women’s movement to pressure the F.D.A. into approving a drug that was at best minimally effective and could cause side effects like low blood pressure, fainting, nausea, dizziness and sleepiness…Addyi’s label has a boxed warning — the strongest kind — saying the drug should not be used by those who drink alcohol, since that can increase the risk of severely low blood pressure and fainting…Leonore Tiefer, a sex therapist…and critic of the drug, predicted the restrictions on use would keep Addyi from becoming popular.  “It’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth,” she said…Addyi is thought to work by changing the balance of certain brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin…women who took the drug had an average of 4.4 “satisfying sexual experiences” a month, compared with 3.7 for women getting a placebo and 2.7 before the study began.  The drug did not increase desire more than a placebo when measured by a daily diary…

Acting and Activism (#559) 

I’m really pleased to see just how hard Hollywood’s prohibitionism is backfiring on it lately:

Dunham & Co. structured their opposition to the draft policy on the flawed assumption that decriminalization a) encourages non-consensual sex work…and b) promotes men’s dominance over women, in a grand philosophical sense.  This is akin to saying that because women and children are often exploited in the garment industry, we should outlaw garment manufacturing and make sure conditions are really unsafe for anyone who wants to make clothes…

Here’s another example:

Lena Dunham, a woman who by most accounts has never had to worry a day in her life about paying rent and putting food on the table, put her name on a petition aimed at stopping women around the world from doing what she does on television in front of millions of people on a regular basis: acting like she’s enjoying sex for money…You can imagine how confusing Dunham’s position is to those of us who actually do sex work for a living.  She doesn’t see that she’s contributing to our distress by openly calling for the end of our freedom to do sexual work…

Amnesty At Last (#564)

Though the Washington Post has published many pieces attacking “sex trafficking” hysteria, its editorial board is apparently still dominated by prohibitionist fossils who prefer lies and pearl-clutching to facts and self-ownership:

…Supporters of the resolution assume that sex work can be a profession like any other and that sex transactions can be consensual.  This is…not true for the vast majority, who resort to selling their bodies because they feel they have no other option.  Decriminalizing prostitution…would allow pimps to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable…The evidence seems to bear that out in Germany and the Netherlands, where [sex work is not decriminalized]…

“Decriminalizing the sale of liquor…would allow bootleggers to operate with impunity, using the money and status that comes with their newfound legitimacy to scale up trafficking operations that hurt the most vulnerable…The evidence seems to bear that out in the United States, where liquor was legalized in 1932″…

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My not existing is more important to [prohibitionists] than my safety.
–  Tara Burns

Rough Trade 

Tara Burns offers a personal account of how criminalization harms sex workers:

…the FBI brought Operation Cross Country to Alaska…arresting 10 customers near Anchorage…Out in my cabin…I didn’t hear about the sting…until I got to town to work and learned that two of my regular customers had been arrested…Fear of the FBI had spread…and…I had only one client scheduled. I…had an inquiry from a new client…he was a clusterfuck of red flags.  But I felt desperate, so I told him to come on over…I didn’t blame this guy for taking advantage of the opportunity offered to him by a legal system that condones my rape.  I blamed the system that told him women like me could be raped with impunity.  I blamed the system that scared away good clients and left me with this…

Safe Targets

The reporter blames the advertising venue, and the cops blame the victims.  God forbid anybody blame either the rapists or the prohibitionist laws that made their victims vulnerable:

Fernando Sandel…Isaiah Rivera…and Joey Cruz…were detained [for the rape and robbery of three sex workers]…the women were…sprayed in the face with Mace or another debilitating substance, or placed in a precarious position — before being raped and subsequently robbed of cash or other valuables…representatives for Backpage.com could not be reached…a spokesman for the Police Department said, “You run the risk of meeting anybody when you engage in that kind of activity.”

If the women had been maids who advertised in the Yellow Pages, would the Times have tried to contact the phone company for comment, and would the cop mouthpiece have helpfully vomited out “You run the risk of meeting anybody when you engage in that kind of activity”?

Godwin’s Law

I resisted this at first because, well, Godwin’s Law!  But when everyone started to praise it I succumbed, and found it extremely funny and well-done.

A Procrustean Bed

What actually happened here is anybody’s guess; prosecutors had a narrative to uphold, and used threats and promises to get everyone involved to pretend it’s true:

Ricky T. Wallace…of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was sentenced…to 12 years in federal prison for trafficking a 17-year-old[woman]…for the purposes of commercial sexual activity…he also brought a 20-year-old woman from the Boston area to Rhode Island where she was directed to pose in photographs that were posted on Backpage.com and then offered for commercial sexual activity…Two co-defendants in this matter, Kemont Bowie…and Raechyl Spooner…are scheduled to be sentenced in September…

The women are treated as though they were volitionless dolls, picked up and passively “trafficked” in the trunk of a car.

Pyrrhic Victory

Older readers will remember that when we were kids, one of the reasons communism was bad was that communist countries didn’t allow their people to travel freely:

Canadians who travel to regions of the world that are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism could be prosecuted under legislation that would be enacted under a re-elected Conservative government…The…government has already made it a crime to leave Canada with the aim of taking part in terrorist activities.  This new measure would go further, criminalizing the act of travel to specific countries.  “There is absolutely no right in this country to travel to an area under the governance of [people we label as] terrorists.  That is not a human right,” [Stephen Harper] told supporters…

Traffic Jam 

Huffington Post asked a prohibitionist, a legalization proponent and my friend Mistress Matisse about “sex trafficking”; here’s what Matisse had to say:

…There [is] not…a hugely widespread problem in the US of people being forced to have sex for money…The terrifying numbers and statistics quoted by anti-traffickers have been debunked over and over.  “Sex trafficking” is the boogeyman of our day, just as ritual Satanic child abuse was in the 80’s and 90’s.  So saying “I’m an anti-sex trafficker” simply means “I’m anti-sexwork.”  Nonetheless, the myth of “sex trafficking” is a very useful idea…the Rescue Industry…get lots of money from government grants and private donations.  The myth of widespread, organized sex trafficking also dovetails neatly with America’s love affair with mass incarceration…So police, politicians, and Rescue Industry NGO’s work hard to conflate sex work with “sex trafficking”, because it suits their purposes…

The Widening Gyre 

Lock up your children!  Sex traffickers are EVERYWHERE!!!

Pedophilia in the U.S. is “unprecedented” and has reached an almost “epidemic level,” according to…FBI…[bureaucrat] Joseph Campbell.  Although the FBI rescued 600 children* last year, the FBI believes that tens of thousands of children are still being sexually exploited.  Hundreds of children are sold every night for sex, the BBC reported in a [scare story]…”The level of pedophilia is just unprecedented right now,” Campbell said…”it just seems to be almost an at epidemic level”…Women from the East Coast to the Midwest tell “frighteningly similar and horrific stories,” reported the BBC…

As I explained in “Mind-witness Testimony“, the striking similarity of “sex trafficking” accounts is an argument against their veracity, not for it.

*Translation: “arrested a couple of hundred underage sex workers and abducted the children of hundreds of adult sex workers”.

Available Weapon

As long as these laws are on the books, cops can use them against any woman they like:

In March 2012…several [pigs] stormed into a…spa and arrested a woman…[they performed an] invasive strip [on her and stole] thousands of dollars…the woman, Min Liu, was soon charged with prostitution…the woman’s employer…Bin Cheng [is] the wife of J. Robert Port…investigations editor at The Times Union of Albany…Port accused the police of targeting his wife’s business in retaliation for a series of articles…that called into question the tactics and practices of an Albany County sheriff’s drug unit…Ms. Cheng…was not at the spa during the raid, nor was she ever charged with any crime, but the implication [was] that she was involved in nefarious activities…A…judge in Albany last month dismissed the charge…against Ms. Liu, after county prosecutors concluded that the case should be dropped “in the interest of justice”…

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#418)Ohlala

I’ve got news for you, Pia:  we don’t want our market disrupted, and the power is already in our hands; that’s why we can charge.

Last year, Berlin-based entrepreneur Pia Poppenreiter created Peppr, an app that connected clients to sex workers…[but] the booking process didn’t really facilitate “on-demand”…[also] escorts…preferred more control over their profiles.  Poppenreiter killed the service and went back to square one, consulting heavily with the women who work in the industry to find out what might actually work:  “Because I still believe after all that this market needs be disrupted”…Today she launches the new concept, Ohlala, in Berlin first but with an English language rollout soon…A key aspect is this is that the old tradition of women being “picked” by men is turned on its head and puts the power back in the hands of the women… If Ohlala is successful it could remove the middle-men from the escort business entirely…

You mean middlemen like Poppenreiter & Company?  Or some imaginary other kind of middleman?

Eternal Vigilance

Because prohibitionists are determined to cut off sex workers’ noses to spite their own faces:

…Hornsby Shire Council, one of several Sydney councils that has employed undercover investigators to try to close down “illegal” brothels, says the NSW government is better placed to license and regulate such premises…Janelle Fawkes…of the Scarlet Alliance…said decriminalisation had been highly successful in NSW and it was only councils calling for changes.  “This is about some councils shirking responsibility to implement decriminalisation and to do their part of what is a very effective whole-of-government model of regulation…NSW has reaped the benefits of decriminalisation over the last 20 years and there will be widespread outcry by the health sector if it is…replaced on a whim to appease councils who refuse to work within the intent of the laws”…

Yellow Fever (#509) 

Remember “trafficking town”?  Not to be outdone, Al-Jazeera wants us to believe in a whole “sex trafficking” country:

…in…Romania…most teenage girls…as young as 13 — have long quit school, with many disappearing into the realm of sex trafficking…one-third of Romania’s trafficking victims are underage girls…According to ADPARE, a [rescue industry] group…fueling the problem is the region’s emergence as a sex industry destination…Since its 2007 accession to the EU, Romania has become a major sex market in Europe — a development that can be seen…in online advertising of Romanian erotic massage parlors…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#510)

Seattle politicians just keep doubling down:  “Human rights? What are those?”

…Decriminalization supports the very root of sex trafficking…the demand for commercial sex.  By chilling the demand for sex buying, we chill the economic incentives for sex trafficking.  Sex buying [magically] causes harm — we must have no illusions about that.  The vast majority of women in prostitution are physically assaulted by the men who buy them — one study showed 86 percent.  The women are 18 times more likely to be murdered, and their death rate is 200 times higher.  An estimated 90 percent of prostituted people worldwide are pimped.  Proponents of decriminalization suggest that “sex work” is just another form of labor.  In fact, it is exploitation of the worst kind…

Debut at 13, “Our children are at risk”, hundreds of “child sex slaves”, “pimps”, etc; you get the idea.  The most shockingly appalling statement is that “decriminalization [is a]…failed experiment”, which is about as blatant a lie as it’s possible to make.

Repeat Offenders (#535) 

Why is it that prohibitionists who want to “rescue” sex workers invariably push them into menial garment-related work, like laundering or sewing?

…Sex worker support centre St Kilda Gatehouse is ramping up the sewing classes it has run for two years, teaching sex workers to hand stitch, mend and style garments…Andie Patchett said the informal and encouraging environment had been empowering for the women wanting to exit the industry…Ms Patchett said the classes were “a bridge” out of the sex industry…As an incentive to complete the program the women will be given an essential piece of sewing and craft equipment at the end of each week, in the hope they will graduate with a complete sewing kit and machine…

In the 19th century, sewing provided such a meager living that seamstresses nearly always supplemented the work with prostitution; indeed, “seamstress” was often a euphemism for “whore”.  Yet in an age of cheap, mass-produced garments, these fanatics expect women to support themselves by sewing?  Completely delusional.

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Kristof is the sort of acute observer who, upon witnessing plantation slavery, decides that farming must be abolished.  –  Jacob Sullum

Amnesty At Last

The biggest story of the year so far is that Amnesty International has at long last come out in support of absolute decriminalization of sex work, as sex workers ourselves have wanted for decades.  Amnesty has a tremendous amount of clout; this will strongly affect small countries, and even in big countries like the US some politicians may now begin to doubt the wisdom of backing laws that allow the cops to persecute adults for consensual sex.  It will also undermine the prohibitionists’ arguments; they can no longer pretend that their views are common-sense and mainstream.  To me the most important lines in the document are these:

…the need for states to not only review and repeal laws that make sex workers vulnerable to human rights violations, but also refrain from enacting such laws…the harm reduction principle…Recognizing and respecting the agency of sex workers to articulate their own experiences and define the most appropriate solutions to ensure their own welfare and safety…the evidence from Amnesty International’s and external research on the lived experiences of sex workers, and on the human rights impact of various criminal law and regulatory approaches to sex work…

A Procrustean Bed

Super-ally Elizabeth N Brown again:

A four-part series from Capital News Service (CNS) looks at human trafficking in Maryland…[and] contends that “Maryland has some of the lightest penalties in the nation for human trafficking of adults”…yet a bill to enhance criminal penalties…recently failed to pass…it was a rare moment of legislative sanity on this issue…advocates for the increased penalties claim that sex trafficking of adults is a mere misdemeanor in Maryland…[but they] aren’t really talking about human trafficking.  They’re talking about prostitution.  Which they want felony punishments for…”misdemeanor human trafficking” is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.  And what does this category entail?…driving a sex worker to a job…letting a sex worker work from your…building…taking money from a sex worker for any reason…

Profound Mental Disabilities

A man in Orlando is suing a local dominatrix, accusing her of taking more than $500,000 and his house…Judith Gumbrecht…[offers]…“financial slavery”…[and] former client Alex Abrams…[alleges]  Gumbrecht took more than $500,000 after he added her name to his financial accounts, and took ownership of his 1,450-square-foot townhome…the lawsuit accuses Gumbrecht of exploitation of an elderly person, theft, and unjust enrichment…Abrams’ attorney, Brian Mark, claims Abrams suffers from clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and said this affected his decision when adding Gumbrecht to his bank accounts and signing a deed…to transfer his home to her.  Abrams met Gumbrecht after he divorced his wife of 32 years about four years ago…“She went with him to the doctor when he was diagnosed. She was fully aware,” [said] Mark…”When you’re in that professional relationship with them, you cannot exploit them”…

If Gumbrecht really did know that Abrams was demented, it was both unethical and unwise for her to take this kind of advantage.  However, I must point out that A) if she had married him this deal would be a great deal harder to break; and B) it’s amazing how often a submissive’s supposed mental incapacity is used as the excuse for a legal attack on a dominant.  Also, was Abrams suddenly & miraculously cured of his Alzheimer’s, so that his actions now are assumed to be lucid, while his previous actions are not?

Real Men Support Sex Worker Rights (#4)extra-stupid kristof

I really, really love it when Jacob Sullum tears into Nick Kristof:

Kristof says some…teenagers are exploited by pimps who take out…ads…on Backpage.com…He mentions two examples…[but] wisely does not include the source who claimed to have been advertised on Backpage before it existed…Kristof…is condemning Backpage because some of its customers are criminals.  Would he apply similar logic to the carmakers that produce getaway vehicles, the sporting goods stores that sell baseball bats occasionally used in vicious beatings, and the cellphone companies that help terrorists communicate with each other?  Probably not…it’s clear (as usual) that Kristof’s concern is not underage prostitution or coerced prostitution but prostitution in general…by [his] reasoning, alcohol should be prohibited because of the parallel underground market serving minors, all sexually explicit material should be banned because some of it involves children, and housework for pay should be forbidden because rich Saudis have been known to beat domestic workers and hold them against their will…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

An 87-year-old man is fighting allegations he was soliciting a prostitute when he approached an undercover officer during a police sting [in Grand Rapids Michigan]…police and prosecutors say this is likely the oldest person ever charged with this crime.  Howard Arthur Klein…claimed he thought the woman he spoke to was someone he knew from church.  Nevertheless, Klein faces a maximum of 93 days in…jail if convicted…[though he] has no previous criminal record…he has pleaded not guilty…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#316)

Lone man on a crusade manages to censor adult content on the internet by circumventing a court order.  Sound familiar?

…[An] Indian lawyer’s formal request for a nationwide ban on access to 857 specific pornographic websites was rejected by the country’s Supreme Court but appears to have been enacted by the administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi…Kamlesh Vaswani, a lawyer who failed to persuade the Supreme Court to block online pornography, gave thanks…to [the] Prime Minister…for [ignoring]…the Supreme Court…Vaswani [said]…“pornography…is worse than Hitler, worse than AIDS, cancer or any other epidemic…It is more catastrophic than nuclear holocaust, and it must be stopped”…

Traffic Circle

It’s becoming possible for mainstream journalists to question central tenets of the “sex trafficking” religion:

…Researchers agree that labor trafficking is the leading form of human trafficking, but sex trafficking is the focus of more federal prosecutions…In 2012, the Department of Justice successfully prosecuted 138 traffickers, with 76 percent of the cases predominantly sex trafficking and 24 percent predominantly labor trafficking…

Checklist (#345)

Now useful idiots don’t even need to dial a phone to snitch!

Anyone with a smartphone can do their part in the fight against human trafficking thanks to…The GPS-based app…called Redlight Traffic.  It’s a free download designed to help police [persecute sex workers]…Greater Seattle is [pretended] to be one of the worst areas in America when it comes to human trafficking.  Police [fantasize] hundreds of children are worked every day in King County…Amin and Jessica Haq…say…their app…has helped rescue 25 children from sex traffickers…

Proof of that last statement? Oh wait, there is none, because you’re lying.

Number Puzzle (#349)brothel ad

Ah, so “flat rate” isn’t actually flat rate; no wonder the girls like it!

In [Germany]…”flat-rate”…brothels…are a familiar sight, there are at least six in Berlin alone…On an average day, six or seven girls will be working, with the numbers rising to nine or ten at weekends.  Some of them may have sex up to 20 times per shift…The women are able to refuse a customer if he is particularly unpleasant or aggressive but it’s rare.  Once in the bedroom, “extras” are negotiated by the women, who keep 100% of any further money that changes hands.  Not much is off limits, with the exception of unprotected sex…the flat-rate model works from a financial perspective because men over-estimate how many times they can have sex…From the women’s perspective, he says the guaranteed daily pay is the main lure.  Of the entrance fee, 49 euros goes to the club and 50 euros to the women…

An Example to the West (#412) 

Imagine the NOW going to bat for sex workers like this:

The National Network of Sex Workers (NNSW) and women’s rights organisations in India have expressed outrage over…Swati Maliwal calling sex work…akin to “rape” and calling for its “eradication”.  “We call on her to immediately withdraw her statement and tender an unconditional apology to the all women in sex work,”…[said] Meena Saraswathi Seshu…At a national consultation on Human Trafficking…Maliwal equated prostitution with rape and said, “It is a ‘blot’ on society which needs to be eradicated with [more violence from] the state”…

License to Rape (#502)

Charnesia Corley was…detained by [Houston] police for allegedly running a stop sign…the deputy…asked her to step out of the vehicle after “smelling what he believed to be marijuana.”  However, during a search of Corley’s vehicle, without her consent, no illegal plants were found…a…female deputy…then stripped [Corley] down in public and forcefully penetrated [her]…“I bend over and she proceeds to try to force her hand inside of me.  I tell her, ‘Ma’am, No. You cannot do this’,” Corley explained.  Corley maintains that at no time did she ever consent to be raped by deputies…

Dutch Threat (#504)

“Politicians lie” = “the sky is blue”.

Warner ten Kate, the public prosecutor [for] human trafficking in Holland…claimed there was…research that showed that 70% of the prostitutes were forced in Holland…during [a radio] interview…Kate was specifically asked about the 70% and…claimed [it came] from…research done by…Erasmus University…[but the] University never did any such research…the Sneep case [cited by Kate] also doesn’t say 70% is forced, but claims it’s 50 to 85%…Warner [says he wants]…to “stop talking about numbers”…[but] this whole debate started because he…and the police keep mentioning numbers which are pure bullshit

Acting and Activism (#559)

A group of 20 academics in the fields of law, medicine, anthropology, sociology and other fields, some of whose names have appeared on this blog before, wrote a letter to Amnesty International in support of decriminalization:

AI’s general policy is to be wary of criminal law regulating gender and sexuality…We focus on two specific issues: 1) why existing credible research supports the rejection of the so-called Nordic model…and 2) why rigorous studies on the relationship between human trafficking and the sex sector supports total decriminalization.  In particular we note empirically and analytically sound research that debunks the Nordic model and refutes claims that legalization or decriminalization of sex work will “increase” the risk of trafficking into the sex sector…

And in The Nation, Melissa Gira Grants writes:

Using the criminal law to control sex work means police are pitted against sex workers, and sex workers can pay the price with their lives…as has also been documented by Amnesty—and others, like Human Rights Watch, UNAIDS, and the World Health Organization, all of whom support the decriminalization of sex work, a stance also backed by recent research in the medical journal The Lancet.  Sex workers’ own rights groups, such as the 237 organizations in 71 countries under the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, report the same from their own experience: Criminal laws only add to the challenges…that many sex workers already face…Amnesty’s sex work proposal has drawn the ire of campaigners who support the [Swedish model]…precisely because it illustrates how these laws, marketed as compassionate towards sex workers, have exposed them to danger.  They argue for more criminalization at a time when on most other issues, the public is turning away from using the police and prisons as a solution…

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One of the most dangerous aspects of our work is the swarm of moral, political and legal authorities…who treat us like children and victims and, when we won’t behave like children and victims, criminalize us in a manner that sometimes leads to fatal exchanges.  –  Fleur de Lit

Ashley Madison 100% secure

Though I’m tempted to gloat, real people are being endangered here; furthermore, the hackers’ professed motives are horrific:

Data stolen by hackers from AshleyMadison.com, the online cheating site that claims 37 million users, has been posted online…The breach was confirmed in a statement from Avid Life Media Inc…the company said it would offer all users the ability to fully delete their personal information from the site — an option that was previously only available for a fee…the hackers, who identify as “The Impact Team,” got a hold of “sensitive internal data” not only for AshleyMadison, but also for other hookup sites owned by the company, Cougar Life…and Established Men… which promises to connect “young, beautiful women with successful men”…The Impact Team is threatening to expose all customer records unless Avid Life Media takes AshleyMadison and Established Men offline “permanently in all forms”…

The hackers described Ashley Madison as “a “prostitution/human trafficking website for rich men to pay for sex” and added, “too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion“.

Against Their Will

A 23-year-old woman’s pregnancy has blown the lid off a prostitution racket allegedly being run in an Ulhasnagar rehabilitation centre, which is supposed to be a safe home for women rescued from prostitution…no men, except for those who may be working at the centre, are allowed in…Senior police inspector Dhananjay Dhopavkar of Hill Line police station said, “What can we do? This centre has no security.  The women living there have been freely moving in and out of the place”…Dhopavkar added that the centre has been allowing sex workers to continue engaging in prostitution while living there…

Surplus Women 

A man aged 91 has confessed to the murder of a prostitute outside a Soho nightclub nearly 70 years ago.  The British expat walked into a police station near his home in Canada to admit to the killing in 1946 after he had been diagnosed with cancer.  He said he had shot the woman…after she had cheated him out of money…detectives scoured through old files of the unsolved murders…and the…man picked out a picture of…Margaret Cook…It is thought to be the longest gap between a crime and a confession in British criminal history.

Divided We Fall

Much more of this, please:

…Gay culture has a long history of sex work, from 1950s “hustle” bars where “straight” guys paid a commission to the bartender in order to hook up with gay johns, to 1990s go-go bars where queer dancers were often there to display their wares to potential clients…Gay literature celebrated sex work in the ’80s and ’90s…Plenty of gay men have written memoirs of their sex work…A disproportionate number of trans and queer youth…have done sex work for survival…[yet] at a time when we should be decriminalizing sex work, there’s a movement in the LGBT world to pretend sex work doesn’t exist, isn’t a queer and trans issue, isn’t something we’ve historically embraced…It’s time the LGBT community get behind legalization of sex work and embrace rather than distance ourselves from the unique role LGBT people have historically played in the sex industry.  Legalization actually makes a safer world for the women and men who do sex work, and it destigmatizes something as old as time.  Yes, especially now, in this new age of marriage equality and post-gay parenting and our happy white-picket-fence lives, there’s a need for us to stand up for the least-protected class of people, LGBT sex workers, and demand their rights now, too.

Gingerbread House

Another paint-by-numbers “sex trafficking” tall tale:

…the Twin Cities metro area is among the nations’ 13 largest centers for child prostitution with Minneapolis as the home base of a large domestic prostitution ring…More than 50 percent of all domestic prostitution victims are classified as runaway youth...living on the street…in almost all cases, youth are not choosing this life.  Traffickers/pimps recruit youth who may…be struggling…One…group of concerned citizens has been meeting and praying about…A Christian-based, safe housing facility focused on girls ages 12-18 with equine therapy…ranch residents will get guidance to realize their deep value and potential through the love of Jesus Christ…as they heal and transition into permanent housing…“We’ve heard that Highway 2 is a corridor to Duluth for sex trafficking – from the reservations to the ports and to the oil fields,” said [a prohibitionist]. “We often don’t think it’s here in our own town but it is”…“If…men…would understand that if they stopped using [girls] the problem would go away.  They need to realize the feeders into sex trafficking, like porn”…

Monsters Meagan Taylor

Hey, Gay Inc: if prostitution weren’t criminalized, transwomen couldn’t be arrested for being profiled as prostitutes:

…Meagan Taylor was…visiting Des Moines with a friend who is also transgender, and they were staying at a hotel…where…police showed up at their hotel room….[after the staff called the cops on] “two males dressed as females…[because the] staff was worried about possible prostitution activity”…[the pig stole her hormone pills and] charged [her] with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription…Taylor could be there for months…There is…no good reason for a 22-year-old nonviolent person like Taylor to be locked up indefinitely…the real offense is a private business calling police on paying guests because they didn’t conform to gender stereotypes…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#318)

People are starting to recognize the “Trafficking in Persons” report as a political weapon:

…the State Department is preparing to certify that Malaysia has made significant strides in fighting human trafficking — upgrading it to a Tier 2 “watch list”.  The timing couldn’t be better for the Malaysian government, which is eager to join the Obama administration’s landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal…that aims to unite nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP into one free-trade zone…[but] anti-trafficking campaigners say that no real progress has been made.  “Human trafficking and forced labor are as bad as ever here,” [said] Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament…But in order for Malaysia to join the trade deal, it is crucial that its status be upgraded…legislation…[prohibits negotiation] with countries that have been designated Tier 3…”If we get Tier 2, it will be a blatant display of American hypocrisy…they might as well throw the entire TIP in the trash”…

Of course, Malaysia’s problem isn’t SEX “trafficking”, so it’s all good.

Drawing Lines 

Kudos to Margaret Corvid for being willing to eat crow with a good heart:

New sex worker writers often justify their sex work with respectability politics.  I did it. I fucked up with my very first piece, in a big venue, the Guardian, contrasting my sex work to that of hypothetical trafficked workers, so-called “miserable slaves”.  Even after taking feedback about that mistake, it took me a while to quit using my own favorable personal circumstances to make sex work more palatable to my readers.  I think that I did it because I was intoxicated with the power of my writing, and I thought my experience was important.  Guess what—sometimes it’s not…

Uncommon Sense (#420)

German politicians are determined to wreck their fairly-decent sex work system:

A proposed law reform would require Germany’s sex workers to carry licenses at all times.  It would mandate their clients wear condoms.  And it would authorize police to check up on these things without notice…“News travel fast, especially in small towns and villages,” said Undine de Riviere, a sex worker and spokeswoman of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services…“Many sex workers only work part-time. It would be a big problem if their main employer would know about it.  You can imagine what the parents of their children’s friends would think”…

Lack of Evidence (#439)

I did tell you so:

In a trend bristling with public-health implications, Sacramento sex workers are forgoing condoms because they fear they can be arrested for possessing them, say activists and clinic workers.  “We have a huge epidemic of sex workers who are not using protection because of the police activity,” said Kristen DiAngelo, who heads up a local branch of the Sex Workers Outreach Project…multiple street workers relayed similar tales of intimidation:  cops emptying their purses and photographing condoms as evidence, and even poking holes in their rubbers before handing them back while laughing…

The Public Eye (#549)

Funny, but I started sex work at 30 because “I wanted my body to belong to me again”.  Still, it’s good to see basically-positive articles on sex workers appearing in Cosmo.

First They Came for the Hookers… (#555)

Notice how bad laws often follow fads?

…if a controversial bill dubbed the “stripper registry,” is revived…all exotic dancers in Pennsylvania would be required to pay a $50 registration fee with the Department of State.  Dancers would need to provide full name, aliases, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, home address, telephone number, place of employment, a copy of their photo identification and a separate passport-sized photograph of themselves.  It also would require dancers to report whether they were victims of sex trafficking or had been convicted of a crime.  Other provisions in the bill would limit alcohol sales and ban lap dances in clubs.  Amid a flurry of public criticism, the legislation, originally intended as an anti-sex-trafficking bill, was…shelved — for now…

Seizing Power

I always know sex workers are in for a jolly good ride when an influential abolitionist invokes Pretty Woman…Tom Dart did just that when he persuaded Mastercard and Visa to stop allowing their credit cards to be used…for adult service ads on…Backpage…”We cannot turn a blind eye…and pretend this is some twisted Pretty Woman situation,” Dart told CNN…I am struggling to imagine what “a twisted Pretty Woman situation” looks like, so I’ll just say that the several dozen sex workers I know personally and professionally – and all those I’ve encountered in online forums and communities and at conferences – generally understand, because we do sex work and don’t just watch it on TV, that it isn’t like Pretty Woman.  In fact, it isn’t like it’s depicted in most films, songs, photographs, paintings or any other media, including some documentaries…

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