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Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty At Last’

If we let consenting adults have sex, who knows what else they’ll want permission to do?  –  The Onion

Reaction Formation

This is a pretty decent explanation of reaction formation:

…some of the people who rail against porn…or any of the other controversial items on the sexual smorgasbord…are actually turned on by the thing they decry.  They may not know it consciously, but being anti-whatever actually gives one a grand excuse for being immersed in whatever…many absexuals don’t truly understand what a strong erotic response they’re actually having…They just can’t seem to shut up about it.  And they get really worked up—I believe they go into the sexual response cycle when they begin to pontificate about the things they hate so much…

Saving Them From Themselves

Fayetteville, North Carolina, cops have charged 17-year-old Cormega Copening with sexual exploitation of a minor—his girlfriend, who is the same age—because the couple sent each other nude photos of themselves…There’s no evidence the photos were ever sent to anyone else, and police only became aware of them because they searched Copening’s phone for unrelated reasons that haven’t been specified.  Even so, the teen…faces decades on the Sex Offender Registry and up to ten years behind bars if convicted…Copening’s girlfriend—who remains unnamed in the news articles—is also facing charges…

Above the Law rapist cop Brian Tucker

Prince George’s County, Maryland has more than its share of predatory cops:

…State…trooper Brian Tucker…picked up [a]…woman…and the two decided to have sex…Tucker…drove the woman to an abandoned industrial area…and…the two had consensual sex before the trooper asked the woman if she wanted to have anal sex and she refused…Tucker put his service weapon to the woman’s head and anally raped her…

The End of the Beginning

More of this, please:

…In 2011 the city council of Lynn, Massachusetts, enacted an ordinance than prohibits certain categories of sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or park—exclusion zones that cover 95 percent of the town’s residential property…the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts overturned the ordinance, concluding that it conflicts with the state’s scheme for regulating sex offenders after they are released from prison…”By requiring level two and level three sex offenders to move from their residences or face a civil penalty of $300 per day,” the opinion says, “the ordinance disrupts the stability of the home situations of sex offenders.  As a supervised and stable home situation has been recognized as a factor that minimizes the sex offender’s risk of reoffense, this disruption is inconsistent with the Legislature’s goal of protecting the public”…

Frequently Told Lies

A good dissection of the ridiculous pretense that every sex worker who wants decriminalization is “unrepresentative”:

Accusations of unrepresentativeness in sex industry debates are most often deployed to silence – acting as full stops in the conversation.  They enable sex industry abolitionists to restrict the discussion to the topic of identity, miring it in issues of “representativeness” instead of exploring the substance of the representations being made.  This preoccupation may be partly why abolitionists seem to have such a poor grasp of the subtleties of sex industry politics…

January Q & A (#417)

There’s a word for men who exploitatively profit from sex workers without giving them anything in return:

…Brian Bates, known to many as the “Video Vigilante,” posted a video…on his JohnTV website…using a drone…the device he uses now costs about $2,000.  He also had to spend the equivalent of several 24-hour days learning how to fly the thing…Bates said he earns a living through posting his videos on YouTube and by licensing his footage to TV production companies all over the world…

Vendetta (#432)

This abomination will continue to be inflicted on ever-larger numbers of victims until Hunt’s weapons are forcibly removed by decriminalization:

Las Vegas…recently wrapped up its participation in a national initiative designed to [inflict Swanee Hunt’s sad, sick psychodrama on people who never did her any harm]…Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff Thomas J. Dart began these operations in 2011…[and the number of pigs at the teat] has grown from eight agencies to more than 70.   The 10th “National Johns Suppression Initiative” ran from June 1 through Aug. 30…A variety of sting operations locally resulted in…34 “John” arrests…36 [underage sex workers arrested]…44 adult sex [workers arrested]…26 [other people charged as pimps and]…23 search warrants served [to look for loot]…The Onion logo

The More the Better (#512)

The humor sites have much better, more sensible coverage of sex work than the so-called “serious” media.  With the exception of one very flat note in the “cons” section, The Onion‘s “The Pros and Cons of Legalizing Prostitution” is wonderfully snarky and dead on target.

Traffic Circle (#546)

It’s so, so wonderful to have Glenn Kessler on our side:

ECPAT…attributed [the “100,000 trafficked children” lie] to 2010 congressional testimony by Ernie Allen, at the time president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)…Allen said he relied on two reports…Estes and…Weiner…and the 2002 National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children (NISMART)…Both of these…rely on data collected in the 1990s…the Estes-Weiner report has been the subject of criticism by social scientists for years, and yet for some reason it remains the go-to source for anti-trafficking advocates…But…the NISMART report…shows that only 1,700 kids — less than one percent — reported having engaged in sexual activity in exchange for money, drugs, food, or shelter during the episode…more than three-quarters were away from home for less than a week; 99.8 percent…were recovered.  So the pool of children who could end up being trafficked is relatively small…

If You Want Something Done Right…

Police say they are seeking tips after a woman working as a prostitute at a [Michigan] motel fought with two armed robbers and took a rifle away from one of them.  She called…police…to report the robbery…When she heard a knock at her door she thought it was [a client but]…a masked man with a rifle forced his way into the room…A second young man followed behind the first…and there was a scuffle…The woman fell or was knocked down the stairs after she seized the rifle from one of the young men…One of the two assailants grabbed the woman’s purse from her room after she fell…

Amnesty At Last (#564)

It’s starting, slowly but surely:

[Oklahoma City] Councilman Ed Shadid said he wants the city to consider legalizing – or at least decriminalizing – prostitution…”I think we should stop criminalizing sexual behavior.”  Shadid spoke during a discussion of a “Disorderly House” ordinance, which expanded the definition of an “open lot disturbance violation” to include drugs and prostitution.  The ordinance passed, but Shadid said criminalizing prostitutes is not the way to solve the city’s problems…Shadid, a surgeon, said he is worried about the spread of antibacterial-resistant and sexually-transmitted diseases…”Do you want to use [shame and impoverishment and imprisonment] for nonviolent, consensual activities, where perhaps in some cases it could be safer if it were regulated?”…

Little Boxes (#566)

I was wondering how long it would take them to cram this into the “sex trafficking” paradigm:

Three women who pose painted and topless for tips in Times Square say that ten undercover police officers [stole] their clothing, purses, cellphones and wallets from the pedestrian plaza at 42nd Street…while they were using the bathroom at a nearby parking garage.  The women had to walk nine blocks in their paint and robes to the Midtown South precinct in order to retrieve their possessions.  There, before returning any items, detectives questioned them each separately in an interrogation room…The [harassment]…coincided with the arrest of their assistant Chris Olivieri [who] spends afternoons…holding their tips…running for snacks and tampons, guarding their clothing, and painting their breasts, backs, and legs…the Daily News, the mayor, and Governor Cuomo have recently tried to imply that male “managers” (“pimps,” if you read the tabloids) force the women, so-called “desnudas,” to work…

Now They Notice

Of course, this was glaringly obvious from the start:

…The New York Times served up a prime example of…incongruence in two editorials that ran…on the very same day. In…a statement by the august Editorial Board, the Rentboy raid was presented…as an attack on civil liberties enabled by the illegality of prostitution.  The Times board advanced the notion that the men using the site — on both the buying and selling side — were rational actors who were victimized only by hectoring law enforcement.  The solution, clearly, was the decriminalization of sex work…Contrast that with the op-ed by Rachel Moran, a [prohibitionist pretending to be a] former prostitute…which is…an attack on the recently proposed Amnesty International policy drafted to protect the rights of sex workers worldwide…The two editorials…fall along lines of gendered doublespeak that remain consistent in mainstream media: Decriminalization would liberate male sex workers, who are presumed to have complete sexual autonomy, while it would all but enslave females, who are presumed to have none…

Even MSNBC published a sensible position for a change:

…unlike MyRedbook.com (also raided by the federal government) and Craigslist Erotic Services (shuttered by political pressure), no one has justified the raid on Rentboy as necessary to stopping human trafficking or protecting any victims…Sex workers consistently say they find it safer to screen clients online than on the street.  Closing down such websites directly increases the risk of harm to sex workers.  That is the effect of criminalization…Advocates of prosecution invoke racialized myths of sex work as dominated by “pimps” and “traffickers” that don’t bear out in research…Meanwhile…resources that could go to uncovering actual trafficking and supporting victims are being wasted on locking up sex workers and shuttering escort sites…

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There’s this notion of treating sex workers like children who need watching over, but we don’t, and our model is evidence of that.  –  Catherine Healy

eugenics treeFor years I have held the position that the cause of sex worker rights, as part of the whole fabric of recognition of the individual’s right to be unmolested by the state due to private sexual behavior, must inevitably succeed.  As civilization has developed, respect for individual civil rights has steadily grown; certainly the growth has been neither smooth nor consistent, but as a rule the rights of individuals are greater at any randomly-selected point on the timeline of history than they were at any randomly-selected previous point.  For the past century or so the development of individual rights has been impeded by the cancer known as Progressivism, the belief that “experts” have more right to determine what is “good” for any individual than that individual has to determine that for himself, and that said “experts” have the right to dispatch armed thugs to use violence to punish those who dare to violate the arbitrary pronouncements of those experts, in order to terrorize the greater population into meek obedience.  But the bloody consequences of “progressive” thought are at last becoming obvious to all but the True Believers and the hopelessly collectivist, and it’s only a matter of time before drug prohibition follows eugenics, and prohibition of pragmatic sexual activity follows prohibition of non-procreative sexual activity, onto the ash-heap of history.

In recent years, the prohibitionists who saw this trend have been fighting a last, desperate, all-out campaign against the inevitable; it’s no accident that “sex trafficking” hysteria appeared on the scene immediately after three huge developments in sexual freedom (loosening of restrictions on sex work in Germany, decriminalization in New Zealand and the abolition of “sodomy” laws in the US) made it obvious that state control of individual sexual behavior was on its way out.  But any campaign driven entirely by disinformation, conflation, negation of individual agency and pure moral panic cannot last forever, no matter how many billions are pumped into it; slowly but surely the truth will out.  Since the summer of 2012 momentum for decriminalization has been building outside of the demimonde, and a broad coalition of UN agencies, health officials, human rights groups, think tanksacademics and journalists has joined sex workers in demanding that the state keep its filthy hands out of whores’ lingerie.  For over two years now I’ve been waiting for signs that our society had reached the watershed moment, the point at which the momentum would begin to run away from prohibition and toward respect for individual rights again, and I think that finally came two weeks ago when Amnesty International declared its support for decriminalization.  Since then, prohibitionists’ wailing and gnashing of teeth has largely been drowned out by the sounds of jubilation from the harlots’ camp, and a chorus of assent from many who had remained silent on the issue for a long time, such as drug anti-prohibitionist Richard Branson; even prohibitionist-leaning news organizations like The Guardian and Al Jazeera published op-eds cheering the Amnesty decision.  But none of them were as welcome to me as the statement from venerable GLBT rights group Lambda Legal:

…we…applaud and support Amnesty International’s recent resolution to protect the human rights of sex workers by calling for decriminalization of sex work…For many LGBT people, participation in street economies is often critical to survival…Transgender people engage in sex work at a rate ten times that of cisgender women, and 13% of transgender people who experience family rejection have done sex work…LGBT people are regularly profiled, harassed, and criminalized based on the presumption that they are sex workers, contributing to the high rates of incarceration and police brutality experienced by these communities …Laws criminalizing sexual exchange—whether by the seller or the buyer—impede sex workers’ ability to negotiate condom use and other boundaries, and force many to work in hidden or remote places where they are more vulnerable to violence.  Research and experience have shown that these laws serve only to drive the industry further underground…We look forward to working…with sex workers and…Amnesty International, to replace laws that criminalize sex work with public policies that address sex workers’ real…needs.

Lamda-LegalThis is huge; Lambda was a major player in the advances in gay rights over the past forty years, and its support may give our movement the much-needed legal firepower that the ACLU’s abdication of its responsibilities has cheated us of for decades.  To be sure, the conditions mentioned in this statement are nothing new, and had mainstream gay rights organizations not been obsessively dedicated to pursuing the agenda of white, middle-class, monogamous, vanilla gay folk for this entire century so far, they could have been addressing these issues long ago.  But if they’re willing to stop ignoring us at last, and to put their might behind us in earnest, I for one am willing to forgive them.  Gay rights groups, anti-prohibitionist groups, sex-positive groups…I don’t know where you’ve been hiding for the past eleven years, or what you’ve been waiting for to speak up.  But if that’s finally changed, we can discuss it later; right now you’ve got a lot of catching up to do, and we are sorely in need of your help.

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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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Have we not learned by now that increased law enforcement is not the answer to social questions?  –  Mistress Matisse

Rough Trade Andrew Charles Ferrall

Of course they were dropped; she was jut a whore, after all:

Charges have been dismissed against [Andrew Charles Ferrall]…on accusations that he raped, slapped and strangled a woman…[who] met up with Ferrall at the Devils Point strip club…they engaged in consensual sex…[and] Ferrall suddenly began to choke her…she told him to stop having sex with her, but he wouldn’t stop.  The woman told police that Ferrall slapped her, bit her and pushed her down some stairs…

Lying Down With Dogs

Destroying families is OK as long as you pray for them and invoke nebulosities like “the good of society”:

A [Kuala Lumpur] woman broke down in tears…and begged not to be jailed over prostitution as her seven-year-old child needed her…The woman, who suffers from asthma, pleaded to be punished with fine rather than jail time as she also had to look after her elderly parents…However, magistrate Ashraf Rezal Abdul Manan told her that a custodial sentence must be meted out as the welfare of society takes precedence over that of the individual.  “I pray that your son be well taken care of by your neighbour,” Ashraf said before ordering the woman to serve her six-month jail term…

Lack of Evidence

She won’t tolerate ordinary men looking at women, but she’s fine with enabling cops to brutalize them:

…solicitation of sex…“is…a disaster for decent families and children”…Councilor-At-Large Debora Coelho said…they are not distinguishable by the clothes they wear, but in how they walk and are “constantly looking at cars…It creates an environment where any woman walking in the neighborhoods will be looked at differently. I won’t tolerate it”…

One Size Fits All

Is there anything that isn’t “trafficking”?

As CEO of one of the world’s most famous model agencies, Katie Ford traveled the globe searching for fresh-faced young men and women and turning them into stars…Now she’s using the skills she developed…to help fight human trafficking and slavery…Ford admits she’d never even heard of trafficking until [a little after the moral panic began]…eight years ago.  She was stunned to discover the similarities to her own industry…”How people are trafficked, it was parallel to how we scouted models around the world…the hope and the dream that a model has for a better life is the same thing as a field worker who comes here from Mexico…and then they get duped into situations that aren’t what they expected”…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

They just won’t give up their sex doll fantasy:

…Dr Helen Driscoll said advances in technology mean the way in which humans interact with robots is set to change drastically in the coming years.  Dr Driscoll, a leading authority on the psychology of sex and relationships [but not artificial intelligence], said “sex tech” was already advancing at a fast pace and by 2070, physical relationships will seem primitive…robotic, interactive, motion-sensing technology is likely to become more and more central to the sex industry in the next few years.  “It could really start to enable mannequin partners to ‘come to life'”, according to Dr Driscoll…

Blunt Instrument

All gyms, spas, martial-arts schools, massage studios and health clubs looking to set up shop in New York City must get something called a physical culture establishment permit, which was created in the late 1970s to stem the rise of seedy massage parlors in Times Square…the process of obtaining [this] permit can take nearly six months and cost up to $50,000 in fees and payments to lawyers.  Not only does the city’s Department of Investigation run a limited background check on the applicants, but the obscure city agency that processes the applications—called the Board of Standards and Appeals—also takes into account the opinions of neighbors.  At several public hearings, they can inveigh against a company in a formal process few businesses outside of bars or liquor stores are subjected to…

Watershed

Under Every Bed 

You’ve got to love the way “human trafficking” is plainly used as a synonym for “prostitution” here:

West Homewood [Alabama] residents are taking it upon themselves to investigate the prostitution problem in the area…Victoria Dinges…is planning to go undercover this weekend to hopefully catch someone involved in the alleged prostitution…This…comes just off the heels of Homewood’s third community meeting about the issue of local sex trafficking…Residents also feel that human trafficking is leading to a slew of other crimes that have been littering the neighborhood lately…

A Procrustean Bed (#502)

Good article by Noah Berlatsky, but the consequences of these laws are not by any means “unintended”; they are intentionally designed to harm sex workers:

…Trafficking laws are used…not to arrest pimps and traffickers but to reclassify and police sex workers.  The most high profile example is in New York, where new trafficking courts were established in 2013…“Anyone who is arrested for prostitution they call ‘trafficked,’ according to Alison Bass…author of the forthcoming book Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law.  “The police are going after women and men who are selling sex by choice,” Bass told me. “It’s much easier [to arrest them]—because they’re out in the open, they’re advertising on the Internet, they’re on the street.”  Traffickers, on the other hand, are very careful.  And, Bass adds, there aren’t very many of them…

Moving Pictures 

Notice the way “sex trafficking” cinema represents pure fantasy as faux reality?

Sande Alessi Casting is looking for East Indian men and women to work on the upcoming feature film Trafficked filming in Malibu, California….[it] is based on…Siddharth Kara’s best-selling book, Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery.  Kara [pretends to be] one of the world’s foremost experts on human trafficking and contemporary slavery.   Trafficked features Patrick Duffy, Anne Archer…and Ashley Judd

Gorged With Meaning (#526)

Is the Swansea sports team called the Pearl Clutchers?

In the absence of any institutional policies on student sex work, some professional staff and students’ union staff interviewed by researchers from Swansea University and Kingston University said that they would take action against student sex workers in case they put the university’s reputation at risk…other staff interviewed for the study, published in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management this month, said that they would take a more [patronizing] approach by referring student sex workers to their health, counselling or financial support teams…

Amnesty At Last

I suspected the Amnesty position would embolden a few politicians:

D.C. Council member David Grosso said he is considering introducing legislation this fall that would decriminalize prostitution in the city and provide sex workers with resources to be safe and get out of the business if they want to.  Grosso’s announcement comes on the heels of Amnesty International’s controversial recommendation…calling for “full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work”…Grosso…said…“Once the Amnesty report came out, it validated a lot of the concerns that I have of how we handle this in the District”…Grosso similarly said this policy move would “respect the fact that sex workers are human beings, too”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (#563)

Mistress Matisse gives both barrels to prohibitionist Seattle politicians:

The Seattle Times recently ran an op-ed condemning Amnesty’s proposed policy changes…the piece is striking in its presentation of opinions as fact and its use of utterly bogus “statistics.”  For example, it trots out the completely false statement that “The average age of entry (into sex work) is 12 to 14.”  This statement has been debunked multiple times, and even Polaris Project…has publicly disclaimed it…It states, “Decriminalization and legalization are failed experiments”…This is in flat contradiction to detailed reports from two countries, Australia and New Zealand, that have decriminalized sex work successfully…statements about the “US sex economy”…are most likely drawn from a recent Urban Institute report, based on conversations with 73 men convicted as “pimps,” and only 36 incarcerated street workers.  To even call such a limited examination a “study” does it far too much credit; it is a handpicked collection of anecdotes designed to support a previously-arrived-at conclusion.  Researchers in fact-based studies of sex work have stated that there is no evidence to support the idea that forced sex work is a hugely ballooning problem…There is hardly a single sentence…that is factually true.  It is manufactured moral-panic hysteria, designed to prop up the continuing arrest and incarceration of sex workers…

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They’re parroting back what they’ve been told to say, as actors do, and they got their names in the headlines, as actors like.  –  Mistress Matisse

Just in case you somehow missed it on Tuesday, and in my news column on Wednesday:

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…

Here’s a video from Amnesty, answering the propaganda attacks prohibitionists have hurled at the organization in the past few weeks:

Sex workers all over the world were jubilant; tens of thousands of tweets went out in minutes.  I retweeted many of them, texted Mistress Matisse, called Matt to tell him; the news spread like wildfire through the demimonde, and many a cheer and victory dance ensued.  But as you might suspect, there was no joy in the Mudville occupied by prohibitionists; the ones on Twitter who dared to show their faces at all tried to piss on sex workers (without negotiation, consent or payment), only to be chased back to their troll-caves.  The staunchly prohibitionist New York Times huffed,

…The proposal…provoked an aggressive lobbying campaign by international groups opposed to sparing buyers and pimps from penalties.  Competing petitions were organized by women’s groups and celebrities— including former President Jimmy Carter…appealing to the group to…“stay true to its mission”…

It’s rather telling that the prohibitionists, including the senile evangelical Carter, are so blinded by their bigotry that they can’t see that Amnesty is staying true to its mission, which has always opposed criminalization of non-violent consensual behavior.  Of course, the Times couldn’t be bothered to ask any uppity whores for our opinions; rather, it quoted prohibitionists foaming at the mouth about “pimps”:

“It is a myth about the happy prostitute who does this as a free choice.  Unfortunately, I can now hear people saying ‘hurrah’ — all those johns and pimps who run the brothels. It’s a multibillion-euro industry.”

For those who have been asleep for the past few years, prohibitionists pretend that all the millions of sex workers who ask for decriminalization are disguised “pimps and johns”, or else poor victimized drug addict women with “Stockholm syndrome”.  Stockholm, you know, like in Sweden.  The Guardian was even worse:

…Many former sex workers have criticised the decision.  “We feel that Amnesty International are supporting the men who are killing our women and it’s a slap in the face,” said Bridget Perrier, [a disgruntled former sex worker]…Fiona Broadfoot, [a former teen runaway, pretends that]…“The vast majority of women working in this industry are abused on a massive scale…Legalising it will not take away that abuse”…Broadfoot is a strong advocate for the Nordic model…Rachel Moran, [a paid shill for the violent prohibitionist group Ruhama who has never actually done sex work]…called the…decision “breathtakingly disgraceful”…

Yes, they quoted three prohibitionist “survivors” and not one single current sex worker.  But as I’ve pointed out before, The Guardian is in business to make money, and so was happy to also carry this:

…criminalising sex workers contributes to their vulnerability to violence, exploitation, and HIV.  Evidence from New Zealand and New South Wales…reveals that [decriminalization]…led to increased use of sexual health services…encouraged greater condom use and yielded fewer reports of harassment by police.  Conversely research shows that countries that continue to prosecute sex workers have higher HIV rates, increased stigma and discrimination, increased violence and abuse against…sex workers, and limited access to health services and condoms.  At the Elton John Aids Foundation, we continue to support organisations fighting for sex workers’ rights…We stand with Amnesty, and applaud it for its wise and bold approach.

Amnesty International logoThat was written by the Foundation’s head, Scott Campbell, but given the number of songs he’s written about sex workers I suspect it closely mirror’s Sir Elton’s own sentiments.  And because I’m not a prohibitionist, I’m going to close with the words of an actual, current sex worker, my dear friend Mistress Matisse:

…Phrases like “pimping” have a heavy sound—but technically if I call a friend and say, “I have a client who wants to see both of us—come on over,” that’s pimping.  When I was 24 years old I managed a massage parlor…I was not coercing or harming anyone, but I was technically and legally a pimp…There are…bad and abusive husbands and boyfriends but we don’t outlaw marriage.  There are bad abusive bosses in non-sex work jobs…In a decriminalized system a sex worker with an abusive pimp can go to the police and complain.  And in countries where sex work has been decriminalized—Australia and New Zealand—that happens now…There are all sorts of institutions, and all sorts of legal employers, that harm women but there no other jobs that we point to say say, “The women doing that job have to be arrested—and arresting them is rescuing them!”

Fortunately, the world’s most respected human rights organization is not afraid to say that infantilizing sex workers and criminalizing our choices is bullshit; let’s hope some politicians (even in the deeply prohibitionist US) begin to recognize that the wind is shifting, and decide to stand with Amnesty and sex workers as we look toward the future and away from the fear of consensual sex.

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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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