Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

What is trafficking, anyway?  –  Kanchan, an Indian sex worker

Against Their Will 

What kind of “rescuers” lock the “victims” they “rescue” in a cage?

Police in Kenya rescued 21 young Nepalese women during a raid on two strip clubs in…Nairobi…”the…girls…had been trafficked to Kenya for exploitation,” [pigs] wrote on…Twitter…Images of the operation…showed three young women dressed in brightly coloured blouses hiding their faces as they were [dragged] away…”We are holding the 21 girls and three other local suspects.  We are probing their links to international human trafficking rings”…

Dirty Amateurs

Another effect of France’s jihad against sex workers: “French health authorities are warning the general public to use protection and get tested after their latest findings suggest chlamydia and gonorrhoea cases in the country tripled between 2012 and 2016…”  Pay close attention to the timing.  When “authorities” increase persecution of sex workers and clients, men are more afraid to buy sex from competent professionals, and instead turn to careless, filthy amateurs; this is the result.

Counterfeit Comfort

We certainly can’t have those dirty pedos helping each other to stay off the “sex offender” registry:

…the online “virtuous pedophile” community…[is] a network of both adults and youth who are attracted to children but are committed to never, ever acting on those attractions.  They are pedophiles, but they aren’t child molesters…there are few outlets for…non-offending pedophiles to find support.  In the U.S., therapists are obligated to [rat out] their clients to authorities if they think there is a chance the client will abuse a child…just disclosing the attraction can be a risk…online [communities are] one of the few places pedophiles can anonymously discuss their problems.  These forums aren’t places to trade kiddie porn or solicit sex (there are strict rules against this); they are places where pedophiles can talk honestly about how to deal with their attractions and exist in a society that views them as subhuman.  But…[their] message boards and forums have been targeted and shut down by hackers, and [last] week, an online community…with over 400 members was shut down by Discord, the company that hosted their server…”for violations of our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines”…

Monsters 

Yellow journalists assist cops to protect and serve crime victims:

A transgender woman was found dead [on July 19th] at an Orlando apartment complex…her body…had signs of trauma…Sasha Garden…was a sex worker…many in the community are worried after Garden’s death and the murders of three transgender woman in Jacksonville this year…[local activist] Montrese Williams says Orange County deputies came to her house around 7:30 a.m. for her help identifying Garden…”As soon as I opened the door, I get, ‘I hear a bunch of transvestites stay here.’ I had to let them know, I’m a transgender woman and I’m the only one that stays here”…Despite Montrese Williams telling deputies that Sasha Garden was a trans woman, in the official report they described her as a 27-year-old man from Jacksonville, who “was wearing a wig and was dressed as a female.”  Naturally…Orlando television stations followed suit with headlines that described her with phrases like a “man in a wig” (WESH) or a “man dressed as a woman” (WFTV)…

Profound Mental Disabilities (#512) 

Another case of the state using sex work as “evidence” of mental disability:

London [Ontario] police [claimed a 20-year-old woman called “C.S.”] was imprisoned by a human trafficker, and forced into selling sex…Amy Dykes…was charged in July 2015…But…Superior Court Justice Alissa Mitchell acquitted the accused woman on all charges.  Her ruling speaks to the [state’s desire to deny the power of]…consent…[to] disabled adults…[and the] danger…[of the] narrative about…rescuing sex workers…The Crown alleged that Dykes forced C.S. into prostitution and controlled her with threats and by taking her disability payments, cell phone and bank card…[cops discovered] C.S. [in an “Operation Northern Spotlight” sting and pretended]…that C.S…was not fully aware of her situation…But [another cop]…had taken a different view of C.S., when he’d met her a month earlier…Although C.S. seemed naive, she showed a level of independence by…using her own debit card in front of him, and spoke well of [Dykes]…Other testimony and evidence showed C.S. could look after herself, bought her children toys and clothes, maintained a bank account, paid her share of the rent, cooked, maintained a cell phone, and kept up with friends on Facebook and texts and in person.  C.S. has…[the] intelligence…of a child aged eight to 11, but is not a child in terms of life experience and accomplishments…“There is no evidence to support a finding that [C.S.] was incapable of providing her voluntary agreement to work as a prostitute…C.S. was adamant (with the [sting pigs]) that she had no interest in being rescued.  Their discussion was lengthy and…C.S. remained steadfast…[until the cops’ continuing pressure caused her to] fear…she might find herself in trouble with the law if she did not agree she was the victim,” Mitchell said…

Rhinoceros (#611)

COAST isn’t mentioned here, but this is the same sort of insulting, patronizing bullshit they peddle, pretending that pigs, bureaucrats and other busybodies know more about our profession than we do:

Shane Harrington…wants his employees to know what to watch for to make sure his clubs aren’t the target of traffickers.  “If there’s an entertainer who’s like [“I have bills”]…that’s a sign,” Stephanie Olson said.  Olson, the CEO of the “Set Me Free” project, is against sex…Her passion drove her to share her [propaganda]…So, she teamed up with Club Omaha to [indoctrinate] employees…Harrington, the nude dance club operator, said his club gets a bad rap and part of this [indoctrin]ation is to [virtue signal]…

Held Together With Lies (#648)

Looks like “Walk Free Foundation” got tired of its old wanking fantasy, so they inflated it:

[Propaganda] on modern slavery around the world [now claims] that the number of slaves in developed nations…is much higher than previously [pretended].  The Global Slavery Index is published annually by the Walk Free Foundation…In its new report, Walk Free Foundation is still using the 40.3 million figure, but says that [inflation of] its [fantasy] mean it [now pretends] country-level figures [are higher] than ever before:  it now [claims] that in the United States 403,000 people — or 1 in every 800 — are living in modern slavery, seven-times higher than it previously believed.  In the UK, it [claims] there are 136,000 slaves, almost 12-times higher than previous figures.  The numbers contrast with UK government’s [already-inflated] estimate that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013.  There is no equivalent government figure for the US…Walk Free Foundation [claims] the reason for the dramatic increases in its slavery estimates for some countries is that the latest report uses far more data sources than previously…

Click on the subtitle link to see how “Walk Free” comes up with these ridiculous “slavery” numbers.

A Broker in Pillage (#791)

The quaint non-“law enforcement” term for this is “blackmail”:

Under Michigan law, Stephen Nichols was supposed to get a “prompt” court hearing to challenge the forfeiture of his car, which police…[stole] in 2015 because he was driving it without valid insurance…Nichols still hasn’t had his day in court…[he] and two other plaintiffs filed a federal class-action lawsuit…[because] Wayne County police and prosecutors seize residents’ property and force them to wait months, sometimes years, for a hearing…the delays violate the 14th Amendment right to due process.  In addition, Wayne County prosecutors offer to settle cases out of court for $900, leaving owners to choose between getting their vehicle back quickly…or shelling out even more money for a lawyer and waiting months to get their means of transportation back…The two other named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Adam and Ryan Chappell, are a father and son…the younger Chappell was borrowing his dad’s car one day in July 2016 when Wayne County sheriff’s deputies saw him pull into a medical marijuana dispensary in Detroit.  The cops pulled him over as he left and [stole] the car.  No [legal medical] marijuana was recovered from the car, and no criminal charges were filed in the case…Chappell’s car was one of hundreds [stolen] by the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office for visiting a [perfectly legal business]…

Between the Ears (#791) 

Any internet-connected device can be used to spy on you:

…Lovense [sex] toys can already be controlled remotely using an app, but now Alexa voice commands will activate them too…anyone with a Lovense toy and the Lovense Remote app will be able to simply update the app to use the feature…Asking [Alexa] to make you “smile” will result in a less powerful buzz than asking to “moan,” or even “scream”…Alexa will also be able to sync your toy to a Spotify account, making it buzz along to the music…

Think I’m paranoid? Check the subtitle; Lovense has already been caught doing it.

Rooted in Racism (#797)

“Repatriation” is the fashionable euphemism for “deportation”:

What to do about illegal migration from Africa into Europe?  The EU’s repatriation programme seems at first like a great idea [to racists who don’t want black people in Europe]…we persuade them [at gunpoint] to go back home and help them to remake their lives there.  The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has coughed up £125 million for the scheme and about 25,000 migrants have already taken part, most heading home to west and central Africa…60 per cent of all illegal Nigerian migrants to Europe [travel by way of Benin]…in the 1980s, a group of local women went as guest workers to Italy, and came back to their hometown rich after becoming prostitutes.  Word spread of their success, and so people-smuggling networks were set up that thrive to this day…The city now has a huge red-light district with many families knowingly sending their daughters into prostitution abroad.  Malign local juju cults have been revived by the smuggling gangs, who make their clients undergo secret rituals of obedience.  The most feared deity, a vengeful slave goddess called Ayelala, is now nicknamed “the patron saint of sex traffickers“…For all the opportunities on offer, what the [deported] migrants mostly felt was a sense of failure.  The people smugglers’ ticket had often cost their family its life savings.  Returning meant all that effort and money had been wasted…

Though the reporter clearly understands that these people are migrating of their own free will to make a better life for themselves, he still can’t resist the urge to demonize their religion and infantilize them by pretending they are passive objects to be “trafficked”.  Follow the links for previous examples of the same bigotry.

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#846)

Sex worker rights activists are fighting India’s terrible new “anti-trafficking” bill:

A number of social workers, sex workers, lawyers, child rights and trans rights activists have…spoken out against the anti-trafficking bill…drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development…if enacted [it] will further marginalise vulnerable communities…activists…met [with the Minister] to discuss a petition…containing comments from 30 civil society organisations and 247 activists and lawyers, and endorsed by over 4,000 sex workers across the country …The bill conforms to a rescue-rehabilitation approach and…adult sex worker…rights would be completely negated if it is enacted…The bill…asserts that “the consent of the victim is immaterial in the determination of the offence of trafficking”…

Under Every Bed (#850)

Notice how tired and perfunctory “sex trafficking is EVERYWHERE!” articles are beginning to sound?

…Central Texas…is a focus for human trafficking because of its proximity to the southern border, Interstate 35 and its strong demand for labor, UnBound Director Susan Peters said.  UnBound…It has recently worked with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office on several trafficking cases, including at local massage parlors where [cops pretend] women were…forced to offer sex acts for money…

Disaster (#850)

I’ve never seen anything galvanize public support for sex workers like FOSTA has:

…women and advocates…speaking on Native America Calling, a live call-in program dedicated to issues specific to Native communities, charged that the so-called FOSTA-SESTA legislation has made life more…dangerous…for sex workers—and has left Native American women especially vulnerable…Becki Jones, a sexual health educator for Planned Parenthood…and a member of the Diné tribe…said…FOSTA-SESTA’s restrictions on commercial sex sites effectively removed sex workers ability to “screen for particular clients that might be super violent.”  By shutting down what amounted to protective online resources for sex workers, the measures in effect closed off a source of networking and mutual aid…sex work deserves legal protection and must be de-stigmatized…

Read Full Post »

A lot of people under 18…are only considered “trafficked” because the law says so.  –  Raani Begum

Capricious Lusts

Some people can’t seem to understand that while sex workers can help men to manage their sexual frustration, there is nothing we can do once they grow to believe they’re entitled to free sex and go down the twisted “incel” rabbit hole.  I think Dan Savage does a good job of explaining that difference here:

…Sexual deprivation can make a person miserable, even suicidal…and, as a society, we seem fine with that.  People who can’t get sex are often told that…no one has ever dropped dead as a result of being deprived of sex.  (Loneliness, however, can hasten death; it may be a greater risk factor for early death than smoking or obesity)…sexually deprived people…who…identify as incels…[don’t] feel…depressed or blam[e] themselves…[they] are filled with rage and blame…women…And when an incel with social or mental health issues—issues that doubtless contributed to his being an “involuntarily celibate” in the first place—violently attacks women (men are often killed too), the online incel breaks into cheers…I don’t think throwing sex workers at violent, deranged incels will solve the violent, deranged incel problem.  Our culture has to change in enormous ways to solve this problem…men have to stop being socialized to believe they’re entitled to women’s bodies…adults who do sex work of their own free will shouldn’t be stigmatized (or treated like criminals) and adults who hire adults doing sex work of their own free will shouldn’t be stigmatized (or treated like criminals).  The former cultural transformation will solve the “incel” problem; the latter will solve the problem of sexual deprivation, i.e. involuntary celibacy…

Feminists and Other Puritans

Once again:  coalitions of fundamentalist anti-sex groups are in no way “surprising”:

If you had told radical feminist and [writer for SWERF/TERF rag Feminist Current] Natasha Chart five years ago that she would be fired from her advocacy job for objecting to the prostitution of minors, she wouldn’t have believed…She opted to speak with The Christian Post…”because…there is a significant and influential portion of…mainstream human rights activist community that…believes…youth sex work[ers]…should [not be raped and caged by cops]”…Chart is a former Jehovah’s Witness…no one is served when trusted civil society institutions utilize their clout…to quietly further a “pimping agenda“…If this goes unaddressed it is only a matter of time before the sex industry is considered “respectable” enough to emerge from the shadows and begin openly sponsoring a political caucus, as is the case in the Netherlands and Australia…

Yes, this is a Christian publication masturbating at very great length about the “pimp lobby” and approvingly quoting Meghan Murphy.

Seizing Power (#679)

Can we please stop pretending that Dart’s actions are anything other than a power & money grab?

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wants [to profit from]…a recent plea deal [by Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer]…Dart filed a motion…asking [a]…Judge…to require Backpage.com LLC and its attorneys to pay the county for its legal fees in connection with a legal battle that dates back to 2015, when the Dallas-based online classified advertising site obtained a preliminary injunction blocking the sheriff’s office from [threatening] credit card companies [to force them to stop] processing payments for the site…

Broken Record (#733)

Prohibitionists just can’t stop beating this dead horse:

Three local groups are hosting an outreach event to warn the community about the dangers and reality of human trafficking during the Kentucky Derby…If you spot [any of these] red flag[s, report the person to the cops]…Hotel guests with little luggage…”Do Not Disturb” sign used constantly on a hotel room door…Housekeeping services refused for many days…Adults with…cell phones…A person is vague about his/her profession…

Can you imagine these phone calls? “Hi, Officer Porky, I’d like to report a man with a cell phone who told me to mind my own business…”

License to Rape (#806)

US prisons are hotbeds of rape in every form:

Jeannette Reynoso dreaded visiting her husband at…Rikers Island…She knew she would wait hours to be processed, go through several metal detectors and be subjected to a search by dogs sniffing for drugs and weapons.  But she never thought she would be…naked and in tears before two [screws raping her using the excuse of searching]…her body cavities for contraband…When she [resisted the supposed search]…the [screws] threatened to cancel her visits for 45 days…[among other violations] the [screw]…violently inserted two fingers into her anus…she was menstruating at the time…The search Ms. Reynoso described is prohibited in city jails.  In state and federal prisons, strip searches of visitors are permitted with consent, but not cavity checks…Elias Husamudeen, the president of the [Porcine Propaganda Perpetrators]…[mocked] the [reports made] by the women in the lawsuits and [claimed that]…“People are coming in with weapons in their vaginas, up their anus and in baby bottles”…

Because every woman I know can fit a 0.44 magnum in her pussy and a knife up her arse, at the same time.

Pyrrhic Victory (#810) 

Surveillance beyond the wildest dreams of the Stasi:

In cities across the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents can mine local police reports using COPLINK, a data program little known outside law enforcement circles…The software ingests local police databases, allowing users to map out people’s social networks and browse data that could include their countries of origin, license plate numbers, home addresses, alleged gang membership records, and more…[“authorities” pretend] these databases and analytic tools helps ICE…tackle serious crimes, like child pornography and [the catchall] money laundering.  But…ICE…agents are also involved in questionable immigration enforcement actions nationwide…

Watershed (#815)

When stuffy NBC News publishes an article which openly calls for decriminalization, you know things are changing:

…the true targets of the [so-called] war on trafficking have been the marginalized, low income consensual sex workers whose livelihoods and ability to stay safe have long been dependent on the resources being scrubbed from the internet in the name of ending trafficking…It’s likely that these [“sex trafficking”] laws will be challenged in court and eventually overturned…Even the Department of Justice has said [FOSTA] could…be found to be unconstitutional…But while overturning these bills in court would be a good first step, it’s not enough.  As long as consensual sex work is treated as functionally indistinct from abusive, forced or coercive situations, our laws will continue to punish some of the vulnerable people we claim to want to protect.  Criminalizing and aggressively cracking down on all sex work pushes consensual sex workers underground and into unsafe environments…and…does little to discourage or combat people who profit from coercing others…In contrast, decriminalization…allows…sex workers to more openly and thus safely conduct business…A wide range of groups including Amnesty InternationalFreedom Network USAGlobal Alliance Against Traffic in WomenHuman Rights WatchUNAIDSWorld Health OrganizationInternational Women’s Health Coalition and numerous sex worker advocacy and support groups have thrown their support behind…decriminalization…

Negative Secondary Effects (#817)

Normally, the pretended “secondary effects” are concrete things, not silly nebulosities:

[Prohibitionists] have been granted a judicial review against Sheffield’s strip club licensing policy in a move that could…have significant implications for other councils considering strip club licences.  It could force them to take into account the [imaginary] impact on women and gender equality, rather than just the wellbeing of [actual people like the dancers who these prohibitionists want unemployed]…

Funny how nobody is crusading against businesses that employ mostly men on grounds of “gender equality”.  Don’t men have an equal “right” to be forced out of high-paying work to appease prudish lunatics?

Disaster (#832)

Judging by the breadth of responses from all over the political map, FOSTA may have been a serious miscalculation on the part of the government:

“What the new law does is it allows the FBI and law enforcement and individuals to sue platforms of any kind online for third-party hosts and content,” Barb Brents, a professor of sociology at UNLV, told KNPR…She explained that platforms like Craigslist and Backpage…are simply platforms for information and couldn’t be held responsible for what people posted on that format.  But under the new law, people can sue them for what other people post…Brents said there is no real evidence that real traffickers are using those sites, but the sites are used by consensual sex workers.  With them shut down or otherwise threatened…sex workers are losing an important screening mechanism…

And here’s a good introduction to FOSTA and its related tyrannies:

…Hillary Clinton would have signed it, too.  It…has had an overwhelming bipartisan majority…FOSTA-SESTA does nothing but places liability on online platforms by asking them to tackle an enormous “real world”/not online problemFOSTA-SESTA spooks online platforms into pre-emptively censoring free speech for fear of criminal liability, which has all sorts of horrible consequences for free speech…You can no longer share “explicit and vulgar content” on any Microsoft product, which means that no longer allowed to do anything sexual with anyone on their platforms, regardless…if…paid or unpaid…Here is an incomplete list of products and institutions that discriminate or ban sex work or adult products

Read Full Post »

I don’t think there’s any kind of case law that says you can sue a penis.  –  Judith Lonnquist

Those among you who have never seen Heavy Metal may not really dig how completely cool this sequence was in 1981, but if it inspires you to go see the film (one of the last feature-length hand-drawn animated movies), I’ve done my job.  Naturally, Elon Musk’s shooting-a-car-into-space publicity stunt inspired me to tweet this video on Tuesday; the links above it were provided by Patrick NonwhiteScott GreenfieldMark DraughnJillian KeenanWalter OlsonNun Ya, and Radley Balko, in that order.

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

I can’t breathe.  –  Louis Tramunti

Another of my favorite voice artists is gone; this video features many of her better-known roles, but she had so many they’re literally uncountable (included the original “Chatty Cathy” doll and her sinister Twilight Zone twin, Talky Tina).  The links above the video were provided by Jesse Walker (“Skynet”, “planets” & “map”), Franklin Harris (“RIP”), Scott Greenfield (“never”), Tim Cushing (“alley”), and Tejas (“accused”).

From the Archives

Read Full Post »

After the United States dies, the evil of prohibition will (albeit gradually) follow it into Hell.  –  “Successor

Four years ago I wrote “The Mills of the Gods”, in which I explained that…

…my perspective on human affairs had undergone a dramatic shift toward the cosmic…my viewpoint…receded, as though I had stepped away from a magnifying lens through which I had always viewed the world…since then I have been unable to view the timescale of any human life as “long”, and in fact often catch myself talking about stretches of many decades as “brief periods in history”…

Though at the time of that writing I imagined the process as a singular shift, I have since come to realize that it was only the beginning of a continuing process which has since gone much further, and will probably continue until I leave this world.  Whether the disassociation is merely a part of the original process, a response to the deep emotional trauma of the past few years, a defense mechanism to protect my psyche against the cultural horror show I chronicle every day, an adaptation to make me a more effective activist or some combination of several or all of these, I cannot tell; all I know is that I’ve come to view the present as an historical tableau, a set of events that has already happened, which I observe unfolding as though I were a time traveler from a future age.  This isn’t to say I know what’s going to happen; I usually don’t, and even when I do I arrive at the prediction by cognitive processes rather than precognitive ones.  At least, I think that’s the case, and if I’m wrong it’s probably better I don’t know about it just yet.

So, while many of my friends are extremely concerned and even frightened by the events of this century so far (and especially recent events), I tend to view them with a sort of detachment.  This isn’t to say that I’m not angry or offended by them, but I also tend to burst into tears when watching any depiction of the First World War and a number of other historical events that I’m not aware of having been a part of.  Expressed less metaphysically, the political events I’m living through now don’t really feel any more real or personal to me than the events of the Great War, the Roman civil wars or the constantly-shifting political landscape of ancient Mesopotamia, and my tiny part in the events of the present often feels almost inevitable, as though I’m following a script written for me long ago.  People call me heroic, but I don’t feel heroic; I usually feel as though what I’m doing is the only possible choice, or at least the only moral one.

And so, unlike most Americans, I have no innate sense of American exceptionalism; I understand that the current American government will soon (on the historical scale of time) fall, just as all bloated, decadent, dying empires do, and that we’re already beyond the point at which future historians will divide the “classical” US from the late-period one.  I understand that when the collapse comes, it’s not going to be pretty or nice, and that a lot of innocent blood will be spilled along with that of the tyrants and revolutionaries.  I recognize that it’s very unlikely that a new federal government without a clear line of political succession will be able to hold onto all of the states any more than collapsing Rome could hold onto all of her far-flung provinces, and that it’s very likely that in another century the map of North America will look at least as different from the current one as a map of modern Europe looks from an 18th-century one.  I understand and accept these things as wholly as you accept the events of the 19th century: as phenomena that, while one might have feelings about them (even very strong feelings), there’s absolutely nothing one can do about them.  Call that fatalism if you like; I don’t see it that way.  I see it as history, and I see history as a continuously-unfolding process stretching into the far future rather than as a collection of moldering facts about the dead past.

Read Full Post »

Chicago!  I’m heading your way on the 21st!  I’ll give you the details when I get ’em, but you’ll be able to hear me read from my new book, The Forms of Things Unknown, at two area bookstores; meet me at a fundraiser Friday night; or have some personal time with me.  But if you want that last, please contact me ASAP because my time will be limited; I’m flying out again on Saturday the 24th!  This is a perfect example of how to go about getting me to your city for a visit: a libertarian activist in Chicago put essentially the whole visit together for me, contacting the bookstores, setting up the fundraiser, and providing me with board; all I need to do is deliver my lovely self to the Windy City.  And if you can set up a similar deal in your city, you (and others there) can book me for regular-length appointments because I’ll already be there instead of having to travel just for you (see how that works)?  Obviously, please contact me before setting things up so I can give you some good date ranges.  Right now, my travel is limited to the US and parts of Canada I can drive to (Vancouver), but I applied for my passport a week ago yesterday; if the guy who got my records straight two years ago was correct, I should have it in just a few weeks (a generous gentleman paid for expedited service because he wants to take me to Europe next month, his schedule permitting).  Of course, that means I’ll soon be able to travel internationally if the price is right; European fans, start saving up!

Read Full Post »

Dr. Laura Agustín, author of the blog The Naked Anthropologist and the book Sex at the Margins, the seminal work on “sex trafficking” hysteria (in which she coined the term “rescue industry”), has written The Three-Headed Dog, a novel  dramatizing the problems faced by migrants.  It’s another way of introducing readers to the issues the “sex trafficking” paradigm attempts to paper over, which Dr. Agustín has studied for over 20 years and understands in a way very few others do.  I recently read the novel, and Dr. Agustín graciously agreed to answer some questions about it.

MM:  Sex at the Margins has been and continues to be a work of major importance to the sex workers’ rights movement; I know it really helped me to shake off the dualistic thinking about “willing” vs “coerced” sex work, and it’s invaluable in getting people to look at their preconceptions around why people (especially women) leave their original home countries to work.  So why did you decide to write fiction instead of a 10th-anniversary edition?

LA:  The essence of Sex at the Margins doesn’t need updating, by which I mean women’s migration to work as maids or to sell sex, the use of smugglers, the rise of the Rescue Industry.  Someone else can document the growth and proliferation of that last, if they can stomach it, but the core ideas haven’t changed.  I wanted to write stories to reach people who don’t read books like Sex at the Margins and who only hear about the issues from mainstream media reports.  The Three-Headed Dog provides a way to learn about social realities and be gripped by stories at the same time.

MM:  I write fiction myself, so that makes sense to me.  But what made you choose the crime genre?  Why not do a “straight” novel?

LA:  Crime seemed like the right frame, because everyone thinks smuggling and undocumented migration are at least technically crimes – leaving the idea of trafficking out of it.  I am a fan of some kinds of mystery writing, and the formula of a detective who searches for missing migrants provides infinite opportunities for all sorts of stories and characters.

MM:  I think you just started to answer one of my questions!  At the end of the book several questions are unresolved, and I would have liked to know more about Félix, the detective.  Is this the first of a series?

LA:  I’ve got too many stories to tell for one book.  The Dog was getting long and complicated, so I decided to make it the first in a series.  In the detective genre it’s common for some questions to remain dangling, and readers know they can learn more in the next installment.  If I’d been writing 150 years ago I might have done weekly installments in a magazine, as Dickens did with The Pickwick Papers.  In the next book, which I’ve started, Félix’s search takes her to Calais and London.

MM:  I was very intrigued by Félix, and it seems to me that she might be based on you.  Would I be correct?  And are any other characters based on people you know?

LA:  The characters created themselves in my mind out of the many thousands of migrant friends and acquaintances I’ve had in my life.  Including myself.  But they sprang forth and told me who they were.  I identify with much of Félix’s character, but I identify with much of the smuggler Sarac’s character, too.

MM:  I like that Félix has some history of sex work, and that she still seems to be comfortable taking gigs that dip into the edges of sex work.

LA:  She certainly was a sex worker during the European tour she did when younger with her friend Leila, who now lives in Tangier.  I think she still takes sexwork gigs when it suits her. I expect she’ll tell us more about that in the future.

MM:  Not many novels have well-developed and nuanced sex workers as major characters, and when we appear as minor characters we’re mostly there to be rescued or murdered.  But these characters, even the minor ones, are much more developed than that.  There was one character, Marina, who was clearly intending to do sex work, but what about the others?  I couldn’t be sure.

LA:  This is Marina’s second time sexworking in Spain.  Félix looks for two other characters in spas (massage joints) in Madrid, and one of those is adamant about not intending to be a maid.  They’re Latin Americans who belong to a long tradition of working in indoor businesses like bars and flats, or sometimes in the street.  They arrive with contacts and some prior knowledge of what they’re getting into, so it’s a serious problem when the smuggler makes them de-plane in Madrid instead of Málaga.  Of the other characters, Promise, the Nigerian, planned to sexwork in the street, and Eddy, the boy who goes missing, doesn’t intend anything but is moving in that direction.

MM: It seemed to me that their ending up in Madrid was a very big issue, even beyond the lack of connections.  Is Madrid so very different from Málaga?

LA:  Yes, Madrid is a harder place, a capital city and centre of echt-Spanish culture.  Málaga is on the Costa del Sol, crossroads for many kinds of migration, smuggling, tourism and crime.  It’s a long stretch of coast that ends in a point only 32 kilometres from Africa across the Mediterranean Sea.  Nowadays many non-Spanish Europeans from colder climates have homes there in quasi-closed communities.  The coast is by no means a piece of cake, but it’s not a cold, self-important northern city.  Personally I feel a great sense of history there and lived in Granada during the years I worked on Sex at the Margins.

MM:  So it’s a good place to find jobs that aren’t strictly legal?

LA:  This is about informal economies that exist in parallel to formal ones (which means they’re included in government accounting).  Informal economies are even larger than the formal in some developing countries.  In Spain it is not illegal to sell sex, but undocumented migrants have no right to be in the country at all, much less work there.  The same is true when they get jobs in restaurant kitchens, on construction sites, picking fruit and working as maids and cleaners.  The informal economy rolls along, the jobs are available and migrants are more or less glad to get them despite the clandestinity.

MM:  And as you discussed in Sex at the Margins, it’s this informal economy that’s depicted as “trafficking” nowadays, even when there’s no coercion involved per se.

LA:  The group that arrives by plane at the beginning are undocumented migrants.  They’ve got papers to show at the border: passports and tourist visas.  Fakery was involved, and these young people are planning to get paid work, so they’re going to misuse the visas.  A guy who’s part of the smuggling travels with them.  The project is based on the migrants getting jobs and income so they can pay back debts they or their families took on when they bought travel-agency-type services (known in crime-circles as smuggling).  Technically they’re all committing crimes, but to the migrants they feel like minor crimes, given the well-known availability of jobs when they arrive.  Everyone knows people who’ve done it and sent money home.  Do smugglers sometimes resort to nefarious practices?  Of course; it’s an unregulated economy.  But if smugglers want to stay in the business they guard their reputation.  Word spreads.

MM:  I’m sure the rescue industry folks would find fault with the fact that the book isn’t about people “rescuing” these migrants from their smugglers.

LA:  I wrote this book out of love, not as polemic.  I’d have to get paid very well to devote myself for long to analysing moral entrepreneurship; I don’t find crusader-figures interesting.  I don’t see the world in black-and-white, I like ambiguity and shifting ground.  In Félix’s interior life, questions of helping and saving play a part, but she refuses the rescuer-role.

MM:  And really, even the villains aren’t the mustache-twirling cardboard characters so beloved by those who promote the “sex trafficking” narrative.  I’m thinking about Sarac, the smuggler, and Carlos, the sex club owner.

LA:  The smugglers are squabbling amongst themselves and not very appealing, but they aren’t monsters or driving anyone into bondage.  They charge for their services.  Sarac worked as a soldier/mercenary, now does “security” and is involved in people-smuggling.  He wants to do something new, but not pimping.  Carlos operates hostess clubs in Madrid.  Those are not illegal, but he may employ illegal migrants.  He’s part of an established tradition, and he makes good money on the women’s work.

MM:  I think American readers have some very confused ideas about the sex industry and migration in Europe.  Do you think The Three-Headed Dog will appeal to them and help clear up some of those misconceptions?

LA:  Undocumented migration and working in underground economies are worldwide phenomena no matter what local culture or national laws prevail.  Ways to earn money by selling sex vary in the details, but sex workers recognise each other across national borders and talk about the same problems and solutions everywhere.  Sometimes places where laws are uglier provide more opportunities.  Since the migrants are working illegally in Spain they have a lot in common with all sex workers in the USA, right?

MM:  True; all of us are illegal here, whether we were born here or not.  Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers that I haven’t thought of?

LA:  Yes, I want to point out that even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still buy the Kindle version of The Three-Headed Dog and download a free reading app right there.  And you can read more about sex industry jobs here at my blog.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »