Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

I always believed you had to do something wrong to be arrested.
–  Joy McFarlin

I couldn’t let Halloween pass without at least one horror short; I hope you like this one.  The links above it are from Radley Balko (“traveling”, “pretext” and “never”),  Jillian Keenan  (“women”), Mistress Matisse (“capitalism”), Nun Ya  (“magnets”, “colors” and “yard”), Popehat (“fuck you”), Jesse Walker (“homeopaths”), and  Tushy Galore (“cheese”).

From the Archives

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I think I just wasted my time doing all these other jobs before I did sex work.  I should have been doing it a long time before.  –  Mai Jantawhite slave girl

It Looks Good On Paper

Another bullshit story touting bullshit “safe harbor” laws that allow “perfect victims” to expunge their records of prostitution charges after going through the hell that is the US “justice” system:

…states have dramatically changed laws…to distinguish between voluntary prostitution and the trafficking of women and girls…Before the new laws, states primarily dealt with the sex trade by charging sex workers, usually women, with prostitution.  Many of those laws remain on the books, but states are supplementing them with “safe harbor” laws that protect minors—and sometimes adults—who can prove they were coerced into selling sex…

There’s so much wrong in this one short section: the organized crime myth; agency denial; the pretense that only “many” prostitution laws remain (they all do); the pretense that “safe harbor” laws protect anyone; the reversal of the burden of proof…it’s truly staggering that people can’t see this for what it is.

The Punitive Mindset

Authoritarians think people can simply be ordered to be asexual:

…Sexuality in prison is a controversial topic, and the rare studies that explore the subject focus mostly on the impact of conjugal visits or on the same-sex relationships that develop behind bars.  The general consensus, though, is that helping inmates relieve sexual tensions can actually lead to a reduction in violence and prison rape.  Still, many governments around the world have refused to offer prisoners the “privilege” to watch racy content.  French judge Nina Califano, author of Sexualité, Incarcérée (Sexuality, Imprisoned), [says]…”Sexuality is a basic need that doesn’t go away when you are incarcerated”…[she] argues that allowing inmates to cater to their basic sexual needs — through erotic visual stimulation and masturbation — does more than calm inmates who are behind bars; it is also an important part of ensuring [they]…can later be reintegrated into society…

Change a Few Words

All prohibition is the same, so any move away from it affects all types:

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) appeared set to call on governments to end the criminalization of drug use and possession…but in a dramatic turn of events withdrew a briefing paper under pressure from…the U.S. government.  More than 1.5 million drug arrests are made every year in the U.S. – the overwhelming majority for possession only.  Roughly two dozen countries, and dozens of U.S. cities and states, have taken steps toward decriminalization of drug use and possession.  “There is simply no good basis in science, health or ethics for bringing someone into the criminal justice system solely for drug possession,” [said Ethan] Nadelmann [of the Drug Policy Alliance].  “This will hopefully help accelerate the global trend toward ending the criminalization of drugs”…

St. James Infirmary

This fundraiser for the St. James Infirmary met and surpassed its goal in only a few days, but they’re such an important organization that I’m not going to miss giving it a mention and ask that you consider helping out.

Comfort Zone (#320)

Sometimes the attempt to hide migration control behind the “sex trafficking” narrative is especially apparent:

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)…called on governments to more closely monitor sex trafficking and lend specialized assistance to the 1.5 million refugees expected to enter the European Union this year, warning of a surge in sexual assault against women being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea from West Africa…

Perquisites (#340) 

Dear Dave Zirin: please STFU and stop trying to get free pussy from feminists by parroting their nonsense:

In revelations that the University of Louisville basketball program may have paid a…madam to supply recruits with strippers and sex, the reactions have congregated into two camps: moralizers and cynics.  The moralizers are bleating that this scandal has forever tarnished the innocent joys of amateurism…the cynics…[are] fashionably bored by all of this.  They shrug, saying that these kinds of things happen everywhere…But both of these reactions miss the most urgent issue—the NCAA’s political economy of misogyny…

An Example To the West (#343) Not Drowning - Waving

The writer hasn’t got much of a sense of history; not so long ago, a substantial fraction of the bars in the US were owned by sex workers:

The stereotype of trafficked Asian women exploited by sex tourists means that few people in the west expect Thai sex workers to be at the forefront of a radical push for sex workers’ rights, but…Can Do bar represents just that…it…is the only bar in Thailand, if not the world, that is owned and run by a collective of sex workers, and designed to model exemplary working conditions in the industry…[Liz] Hilton explains.  “One day a group of sex workers here in Chiang Mai said, ‘Actually the government doesn’t get it, nobody understands what we’re talking about, we’re going to have to build it ourselves, we can’t wait anymore.’  And so they pooled their money and raised a million baht [almost $30,000] between them all and created the bar”…

Secret Squirrel (#344)

I’ve written about this issue before, but this is a new low:

Halloween…is a totally subversive day, proving to kids that however much they are supervised the rest of the year, they obviously don’t need it.  They can go out with their friends, roam the neighborhood and have a great time.  So, naturally, this rebellion must be squashed.  Enter…child tracking devices that are pitching parents on the necessity of electronically monitoring their kids’ spoooooooky journey to…the neighbor’s homes. AireLive’s press release promises that its livestreaming capacity will allow “kids to communicate with their parents in real time should any questions arise.  Parents can view the livestream and assess the situation should a teen ever be in need of assistance.”  Nooooooo!  The whole idea is that if “questions” arise, kids should solve them on their own…

Legal Is as Legal Does (#440)

As Leona Hameed once wrote, “Sex work under ‘legalisation’ is still…conceived of as a crime for which the law makes allowances“.

…The ECP and [MSP Jean] Urquhart are campaigning for decriminalisation.  This is not – as has been suggested in countless media reports – legalisation.  Insisting on clarification isn’t petty quibbling.  The models are so distinct that when York Union…changed the title of its debate to “This House believes the legalisation of prostitution would be a disaster”, both sides thought they were arguing in favour of the motion…The York mix-up wasn’t unique.  Since Amnesty released its draft proposal for the decriminalisation of sex work, countless articles have conflated the terms, inaccurately holding up Germany and the Netherlands as examples of “decriminalisation gone wrong”…under legalisation, sex work is controlled by the government and is legal only under certain state-specified conditions.  Decriminalisation involves the removal of all prostitution-specific laws, although sex workers and sex work businesses must still operate within the laws of the land, as must any businesses…

Surplus Women (#550) 

I’m honestly not sure why the writer chose to link this woman’s death those of a serial killer’s victims merely because they happened in the same town:

The body draped over the fence was so bruised and mangled, passerby thought it was a Halloween decoration…Rebecca Cade, a 31-year-old resident of Chillicothe, Ohio…is the seventh Chillicothe woman found dead or missing in the past 16 months—a staggering number for a town of just 21,000 residents.  Then there’s the media coverage of Cade’s murder.  As news spread of the grisly discovery, websites across the nation used Cade’s own mugshot from a previous arrest to illustrate articles about her death—a confusing and ethically murky editorial decision that strikes at the heart of why women like Cade become victims at all…Donnie Couchenuer Jr., 27, was charged with murder and is currently in jail awaiting trial.  But it was Cade’s mugshot that dotted the digital landscape all week long…

Challenge (#559)

California legislators heard from a diverse range of voices about human trafficking and prostitution in America.  The proceedings before the Assembly Public Safety Committee provided a rare chance for people with divergent viewpoints…to come together and have their say.  And then something even more rare happened: some California politicians even seemed to come away with new perspective…Fox News Sacramento reported on the hearing with the headline “Some Suggest Legalizing Prostitution Would Put an End to Sex Trafficking“, noting the “odd mix of legislators, policy wonks, (and) sex workers” in the room…Actually, sex work and human rights advocates tend to focus on decriminalization, not legalization, of prostitution…Nonetheless, the Fox article presents an atypically nuanced perspective on prostitution…It goes on to note that “many adult sex workers say they won’t be able to protect a child, or show her how to stay safe on the streets, for fear of being arrested as a trafficker”…

Innocence Never Had (#574)

Even when authoritarians do something right, they can’t resist warping it into something wrong:

Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced Wednesday that his department will immediately stop arresting children on prostitution charges.  “They are child victims and survivors of rape,” McDonnell wrote in a letter to his employees.  “We must remember that children cannot consent to sex under any circumstance.”

No, no, fucking no.  Young adults are not “children”, and the notion that they “cannot” consent is a legal fiction, not a reality.  The article goes on to delineate that these young people will still be coerced into “help” by cops, such as by confining them in the foster care system many of them fled in the first place.  At the end, the story quotes a prohibitionist named Withelma Pettigrew as saying “Labels are a big deal.” I agree, and labeling young adults as “children” and passive “victims” both demeans and infantilizes them.

Celebrities (#580)

The phrase “sanctimonious bullshit” comes to mind:

Dennis Hof is not paying the 2 hookers who cavorted with Lamar Odom at the Love Ranch brothel, because he now believes they may have had something to do with Lamar doing drugs at the facility…The…deal with Hof was to split the $75k Lamar paid — so they were to get $37,500 which they would equally divide.  But now Hof says…”They will not answer questions about Lamar or possible drug use while he was here.  I’m suspicious”…

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If we believe what we’ve heard, the sight of a female breast, either inadvertent or deliberate, immediately transforms men into raving sexual predators who rush to the nearest restroom and kidnap children.
–  Bob Stephens

The Scarlet Letter

It looks like Vice is slowly ditching the anti-whore bullshit and supporting our rights:

…Montreal sex worker support group Stella…says that…law enforcement’s crackdown on johns forces sex workers into isolation.  An environment where clients are trying to avoid police means sex workers are more likely to meet up with johns in dangerous areas, or get into cars without properly negotiating their terms…Client shaming isn’t a new tactic:  In the US, police have taken to sharing johns’ mugshots on Facebook or with the media…or they…send them letters that would be opened by their loved ones…

Public Service Announcement Jud McMillin

Are politicians actually stupider than other people, or does it just seem that way?

The controversial House Majority Leader in Indiana…resigned suddenly on Tuesday after a sexually compromising video was sent to all of the people on his “Contacts” list…After news of the mass-texting began to circulate, Representative Jud McMillin (R) claimed that his “phone was stolen in Canada and out of my control for about 24 hours. I have just been able to reactivate it under my control. Please disregard any messages you received recently. I am truly sorry for anything offensive you may have received.”  But his…defense apparently didn’t convince many of his “Contacts”…and so Tuesday night he released a statement in which he said that the “time is right for me to pass the torch and spend more time with my family”…McMillin has crusaded to “protect the integrity of the institution of marriage,” but the Advocate reported that the woman on the video he texted was not, in fact, his wife…


Are the sex rays produced by bestiality different from other sex rays?

[A Queensland] woman who was filmed having sex with a dog is appealing her conviction after she lost her blue card to work with children.  The woman…answered a Craigslist ad in 2013 from a man looking for a woman willing to perform sex acts online.  The pair had ­intercourse and she briefly had sex with the man’s dog…She pleaded guilty to bestia­lity…and received two years’ probation…the Queensland Court of Appeal was…told the conviction should not be recorded because it was manifestly excessive…

End Demand

The term for a symbiotic relationship between government and big business is “fascism”.

…[Members of] Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (BEST)…have agreed to block websites where sex is advertised, update personnel policies and make it clear to employees that [their private sex lives are subject to their employers’ control]…King County…[and] the city of Seattle [are]…founding member[s]…With an estimated 27,000 buyers soliciting online sex through 130 different websites in King County every day, it wasn’t hard to deduce that a sizable number were likely on the clock and using work phones and computers to browse ads and connect with women and girls in the sex trade, [prosecutor Val] Richey said.  He said court cases and [interviews with a few prohibitionists]…bolster that supposition.  The BEST Employers Alliance is an extension of the county’s two-year, Buyer Beware program launched a year ago to increase the risk of arrest for men through street-level stings and undercover operations.  “No other jurisdiction in the country has tried this [collusion] with employers to [control private behavior]”…said Richey’s boss, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg…

King of the Hill

Remember, Feinstein thinks that the way to keep people “safe” is to spy on them and destroy their civil liberties:

Senator Dianne Feinstein…applauded the Department of Justice’s $1.5 million grant to the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) to create a new task force to investigate and prosecute [sex workers]…California is one of the top four destination states for trafficking victims and they are moved throughout California at an alarming rate…

Where Are the Protests? (#51)

It’s growing!

…“car wash slavery” has become a major problem in the UK and other European countries in recent years.  Romanian gangs have been…trafficking men from their country into other parts of Europe and putting them to “work” in car wash businesses…Gangs can establish themselves on vacant lots which they rent for insignificant amounts of money and set up business with minimal outlay.  If the businesses attract attention from the authorities, they can be shut down with no losses incurred and re-established immediately in other locations at little cost.  Those familiar with the growing phenomenon say…scenarios to trap victims are fabricated by gang members…The victims’ passports are retained by their minders-cum-gang enforcers…

Hollow Claims

No, there aren’t a “growing number” of prohibitionists in Germany; they’re just being given more airtime due to the prevalence of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…former prostitute Huschke Mau has joined a politician and a social worker to found a new anti-prostitution organization – Sisters e. V. – to help prostitutes out of the sex trade…Hydra Berlin…already offers counseling for prostitutes – including, but not limited to those who want to get out…Sisters [is] a kind of missionary service that “rescues” prostitutes, working from a premise of moral judgment that closes the group to a broad range of sex workers…Sisters…volunteer supporters [are]…women…[who] think prostitution is terrible…”Anyone who wants to do something against prostitution can come to us” [said Mau]…

Little Boxes (#138)

A recent “Free the Nipple” rally in Springfield, Missouri, elicited swift action from the city—but not in the direction activists were hoping for.  Rather, the Springfield City Council voted that women should actually cover up more of their breasts in public than was previously required.  The new indecent exposure law prohibits women from showing too much of the sides and bottom of the breasts—aka “underboob”…The issue was contentious among city officials, passing the city council by just 5-4.  Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens voted against it, condemning proponents’ claim that keeping women’s breasts hidden is necessary so as not to encourage sexual assault…But the new law’s instigator, Councilman Justin Burnett, said it was important for protecting the city’s “family-friendly image” and ensuring “the safety of the most vulnerable among us.”  It is unclear who Burnett thinks is made unsafe by the public presence of underboob…

Under Every Bed 

This is jaw-droppingly stupid even by Washington state standards:

…”I have never seen nothing [sic] worse than I have in Snohomish County,” Charlotte said. “It’s all over…it’s constant”…forensic nurse Paula Newman-Skomski…[is] motivated by her own past of sexual abuse…[and] her daughter was kidnapped…for four hours…she’s specially trained to do things like…advocate for victims of sexual abuse and slavery…”Just being a teenager puts girls at risk for being…coerced into trafficking by pimps…A lot of times you won’t see the girls with their…pimps or controllers”…

Remember, this comes from the home of the infamous crusade against coffee stands.

Policing for Profit 

Anyone who thinks £166,000 ($250,000) a year is some tremendous amount for a small business is an ignoramus:

Mark Cass…registered his business…with the local authority and employed six staff who…[used] time sheets in order to keep track of their busy schedules…Cass netted an average of £166,000 a year and…[employed] his brother as a…manager…police are trying to [steal his] assets…[including] his £47,000 home…a BMW car worth £4,000…[and] £87,499 [in other assets.  The cops want Cass] rendered homeless…[carless] and unable to work…The prosecution [admitted] that [his employees] were not under duress, not corrupted and not imprisoned…Exotic Thai was [such] a popular place to work [that] Cass got calls from Thai girls in London asking for jobs…

In other words, he was a rather ordinary businessman running a rather ordinary business, but the cops want to steal his moderate middle-class assets because sex.

Catastrophic Consequences

Glasgow is the center of official anti-whore sentiment in Scotland:

Glasgow is to be named a White Ribbon City in recognition of the work it does to tackle violence against women…[including] the End Prostitution Now campaign, Sixteen Days of Action, the Routes Out of Prostitution project, the Trafficking Alliance Raising Awareness (TARA) project and ASSIST, the support project linked to Glasgow’s domestic abuse court…

Catastrophic Consequences (#430)

This sleazy tactic has spread from Canada to Scotland to England:

A pioneering new tactic could be launched in Cambridge to rescue sex slaves from city brothels…police are considering visiting brothels…to talk to sex workers to discover if they are consenting or have been trafficked and exploited by brothel keepers.  Police hope to both rescue the women from modern-day slavery as well as gain information about gangs operating in the city’s sex trade.  Detective Chief Inspector Lorraine Parker…said…”We would make regular visits to make sure a sex worker is not being forced and exploited and offer them support as well as refer them to agencies that can help”…

Because unannounced intimidation visits from cops are just so helpful to sex workers.

New Excuse (#568)

Have I told y’all yet today that I love Liz Brown?  This was Reason‘s cover story this month:

…Lawmakers touted harsher penalties for drug offenses. The war on drugs raged. New task forces were created. Civilians were trained how to “spot” drug traffickers in the wild, and students instructed how to rat out drug-using parents. Politicians spoke of a drug “epidemic” overtaking America, its urgency obviously grounds for anything we could throw its way.  We know now how that all worked out.  The tactics employed to “get tough” on drugs ended up entangling millions in the criminal justice system, sanctioning increasingly intrusive and violent policing practices, worsening tensions between law enforcement and marginalized communities, and degrading the constitutional rights of all Americans. Yet even as the drug war’s failures and costs become more apparent, the Land of the Free is enthusiastically repeating the same mistakes when it comes to sex trafficking. This new “epidemic” inspires the same panicked rhetoric and punitive policies the war on drugs did—often for activity that’s every bit as victimless…

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

Rough Trade 

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

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

Safe Targets

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

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

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

Godwin’s Law

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

A Procrustean Bed

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

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

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

Pyrrhic Victory

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

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

Traffic Jam 

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

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

The Widening Gyre 

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

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

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

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

Available Weapon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eternal Vigilance

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

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

Yellow Fever (#509) 

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

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

Something Rotten in Sweden (#510)

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

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

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

Repeat Offenders (#535) 

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

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

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

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Investors and sex workers already know each other…frequently intimately.  –  Bardot Smith

Feminine Pragmatism 

It seems to me that these women knew exactly what they were doing:

Members of a U.N. peacekeeping mission engaged in “transactional sex” with more than 225 Haitian women who said they needed to do so to obtain things like food and medication, a sign that sexual exploitation remains significantly underreported in such missions…About a third of alleged sexual abuse involves minors under 18…And widespread confusion remains on the ground about consensual sex and exploitation…For rural women, hunger, lack of shelter, baby care items, medication and household items were frequently cited as the “triggering need”…urban and suburban women received “church shoes”, cell phones, laptops and perfume, as well as money.  In cases of non-payment, some women withheld the badges of peacekeepers and threatened to reveal their infidelity via social media…

Setting Women’s Rights Back a Century

Amherst says even unconscious men are morally superior to women:

An Amherst College student…accompanied a fellow student back to her dorm room after drinking in February 2012. While he was blacked out, she performed oral sex on him.  Nearly two years later, she would accuse him of sexual assault.  And under Amherst’s guilty-until-proven-innocent…hearing standards, the accused student was expelled…John Doe — is suing the college for denying him due process.  His lawyer had discovered text messages that prove the accused student did not initiate the encounter and in no way sexually assaulted the accuser.  Despite this evidence, the college refused to reopen Doe’s case…Doe was not allowed to directly cross-examine his accuser and could only write down questions for the panel to ask her, leaving no room for follow-ups…the accuser said during her hearing that she only texted one friend to help her handle the assault as she felt “very alone and confused”…Rather, the accuser texted her friend “Ohmygod I jus did something so fuckig stupid” [sic throughout].  She then proceeded to fret that she had done something wrong and her roommate would never talk to her again, because “it’s pretty obvi I wasn’t an innocent bystander”…

J’accuse (#42)International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Strauss-Kahn listens during a news conference in Vienna

Was this outcome ever in doubt?

Former International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not guilty of “aggravated pimping”, a French court has ruled.  A judge in Lille described…DSK…as a “libertine” and a “customer”, but said he was not a pimp…

Under Every Bed 

I wonder sometimes if the reporters who write pap like this realize how ridiculous they sound:

A message to those who would traffic in human life:  A crackdown is coming.  New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas plans to sharpen the state’s focus on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes – and has requested a $750,000 federal grant to roughly double the number of personnel dedicated to such cases…Human trafficking is an underreported crime that too frequently goes uninvestigated…New Mexico…has prosecuted fewer than two dozen cases since an anti-human-trafficking law went into effect in 2008. But that number belies the real extent of the crimes committed…[Balderas’ toady] said “The numbers don’t really reflect the human trafficking that is happening in New Mexico…we know this is a rampant, billion-dollar industry.”

Skin To Skin (#315)

criminalisation of clients has negative effects on the safety, wellbeing and health of sex workers.  Yet there is another side to the problem – the sexual fulfilment of vulnerable clients, such as those with a disability…Clients are often portrayed as men who enjoy degrading women and even violent characters who like to abuse them.  But…research…contradicts this view…Tuppy Owens, sex therapist and founder of the TLC Trust, which connects people with disability with sex workers, argues the effects of criminalising clients would be tragic for people with disability…while many clients will simply go underground to avoid being caught if criminalisation becomes a reality, this is less of an option for people with disabilities.  Many rely on a third party to help them access sex services…We should promote rather than restrict initiatives that allow them to explore their sexuality in a safe and mutually respectful way with a…sex worker.

Pimping the Pimp

If Patricia Spencer doesn’t pace herself, she’ll burn out her Hitachi in no time:

…we’re pretty fortunate in Las Vegas because we have a full-time unit dedicated to vice and sex trafficking-related activities.  That’s why we’re unique, and that’s why we get so much exposure to everything going on, because we see it every day…If you publish an article…about a prostitution-related incident, and you read the comments at the bottom, it’s very discouraging because the comments…are almost always negative towards the police doing this type of investigation…the public does not understand…that 99.9% of the women are trafficked.   They’re beaten.  They don’t keep the money, and they are in a life that they can’t escape from.  The amount of juveniles that are being trafficked is astronomical…People are getting annihilated, and all for money…they’re enslaved into this life…It’s almost like addiction for these women.  They need treatment programs, just like addicts…Their kids are kidnapped and held from the victim a lot…My love and passion has always been chasing and going after gang members, and I can see that gang members have now evolved into pimping…we’re seeing a great deal of these girls turning into trick-rollers…if they have a quota to meet, they would much rather meet that quota by stealing than having to turn tricks all night.  I mean, who wants to do that?  It’s much easier, and there’s more money…

A woman who’s never done sex work (or any other useful labor) stating that theft is easier than fucking is a perfect example of the warped police mentality.

To Protect and Serve (#413)

Undercover inspections are one of vice unit’s main tactics in making sure San Diego’s strip clubs adhere to what some consider to be the most restrictive adult-entertainment ordinance on the West Coast…from April 20, 2013, to June 6, 2014, detectives from the vice unit visited Cheetahs on ten occasions…In March 2014, nearly a dozen [of them forced] the dancers to pose for photos in their lingerie…Two lawsuits…were soon filed…and [the city retaliated by revoking] their nude-entertainment business permit…a…former vice detective [says] “Vice unit is a club…detectives…go drinking every night.  When they decide to target a place they’ll send in vice cops, narcotics, code compliance to find violations.  Once they get a hard-on, they will do whatever they need to do”…

Property of the State 

I suspect Georgia politicians will close this loophole almost immediately:

Georgia prosecutors have dropped the murder charges brought against 23-year-old Kenlissa Jones, who attempted to abort her pregnancy at around five months by taking an abortion drug that she ordered online.  The drug sent Jones into early labor, delivering a child that allegedly was alive but died soon thereafter.  Jones was originally charged with malice murder and possession of a dangerous drug…The…district attorney’s office is still charging Jones with misdemeanor possession of a dangerous drug…(misoprostol).  But it dropped the murder charges after District Attorney Greg Edwards realized that…”although third parties could be criminally prosecuted for their actions relating to an illegal abortion…as the law currently stands in Georgia, criminal prosecution of a pregnant woman for her own actions against her unborn child does not seem permitted.  Applicable criminal law and statutes provide explicit immunity from prosecution for a pregnant woman”…

Another Fine Mess

Bardot Smith points out that sex workers aren’t only on the forefront of new technologies; we often drive their development:

…while women indirectly control the overwhelming majority of major purchases being made, they have limited exposure and access to the development of these new systems and tools.  The adult industry is the exception.  [It] and the financial sector…have always been connected…as women are always directly linked to the movement of resources in an economy…Nearly all men enjoy the…commercial sex industry in some way.  Venture capitalists are certainly no exception, and the finance industry in general has a long and storied love affair with the working girl…the end goal is always, unapologetically, a direct transfer of wealth to women…sex workers have long driven major revolutions in technology:  still photography, video cameras, telephone services, VCR, peer-to-peer computing, phone and video chat, and streaming.  They have also been at the forefront of innovating new business models for content, communications, and services themselves…And yet…despite the fact that adult content drives 30% of internet traffic, and the fact that companies are profiting from the traffic, ads and services involved in the industry, the women who power that capital flow are treated like criminals…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#442)

How much of this is due to the end of Somaly Mam’s disinformation, and how much to rescue industry repositioning?

The number of minors working in Cambodia’s sex industry is on the decline…A study by the International Justice Mission, which closely monitors the issue, shows a decline in the prevalence of girls under the age of 17 in brothels and other venues.  The IJM report found the prevalence of underage girls declined from around 8 percent to just over 2 percent from 2012 to 2015.  Holly Burkhalter, IJM’s vice president of government and advocacy…[said] Cambodia is “no longer the world’s No. 1 destination to buy a child,” though the threat of sex trafficking remains high…

IJM is one of the most notorious of all the “rescue” organizations, so what are they up to?McDonald's tattoo

Soap Opera (#447) 

The “trafficking tattoo” trope has taken on a life of its own:  “Some have bar codes.  Others are marked with their pimp’s name and phone number.  Branded like cattle, victims of human trafficking recovered in Pennsylvania could soon apply to the state to have any tattoos from their pimps surgically removed…

Blunt Instrument (#516)

“Sex trafficking” used as an excuse to destroy and loot businesses against which there is literally no evidence of criminality:

A 10-month investigation uncovered nearly a dozen Utah massage parlors being used as fronts for sex trafficking…the [allegations] led to the questioning of more than a dozen women and one man…[but] no charges have been filed.  “Our hope is to find evidence of trafficking in person [sic],” said Attorney General Sean Reyes…[who also pretended]  there is a lead person who moves women around to different fronts, collects money and sends it to the women’s home country.  The first words out of one woman’s mouth when investigators arrived was, “Help me. Please, please help me,” he said…

Yes, Mr. Reyes, that’s called “praying”.  People often do it in terrifying situations, such as when threatened by thugs waving guns around.

Drawing Lines (#516) 

The tax protest angle is interesting, but look more closely at what the brothel owner wants from the “authorities”:

A licensed brothel in…Salzburg has been offering free drinks and free sex in a protest against what its owner says is unfair taxation…the news “has spread like wildfire, with punters lining up to get inside”…Hermann “Pascha” Müller, who owns the…brothel, [said]…he no longer wants to be “the tax office’s pimp”…Müller says that he is paying the prostitutes’ usual hourly rate out of his own pocket.  “In the last decade I have paid taxes of almost €5 million…The problem is, the tax office wants more and more, and they are not cracking down on illegal street and apartment prostitution”…

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As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.

–  Homer, Iliad (VI, 146-149)

I honestly didn’t think I had another story of Aella in me, at least not this year (if you don’t know who she is, I suggest you first read “A Decent Boldness“, “A Haughty Spirit”, “Glorious Gifts“ and “Wise To Resolve“, in that order).  But as I pondered what I would write instead, I happened to look up from my desk and lo and behold, there she was across the room from me – sitting on the divan, leaning on her sword with her cloak of honor about her shoulders, and dripping rain from the storms of centuries upon my rug.  “Stop dallying, girl,” she said to me, “hasten thou to write down my story for all who have ears to hear.”  When I indignantly replied that I was no girl but a full-grown woman of as many years as she, the reply came, “I lived and died over five thousand years before thy mother’s mother was born, thou soft-handed tart, and no daughter of Pandora with as few scars as thou hast would be counted as a grown woman amongst my people.”  Far be it from me to argue with an ancestor who had come so far to pay me a visit, so here is her story just as she told it to me, minus the outlandish profanity.

Eurynome teach these young girls their manners!Etruscan bronze of a mounted Amazon, c 500 BCE

Oh, they pretend to be deferential enough; it’s all “honored one” and “general” and “good dame” out loud, but I see the impatience in their eyes and the half-hidden smiles as I strap on my sword, don my cloak and place my helm upon my head.  I can almost hear their thoughts; they believe that no matter what my prowess in directing troops may be, I am too old and battle-weary to make good account of myself in personal combat any longer.  But that is because they are too wet behind the ears to understand that age and wisdom will always overcome youth and strength, and one day perhaps I’ll have to show them by knocking one flat on her pretty face.

And what’s so important about this reception, anyway?  It’s not as though I haven’t met a hundred merchants seeking to trade in our land since I was appointed Keeper of the Port.  And it’s not as though this is anything other than a mere formality; a captain who couldn’t present the proper papers or other tokens of good faith would already have been turned away without an important official  having to go out in the rain.  It’s just a lot of damned foolish ceremony; give me a good honest battle any day, and Hecate take all this rigamarole.  Well, at least I have a chariot with an awning, while my impatient bodyguard are forced to sit on horseback exposed to the weather; age and rank do carry some privileges, after all, though the price be aching joints and poor sleep.  And at least the road to the wharf is paved, so there is no chance of my conveyance becoming stuck and delaying my return home in time for luncheon.

Mycenaean womanHow now, what’s this?  The ship bears the painted sails of Crete, whence none have come since before the last war made our waters more dangerous than they cared to brave.  Dare I hope this ship will bear a letter from my dearest friend Phaedra, whose face I have not seen since before my young attendants were born?  Would that it were so!  To read her words and hold in my hand papyrus that she had sealed with her own would be the next best thing to kissing her again and feeling my heart lifted by the sound of her voice.  Already I can see the multicolored skirts of a Cretan woman, standing on the quay beside a tall young man; perhaps she bears the letter I have longed to see for so many years.  As I approach I see that she is hooded against the rain, and bears a bundle beneath her cloak; perhaps it contains precious papyri that she cannot risk getting wet?

Now my chariot stops, and I hear a hubbub among the guards; it seems that the young man has specifically asked to meet me, by name rather than by my title of office.  By all the goddesses, can I dare hope?  Though I have never laid eyes upon him before, his visage is familiar, and though he wears the clothing of a man of Crete, he speaks haltingly in the Amazon tongue as one might who had not used it in many years.  And when the guards announce my arrival, his face beams and his voice breaks with emotion as he calls me his mother.  Some of the bystanders laugh, others seem shocked or even offended; for no Amazon claims her sons after she hands them over to their Scythian sires, and no Scythian man would be foolish enough to expect his Amazon mother to acknowledge him.  But all of their voices grow silent as I step forward to embrace him, and the soft rain from Heaven disguises the tears upon my cheeks as he introduces his wife and places my infant granddaughter in my arms.

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Bo Jensen is a Danish scholar in the history of prostitution; several years ago he was commissioned by a sex worker group to study the size of the Danish sex industry in order to counter prohibitionist propaganda that the industry was “rapidly growing”.  Regular readers know I’m skeptical about low estimates of the fraction of men who buy sex, but Jensen makes a reasonable case for his 3% regular client figure (about half of my usual estimate) if one assumes that the relatively low number of sex workers and high turnover estimate are also correct.

Denmark has experienced an angry and confrontational debate on prostitution during the last 10 years.  According to several public opinion polls, 80% of Danes who have taken a position are supportive to sex workers and believe that prostitution is a job, but 20% believe that prostitution is a problem for society that must be reduced and criminalized in some way.  That minority managed to get the Swedish model introduced by the government, though it had essentially no chance of passing; the sex workers’ organization SiO mobilized the Danish population so effectively that the government was forced to take criminalization off the table in 2012.  But during that period, the scale and growth of prostitution was a central theme in the debate; prohibitionists claimed that sex work in Denmark was booming, and the rescue industry contributed fake numbers to “prove” it.

According to prohibitionists, virtually every aspect of prostitution is in alarming growth:  Trafficking is growing, child prostitution is growing, street prostitution is growing, the number of rapes and deaths among sex workers are growing, the hazards associated with the job are growing.  It’s hard to separate the facts from the moral panic, so myths replace knowledge and democratic debate is sabotaged; this led the public to demand that the extent of prostitution should be measured by an independent research unit.  To that end, Parliament asked The Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI) to measure the industry’s size; at the same time, SiO asked me to do the same.  Remarkably, the two investigations reached similar results; this means that Denmark now probably has the world’s most correct and detailed statistics on prostitution.  Most countries have miserable statistics on the subject; take Sweden, for example.  No one knows how many sex workers there are in Sweden or how many there were before clients were criminalized, which means that no one knows if the Swedish model has actually decreased prostitution.  Some German studies claim that there are 50,000 sex workers in the country, others that there are 400,000.  Great Britain has the same problem.  In many countries the debate and political decisions are guided by false figures created to cause panic and to maximize the funding for the rescue industry.

So let’s have a look at the Danish figures for 2007.  16% of all adult men admit to having paid for sex, but most of those contribute to only 3% of the turnover.  About 3% of all adult men in Denmark (roughly 56,000 men in all) are frequent customers who buy sex regularly for many years; these high rollers pay for sex once every third week on average, and each spends on the order of 2,000 € a year.  In total, they buy sex 1 million times during the year, which gives the Danish sex industry an annual turnover of approx. 100 million €.  A million client visits a year averages to 2800 clients every day; since there are about 800 women at work on any given day, they average 3.5 clients each.  And since each only works about a third of the day, there are about 2400 active sex workers in the workforce at any given time (plus something like 100 transgender or male sex workers).  The figures shows that on average, each sex worker has 22 regular clients; I believe that something like this must be the case all over the western world.  Danish sex workers do not have extravagant earnings; their income is only good if you take into account that they work merely 20 hours a week.  At the same time it is evident that the industry does not have such a big turnover that there are room for gigantic profits to shady pimps or traffickers as claimed in headlines.

The Danish sex industry has very high turnover; most sex workers are only in business for a few years, and many migrant sex workers are here for only for a few months.  Because of this, about 4000 women altogether did sex work in Denmark during 2007, though the work force averaged only 2400 women at a time.  This is very important to consider when calculating the true size of the sex industry in a country, otherwise the estimates come out much too high; EU countries have agreed to include prostitution in the calculation of GDP, and the estimates are all too high because they are calculated from the total number of women working in the course of a year rather than the number working at any given time (for Denmark, 4000 vs 2400).  Sex work is not rapidly growing in Denmark; there was dramatic growth in the industry from 1970 to 2000, but after 2000 there was stagnation, then a drop after 2007 due to the financial crisis.

To all those who say that prostitution is impossible to measure because it is clandestine, I have to answer:  Clandestine prostitution isn’t so clandestine, once you have the proper insight.  And the way to get that proper insight is to listen to sex workers and recognize them as the true experts on their own profession.

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