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Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

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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A hidden sexual scourge is revealed.  Sex considered consensual by its participants is redefined as coercion.  A newly discovered predator…exhibits impulses far outside erotic and moral norms, yet rare as he must be, his numbers are inexplicably mounting.  There is a cry for vigilance and prosecution.  –  Judith Levine

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Cops can commit murder, mayhem and rape and still keep their jobs, but if they look for consensual sex…”The sheriff of Bossier Parish has fired one of his deputies…[who was] charged with solicitation of prostitution…Deputy Larry Harrell…was arrested in Shreveport…

Saving Them From Themselves

A 17-year-old who sent her boyfriend intimate photographs has been left shattered after police decided to charge him for possession of child pornography.  Alison (not her real name), who is four months away from being 18, says she’s been traumatised by the way that she and her partner Peter, 22, (also not his real name) have been treated by police, the stress of which has forced them both out of education…people aged 16 and 17 can legally consent to sex but can get into trouble for making “child pornography” if they possess and share images of their own lawful sexual activities…Alison and her mother are now calling for a change in the law to protect consenting couples from getting into distressing legal situations like this…”I feel my consent has been total violated by the people who are supposed to be protecting children…I chose to send pictures of myself to Peter.  I did NOT choose for all those detectives, solicitors and goodness knows who else to see them…”

Surplus Women Shukan Jitsuwa 5-14-15

The violent death of a sex worker in Japan:

Last month…police found the body of Manae Noguchi, 18, buried on a farm in Shibayama, Narita City…police have arrested four suspects…The victim was last seen getting into a rented car in Chiba City…at around 10:00 p.m. on April 19.  It was later determined that the occupants of the vehicle were the four suspects…an anonymous…tip…indicated Noguchi had run up a large amount of debt…

…and Hungary:

The Association of Hungarian Sex Workers (SZEXE)…condemns the victim-blaming articles and reports published in the media that followed the death of Nancy, a Hungarian sex worker who was murdered in…Budapest..the media focused on assumed client of Nancy instead of examining state regulation that coerces sex workers into isolation, exile and personal stigmatization, police violence…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

When a respected scientist starts spouting nonsense terms, it’s time to put him out to pasture:

A leading psychologist has warned that young men are facing a crisis of masculinity due to excessive use of video games and pornography.  Psychologist and professor emeritus at Stanford University Phillip Zimbardo…spoke about the results of his study, an in-depth look into the lives of 20,000 young men and their relationships with video games and pornography…Zimbardo says there is a “crisis” amongst young men, a high number of whom are experiencing a “new form of addiction” to excessive use of pornography and video games…

Change a Few Words

Siouxsie Q on the really newsworthy question about sex work in Silicon Valley:

Why are many tech platforms so inhospitable to sex workers?  Payment processors like Pay Pal and WePay are notorious for shutting down the accounts of sex workers and even seizing their funds.  Facebook has booted hundreds of sex workers, including myself, from its platform with the adoption if its “real name policy;” and both the Apple and the Android app stores prohibit adult content of any kind.  Venture capitalists have been willing to go toe-to-toe with lawmakers to obtain legal wiggle room for companies like Uber and AirBnB, that dance the razor’s edge of legality…They argue that…though these services may be technically illegal at the moment, they perpetuate victimless crimes — peer-to-peer transactions that benefit both the buyer and the seller — and therefore the laws need be changed to catch up with the innovation.  The same argument could be made of…sex work…though technically illegal, it is a peer-to-peer transaction that often perpetuates a victimless crime.  But no headstrong venture capitalist or idealistic design team has stepped up to innovate the oldest profession…

An Example To the West

Phnom Penh sex workers and rights advocates met…to denounce police brutality and corruption, and called on the government to establish a zone where sex workers can operate in safety.  The plea was made during a press conference led by NGO Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), which was attended by around 100 sex workers, who complained police often sought bribes or sexual services…prior to the introduction of a 2008 law intended to combat human trafficking, brothels operated openly.  But…the law heralded a brutal crackdown that saw women and girls…mistreated and stigmatised by officials…researchers found that the heavy-handed response of authorities…forced sex workers into more precarious settings for their work, placing them in greater danger of rape and sexual assault…

The Widening Gyre Walking Prey

It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere!

A woman who was lured into commercial sex when she was 14 brought a warning to Charleston parents…Just about any unhappy teen can be enticed in the same way, according to Holly Austin Smith, who…[wrote] Walking Prey: How America’s Youth Are Vulnerable to Sex Slavery…At the same time as Smith was speaking in Charleston, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson was giving a similar message to a Rotary Club in Mount Pleasant.  “Trafficking is far more nefarious than what you see in Hollywood,” Wilson said…He [made up]…a story of a woman…who was blackmailed into sex trafficking…For two years she was trafficked over and over and over again…[while] living under her parents’ roof and they did not realize she was being trafficked…Wilson has been tirelessly [pretending]…that sex trafficking is a major threat in South Carolina.  Yet the arrests on trafficking charges have been relatively few since the state passed its law in 2012…

Shift in the Wind

Imagine if big foundations started giving grants for sex worker advocacy:

The health and safety of sex workers…[is] yet another example of how marginalized populations are often left out of essential public policy discussions…due to the social stigma of sex work, people are generally more comfortable avoiding the issue…the issue of sex-worker rights is still taboo among some of the leading [philanthropic] foundations.  But if these foundations recognized how sex work is connected to other issues that funders are working on—like over-incarceration, homelessness, and poverty—the work they do could be more effective…The safety of sex workers…would also be greatly improved by decriminalization.  Because of criminalization, sex workers are at greater danger for physical and sexual violence, because perpetrators know they are unlikely to come forward to police.  With decriminalization, more sex workers could report the violence they experience, making the community safer for everyone…

The Public Eye

a…special edition of [of TMI (Too Much Information) Storytelling] called Sex Worker Diaries…kicks off the weeklong San Francisco Bay Area Sex Worker Film And Arts Festival, which features lives performances, film screenings, workshops, and panels throughout the East Bay and San Francisco…the festival…showcases a diverse range of artistic projects rooted in celebrating, supporting, and accurately portraying people involved in the sex work industry.  The goal is to push back against the ongoing criminalization and stigmatization of sex work — by providing a platform for marginalized workers in a highly misunderstood profession to share their stories and show audiences they aren’t helpless victims…

Welcome To Our World (#450)

Henry…Rayhons’s ordeal was not the first example of overzealous protection of the supposedly defenseless and asexual aged, nor will it be the last.  In 2009, a Massachusetts bill sought to amend the state’s child pornography law to include the disabled and people over sixty among those statutorily unable to consent to posing nude or performing sexually before a camera…The bill’s lead sponsor, thirty-eight-year-old…Kathi-Anne Reinstein—also author of a proposal to make the Fluffernutter the state sandwich—told the Boston Herald that advocates had informed her “elder exploitation and pornography [were] on the rise.”  She called her bill (which, thankfully, failed) a “no-brainer.”  This assessment, I commented at the time, was indisputable…

Public Property (#506)

Men urged to control uppity women by choking off their income:

…a Dallas anti-[sex worker] group is telling men to stop paying women for sex…New Friends New Life…is asking men to stop buying sex and patronizing strip clubs.  It also plans to create an emblem for businesses to display to show they don’t fund business meetings at strip clubs…experts say…the average age of a girl first sold into prostitution is 13…it will take time for attitudes to change about…strip clubs…some of the women who work there aren’t there of their own volition and are barred from leaving…Chris Kleinert said…“No father, when their daughter’s born, says ‘Wow, I can’t wait for her to be violated 10,000 times by the time she’s 21 years old’,”…

Just for comparison:  I’ve had roughly 5000 in my entire career.

Broken Record (#536) 

That so many people could believe in such lunacy explains a lot about the world:

…Houston is…a major hub for human slavery and sex trafficking in the United States.  For years, this intersection of business and widespread prostitution has provided a boon to sex traffickers in Houston every year.  However, the difference this year is a coalition of anti-human trafficking organizations who have joined with city law enforcement and conference organizers to combat the widespread sex trafficking that usually occurs during this event…OTC conference staff have been trained in identifying suspicious sex trafficking activities, law enforcement set up  prostitution stings, and volunteers hit the city streets to raise awareness…the majority of sex victims brought in to service the convention is between the ages of 12 to 14 years old…OTC also warned conference attendees against participating in sex slavery…

Yes, they’re essentially saying that their silly chanting and rattle-shaking scared away the demonic “pimps”.

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In the Red Light District by day, one can barely earn dry bread. – Mariska Majoor

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

One inevitable consequence of consensual crime laws: police corruption:

For years Ukraine’s police force has profited handsomely from the country’s multi-million dollar sex industry, demanding both payment in cash and payment in kind…the political elite has always known about the problem but never really wanted to talk about it…After a three-month investigation, ministry officials…caught Kiev’s vice squad raking in an average of €325,000 per month from the capital’s sex trade…

Broken Record 

Once again: Nevada is NOT whore-friendly:

Las Vegas police will be increasing patrols this week as they expect a rise in prostitution because of fans descending on the city for the weekend’s big…Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight.  Former Las Vegas escort Annie Lobert [lied]…that prostitution will likely increase 10 times over the norm this week…

The Widening Gyre sex trafficking scam

WINK News has a new warning for parents about a possible scam aimed at recruiting teens into the world of human sex trafficking.  We discovered a new flyer popping up in at least one Florida county advertising…up to $300 a week after school and on weekends, with transportation provided.  It does not specify what type of work it is advertising…The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating, but experts say it has all the signs of a human trafficking scam… “I think parents should be concerned a great deal about this,” said Alex Olivares…[of] the Florida Gulf Coast University Human Trafficking Resource Center.  Olivares says sex trafficking is more common in SWFL than people realize, with traffickers preying on kids at schools, shopping malls, and on the internet…warning signs [include]…tattoos of names on their neck or on the inside of their bottom lip, or if they have sexually explicit social media profiles…

Original Sin (#321)

When sex is involved, people believe even the stupidest claims:

…Unfortunately, there are many in our society that are blind to the link between porn and sex trafficking…Countless women have been kidnapped, abused, drugged, threatened, and coerced into doing porn…there is no way for [the porn viewer] to tell if what they are watching was made illegally or if all parties are there willingly…porn directly fuels the demand for sex traffickers to make money by selling video of their sex slaves to porn sites…

Traffic Jam (All Traffick, All the Time)

Schools are rewarded for “finding” what the government wants found:

…the U.S. Department of Homeland Security…has identified Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) as a pilot school in its Blue Campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking…Homeland Security describes its Blue Campaign as a unified collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-government and private organizations to combat human trafficking…and bring those who exploit human lives to justice…

If the concept of a university collaborating with cops and a surveillance agency isn’t enough to chill you to the bone, you haven’t been paying attention.

A Mound of Filth Dominique Roe-Sepowitz

the Where Hope Lives program at the Phoenix Dream Center…offers safe refuge and specialized counseling so that victims of sexual exploitation in all of its forms, including prostitution, sex trafficking, abuse and stripping, can be restored as functioning members of society…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…says…”It looks like sex trafficking is only a problem in certain cities in the U.S., but that is because they are the only ones looking“…Roe-Sepowitz also helped to create a program called Project Rose…which…is currently on hold because of the Phoenix police’s lack of extra manpower

Bread and Circuses 

In some places, cops don’t even pretend it’s about “rescuing” sex workers:

The Lafayette Metro Narcotics Task Force arrested eight people in a prostitution sting…[five men]…and [three women]…two more women were detained and released pending further investigation related to suspected prostitution.  The task force’s sting targeted upscale escorts and their clients who utilize social media…

Dutch Threat (#528)

Amsterdam Prostitutes are anything but amused that the municipality…has temporarily closed eighteen window brothels in the red light district.  The sex workers therefore filed a lawsuit against the city.  To support their claim, the prostitutes occupied the premises concerned…[The government claims that the windows were closed due to] forced prostitution…How long the occupation will last is unknown…

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Even though some might say this is just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done.  –  Chris Nocco

This week’s video needs a little explanation; it’s an Italian musician’s idea of what an American song sounds like, and the suggestion that one is listening to unintelligible English lyrics (rather than pure nonsense) is very powerful.  The video was provided by Michael Whiteacre, who also gave us “brontosaurus”.  The other links were contributed by Radley Balko (“headline”), Jesse Walker (“braid”), Lenore Skenazy (“happens”), and Scott Greenfield (“might”).

From the Archives

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