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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The civil rights victory of the near future will be led by heroes with Twitter handles like @mistressmatisse, @SavannahSly, and @Maggie_McNeill.  –  Brendan Trainor

My Body, My Choice

An argument I’ve often made myself:

The belief that you should be able to ingest any substance…because you own your own body is a profoundly libertarian, not progressive, idea…It was the progressives who gave us alcohol prohibition in the first place…Progressivism is the belief that good things come from government—from laws and regulations and central planning and generals and spies and bureaucrats…it is none of the state’s business whether you buy sex with flowers and dinner, or with marriage and mortgage, or with cold hard cash on the dresser…The feminist establishment will soon be forced to accept women’s dominion over body parts besides the womb.

I Swear To God

Remember, the SCOTUS reaffirmed the unconstitutionality of loyalty oaths just a few years ago:

Manchester [New Hampshire] police officials said…they want to see Kate D’Adamo, who has advocated for the [decriminalization] of prostitution, fired from her job overseeing a federally funded task force designed to [suppress sex work] in the state.  Assistant Police Chief Carlo Capano said D’Adamo’s statements last week, in which she reportedly presented arguments in favor of the decriminalization of prostitution, potentially violated the federal grant that pays her salary…“Obviously, we’re a little concerned that Kate’s personal opinions are becoming a distraction to [our trying to destroy the lives of sex workers],” said Maria Gagnon…According to…stipulations of the grant, the Manchester Police Department cannot promote, support or advocate for the legalization of prostitution…

Bottleneck 

There are so many reasons sex worker licensing is a bad idea; here’s another:

In Palm Beach County, Florida, all topless dancers are required to register with county officials and obtain an Adult Entertainment Work Identification Card (AEIC), at the cost of $75 per year…Anita Pedemey… “diverted” at least $28,875 (and possibly an additional $3,305) from county coffers between October 2013 and mid-November 2016…from both adult-entertainer fees—approximately 70 percent of which were paid in cash—and court-ordered payments intended for a crime Victims Services Fund…Because she manipulated reports but left the underlying database unaltered, the county still received records of adult-entertainment ID applications even if accounting never received their payments, which means that at least most applicants whose money was taken were still legitimately registered with the county…

Remember, New South Wales decriminalized sex work specifically because corruption like this (and far worse) was rampant.

Standard Operating Procedure

If only amateurs realized that this is the norm, not a deviation from it:

…a Secret Service agent on Vice President Mike Pence’s detail has been suspended from official duties after meeting a prostitute at a Maryland hotel…police saw him exiting the hotel…[after responding] to a [snitch] from the hotel manager…The agent was arrested and was charged with solicitation.  He then self-reported his arrest to the Secret Service…the agent was off-duty and did not present himself in his official capacity…

Seriously, I have had more G-men between my legs than most amateur women have had of any kind of man.  Show me a G-man who’s never been with a whore & I’ll show you a rookie.

Blunt Instrument

Massage parlor pogroms are coming to Canada:

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is asking for the power to crack down on…massage parlours…he wants the city to be able to shut down businesses engaging in such activity by revoking their certificates of occupancy…The director of the Montreal-based sex work organization Chez Stella, Sandra Wesley, says shutting down massage parlours will do more harm than good…”If [Coderre’s] going to go after massage parlours, then he’s going after migrant women,” she…says…closing massage parlours won’t end the sex trade — it will only make it more dangerous for sex workers…[and that] Coderre and others are using sex workers as “pawns in their next re-election campaign”…

The Mote and the Beam (#332)

The censors who want the internet destroyed are at it again:

A…new House measure, sponsored by…Ann Wagner…and dubbed the “No Immunity for Sex Traffickers Online Act,” would carve out an exception to Section 230 for sex-trafficking offenses involving minors.  Supporters portray it as a way to “hold sex traffickers accountable,” but we already have sufficient penalties—at the state and federal level—for people who force, decieve, or coerce others into prostitution…What the change would do is make it possible for states to indict any app, website, or platform that introduces an underage person to a possible sex buyer as a conspirator in sex trafficking.  And it would allow any underage person who was paid for sex to subsequently sue any website or web service remotely involved in the transaction…the change would not merely apply to classified-ad sites like Backpage, or to sites and services specializing in escort advertising…With the proposed change, victims will have the right to sue any third-party web service that enabled their participation or exploitation in the sex trade.  And in this case, victim means anyone under 18 whom someone paid for sex, regardless of whether any force, fraud, coercion, or middlemen and women were involved…It gives victims—most of whom fall prey to petty pimps with few assets, not organized criminals—a civil-suit target with much deeper pockets than the criminals who exploited them, and the same for state prosecutors with asset-forfeiture fever…A huge number of “child sex trafficking stings” in this country involve police posing online as sex workers…and, once a customer is interested, “admitting” that they’re actually underage (usually 16 or 17).  The men who still agree to meet for sex are greeted by police officers and charged with…child sex trafficking.  Their vehicles and sometimes other assets are seized.  Imagine if cops could do this sort of “random virtue testing” (as Ars Technica‘s Nate Anderson aptly described it) but then go after big web publishers and platforms instead of just impounding a few cars…

Bad Girls (#540) 

American “authorities” are dedicated to the philosophy that anyone who ever did anything wrong should keep paying for it, forever:

A prostitute who injected a Google executive with a lethal dose of heroin in 2013 while aboard his yacht in Santa Cruz harbor and spent more than two years in jail was taken into custody by federal immigration agents as soon as she was released…Alix Tichelman — who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 51-year-old Forrest Hayes — was released by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office around 5 a.m. on [March 29th]…ICE agents waiting outside the jail in the predawn hours came into the building to detain Tichelman…

Aversions (#642)

Miranda Kane on annoying clients:

The (non) expert…[wants to] get his own rocks off by thinking he’s amazing in bed, when all he’s really done is delivered a few sloppy snogs while rubbing my cunt in a style that makes me think he wants a genie to pop out of my vagina…The bashful one…will…stay silent, move with about as much enthusiasm as a gutted fish, and 55 minutes into an hour appointment he’ll say:  “Umm…this was nice, but really all I wanted was to lick your feet with a dildo up my arse, dance for you wearing women’s stockings while you sang the greatest hits from the popular disco band Boney M”…

Challenge (#677)

Laura Lee on the possible wider effects of her challenge to the Swedish model in Northern Ireland:

Sex worker and law graduate Laura Lee is steeling herself for a battle in Belfast’s high court that she believes could make European legal history…Lee…[is] aiming to establish that the criminalisation of her clients violates her right to work under European human rights law…[this] is only the start of a Europe-wide campaign to overturn the model…Lee’s next target is the Irish Republic, which…has introduced a similar ban aimed at criminalising clients.  “A win for us in Belfast will have a knock-on effect and set a precedent across Europe.  If successful up north there will be a challenge in Dublin and sex workers across Europe can use the precedent to overturn the so-called ‘Nordic model’ in their countries,” she said…

The Pygmalion Fallacy (#718) 

“Competition” from fancy fleshlights?  Really, ladies, calm down:

Europe’s first sex robot [arcade] has been forced to move after real-life prostitutes complained sex dolls were stealing their trade.  The original location in Barcelona at 2 Baixada de Sant Miquel had been in the Spanish city’s Gothic quarter, north of the cathedral…[it] has now moved to a mystery new location with a receptionist saying the address would only be given out to paying customers.  Prostitutes who work in the city with Aprosex – the Association of Sex Professionals – objected saying a doll cannot match the services of a real person and denigrates real sex workers to merely being an object…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#720)

More on the oppression of Ukrainian sex workers:

Ukraine used to be depicted as a paradise for sex tourists.  The news that the country would co-host the European Football Championship in 2012 was followed by…moral panic…the city of Kropyvnytsky, in central Ukraine, is…home to Legalife, Ukraine’s leading sex workers’ organisation…Their organisation got its start following an episode of police abuse in 2009, when Isaeva, a former sex worker who conducted outreach work with sex workers, was unlawfully detained by an anti-trafficking police unit.  They threatened to charge her with pimping, and when Isaeva tried to file a complaint the next day, there was no trace of her detention.  She did, however, obtain an apology.  The head of the anti-trafficking unit was transferred and the officers’ bonuses slashed.  This incident prompted the women to stand for sex workers’ rights, attracting the attention of international donors such as Open Society who have funded Legalife ever since…

The Widening Gyre (#726) 

Ah, the delicious schadenfreude of prohibitionists’ lies coming back to bite them in the arse:

A viral Facebook entry about child sex trafficking posted by…Diandra Toyos…is a misinformed and ultimately harmful depiction of what this crime is about…There are zero indicators of human trafficking in Toyos’ story…it so misrepresents the dangers, warning signs and risks associated with sex trafficking that its readers and likers may now try to protect kids by watching for the wrong things in the wrong places…I’m a professional in the anti-trafficking field, and…I have never seen, read or heard about a real sex-trafficking situation in which a child was abducted by traffickers in broad daylight at a busy store under a mother’s watchful eye…The most pernicious part of the viral Facebook post is its comments section.  As sex-trafficking survivors and anti-trafficking advocates — myself included — tried to correct the misconceptions in it, and tried to alert the public to the harms caused by misunderstandings and sensationalism, we were met with anger and outrage.  Sound bite quotes and statistics were thrown back at me in an attempt to highlight my “ignorance” on the subject.  “Human trafficking happens everywhere,” I was reminded. “It’s in our own backyards.”  These are the exact phrases my colleagues and the anti-trafficking movement publicized years ago to raise awareness. We never imagined they’d be used to challenge our own expertise and in defense of efforts that threaten victims…

Here’s some free advice, Miss “Trafficking Expert”:  if you don’t want hysteria, don’t promote it yourself.  And if you want people to defer to “experts” on prostitution, you need to set an example by shutting the fuck up, sitting the fuck down and listening to the real experts, sex workers themselves.

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Sex workers are literally dying because of [brothelkeeping] law.
–  Wendy Lyon

Whores and Wives

Let’s hope this means Snopes will start doing more to debunk “sex trafficking” lies:

Snopes.com’s founders, former husband and wife David and Barbara Mikkelson, are embroiled in a lengthy and bitter legal dispute in the wake of their divorce.  He has since remarried, to a former escort and porn actress who is one of the site’s staff members.  They are accusing each other of financial impropriety, with Barbara claiming her ex-husband is guilty of “embezzlement” and suggesting he is attempting a “boondoggle” to change tax arrangements, while David claims she took millions from their joint accounts and bought property in Las Vegas…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Could this bootlicking be any more pompous?

Like many other law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California, Long Beach police have turned their attention to eliminating the scourge of human trafficking…The department formed a task force and vowed to arrest people who profited from and exploited the sex trade…[except] when one of their own officers was accused of trying to exploit the illicit sex trade the department wants to stamp out…William Scott Holder…was arrested last year in a…sting in Corona…[but] remains employed by the department…

Check Your Premises

Remember that these statements are being made by supposedly rational adults who have the power to inflict violence on others at will:

[A confused & self-contradictory propaganda] notice from the Malheur County (Ore.) Sheriff’s Office didn’t [make much sense]…“Victims of sex trafficking and prostitution are forced, coerced and manipulated into this lifestyle against their will…prostitutes…still may be charged no matter what…Because if you don’t charge them, then there’s no incentive to change…we don’t throw them out to the same manager, or pimp, if you will…Most often, they won’t [pretend the cop narrative is true], so you do everything you can to [force] them…to [pretend] that they were or are victims”…[cops pretended that] the 11 men charged with commercial sexual solicitation…responded to decoy ads police placed on “known sex trafficking websites” [even though there is no such thing]…

Profit from Panic 

Three quarters of a million no-strings dollars to spread propaganda & infantilize women:

The Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice, was awarded a three-year, $750,000 grant…from the U.S. Department of Justice…The charity’s victim assistance program partners directly with local law enforcement to help human trafficking victims become more independent…”We help them go from not being able to tie their shoes to being independent and able to sustain themselves,” [chief propagandist Chuck] Anderson said…Typical signs that someone may be a victim include signs of physical abuse, tattoos or brand marks, especially ones that say “property of,” and possessing large amounts of cash…

Wait, large amounts of cash?  I though the “pimps” took every penny?  I guess people who can’t tie their shoes can’t count, either.

Imagination Pinned Down kazaam-poster

Another example of how people’s memories can be rewritten by others:

…[many people]…recall…a movie called Shazaam…in the early Nineties …the movie starred the American stand-up comedian Sinbad…as an incompetent genie who granted wishes to two young children…[some claim] detailed scene-by-scene recollections of the film…hundreds of Redditors…have used the popular social news site to discuss their memories of Shazaam.  Together they have scoured the internet to find evidence that the movie existed but each has repeatedly come up empty-handed.  Sinbad himself has even taken to Twitter to deny that he ever played such a role…It all began in 2009 [when] an anonymous individual took to…Yahoo! Answers to pose its users a simple question. “Do you remember that…movie in the early 90s where sinbad the…comedian played a genie?”…it took another two years for somebody else to ask about it again online…last year…things took [off on Reddit]…In 1996, the basketball player Shaquille O’Neal played a genie who helped a young boy find his estranged father in a commercially unsuccessful film…[named] Kazaam

The Naked Anthropologist

Dr. Laura Agustín is back with a novel dramatizing the problems faced by migrants:

European borders are the gates of Hell, lurked over by hounds of police and organized crime…illegal migrants and smugglers are outsiders doing whatever it takes to make good, often by selling sex…In the realm of undocumented migration, knuckling under to thugs can be the sensible alternative to drowning at sea, and putting up with rotten jobs preferable to pointless lives back home…The Three-Headed Dog is international mystery in a downward-spiralling scenario for human mobility…

With Friends Like These…

You might be forgiven for thinking that an article which starts out like this would be pro-decriminalization:

Jamie Rosseland…remembers the day her mugshot and charge were published in a Jacksonville newsletter [ironically] called the Victim’s Advocate as part of a column called “Shame, Shame, Shame”…those publications fuel a stigma against women who are arrested for prostitution…

Unfortunately, you’d be wrong; the rest is a typical “whores are mindless victims” mess which quotes (among others) arch-prohibitionist Pete Holmes, the Seattle city attorney paid to lap up Swanee Hunt’s “end demand” vomit and puke it out again all over reporters.

The Mote and the Beam (#332)

Once the courts waver in slapping down attempts to destroy legal protections, it won’t be long before the vultures start circling:

The families of three fatally shot victims [from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando]…filed a lawsuit against Google, Twitter and Facebook…[pretending] the tech companies provided “material support” for the radicalization of Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired shooter Omar Mateen…The suit [pretends]…all three tech giants…”knowingly and recklessly” [chose not to censor]…accounts associated [by unnamed “authorities”] with ISIS…and allowed the extremist group “to use its social networks as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits”…

The most dangerous part of the suit is that Mateen, an adult, was magically “radicalized” against his will by these mind-control messages; i.e., they paint a disturbed murderer as the passive victim of hypnotic rays beamed through the internet.  Sound familiar?  This is what happens when you allow a precedent to be established that people are passive victims of anyone who can be “othered”, especially when the so-called villains are multi-billion dollar corporations who may be bullied into paying up because it’s cheaper in the long run than fighting these nuisance suits.

Soap Opera (#520) 

Just when you thought the “anti-pimp personal hygiene products” trope couldn’t get any stupider:

…America and Penelope, “The CyberCode Twins,” are developing Beacon of Hope…once activated, [it] can give authorities real-time updates on victims’ whereabouts.  The trackers are embedded into tampons and pads, which would be available from dispensers at highway rest stops, gas stations and casinos.  At the press of a button, a woman in trouble could get a tracker tampon and carry it in her purse or pocket…Beacon of Hope is part of a larger movement to show how tech can be used more broadly to combat…human trafficking…

To Molest and Rape rapist-pig-barrett-boeker

Once again: if you think it matters whether a costumed rapist was “on duty” or not at the time of the rape, you are part of the problem:

An assistant warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola…[committed] rape inside the prison walls.  Barrett Boeker…was charged with one count of second-degree rape…and [arrested]…[Boeker committed] the rape [while off duty]…on Nov. 30 at [his] home on Angola property…the…victim was “not an inmate”…

Traffic Circle (#675)

Wendy Lyon demonstrates that criminalization of sex workers via “brothel keeping” laws is not a mere police & prosecutorial misuse of such laws, but an intended use from the beginning:

…Supporters of the [Swedish model]…regularly insist…that [it]…“decriminalises” [sex workers]…On the rare occasions they’re pressed on it, they usually witter on about how this law is “intended to punish pimps”…that the law is…aimed at…sex workers themselves…can be proven clearly enough just by looking at how the law is actually used in real life…nearly all the reported prosecutions [in Ireland] have in fact been of sex workers, not of anyone managing…them…Go back to the original debates over the 1993 Act and you see very clearly that sex worker prosecutions are a feature, not a bug, of the brothel-keeping law – which was intended to address the public nuisance factor of brothels…it was clearly envisaged by the law, at the time it was introduced, that a sex worker would be prosecuted under it – even in her own home, if she allowed someone else to sell sex there.  This is not a law about pimps…

Too Close To Home (#682)

This is a man who claims he wants to “protect” women, and portrays the men we choose to have sex with as “sexual predators”:

New documents in an ongoing lawsuit against the King County Sheriff’s Department [reveal] that…Sheriff John Urquhart told investigators in his department to ignore a woman who [reported that] Urquhart raped her…[in] 2002…numerous people were made aware of the [report]…a deputy also complained that Urquhart and the woman had an affair but…the sheriff didn’t want that complaint documented.  Urquhart denies the allegations, [claiming] the woman [is mentally ill]…

That last is no surprise; Urquhart thinks women aren’t mentally competent to understand which sexual acts are consensual & which aren’t.

Power Play (#698)

Still think you don’t live in a police state?

Never let it be said that Kamala Harris gives up after being told her totally bogus legal crusade is totally bogus.  She’s now filed brand new charges against the execs who run Backpage.com — despite having the very same lawsuit thrown out a few weeks ago…Harris…knows that she has no legal basis for arresting the execs behind Backpage…because three years ago she signed a letter whining about how she had no legal authority to arrest Backpage because it’s (rightly) protected by Section 230 of the CDA…The press release from Harris claims that the reason for the new charges is that she’s “uncovered new evidence” but that’s a load of hogwash.  The new charges still include bogus “pimping” charges, but now also have a bunch of [bogus] “money laundering” charges as well…

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I have the right to choose what I do with my body.  –  Katherine Stone

Safe Targets 

In case you can’t quite figure out what this site is actually for, I’ll spell it out for you.  After Tom Dart’s megalomaniacal assault on Backpage left it unable to take payments except by money order or Bitcoin, many sex workers who weren’t comfortable with adopting the latter opted for the former.  But now that other sociopathic politicians have demonstrated that they won’t even let the law stop their jihad, many sex workers are terrified that their identities will be uncovered by pigs illegally rooting in Backpage’s records in a future raid.  Into this opening have stepped profiteers who, like Dennis Hof, are perfectly happy to charge an exploitative 50% by charging $2 for every $1 worth of “safe Backpage credit” (presumably in bitcoin) that can’t easily be traced back to them.  This is what “law enforcement” means when it claims it wants to “help” sex workers.

Presumption of Guilt (November Updates)

Fascist scum like this will be the first up against the wall after the politicians they worship:

There is $1.38 trillion worth of cash in circulation; $1.08 trillion of this is in the form of $100 bills…that works out to 34 hundreds in circulation for every man, woman, and child in the United States — even though a normal American rarely carries even one…No one knows exactly who has all those large bills because physical cash, by its nature, is hard to track…consequently most C-notes are used for a variety of illicit purposes — tax evasion, drug dealing, bribery, and so forth — both in the United States and overseas.  Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff believes that the solution is to get rid of cash.  In a new book, he argues that abolishing $100, $50, and perhaps even $20 bills will seriously inhibit crime and tax evasion while doing little to hamper legitimate commerce…

Note that the buying power of a $100 bill today is less than that of a $5 bill in 1900.  In Rogoff’s totalitarian fantasy, the government would have total control of virtually all commerce; sex workers and others in the irregular economy would be forced to deal in barter, cryptocurrency or the currencies of less-totalitarian states, which would make life a lot more difficult…presumably the outcome this bootlicker wants.

Gorged With Meaning

“British students are going to extraordinary lengths to fund their studies, including doing lucrative work”.  That’s how extraordinarily dumb this sounds to me:

British students are going to extraordinary lengths to fund their studies, including sex work and drug dealing, as the cost of university continues to rise…one in 10 undergraduates admitted to knowing someone who has turned to drug dealing to earn extra money, and as many as one in 20 said they knew someone who pays for their course by escorting.  Some 17 per cent of students said they considered stripping an acceptable way of funding university life, and one in 25 students surveyed said they were considering looking for a sugar daddy to support them financially…

The Pygmalion Fallacy 

Deep self-deception about technology, pearl-clutching about sexuality and offensive ignorance about sex work, all under one roof!

…Goldsmith University in London…is where the International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots is to be held this upcoming December.  The congress was supposed to be held in Malaysia on November 16 but was subsequently banned by the country as it deemed the whole premise as “too extreme”…The session will focus on humanoid robots, robot emotions and personalities, teledildonics (cybersex toys), intelligent electronic sex hardware, entertainment robots and more…Joel Snell…warns that engaging sex with a robot can be addicting…sex therapist Gurpreet Singh says…robots shouldn’t replace humans entirely…Dr. John Danaher believes that sex robots are an excellent replacement to human prostitutes…”They won’t need to ‘fake it’ the same way as human prostitutes.”

Imagination Pinned Down

This ridiculous fantasy is nauseating even by “sex trafficking” standards:

Rachel Pointer…[of] Omaha…[claim’s her neighbor’s] boyfriend raped [her when she was six and] then…started [pimping] her…It wasn’t always the same person selling her.  Pointer said after a few months someone else “took over that role”…It was surprisingly easy for this to happen without anyone noticing…The kids were homeschooled and there weren’t regular doctor appointments.  In other words, there were no outsiders to see what was happening.  The traffickers would tell Rachel to do things like fake an illness and go to bed early, then sneak out her second floor window and climb down a trellis to be sold for sex at night.  “Drugs and alcohol became part of the picture at a very young age, 7, 8, 9-years old,” she explained.  “Cocaine mostly and alcohol..enough to take the edge off and to keep me up and to keep me compliant…this was her life three, four, five times a week.  For 10 years…“When I got older, when I was a teenager, I started not being able to make as much.  I wasn’t as profitable”…The traffickers made one final threat of what would happen to Rachel and her family if she ever said anything, then it was over.  She never heard from them again.  There was no investigation, no charges, no punishment for the men who sold her and those who bought her…

As usual, there are no names and no evidence, and it’s all set conveniently decades in the past.  And nobody bothers to question the blatant, ugly and totally-bizarre lie that there are more adult men who would be interested in fucking a six-year-old than a 16-year-old, nor the absurd premise that nobody would notice a schoolkid was constantly drunk or hopped up on coke.

Whatever They Need To Say (#350)

Three years later, another massive pogrom in Soho, troublingly timed to coincide with similar pogroms all over the world:

Late…on the evening of Thursday, 20 October, [cops with]…sniffer dogs raided six massage parlours in Chinatown and Soho, when their cash registers were full with most of a day’s takings.  Women…were dragged out onto the streets past midnight, before 12 were detained and removed for immigration offences, with a further 6 arrests of maids and other staff members…The Met [pretends]…that the “aim of the operation is to identify, safeguard and remove victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and modern slavery offences”…[reporters repeated the propaganda that the arrested] women had been “rescued”…The use of sniffer dogs highlights the absurdity of the Met’s claims to deploy their raids, in the middle of the night, for the protection of women.  Can a sniffer dog tell us if a massage parlour is “utilising trafficked women”?  Can a sniffer dog say if a sex worker is being paid fairly for work, in decent conditions?  No.  In fact, all a sniffer dog can do is to intimidate women and provide evidence for laying charges, which was, of course, the Met’s primary aim all along…The police also saw fit to take away tens of thousands of pounds from workers at the end of a day of seeing clients…

See also “Between the Lines” below.

Little Boxes (#419)

There’s a shorter phrase for “those who believe a woman’s virginity should only be shared for love”; it’s “prudish busybodies”:

At one of Nevada’s…legal brothels, a 20-year-old woman recently signed up…to sell…Her virginity.  Like the brothels themselves, Stone’s choice has been controversial, particularly for those who believe a woman’s virginity should only be shared for love…In 2014, Stone’s family home in Seattle…was destroyed by a fire.  Without insurance, Stone and her family found themselves forced to remain in the scorched property…Brothel tycoon Dennis Hof…agreed to sell Stone’s one-time service…[for] a 50% cut from the profits of the final bid…”People say you are suppose to do it for love,” Stone says…”But…I am doing it because I love my family”…At the moment…[the high] bid is a little over $400,000…While she waits, Stone is still “contracted by Dennis Hof to legally provide services to gentlemen who are seeking experiences” other than intercourse, she says…Even after her virginity is auctioned, Stone says she has no intentions of leaving the ranch. “I anticipate to continue working at the ranch for the next five years,” she says. “I plan to go to law school in the future”…

Under decriminalization, she could’ve stayed here in Seattle; the sex worker community here, including me, would’ve helped her to arrange this and supported her emotionally through the experience without even taking a cut.

Between the Lines

In a very troubling development, the FBI’s “Operation Cross-Country” appears to be spreading to other countries; a few of the articles on the annual pogrom mentioned international operations, and this confirms that:

An impressive number of 28 countries teamed up with Europol to deliver a major blow to organised crime groups involved in trafficking in human beings across the European Union and beyond.  During the operational activities of the EU-wide Joint Action Day (JAD) named Ciconia Alba, one part of the intelligence-led police actions and controls focussed explicitly on [sex workers]…11,161 locations…were [raided]…43,405 persons were [harassed, questioned and/or detained]…and 549 [sex workers were labeled] potential victims…Data gathered during the operations led to the launch of 102 new investigations…Fourteen underage victims were reported.  Overall fifty-two countries and four international organisations were involved…

Yes, over forty-three thousand people were subjected to police violence, all to discover 14 underage sex workers, of whom statistically all but one or two were working of their own choice.  In other words, the operation had a “success rate” of roughly 0.003%.

To Molest and Rape 

More brave heroes from Washington state, “saving” women:

In a matter of six months in 2014, three Colville [cops] either resigned or were fired.  Two…were accused of sexual misconduct…the third, Rex Newport, pleaded guilty to felony sex crimes…That’s 30 percent of the department — three of 10…in a city of less than 5,000 people…Newport…took a plea deal and served time in prison.  He must register as a sex offender and can no longer work as a cop in Washington state…Jeffry Finer…and…Richard Wall filed a civil lawsuit at the beginning of 2015 and recently agreed to a $230,000 settlement for their clients…[the] attorneys…found that [cops] were routinely unsupervised and allegations of sexual misconduct…were not thoroughly investigated, which…perpetuated a culture of such misconduct…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#663) 

“Sex addiction” is now being used as a defense even for violent sex offenders:

A young man who tackled a heavily pregnant woman off her bike and tried to rape her was addicted to pornography and had violent sexual dreams in the lead-up to the attack…Casey Tennent said he “couldn’t help it” and rambled “I imagined doing it and then dreamt about it, and then did it tonight” when he was arrested after the assault in Melbourne…Tennent was chased off by three men…who were able to surround him, take him down and restrain him in a laneway until police arrived…

Of Course It Is

While Oakland appears to be starting a purification campaign to get rid of cops who deal honestly with whores instead of raping us, Celeste Guap fired her prohibitionist attorney for, apparently, refusing to stop spewing anti-whore bullshit at her (in fact, she didn’t even stop after she was fired).  Fortunately, a competent and less-judgmental defense attorney immediately took her place on the legal team.

Send In the Clowns 

While Canadian “authorities” are so far content to “suggest people do not dress up as clowns and walk around with what is going on,” threatening them with unspecified criminal charges, those in Mississippi have gone totally (and unconstitutionally) ape shit:

A Mississippi county has declared it illegal to dress like a clown, and is threatening to levy $150 fines against anyone caught in a clown costume.  The Kemper County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously [last] Wednesday to implement the ban, which expires the day after Halloween.  It makes it unlawful for anyone of any age to appear in public in a clown costume, clown mask or clown makeup…the measure was passed at the request of Kemper County Sheriff James Moore…

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Arrest is not a service and it doesn’t help people.  –  Tara Burns

Sales Pitch

The indispensable Wendy Lyon has for several years been looking at Swedish police reports which reveal the truth about the country’s much-ballyhooed “model”; the most recent one contains this bomb:

…On page 43, we find what may be the single most heinous thing I’ve ever read about this law. Discussing penalties (and why the doubling of them doesn’t seem to have worked as well as expected, although of course that’s not stated in so many words) the report says:  “classification of the offence by several severity levels could bring more disadvantages for the fight against [sex work]…Police…fear that graduation would lead to resources being exclusively devoted to crimes considered more reprehensible and that the investigation of the crime of purchase of sexual services would therefore not be prioritised“…One of the arguments that has been made against the introduction of this law in Ireland is that it would divert resources away from serious offences (like actual trafficking and exploitation) because the police would need to use those resources going after just any man who pays for sex.  So, here the Swedish police are confirming that that’s exactly what they want it to do.  As with the increase in stigma against sex workers, the reduced ability of the police to focus on “more reprehensible” crimes against them is a feature, not a bug of the law

Rooted in Racism

Danish prohibitionists claim sex work is “spreading”.  You know, like a disease:

There are now so many foreign women working as prostitutes in Copenhagen that the sex trade has expanded beyond its traditional locales in the city and into more visible and tourist-packed areas, [prohibitionists claim]…“When it spreads this much, there is clearly not enough being done to fight prostitution and to help these women, who are controlled by organizers in their home countries,” [bloviated] Sisse Marie Welling of the Socialist People’s Party…[prohibitionist] Kira West…said that most of the prostitutes…come from either Nigeria or Eastern Europe.  They are often brought to Denmark by financial backers who they then need to pay off…

Profit from Panic 

“Sex trafficking” fetishists’ ignorance is exceeded only by their delusions of grandeur:

…marketing professor Tammy Crutchfield is passionate about fighting sex trafficking in Middle Georgia.  She said parents should be wary of their younger daughters’ older boyfriends…[who will] lure the girls into prostitution…”All you have to do is get on Backpage and see how many young girls are offered,” [salivated] Crutchfield, who teaches a yearlong capstone marketing course based on Traffick Jam, a student organization that [indoctrinates] high school students…[in] sex trafficking [propaganda]…The group…created its own brand to market…T-shirts and jewelry…Their goal is to establish similar Traffick Jam groups on college campuses across the country…

Challenge

How convenient for the State:

A court case that would have tested the right of sex workers to offer services together…to protect themselves has collapsed after a police officer refused to give evidence.  Three women appeared before a crown court after the brothel they had run together in Greater Manchester was raided in July 2011.  Jane Young, Deborah Daniels and Catherine McGarr had all been charged with keeping a brothel and faced up to seven years in jail if they were found guilty…the women were planning to argue that under the Human Rights Act it was against the rights of sex workers not to allow them to work together in safety…[but] DC Philip Anderson, who had brought the case against the women, [claimed he] would not be able to give evidence…due to his “worsening health”…

Mumbo Jumbo Casper the pimp

Oooooh, it’s a SPOOOOOOKY hub!

…human trafficking is what Angels of Hope founder Cristina Scarpellini calls a “ghost crime,” for its hidden nature and the slipperiness of its largely male perpetrators.  “It’s so hard to prosecute, because the girl is your evidence — and try keeping the girl all the way up until trial,” she says…the victims also become ghosts to their family members…disappearing without a trace…”I deal with a lot of young girls who will tell me they’ve been approached to be sold” she says…Sudbury is even “a hub” for human trafficking…trafficked girls and their oppressors will often “ask for a hotel room near an exit, so they can make a quick escape if they have to”…a girl who is naive or needy will simply be swayed by a Svengali…

In case you missed the reference, there’s the “magical pimp mind control” again in the last sentence there.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#342)

Eyes gouged out for insolence, moms selling daughters to pimps, girls showered with maggots — if it happened in a Cambodian brothel, the story is never too shocking for Westerners to believe.  These tales, all propagated by fundraising charities in Cambodia, depict the nation’s sex trade as an otherworldly hellscape…most of these women aren’t so clueless and weak, says…Heidi Hoefinger…an anthropologist and Berkeley College professor who’s spent more than a decade befriending, interviewing and, at times, living with women who work in Cambodia’s hostess bars…Her research has produced a counter-narrative that is strikingly different from the “trauma porn”…churned out by fundraisers…[like the now-disgraced] Somaly Mam…one of the more authoritative studies, published in 2011 by the United Nations’  top human trafficking agency, estimated only 1,058 sex trafficking cases in Cambodia; 127 were underage. (An estimate from Somaly Mam’s foundation? A whopping 40,000 Cambodian “sex slaves”)…

An Example To the West (#343) 

Thai sex worker activists are made of awesome:

Chantawipa Apisuk is tired of hearing…that…”free sex” with [a] lover is morally better than an encounter with a professional sex worker.  But to Apisuk, it’s all just sex, whether money exchanges hands or not…For three decades, Apisuk has challenged conventional beliefs about the sex industry.  Through educational services and international summits, Empower provides support to the 250,000 women estimated to work in Thailand’s…sex trade without pressuring them to leave it.  One day, Apisuk hopes to see sex work treated with the same respect as other professions…Now, she has opened This Is Us, an appointment-only museum that celebrates Thailand’s centuries-old reputation as a hub for brothels.  Housed in an innocuous building on the outskirts of Bangkok, it “brings a different perspective to the issue of sex work”…

Not for Everybody (#411)

Even most women who really were coerced into sex work know criminalization is horrible:

The reason why trafficking works so well is because there are no resources that could exist to help victims out of their situation.  It is majorly fear and conditioning that traps [them]…Telling a sex worker they are naive to their own exploitation feels like another way to assert control over them and dismiss their autonomy.  It can’t help them…Nordic model supporters…think victims of trafficking are silent and that they have a right to be our voice, saying criminalisation is best for us and that it’s what we would want…they really couldn’t be more wrong.  My experiences have been treated with much more sensitivity and respect by sex worker rights activists than those opposing them…I’m pro-legalisation on a political and personal level.  I know that for traffickers, it would be really, really bad for business, and I’d love to see how fast their empire would crumble…

Habitable Room

Molly Smith debunks Swedish model proponents’ claims that their pet tyranny “decriminalizes” sex workers:

…the…Irish…”Swedish Model” Bill omitted to decriminalise soliciting…the most clear and direct form of criminalisation that sex workers in Ireland are subject to.  Then, in January 2016, [Justice Minister Frances] Fitzgerald amended her Bill to increase the penalties for [solicitation, yet]…A press release from CATW…lauded Irish policymakers for…“decriminalizing prostituted individuals”…In Scotland…Trish Godman [used Swedish rhetoric]…while launching a Bill titled Criminalisation of the Purchase and Sale of Sex [bold mine]…MSP Rhoda Grant attempted…to introduce…a Bill presented as the Nordic Model….[which] did not include repeal of the soliciting law…

Sex Rays (#549) 

Sex Work is Work (#575)

Tara Burns with a guide on reporting about “sex trafficking”:

…Words mean things.  Sex trafficking is a legal term with many different definitions in different states and countries.  The legal term has become confused with the common mainstream usage—which tends to involve people being forced into prostitution—and this has led to a lot of confusion all around.  As journalists, our job is to be precise with language and provide accurate information to the public.  When reporting on sex trafficking, or sex trafficking cases, consider describing what has been alleged or what the statute the person is being charged with actually says—because it rarely refers to people being forced into prostitution…

Too Close To Home

The Seattle Times continues its revolting badge-licking; though this reporter seems to be struggling to be more fair, the story is still full of nauseating cop pontification like this:

“I haven’t seen a lot of people who are not damaged in this life,” [a vice pig vomited out]. “If you’ve got prostitution, you’ve got drug dealing.  And if you’ve got those two things, you’ve definitely got gang activity, and that fuels other crimes.  It’s all connected.”

Because clearly, the first word anyone thinks of when they meet me is “damaged”, and my drug-dealing is well-known.  The most revolting part?  Somebody in this story is part of a violent criminal “gang”, all right, but it ain’t the whores.

Saving Them From Themselves (#613)

A Colorado bill that would reduce the criminal penalties for teenagers who exchange nude images of each other has run into opposition from critics who say it still treats such behavior too harshly.  Under current law, consensual sexting involving anyone younger than 18 qualifies as “sexual exploitation of a child“, a felony that triggers registration as a sex offender and a penalty of up to six years in prison, even for teenagers who take and send pictures of themselves.  H.B. 1058 would make underage sexting a misdemeanor known as “misuse of electronic images by a juvenile,” punishable by three to 12 months in jail, with no registration requirement.  Although that sounds like a big improvement, lighter penalties are apt to encourage prosecution, and it is not clear why this sort of activity should be treated as a crime at all.  In Kansas, where the state Senate last month approved a similar bill, its chief sponsor explicitly argues that it will lead to more prosecution…

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It is apparent that the attenuated causal chain proposed by [those suing Backpage] is forged entirely out of surmise.  –  Justice Bruce Selya

Rough Trade 

Just imagine this ridiculous defense working for anyone in another profession:

A Melbourne real estate agent…was cleared of raping and imprisoning a sex worker in a vacant house…Henry Jiang…was accused of binding the woman with cable ties and raping her repeatedly…after…his booking with her had ended.  His defence barrister [Con Heliotis] said everything that happened was consensual, and the woman had agreed to extend her time with Mr Jiang after he offered her more money and drugs…[but] didn’t tell her escort agency she was staying later…because she didn’t want to pay them a higher commission.  Mr Jiang admitted taking money from the woman, because he calculated he was owed it for the drugs…Heliotis said the sex worker was concerned she had been robbed and only claimed she had been raped…when asked directly by police…In explaining the woman’s…screams as she [fled] the house, Mr Heliotis said: “She would be extremely distressed if she had lost her money and couldn’t buy drugs”…

Lying Down With Dogs

Another US-style “prostitution crackdown” in a country the US should be proud to resemble:

Tanzanian authorities are holding some 800 people suspected of involvement in prostitution…around 500 suspected sex workers and almost 300 alleged customers have been arrested…Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who was elected in October…[on a] law and order [platform has not]…banned…miniskirts [as reported in January]…though…the president and his government [say they are] are “strong proponents of decent dressing”…

Do be sure to click that link to see what Tanzanian ideas of “law and order” entail.

St. James Infirmary

St. James Infirmary, San Francisco’s health care organization for sex workers, cut the ribbon on its new Tenderloin clinic Monday, March 14.  St. James shares the space, located at 234 Eddy Street, with the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project…In addition to primary medical care, the peer-based organization also offers HIV testing and prevention services, including PrEP; sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment; transgender hormone therapy; mental health care; harm reduction services, including needle exchange and naloxone; case management; support groups; food and clothing; and other assistance to people of all genders involved in the sex trade and their families.  All services are free and confidential…

Above the Law  

Some rapist cops go out and look for victims:

A [New Jersey cop] has pleaded guilty to using his badge [and a loaded gun] to [rape] a prostitute…Dinis Oliveira…pleaded guilty…to…third-degree criminal coercion……[he] is expected to be sentenced to probation and…must give up his job and forfeit his pension…Oliveira had been charged with sexual assault, official misconduct and criminal coercion [but of course not aggravated rape as anyone else would’ve been]…

And some just wait for victims to be brought to them:

A Philadelphia-area [cop] is accused of [raping] three women [locked up] inside the police department…Roosevelt Turner is charged with official oppression, indecent exposure and indecent assault.  The charges are based on separate encounters in 2015…

It’s amazing how reporters are seemingly unable to use a simple word like “rape” when the rapist, even one who rapes a woman at gunpoint, is a fucking pig.

Change of Heart

As far as I’m concerned, any sex worker who outs a prohibitionist politician has not violated professional ethics; it’s just too bad this woman waited until the day Rubio pulled out of the race:

Marco Rubio…just suspended his campaign after Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump won [Florida] in a landslide victory.  Adding to his problems, his personal life is being shopped around by a dominatrix who alleges she had a kinky sex romp with Rubio…

First They Came for the Hookers…

It doesn’t matter what a sex worker does with her life after leaving sex work; to the media, she’ll always be a whore:

An ex-stripper who went on to law school and later was elected a judge was found dead inside her Nevada home [on March 13th]…authorities do not suspect foul play.  Municipal Judge Diana Hampton, who was 50…appeared to be the perfect picture of health…Hampton, who served as a municipal judge for more than a decade, worked with youth in the community to discourage them from crime…

Buried Truth 

Vociferous opposition to anything sexual is nearly always strong evidence of an attraction to it:

…As the prosecuting attorney for Ingham County, Michigan, since 1997, Stuart Dunnings III spend decades helping to put people behind bars for commercial sexual activity.  But at the same time, Dunnings was routinely shelling out money for sexual services…Dunnings…instituted tougher penalties and a program of impounding johns’ vehicles…Now…authorities allege that Dunnings “paid for commercial sex… hundreds of times…between 2010-2015.”  For five years, Dunnings met with one sex worker up to four times per week, in addition to his encounters with others.  For what it’s worth, the arrest affidavit paints Dunning as considerate client who tipped well and acted more like a “sugar daddy” to some of the women, taking them out to dinners and paying their rent, cellphone bills, and other expenses…After one woman confessed to a heroin habit, Dunnings paid for her weekly methadone treatments and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings with her…the feds went after Dunnings under the guise of stopping “human trafficking”, because that’s what law enforcement calls all prostitution circa 2016.  Most of the charges actually brought against him, however, are misdemeanor charges for “engaging in the services of prostitution” (10 counts) and “willful neglect of duty” (4 counts).  The one felony charge is because Dunnings…allegedly coerced a domestic violence victim…into having sex with him, then paid her for it…about $600 every two weeks as well as…some of her bills…

The Washington Post coverage that first broke the story preferred to soak in dysphemisms and libel the sex workers that to actually cover the facts.

Backwards into the Future (#334)

UNAIDS welcomes the roll-out of South Africa’s National Sex Worker HIV Plan, 2016–2019.  Launched by the Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, in his role as the Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), this unique plan will ensure equitable access to health and legal services for sex workers in South Africa…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (All Traffick, All the Time)

Here’s another “rescue” scam designed to recruit unhappy whores into the anti-whore brigade; it resembles a “crisis pregnancy center”, which is not surprising since a number of “anti-trafficking” NGOs also operate (or formerly operated) such schemes.  What makes it interesting to me is that it’s the highest claimed number of clients per day (60) we’ve seen in a while, since the high-lunacy mark of 110 current from 2012-2014.  With the exception of a brief requote of that figure (which actually seems to have originated among prohibitionists in 2001) a few months ago, most of the claims have returned to the pre-June 2012 typical claim of 15/day, which is high but not literally impossible.Lake Pahoe

King of the Hill (Traffic Updates)

These moral crusades labeling one particular thoroughfare a “hotbed of sex trafficking” remind me of the Monty Python episode in which there is an entire lake in a basement flat:

Jillian Gilchrest, chairwoman of the [Connecticut] Trafficking in Persons Council, says the Berlin Turnpike is a hotbed for sex trafficking, often involving minors who are exploited…The Underground, a faith-based organization…[identified]…27 of which offer hourly rates…“For far too long, state laws and culture accepted that the purchase of sex will happen,” said Gilchrest…The Judiciary Committee advanced two bills…to attempt to address the issue…[one] would mandate additional training for law enforcement and employees at hotels and motels to identify victims of sex trafficking.  It would also require businesses that offer lodging to maintain detailed records of [cash] transactions for at least six months…[Gilchrest] said… “It was shocking to me [that people are allowed to conduct business with legal tender]”…The bill initially included a provision that would make it illegal to charge hourly for a room at a hotel or motel…But the Judiciary Committee voted…to strike the measure from the bill in response to testimony…[that] hourly rates are often used by truck drivers and travelers seeking a break from the road…

Sex Work is Work (#517)

Bureaucrats can turn anything into a hassle:

New tax laws in Austria is [sic] causing problems for sex workers as rules now dictate that all customers need to be issued with an itemised bill listing all services rendered…As services provided by sex workers covers a wide spectrum, bosses ask how, for example, a two-hour chat with no sexual contact should be written down…others questioned how a self-employed sex worker would issue receipts…

Guinea Pigs 

Americans are so ovine, all one needs do is say “THE CHILDREN!” and everyone cheers while big tech companies give cops horrifying new surveillance tools:

Palantir Technologies…isn’t unique in its efforts to turn its software toward social good—plenty of tech companies do that.  But unlike most, Palantir says it treats nonprofits like any other customer..in 2012, Polaris’ chief executive, Bradley Myles, heard Palantir’s CEO, Alex Karp, speak at a White House event…Myles knew it was something his [corporation]—which is dedicated to eradicating [sex work]—needed but couldn’t afford…Just a few weeks later, Palantir engineers were integrating data from thousands of [sex worker arrest] records, public tips and financial networks…The…company [also] integrates tips, case reports, public records, videos, social media feeds and other data sources and helps draw connections…To help…law enforcement [spy on adult sex workers and clients in the name of fighting] the abduction and sexual exploitation of children…

Crying for Nanny (#539)

The outcome was a foregone conclusion; the lawyers who orchestrated this shitshow were only appealing to cover their arses:

Backpage.com…has been sued a bunch of times, almost always by people [deliberately] misunderstanding Section 230 of the CDA which, as we’ve discussed hundreds of times, says that sites are not liable for the actions of their users…the appeal on [a] Massachusetts case has brought another good Section 230 win, saying that Backpage.com is not liable…The crux of the argument…is that…the way Backpage is set up…makes it different from a standard “publishing” platform.  This is a pretty common attack on Section 230, claiming that it does more than a publisher and thus isn’t protected.  Courts have almost universally rejected that, unless those additional actions themselves could be seen to break the law…the court rejects this argument, saying that everything Backpage.com does is a traditional publisher activity…

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[Human trafficking laws] are criminalising decency.  –  Lisbeth Zornig

A False Dichotomy 

The monolith is crumbling; this was in International Business Times:

According to…opponents of sex work decriminalisation, there are basically two types of women involved in selling sex: a small but vocal minority of…”sex workers” who entered the industry out of choice, and a much larger number of “prostituted women” who were coerced or forced by financial necessity.  Anyone who offers a public opinion on the sex industry based on their own personal experience is assumed to belong to the former category.  Even having an awareness of the policy debate is seen as evidence a sex worker is middle-class, educated and therefore unrepresentative of most women in the industry.  As such, their opinions can be ignored.  It’s argued that the silent, suffering majority don’t have the resources, capacity or inclination to argue about legislation, so other people must speak on their behalf.  This is a rather convenient solution to the dilemma faced by decriminalisation opponents: the majority of sex workers who do speak out strongly disagree with them…this supposed dichotomy between unrepresentative, autonomous sex workers and silent prostitution victims is a rhetorical sleight of hand.  In reality, freedom of choice is rarely an all or nothing sort of thing…Campaigning organisations…smeared by Nordic model advocates as representing a “pimp lobby” – are [largely] made up of women who…sell sex because it’s the least bad course of action available to them…

Rooted in Racism

Sometimes “trafficking” just means “bringing in brown people“:

A high-profile Danish campaigner for children’s rights was prosecuted…under people trafficking laws, shining a spotlight once more on the country’s crackdown on asylum, as Scandinavian countries compete to make themselves unattractive destinations for refugees.  Lisbeth Zornig, the country’s former children’s ombudsman and a well-known author, was fined DKr22,500 (£2,328) – the maximum demanded by the prosecutor…for allowing a family of Syrians to hitch a ride with her to Copenhagen.  Her husband was fined the same amount for taking the family into his home for coffee and biscuits, and then driving them to the railway station, where he bought them tickets to Sweden.  “This was a political trial, using me and my husband to send a strong message: don’t try to help refugees,” Zornig said…

Droit du Seigneur Jermaine Dunbar

Do you think any non-cop would merely have lost his job, rather than being criminally charged?

A [Connecticut cop] was fired after an investigation found he was linked to a sex trafficking operation…Jermaine Dunbar…broke several department policies including improper associations, truthfulness, conduct unbecoming to an officer, neglect of duty and insubordination…two suspects [were] arrested for various charges including narcotics, illegal weapons possession, promoting prostitution and human trafficking…one of the suspects is Dunbar’s family member and another is a friend…Dunbar was at the…home where two 16-year-old girls were given drugs and having sex with men.  One girl said she had sex with Dunbar but…he…was not criminally charged…

Saving Them From Themselves

The United States, a shining example of liberty to the world:

Police [in Thailand] are gathering evidence to bring criminal charges against those who posted a video clip of two students having sex on a teacher’s desk in a school classroom…the patents have accused their children’s friends of posting the video…anyone caught posting obscene material on the internet can be imprisoned for up to five years…

See No Evil

Are the Japanese the only people left on Earth who can tell fantasy from reality?

On February 16 this year, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women held a deliberation on the topic of women’s rights in Japan….[including] a proposal that sales of video games and manga depicting sexual violence be banned….Would [this] prohibition…help bring about more respect for women’s rights in Japan?  Our answer…is a resounding “No”…Fictional sexual violence in manga and video games does not actually violate people’s human rights, so prohibiting these media in order to preserve women’s rights would be meaningless…

The Widening Gyre

Can you hear the sound of fapping while you read this guy’s words?

Keith Bickford…of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office…[fantasized aloud] about the gruesome realities of sex slavery in our own backyards…“Some of the girls…were having sex with someone…20 to 25 times a day…that could be a lot of horrible things happening to these children…“In [Bickford’s] mind, it’s ‘You’re mine for an hour or half-hour, so I can do whatever I want to,’ ” he explained of [his own] brutal mentality…Pimps target areas where they know children hang out most.  This can be the shopping mall, the park and even where we tend to think they are most safe – at school…“I think the youngest, I believe who was in Georgia, was about 8 or 9,” he [fantasized]…

I’ll bet he doesn’t even wait until he gets home after one of his “talks” to wank; probably does it in the men’s room right there.

An Example To the West (#133)

South Korea’s court battle over US-encouraged sex work criminalization begins:

…The anti-sex trade laws have caused many negative, allegedly unintended consequences.  According to a 2012 UN report, “police crackdowns from 2004-2009 resulted in [the] arrest of approximately 28,000 sex workers, 150,000 clients, and 27,000 sex business owners”, and 65,621 arrests were reported for 2009 alone…Police raids are often carried out very violently, and in November 2014, a 24-year old single mother died after jumping out of a motel room to escape arrest by an undercover police officer posing as client.  In stark contrast to their usual reporting, most Korean media remained distinctively silent about the case.  The continued repression has forced an increasing number of sex workers to work underground, resulting in lower incomes, poorer working conditions, and an increase in violence perpetrated against them.  Sex workers worry more about police raids than about screening their clients…

Peep
Profit from Panic (#406) 

I’ve often pointed out how the “sex trafficking” narrative is getting increasingly out of control.  This “artist” uses sewing machines to “evoke the image of countless hours of soul crushing labor“, blissfully ignorant of the fact that such labor is the exact type “rescued” sex workers are usually forced into:

Small circular viewing holes expose the faces of hundreds of children, each symbolizing a stolen childhood.  The art piece, “Peep,” sheds light on the shadowy human trafficking industry in peep show style…Created by Bay Area artist Jonathan Fung, “Peep” draws attention to the often overlooked issue…[through] a metaphor for the commodification of human beings…Tens of millions of people are kidnapped and forced into labor and sex slavery to meet the needs of the…human trafficking industry…thriving in the Bay Area, which FBI named one of the top 13 destinations for child sex trafficking…more and more people are forced into ruthless modern day slavery every day.  Human trafficking remains a growing trend and shows no signs of stopping…

“No signs of stopping!”  My goodness!  Soon there won’t be enough free people to buy all these “modern-day slaves”!

The Widening Gyre (#444) 

Higher education in the US is dead:

…a group of OSU-Tulsa students is trying to tackle [“sex trafficking”]…and a new course helps train them to identify and save victims…Their professor, Dr. Denni Blum…teamed up with [cops & rescue industry profiteers]…to make this class possible…Oklahoma has seen 168 reported cases of human sex trafficking over the last three years – 50 of them were children.  Experts say traffickers target girls between 12 and 14, and once pulled into the sex trade their life expectancy is only seven years…

I can see I’ll have to address this in my OSU Tulsa video lecture this year.

All Wet

Given the recurrence of the low “ever paid” fraction here (and the impossible equivalence of “ever been paid”), I don’t think we can trust the other findings very much, either:

In a new nationwide poll from YouGov, six percent of respondents said they have been paid for sex in the past, and seven percent have paid someone else for sex.  Men and women were equally likely to have accepted payment for sex, but just one percent of the women said they had paid for it themselves, while 12 percent of the men said as much…

Rotting Fruit

Ask yourself: Is this the language that would’ve been used for this same situation 20 years ago?

…venture capitalist Michael Goguen admitted in court papers…that, yes, he paid the first $10 million of a $40 million contract to the woman he had a sexual relationship with for 13 years…but, no, she was never his “sexual slave” and he only agreed to sign the unusual contract because he worried about a “shakedown” featuring “false and libelous claims” of abuse.  But then Goguen failed to pay up.  Some $30 million remains on the contract today.  Both sides agree on that, at least.  And so now…Amber Laurel Baptiste, has gone to court…Baptiste’s breach of contract lawsuit…accused Goguen of “sexually, physically and emotionally” abusing her.  She alleged that she endured the treatment because Goguen promised to free her from the human traffickers holding her in perpetual debt…Goguen admitted that they had an unusual sex life, but he claims it was entirely consensual…

What Were You All Waiting For? 

Is the ACLU finally beginning to do the right thing, at long last?

On Friday, the Cranston [Rhode Island] Police Department issued a news release announcing the results of a sting operation that, in its own words, was aimed at “targeting human traffickers, specifically those victimizing juveniles”…no fewer that eight law enforcement agencies were involved in this operation…[which] led to only one arrest for trafficking and one arrest for pandering.  Instead, the biggest result of the operation appears to have been the arrest of fourteen “johns”…and fourteen other people for prostitution…By humiliating and charging johns for seeking consensual sex and by giving prostitutes arrest records in the name of “helping” them, these operations misleadingly purport to crack down on human trafficking, when their major effect is just to make the lives of prostitutes more difficult and dangerous, driving sex work even deeper into the shadows…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#621)

I’m sure you’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical about anything the Seattle PD says about victimized sex workers:

One day after a Seattle police officer was…pulled from duty for his conduct at a local strip club, King County prosecutors filed pimping charges against the club’s manager and owner.  Prosecutors [claim] Dancing Bare owner Jerry A. Woodhead and manager Michael “Mickey” Woodhead were caught in a sting operation…Police…used at least two informants.  [A] detective said the investigation uncovered prostitution and drug use at the club, and showed that dancers were prostituting themselves to pay “house dues” to the Woodheads…The detective said the Woodheads were considering increasing the amount of money “collected for the prostitution” so they could earn more themselves…

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