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Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Anti-prostitution advocates…incorrectly portray the global sex workers’ rights movement as dominated by Western, white, middle-class, cisgender women…as a way of dismissing the movement as “non-representative.”  –  Chi Adanna Mgbako

License to Rape Joseph Stanton

Good riddance to bad rubbish:

Joseph Raymond Stanton…was arrested on June 29…[for] the rapes of two prostitutes and the attempted rape of a third…In each case…Stanton…passed himself off as a…[cop] and lured the victims to his car.  He then drove them to a secluded location and raped them.  One of the women was able to escape before he could [rape] her…Stanton posted bail and was released…the day after his release [cops] found him dead in what appeared to be a suicide…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Remember, cops: raping whores is OK; it’s paying them fairly that isn’t:

Four Montreal police officers who work with informants have been arrested…Fayçal Djelidi…is facing nine charges, including perjury, attempting to obstruct justice, breach of trust by a public officer and obtaining sexual services for consideration…David Chartrand…was charged with two counts of perjury and two counts of attempting to obstruct justice…Two more officers were also arrested and are being questioned by Montreal police…Djelidi…is alleged to have communicated with unknown persons with the aim of procuring sexual services for himself in exchange for payment…

An Example To the West

Chi Adanna Mgbako on sex worker activism in Africa:

…In the past 10 years or so, sex worker activism has exploded throughout Africa, and there are now sex-worker-led organizations in African countries as diverse as Botswana, Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and many more.  In Kenya alone, there are now over 80 sex-worker-led collectives.  All of these groups are advocating for their right to work, to access de-stigmatized health care, and to live free from violence and discrimination.  It’s also important to note that outside of formal civil society actors like sex-worker-led NGOs, sex workers informally organize and resist criminalization by supporting each other financially, socially, and emotionally in their local communities.  This informal activism is an indispensable part of movement building…

The Pygmalion Fallacy 

Kate Iselin gets it, though four years after I did:

…The scenario that gives rise to the demand for android sex workers reads like a great big “told you so” fantasy of anyone involved in anti-sex work campaigning…It’s a creepy, shallow rendering of the nightmare portrait of sex work we’re too-often sold:  An industry that we worry dehumanises women can only be saved by, in this case, literally replacing humans with what amounts to an almost-sentient Fleshlight.  The idea that a robot brothel can solve all of our problems is naïve at best, and deeply ignorant at worst.  What assumptions does one need to make about our clients to suggest that they would be just as happy – or happier – penetrating chrome steel instead of receiving the touch of a human?…the “any hole’s a goal” mentality presumed in the [notion] overlooks the vast reasons one may have for seeing a sex worker: loneliness, curiosity, sexual or emotional unfulfilment, desire, the want for a certain skillset, or perhaps simply the need to be touched by a new and unfamiliar pair of hands…Plus, it’s telling – and hurtful – that little to no consideration is given to the skills of the sex worker.  I know myself and the service I provide well, and there is no possible way that the warmth of my body and the skill of my touch could be unnoticably replaced by an android…

Damned If You Don’t

But picket-fence queers say cops aren’t our enemies:

On July 4, police made sweeps and arrests at a gay beach in New York City, much to the surprise of beachgoers.  At the far corner of Jacob Riis Park—a gay beach that has been a notorious LGBT safe haven for decades…police descended unannounced…gay Brooklyn photographer Krys Fox…stood with a towel wrapped around his waist…Suddenly, the towel loosened and dropped.  Before Fox could refasten it around his waist, he was tackled to the ground by a squad of police.  Fox told the Daily Dot that police had dominated the gay beach all day—”on horses, in uniform, undercover”—and were “everywhere.”  But he didn’t expect to be arrested, he said, because he hadn’t done anything wrong…those who…were [there]…noted that police targeted the gay section of the beach specifically, stating that there were no police on the rest of the beach…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of refreshing to read an article which portrays us as depraved monsters rather than pathetic victims:

…Police raided a Warsaw [Indiana] massage parlor…next door to Kevin Love’s home.  He said he knew something suspicious was happening for about three years now…The two women were arrested after police found evidence related to prostitution, tax evasion and corrupt business practices.  Love said he often saw two women walking around the neighborhood in the evening…”just like any normal person would get out and go for a walk”…Love…is just relieved it is over.  “There are children on back further in the neighborhood, and they don’t need to be around something like that,” he said…

Bait and Switch

One can always assume there’s a wide gap between what actually happened and what the cops claim happened:

Aren Lindquist…has been sentenced to 25 years at Montana State Prison with 20 years suspended…[he was tricked by a fake] online ad for an escort service called “Barely Legal 18.”  [Cops told] the respondents…that no 18-year-olds were available and they had the option of having sex with a 15-year-old or a 12-year-old…

Another Fine Mess

Reporters never get tired of pretending that ordinary sex work practices are new and novel:

…at least 60 prostitutes from China [are] advertising their services online and operating in condominiums and apartments in Geylang…Instead of relying on pimps and brothel keepers, the women post suggestive photos of themselves and ask those interested to contact them on mobile phones directly.  These freelance prostitutes enter Singapore on tourist visas and typically work for up to one month…

A Procrustean Bed (#440) Judge Paul Herbert

It’s enough to make one vomit:

…These weekly court sessions are the core of a special probation program for victims of sex trafficking in Columbus. [Judge] Herbert started the program—known as CATCH (Changing Attitudes to Change Habits)—in 2009.  Women arrested on prostitution charges in Columbus can opt into this program – where they get safe housing, counseling, and close supervision instead of jail time.  Nearly all are in recovery from addiction.  As he moves through the docket, Herbert calls each defendant by her first name…”He said we’re going to love you until you can love yourself. And…I see something in you that you can’t see yet”…

King of the Hill (#537)

It looks like they’ve scaled back the claims about Charlotte, North Carolina’s “hub” status, maybe because the kids they’re trying to scare with it are smarter than the adults who believe this crap:

Starting this fall, sex trafficking will be addressed in seventh and eighth-grade classrooms across Charlotte…Director of Present Age Ministries Hannah Arrowood [said] “Charlotte is actually the number one city in the state of North Carolina for human trafficking”…Five-hundred new ads are posted soliciting sex in Charlotte every day…many of the women in the ads are not women at all, but rather trafficked teenagers and young girls…forced to have sex with multiple men…

Checklist (#593)

Because there aren’t enough real “victims” to go around, the rescue industry creates fake ones:

Catherine Pisha…is…an actor learning how to portray a [stereotype of a] human trafficking victim.  Pisha works at the University of Vermont’s Clinical Simulation Lab…[and] helps health care professionals improve the quality of their care by being a human guinea pig…Edith Klimoski…writes the scripts for these actors…Studies show that anywhere between 50 percent and 80 percent of human trafficking victims will come in contact with someone in the medical community during the time they’re being trafficked…

The Public Eye (#609)

Laura Lee braves the hostile waters of Mumsnet:

…One of the most infuriating strands to the current feminist discourse around sex work is the assertion that we are abused, or even raped, every time we sell sex.  That statement is injurious and grossly insulting to those who have survived abuse and rape, and it also strips sex workers of our agency.  As much as we campaign for the right to say “yes”, we absolutely reserve the right to say “no”.  I detest the use of the word “empowerment” in any debate on sex work.  My job is no more empowering than anyone else’s; it allows me to support my family and pay my bills.  But as a community, there is no doubt that we are more empowered to say “no” when we are permitted to work together for safety…

Uncommon Sense (#619)

the upcoming German law…will enforce mandatory registration of sex workers nationwide.  The law pretends to fight human trafficking…Forced registration through obligatory counselling includes the evaluation of one’s mental status by a state authority and implies sex workers…are perceived as irresponsible, mentally incapable beings…Our very own whore ID will be a state-issued document including our picture; our profession (that is “prostitute”, as the word “sex worker” is a bit too modern for the German state), our real name and address…In order to get it we will be forced to visit a state body and undergo counselling…You read that right: a functionary will decide in a compulsory talk if you have the marbles in your brain to be a sex worker…

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We are workers, not victims.  –  Lily Hermarratanarapong

Safe TargetsRed Light Legal logo 

Most conversations around legal advocacy for sex workers tend to focus on a handful of big ticket items, like the fight for decriminalization or protecting sex workers from rapist cops…But there are a lot of smaller, and much more mundane, ways that sex workers can benefit from legal representation, whether they’re strippers going through custody battles, former escorts seeking a divorce, or cam girls looking to incorporate.  At long last, there’s an organization dedicated to helping sex workers find culturally competent legal representation–and thanks to the internet, it’s poised to have a pretty serious impact.  Red Light Legal was founded by Kristina Dolgin, a long time sex worker who enrolled in law school in the hopes of finding a way to help out her community.  Since the organization’s inception, the internet’s been integral to its operations: as a way of raising funds, spreading awareness about sex work law issues, and, most essentially, connecting with clients…

License to Rape

Prohibition turns every individual’s body into a “crime scene”:

A Canadian businesswoman…was sexually assaulted by three U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers during a motorcycle trip on May 14.  The three male officers were ostensibly searching her orifices for contraband, which they did not find…The 51-year-old woman…planned to ride with a female friend from Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, to Elmo, Montana.  At the…border crossing, she was questioned by a CBP officer who wondered why she was visiting Elmo, which he described as “Indian country”…three [rapists] searched her motorcycle and her wallet, in which they found a perfectly legal interim motorcycle license that they deemed suspicious.  To resolve their suspicions, they said, she would have to remove her clothing and submit to probing of her anus and vagina…

Dirty Amateurs

Amateurs are a menace to public health; they should be licensed and heavily regulated:

…a…report…in the Lancet…found that today’s teens are growing up in a world where preventable and treatable health issues, such as HIV/AIDS and unplanned pregnancy, abound…For women between the ages of 10 and 24, unsafe sex is the fastest-growing risk factor for illness and death worldwide…the report’s researchers observed changes in this group’s health over 23 years.  At first, STIs didn’t even rank as a risk factor for death, but…reached number one by the end of the research period…

Bottleneck

Now just imagine if this was the law, and always available:

…the home addresses of several German sex workers have allegedly been leaked in a customized Google Map…the map…was promoted by [prohibitionist] groups…[and] remained live for several days.  “Publishing their addresses to anyone opens them up to forced outing and violence,” said Fabienne Freymadl of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services…“They might lose custody of children, lose contact with family and lose any other jobs they hold.”  The map displayed roughly 2,000 German addresses purportedly linked to the sex trade, which is legal in the country but nevertheless carries stigma.  Sex work activists say some of the information on the map was publicly available—like the addresses of legal brothels—but that independent sex workers’ home addresses were included as well…When sex work activists got wind of the map, they quickly mobilized to get it taken down…Those behind the map [pretend] that [no] personal addresses were published…

Held Together With Lies (#447)

Up by 27% from the last nonsense “estimate” less than two years ago:

The 2016 Global Slavery Index estimates that 45.8 million people are subject to some form of modern slavery in the world today.  The Index presents a ranking of 167 countries based on the proportion of the population that is estimated to be in modern slavery…

The number is derived in part by combining completely different phenomena such as prison laborers and sex workers.

Doubling Down

PBS once again demonstrated its prohibitionist bias by presenting an anti-whore propaganda show disguised as a “debate”:

Americans are split on whether prostitution should be legal, according to a new survey from The Marist Poll and PBS TV-series Point Taken.  Forty-nine percent of respondents in the new national poll said prostitution between two consenting adults should be legal, while 44 percent responded that it should be illegal.  Younger respondents were more in favor of legalization, with 58 percent of those under 45 supportive, compared to just 40 percent of those 45 and older.  Men were more in favor of prostitution legalization than women, at 54 percent versus 44 percent.  And Democrats and political independents were much more likely than Republicans to say it should be legal:  52 and 58 percent, versus 35 percent…around 40 percent of those who said prostitution should be illegal also said criminal charges were not appropriate.  And overall, some 63 and 60 percent said selling and buying sex should not yield criminal penalties…The two guests most opposed to decriminalization were a Kings College philosophy professor and a self-described “investor, author, and finance expert,” who cast [a black sex worker and former foster child who started out while underage] as a privileged activist…They came ready with ample…false statistics about the average age of entry into prostitution, the prevalence of sex trafficking in countries where prostitution is legal, and the compassion and prudence of the Nordic Model…”Legalization allows traffickers to hide victims in plain sight, which creates greater trafficking,” insisted the finance expert, against all evidence…

Worse Than I Thought (#532)

Politicians say not enough people’s lives are being destroyed for consensual sex:

…Under the JVTA, the presence of a single sexually-oriented ad posted by someone under 18 could trigger sex-trafficking charges for anyone involved with running the platform.  Rep. Ann Wagner…said…she hopes the Department of Justice (DOJ) will make more use of the advertising clause in the upcoming year…Wagner is just one of 37 legislators calling on the feds to be more [profligate] about using the 2015 federal sex-trafficking law…they stressed…greater focus on catching and prosecuting people who pay for sex…Lawmakers speak of this move as a way to bring justice to bear on “child sex traffickers.”  In reality, it allows for the escalation from misdemeanor solicitation charges to federal or felony human trafficking charges for anyone who offers—knowingly or unknowingly—to pay someone even one day under 18 for sex…And the government need not prove that a sex solicitor “knew the person [selling sex] had not attained the age of 18 years”…There also need not be an actual victim under this approach—an undercover officer posing online as a teenager will do just fine…

Served Cold (#537) 

This fascist group, with its CIA connections, is the most terrifying of all the rescue industry groups, and almost certainly the most dangerous to human rights on a global scale:

“This is a war.  This is a battle”…Mark Stott called the people of Utah County figuratively to arms May 25 at the “Time to Rescue” benefit concert.  Stott is the co-founder of Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), a [fascist paramilitary] organization dedicated to rescuing women and children from sex trafficking around the world.  Headed by former Homeland Security Special Agent Tim Ballard, the 2-year-old charity [claims to have] rescued almost 600 victims and assisted in the arrest of almost 200 traffickers worldwide…Angela Brady Krois, organizer of the Time to Rescue event, wants to preserve…the innocent dreams of the women and children that are sold and used throughout the world…O.U.R…is in the trenches, infiltrating the sex-trafficking rings worldwide to literally pluck the children from criminals’ grasp…

Note that isn’t metaphorical; these lunatics literally conduct paramilitary operations in sovereign foreign countries that the CIA pressures to play along with them.

The Course of a Disease (#574)

Sometimes the changes are incremental:

In a landmark ruling, a Tel Aviv court declared…that prostitutes working from home or paying rent for a brothel could be acting legally…Judge Itai Hermelin determined the conditions under which operating a brothel is not an offense as part of a trial brought by the state against an establishment in east Tel Aviv.  Hermelin imposed restrictions on the operations of the Tel Aviv brothel.  However, these were subject to the state committing to avoid prosecuting sex workers who use their own apartments or locations that are rented by several women together for the purpose of prostitution, or at a location rented by one woman who then invites other women to share it…This is believed to be the first time a judge in Israel has underscored the freedom of women to engage in prostitution, as well as specifying their rights…He [wrote] “pushing these women onto the street violates their dignity in an unacceptable manner…interpreting the law in a way that criminalizes prostitution taking place in a building is unconstitutional and must be rejected”…the judge noted that the main criticism voiced by the sex workers speaking in court was directed not at their place of employment – which they described as discreet, safe and clean – but at the police.  “The attitude of the police was…degrading and harmful, sometimes bordering on violent abuse…There were repeated descriptions of women being chased out of buildings naked during police raids, with abusive language”…

An Example To the West (#626) 

Thai sex workers just love contradicting prohibitionist who claim they’re “victims”:

…Empower [is] a sex-workers’ rights organisation with an estimated 50,000 members.  Since the group’s founding in 1985, it has fought to improve the working conditions of women in the sex trade in Thailand…(Empower is short for “Education Means Protection Of Women Engaged in Recreation”)…less than 10 percent of sex workers in Thailand are “trafficked”—duped, tricked, or forced into their circumstances…A 2012 research report compiled by Empower details a host of abuses related to treating these women as trafficking victims, including widespread police entrapment, wrongful detention, extortion, invasive medical examinations, and unjust deportation…Empower has pushed the Thai human-rights community to reconsider its reliance on raids, rehab, and criminal prosecution as the go-to approaches to combat trafficking, fundamentally questioning whether the sex industry ought to be deemed illicit.  The organisation has become one of the leading voices in Southeast Asia and throughout the world…

Broken Record (#638) 

Canadian prohibitionists are desperate to cash in before the panic implodes:

The Formula One Grand Prix weekend in Montreal…brings thousands of tourists to the city, with many on the prowl for sex…[prohibitionists] in Quebec launched a campaign…called “Buying Sex is Not a Sport”…Lise Theriault, Quebec’s minister…for the status of women [vomited out the usual prohibitionist garbage]…Montreal as a Canadian “hot spot” for child sex tourism due to its proximity to the U.S. border…The average age of entry into the sex trade…is about 14 or 15…

To Molest and Rape

The people prohibitionists want in control of sex workers:

…A 2008 study in Cape Town showed that nearly half of street-based sex workers surveyed “have been threatened with violence by police”.  12% have been raped by police, and 28% have been asked for sex in exchange for release from custody…

Turning Point (#641)

On May 31st, Dan Savages’s guests included Emily Bazelon of the New York Times and my friend Mistress Matisse, talking about decriminalization.  If you’d like to listen (and why wouldn’t you?) download it here.

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Tracy’s community…turned away from her in an inane focus on protecting the look of the gates rather than the garden that thrives beyond them.  –  Maya Yonika

Couples David & Jenni Heckendorf

A disabled Australian couple gets help from a sex worker:

…a…fall had long-lasting consequences on Jenni’s health generally and on our sex lives.  Her prolonged and mostly unsuccessful recovery resulted in Jen having further reduced mobility in and out of bed.  It meant we had to take extreme care not to touch or bump her foot…We tried different toys and different positions without joy.  Two years after the fall we were at a point where we had to make a decision to either give up on enjoying sex or to investigate the possibility of allowing a third person into our bed…we arranged for sex worker, Joanne, to begin working with us.  With each visit we had to remind ourselves that she wasn’t there to make “love” to us.  Rather, in the same way that our support staff ensure that we remain in good physical health – by showering, feeding, and dressing us – Joanne helps us to maintain good sexual health…we successfully approached the ACT government to extend the funding of our disability care support to cover these conjugal support services.  In December 2015, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) agreed that, in our situation, a modest allowance for conjugal support service would be reasonable and necessary…

Lack of Evidence

It appears to me that the cops have no actual evidence:

A North Augusta [South Carolina] woman has been arrested on multiple charges of Prostitution.  Kristen Perry…was arrested [April 6th and]…is facing 21 charges of Sex/Prostitution 1st Offense.  She is accused of placing ads on Backpage.com between December 2015 and February 2016 offering sex for money…The ads contained sexually suggestive photos and language…The ads were accompanied by a phone number confirmed to belong to Perry…The IP address from which the ads were posted was traced back to her residence…

A good lawyer should be able to beat this easily; if anyone knows her please ask her to call me (email me for the number).  I definitely want to help her if possible.  Arresting escorts based solely on ads is an extremely dangerous precedent that cannot be allowed to stand.

Where Are the Victims?

There weren’t any actual victims, but we just have to cage people, because SEEWEEUSS UFFENSE!

Chunjie Wang…of…Dublin…organised four brothels…for seven months..[in] 2011…Judge Melanie Greally noted the case did not involve the trafficking or exploitation of prostitutes…but…said the seriousness of the offence meant a custodial sentence was unavoidable and sentenced Wang to 18 months imprisonment…

It Looks Good On Paper

Adult sex trafficking victims who get caught working as prostitutes could receive immunity from prostitution under a new Nebraska law…Nebraska already provides legal immunity to juvenile sex trafficking victims…”  Except that as I’ve explained many times, these laws are nothing but Potemkin villages, empty legal husks designed to please the ignorant while actually sparing virtually nobody from the injustice system:

…Wisconsin…advocacy groups…want to pass what is known as “safe harbor” legislation, which prohibits prosecuting individuals under 18 for prostitution…Republican legislators who fear it will hinder law enforcement’s ability to intervene and help trafficking victims…Minors can complete a program or other requirements in exchange for a dismissal of the charge, or they can admit to charges but assert they were being trafficked at the time…Proponents believe that by refusing to prosecute minors, law enforcement will be able to establish trust and gain access to information that will allow them to more successfully prosecute traffickers…Custody may also be necessary to ensure the child does not return to his or her trafficker…

Translation of that last part: “Authorities” want to be able to lock up minors indefinitely and subject them to coercive interrogation tactics in order to prosecute others in their place.

Big Sister

The Swedish model is based in xenophobia, and it shows in rhetoric designed to rationalize its failure:

Ever greater numbers of tourists in Iceland…are feeding into the market for prostitution…Snorri Birgisson of the Reykjavik Metropolitan Police [pretends] “It is usually foreigners visiting Iceland for a short time”…It is [fantasized] that prostitutes who come to Iceland are “managed” by somebody and transported from country to country…

The Last Shall Be First 

One battle in the bathroom wars has just ended.  Or maybe a truce has been hammered out for the time being.  The U.S. 4th Circuit Court has ruled in favor of a female-to-male trans student who was banned from using his school’s boys bathroom…the…Court, whose rulings also cover North Carolina (site of a contentious new law covering similar issues)…has ordered the lower court to hear his discrimination lawsuit…Go here to read recent Reason musings on North Carolina’s new bathroom law…I’m willing to bet the farm that even within a few years, if not sooner, we will all look back on the absolute panic evinced over the issue of unisex bathrooms and wonder just what the fuck we were all smoking…

Above the Law  

Roanoke [Virginia cop Francisco Alberto Duarte] is awaiting trial on a felony count of forcible sodomy“, and in Louisiana, “A Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s deputy has been fired [and criminally charged] after he was accused of inappropriately touching a woman…Cody Onxley…called the woman and went to her house under false pretenses.

Broken Record

Farm machinery causes “sex trafficking”!

…[cops] have also found victims at this year’s National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and expect to find others at the Kentucky Derby…traffickers…stay mobile, moving victims from city to city to major sporting and entertainment events…truckers are getting the word out through the national campaign Truckers Against Trafficking, with an event this weekend at the Kentucky Exposition Center…the truckers…are in a position to spot victims at convenience stores and truck stops, popular spots for traffickers…

Under Every Bed

It’s weirdly fascinating to watch small cities insist that they’re just as infested with bogeymen and imaginary victims as cities with much larger populations:

…slavery…still exists.  Even in Spokane.  The reasons for this, [prohibitionists pretend], include Washington having an international border and a large seaport [and] many diverse immigrant communities…Because of the I-90 corridor, Spokane gets a lot of traffic and homeless in the area…former madam Cheryl Larson [lied that]…one girl could make $10,000 in a weekend during Bloomsday…

Note the racism, interstate highway nonsense and outlandish claims about income.  That article ends with an appeal for amateur surveillance, as does this one:

…[Cops] in Springfield say the western Massachusetts city is beginning to see a noticeable rise in human trafficking…Jamie Bruno spoke before the Springfield Violence Prevention Task Force…to [pretend] that human trafficking has become a problem in the city and is expanding…Bruno says it’s pivotal that parents are aware of what their children are doing with friends…

Business As Usual

I smell a rat.  What probably happened here is that some cop raped a sex worker in a particularly violent and/or loathsome way and they’re trying to paper it over with a “policy”:

…Cleveland Police have been told to temporarily stop making prostitution arrests…[because] the Department is suddenly developing a new policy.  The memo says, “All prostitution (sex for money) related Vice enforcement shall cease immediately…Advise your Detectives under no circumstances shall they have a suspected prostitute get into a vehicle with them or have any physical contact with…Police…We are formulating a policy that will cover procedures for these types of details”…

Remember, the actual policies don’t make a difference because even when raping whores is expressly forbidden, cops just do it anyway and then claim they didn’t.

All-Purpose Excuse

It’s especially good for money grabs:

Nine hundred police officers have taken part in a raid on one of Germany’s biggest brothels in Berlin, making six arrests over alleged human trafficking and tax fraud.  The operation follows months of investigation into the Artemis brothel…[whose] managers are accused of evading some €17.5m (£14m; $19.7m) in social security payments since 2006.  Prosecutors allege that staff at Artemis were forced to pretend to be self-employed to avoid the payments…

In case you’re bad at math, that’s 150 cops per arrest, ten times the number NOPD used to arrest me.

The Face of Trafficking

What a large-scale, organized forced prostitution scheme actually looks like:

In a case involving 75 female victims, Syrian women who were promised well-paid jobs in restaurants and hotels in Lebanon were locked up upon arrival in two hotels north of Beirut and forced into prostitution.  Some of the women reported being forced to have sex with up to 20 clients a day, and those that refused to work as prostitutes were repeatedly raped and tortured until they submitted…On March 27, Lebanese security forces raided the hotels, detaining eight guards and setting the women free from the Chez Maurice and Silver Hotel in Maamelteine.  The three-story Chez Maurice had the look of a prison, with bars on the balconies and windows, and a whip lying visible on one of the guards’ tables.  The health ministry has also sealed a clinic belonging to gynecologist Riad al-Alam, who authorities say performed abortions for the trafficked women who got pregnant.  The women have said they were not allowed to leave the clinic except to have an abortion…

Remember, fetishists pretend this sort of thing is common worldwide, even where there isn’t social chaos precipitated by war.

Size Matters (#619)

An excellent essay on the Tracy Elise case:

…Five years ago, Tracy was…the [focus] of a six-month long undercover prostitution investigation of what was then known as the Tantric Temple of Phoenix Arizona.  [Cops] fully armed with riot gear and machine guns, raided the space and arrested Elise along with several other women…Tracy was thrown into jail without trial for the following two years, her bail set at a million dollars…Tracy’s case is inexorably woven into some of the most pressing and cutthroat social biases of our day when it come to sex and relationship.  These biases hold us so powerfully within their grip that if one so much appears to cross the line, we’re perfectly content to quietly dismiss a woman like Tracy while she faces a potentially lifelong jail sentence…the…need to belong innately necessitates an “other”… that thing that separates “me” from “them”…as news of the Phoenix raids came to light, the bulk of western Tantrics, in order to uphold their personal ideals and image, turned away from Tracy and her case.  A woman who calls herself a “Tantric master” even spoke out against Tracy on a major news channel in her effort to “protect Tantra’s name”…

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Sex workers are still most commonly depicted in the mainstream media as victims, pests or, in the odd case, saints.  –  Eurydice Aroney

Think of the Children! Leigh Ann Arthur

That the pictures were stolen is immaterial; she was fired for having a sex life:

A South Carolina high-school teacher may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor after a student stole her cellphone and distributed partially nude photos from it around the school.  Administrators say she should have password-protected the phone.  The male student grabbed the phone from…Leigh Ann Arthur’s desk while she was making required…rounds between classes…he went through Arthur’s photos, eventually finding some sexually oriented shots that Arthur says she took for her husband.  By the time she returned to the classroom, the student was texting the photos to other students.  According to Arthur, he told her: “Your day of reckoning is coming.”  One might think that the student would at least face disciplinary action…if not criminal charges of some sort.  But thus far, the school has not moved to hold the 16-year-old student accountable at all.  Arthur, however, is another story…she resigned when district officials gave her the choice to do so immediately or start the firing process…More than 1,600 people have signed an online petition created by students…in support of their former teacher…

Rooted in Racism

Mainstream anti-trafficking and abolitionist discourses construct the image of the victim by channelling “white slavery” myths.  Eastern European women (along with other women from the ex-peripheries of global capital) are attributed a central role…Apart from the restrictions faced by most migrants from the former “eastern bloc” in so-called developed states, eastern European migrant sex workers encounter even tougher barriers…Even when legally residing and working, simply owning a Romanian or Russian passport can make female sex workers the target of rescue, detention, and re-socialisation and/or deportation programmes implemented by governmental agencies and carceral NGOs…The imaginary [status] of [these] countries as sources of “forced prostitution”…coincides with a Cold War hangover and…serve to doubly vilify and infantilise European women sex workers…

Peeping Toms

The late Justice Scalia was of course right about this; Lawrence vs. Texas actually overturned all laws against consensual adult sex, including those against prostitution.  But now that picket-fence gays have their seat at the big table, they’re not going to say much while further court decisions attempt to turn Lawrence into a “monogamous vanilla amateurs only” club:

Uh-oh, kinksters:  sex cops could be coming for you next.  According to a new federal court decision, Americans have no constitutional right to engage in consensual BDSM because “sexual activity that involves binding and gagging or the use of physical force such as spanking or choking poses certain inherent risks to personal safety.”  Thus officials could constitutionally ban or regulate such activity in the interest of “the protection of vulnerable persons,” the court held.  In striking down bans on things like sodomy and adultery, U.S. courts have repeatedly said that citizens have a right to engage in whatever sort of consensual sexual activity they choose within the privacy of their own rooms (that is, as long as money isn’t involved).  But federal judges now say that the Constitution “does not prohibit the regulation of BDSM conduct”…

Wise Investment

Every decision like this, in any country, brings us closer to the goal:

…sex workers in Macedonia…have been awarded protection…against the unlawful treatment of the police and the criminal court.  On a November night in 2008, the police carried out [a pogrom]…in which 32 individuals, 23 of whom sex workers, were deprived of liberty.  The police unlawfully detained the sex workers longer than 20 hours in inhuman and degrading conditions…without food, water or any possibility for sanitary hygiene.  Some of them were left without medical help…The following day, all of them were taken for [involuntary STI] testing without any explanation…fourteen (14) sex workers filed a lawsuit…against the…Ministry of Interior…Seven years [later]…the Primary Court…partially granted the lawsuit of the sex workers and again established that…the police action “Suppression of Street Prostitution” violated the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, i.e. violated the…sex workers’ rights…

Universal Criminality

When a cop wants to destroy someone, universal criminality makes it so easy:

A [Florida] sheriff’s deputy was fired and likely will face charges of obstruction of justice and tampering with evidence after he tried to plant [drugs] on a [man cops considered a troublemaker]…Stephen LeBlanc…is accused of persuading a man in [what police call] a known drug neighborhood to help [him]…plant evidence on Thomas Parisi, who LeBlanc in November arrested for spray-painting…“Sex workers are people, too,” and an anti-law enforcement sentiment [on a wall]…LeBlanc then began [stalking] Parisi…to “get him jammed up on more charges,” the sheriff said…

Above the Law 

Just imagine any non-cop getting a deal like this for aggravated rape:

[An] Alabama State Trooper who was…charged with rape and sodomy of an accident victim…has reached a deal with prosecutors that will see him plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual misconduct…Samuel McHenry…put the woman…in his patrol car before [vaginally and anally raping her]…under threat of jail time…McHenry [must] serve six months in the Butler County Jail…in increments at his own discretion…within the next year…pay a $500 fine and restitution, and is ordered not to contact the victim…state law requires he register as a sex offender.

The Birth of a Movement

Yesterday, an English version of Eurydice Aroney’s French radio documentary “The Revolt of the Prostitutes” was broadcast on Australia’s ABC network.  To promote it, she wrote this article on the occupation of the Church of St. Nizier in 1975, the event which gave birth to the international sex worker rights movement.  I was especially touched by this passage:

…Little has changed for these workers since the strike in 1975.  I spoke to…one of the original St Nizier strikers who now works in her van in Gerland.  I asked if she knew that the St Nizier Church occupation was commemorated in Australia and across the world as International Whores’ Day.  “No, I didn’t know that.  Really?” she said. “And in Australia, are there lots of sex workers?  And they aren’t being hassled by the police?”  I told her that no, sex work is decriminalised in NSW…

Traffic Jam (#323)

See the resemblance to the “Satanic Panic” yet?

In the press, it was a “wide-reaching sex-trafficking operation” run by Somali Muslim gangs who forced “girls as young as 12” to sell sex in Minnesota and Tennessee.  In reality, the operation—which led to charges against 30 individuals, sex-trafficking convictions for three, and an eight year legal battle—was a fiction crafted by two troubled teenagers, a member of the FBI’s human-trafficking task force, and an array of overzealous officials…federal prosecuters had no evidence whatsoever to support their “child sex trafficking conspiracy” case outside the seriously flawed testimony of two teenagers, one of whom had “been diagnosed as insane and was off her medication”…The [cop] was…caught lying to the grand jury and lying during a detention hearing, while Doe and the state’s other primary witness were, according to the court, almost entirely “unworthy of belief”…

Size Matters (#337)

Sadly, this was a foregone conclusion:

The leader of the Phoenix Goddess Temple that offered spiritual and touch-based healing services in exchange for donations has been convicted of operating a house of prostitution…Tracy Elise [was pronounced] guilty…on all 22 counts including 12 of money laundering.  She also was convicted of six counts of pandering and one count each of conspiracy to commit illegal control of an enterprise, illegal control of an enterprise, prostitution and operating a house of prostitution…Elise is scheduled to be sentenced on April 8…

Imagine the Sky

The most interesting part of this article for me isn’t the location of historical New York brothels {yawn}, but rather the dogged persistence with which ignoramuses cling to the myth that prostitution was criminalized in the US before the 20th century:

…Sex workers have been operating illegally in New York since before the Revolutionary War.  In the early 19th century, prostitutes worked in Five Points — above present day City Hall Park — and along the East River.  But it wasn’t until the middle of that century that prostitution concentrated in SoHo and formed the city’s first sex district.  While the districts moved northward over time…the manner in which johns found out about the districts remained consistent for decades: cheaply printed guidebooks…patrons needed help finding the city’s illicit brothels that law enforcement mostly turned a blind eye to…

New Excuse

Sometimes politicians’ rhetorical devices are blatantly transparent:

At a hearing on new measures to address human trafficking, California Assemblyman Reggie-Jones Sawyer [said]…”the last time we’ve had this kind of emergency was…the crack-cocaine epidemic.”  Sadly, Sawyer was not referencing the ways in which the current popular panic about sex trafficking and governmental responses to it mirror the outlandish, hysteria-based, and detrimental state approach to the war on drugs.  Rather, Sawyer sees our attention to the “crack-cocaine epidemic” as something we should now strive to emulate…In many, many respects…officials already are treating sex trafficking in the same way they did the drug war.  The dominant legislative response has been increased criminalization of all sorts of commercial sexual activity…

Checklist (#514) 

So about a month ago, this ridiculous air hostess person who’s hawking a book started tweeting nonsense about “sex trafficking” (because her wonderful “signs of trafficking” training makes her an expert, donchaknow).  And she just couldn’t understand why all us mean hookers attacked her when all she wants to do is rescue people!  So she wrote about it, and of course some ass published it:

As a flight attendant, I’ve been trained to spot trafficking in the air…It’s made me take a special interest in the topic, and I was even motivated to speak to my City Council…You…might think human trafficking is a topic we would all agree on. Right? Wrong. I recently learned there are a lot of people who disagree…some sex worker advocates argue we’re creating more victims:  That when I speak out against human trafficking, that I’m contributing to the mass incarceration of sex workers…I met a woman in my neighborhood who works with a nonprofit organization that fights trafficking…so trafficking, in my town of Redondo Beach, has become an off-duty interest for me.  On the drive to my son’s school, we pass 18 massage parlors — in less than two miles.  Every single day I look at these massage parlors, and wonder what might be going on behind those covered up windows surrounded by security cameras…The average person hasn’t had their employer teach them how to stop human trafficking like mine has.  The average person doesn’t have a daily reminder that trafficking is going on in the world the way I do…

Poor Heather; the weight of the world is on her shoulders!  If she doesn’t defend “sex trafficking” victims in Redondo Beach against us bad ol’ whores, who will?

Uncommon Sense (#557)

If any job indicates a need for “counseling”, it’s politician:

…A group of sex workers protested…in Hamburg against a new government bill that would force sex workers to register with the state [every two years or, for women ages 18 to 21, every year] and receive counseling.  The protesters held symbolic “prostitute cards” to illustrate what it would mean for them to be forced to carry with them registration, said Friederike Strack of the Berlin-based consulting center Hydra…

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The [only Super Bowl-related] surge was in cops and busybodies looking for something to do.  –  J.D. Tuccille

Safe Targets

In the US, the victim would’ve been arrested as well:

A woman and her two accomplices, who tried to blackmail a sex worker and extort money from her customer, were arrested by [Hyderabad] police…Moina Nayeeda…established a fake NGO…and…went to the house of Sabha, a sex worker…and told her that she was in financial trouble and want to make some money by prostitution.  Then Sabha arranged a customer one Jaheer…Nayeeda came to Sabha’s place along with her brother Sohail and some others…After entering the house, Nayeeda closed the doors with the customer inside and shouted loudly about the illegal acts going on there.  Nayeeda’s brother Sohail and others rushed to the house and threatened the owner of the house and the client saying they were from an NGO and would file a complaint against their illegal activities…

Barbie

This article contains no new info, but it’s of interest for the selection of Lilli cartoons:  “So it turns out Barbie’s original design was based on a German adult gag-gift escort doll named Lilli.  That’s right, she wasn’t a dentist or a surgeon, an Olympian gymnast, a pet stylist or an ambassador for world peace. And she certainly wasn’t a toy for little girls…Lilli cartoons

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

WTF, Vice?  Seriously?  You’re back to spreading “sex trafficking” myths again?  Make up your minds whose side you’re on, you sleazebags:

There are 20-30 million victims of human trafficking living in the world today.  These modern slaves cost an average $90-a-head…human trafficking is the third largest international crime industry, generating profits of around $32 billion each year…This January was National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month…we asked three organizations fighting trafficking about how things have progressed over the last few years, as well as what steps we can take to actually eradicate the practice…

This is your periodic reminder that one of the big wheels at Equality Now, one of the orgs included here, is a former prosecutor who resigned in disgrace after she was caught railroading innocent men for rape.

The Pro-Rape Coalition 

I’m not sure who’s stupider:  the idiots who claim that porn will replace whores, or this moron who claims that porn increases our business:

A Utah state senator is taking a stand against pornography, blaming skin flicks for creating a “sexually toxic environment,” increasing the demand for prostitution and ruining families.  Sen. Todd Weiler…is…asking that the state recognize that porn is creating a public health hazard…The politician [fantasized]…that porn was more addictive than powerful drugs, and the public needed to start seeing adult films as a national epidemic.  “I have read books and I have experts tell me pornography is more difficult to overcome than cocaine,” he said…He said he hopes to shift the public opinion on [pictures he doesn’t like] the same way it has on cigarettes…”These are scientific facts, just like global warming”…

A presume he envisions an anti-porn firewall around Salt Lake City, or something.

Surplus Women 

Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) mourns the death and honours the memory of Tammy Le…[who] was found dead early morning on January 23rd at a hotel in Hamilton [Ontario]…Following the murders of Jiali Zhang and Evelyn Bumatay Castillo, she is the third Asian sex worker in Hamilton and Mississauga to be murdered within the past two years.  Violence against Asian sex workers is a direct result of repressive laws and a climate of hatred towards sex workers and sex work…Since December…six sex workers – also members of Butterfly – have been arrested, detained or deported.  Sex workers with legal immigration status have been charged and harassed arbitrarily by city police.  These conditions encourage sex workers to work and live in isolation and to avoid mainstream services and protections.  They encourage a targeting of migrant sex workers and create a climate of impunity for predators who are aware of the vulnerabilities migrant sex workers face because of criminalization and their risk of deportation…

See No Evil 

A slight glimmer of sanity in the totally mad world of “child pornography” prosecution:

Jack Weinstein, a federal judge in New York City who for years has criticized penalties for…child pornography as excessively rigid and harsh, was recently called upon to sentence a man who had pleaded guilty to possessing two dozen photos and videos.  The federal sentencing guidelines recommended a prison term of six-and-a-half to eight years.  Instead Weinstein sentenced the defendant—identified by his initials, R.V.—to time served (five days), a fine, and seven years of supervised release.  “The applicable structure does not adequately balance the need to protect…juveniles…against the need to avoid excessive punishment, with resulting unnecessary cost to defendants’ families and the community, and the needless destruction of defendants’ lives,” Weinstein wrote in a 98-page explanation of his reasons for departing so dramatically from the guidelines…

They Still Don’t Get It

This truly bizarre article uses the arrest of two petty thieves who also did sex work as a springboard to launch into…well, see for yourself:

Chloe Marie Schutz…and Cynthia Leshay Reichow…were arrested Tuesday and charged with burglary.  Reichow was also charged with prostitution…prostitution in Idaho pale in comparison to neighboring states — in 2010, Utah reported 414 arrests for prostitution, Nevada documented 3,738 and Idaho reported 13…In September, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of three girls who sued Backpage.com after they were sold as prostitutes on the site*…More than 70,000 people are arrested for prostitution each year in the U.S., costing taxpayers an estimated $200 million.  Seventy percent are female prostitutes and madams, 20 percent are male prostitutes and pimps, and just 10 percent are johns, or clients.  About 40 percent of prostitutes are former child prostitutes who were illegally forced into the profession through human trafficking**…Sgt. Bryan Lovell…said drug use is common…[and fantasized that]…runaway girls…are pimped out and then dumped off in eastern Idaho…

*No, it didn’t.  **No, they aren’t.

Feeding On Their Own

Much more of this, please:

Migrant children in the government’s care were placed in U.S. homes and left vulnerable to human trafficking due to sometimes nonexistent screening by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a congressional report…HHS failed to run background checks on the adults in the sponsors’ households, failed to visit sponsors’ homes and failed to realize some sponsors were accumulating multiple unrelated children, which can be a sign of human trafficking.  Some lawmakers contend that the government weakened its child-protection policies as it was overwhelmed by tens of thousands of children crossing the border…HHS officials declined to fully answer many of the senators’ questions…saying they did not have the legal authority from Congress to follow up on the children…

Monsters Monica Loera

The nation’s first reported murder of a transgender person in 2016 is…Monica Loera of Austin [Texas]…Loera…was…reportedly involved in sex work…In the wake of her death, Loera was misgendered by both police and the media, referred to by masculine pronouns and her birth name…

Stupor Bowl

I figured I’d wind up this year’s “trafficking bowl” coverage with a couple of debunkings; the first one is from J.D. Tucille & quotes me directly:

…That term–not “prostitution,” but “trafficking”—is a deliberate choice, selected to confuse people…44 percent [of Americans now] favor…legalization of prostitution…That’s up from 38 percent…in 2012…Opponents of commercial sex find themselves on the wrong side of shifting public opinion, so they pull a little rhetorical sleight of hand to get around that inconvenient word “consensual”…”Coercion is much rarer than ‘trafficking’ fetishists pretend it is,” insists Reason contributor and former call girl Maggie McNeill.  “The term ‘trafficking’ is used to describe many different things along a broad spectrum running from absolutely coercive to absolutely not coercive, yet all of them are shoehorned into a lurid, melodramatic and highly-stereotyped narrative.”  Evidence for McNeill’s take is apparent in the difficulty authorities often have in convincing the trafficking “victims” they rescue that they’re in need of heroic intervention into their lives…And government officials and anti-trafficking activists are poised to rescue a wave of such trafficking “victims” when the Super Bowl comes to town.  Once they convince them that they’re victims, that is…

The other, from Dr. Marty Klein, (perhaps unintentionally) paraphrases me without attribution:

…Simple economics would explain why event-specific trafficking rarely happens: it makes no sense for traffickers to spend huge amounts of money dragging victims across the country, housing them, advertising for business, and charging reduced rates to undercut local prostitutes, all for a single weekend of illicit income—in a place crawling with law enforcement…

Check Your Premises (#422)

Under Swedish-flavored criminalization, underage boys are claimed to have more sexual agency than adult women of any age:

Visalia [California] police, working with the FBI…arrested eight suspected female prostitutes, along with their suspected pimp — a 17-year-old Fresno boy.  The women…range in age from 18 to 47…the teenage boy…[was] described as a pimp and “one of the main players in this operation”…some of the women appeared to be victims of human trafficking…they didn’t want to engage in prostitution but “they’re being forced by pimps to go that route”…the women were arrested [anyhow] because…they reportedly broke the law…

Consider that both these cops and the reporter parroting this idiocy are supposedly rational adults.

Eternal Vigilance

Until prohibition is itself outlawed, decriminalization of any consensual activity is at best a temporary respite:

The Labour Party’s “shock, horror” response to the exposure of a growing sex-for-rent trend amongst some landlords and tenants is ironic given Labour was [pivotal in achieving decriminalization in New Zealand]…says [an anti-sex worker] group…Stop Demand Foundation…notes that [politician Ruth] Dyson and her colleagues have been avid supporters of decriminalising and destigmatising the sale and purchase of sexual services…Stop Demand…supports the Nordic model of prostitution…and…notes that if New Zealand had followed the Nordic model…these landlords could be prosecuted [for consensual sexual arrangements]…

Choke Point (#593) 

Lux Alptraum on financial discrimination vs sex businesses:

…frustrated with the high rate of chargebacks related to porn sites (…likely due to shame-induced buyer’s remorse on the part of porn consumers), Visa and MasterCard made the decision to classify adult sites as “high risk,” and require anyone hoping to process payments for adult content to pay an upfront registration fee, plus annual renewal every year after…this might seem like nothing more than an annoying additional expense, one easily borne by any successful business.  But in practice, it provided payment processors with a license to discriminate against anyone working in sex—even in situations that have nothing to do with their work.  Shortly after the Visa/MasterCard announcement, PayPal announced that it would no longer be processing payments for anyone tied to sex…dig into the TOS of virtually any popular digital payment platform, and…you’ll find some sort of ban on adult content and services…There are mainstream payment processors are slightly more adult friendly…but oftentimes these processors are obscure, complicated to use, and much shadier than their competitors.  It can be difficult to get a client to connect their bank account to a payment platform they’ve never heard of, and it’s hard to feel comfortable using a service that could easily shut down overnight, taking whatever money that might be owed to you with them as they cut and run…

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[Prostitution law] is not about rationality or science or evidence.  It is just about ideology.  –  John Lowman

License to Rape

Cops don’t like it when non-cops poach on what they consider their territory:

Raul Antonio Ramos…could [be imprisoned]…for 50 years to life if he is convicted of [various rape-related felonies after]…he allegedly contacted [a sex worker]…in Anaheim…once inside [her room] he claimed to be a [cop], showed her his security-guard badge and threatened her with arrest if she did not have sex with him…He went on to forcibly rape the woman, using a GoPro video camera to record the entire incident…When Ramos tried to…orally [rape her]…she grabbed his keys and camera and ran out of the hotel room and down the street to a Joe’s Italian Ice shop to report the rape…Joseph Christoph Moore…of Anaheim, is [also] facing charges of  impersonating a cop and fondling two women in separate late November incidents…Moore approached a woman…whipped out a badge…told her to get against a wall, fondled her breasts and buttocks while “searching” her, pulled a handgun out of his waistband and warned her he would shoot her if she screamed.  In the second incident, he is accused of pressing a badge against a woman’s driver-side window, telling her she had expired tags…ordered her against a wall for a pat down and fondled her buttocks and inner thighs several times…Moore…could get life in prison if he is convicted…

Legal Is as Legal Does

Remember, sex work was re-legalized in Taiwan four years ago after ten years of US-style criminalization imposed due to pressure from Washington; however, it’s only “legal” in certain districts, of which none have been designated.  The result:

Authorities…cracked a prostitution ring operating in the Taipei area…officials probed possible links to international human traffickers in China and East Europe…18 people were arrested, including the two suspected leaders — 78-year-old Cheng Tsung-te (程崇德) and a 55-year-old woman surnamed Ku (顧)…Police officials [fantasized that] Cheng is…the “patriarch” of Taiwan’s underground sex trade with decades of insider experience…officials said that some of the alleged call girls were migrant workers from Southeast Asia who were under contract to work as home caregivers, but had run away…

They fled their “contracts” as caregivers to become sex workers, but it’s the latter which is supposedly “exploitative”.

Above the Law James Greene

A pretty typical case in all points:

…M’Leah…Hassan’s attorney Elton Richey claims former Shreveport [Louisiana cop] James Greene raped Hassan in his office in February after she came to the department to report harassing and threatening phone calls by a former boyfriend…The city of Shreveport and SPD are also accused of being negligent in its hiring, training and supervision of Greene…[who] was arrested and charged with abuse of office Feb. 13 and was fired from SPD Feb. 24…”They didn’t actually charge him with sexual assault,” Richey said. “I can’t…imagine the thinking that’s going on there.”  And now, 10 months later, the Caddo Parish District Attorney hasn’t brought the case to trial.  Richey said court dates are being pushed off and rescheduled…

Above the Law (#334)

You may recall that local “authorities” only wanted to charge the rapists with “accepting bribes”:

Two South Florida strippers claim in court that…Broward County [cops raped]…and threatened them after finishing their shift at a popular gentleman’s club…shortly after 4 a.m. on May 24, 2012…the City knew that [Franklin] Hartley and [Thomas] Merenda posed a threat to women, but still kept them on duty…

Traffic Circle

Pro-decriminalization articles are becoming much more common:

…the “rescue industry”…profits off the stigma of sex workers and…[collaborates with] the police, courts, and elected officials.  An instance of this is the ongoing pursuit of sex workers and clients who utilize…BackPage…By shutting down the websites that allow sex workers to manage their own business with a degree of autonomy, it would close a major revenue stream and give way to a return for those who victimize sex workers, the ranks of which have decreased with the rise of the internet…The [Providence] mayor’s call for more BackPage sting operations is especially disingenuous because, by painting all those who utilize the website as human trafficking victims or human traffickers, it creates no gradation or allowance for variety and exercise of constitutionally-protected rights…This type of state violence towards honest workers would be unacceptable in any other industry yet, because sexuality is involved in the equation, all existing norms of decency and respectability are ejected in the name of sensationalism…prohibition…forces sex workers to support the status quo of dissuading co-workers who want to work by any means necessary…After a sex worker is handed over to the rescue industry, they oftentimes find themselves forced into low-wage menial labor and subjected to puritanical ethics that prevent them from private access to the internet, sexual activity outside of marriage, and contact with former associates…

Harm Magnification (#427)

These articles are even more common in Canada:

Prostitution was dominating the headlines in the late 1970s when John Lowman was working on his PhD thesis.  Police raids of nightclubs in Vancouver and massage parlours in Toronto had pushed prostitutes onto the streets and Lowman thought he could use the crackdown on prostitution in his thesis on the impact of police behaviour on crime patterns…Over the decades…Lowman (now a Simon Fraser University criminologist)…found out what happened to prostitutes on the street and described the dangers they face [in] government reports and academic journals.  And he was flabbergasted by the callous indifference among top policy-makers as the number of deaths began to mount…Lowman is edging into retirement, and is still troubled by the abject failure of public policy to protect street prostitutes.  Policy-makers now have the benefit of more than 30 years of research-based evidence from across the country on violence against prostitutes as well as a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that focused on the barriers to safety that were created by the law.  But the provisions of the Criminal Code still compromise the safety of prostitutes…

Not an Addiction (#443)

an unnamed 28-year-old man from Siberia is suing…because he became “addicted” to Fallout 4…he planned to play the game a few nights each week but ended up on a three-week binge that resulted in the loss of his job.  He claims he was so addicted that he couldn’t even make time to eat or sleep.  Oh, and his wife left him.  Now, he is seeking around $7,000…for emotional distress…[saying] that if he knew the game could become so addictive, he…either wouldn’t have bought it or would have saved it until he was on vacation…the case is largely being viewed as a test in Russia as there haven’t been any like it before…such claims aren’t new.  In 2010, Craig Smallwood from Hawaii sued [the] Lineage II maker…after logging more than 20,000 hours in the game…Amazingly enough, Smallwood won his case…

Subtle Pimping (#503) Assassin's Creed image

Positive portrayals of sex workers are becoming more common in video games:

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s new Jack The Ripper expansion is a compelling if rough-edged remix of the base game that cleverly works in one of history’s most famous killers.  It pulls off another trick, too, going to extraordinary lengths to engender empathy for a group of people who don’t get much of it in video games: prostitutes…

An Example to the West (#544)

In Nicaragua, sex workers have been trained as peer educators in legal matters.  In Mozambique, it’s health matters:

In 2011, [Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)] began distributing condoms and giving lectures about HIV treatment in [Southeast Africa]…So that no person working in the sex industry on the route between Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi has to stop [HIV] treatment when moving to other cities for work, MSF created the Corridor Project, which provides medicine along the way…the project also includes education and awareness training, especially for sex workers…“But we still had a hard time reaching out to sex workers, who were afraid to face our team, due to the severe discrimination that they often suffer here.  We needed someone who was able to create a link between sex workers and Doctors Without Borders [MSF],” says [Humberto] Jassitene [of MSF].  The Peer Educator program…is made up of women who are sex workers at night but double as health workers for MSF during the day…

Checklist (#562)

Everyone’s hurrying to cash in on “sex trafficking” hysteria before the bubble collapses:

…Apps aimed at fighting human trafficking…are emerging as social entrepreneurs attempt to use technology to battle what they see as the forces of evil.  A group of government agencies and private foundations calling themselves Partnership for Freedom has set up a competition with the not-so-catchy name “Rethink Supply Chains” challenge.  What is grabbing attention is $500,000 in prize money that will be awarded for the best technology solutions to combat the use of slave labor…LaborVoices, a Sunnyvale, California-based venture, is entering the challenge with an app that allows workers to [snitch] simply and anonymously using a voice activated smartphone app…Made in a Free World, for example, created the Slavery Footprint app that generates estimates of an individual’s reliance on slave labor from data on trafficked human…the…challenge will pick as many as five finalists next month and award them $20,000 each to build a prototype.  The winner will be announced in April.

Quite Possibly the Most Uptight Nerd Ever (#563)

So a reporter from Vice contacted a couple of escorts who use the German hooker app, Peppr, and interviewed them.  There are no surprises here, but you may find it interesting.

Seizing Power (#597)

Hey Breitbart:  swallowing the government’s “sex trafficking” propaganda makes you its stooges:

…Dart claimed that his effort was part of a crackdown on criminal sex traffickers who “prey on the weak and vulnerable.”  He argued that the use of credit cards in the “violent” sex industry “implies an undeserved credibility and sense of normalcy” to illegal transactions and increases the demand for “women and girls” who are often supplied through “coercion and violence”.  But the announcement outraged so-called “sex workers” across the globe, who said they were losing a convenient way to get paid…

Yes, they actually said “so-called ‘sex workers'”.

Innocence Never Had (#598)

Do these people really imagine that one basket full of ham and bog rolls will convince women to give up their jobs?

A group of volunteers spent their Saturday morning spreading Christmas cheer in Lake Charles [Louisiana]…”We are going to the areas that there is a lot of sex trafficking,” said Shawn Cardin…Founder of “I Am Loved”…[which harasses]…women in the sex trade industry…”We try to love everybody for Christmas,” said Cardin.  They came armed with food like frozen turkeys or ham and fresh fruits.  They also had house baskets filled with simple toiletries…”But more than anything we encourage and uplift these people”…

Also note that for the most part, “sex trafficking” has become nothing more than an especially-ugly dysphemism for sex work.

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Many use their hands, others use their brains.  We use our vaginas to work.  –  Mónica Lencina

The Red Umbrella 

Katherine Koster of SWOP published this list of “17 Facts About Sexual Violence and Sex Work” as a lead-up to December 17th.   Most of my readers are probably familiar with all or at least most of these already, but it’s important to remind the general public; furthermore, it’s good to see that Huffington Post seems to be slowly distancing itself from anti-whore propaganda and is publishing a lot more pro-sex-worker-rights articles in the past year or so.Mark Benavides

Droit du Seigneur

a…client of Mark H. Benavides, a San Antonio lawyer, accused Benavides of having sex with her in an empty room in the Bexar County Courthouse during her intoxication manslaughter trial.  Benavides claimed that she was lying and upset because she was sentenced to 15 years in prison on the manslaughter charge…after the first victim spoke up, others came forward.  The first was a prostitute who said that after their first encounter in 2005, he offered his services as a lawyer.  She…always paid for his legal services with sex, never with money.  She stopped in 2012, and Benavides reminded her that he had videotape of their sexual encounters.  Another victim said that she met Benavides repeatedly for sex…[because she] was afraid that if she refused, Benavides would, based on his good relationship with the judge, hurt her case.  The final victim did not have money to pay Benavides, so he had her meet him every Tuesday at a motel.  When she didn’t show one time, he went to court and withdrew the attorney bond he had posted for her, which resulted in her being arrested…Benavides was arrested and charged with three counts of Compelling Prostitution…[which is] much easier to prove [than rape]…

Bell, Hook and Kettle

Though the reporter of course believes in the Salvation Army’s propaganda and doesn’t think to investigate the truth about the religious group’s anti-whore and anti-queer crusades, this puff piece contains some useful statistics:

…fliers featuring people’s mouths sealed with duct tape have gone up on targeted street corners and inside women’s restrooms — one of the few places where victims of sex trafficking might find privacy…82 cents of every dollar dropped into the kettle goes to helping people in need.  The holiday fundraising campaign generates nearly 70 percent of the funds used to provide services year-round…

There’s no telling what fraction of that 82% goes to hate campaigns, but you can bet it’s substantial.

Legal Is as Legal Does

Despite the moronic headline, this isn’t a bad article:

Ammar, the Argentinean union of prostitutes…set up a tent in front of Congress to request a new law that would allow them to access the same benefits enjoyed by other independent workers…Argentinean law does not ban prostitution. Each province, however, regulates it differently. In most cases, regulation is so rigorous that offering sexual services is virtually forbidden. For example, in San Juan…public…offer [of] sex services…[can be penalized by] up to 20 days in prison.More often than not, the legislation that is [pretended] to protect sex workers has the opposite effect…The prevailing government view…is to [pretend that] all sex workers [are] victims of human trafficking….

Profit from Panic 

Can you imagine a real “pimp” putting as much thought into it as these people put into their BDSM fantasies?

With the holiday’s [sic] right around the corner, you might be searching for that perfect, unique gift that give’s [sic] back to your local community.  Emily Mahoney and Lauren Carpenter are producing…handcrafted jewelry…that is…helping to end human trafficking in Tennessee…The women started Branded Collective, a collection of metal cuffs and jewelry, a few years ago.  Twenty-five percent of the proceeds…goes to…End Slavery Tennessee…Each cuff is “branded” with a little initial of the woman who helped to make it, and with a number.  Many victims of human trafficking are branded with tattoos or numbers. “Branding is a way of depersonalizing the human…and identifying them as…something you can buy and sell that’s disposable”…said Emily.  You can visit their website to read the story of the survivor that branded your one of a kind cuff…

Blunt Instrument

Attention, useful idiots: making it easier for cops to get search warrants is never a good idea, even if they pretend it’s to “fight” something you dislike:

Houston’s City Council passed…an ordinance that aims to help [cops close down]…massage establishments…that may be a front for prostitution…[by expanding] the legal definition of a massage establishment.  The change will allow the [cops to raid any place they declare a massage establishment]…”[Blah blah blah] human trafficking,” explained Minal Patel Davis, special advisor to the mayor on human trafficking…The change…will also make it easier for [cops to get rubber-stamped] search warrants…

Monsters 

[A] trans woman…lost her life in…Istanbul [on December 2nd]…Alev…was stabbed in her heart by a man who approached her as a client…police called on a couple of her friends for further investigation…There was another transphobic hate crime ten days ago in…Istanbul.  The victim was a young trans woman…[named] Nilay…[who] was stabbed several times and strangled with a bathrobe cord…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#407)

SCIENCE!!!

…Last year, the Journal of Religion and Health published an article linking schizophrenia to demonic possession based on the claims of a single faith healer.  Now, they’ve published new research…which claims that consuming…sexual media may have “a negative impact on learning second language vocabulary.”  Want to learn German? Better avoid sexy music videos and denim commercials, the study suggests.  “Aside from dire consequences in the afterlife, viewing sexual media can have a detrimental effect on human learning and memory in this life,” it concludes.  Yakup Çetin, the study’s author and a foreign language education professor at Faith University in Istanbul…[said] he…”[finds his own] study objective”…the [sexual material]  included the trailer for the Pitt-Jolie action flick Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the music video for “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias, and a television commercial for Mavi Jeans…


Property of the State 

Prison sentences for these women can be as much as 40 years“:

The Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court has reinstated the country’s total ban on abortion, including cases in which a pregnant woman’s life is at risk.  [Last December] Dominican President Danilo Medina approved measures decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape, incest, and fetal deformity, as well as situations where the mother’s life would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term.  The reforms were set to take effect December 19, 2015.  But religious and socially conservative groups appealed, arguing in court that the country’s constitution protects the rights of “unborn children” from the moment of conception…the country’s total abortion ban puts girls and women at risk by prompting pregnant women to visit black-market abortion doctors and forcing them to give birth even when it’s physically  dangerous…Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras also ban abortion in all circumstances…

Now They Notice

I find articles which pretend that Rentboy was fundamentally different from sites on which female escorts advertize to be utterly infuriating, especially when they strongly imply that male sex workers are entrepreneurs while women like me are passive victims:

…Arrangements made through Rentboy were between consenting adults. David Bimbi, professor of health sciences…drew a clear distinction between this business and other illegal activities.  According to Bimbi, many of the arguments against sex work — that it promotes pimping, sex trafficking and exploits minors — “fly out the window” when it comes to Rentboy, which was a site where adults self-advertised to other adults.”  Recently, Meryl Streep, Lena Dunham, Rashida Jones and other celebrities joined with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women to decry Amnesty International’s proposed recommendation to decriminalize sex work.  The coalition claimed Amnesty’s proposal would “advocate the legalization of pimping.”  Rentboy, Bimbi said, is a completely different situation…Since the raids, many sex workers have organized to battle sex worker stigma…

Danny Cruz and Conner Habib try to set writer Mathew Rodriguez straight, but he seems to think gay dudes just invented sex worker rights in the past few months.

Uncommon Sense (#572)

Sonja Dolinsek on the awfulness of German prostitution law “reform”:

After two years of negotiations, the German Federal Ministry for Families, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth shared its second draft of a new prostitution law…the 2002 law, widely decried as “legalizing prostitution” and blamed for an increase in human trafficking, has never been fully implemented.  But that hasn’t stopped politicians and the media from loading blame for the supposed catastrophic state of sex workers in Germany onto these three paragraphs – using the law to score easy points with the public.  Few in Germany or abroad questioned the idea that the law had led to an explosion of human trafficking…But nobody bothered to fact-check the claim of increased trafficking.  If they had, they would have found that that sex work had been legal long before 2002, and that human trafficking has actually been steadily decreasing…

Social Autoimmune Disorder (#592)

Well, gee, this is SO MUCH better:

…The “John letters motion” was approved by the city council…and LAPD officers can presumably start recording license plate numbers and sending letters to the registered owners’ homes immediately.  But the media got one thing wrong: there’s no plan to use automated license plate readers to scan every license plate that goes through the neighborhood to shoot the drivers scarlet letters.  And…Los Angeles is not the only city to have this idea…But even without the Orwellian license plate reader element, there are legitimate concerns around guilt premised on an idling car…

Fallen Idol

Melissa Gira Grant interviewed a number of porn actors & actresses on the James Deen affair:

…That chorus of voices that followed Stoya’s shook the porn industry…and now the public is hearing…about the particular structural problems the porn industry contends with, and the persistent and pernicious idea that sex workers are by definition unrapeable…Arabelle Raphael…said…“A lot of people knew…And some people had really good experiences with him, but that doesn’t mean anything.”  Performers let each other know what they had heard about Deen…two people [previously told her to]…put James Deen on your ‘no’ list” – the performers she would not do scenes with…eight other women have also gone public. Tori Lux, Ashley Fires, Amber Rayne, Kora Peters, Nicki Blue, Lily LaBeau, and a woman writing as T.M., all say Deen has assaulted them, too. In the aftermath of those allegations, Deen’s career is crumbling…

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