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Posts Tagged ‘If It Were Legal’

Human trafficking is the new charge du jour.  –  Brian Thompson

Anatomy of a Boondoggle arrested Thai sex workers

Just in case you thought cops raping whores in order to arrest them was mostly a US thing:

…Sa…is from Laos and…[has] been arrested many times, mostly when a police officer who had been her client had informed on her…”They took me out…and…had sex with me.  Next thing I knew I was arrested and sent home”…the superintendent of Udon Thani city police, said the law specifically mentioned that to make an arrest for prostitution…the sex worker has to be caught in the act…Nid is from a Karen hill tribe village and is considered a “star” hostess at a bar in Chiang Mai.  Like Sa, she was “lured” to her arrest by a police officer who was a client…Chantawipa Apisuk, the director of Empower who has been working with sex workers for more than 30 years, said the methods the police used to secure an arrest are unacceptable…in Nid’s case…police produced marked banknotes allegedly handed over to her and a used condom as evidence…

License to Rape

Cops raping sex workers is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

A Brooklyn jury…convicted a sexual predator for the rape and robbery of a prostitute while pretending to be a [cop]…Jason Forgetta flashed a fake police badge to a female sex worker who stopped his car…on July 30, 2014…The 26-year-old victim agreed to go with Forgetta to [her incall]…when he told her she was under arrest…Forgetta…shoved the woman against the wall, put a pillow over her head and raped her…[he then] told the woman to take a shower to “wash all the DNA” off…[and] stole her wallet, cellphone and underwear.  As he fled the scene, the woman ran after him and wrote down [his] license plate [number]…Forgetta…was convicted in 2004 for committing the same…crime.  He was sentenced to three years in prison in that case…

Lack of Evidence

This is pretty typical of the level of “evidence” in sex work trials:

A woman accused of running a brothel out of a Baltimore County massage parlor was acquitted of all charges…Di Zhang…was found not guilty…of 15 offenses, including human trafficking and prostitution…”There was very little evidence in the case,” said Zhang’s attorney, Brian Thompson…the state had one witness who worked at the business and claimed Zhang was running it…But when police kept watch at the business for several weeks, they only observed Zhang there once…to drop off some medication for the witness…Thompson said police were targeting Zhang after a previous case…Police wrote in charging documents that Zhang “continues to run illegal massage parlors without fear of the police or court systems”…

The Proper Study

This is, of course, obvious to sex workers, but it’s nice to see academics discovering it:

Most migrant sex workers are satisfied with their working conditions in Australia…Despite growing fears about human trafficking…the vast majority are content to be working in massage parlours and brothels for a satisfactory income, and that there is little evidence of widespread sex slavery.  The Australian Institute of Criminology and the Scarlet Alliance (Australian Sex Workers Association) surveyed 594 sex workers across Australia, 412 of whom were migrants. Most were female, with only 17 male and eight transgender respondents…One in five were married; one in three were parents; and while a small number had little to no education, the majority were highly educated. About one third said they did not speak English well…

The Punitive Mindset (#337)

Some countries…make condoms available to prisoners, while others cite security issues, or blanket prohibitions of sex…Even in places where condoms are available, guards sometimes limit distribution as a form of control.  In the medical journal The Lancetresearchers at Johns Hopkins cite this as one factor in the spread of infectious diseases in prisons…at rates far exceeding those in the communities from which they came.  Of more than 10 million incarcerated people in the U.S. alone, 4 percent have HIV, 15 percent have hepatitis C, and 3 percent have active tuberculosis.  These diseases are part of our criminal justice system, then, metered out and sanctioned implicitly by the state.  The penal system is also a primary reason that these diseases can’t be eliminated globally…The scale of the problem is due to the fact that so many people are incarcerated in the first place, which [researcher Chris] Beyrer traces to the war on drugs…

Paint By Numbers po-faced twits folding paper

Even in the world of stupid “sex trafficking” publicity stunts, this one is painfully stupid:

A piece of blue paper folded into the shape of a crane bird is a traditional symbol of origami.  In Japan, it’s believed that 1,000 of those symbolise hope, love, honour, and peace.  It’s also believed that if you have the patience to fold 1,000 pieces, your most desired wish will come true.  UCC student Laura Pauwels’s wish is to bring hope to survivors of and people affected by human trafficking.  And so she’s enlisted the help of Corkonians to make that wish come true — together, they will fold 1,000 blue cranes to make a stand against the illegal act…

Traffic Circle

Here’s a long, thorough debunking of “sex trafficking” hysteria by Brittany Turner of SWOP-Shreveport:

In the past year, local broadcast and print media have covered numerous stories regarding the perils of sex trafficking in Shreveport, without exercising due diligence to accurately assess the reality of this problem or the efficacy of anti-trafficking programs. This coverage often excludes key stakeholders from the conversation: sex workers themselves. Instead, the coverage frequently relies on inaccurate data and anecdotal evidence, corralling those who have chosen to work in the sex industry under the umbrella of “trafficking victims,” effectively silencing the voice of many sex workers…

Devil’s Advocate

As usual, the government’s using someone accused of especially nasty crimes to undermine liberty for everyone:

A Dallas, Texas man accused of prostituting underage girls was secretly ordered by a federal judge to unlock his iPhone using his fingerprint, according to federal court documents that are now unsealed…Experts also warned these demands [will] probably not [be interpreted by cop-worshiping courts as] a breach of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination…The authorities were unable to access the phone’s contents…[because] if a iPhone [sic] that has been fingerprint enabled has not been used for at least 48 hours, both the password and fingerprint are required to unlock it…Martavious Banks Keys…is charged with one count of sex trafficking of children…He allegedly forced two girls, ages 14 and 15, to have sex with men who paid him $150 a session…One girl told authorities that Keys made her perform anal sex when her vagina was bleeding from abuse…

Counter-Countermeasure

I’m not really sure why this article is discussing a two-year-old study as if it’s new, but I really don’t care.  All that’s important is that more and more mainstream media are presenting information that debunks “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…The results contradict some of the most common stereotypes we have about sex trafficking and sex work.  For example, only 14 percent of female New York respondents said that they worked for a pimp, and in New Jersey that number was just 13 percent including males and females; 47 percent in New Jersey said that they didn’t even know a pimp.  Most reported that they had not been introduced to sex work by a stranger at all, but rather by a family member or family friend, and most said that they were not forced into sex work by any one person, but rather because of a lack of housing, or money, or that they couldn’t get by on low-paying jobs.  The…research also calls into question the narrative of helpless girls and violent pimps who throw them into hotel-brothels…Busting the myths matters, because we pass laws and make policies that don’t help the people who need it most…

The More the Better (#544)

I’d be much happier with an article doing something like this for escorting, since there are literally thousands of escorts for every Nevada brothel worker.  However, every little bit helps to undermine the “sin and degradation” narrative:

Insatiably curious about what the process for becoming a legal, full-time sex worker might look like, I couldn’t help but wonder how a person even begins to go about working at a place like one of Nevada’s brothels.  Did someone like me have what it takes to become the object of another person’s desire?  Well, one cursory Google search later later, I discovered these places actually have online applications for employment!  And that is how I ended up applying for a job at Sheri’s Ranch…

Property of the State (#640) 

It’s impossible to overstate how important this reversal is:

The Indiana Court of Appeals…overturned the 2015 feticide conviction of Purvi Patel…In a 3-0 ruling, the judges said that the state feticide statute was not intended to apply to abortions, and legal experts said that…it should give Indiana prosecutors pause before bringing similar charges against pregnant women in the future…the court relied heavily on how prosecutors have applied the feticide law in the past, noting that this case was an “abrupt departure” from its typical usage:  cases in which a pregnant woman and her unborn child are the victims of violence…It stopped short of clearing her of any criminal responsibility…upholding a lower-level felony neglect conviction for failing to provide medical care to the baby, who medical experts testified was alive and breathing after birth…

If It Were Legal (#656)

I’m rather skeptical of the claimed disparity here, but at least they’re not pretending the escorts flocked from out of town for the conference:

It’s been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland…Republican National Convention attendees…are clamoring for their services.  “Business has been way better. I’ve seen 10 clients so far,” one male escort said…Another escort said he had already earned $1,600 since Monday — over six times the amount he usually makes…But ladies of the night weren’t reaping the same benefits…females for hire said they’re making much less money than normal…

To Molest and Rape (#657)

And please don’t think South Africa is any worse than the US in this respect:

More than 400 sex workers reported cases of abuse at the hands of the police between 2011 and 2015, according to a Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) report on cases of physical assault‚ rape‚ harassment and unlawful arres…414 sex workers reported 682 instances of abuse‚ mostly harassment and verbal abuse at the hands of the police.  Almost 20% of those who reported police abuse said they had been physically assaulted and 3% said they had been sexually assaulted…

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When something goes wrong, we never call [the cops]…we know they will arrest us.  –  Maria, a Romanian sex worker in London

Check Your Premises

Florida cops claim to be “helping” marginalized women by brutalizing them and giving them criminal records which will make them forever ineligible for on-the-books jobs:

Seven women have been arrested in a prostitution operation along US 19 in Pasco County…Many of the women have been arrested before for the same crime…Captain Chris Beaman…said prostitutes lead dangerous lives, sometimes targeted by serial killers or human traffickers…Beaman said business owners are afraid of becoming victims of crimes themselves…

The article goes on to say that some business owners are “elated” at the pogrom, which is exactly why we now live in a police state.

Across the Pond

Is anyone really surprised by the fact that young migrant women bear the brunt of police harassment under a system which declares them infantile “victims”?

…Between 2010 and 2014, the number of young women [18 to 25] the police arrested in London for prostitution-related crime nearly trebled…The increase contrasts with steep falls in the number of arrests of men and across all the other ages for crimes related to prostitution…Laura Watson, from the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), calls the rise in arrests of young women “horrifying…The police use public concern for young people’s wellbeing to justify targeting and ‘saving’ young people from working as sex workers by arresting them…No alternatives are given, just criminalization”…treating young prostitutes as victims does more harm than good…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

When will lawheads learn that whores cannot be made to vanish by proclamation?

Thailand’s…sex industry is under fire, with the tourism minister [fantasizing she can] rid the country of its ubiquitous brothels and a spate of police raids in recent weeks…Those who work in the industry say curbs on commercial sex services would hurt a flagging economy…Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul played down the role of the sex industry in drawing visitors…”We want Thailand to be about quality tourism. We want the sex industry gone,” she said…

Would somebody from Las Vegas care to school the minister on the likely outcome of her Disneyfication fantasy?

If It Were Legal (#27)

Let’s hope this myth is dead, or at least nearly so, by the next election:

As thousands prepare to descend on Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, a coalition is helping spread the word about a crime that often accompanies large gatherings…Experts say trafficking tends to spike around large-scale events…”It’s definitely a concern,” Hugh OrganMoe the bartender, associate executive director at Covenant House PA, said…”But it’s not anything like the Super Bowl.”  The Super Bowl is the top human trafficking event in the United States, Organ said…

Of course, other people whose names don’t sound like something Bart Simpson would ask Moe the Bartender to page are saying similar things about Republicans:

…The top strip clubs in Cleveland, Ohio, are all preparing for the inevitable influx of horny, cash-flinging Republican out-of-towners who will drop by during next week’s GOP convention…A huge gathering of drunk, lustful Republicans—much like drunk, lustful Democrats, or drunk, lustful registered independents, or drunk, lustful Green Party members—is sure to be great for business…Jeff Kallam, general manager at the Crazy Horse Cleveland strip club…insists…“Republicans love strippers, so we’re just hoping to make some money”…

Traffic Jam (#29)

“Pimp” classification schemes are some of the most painfully stupid tropes of this whole panic:

…The Empower Youth Program…[has] identified five “disguises” that a person looking to exploit someone may take on to gain trust.
1 – Pretender — Someone who pretends to be something s/he is not, such as a boyfriend, a big sister, a father, etc.
2 – Provider — Someone who offers to take care of an individual’s needs, such as for clothes, food, a place to live, etc or their wants, like cool cell phones, purses, parties, etc.
3 – Promiser — Someone who promises access to great things, like an amazing job, a glamorous lifestyle, travel, etc.
4 – Protector — Someone who uses physical power or intimidation to protect (but also control) an individual.
5 – Punisher — Someone who uses violence and threats to control an individual. When the previous disguises have been exhausted, an exploitative person often becomes a Punisher to maintain control…

King of the Hill

If interstate highways are so dangerous, why aren’t prohibitionists calling for them to be banned?

The internet makes commercial sex largely invisible, but northeast Wisconsinites need only pull up a map and draw a line down Interstate 41 to see where much of it happens.  The corridor of cities along I-41 — Milwaukee, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton and Green Bay — is not only convenient for those working the sex trade, but is another form of control for a pimp, since women and girls who don’t feel familiar with their surroundings are less likely to flee.  “It’s a major thoroughfare,” said Carl Waterstreet, a [moron with a penchant for stating the obvious]…

Torture Chamber

Calling a prison an “immigration centre” doesn’t make it any less of a prison:

The Home Office is refusing to reveal if any female detainees have been sexually assaulted or raped inside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre…A member of staff reportedly told a newspaper that “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests” of people involved with Yarl’s Wood such as Serco, the private company that runs the facility…

Schadenfreude (#434) 

Super-ally Anne Elizabeth Moore has published a new book, collecting her comic-strip-format exposes of the deep connection between the rescue and garment industries:

…The through line of Threadbare is that, due to a combination of US trade policies with developing nations…and cultural restrictions on women working outside the home, the garment industry is the only legal job available to the majority of women in the world.  But…when there are no other legal job opportunities…women will do what they can to get by…So, where the garment trade exists, there is generally a healthy sex trade as well, and it’s often tolerated or legal until the US steps in and criminalizes it, often as a rider in trade deals.  These are presented as “anti-trafficking” measures…the garment industry supports the arrests of, and finances the supposed rehabilitation of, women who leave the garment trade, forcing them to return to these low-paying, high-risk jobs that more often than not include a likelihood of sexual exploitation…

Little Boxes (#504) whore in denial

Sex workers who pretend they aren’t are almost as bad as prohibitionists:

There’s been plenty written about the Power of Human Touch…That’s the concept of the professional cuddling company Snuggle Buddies…Professional cuddling is not meant to be sexual.  It’s a point [Lisa] VanArsdale can’t emphasize enough, though she seems aware of the fact that clients may not fully understand, even when respecting the rules…The Snuggle Buddies website addresses these rules plainly in the contract its clients must agree to electronically.  Clothes are required, sexual requests are forbidden, and anyone who doesn’t abide by the cuddling contract—even with rogue questions asked via email—is blacklisted…Strip clubs and prostitutes offer the fulfillment of more promiscuous desires, anyway…

Every sex worker has some kinds of physical contact she won’t allow; having an especially long and/or strict list doesn’t magically make you into a non-whore.

What a Week! (#648)

It’s a “shock”, except to people who habitually go through life with their heads outside of their own rectal cavities:

Dr Emily Cooper…carried out dozens of interviews…which she said “smashed” her preconceived ideas about massage parlours…and how they affect people’s lives…“They evoke feelings of safety and security via their often 24-hour presence, they are distractions from the mundane hours of work, they contribute economically via the use of taxi services and other amenities for clients and sex workers, and finally, a role that is never reported, the sex workers are also neighbours and friends who ‘put the bins out like everybody else’”…

Guinea Pigs (#650) 

If you think that American whores don’t have to worry about prohibitionist nuns as our Irish sisters have to, think again:

Through a $100,000 matching grant the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph has helped the Exchange Initiative and two developers create TraffickCam, an app that helps [cops hunt down sex workers like animals]…TraffickCam allows anyone with a smartphone to help [expand universal surveillance] by uploading photos of hotel rooms when they travel…Sex [workers sometimes] post photos of [themselves] in hotel rooms in their online advertisements.  [Cops] can use these…to find [sex workers to arrest]…

Traffic in Nonsense (#651)

NPR is a hotbed of empty-headed prohibitionism, so it was only a matter of time before they lauded “Truckers Against Trafficking”:

…”Trafficking happens everywhere,” [Kylla] Lanier says. “It’s happening in homes, in conference centers, at schools, casinos, truck stops, hotels, motels, everywhere.  You know, it’s an everywhere problem, but truckers happen to be everywhere.”  And these days TAT stickers, wallet cards and posters — showing a phone number for a sex trafficking hotline — are becoming ubiquitous in the trucking industry.  TAT [indoctrinates] drivers to try to spot sullen, hopeless-looking children, teens and young adults.  Perhaps they’re wearing revealing clothing, or maybe have tattoos like bar codes or men’s names that might indicate ownership…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#653) 

Pro-censorship loon wants parents to panic about “artificial necrophilia”. I am not making this up:

…Internet pornography is a real problem for the 66 million American parents with children under 18.  Parents don’t have to believe that such material is a direct cause of sexual violence to be driven a little crazy by it.  It’s bad enough that it’s giving our sons and daughters some very creepy ideas about how they’re supposed to look and act…Two bills passed by Congress to restrict minors’ access to pornography over the past two decades were struck down by the Supreme Court because they infringed on adults’ First Amendment rights…In addition to making pornography hard to contain, the internet is making it weirder and weirder…The fetish that’s trending right now…is necrophilia — “artificial snuff films”…I…don’t want my preteens watching actors having sex with corpses, even fake corpses, before they’ve begun to date…

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There’s never been a rational argument against the legalization of prostitution, and as far as I know there never will be.  –  J.R. Ireland

Where Are the Victims?

Irish judges just love stealing sex workers’ money and giving it to our worst enemies:

Two Hungarian women working as prostitutes in Ireland described their brothel keeper as a “second mother” and a friend…Diana Karacsony (aged 32) was ordered to pay €10,000…to Ruhama…Detective Garda David Kenny told…[the court] that there was no evidence that any of the 25 Hungarian…prostitutes were trafficked, coerced or “anything other than willing”…

If It Were Legal

The girls who did this better hope no other sex workers ever learn their names:

…Lydia…was…outed by a tabloid as a part-time sex worker, a situation which cost her a public-sector career and lost her friends…[she] says the [Lord] Sewel [scandal] “feels like a betrayal”.  Sex workers already have a lot to contend with…and client trust is something they need to rely on…“It’s like a doctor-patient relationship.  That’s why people pay good money to see us.  Outing a client goes against…[our] ethical code”…Sinead [says] “Client-sex-worker confidentiality is something almost sacred”…

Divided We Fall

Another good essay urging queer folk to support sex worker rights, this one from Hawk Kinkaid:

…While it’s great that gay men and lesbians are building wedding registries…and openly holding hands…many of our most high profile spokespeople risk encouraging a spineless edit of history…We must challenge our collective desire to strip a story that subverts a normative way of seeing the world.  We as LGBT individuals and allies must tap our recent tragedies and triumphs to prevent our own story from disappearing into the exact same narrative most embraced by the bigots who used that norm against us…Conversations about [Stonewall] selectively ignore significant components of the rioters’ identities, often…excluding the fact that many of these individuals were hustlers and street workers…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

It’s funny, but the marketing for this movie makes it look more like a lurid drama than like the fantasy it is.  Because surely, everyone knows that there’s no such thing as an “addiction to escorts”, right? RIGHT???Jeromie Palaoro

Above the Law 

As often as we hear of incidents like this, I’ll bet they’re only a fraction of the ones that actually occur:

A Portland [cop named Jeromie Palaoro] is on paid [vacation] and under criminal investigation after a woman accused him of demanding sex acts and a massage…The…victim, a…relationship and sex coach, says she was trying to report details of an alleged assault at the time…Roni Reid-James…was staying at a hotel…while visiting her boyfriend.  She…called police on him [after he]…attacked her at his mother’s home on July 4…Palaoro, one of the officers who responded, called and texted her late that night…then showed up at her hotel room around 3:30 a.m…pulled out his gun and set it on a table…then took off all his clothes and ordered her to massage him…staying in the hotel room for seven hours…he [also]…groped her and asked for sexual favors…

because very often, this is what happens at trial:Oscar Araiza

A…Dallas [cop]…facing 20 years in prison after he…[raped] a woman who had passed out on his couch was offered a plea deal…that spared him any jail time or having to register as a sex offender…if Oscar Araiza does not get arrested for another five years…the conviction will be wiped off his record…Araiza…maintains the sex was consensual, even though the woman ran out of his home at 3:30 a.m. and called police, accusing him of rape.  Araiza, who had scratches on his arms and neck, claimed the woman assaulted him after agreeing to have sex with him…

Law of the Instrument (#20)

Remember the guy who was charged with “sex trafficking” because he dragged a girl off of her bicycle in a rape attempt?

Ireland is using anti-trafficking laws to prosecute crimes unrelated to trafficking…The Trafficking in Persons Report…said there were no convictions for sex or labour trafficking in Ireland last year and urged the Government to do more to identify victims.  It found that…the State…“continued to prosecute a high number of non-trafficking crimes as trafficking cases, including child molestation cases”…

But the US never prosecutes as “trafficking” things that don’t involve coercion, no sirree!

Worse Than I Thought

The Polaris Project says the more laws, and the more broad and carceral those laws are, the better:

…The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that 381 individuals were arrested…on human trafficking charges from Jan. 1, 2007, to Aug. 31, 2014, and 484 were arrested for pushing [?] prostitution…47 of these individuals have been convicted of human trafficking and 124 have been convicted for compelling prostitution…98 individuals were incarcerated in Texas prisons for convictions of either…The FBI has long identified Interstate 10 as a significant corridor when it comes to trafficking…

Obfuscation Via Dysphemisms

Yes, they actually sent a SWAT team after whores:

Six people were arrested and at least a dozen others were detained…when Tulsa police and the FBI conducted a room-to-room raid at a Tulsa motel believed to be the home of a large-scale drug and prostitution operation…[a cop mouthpiece] said…“Given the high-risk nature of the warrant, the Tulsa Police Special Operations Team (SOT) was used to clear each of the rooms”…

Checklist

This one’s hilarious even by CNN’s low standards:

…Airports are…hubs for human trafficking…But…by being aware of the telltale signs that someone is being trafficked, you may be able to keep them from a life of modern slavery…do not confront suspected traffickers or attempt to rescue suspected victims — instead…alert the airport authorities….victims may be less well dressed than their companions…a barcode tattoo, or a tattoo with “Daddy” or even a man’s name could be a red flag that the person is a victim…A child being trafficked for sexual exploitation may be dressed in a sexualized manner, or seem to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol…

Fetishists simultaneously believe that “pimps” have magical mind-control powers, and that they’re so stupid they create these obvious “telltale signs”.

Sex RaysExxxotica

Readers inclined to claustrophobia should probably refrain from thinking too much about the smallness and narrowness of these people’s minds:

The EXXXOTICA Expo is…”the largest adult event in the USA dedicated to love and sex”…but the venue is the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center — run by the City of Dallas — and that has some unhappy…The Dallas Women’s Foundation says it takes issue with the sponsors of the Expo, which include online escort services.  They say those businesses contribute to the sex trafficking and exploitation of young women and children.  “There is a huge correlation between pornography, sex trade, violence against women, and trafficking,” [Roslyn] Thompson said…Dallas police estimate more than 400 women a night may be part of sex trafficking in the city…”We are deeply troubled by the fact that the EXXXOTICA Expo is being hosted here in Dallas, not to mention in a facility that is named to honor one of the Dallas Women’s Foundation founders”…

Here’s hoping the building is so contaminated by sex rays it has to be torn down or turned into a huge brothel.

A Year Later

It’s rare to see an essay like this in the US, but not in Canada:

…it’s impossible for me to take any argument against legal prostitution seriously.  They are all broadly the same – a ridiculous amalgamation of moralizing bluster, cherry-picked and often inaccurate statistics, and a mendacious willingness to fall back on accusations of sex-trafficking or rape or exploitation when their arguments have been soundly defeated…But…no matter how continuously it is shown that outlawing prostitution does more harm than good, the same arguments wiggle their way back into view and re-assert themselves as if they had never been countered.  So today, in Canada, we have the same gibberingly absurd arguments being uttered yet again in order to support the continued suppression of legal prostitution…in direct contravention of a Canadian Supreme Court decision…They merely…declare that they are in no way in breach of the Supreme Court decision because they’re letting prostitutes work – they’re just arresting all their potential clients.  It’s…almost impressive in its underhanded lack of conscience…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (#542) 

Actually, he’s right; this does give an inaccurate image of cops.  They are vastly more likely to rape sex workers than to peacefully do business with us:

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor announced…that he is firing five officers accused of being involved in a prostitution ring…The…chief…said that he’s saddened that the incident gives an image of the department that is not accurate…

Acting and Activism (#559)

Can denying people the choice to decide what they do with their own bodies…ever be an advancement of their human rights?  That’s what a sensationalist campaign led by radical feminists is claiming.  They are protesting against Amnesty’s leaked proposal that consenting sex work should be decriminalised, and…the…campaign has garnered the support of a number of Hollywood A-listers, including…Anne Hathaway…Perhaps…[her] experience of playing Fantine…in Les Miserables made her feel like she had a glimpse of the reality of life as a sex worker.  As far as representations of sex work go, that film’s all-singing, all-dancing portrayal of early 19th century Paris is perhaps more accurate than the ludicrous distortion its star now finds herself attached to…

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Preteens selling goodies, the police…lectured [her]…was unfair to establishments…like Starbucks.  –  Robert Fernandes

Juxtaposition

Popehat suggests we compare and contrast this:

Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television…for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video  they posted on YouTube…The arrest of the young dancers, and their televised public humiliation, angered Iranians at home and abroad…

And this:

U.S. Park Police arrested five people…at the Jefferson Memorial.  Their offense?  Dancing.  The dancers were protesting an appeals court ruling…that the national monuments are places for reflection and contemplation — and that dancing distracted…

Real People Maria Isabel

Photographer Bénédicte Desrus spent six years…documenting Casa Xochiquetzal, a home in Mexico City for…retired sex workers…She only took photographs of the women who gave her permission and provided them with prints, which often inspired other women to participate…Desrus then teamed up with journalist Celia Gómez Ramos, who began interviewing and transcribing the residents’ stories.  They eventually decided to publish…as…Las Amorosas Más Bravas (The Toughest Lovers)…

Check Your Premises

34-year-old…Vanessa Gumataotao of Sacramento…was arrested on suspicion of prostitution…as well as child abuse and endangerment for allegedly using [a] 17-year-old [boy] as her pimp.  The…boy was arrested on suspicion of pimping…

If It Were Legal

Too bad he lost the suit; this kind of ethical breach is unforgiveable:

A top London solicitor who had sex with a Chinese law student [and sex worker]…has lost his claim for damages after she told his daughter and colleagues about previous affairs.  The solicitor…identified only as AVB, sued the young sex worker, known as TDD, for breach of confidentiality…after she found information about past liaisons on his laptop.  Senior…Justice Tugendhat…said TDD broke a duty she entered when she accepted money for sex.  But…AVB…would not receive damages because although he experienced “some embarrassment” he “has suffered no real distress”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (July Updates, Part One)

Cops busting kids’ lemonade stands isn’t news any more, but this is a new low:

[San Francisco cops busted] two…lemonade stands…the 11-year-old proprietor of one…was informed that simply giving away the fudge brownies and lemonade the police forbade her…to sell would result in a $1,500 fine…Not long after police cleansed the…area of unlawful lemonade dispensaries…they returned due to complaints about “a live band.”  This stemmed…from a neighborhood tradition of setting up a drum kit during [a public event] and allowing local kids to keep the beat.  At the time the police showed up, the unlicensed live bandmember was…a toddler…

The Punitive Mindset

Because obviously, female guards’ delicate ladyfeelings are more important than men’s lives:

…Bradley Ballard, a…schizophrenic [inmate at New York’s Rikers Island] died…after he was confined to his cell…for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard…Denied…his medication, the agitated inmate tied a rubber band tightly around his genitals…Ballard was found naked and unresponsive on the floor, covered in feces, his genitals swollen and badly infected.  He died at a hospital of…[massive systemic] infection…

Above the Law

Two [Atlantic City cops] have been arrested on charges they sexually assaulted a 16-year-old in separate incidents…Andre Corbin and…Ralph Pereira…were…[each] charged with…sexual assault…endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct…

That Old Black Magic

A man was killed by a mob…in…Burkina Faso, after being accused of making another man’s penis “disappear”…a local mechanic…claimed that his penis had been “stolen” by the second man, who was not from the district.  The first man called the police.  But by then…the residents decided to lynch the man in the middle of the street…

I’ve mentioned West African “penis stealing” hysteria before in Links #141.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #51)

The acquittal of the 13 people “sex trafficking” fanatic Susan Trimarco implicated in her witch hunt provoked such an outcry among her disciples that two of the three judges were pushed into retirement, the third has been threatened with impeachment and the Argentine president swore to “reform” the judiciary because it is too objective and not sufficiently influenced by public opinion.  A higher court then convicted ten of the 13 defendants on charges of running an “evil network of sexual exploitation…with…international connections, and satanic rituals.”  Still think this hysteria is different from the Satanic Panic?

The End of the Beginning

The California Sex Offender Management Board…[recommends] that lawmakers…overhaul registration laws so that some offenders can be removed from the list after 10 or 20 years.  The list — which currently includes almost 100,000 registered offenders — is too large to be useful to law enforcement or the general public.  Under current laws, all sex offenders must register for life regardless of the offense they committed…[the list] includes…almost 900 [people] who have not committed a sex-crime in more than half a century…Ninety-five percent of sex-crimes are committed by individuals who are not on the registry, and the existence of the registry has not worked as a deterrent…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #320) Louie Gohmert

The endgame of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said the debate over…immigration reform is prompting undocumented minors to enter the United States… “And…you know that some get sucked into sex slavery,” Gohmert said…adding…“This administration, and this Congress also, is complicit in helping lure people into sex trafficking”…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

The [French] National Consultative Commission on Human Rights  (CNCDH)…has [rejected] the law…which seeks to punish “the purchase of sexual acts”…[The Commission] consulted many experts…and…[outlines] the three-point position of the committee:

  • “Chosen prostitution” is legal, so clients are not criminals.
  • Legal prostitutes should be easier for clients to access.
  • Victims of trafficking and exploitation need better support…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

Mobs with torches are back in fashion, it seems:

An international association of Catholic nuns has launched a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking and prostitution during the World Cup in Brazil.  The nuns will use social media, billboards and rallies…to draw attention to the heightened risk of exploitation…Sister Gabriella Bottani said…that for previous World Cups in Germany and South Africa, the level of “exploitation” had gone up by 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively…Among past and upcoming initiatives will be…a torchlit procession in Brasilia…and handing out pamphlets at…beach resorts…

Naturally, the usual predators are taking advantage of the anti-whore hysteria:

…police…invaded…a building where…prostitutes operated…in [the suburbs of]… Rio…Without a warrant, police…[arrested] more than 100 women…and seized their goods.  Women were attacked and raped – police forced them to perform oral sex and put their hands on the women’s genitals…One woman…had…[her] whole week…[of] money…robbed, including any money to take the bus home…

Guest Columnist:  Sarah Woolley (TW3 #406) 

Amnesty International has urged Northern Ireland’s politicians to ditch plans to criminalise the purchasing of sex.  The human rights organisation wants a clause contained in a bill against human trafficking to be excised because…it would create a “hierarchy of criminal liability” among sex workers…Amnesty stressed it was not taking sides on the debate over sex work and prostitution, but said sex work and human trafficking were “two very complex social phenomena” that required different laws…

“Those who…sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.” – Max Frisch

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Another blow against the absurdity of consensual crime:

…Italy’s national statistics office, will include estimated dealings from drugs, arms trafficking and prostitution in its GDP figures from now on…This move should increase Italy’s economy by at least 1.3 per cent in the first year, helping it to comply with EU rules on indebtedness, which limit member countries to spending no more than 3 per cent of their GDP…the calculation would also include revenues from contraband tobacco and alcohol…The Bank of Italy estimated the value of the criminal economy at 10.9 per cent of GDP in 2012…The move…is motivated by the EU’s desire to measure its member countries’ economies more closely…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

community members carrying information and harm reduction supplies were threatened with arrest and were not allowed to communicate with sex workers…who had been…forcibly transported to Project ROSE…[which has] come under intense scrutiny because of a long list of rights violations…advocates from the Best Practices Policy Project and SWOP Phoenix traveled to the United Nations to raise concerns about these abuses to the Human Rights Committee…a group of social workers, Social Workers United for Justice, is petitioning the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to “demand an end to Arizona State University School of Social Work’s involvement with Project Rose” because it violates socials work’s core professional principles…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #410) Alyssa Funke

Unfortunately, not every outed sex worker has Belle Knox’s incredible strength and resolve:

Nineteen-year-old Alyssa Funke…bought a shotgun, drove to her family’s boat, and killed herself there on April 14.  Students at her former high school had outed her as the star of a “casting couch” porn video, and her parents say the subsequent online harassment contributed to her suicide.  Funke…did her first and only porn video…earlier this year…Soon after the video went up, Funke  started getting nasty Twitter and Facebook messages from students at her former high school in Minnesota, calling her a slut and worse…Funke’s parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment…played a major role in her [suicide]…

Belle also wrote an open letter to Alyssa after hearing of her death.

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

discussion of whether the sex trade should be legalised [in China]…came to the fore…after Huang Haibo, a 39-year-old actor best known for his “nice everyman” roles, was arrested…for allegedly soliciting prostitutes…The news led to a surprising outpouring of sympathy on social media…after the crackdown in…Dongguan…[there were many] online comments like “Dongguan, hang in there” and “the public has your back”…

The Missing Word

Silly preacher, only politically-connected companies are allowed to do this:

A South Carolina pastor has been accused of turning his Bible College into a forced labor camp for foreign students.  Reginald Wayne Miller…made the teens toil for no or little pay for more than 50 hours a week while housing them in rooms without hot water, heating or air-conditioning.  He…threatened to revoke their student visas if they complained or failed to comply with his demands…Students reportedly told [federal] investigators that classes “were not real” and that the main focus of the school was to have them working full-time at its campus and Miller’s home…In 2006, [Miller] was…detained on charges of lewdness and prostitution for exposing himself to an undercover cop in a bathhouse…

Three Steps Back (TW3 #418)

A bill designed to help New Orleans police crack down on prostitution is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk…The legislation…makes it illegal…to solicit money or rides with the intent to exchange it for sex acts.  Marjorie Esman [of the ACLU says the law]…does nothing that isn’t already covered by Louisiana law.  Esman also had problems with an earlier version…[that banned] solicitation for any purpose…which…would have effectively outlawed panhandling…the bill gives police a mechanism to [harass] suspected prostitutes…enough so they might move on…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The US House of Representatives passed all five of the “sex trafficking” bills before it; most of them are the usual political boondoggles, but one creates a “criminal advertising” crime to stack on people being railroaded for “sex trafficking”, and the most dangerous one allows the federal government to give even more money to local cops for sex work stings under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”.  But the most shocking example of political hubris comes from Representative Randy Hultgren of Illinois, who seems to imagine that the U.S. Congress has the power to criminalize prostitution in foreign countries; he supports this with a lot of nonsense including the discredited Neumayer, Cho & Dreher report.

Blood on the Sand

[Vanessa] Stiviano…is now the subject of a criminal probe…[due to] accusations that Stiviano sought money from Sterling to stop her from releasing more recordings…Stiviano’s attorney has denied she leaked the recordings that set off the scandal, saying a friend did it without her permission.

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All prostitution laws are conceived as methods to control women who, before ideas of victimhood took hold, were understood to be powerful, dangerous figures associated with rebellion, revolt, carnival, the world upside down, spiritual power and calculated wrongdoing.  –  Laura Agustín

The Pro-Rape Coalition

Dr. Robert King on porn, with a nice endorsement of yours truly:

…Some would like to ban fantasies—hide them away…fantasy can function as an outlet for desire…violence—including sexual violence–has been decreasing across the board.  Has consumption of violent fantasy decreased?  Quite the reverse.  Violent video is everywhere but violent crime has gone down…we really need to stop thinking that we…know what is good for others—especially when those others are consenting adults…puritans…try to control others’ sexuality…through guilt, fear, and misinformation… as documented in exhaustive detail by the excellent Brooke Magnanti and Maggie McNeill…If the puritans were serious about harm to children they would spear-head proper realistic sex education…

Decentralization

Brian Doherty draws on a Forbes article to discuss the government’s latest efforts to shut Bitcoin down, destroy everything good about it or, failing in both of those, to steal a cut of it.

If It Were Legal

One wonders how much more often sex workers could help to fight actual crime were we not absurdly and arbitrarily classed as criminals ourselves:

A prostitute given $300 in dye-stained $20 bills led police to the home of the man suspected of robbing a…bank…she…told the FBI agent [that the suspect, Anthony] Nugent…began behaving erratically [after paying her, so]…she left…later that night…her boyfriend…told her [the money] appeared to be dye-stained…Bubblegum Husky

Scapegoats

Frankly, what’s most “unclear” to me is how this is even physically possible:

An Idaho man was arrested Thursday after police say he sexually penetrated a cat on more than one occasion.  Ryan Havens Tannenholz, 28 – a…”furry” who dresses up as a dog he calls Bubblegum Husky — is charged with six counts of crimes against nature, and one count of cruelty to an animal…It’s unclear how [police] learned about [his] alleged actions…Furry News Magazine Flayrah reports that Tannenholz was a member of…furry fandom…who portrayed himself as a “sparkly” husky, a blue fox named Kismet…and another purple canine…

Above the Law

I’ve said it countless times:  As long as government actors have excessive power over individuals, cops will continue to rape women in their homes:  “A deputy in Texas accused of raping a woman in front of her children has resigned…Lisa Rodriguez…said [he] told her if she resisted he would take her to jail…” or during traffic stops:  “…Thomas Merenda and Franklin Hartley…are charged with unlawful compensation, a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison…Hartley ordered the passenger to perform oral sex on him, then [raped] her.  Merenda…asked the victim…to punch him in the…genital area…’Tom really enjoys this’, [Hartley] reportedly told the driver…”  Note that the cops are charged with “accepting bribes” rather than rape, and the reporter even avoids the word.  TSA agents can’t even confine their groping to travelers:  “A [TSA] manager at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport resigned after he was charged with sexually abusing a co-worker…Shane Hinkle, 38…is accused of forcibly touching [his victim]…

Enabling Oppression

The Polaris Project continues its loathsome and exploitative campaign to link sex work to historical American black slavery:

New undercover footage of pimp-controlled prostitution will be shared…at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and End Slavery Cincinnati to show the realities of enslaved women.  The Polaris Project developed the 20-minute footage from the streets of Washington, D.C.  Following the showing, representatives from The Salvation Army’s Anti-Human Trafficking Program, the Cincinnati Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Off the Streets program will speak about the reality of pimp-controlled prostitution in Cincinnati…

Imagination Pinned Down

Elizabeth LoftusHere’s a short overview of the work of Elizabeth Loftus, the foremost expert on the malleability of human memory:  “…Loftus…has done more than any other researcher to document the unreliability of memory…and…has used what she has learned to testify as an expert witness in hundreds of criminal cases…informing juries that memories are pliable and that eyewitness accounts are far from perfect recordings of actual events…Now…[her] research is starting to bring about lasting changes in the legal system…” I drew heavily upon Dr. Loftus’ work for the research paper I wrote for the Albany Government Law Review, to be published this autumn.

Hooker Humor (TW3 #31)

Miranda Kane, the BBW escort turned comedienne, is getting good reviews; here’s an introduction she wrote for the Edinburgh Festival:

…There’s a stigma to sex-workers, as well as their clients.  We’re all shown the negative side, the poor, helpless trafficked victims.  But all the women I knew were just ordinary, happy ladies who just happened to enjoy having sex for money…Our clients weren’t seedy, sex-obsessed perverts.  They were kind, keen, appreciative men who just wanted a moment of luxury, intimacy… to be able to be with the kind of women they could only fantasise about normally…My show exposes the every-day life of a sex-worker; how we work in the digital age, the bizarre and strange requests from clients, what both elated and annoys us.  I try and show the human aspect – that the women are normal, they’re not drug addled victims, nor are they overtly beautiful and wealthy courtesans.  They’re women you see every day…

Bottleneck

[Queensland] Police Minister Jack Dempsey is considering allowing sex workers to make suburban house calls after lobbying by the Prostitution Licensing Authority.  While it is lawful for sole operators to make house calls it is illegal for brothels to send their workers to clients…brothel owners…[say they] need the extra business to remain profitable…[PLA] chairman Manus Boyce…[said] that illegal prostitution was operating without fear in Queensland and that allowing more outcalls could put more pressure on the illicit trade…

The Naked Anthropologist

Last week Dr. Laura Agustín published “Prostitution Law and the Death of Whores”, a primer for those who haven’t thought much about the harm anti-prostitution laws cause:

…Twenty years ago I first asked two questions that continue to unsettle me today.  The first is answerable:  What does a woman who sells sex accomplish that leads to her being treated as fallen, beyond the pale, incapable of speaking for herself, discountable if she does speak, invisible as a member of society?  The answer is she carries a stigma.  The second question is a corollary:  Why do most public conversations focus on laws and regulations aimed at controlling these stigmatized women rather than recognizing their agency?  To that the answer is not so straightforward… My focus on the female is deliberate.  All who propose prostitution policy are aware that men sell sex, but they are not concerned about men, who simply do not suffer the disgrace and shame that fall on women who do it…

Though it’s not extremely long, the article covers agency denial, the “rescue industry”, the irrationality of prostitution law, neofeminism, the Swedish model and media sensationalism; it’s thus one you should bookmark for sharing with people who are ignorant, but will listen to reason.floating brothels Utrecht

Dutch Threat

As the Netherlands continues to cave in to greed and hysteria, Dutch sex workers have been forced to find their own solutions:  “A group of 15 prostitutes in Utrecht have set up a cooperative to run floating brothels after the council withdrew operating permits from their previous landlords.  The cooperative, named Macha’s, is now applying for a…brothel licence and a boat mooring permit…Some 300 Utrecht prostitutes lost their place of work when the council cancelled contracts for the operation of brothels…because of human trafficking fears…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #321)

The Commission for Gender Equality has [submitted] a proposal…for the decriminalisation of sex work [in South Africa]…“The current position of total criminalisation has not succeeded in addressing problems associated with sex work”…said the…commission…[which] was informed by studies conducted in…New Zealand and Australia.  “Legislation…should adopt the principle that sex work is work, and allow the industry to be governed by the wealth of existing labour and business laws aimed at preventing unsafe, exploitative and unfair business practices”…The commission said studies…offered strong and concrete evidence that decriminalisation empowered sex workers to protect themselves from violence…improved relationships…[with] the police…[and] reduced chances of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of children…

Zurvivor

Deals with devils always have more conditions than anticipated:

The Maine woman convicted of running a prostitution business out of a Zumba fitness studio is headed back to court…to fight having to testify at the trial of one of her clients.  Alexis Wright…has been subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify at the trial of Donald Hill…

It’s That Time Again (TW3 #326)

A politician’s wife wants her state to look even stupider than New Jersey by starting “gypsy whores” panic a year and a half in advance:

The wife of Sen. John McCain…is calling on the [Arizona] legislature to pass tougher laws against human trafficking…[for] the Super Bowl in 2015.  “The Super Bowl, as all of you know, is one of the world’s largest human trafficking centers when it goes on in the world,” McCain said…Forbes reported that 10,000 prostitutes were brought to Miami for the 2010 Super Bowl.  There were 133 prostitution arrests in Dallas during the 2011 Super Bowl…

No, Forbes said that habitual liars NCMEC claimed there were that many, and there were 133 arrests of all kinds in the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area during a 2½ week period before the Super Bowl…which is typical for DFW.Spreadsheets

Between the Ears (TW3 #332)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti writes about others who think good sex can be defined by statistics:

…Thanks to the new [iPhone] app Spreadsheets, no longer will you have sex without being able to save and analyse the stats of your performance…according to the company’s website:  “Spreadsheets monitors data from user’s movement and audio levels through the accelerometer and microphone to provide statistical and visual analysis of their performance in bed”…The notion that longer is better…and that loud equals enjoyment has gained such traction in popular culture that it’s hard to find any other measure of what “good” sex is…I once dated a guy whose sole measure of whether a good time had been had was how long he stayed erect.  Being jackhammered long into the wee hours is hardly a great way to spend your time…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do (TW3 #332)

A pastor from…Sweden has been convicted of buying sex from a prostitute after…police broke up a major pimping operation…[he] has been temporarily relieved of his duties…”  Synopsis of the rest:  “human trafficking”, “These woman were used as if they were on a conveyor belt“, blah blah blah.

Election Day (TW3 #332)

As you might imagine, I find this new trend of cops arresting retired madams on drug charges to be a highly disturbing one:

…Heidi Fleiss has been charged in Nevada with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell…officers found nearly 400 marijuana plants growing in and around…[her] home in Pahrump…She said she had been growing marijuana without a license and that she intended to sell it to a cooperative in Las Vegas…she was not arrested.  All the plants were taken away by police as evidence.

Yeah, “evidence”.  Pull the other one, guys.

The Privilege Paradigm

Coincidentally, someone else wrote about the problem with the word “privilege” and came to almost exactly the same conclusions as I did:

…A privilege is something extra — and from a very young age, I knew that when something was referred to as a privilege, I was in danger of losing it.  How does that make sense…with something like being free from fear of police harrassment?…when it is called a “privilege,” my initial thought is that it is something unjustified that should be taken away — i.e., we should all have to be stopped and frisked…I [have] some degree of autonomy and dignity in my work — do we really want to say that that’s a “privilege”?  In both cases, aren’t we dealing with something more like a right that’s been denied to a great many people?…

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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.  –  Rita Mae Brown

Twelve updates and four metaupdates.

Acting and Activism (January 8th, 2011)

Yet another actor tries to prop up a sagging career with a flying leap onto the “trafficking” bandwagonHong Kong action star Jackie Chan is going to Myanmar this week on a…mission to help combat child trafficking…UNICEF announced…that…Chan will…meet with officials of the Social Welfare Ministry and…police…

Backwards Into the Future (March 30th, 2011)

Add Vietnam to the list of countries which aren’t known for their spectacular record on human rights, yet are doing better on the issue than the US:

The Vietnamese National Assembly recently [voted to stop detaining] thousands of sex workers in so-called rehabilitation facilities where they were held without right of appeal and forced to work (including for private companies) without pay…justice advocates…are hoping that drug detention centers…will follow soon…

Saddest Story of the Month (May 17th, 2011)

Well, it’s not quite as bad as arresting someone for moving out of a dumpster...

A new law…is forcing convicted sex offenders to…move into tents.  More than 40 sex offenders at the Hand Up Ministries in Oklahoma City had to move out of trailers on the ministry’s property.  The new state law limits the number of sex offenders who can live in one dwelling.  Ministry founder David Nichols said without a place to live, many offenders won’t register and could go back to prison…”I don’t think that it’s going to lessen crime any.  I think it’s going to increase crime”…

Nichols is correct, but don’t expect the fanatics to listen.

A False Dichotomy (June 22nd, 2011)

So here’s a thing in the Guardian (I hesitate to call a short collection of captioned photos an “article”) about “sex trafficking” in Burkina Faso.  Though the author claims that “thousands of girls and women are trafficked from Nigeria to the African hub of Ouagadougou,” and that “many are lured by promises of jobs as hairdressers or nannies,”I was struck by two things:  one, that the pictures look to me like any pictures of street or brothel workers in poor countries; and two, that the captions belie the claims of “trafficking”.  The caption for the third picture reads, “Juliette, also from Nigeria, has been working at Mercy’s for six years.  The 45-year-old sends money home each week to support her four children who live in Benin City.”  In other words, she has enough disposable income to support four children, and is free to send it home.  The caption for the 12th (and last) picture tells us that “trafficking victims” are free to attend a church whose pastor lectures on the evils of the sex trade, and the one for the 5th is the most telling:  “At Mercy’s, women work seven nights a week and pay 2,000 CFA (£2.60) each day to rent a room.  Men pay the women 5,000 CFA.  This Burkinabe girl has turned up at the brothel looking for work.”  In other words the rooms cost these “victims” less than half the price of one call (similar to the rates paid by American hookers), and local girls view it as a worthwhile place to work without being “forced” into it.

If It Were Legal (June 26th, 2011)

Remember that bogus study who authors were so ignorant they equated an increase in ads with migrating whores, and claimed that 0.4% of something constitutes a major fraction?  Well, partisan prohibitionists are using it to blame Republicans for “sex trafficking” despite a greater rise in ads during the Democratic convention:

Huffington Post and Jezebel are running with stories claiming that GOP convention-goers are “hands down” the biggest clients at area strip clubs during political conventions.  Along with strip club attendance, conventions also increase prostitution…and child sex trafficking…HuffPo continues…“Baylor University study found that…conventions ‘increased the count of Craigslist sex worker ads by a substantial amount’”…researchers…found that sex ads increased by between 29% and 44% over their baseline level during 2008′s Republican convention in Minneapolis.  Ads increased by between 47% and 77% in Denver, the site of the Democratic convention.  Further, the study pointed out that a plurality of convention attendees are members of the media…

Dirty Amateurs (August 17th, 2011)

MTV had the good sense to protect itself against STD-based liability claims from the cast members of Jersey Shore; there oughta be a law that these damned dirty amateurs get checked weekly by a government doctor, and arrested if they test positive.

Higher Education (December 11th, 2011)

Something tells me that Professor Kubistant needs to find a regular escort:

A Western Nevada College student claims…that her human sexuality instructor required students to masturbate to pass his class, made them keep sex journals for class discussion, was obsessed with women’s orgasms and told the class “that he will increase their sexual urges to such a height that they won’t be able to think about anything other than sex”…Kubistant told the students that their final exam would be an assignment…which had to address such topics as early sexual exploration, sexual abuse, loss of virginity, homosexual experiences, promiscuity, cheating, arousal, climaxes, masturbation, sexually transmitted diseases and fetishes…

The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)

While groups like the soi-disant “European Women’s Lobby” produce ridiculous “end demand” tripe, European sex worker groups are producing ads like this:

It’s also available in 16 other languages.

Feet of Clay (April 5th, 2012)

It’s nice to see the attacks on Nicholas Kristof continuously increasing:

…In a magnificent essay, “Be Aware: Nick Kristof’s Anti-Politics“,  Elliott Prasse-Freeman…summarises Kristof’s oeuvre into a number of precise strokes:  “By playing on his audience’s orientalist, classist and racist fantasies, Kristof fabricates legible narratives out of snapshots of distant worlds.  He then crafts stunningly simplistic solutions to the seemingly irrevocable problems that plague those backwards places”…

And if you like that one, here are plenty more.

The Notorious Badge (April 9th, 2012)

Sarah Woolley’s excellent article from XOJane explains “Why I Wince Through Hollywood Sex Scenes and Not Porn”:

…if some actors exaggerate their distaste for nudity it’s because they’ve seen what happens to the women who enjoy themselves without penance…And so, a romantic, soft lit, topless scene from a chick flick can unsettle me in ways that a supposedly degrading, adult movie rarely manages to accomplish…I’m not saying that those who willingly participate in uncomfortable scenes are victims because…they get the last say on that matter.  However, I would rather watch the person who isn’t trying to numb things out with a bottle of vodka.  I’m not naive enough to think that sex workers are free from shitty days at the office but, given their job description, I’m less likely to be watching someone wary of getting their front bottom out, than if I were watching a mainstream actress in a sex scene…If a sex worker speaks out on slipping standards it is correct to condemn the appropriate parties but it is usually an entire industry that is maligned in the process.  If a mainstream actor brings a drink on set in brown paper (keeping the latter to hyperventilate into later) we applaud her for her craft and possibly chuck an award her way…

First They Came for the Hookers… (June 5th, 2012)

Bubbles Burbujas on the problems with “pole taxes”:

…Connecting funding for victims of sexual assault to strip clubs is the primary reason I don’t like these taxes.  It is absolutely offensive to have the government tell us that we—or, rather, our customers—are responsible for rape and domestic violence, and that we should be taxed specifically for that purpose…While strip clubs are certainly a luxury expense…There is…no guarantee that the taxes will be collected from patrons since the tax is on the clubs, not the customers.  This means there’s a good chance that the fees dancers pay to work will go up to cover the club’s tax bill…Tracy Clark-Flory wrote about the latest round of state pole taxes at Salon, and spoke with anthropologist Judith Lynne Hanna…[who has criticized] the faulty “secondary effects” studies that blames strip clubs for increasing crime and breaks it down for the propaganda it is.  I wrote about the myth of secondary effects here after the Texas Supreme Court’s decision came down, and it’s good they’re being exposed for the shoddy research they are…

The Widening Gyre (July 6th, 2012)

The inherent racism of “trafficking” mythology isn’t usually as obvious as it is in this June 8 cartoon.

Even though the law’s supporters say “We simply cannot have drivers knowingly profiting from the sex trade, willingly taking prostitutes from john to john, job to job,” we’re also supposed to believe this:

Cabbies can pick up all the scantily clad women they want without worrying about being charged with promoting prostitution, Mayor Bloomberg declared…“There’s no penalty for transporting a prostitute or decoy, but only for knowingly engaging in a sex-trafficking operation”…the mayor said…City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras…sponsor of the legislation, said such fears were overblown because her bill was targeted at a small number of cabbies involved in hooker rings…“It’s not the majority of drivers.  However, when you have a young girl being driven to 30, 40, 50 johns a night, it is a very big problem.”

Obviously third-grade math skills and a sense of the size of one’s own city are not requirements for a position on the New York city council.

Metaupdates

Good News, Bad News in TW3 (#10) (March 10th, 2012)

As per my epigram, an example of governmental insanity in Western Australia:

…leading urban planning expert…Paul Maginn said the government’s …reform bill…would do little to move prostitution out of the suburbs.  “If you look historically…the sex industry is quite adaptive…they’ll still continue, it’s not going to be eradicated”…Maryanne Kenworthy, owner of the Langtrees brothels in Perth and Kalgoorlie, supports Mr Maginn’s claim…”This government is trying to stamp out escorts, which no country in the world has successfully done…Instead, the industry is going to go completely underground…How many of WA’s 4000 sex workers are going to get a commercial industrial area to work out of?  None, they can’t afford to, it costs half a million dollars just to get council approval”…

The More the Better in TW3 (#11) (March 17th, 2012)

Zahia Dehar isn’t doing too badly for a “trafficked child”:  “There aren’t many fashion designers who can say they got their starts as underage prostitutes. But Zahia Dehar…first earned her fame as the center of a high-profile sex scandal involving three elite European soccer players in 2010…[then] crossed over into fashion, earning praise from Karl Lagerfeld and a cover shoot for V‘s Spain edition

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs in
TW3 (#25) (June 23rd, 2012)

It’s good to see at least a few small countries standing up to Uncle Sam’s bullying:

The Guyana Government today denounced the latest installation of the US State Department report on trafficking in persons…“The Report fails to establish not one single fact.  The Task Force notes several inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the Report that must be addressed.  What is clear is that the architects of this Report have not made significant progress in improving the veracity, coherence and validity of their annual assessments.  The Ministerial Task Force denounces the Report since it comprises unsubstantiated generalisations and repetitive uncorroborated claims.  The Task Force strongly recommends that the US State Department seek to improve its methodology, establish proper baselines to guide comparisons, avoid use of anecdotal claims and develop a consistent, understandable, transparent and logical tier ranking system if countries are to benefit from these rituals…”

The Course of a Disease in TW3 (#26) (June 30th, 2012)

Wendy Lyon takes a detailed look at the report which inspired Norway’s minister for social affairs to call for the Swedish Model to be scrapped; she discovers that besides the problems we’ve already discussed, the model literally forces sex workers into the street and promotes pimping.

One Year Ago Today

Imaginary Lines” argues in favor of loosened immigration restrictions, and points out how the current situation helps to drive “trafficking” hysteria.

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Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance.  It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes.  A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.  –  Abraham Lincoln

We say it over and over and over again; most of the problems deriving from prostitution only exist due to criminalization, or else are magnified by it.  No business, no work, in fact no human interaction whatsoever, is completely frictionless; the possibility of mistakes, misunderstandings, missteps and malice exist no matter how legal, respectable and transparent the transaction.  But when the State criminalizes a normal, consensual and common form of human interaction it is pushed into the shadows; solid information on the practice becomes difficult to obtain, unethical or evil people can infiltrate the business and use it as a cloak for predatory behaviors, and those who are victimized by such people have little recourse because if they speak up they are likely to be prosecuted by the state as criminals themselves.  My readers are certainly familiar with the increased danger to prostitutes which derives from criminalization; the subject comes up in this column several times a month and is currently the subject of court proceedings in Canada.  But today I’d like to examine two items which illustrate a few problems which affect (in the first item) clients and (in the second item) the general public.

The following is paraphrased from a story which appeared in The State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois on June 13th:

Stephanie Leifheit-Wilson (28) of Springfield pled guilty to theft and extorting more than $40,000 from a lawyer (not named in the story) who says he paid her and her mother, Joyce A. Stuebinger (45), to prevent them from disclosing photos of him in a sexually compromising situation.  Wilson and Stuebinger (whose trial was scheduled for June 20th) claim to have seen pictures of the lawyer having sex with a girl who is 13 or 14.

Police got involved at 4:30 AM on February 16th, when the pair showed up at the lawyer’s home in a taxicab; the lawyer’s wife came to the door, but refused to let them in, and Wilson responded by shouting at her “I will go to the bar with the pictures and get him disbarred, you stupid bitch.”  The wife called police, who arrested both women; she told the police a woman had called her home constantly in the previous months, repeatedly claiming she had pictures of the lawyer with a 14-year-old girl.  Police seized a camera and two cell phones from the women, but Springfield Police Chief Mark Gleason claims that detectives have not looked at any images on the devices.  Gleason says he has “discussed” the possibility of obtaining a search warrant with the state attorney’s office; “Something happened, because he was paying this money,” he said.  But the State’s Attorney, John Milhiser, would not say whether he plans to seek a search warrant.

The lawyer told police that last summer he had sex with a prostitute he believed to be 18 or 19, but Stuebinger was hiding in the bathroom and occasionally opened the door during the session, possibly to take photos.  Stuebinger and Wilson began demanding money soon afterward; he eventually paid Stuebinger about $37,700 and Wilson $4,620.  Stuebinger threatened to tell his wife about the prostitute, which would have jeopardized his marriage.  “I could not let that happen to her or my family,” the lawyer said in a written statement.  “I have had a successful law practice…and I believe I enjoy a very good reputation among my fellow lawyers and have the trust and confidence of my clients and I could not jeopardize that as well.”  Both Stuebinger and Wilson have criminal histories of theft and forgery.

Now, a number of things in this story would remain unchanged even if our profession were decriminalized; adultery is legal, but a blackmail threat involving a non-paid sexual encounter might’ve been just as threatening to the lawyer’s marriage and reputation.  And any man foolish enough to ignore a closed bathroom door (not to mention continuing to plug away once that door was opened even once) was bound to get himself into some kind of trouble sooner or later; even if prostitution were legal underage prostitution wouldn’t be, and since he clearly didn’t bother with references he couldn’t have know the difference.  However, if our trade were not underground there would be far fewer criminals masquerading as honest whores, because most clients are far more cautious than this one and their scheme would therefore be less likely to produce results.  Also, if there were legal, reputable brothels and escort services gentlemen with reputations to worry about might be far more likely to patronize them than to pick up bargain-basement hookers of questionable age and ethics (or to send creepy text messages to amateurs, for that matter).  And though a man caught with a legal prostitute might still have to deal with an irate wife, he would not have to worry about the prospect of losing his professional license or being “investigated” by sleazy cops who have already decided he’s guilty of “something” from the very start.

The second item is actually the abstract for a scholarly paper from The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy which was called to my notice by EconJeff:

Approximately 100,000 visitors came to Denver, Colorado and Minneapolis, Minnesota to attend the 2008 Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  Economic theory suggests that men in transit can shift demand for commercial sex work.  We estimate the responsiveness of labor supply to these two conventions, focusing on a previously neglected but increasingly important segment of the prostitution market:  indoor sex workers who advertise on the Internet.  Using a differences-in-differences estimator of prostitution advertisements posted on a major classified ads website, we find that the conventions caused a 29-44 percent increase in advertisements in Minneapolis and a 47-77 percent increase in Denver.  Given the key role prostitution plays in the transmission of STIs, these results imply that focusing public health resources on men in transit may be beneficial.

The amount of misinformation contained in this short paragraph is astonishing.  I’m going to let the phrase “increasingly important segment of the prostitution market” slide because though it seems to imply that the authors think indoor workers used to be a minority, it doesn’t actually say that; it’s possible that they understand that streetwalkers are a minority and are merely referring to the growth of internet advertising.  But what is clear is that these scholarly gentlemen have bought into the “gypsy hordes of hookers” mythology, transferring it from major sporting events to political conventions and supporting the claim by misinterpreting the significance of Backpage or Craigslist ads.  The idea that the number of such ads can be correlated to the number of whores is itself a fallacy of the sort those familiar with the Schapiro Group’s shady methodology may recognize, since it pretends that each ad leads to one unique prostitute (a dubious possibility at best, even if one ignores fake ads placed by police).  Even if that assumption were true, the notion that an increase in the number of ads directly corresponds to an increase in the number of available whores would still be false; since visitors don’t know the local escort boards, local girls might take out new and more highly-visible ads to attract their attention.  But this boner, important as it is, pales into insignificance beside the claim that prostitution plays a “key role…in the transmission of STIs”; as I reported in Friday’s column, only 0.4% of STIs in the United States are related to escorts, the group specifically targeted by this study; the effect of conventions on STD transmission which could be ascertained by this methodology is therefore roughly approximate to zero.

What does this have to do with decriminalization, you may ask?  It is precisely because our profession has been forced underground that myths of nomadic flocks of plague-bearing escorts can be taken seriously by even careless scholars such as these gentlemen.  Had they taken the trouble to do any cross-disciplinary research, they would have discovered the work of numerous scholars who could have told them their “theory” was all wet.  But it isn’t unusual for lazy academics to neglect relatively obscure research outside their own disciplines, and the reason prostitution research is obscure is because the subject is taboo and difficult to acquire grants for unless the “researcher” has a demonstrated anti-whore bias which can be counted on to prejudice her work.  Criminalization contributes to both the dissemination of misinformation and the obstruction of proper research, and that affects our entire society.

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