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Posts Tagged ‘law’

There’s no such thing as a war on sex work without a war on sex workers.  –  Frédérique Chabot

The Going Rate

This article’s dick-strokingly lurid descriptions of stings make it really unpleasant to read, but it did call my attention to this chart from The Economist that I somehow missed last year:hourly rate

Thinking With the Wrong Head

While staking out a hotel room suspected of hosting prostitution activity, local police observed Mason [Ohio] Councilman Rich Cox entering and, about 15 minutes later, leaving.  Surprise, surprise, Mason Police Chief Ron Ferrell said he does not expect charges to be filed against Councilman Cox…somehow I suspect that not everyone in Cox’s circumstances would get such fair treatment from the city police…the councilman offered up an astoundingly far-fetched explanation for what he was doing at the hotel…[he said that] “he visited the [hotel]…to pass a note to a Chinese woman whose father he met at a nearby Verizon Wireless store…[because] the man’s car was broken down“…

Down Under

In the US, this would be called a “trafficking circuit”, Queenstown would be called a “hub” and the reporter would interview cops talking about how “pimps” make all the arrangements because women are too stupid to do that for ourselves.  But in New Zealand:

Queenstown is the adventure sport capital of New Zealand.  But as the tourist numbers swell during the ski season, so do the stag parties, boy’s weekends, corporate retreats, and international business meetings.  As a result, the city has developed a largely hidden yet hugely profitable sex industry…Jasmine tours New Zealand’s South Island throughout the year, but spends most of her time in the mountain town…she is one of the longest-staying sex workers in Queenstown. “Most of the girls book a room for about five days,” explained Alice, a receptionist at a bustling motel in town.  “Jasmine stays for longer because she’s so busy”…July to October and December to March [are] the busiest periods.  The seasons on either side are so dead that girls working in strip clubs can make as little as $50 a night, and escorts…often make nothing at all.  During this time, Jasmine drives to towns like Nelson, where she…has regular customers who guarantee her income…The women say the quiet months are worth it though, as they more than make up for it during the busy ski season…

Rooted in Racism

As I’ve pointed out many times, “sex trafficking” is often a cover for xenophobia:

Bad enough that they’re isolated by race, culture and language and, worse, stigmatized by a false human trafficking narrative, but they’re also endangered unjustly by the Harper government’s anti-prostitution laws.  Now those working legally in Canada say they’re being further victimized, dealing with constant police harassment, illegal detention and invasion of privacy…Elene Lam…is the face of Butterfly, the Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Network, established last fall to advocate for the rights of Asian women in the trade.  The group’s mission includes countering the myths that…have been perpetuated by the…”rescue industry”…even before the new law was introduced, police had been intimidating legal sex workers…in…operation…Northern Spotlight, plainclothes officers…posed as clients and…bullied [sex workers] as they pretended to rescue them.  For Asian sex workers, who may not speak English and have no reason to trust police, these recent warrant-less incursions into their homes and workplaces are especially frightening…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

How many times will we have to say this?

A new study out of the University of California Los Angeles suggests porn addiction does not exist.  Researchers found that people who said they had trouble controlling their consumption of pornography did not show a typical addiction response to sexual images.  With addiction, increased brain activity is expected in response to relevant stimuli—heroin in the case of a drug addict, for example.  But the porn study’s participants showed decreased brain activity in response to pornography…This builds on a previous study conducted by the same researchers in which they found no connection between the extent of participants’ pornography problems and their brain responses to sexual images…

Above the Law 

A South Florida cop is accused of pulling a lesbian couple over [without even a pretext], taking one of them into custody and ordering her to undress as he rubbed his penis…”[He asked me] how do I have intercourse, and I told him, ‘Why do I need to answer that? Why is that necessary?’ He insisted me to answer it”…the [17-year-old] victim said.  “After, he asked if I was a virgin…[and] if if I had any diseases”…The woman explained that she…followed the officer’s orders out of fear…[and] believed that she was going to be raped…[when she protested he] said “Oh, I thought you wanted to fuck”…The cop…has been identified as…Jesus Menocal, Jr., the son of a recently retired police chief…who was caught on video during the 1980s plotting a cocaine rip-off…Menocal’s grandmother…said there was no way he would order a female to strip because he was once named “officer of the year”…

Imagination Pinned Down

Here’s another excellent example of stereotypic conformation:

They pimped me for a while, six months or so…Later on, I was trafficked by other men…Pimps are very good at torture, they’re very good at manipulation…When people describe prostitution as being something that is glamorous, elegant, like in the story of Pretty Woman, well that doesn’t come close to it.  A prostitute might sleep with five strangers a day…These are not relationships, no-one’s bringing me any flowers here, trust me on that.  They’re using my body like a toilet.  And the johns – the clients – are violent. I’ve been shot five times, stabbed 13 times.  I don’t know why those men attacked me, all I know is that society made it comfortable for them to do so…on 1 April 1997, when I was nearly 40 years old, a customer threw me out of his car.  My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body.  I went to the County Hospital in Chicago…emergency room…they gave me a bus pass to go to a place called Genesis House, which was run by an awesome Englishwoman named Edwina Gateley, who became a great hero and mentor for me.  She helped me turn my life around…I stayed almost two years…

I believe that Powell was a streetwalker, and even that she had a few bad pimps; what reveals her story as propaganda is its absolutism.  All the pimps were evil and controlling, though in real life more than half aren’t; all the clients are abusive and “used her body like a toilet” (a classic prohibitionist slur); all sex work is equated with street work, though every street worker I’ve ever spoken to knows that isn’t so.  And of course there’s the classic car-dragging tale; let Powell produce her medical records (it should be easy enough, given that she knows the exact date and hospital) and I’ll believe her.  Otherwise, I call bullshit; it’s pretty obvious that part of her two-year stay at Genesis House was the usual prohibitionist brainwashing sessions, including lessons in “reframing experiences”.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

I don’t expect to see any of these strip club “contractor” lawsuits go any other way now; what makes this one noteworthy is that it includes SWOP:

…while working at Scarlett’s Cabaret in Pembroke Park [Florida, Adonay Encarnacion]…got fed up.  Her frustration fueled a fight that could now result in a $6 million settlement, after a collective action involving 4,709 dancers who worked at three Scarlett’s cabarets.  “They treated us like employees when it was convenient to them and like independent contractors when it was convenient to them…If they were going to treat us like employees, then they needed to be paying us minimum wage and overtime”…Katherine Koster works for the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an organization that advocates for the human rights of sex workers and aims to raise awareness on the negative impact of their criminal status in the U.S…”Disorganized labor markets are fertile ground for the sort of labor practices that victimize  low-income and marginalized female workers,” Koster said.  “Most of them…just don’t really know that they have rights”…

Monsters 

Though the feminist jargon is a bit too thick, the central tenets are valid:

…I believe that the eroticization of trans bodies and the resulting homophobia from the rejection of that body are the primary drivers of many instances of…anti-transgender violence…Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s claim in…Rolling Stone that…“no community living in America today is as openly terrorized as transgender women” is correct…questioning of a trans woman’s gender identity leads the questioner to their subjective identification of a trans woman as a man.  If the questioner is a heterosexual cisgender man, the reaction that follows the initial eroticization is one of visceral disgust as he sexually rejects the “man” he sees in the trans woman’s place.  The transphobia and anti-transgender violence that follows are inherently political acts, meant to discipline the trans woman for attracting the male gaze in the first place…eros to thanatos, lust into vengeful rage…

Subtle Pimping (#330)

A different kind of “video game” designed to profit from sex workers (and in this case, our clients) without giving us anything in return.  This one’s especially revolting for its badge-licking subtext, but there are many in the genre.

Paint By Numbers

“Fighting sex trafficking” by standing on lawns is so passé:

Two men [are] on a cross-country bike ride…to bring awareness about a serious issue…Mike Rutter and George Cook…started…in Santa Monica California on May 24…When it gets tough, Cook says they think about why they are riding.  “The more uncomfortable the day, the more we realize about the discomfort of the girls being human trafficked and sexually exploited,” said Cook…It’s part of Bright Hope’s “Break the Chains Cycling Tour”…Rutter [said] “It’s like a mission.  I feel like a Navy Seal…The girls we are trying to do this for, they don’t have a choice what’s happening to them that day so we’re going to plow ahead”…

Sex Rays

Imagine any other profession in place of “stripper” and you may get an inkling of how stupid this kind of story looks to sex workers:

…a woman…[climbed] the flagpole at the South Carolina Statehouse…removed the Confederate flag, and then returned to the ground where she was [arrested]…Many believe that Bree Newsome was courageous for her act…however someone who claims to know her stated that she did it all for fame and to show off her ex-stripper skills…

Surplus Women (#550) 

What kind of warped mind sees arresting potential victims as a solution to dealing with a serial killer?  “Police in [Chillicothe] Ohio…have announced a crackdown on drugs and prostitution…[as] part of a larger investigation centered on several drug-addicted women who went missing…

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It’s not like prostitution is ever going to go away, or it would have gone by now.  –  Suzanne Harrington

R.I.P. Christopher Lee Christopher Lee

Lee strode like a titan through the favorite movies of my life; he starred in four of the movies I’ve listed as among my favorites, and pops up in various places in other columns as well (search his name and see).  So though he isn’t a sex industry figure, he joins others such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson and Carmine Infantino whose influence on the landscape of my fancy cannot possibly be credited enough.  Rest in peace, Sir Christopher, though I won’t be at all surprised if you’re still observed stalking about foggy London streets in a cape from time to time.

Lack of Evidence

This will continue for as long as our work is criminalized:

A Tempe bar issued a public apology…to a transgender woman whose claims of discrimination by workers ignited an online firestorm…bar manager Rob Tasso said Briana Sandy, 55, should not have been asked to leave…”We welcome all kinds of people in this business.  We have many gay customers, we have transgender performers.  In no way did we ever mean to discriminate against you”…Tasso…pointed out that Tempe Tavern…neighbors an adult bookstore.  “Unfortunately, there’s a male prostitution problem that’s around here that’s unique to our situation”…

In other words, “We welcome all kinds of people, but prostitutes aren’t people.”

It Looks Good On Paper

The asinine dysphemism “prostitution ring” (used to mean one underage sex worker, her boyfriend and his mother) is bad enough, but the real story here is that Washington is one of the states with so-called “safe harbor” laws, which are hawked as “protecting the victims” by blaming their “crime” of consensual sex on a pimp instead of the arrested girl.  But as I’ve written before, the laws only apply to lily-white “perfect victims” with no prior arrests who are willing to rat out a supposed “pimp”; the great majority of underage whores have neither a pimp nor a spotless arrest record, and just go to jail like any other victim of the police.  The idea that listening in on a teenager’s jailhouse phone call like a nosy parent picking up the extension constitutes some sort of brilliant detective work, however, is a great moment in badge-licking.

Broken Record 

“Gypsy whores” idiocy with a revolting new Swedish-Canadian police-state flavor:

…Grand Prix weekend…is the busiest time of year for escorts in Montreal.  This year, local police are warning tourists that they may spend more time in jail than at the racetrack if caught trying to buy sexual services…Chief Insp. Johanne Paquin…said a specialized squad will be on patrol in strip clubs, hotels, motels and massage parlours, as well as on all the sites in the city related to the Grand Prix festivities…Canada’s new prostitution laws…”give us more tools in our tool box,” Paquin said…Hobby Lobby

The Widening Gyre

If cops don’t want people spreading stupid rumors, they need to stop spreading such rumors themselves first:

Lest you need any further indication that sex trafficking has become a genuine Moral Panic, I bring you the tale of Emily Stringer…[who] was shopping at…Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma City when she noticed “a middle aged lady” following her around the craft store.  Stringer “stuck with (her) instinct” and left abruptly, calling local police afterward to report the incident.  “The policeman said that this is unfortunately a common thing,” Stringer posted in a subsequent Facebook warning.  “They are abducting people for sex trafficking.”  Except…. of course not.  There have been no cases of anyone, of any age, being stalked and abducted by sex traffickers at Hobby Lobby or any other Oklahoma City chain store.  Outlets from Snopes to The Washington Post tore holes in Stringer’s story, and the Oklahoma City police even distanced themselves from the apocryphal anecdote—but…Stringer’s sex-trafficking warning had received 147,000 shares. The police rebuttal, meanwhile, was shared less than 500 times

That Old Black Magic

The “juju sex slaves” myth just keeps going like a battered zombie:

Spanish National Police announced on Monday that they broke up a ring of human traffickers who used juju voodoo and animal sacrifices to coerce women into prostitution…The traffickers had put the women through a juju voodoo ritual that used the victims’ finger nails or public hair and involved animal sacrifice in front of idols in a temple in order to “guarantee that the women complied with everything they demanded, under threat of death to them and their families”.  Juju…has commonly been used to drive Nigerian women into sex trafficking…by exploiting the women’s fears of the powerful “magic”…

A few points of interest:

  • Most people in Spain practice Catholicism, a sect in which a woman can undergo a ritual involving sacred rings and magic water in front of idols in a temple in order to guarantee that she be bound to obey one man under threat of eternal torture by demons in a pit of damned fire.
  • There is no such thing as “juju voodoo”; Voodoo is a New-World syncretism of Catholicism and traditional African religion which is practiced in neither Nigeria nor Spain.
  • The readers of this article are being asked to believe without evidence in the word of “authorities” that powerful and unseen evil forces are lurking about to abduct their children unless they give these “authorities” greater power over their lives.

But obviously, Europeans and Americans are so much more sophisticated than the superstitious women who can be controlled by “magic”.

It’s Different Because It Involves Sex, Part Umpteen (#43)

Pole dancing is artistic expression — but lap dancing is not, a…[New York] judge has ruled…“There is a stage for the performers illuminated by spotlights; a dressing room for the dancers, who, at times, wear an array of different costumes; (and) tables and seating that are oriented towards the stage to focus audience attention on the performances;” and featured “choreographed dances,” [Judge] Pinto wrote…But the…more lucrative private dances were another story.  The auditor “credibly testified that in his 10 or 15 visits to Nite Moves over the course of years he purchased one or two private dances a night.  He said the private dances were very similar…He admitted he was not an expert in choreography but did not think what he experienced in the private dance was choreographed”…

Watershed

It’s so nice to see a few public intellectuals actually saying this:

…prostitution [has] been around as long as humanity itself, but…we don’t talk about it…Either it’s something glamorously Belle du Jour-ish, all swanning around five star hotels earning more cash per horizontal hour than the rest of us do in a vertical week, or it’s trafficked slaves, drugged and abused and held against their will in conditions so appalling we cannot bear to even think about it.  But what if in between these two extremes there’s a more mundane middle ground?…it’s a job.  It’s work…Dr Jane Pitcher…interviewed 36 self employed prostitutes…and…found that they all worked indoors, chose their own hours and clients, and set their own rates of pay.  None had been coerced into the work, and many were registered as self-employed.  They had good relationships with their clients.  It was far from the glamour/misery dichotomy…The obvious solution is to decriminalise all sex work, making it safer, more regulated, and not driven underground…

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong (#513)

Control freaks just can’t get that the Swedish model is unwelcome in Scotland:

The End Prostitution Now campaign…will call on the Scottish public, MSPs, charities and public bodies, to put pressure on the Scottish Government to [impose the Swedish model]…The campaign launch coincides with Labour MSP Rhoda Grant’s announcement yesterday of her amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill…She said…“I fear that if Scotland does not follow [Northern Ireland], it could become a haven for sex traffickers moving out of Northern Ireland“…

Fortunately, Grant’s attempt to circumvent the parliamentary process was immediately quashed.

The Course of a Disease (#515)

Activist Molly Smith on the problems with the Swedish model:

…Instead of focusing on creating bureaucratic hoops for sex workers to jump through, decriminalization prioritizes sex workers’ safety and health…While sex workers are not prosecuted simply for selling sex under the Swedish model, various laws continue to be used against them in punitive ways.  “Operation Homeless,” the memorably-named Norwegian police initiative, evicted people suspected of selling sex—a law aimed at “pimps,” but used against sex workers’ landlords…People who claim sex workers are “decriminalized” under the Swedish model tend to be…feminist…yet it’s hard to imagine the same feminists would consider abortion “decriminalized” if people suspected of seeking abortions were subject to deportation and extra-judicial (yet perfectly legal) eviction.  In fact, Sweden’s policymakers are remarkably open about the extent to which the law is supposed to harm people who sell sex.  The head of Sweden’s anti-trafficking unit told a journalist last year, “of course the law has negative consequences for women in prostitution, but that’s also some of the effect that we want to achieve”…

A Year Later (#515)

NO NO NO! This is absolutely awful!

…Under the old law, SNUG regularly partnered with Edmonton Police Service to run operations in which sex workers were taken into custody.  But instead of pressing charges, women were brought to SNUG offices, given some food and offered services.  When the law changed, police weren’t able to charge sex workers anymore and SNUG lost a crucial outreach opportunity…

Subjecting sex workers to violence in order to “outreach” to them is an absolutely terrible, dehumanizing, agency-negating idea; what next, shooting them with tranquilizer darts and RF tagging them for study?Primates of Park Avenue

Housewife Harlotry (#540)

Welcome to our world, New York housewives:

…is Primates of Park Avenue, an exposé on the moneyed mommies of Manhattan, really true?…Author Wednesday Martin…claims in the memoir to have spent six years “doing field work” with her two kids on the Upper East Side…But Martin only lived there for three years, with one kid, and mentions stores and services that didn’t exist, calling into question the scenes and ­behaviors she describes…Primates includes eyebrow-raising anecdotes, such as the claim that some women receive yearly “wife bonuses.”  After readers expressed doubt, Martin backpedaled, telling New York magazine:  “I don’t necessarily think it’s a trend or widespread.  It was just one of the many strange-seeming cultural practices that some women told me about.”  Although the book includes no such disclaimer and is advertised as a “memoir,” Martin [said] she “telescoped certain parts of the narrative in order to protect the privacy of friends, neighbors, associates and family.”  That “telescoping” seems to have moved events that happened in different neighborhoods and put them on the Upper East Side…

Traffic Circle (#544)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…if you think about it for half a minute, [the “average debut at 13″] statistic makes little sense…if it is the “average,” then for all those who entered trafficking at age 16 or 17, there have to be nearly equivalent numbers who entered at age 9 or 10.  But no one seriously believes that.  Upon investigation, this claim crumbles to dust…FBI spokesmen say this is not their figure.  The Justice Department also says it is not a DOJ figure…Yet somehow this figure lives on in the echo chamber of Washington discourse.  The worst example we found was a Department of Homeland Security pamphlet for school administrators that boldly displayed both the claim about 300,000 children and the average age of 13.  It listed two sources:  The Department of Justice and the congressionally mandated Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  But the DOJ reference was to another opinion article that cited the Estes/Weiner report, not an official DOJ finding.  And the CMEC fact sheet referred to a report by Shared Hope International…which in turn relied on…the same Estes/Weiner report…in the end the source of the data is the same discredited and out-of-date academic paper.  It would be amusing if it were not so sad…The Washington Post and other news organizations also failed by allowing [the] claim to be published as an actual fact…This is a Four-Pinocchio statistic and should no longer be cited.

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The assumption made by [neofeminists] is that sex workers are blind automatons, blithely wandering from one rape to the next, too blinded by the overwhelming glare of the “male gaze” and too fuzzy and confused in their stupid whore brains to differentiate between consensual sex and a violent, unwanted encounter.  –  Clare Bowden

Acting and Activism 

Tits and Sass does a good guide to the most loudmouthed and ridiculous Hollywood “sex trafficking” fetishists, including Susan Sarandon, Meg Ryan, Ashton Kutcher, Jada Pinkett-Smith and of course Mira Sorvino.rapist-murderer cop Richard J Aguirre

Surplus Women 

The only reason this cop is on trial for the rape and murder of a sex worker 30 years ago is that he just couldn’t give up the habit:

Shortly after Richard J. Aguirre appeared in court…in his Franklin County rape case…he…was arrested by Spokane police for the murder of a prostitute in 1986…The one time Officer of the Year and 27-year veteran of the force in Pasco has been charged…with first-degree murder…bail is set at $500,000…Aguirre voluntarily submitted DNA during the recent rape investigation and the sample…matched…DNA recovered from the [earlier case]…police interviewed Lawrence Cole, who grew up with Aguirre…The two men apparently frequented bars and strip clubs and solicited prostitutes at least once…After a night of drinking, Cole reported that Aguirre said he “hit a woman” and “choked her”…And when Aguirre walked away “he thought she was still moving.”  Detectives investigating the case determined it was likely [Ruby] Doss and her killer got into a struggle inside a manure pit after they had sex…She ran more than 250 feet before she was hit in the back of the head and forehead with an object.  [She]…was then strangled and the suspect returned to the pit to hide her fur coat, wig and earrings…

Follow Your Bliss (#38)

A [former underage sex worker]…says a lawyer who was supposed to take her to a shelter for abused girls instead raped her at a posh Dallas hotel…a lawsuit filed by the girl’s mother…alleges that Michael Harssema was…“employed and/or volunteering for Traffick 911,” an anti-trafficking organization…Traffick 911 officials deny any connection with Harssema…

Train Wreck (#48)

Looks like Nigeria’s getting into the “asset forfeiture” racket, too:

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Special Task Team on City Cleaning and Management in Abuja has arrested 3,000 commercial sex workers in the last 90 days…[they] have been handed over to the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) for prosecution and rehabilitation.  The task team also arrested 2,534 street hawkers and beggars…and…impounded 4,790 commercial motorcycles, 883 [motor tricycles], 645 unpainted commercial vehicles and 84 illegal commercial buses…

The More the Better (#135)

As is so often the case in articles about brothels, this one dips into grotesquery.  Even so, it makes a few interesting points about how brothels like Sheri’s Ranch are still thriving while other, less competitive ones are dying off.

Monsters 

A teenager in India was allegedly forced to have sex with his own mother in an effort to “cure” him of being gay, Gay Star News reports.  According to LGBT Collective, a gay rights group in Telangana…there are more and more reports of “corrective rapes” being carried out by members of the victims’ own families.  Often families will handpick a cousin to carry out the act…

An Example to the West (#331)

Nicaragua’s Supreme Court has made sex workers official representatives of the government and the judicial system.  A pilot group of 18 sex workers have been provided with technical and legal training to try to manage the most common conflicts that arise in their line of work…The vice president of the Nicaraguan Judicial System, Marvin Aguilar…[said] “We are the only country in the world that treats sex workers as ‘judicial facilitators’…We do not put them in prison for the sexual work.  There are countries close to Nicaragua in which sex workers are sought after like any other criminal so to be sent to prison.”

Naked Truth (#346) Much Loved

A prostitution-themed film from Morocco that had its premiere at…Cannes…in May has set off a furor there…the government last week banned the movie from theaters, the female stars received death threats and a male actor was attacked with a knife…Much Loved, by…Nabil Ayouch, includes scenes of prostitutes in Marrakesh partying, speaking raunchy Arabic and servicing wealthy Saudi clients…The movie became the subject of protests outside Parliament in Rabat and of heated discussions on social networks in Morocco and France.  Conservative Muslims view Much Loved as scandalous.  Moderate Moroccans are offended that the film’s dark portrayal of their country was shown at a prestigious international film festival…

Catastrophic Consequences (#407) 

MSP Jean Urquhart speaks up for sex workers again:

…When the highly successful tolerance zones for street prostitution were abolished in Edinburgh…sex workers reported a 95% increase in violence over 12 months…it is hard to understand how…threatening the key witnesses to trafficking and coercion – the clients – with a sex-crime record if they come forward would help with investigating and prosecuting [sex trafficking]…There is little evidence that the criminalisation of clients even achieves its proponents’ aim of reducing demand for sex work…What sex workers tell us would actually protect them would be to ensure their labour rights, including the right to work in a shared premises, to eliminate stigma and discrimination against sex workers, and to decriminalise sex work.

New Excuse

Elizabeth Brown on the War on Whores as replacement for War on Drugs:

…the “War on Sex Trafficking” that the federal government is waging will fail, just as the “War on Drugs” has failed…just as giving local police and prosecutors an urgent mandate to fight drugs led mostly to the prosecution of low-level drug users and dealers rather than big-time drug traffickers, the fight against sex trafficking—plus federal funding to do so, contingent on arrests and convictions—sets up perverse incentives to treat everyday prostitution as sex trafficking.  All over the country, we’re now seeing what would have been deemed “vice” work reframed as human trafficking stings.  And who gets swept up in these stings?  Willing, adult sex workers.  Their would-be patrons.  Petty pimps…under the new banner of human trafficking even relatively minor crimes related to sex work can come with serious felony status, a sex offender registry requirement and a mandatory minimum prison term…

Held Together With Lies (#447)

It’s difficult to believe that anyone could take this idiocy, which only starts with that “35.8 million slaves” nonsense, seriously.  Oliver Twist!  “Potential victims”!  Nail salons!  Unfortunately, all this foolishness is used to justify something very serious: mass incarceration.

…the Modern Slavery Act…[increased] maximum custodial sentences…from 14 years to life and offenders with prior convictions for very serious sexual or violent offences face automatic life sentences. “It gives law enforcement more flexibility, more powers”…Home Office minister Karen Bradley says the government has “succeeded” in putting modern slavery at the top of the agenda and is “determined to eradicate it”…

Traffic Circle (#542)

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker”, continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…The sex trade is an underground industry, so on what basis would the revenues from the trafficking of children…in the United States be calculated so precisely…as $9.8 billion?…a…graphic posted on the Internet by Shared Hope International…says it…[came from] a 2005 International Labour Organization report…But that report contains no mention of a $9.8 billion figure for…the United States…only a broad estimate of about $13 billion…for “forced commercial sexual exploitation” for 36 industrialized countries (of which the U.S. represents about 30 percent of the population).  ILO officials say they have never given a breakdown by country…it…is…a fantasy, unconnected to any real data…One could certainly say that the underground sex trade in the United States likely is worth more than a billion dollars, but it would be a serious mistake to conflate that with human trafficking…

Welcome to the Future (#543)

trafficking is being used as a flimsy justification to stigmatise sex workers…Trying to stay as inconspicuous as possible means that these women are forced to take unnecessary risks with their safety, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will be victims of a violent crime.  When this point was raised to the Justice Committee by Laura Lee…she was wilfully humiliated, effectively called a pimp, threatened with legal action, told to have sex with disabled people for free and otherwise completely disregarded…

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Why would a prostitute decide to be a witness and testify against a pimp if she’s only facing a violation?  – Keith Kaneshiro

As I explained a month ago, “Hawaii was the last American state to criminalize prostitution…and since then…[has] tried to make up for the late start by coming up with some of the most grotesque anti-whore shenanigans imaginable.”  I thought we had seen the worst last year, when Hawaiian cops brazenly petitioned to be allowed to keep the legal right to rape sex workers which had been enshrined for years in Hawaiian law until discovered by a justly-scandalized legislator.  But cops have the astounding ability of continually increasing their own level of barbarity, and a few weeks ago we heard that they had actually charged sex workers with sexual assaulting the cops who had in reality assaulted them:

…Lawyer Myles Breiner, who represented several of the women, told the Associated Press that in at least one instance an officer disrobed and then took the woman’s hand and physically placed it on his genitals. “They’re experimenting with the limits of the constitution,” said Breiner. “Sex assault in the fourth degree is a non-consensual touching of a sexual nature.  How can you say it’s not consensual when the officers are going into these establishments intending to be touched?”…

hero cops arrest dangerous womanNow, this should come as no shock to anyone who’s ever heard of any of the myriad instances in which cops charge their victims with “assaulting a police officer” for scratching a cop’s knuckles with their teeth while being punched in the mouth, bleeding on their assailant’s uniforms or falling on their feet after being pummeled to the ground.  What makes it especially revolting is that the cops blamed this odious stratagem on their being forced to give up the right to rape their victims:

…now that Hawaii cops can’t sleep with sex workers in order to make prostitution cases, they must rely on explicit conversation about the transaction.  But most massage parlor workers know not to be explicit in this way.  Instead, they may simply gauge the situation and then start in on sexual action without hashing out the details first—aka, without getting consent.  That’s what allows these enterprising cops to charge sex workers with sexual assault…

In other words, “let us sexually assault you or we’ll charge you with doing the same to us.”  Lovely.  Unfortunately for these disgusting thugs, most people won’t give sexual violence a free pass anymore, even when it’s cops perpetrating it; that’s one of the reasons prohibitionism has shifted to Swedish-flavored “rescue” nonsense and cops pretend to be targeting men (“pimps and johns”) when they are in actuality still mostly targeting women:

…Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro wrote that his office was dedicated to “maintain[ing] its focus on prosecuting those who profit from prostitution and has worked with prostituted persons to accomplish this goal”…In January…Kaneshiro boasted about how his office had increased prosecution of pimps and traffickers…[by] relying upon the state’s current prostitution statute to “give police the necessary leverage to influence a prostitute to testify against her pimp…If she’s facing a crime and if she might do jail time, she might have incentive to cooperate with law enforcement”…coercive criminal charging is…ineffective.  Most sex workers do not have pimps or traffickers…the popular conceit, that sex workers are lured into the industry as children and then forced to continue sleeping with men until they finally escape, is simply not borne out by empirical evidence…Massage parlor workers may simply have no pimp to “give up.”  And instead, when faced with considerable criminal charges, are being forced to name any friend who helped them, whether that person gave them a ride to work or babysat their children…

In other words, “going after the pimps” simply means arresting and charging more women.  When the tactics are too heavy-handed, as they are wont to be in Hawaii, a public outcry like the one that resulted in the repeal of the rape-right may result; that’s what happened again this time:

Sex assault charges were dismissed Wednesday against 16 women who were arrested…during a Honolulu police prostitution sting…The decision to drop the charges has many wondering if the Honolulu Police Department conducted the operation without consulting with the prosecutor’s office first.  One legal expert says media coverage may have led to the decision.  “They may have been on the same page as long as there were no news stories on it…” said…Law Professor Ken Lawson.  “Either way, based on the nature of the charges and the facts of the underlining case, it was going to be dismissed anyway”…”It seems that HPD keeps looking for opportunities to have sexual contact with [sex worker] targets”…said Defense Attorney Myles Breiner…[who] represents several of the women…

Lion & UnicornThe dropping of the charges doesn’t even end this ordeal for some of the women who “were in the country illegally. Deportation proceedings for these women are now underway…”  Of course, the “authorities” try to cast such deportation as “repatriation” instead; they pretend the women were “sex trafficking victims” who never wanted to come to the US in the first place, so that it’s a kindness to give them a free ride back to where they came from.  This is typical of the looking-glass logic of Prohibitionland, where choice is called “slavery”, persecuting women is “going after the men”, and a sleazy rapist is defined as the victim of his target.  And for whatever reason, Hawaii seems determined to embrace such insanity as its brand and standard.

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In its moral simplicity and willingness to exploit its subjects, [Hot Girls Wanted] ends up resembling the genre it aims to expose.  –  Susan Shepard

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

A [Merseyside, England] police sergeant [named David Gibson] has been charged with misconduct after allegedly engaging in a sexual act with a prostitute while on duty…

The Pro-Rape Coalition Ava Taylor

Hot Girls Wanted…looks at five young women who were recruited off of Craigslist by an “agent” in Miami, Florida named Riley from Hussie Models.  It was directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, whose previous documentary Sexy Baby, looked at an alleged cultural shift in the sexual landscape that, the women claim, was caused by adult entertainment…Writing in Vice, Susan Elizabeth Shepard notes that the team’s new film is actually an exercise in offering “unexamined statements and vague intimations about how doing porn harms women and watching it warps men”…one of the documentary’s subjects, ex-performer Ava Taylor …oozed a sense of entitlement…she wanted to make money and get famous fast…the dressed down and bespectacled Ava…claims to be out of sex work…[she] is angry and combative, hurling blame at producers, her agent, and even the testing system for adult performers.  On one of her Twitter accounts, she has repeated how glad she is to be out, and moving on with her life…However…two months after Hot Girls Wanted premiered, Ava was back in Los Angeles shooting brand new porn scenes…[she also] currently offers escort services online…

It Looks Good On Paper

The national “safe harbor” law is just as useless and dishonest as the state ones:

The average sex-trafficking victim is a 13-year-old girl, often forced into the illicit business against her will and fed illegal drugs to keep her tethered to her pimp.  These children need housing, education, jobs and hope for a future — not a criminal rap sheet, says U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar…President Obama signed a law championed by Klobuchar that…creates financial incentives for states to pass laws that ensure minors sold for sex aren’t prosecuted, but are instead treated as victims…

Wise Investment

The latest hit to companies who are actively anti-sex industry is a lawsuit against the payment processor Square.  Xbiz reports that attorney William McGrane is taking them to court with the claim that the 27 business categories in…“Prohibited Businesses” are being discriminated against and having their civil rights violated under the policy.  According to McGrane, the majority of the types…listed are either too vague to be valid or are legal businesses, making it illegal for Square to discriminate against them…

Policing for Profit

When the cops raided Ginnifer Hency’s home in Smiths Creek, Michigan…”they took everything,” she told state legislators…including TV sets, ladders, her children’s cellphones and iPads, even her vibrator.  They found six ounces of marijuana and arrested Hency for possession with intent to deliver, “even though I was fully compliant with the Michigan medical marijuana laws”…Hency, a mother of four with multiple sclerosis, uses marijuana for pain relief based on her neurologist’s recommendation.  She also serves as a state-registered caregiver for five other patients…[the] judge dismissed the charges against her.  But when she asked about getting back her property… “The prosecutor came out to me and said, ‘Well, I can still beat you in civil court.  I can still take your stuff’…the Michigan House Judiciary Committee [is] considering several bills that would make this sort of legalized larceny more difficult…Annette Shattuck, another medical marijuana patient…was [robbed of]…bicycles, her husband’s tools, a lawn mower, a weed whacker, her children’s Christmas presents, cash (totaling $85) taken from her daughter’s birthday cards, the kids’ car seats and soccer equipment, and vital documents such as driver’s licenses, insurance cards, and birth certificates…

A Procrustean Bed (#339)

Another jurisdiction officially classifies women as passive objects without agency:

[Chicago] officials have launched a new alternative program for men and women charged with prostitution…the new court would help connect the women – and sometimes men – connect with social services so they can turn away from prostitution…“and turn their lives around”…Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli said, instead of prosecution, defendants will get mostly treatment and help from social service agencies. “They will learn how to break their pasts, and cut all ties with those who have abused them, or dragged them into living lives of desperation”…

The Roof Caves In

The US government knew about the now-infamous deceptions and malpractice within organisations run by Somaly Mam for years prior to the media exposés…last year.  Even so, Washington continued to see her as a “positive force in the anti-trafficking effort”, despite evidence that medical care at her shelters was not available and that her…NGO, Afesip, had “mismanaged” funds…A cable titled Somaly Mam Under Microscope sent to the State Department from the embassy in Phnom Penh on May 8, 2012, shows that the embassy suspected as early as 2006 that a key claim repeated by Mam over the years – that her daughter was abducted in 2006 in revenge for an Afesip raid on a Phnom Penh brothel in 2004 – was false…

Welcome to the Future

News media used to just report news; now they allow propagandists to make bogus predictions of disaster:

From 1 June, it will be illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland…The Immigrant Council of Ireland and…Turn Off The Red Light…will…call for similar laws to come into force in the south immediately…[because]  counties south of the border will become “more attractive for pimps, traffickers and thugs”…

And then gin up fake “statistics” to support their own predictions:

Pimps and prostitutes are moving into the border counties as a crackdown on the sex trade in Northern Ireland comes into force, campaigners have warned. There has been more than a 50 per cent rise in online sex trade activity in counties Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Louth in recent weeks, according to a study by the Immigrant Council of Ireland…Brian Killoran…of the ICI…said the Border counties now face being used as a “safe haven” for sex traders in the absence of a similar ban by the Dublin government. “The initial indications are that those who run prostitution have been feeling the heat of Northern Ireland’s new laws even before they came into force and have been switching their operations to the south”…

Yes, they’re actually claiming the laws had effects reaching into the future.

Monkey Business (#449) 

More than a year after the starting fight for legal personhood for the research chimpanzees Hercules and Leo, the apes and their lawyers got their day in court…A decision could set a precedent for challenging…the captivity of other chimpanzees—and perhaps other species…New York assistant attorney general Christopher Coulston…argued that [the judge] was bound by the previous decisions of two appellate courts, which had ruled that other Nonhuman Rights Project chimps didn’t qualify for habeas corpus…Both those decisions are controversial.  In one, judges decided that habeas corpus didn’t apply because the chimp would be transferred from one form of captivity to another—in this case, a sanctuary.  But illegally-held human prisoners have been released to mental hospitals, and juveniles into the care of guardians.  In the other appeals court decision, judges declared that chimps are not legal persons because they can’t fulfill duties to human society.  But that rationale arguably denies personhood to young children and mentally incapacitated individuals, as several high-profile legal scholars…pointed out…

Moving Pictures just as truthful as Jurassic Park

Because “trafficking” means anything we want it to mean!

Ed Smart…visited east Idaho…to attend a screening of a documentary about child sex trafficking…“When Elizabeth was abducted do we think of her being enslaved?…She absolutely was…she was assaulted once twice a day for almost every day of the nine months she was gone.”  Smart is now on a mission to rescue children from sex trafficking.  He’s working with Operation Underground Railroad….“Any time you have a resort area more than likely trafficking is going on there.  Any time there’s a big sporting event in the United States you can believe trafficking is going on.”  Operation Underground Railroad  has produced a new documentary called The Abolitionists.  It shows investigators rescuing endangered children and going after the adult perpetrators around the world…

Vendetta (#518)

It’s hard to tell the worst part of this “end demand” propaganda.  Is it the bullshit claim that women aren’t being arrested because they’re forced into “re-education” rather than jail?  The badge-licking description of cops hunting down people seeking to engage in consensual sex?  The Orwellian euphemism “recovering a victim” used to mean “arresting a woman”?  The cop bragging about how many women he’s arrested?  The pervasive denial of female agency?  The description of a prosecutor as a “defense attorney”?  Or the fact that neither warped billionaire Swanee Hunt (the architect of the fascist program Seattle is participating in) nor her “CEASE Network” front organization are mentioned at all, even though she paid for the policy change with grants?

Guinea Pigs 

What can one conclude about an article on “data analysis” that begins with mathematically-illiterate bullshit?

The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is 14.  The kind of profit a pimp can expect to make on a child prostitute each year is $150,000.  Child trafficking operations spend about $45 million a year advertising their services on literally thousands of sites and millions of pages…Two computer science professors, Pedro Szekely and Craig Knoblock…have developed a new search tool intended to…turn advertising against human traffickers.  The work is being funded by Memex, a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program aimed at developing the next generation of search technologies…The tool they’ve created combs through escort ads; downloads all relevant pages, including the ones those ads link to; discovers connections, folds the data into a repository; and provides query and analysis functionality to enable searching by law enforcement users…Currently, the database contains content from 50 million Web pages and 2 billion records; it’s growing at the rate of about 5,000 Web pages per hour…

Another Fine Mess (#527)

Why are amateurs so surprised that sex workers use ordinary business tools?

…in Zimbabwe…many people in the informal economy make use of [a South African cell phone payment service named] EcoCash and sex workers are no exception, with some carrying multiple phones.  “If I’ve got 20, 30 or 50 bucks and I’m not going to use it, I will put it in EcoCash,” says Ncube.  “Even if someone steals my bag, I will open my mobile wallet tomorrow and the money will still be there”…Officials…express surprise at the swift integration of mobile money.  Jessie Majome, a former deputy minister of women’s affairs, says…“Wow. Hi-tech sex work.  I’m struck how early they’ve adapted to that”…

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That is how we ended up in the church, without knowing how it would all end, without knowing if we would get out dead or alive.  But it was really the last thing that we could do to try and save our skin.  –  Maria de Lourdes

Protest at St. Nizier's 1975Forty years ago today, the sex workers of Lyon, France protested the unrelenting torment the cops inflicted upon them by occupying the Church of St. Nizier.  Despite its bawdy reputation in the English-speaking world, France has never been friendly to whores; beginning in the 16th century the French pioneered many of the laws and tactics used to harass us throughout the world to this day, and the Code Napoleon officially gave the police power to “control” prostitution (with results any regular reader could predict).  The severity of the maltreatment ebbed and flowed throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries until the government decided to revenge its humiliation at the hands of the Nazis on the bodies of sex workers, and France became officially “abolitionist” in 1960.

By August of 1973 the cops’ depredations had become so severe a street protest was organized, but it did not end well and the police were only emboldened to make things worse.  Early in 1975 they closed down the hotels de passe, cheap establishments where street workers took their clients, then proceeded to harry them with fines; the department decreed that each girl was to receive two or three fines per day, but because multiple cops were involved it could sometimes be five or more.  If a woman went to pay her fines, she was intentionally delayed in the police station for several hours so she would lose most of her night; if she didn’t pay she would be arrested and jailed, and her children abducted by the state if there were no relatives to take them.  Meanwhile, the tax department would present them with huge bills assuming numbers of clients that would fit comfortably in the masturbatory fantasies of “sex trafficking” fetishists.

Something had to give, and on June 2nd two sex workers named Ulla and Barbara led a group of 100 prostitutes to occupy a church in hopes of calling attention to their plight.  They had an ally in Father Louis Blanc, who secured the cooperation of several other priests; they planned to occupy the Church of St.Bonaventure, but the police found out and began to prepare for mass arrests of the protesters as they arrived.  Fortunately, Ulla was tipped off in time and diverted the protesters to St. Nizier instead; volunteers waited inside to direct each arrival out through the side doors while the cops waited outside in their cars, thinking they would wait until they could get a good crop of victims before springing their trap.  Father Blanc remembers, “The police officers looked as if they were having fun in their cars.  But after a while, they were having less fun because…’what is happening?’ We have disappeared!  In the meantime the prostitutes have entered the Church of St. Nizier, where there are no police.”  The priest at St. Nizier was Father Béal, and with his help over 100 whores were able to congregate there before the cops realized where they had gone.

By the evening of June 3rd, the news of the protest had spread across France, and over the next few days to other countries as well.  Sex workers all over France began to occupy other churches; in Paris 200 whores occupied the Chapel of Saint Bernard.  The media interviewed Ulla and other sex workers, allowing them to air their grievances for all to hear and they issued a “Letter to the People of Lyon” which read, in part,

…we haven’t taken up prostitution because we are depraved.  Prostitution is the only means we have found to deal with the problems of life…People regard us as “dirty” or “abnormal” women, but at the same time they say we are needed…Prostitution is not forbidden under French law and theoretically we are citizens like everyone else.  But because society is ashamed of the fact that it needs us, it treats us as criminals, people who can be subjected to the full repressive might of the police…

Most feminists of 1975 still actually supported women’s choices, and figures like Simone de Beauvoir spoke up for the sex workers; other activists protested outside the church in a show of solidarity. Their demands were simple; as stated in a pamphlet they circulated outside, “We will only leave the church once you have given us the guarantee that you will stop throwing us in jail each time you think there is a repeat offense.  Our children do not want their mothers to go to jail.”  The protesters told the media they wished to speak to Madame Giroud, then State Secretary for Women, but before the request could even be officially made Giroud refused, claiming this was not a women’s issue at all but rather the responsibility of the Minister of Interior; the latter politician, Michel Poniatowski, decided to reply with violence, and at 5 AM on June 10th ordered the police to remove the protesters from all of the churches.

In Paris and some other places, the removal was accomplished with the usual police tactics of smashing down doors and beating women with truncheons, but at St. Nizier they decided to use a trick.  A cop called Father Béal pretending to be a reporter who wanted to speak to Ulla, and when the church door was unlocked to admit the priest with his fake message, armed cops sprang from hiding; they pushed him aside and swarmed into the building 120 strong, accompanied by 20 dogs and equipped with tear gas.  Most of the women were simply ordered out, but Ulla and Barbara were beaten so severely they had to be hospitalized.  Father Béal lodged a formal protest against the violation of the ancient principle of asylum, but Poniatowski replied that police could enter anywhere when “public order” was disturbed, citing a law from 1905 in support of his actions.

Hooking vans in LyonBut despite the government’s refusal to peacefully grant the demands, officials must have been anxious to avoid similar embarrassment in the future; the harassment stopped, the cops with the highest numbers of sex worker arrests were reassigned to other duties, and the ludicrous tax bills no longer appeared.  By 1994 the culture had shifted sufficiently for “pimping” to be defined more narrowly, thus ending for a time the harassment of partners, roommates, adult children, etc with “avails” charges.  Of course, that didn’t last long, and regular readers have seen the tide once again turn toward repression in the form of the “Swedish model“, laws against “looking like a whore” and even repeated parking fines for the vans from which most street workers now operate.  But the protesters and their successors have not passively watched all this happen:

…the whores began holding regular meetings and soon formed the French Collective of Prostitutes, on which the English Collective of Prostitutes was later modeled.  Women in a number of other countries were also inspired to form groups, and a number of these came together with Margo St. James’ COYOTE to form the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights (ICPR), the organization whose work and example helped to win prostitution law reform in a number of European countries and provided an example which inspired similar campaigns in many other parts of the world.  In a way, the modern sex worker rights movement was born on that June 2nd in Lyon, so we celebrate it now as International Whores’ Day.

I’ve written about this occasion before, but the greater detail in today’s column was made possible by a French-language documentary being broadcast today on both Radio France and Radio Belgium; it was produced by Australian sex worker rights activist Eurydice Aroney, who called it to my attention about six weeks ago and reminded me of it again recently.  You can listen to the show at the link above, and Eurydice kindly provided me with this English translation of the transcript.  She and I both think it’s very important that sex workers know about the history of our movement; please help us accomplish that goal by publicizing the documentary and this column on social media!

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The [Satanic] panic…was instigated and perpetuated mostly by groups of fundamentalist Christians who saw Satan in every heavy metal album, “Smurfs” episode, and Dungeons & Dragons game.  –  Radley Balko

The Biggest Whores

An Australian lawyer chides prohibitionist peers:

…If lawyers picked and chose…their clients…based on morality, then those individuals who fall on the wayside of public opinion would be completely without assistance…I was essentially being called morally bankrupt by two men who have acted for some of the most notorious criminals this state has come across.  They have also acted on behalf of alleged criminals who have been found not guilty.  If these men had subjected their clients to the same moral rigour as they have with sex workers, those clients may not have had the benefit of their legal services to begin with, and may have subsequently found erroneously guilty…when lawyers cast…moral aspersions on parts of society, something we are specifically trained not to do in ethics class, that does not leave much hope for the minority that are subject to those aspersions…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

The inevitable result of criminalization:

…Tucson [cop]…Shane Barrett said the department first received complaints about [an alleged brothel]…on Nov. 29, 2011.  The Pima County Attorney’s Office used Barrett’s affidavit as the basis for trying to seize $15,000 and a long list of property from the accused operators…Clarissa Lopez and Ulises Ruiz…[cops] finally obtained and served search warrants on Ruiz and Lopez’s home and their places of business…three years and two months after the initial reports…TPD is conducting an internal affairs investigation alongside the criminal investigation…It’s unclear whether the implicated officers are thought to be customers of the brothel or involved in some other way…

Held Together With Lies

Prohibitionists make up a bunch of big numbers, then multiply them to get an even bigger fake number.  SCIENCE!

…Prostitution in France brings in an annual turnover of €3.2 billion, a new study funded by the European Commission has found…France’s nearly 40,000 prostitutes…bring in an average gross total of €87,700 a year – much of which is sent abroad.  The authors of the report, who are campaigning for the abolition of prostitution, say that there is a serious tax evasion on these earning that totals €853 million a year.  They added that the total “cost” on society was €1.6 billion…The profession also proves costly for indirect social consequences, the study noted, such as imprisonment for pimping, health expenses, and addictions.  Maîtresse Gilda, spokeswoman from the French sex-workers union Strass said the figures in the study were “delusional”…

The idea that sex workers are to blame for the costs of criminalizing us is the exact moral equivalent of a bully who hits another child with his own hand while mocking, “Stop hitting yourself!”

First They Came for the Hookers…

“Sex trafficking” fetishists target strip clubs because they’re much more easily located than online escorts:

…OneHeart Ministry in Dayton…is…helping women who work at strip clubs who are at risk of being trafficked or are being trafficked…children ages 10 to 12 are being targeted for prostitution…“If you see something, say something,” she said…

Yes, these fanatics are un-ironically using one of the police state’s more notorious slogans.no trafficking shelter here

Gingerbread House

It’s satisfying when the mask of concern for “trafficking victims” slips:

Controversy continues to grow over the proposed safe house for male victims of sex trafficking in [North Carolina]…The group against the safe house said their major complaints were that no one told them it was going right behind their houses, and the fact the boys living there could run away and cause damage to their property. However, they remain adamant that they have nothing against the boys or mission…

NIMBY at its finest and most literal.

Checklist

It’s hard to imagine an article with a lower opinion of female intelligence and agency than this one:

…a…Florida…bill…requires public-awareness signs be placed at rest areas, turnpike service plazas, some emergency rooms, weigh stations, strip clubs and bodyworks businesses not operated by health-care professionals.  The signs will outline how to identify a human trafficking victim along with the phone number of the awareness center.  Signs could also be placed in restroom stalls, allowing victims to self-identify during a rare moment of privacy…a…second bill attacks the root cause of much human trafficking…without the demand by so-called johns, the pimps would be out of business.  To that end, the bill targets first-time offenders with a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service and completion of [“john school”]…That should serve as a stronger deterrent than current penalties…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#312)

Prostitution activities maybe [sic] permitted in several areas [in Jakarta, Indonesia] in an effort to control illegal prostitutions [sic] in rented rooms and apartments…In addition, allowing prostitutions in specific places was said to enable a check on activities to offer sex by underaged girls…Indonesia Ulama Council’s general head’s representative Ma’ruf Amin…[said] the proposal…deviated from Islamic teaching…

Theatrics 

But hey, they weren’t selling sex, so there’s no need for a crusade or anything:

An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruling has highlighted the vulnerability of temporary foreign workers in a case where two women worked in what the tribunal called a “sexually poisoned work environment.”  The women had their work permits revoked and were sent back to Mexico after resisting the sexual overtures of their employer at Presteve Foods…One woman was forced to perform sex acts under threat of being sent home and both were sexually harassed in other ways…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s kind of nice to see sex workers described as depraved temptresses rather than helpless victims:

…more terms [have emerged for an] escort [such as]…PSP — or personal service provider…prostitution is utilizing the power of the Internet to lure those who patronize it…The underground flesh trade has become more wired and clandestine…Ashley…moonlights as a PSP to support her obsession with material possessions…mostly…gadgets and signature dresses…she does this to…mask what was really behind her personality…the person she is…too ashamed for others to see…according to psychologist Dr. Estrella Tiongson-Magno, women dabble into prostitution because it is easy money…some men buy sex as a way to escape problems or uncomfortable emotions…however…since the pleasure is not lasting, men have to do it over and over again…Ronald Aguto…of the Cybercrime Division of NBI, said that self-advertised prostitution is rampant online…

Tyranny By Consensus (#346)

I’ll bet you thought opponents of condoms in porn were exaggerating:

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued a set of safety standards for all California porn production sets.  The 21-page standards presentation…goes into graphic detail about the safety precautions that are to be undertaken when adult video actors perform various acts.  Here’s one eye-opening detail from the document:  “the employer shall provide, at no cost to the employee, appropriate personal protective equipment such as, but not limited to, condoms, gloves for cleaning, and, if contact of the eyes with OPIM-STI is reasonably anticipated, eye protection.  Personal protective equipment will be considered “appropriate” only if it prevents blood or OPIM—STI* from passing through to or reaching the employee’s eyes, mouth, or other mucous membranes“…“OPIM—STI” means pre-ejaculate, ejaculate, semen, vaginal secretions…or…any other bodily fluid…in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between bodily fluids…

Yes, that means goggles.

Absolute Corruption (#449)

Radley Balko uses the case of Fran & Dan Keller to discuss the Satanic Panic in general:

…”[Texas’] highest criminal court…threw out the 1992 sexual assault convictions against Dan and Fran Keller but declined to find the former Austin day care owners innocent of crimes linked to a now-discredited belief that secret satanic [sic] cults were abusing day care children nationwide.  The Kellers spent more than 22 years in prison…The nine judges did not provide an explanation for why they rejected the Kellers’ innocence claim”…dozens of innocent people were sent to prison for crimes for which there was no evidence other than the coerced testimony of kids, and for which those same defendants would later be exonerated.  Here’s an excerpt from the concurring opinion of Judge Cheryl Johnson, who would have declared the couple innocent:  “This was a witch hunt from the beginning.  The allegations…were based on the testimony of a three-year-old child who…was in therapy for numerous psychological and behavioral issues“…That the highest court in Texas still can’t bring itself to declare the couple innocent, in spite of all that we know now, shows just how difficult it can be to undo the damage caused by a moral panic and junk science in the courtroom…One of the best treatments of the panic is the movie Witch Hunt, which focuses on Kern County, arguable the epicenter of the panic…

Bottleneck (#508)

Prohibitionists never understand how ridiculous they sound to normal people:

Edmonton should stop licensing body rub centres and crack down on their customers instead…four speakers argued…Kylee Nixon from the Friends and Families of McCauley Society called on the city to reduce demand for these services by focusing on johns.  This should include forcing customers to provide their names at the centres and arresting them when they break prostitution laws, she said…

Traffic Circle (#532)

The Washington Post continues to hammer at “sex trafficking” myths:

…many…lawmakers [have] repeatedly cited the statistic that “300,000” children were “at risk” of being sexually exploited.  Often, the source of the statistic was claimed to be the Justice Department…But it turns out that this is another one of those nonsense statistics, based on data so old that the original researcher even says it is no longer relevant.  It also does not have the imprimatur of the Justice Department. In recent months, The Fact Checker has exposed a series of dubious factoids, each of which are endlessly repeated by politicians and, even more irresponsibly, by the media…In 2008, Michelle Stranksy and David Finkelhor of the respected Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire wrote a report explaining the problems with the Estes/Weiner estimate, as well as other claims about the extent of the juvenile prostitution.  “PLEASE DO NOT CITE THESE NUMBERS,” the report pleaded…how did such an out-of-date guesstimate get touted as a current “Justice Department” figure?…in 2010, the Office of Justice Programs published an article in its Juvenile Justice Bulletin that cited the Estes/Weiner estimate…But the bulletin makes clear that this is only an opinion article and it does not express the official position of the Justice Department.  A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that…“No reliable national estimate exists of the incidence or prevalence of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States”…[politicians] should be ashamed of citing a figure that is so out of date and discredited…All lawmakers should stop using it and post prominent corrections of their statements on their Web sites…

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