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Posts Tagged ‘rape’

People you know and love purchase sex. And it doesn’t make them bad people at all.  –  Sarah Penello

Welcome To Our World

How irrationally stupid are people about sex?  This much:

…a study out of the University of Toronto Mississauga…looked at attitudes [on indoor prostitution and offering cash for organ donations. and] found that people generally disapprove of both, but are more firmly against indoor prostitution than they are against selling organs – particularly so among women…

Real People 

More of this, please:

I worked for a legal brothel in Australia and it was the best job I ever had…I loved and admired the women I worked with.  I took great pride in the pleasure I could give to people.  It was a job that I enjoyed, and I was better at it because I enjoyed it…Besides the inherent pleasure of a job well done, the monetary rewards of sex work are unmatched.  Try finding another job that allows me to choose my own hours and make over $1,000 per week on a part-time schedule.  In a legal, regulated and safe environment, the real trap of sex work isn’t usually the stuff of horror movies but the less exciting reality of the intoxicating quality of money…

Scapegoats 

He’s lucky he didn’t try to pay the pony:

A 74-year-old Frenchman who was caught in the act of having sex with a pony this week has walked free after escaping punishment…[he] was caught in the act…by a member of staff in the pony’s stable at a horse-riding centre…the witness…was unable to be absolutely sure that intercourse took place [so]…police released [him] due to insufficient evidence…

Above the Law John Van Trump

What a brave hero!

…[Texas cop] John Van Trump was [convicted] of sexually assaulting a girl younger than six-years-old…[he faced] a minimum sentence of 25 years in jail and the potential for life…The details of Trump’s crimes were so heinous that they were not released publicly.  We only know that Trump sexually assaulted the daughter of his former girlfriend on multiple occasions.  At the time of the…crimes, she was 5…However, instead of the minimum 25-year sentence he originally faced, Trump received far less time.  In fact, he received no time.  Trump will not serve one day in prison.  Trump was sentenced to 10 years deferred adjudication.  In other words, Trump, a convicted child rapist, will avoid jail altogether after admitting to these heinous accusations…

Uncharted Seas

Nathan Collier and his wives Victoria and Christine applied at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings [Montana] on Tuesday in an attempt to legitimize their polygamous marriage…The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday made gay marriages legal nationwide.  Chief Justice John Roberts said in his dissent that people in polygamous relationships could make the same legal argument that not having the opportunity to marry disrespects and subordinates them…

New Excuse

I’m really pleased to see others talking about the War on Whores as the new War on Drugs:

…As the drug war has lost popularity, the war on trafficking has gained momentum.  Both the war on drugs and the war on trafficking are housed within the criminal justice system, operating through punishment and incarceration.  Both wars seek to eliminate their abstract opponents by attacking communities of drug users and sex workers, composed mainly of poor people of color.  One way in which both…operate is through the use of increased sanctions.  The criminal justice system imposes harsh penalties on drug and sex related crimes, which in turn leads to mass incarceration, blocking upward mobility for those targeted…

Another Fine Mess

Though this story has some good features, it’s far too mired in the notion that prior to the internet, a very large fraction of sex work was street work (when in fact, street work has always been a minority).  And near the end of the story, the reporter makes the shockingly-incorrect statement that in the US, indoor sex work isn’t criminalized; I can’t imagine how anyone who hadn’t literally just arrived from some other country could possibly be so ignorant about the status of sex work in this country.

Coming and Going (#515) Greg Abbott applauds himself

Given his record of persecuting whores as Texas attorney general, I think we know which it is:

[Texas] governor Greg Abbott, three weeks after effectively telling drug overdosers to drop dead by killing a bill to protect Good Samaritan 911 callers from prosecution…took another…regressive potshot at the Legislature’s attempts to make Texas’ criminal justice system just a bit more humane.  Among the measures killed by…vetoes…was Dallas state Representative Eric Johnson’s HB 1363, which would have reduced penalties for certain prostitution offenses…It’s hard to find a policymaker in Texas…who isn’t in favor of cautiously reducing penalties for nonviolent offenders, and Johnson’s bill is nothing if not cautious.  That leaves only a few possible explanations for Abbott’s veto:  He’s a true believer in an outmoded punitive, tough-on-crime approach to criminal justice; he’s not a true believer but is in thrall to people who are; or he bears a deep-seated animosity toward prostitutes, as he does with drug users.

That Old Black Magic (#546)

Witch doctors do magic vs magic of other witch doctors that kings’ magicians dislike:

…thousands of Nigerian women trafficked to Europe…become sex slaves every year [have] been told [they owe tens of thousands of euros]…for [the] journey…Although the chains…are only psychological, they are extremely powerful.  In their desperation to break the hold over the girls, many of which are sent on the migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean, the Italians have even resorted to get Catholic priests to perform exorcisms on them.  There are estimated to be 25,000 Nigerian girls working as prostitutes in Italy and the numbers arriving rose 300 per cent in 2014, experts say…in Nigeria [witch doctors perform] voodoo [over them and]…promise…hairdresser [jobs but force them into prostitution instead.  They believe they must]…pay off the debt or face terrible repercussions…

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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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“Show us your humanity!” is more belittling and damaging than “Show us your tits!”  –  Conner Habib

Think of the Children! Rafe Esquith

Because ordinary English words can emit sex rays, too!

After being taken out of his classroom for two months, a famous Los Angeles teacher, Rafe Esquith, is filing a claim against the L.A. Unified School District…Esquith…was removed from the classroom and put on paid leave…while the district investigates him for misconduct…[because] he made a joke to his class that prompted a complaint from another teacher…that if the class couldn’t raise enough money for their Shakespeare play then they might have to perform some of it naked, like the king in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn…Superintendent Ramon Cortines [said] that the inquiry includes “serious issues that go beyond the initial investigation”…Esquith is well-known and renowned globally. H e is the recipient of the president’s National Medal of Arts and is the only K-12 teacher to receive that award.  Many of his books, such as Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, are bestsellers…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

You know a jurisdiction is deeply immersed in “end demand” mania when it starts devouring its own and makes grandiose claims:

A former police chief, an attorney and six other area men are facing gross misdemeanor charges of soliciting prostitution…following a sting…Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted…said the operation…is the first step toward uncovering the major players in sex trafficking in the Brainerd lakes area…

The idea that a Backpage sting could “uncover the major players” in anything is so hilariously stupid it’s almost unbelievable.  But down in Florida, it’s a bit different:

A woman is facing a felony prostitution charge after she was found in a hotel room with a Tallahassee Police Department sergeant…Afton Chewning…was found with 49-year-old TPD Sgt. Brian Davis in a Days Inn motel room…Davis turned himself in…on a misdemeanor charge of solicitation…[and] has filed a plea of not guilty…

Felony for her, misdemeanor (which he’ll certainly escape) for him.  Nice.

Check Your Premises

The fact that one of the “traffickers” really did rape and abuse one woman doesn’t change the incoherence of this first part of the article:

Four sex traffickers who brought more than 50 Hungarian women into the country and sold them as part of their highly lucrative vice empire…in…London are facing years behind bars.  Most of the victims came into the country voluntarily to work in the sex industry, promoted themselves on adult websites and kept half of their earnings…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

This story on another creepy facial-recognition surveillance tool contains the following incredible claim: “In the United States, more than 800,000 children are reported missing every year, and nearly half end up living on the streets. Seventy percent will become sex trafficking victims, most within their first 72 hours of living on the street…

Surplus Women 

Chillicothe, Ohio…has crept…into headlines…[as] the place where women go missing and wash up dead.  In little over a year, at least six women have disappeared from the town of only 21,000.  Four of their bodies have been found, almost all of them dumped in creeks or streams flowing away from the town…Most of them were hooked on drugs, and many moonlighted as prostitutes to fund their addictions…Some of them even knew one another.  The similarities between the victims and the crime scenes have Chillicothe terrified that a serial killer is on the loose…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

In a new book, Sex Addiction: A Critical History, New Zealand academics Barry Reay, Nina Attwood and Claire Gooder claim that porn addiction is mythical; a product of “social opportunism, diagnostic amorphism, therapeutic self-interest and popular cultural endorsement”.  Reay argues that there’s little scientific basis for the classification of porn use as an addiction.  Instead, our sex-negative culture, click-bait media and flourishing therapy industry have combined to create a fanciful and frightening condition…

Above the Law Micah Meurer

An Amarillo [Texas cop] was fired…after investigators determined he had…sexually assaulted her…[the] woman reported…Micah Meurer…had sexually assaulted her in her…home…

Chauvinism

Conner Habib has written year’s best essay about prohibition so far:

I’ll refer to anti-sex-work and anti-porn campaigners here…as “anti-sex bigots”…because sex is what makes sex work so special for them.  Sex makes this line of work a singular profession, mystically distinguished from other jobs.  But…there is no substance to their arguments.  Their tactics are strung together not with understanding or data, but with hate.  Their bigotry is visceral, and their goals are clear:

1. Distort and destroy consent.

2. Create a framework of good vs. evil.

3. Cherry-pick voices.

4. Play the victim while holding the power.

5. Create apocalyptic urgency.

This list might sound like an exaggeration to outsiders.  To sex workers, it’s exhaustingly and overwhelmingly familiar…

Mumbo Jumbo

Apparently it isn’t just whores who have the power to grant demons “permission”:

Pat Robertson…told a woman her son’s “hatred and mental issues” might be brought on by demons, which in turn were brought on because she brought a Ouija board home one time.  “You can open the door to demons…There was one lady I heard about who was demon-possessed [because]…she had gone to an X-rated movie and done all these sex things”…

Challenge (#402) 

Tits and Sass has a pretty good rundown of the key players in the recriminalization of sex work in Rhode Island.  Well worth your time on the principle of “Know thine enemy”.

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time)

At least Canadian media have the sense to put “rescue” in scare quotes:

Windsor police “rescued” two sex workers from harmful situations as part of a provincewide investigation into the sex trade…On June 17-18, human trafficking and vice units from more than 20 different police services across Ontario investigated whether sex workers were involved in human trafficking or exploitation…This latest investigation was the third phase of Operation Northern Spotlight, which is designed to open up lines of communication between police and sex workers…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#423)

Bindel can’t possibly be as delusional as she pretends to be; her slipshod list of “pimp lobby” members proves that.  So what is she really up to?

Julie Bindel is…now raising money for a book she’s writing, to…“outline the emergence of a powerful lobby — the sex workers’ rights movement — that works in favour of a total decriminalisation of the sex industry”…Bindel’s project is…part of anti-sex-work eradicationists’ ongoing drive to paint all sex workers speaking out for their rights as pimps and punters in disguise.  (A reporter who attended one of Bindel’s talks at a Stop Porn Culture conference last year wrote that her “presentation on ‘the politics of the sex industry’” was “a succession of tabloid-style personal attacks on pro-sex industry activists, academics, escorts, and performers, complete with photos seemingly lifted without permission from their social-media profiles”)…

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We all know that a bullet doesn’t leap out the barrel of a gun of its own volition.  When law enforcement departments tie themselves up in shibari-style grammatical knots to imply that it did, they only undermine their own credibility even further.  –  Rhiannon Starr

Rough Trade 

A man has been found guilty of raping a woman in an Edinburgh park.  Faizan Ali attacked [her]…on 13 November 2014…Ali…will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register…

Above the Law 

A…jury found Rajat Sharda guilty…of sexually assaulting a woman in August 2013 after the on-duty officer came across the woman and her boyfriend having sex in a vehicle…Judge David Ricciardone sentenced him…to 5 to 7 years of imprisonment, followed by ten years of probation…

Surplus Women (#24)

A jury…found [Terry Speaks] guilty of killing and dismembering a stripper he lured from a New Orleans French Quarter bar along with his ex-girlfriend…Margaret Sanchez…the couple lured her from the club where she was working, killed her, cut her up and then drove the body parts to Mississippi where they dumped the pieces.  [Jaren] Lockhart’s head, lower legs and left thigh washed up on…beaches in June 2012, triggering an investigation that eventually led authorities to Speaks and Sanchez.  Sanchez’s trial has not yet been scheduled…hilarious trafficking nonsense

The Public Eye

Here’s a profile of sex worker Kitty Stryker, in Cosmopolitan of all places.  Better yet, it’s part of a continuing series.  Hey prohibitionists:  We’re winning.  And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it.

Theatrics

This wouldn’t “shock” anyone with the approximate timidity of a sheep, especially considering it’s at least the third example we’ve seen of this same inane gimmick:

Those who approached what appeared to be a working vending machine…were in for a surprise when they found it filled with an image of two young girls available for purchase.  Rather than candy or soda, the machine contained informational fliers about sex trafficking in Milwaukee as part of an awareness campaign…called “Children Are Not For Sale.”  The fliers highlighted warning signs to look for…Last year’s campaign, called Unlucky Thirteen, was named after the average age of trafficking victims…[a nearby prohibitionist vomited out]…”If you see something, say something” [and] “Milwaukee has been considered a hub for human trafficking”…

Dysphemisms Galore 

Gary is essentially a suburb of Chicago; “cross-border trafficking of prostitutes” therefore actually means “escorts driving across town”:

The Lake and Cook County sheriffs announced a joint initiative Friday to end cross border trafficking of prostitutes between Chicago and Gary.  Sheriff John Buncich and Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said…they have formed a task force to arrest pimps who shuttle sex workers among clients in the Indiana-Illinois border…Dart singled out Backpage for allowing its classified advertising website…to be used in Indiana and Illinois for illegal activity.  He said human traffickers use the Internet to lure women into prostitution and force them to set up Facebook pages to lure their friends as well…

Yes, that’s the “Facebook pimps” myth again.

Torture Chamber 

Three [guards] at an Alabama county jail were caught coercing female inmates into nude dancing for them in exchange for doughnuts and cell phones…this…seems to be merely the latest in a string of indignities and abuses—some fatal—inflicted on prisoners at Alabama county jails.  Madison County is facing three federal lawsuits filed by the families of former inmates who died while in custody….of conditions that shouldn’t be fatal:  gangrene, a broken bone, and constipation…Sexual abuse, either at the hands of [guards] or simply ignored by them, also seems to be a major problem…

Sex Rays Bree Olson

I’m honestly not sure why this was controversial; nobody can deny it’s true:

…Bree Olson was…a Penthouse pet and the star of hundreds of adult movies…she posted [this] admonition to aspiring porn stars on Twitter…[many] adult performers…applauded Olson’s message…But it also generated some controversy…Olson insists that she has no problem with the porn industry itself, and that her experiences there were largely positive…the worst part…is…that…sex workers are frequently the target of discrimination, even long after they’ve left the industry…

Traffic Circle

Another mainstream article tearing down “sex trafficking” hysteria, this one from a sex worker:

…It is well documented that one of the largest and most conservative lobbies in Washington—Shared Hope International—is behind much of the so-called anti-trafficking policy in the U.S., policy with politically and socially vested interests in conflating sex work with sex trafficking.  It is no secret, of course, that the religious right opposes prostitution on purely moralistic grounds.  Regressive ideologies of gender and sexuality contribute to the belief that prostitution is moral bankruptcy for women and, furthermore, that Godly salvation is the only path to “restoration.”  As a result, sex workers—and other so-called sexually deviant women, often poor women—are scapegoats for anxieties surrounding sex and sexuality more generally.  Perhaps less well known is the link between lobbyists, anti-trafficking non-profits, allocations of federal grant money for academic research, and the subsequent propagation of sexual danger narratives…

Innocence Never Had

Imagine American cops making a statement like this:

Children as young as 12 are working in a hidden Auckland sex scene, according to new research…none of them are protected by the Prostitution Law Reform Act and they often work in unsafe circumstances.  Natalie Thorburn interviewed 10 underage sex workers for her Masters of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Auckland…Some of her participants had parents that had been suicidal or mentally ill and others claimed they were abused by the organisations set up to help them, including claims of sexual assault…Allegations of underage prostitution in Auckland have been made in the past…Police said they treated such allegations seriously but could not find any underage prostitution.  “The reality is we can find no evidence to support that child prostitution is happening, anywhere, at this point in time,” said Counties Manukau West Area Commander Jason Hewett…

Passive Voice (#429)

Police in the United States have fatally shot 455 people so far this year.  The phrase they would use is that 455 officer-involved shootings occurred.  That term is so ubiquitous that it even has its own acronym: OIS.  It’s vile to reduce the loss of a life to three euphemistic letters.  However, it’s not the only strange language in many press releases from US police departments.  Certain rhetorical devices are frequently used to deflect attention away from officers who shoot civilians…Three linguistic sleight-of-hands are wheeled out with wearisome predictability.  The first is suggesting the victim is to blame…The second…is to avoid explicitly stating that a police officer fired the fatal shot…The third…is to describe the gun as if it acted independently of an officer…D. Brian Burghart, the founder of Fatal Encounters…agrees.  “The grammar of officer-involved homicides is Orwellian.  It’s amazing the gymnastics these cops and media will perform to make the officers passive actors in these dramas”…

Crying for Nanny (#539)

Ignorance of the law creates train wrecks like this:

A group of [self-declared] teen sex trafficking victims are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit against Backpage.com…the Communications Decency Act immunizes Web services companies from liability for crimes by users…[but] the plaintiffs’ [lawyers]…allege that Backpage…violated a host of laws…the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other digital rights advocates…[pointed out] that requiring Backpage to face the lawsuit would cause online platforms to become “more expensive, more restrictive, and ultimately less available for individual expression”…

Follow Your Bliss (#544)

Who are the “sex traffickers” again?

A 25-year-old male “transporter” with all of three days on the job, and no real background check.  And a 17-year-old girl who wound up in foster care partly because she had fallen victim to forced prostitution.  When the eight-hour drive was over, the [girl] had been victimized yet again, and the driver was under investigation for rape…Our Kids, the organization that oversees foster care and adoption services in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties under contract with the Department of Children & Families, declined to discuss the 17-year-old, whose case was being managed by the Family Resource Center, an Our Kids subcontractor…the man…got his job…partly upon the recommendation of another FRC employee, a case worker, to whom he is related…

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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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Memory will lay its hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand
My hatred.

–  Gwendolyn Bennett

Today is the twentieth anniversary of an event I’ve alluded to often and described once, and though I did say I was going to write about it again today, I have changed my mind.  Perhaps I should’ve realized this would happen; as I wrote in the last-linked column,

By the time it was over, I felt as though my psyche had received the equivalent of a sustained beating with a wide assortment of blunt instruments; it took me years to recover from the accumulated stress, and I was still subject to panic attacks (often provoked by unpredictable stimuli) until about 2003.  Even to this day I dread being alone with my own thoughts unless I have something like writing or a book to focus on; when unoccupied by work, reading or conversation my brain is wont to start dwelling upon things best left shut up in mysterious boxes under my mental stairs…

I don’t often have panic attacks any more; not from flashbacks to the Year of Disaster, anyhow, and I’ve learned to contain them well enough that only people very close to me can tell something’s wrong.  But though my intellect says it’s ridiculous to let a specific day on the calendar affect me to that degree (no matter what else is going on in my life), I woke up in a depressive, uneasy mood Monday morning, and it took Jae hours to get me out of it; I suppose next Memorial Day will be the same, as it has been for the last 20 years.  I still prefer to avoid thinking or talking about that part of my life even when it isn’t the last week of May, so it probably won’t surprise you when I tell you that even though I had the opportunity to write this essay earlier in the week I kept putting it off and doing other things instead.  As of this writing posting time is only six hours away, and I can’t procrastinate any more…but neither do I have to punish myself further by dwelling upon awful memories.  I don’t think I will ever be able to forget the violent execution of the last pathetic vestiges of my faith in any kind of government actor, but creating more tragedy porn won’t serve any constructive purpose.  As much as it’s humanly possible, I’d rather leave those memories to howl in their crates and never give them the satisfaction of knowing with certainty that I can hear them quite as well as if I were sitting right on top of them.

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