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Posts Tagged ‘streetwalkers’

Sex work is the most pervasive profession for a reason: acquiring human connection is essential for life.  –  Jerome NicholsEric Mischel

Droit du Seigneur

Most cops think they’re nobles, but this one thinks he’s King David:

A Cowetta County, Georgia District Attorney, Peter Skandalakis…has said that his office will not pursue charges against an officer who used his special badge powers to have several men arrested and thus detained while he dawdled their romantic partners.  Luthersville Police Department Officer Eric Mischel became involved in several affairs with women in relationships with men whom he violated…Even though an investigation has revealed a mountain of unscrupulous and unlawful behavior, he will not be charged because D.A. Scandalous says he was unable to find evidence that he broke his oath of office…

The More the Better

A few of my favorite lines from “6 Reasons to Hire a Sex Worker“:

…a good sex worker will do their best and that’s more than you can expect from a lot of volunteer sex partners…Pros are professionals; they know what they’re doing and make more money when you have fun.  The better sex they offer you, the more likely you are to return…Sex workers have experience and wisdom to share with you.  They can offer you lessons in an afternoon some people take years to acquire…You’d never say no a driving lesson before getting your license…

The Last Shall Be First

Somehow I doubt this will stop morally-retarded politicians (pardon the redundancy):

…OSHA now requires all employers under its jurisdiction provide employees with restroom facilities…According to the new guidelines, “Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.  Bathroom restrictions can result in employees avoiding using restrooms entirely while at work, which can lead to potentially serious physical injury or illness.”  The new memo states employers must accommodate their employees based on which gender that employee identifies with…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea (#34)

millions of…sex workers…[are] anxiously waiting for [India’s] highest court to hand down a ruling which they hope will finally clarify the age-old profession s legal status.  Soliciting is illegal in India along with running a brothel and pimping, but the law, an archaic throw back to British colonial times, is vague on prostitution itself.  Sex workers are hoping the Supreme Court’s ruling will force the government to decriminalise the industry.  They say they are tired of being randomly targeted by police and sent to correction homes where they say conditions are worse than jails…

With Friends Like These…

Please, David Rosen, become a prohibitionist; if your attempt to hurt us is as totally wrong as your attempt to “help”, it’ll be a great pro-decrim argument:

…The real victims of commercial sex industry are the women, girls and some young men who are forced (or “choose”) to work in the sex trade.  These people most often live in poverty, have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, lack affordable housing, have limited education, [and] have few job opportunities…The decriminalization of prostitution can help bring sex workers — the real victims of this “victimless” crime— out of the social shadows so they could secure labor rights, unemployment benefits, health care and life insurance…sex trafficking has reached epidemic proportion, with between 100,000 and 300,000 people annually at risk.  The Department of Homeland Security reports the average age for a girl sex worker at between 12-14 years and 11-13 years for boys.  The decriminalization of prostitution can help contain sex trafficking…

Science!

Another entry in the “climate change causes ‘sex trafficking’!” genre:

Pope Francis said he…believed the United Nations needed to play a central role in the fight against global warming…“the trafficking of human beings…has been created by climate change,” the pope said.  The remarks followed a day-long meeting of mayors from around the world…hosted by the Vatican…and…began by hearing [lurid tales] from two Mexican women who [claim to be] victims of modern-day slavery…

Unfortunately, this Pope seems to have completely swallowed the “sex trafficking” myth.

Policing for Profit

Just in case you don’t believe cops & politicians are completely out of touch:

An assistant district attorney in…Oklahoma lived rent-free in a house confiscated by local law enforcement under the practice of asset forfeiture.  His office paid the utility bills.  He remained there for five years, despite a court order to sell the house at auction.  Another district attorney used $5,000 worth of confiscated funds to pay back his student loans.  These are just a few of the gems unearthed during a recent hearing on Oklahoma authorities’ liberal use of asset forfeiture to take property from suspected criminals and spend it on personal enrichment…State Sen. Kyle Loveless…has sponsored a bill to…prohibit asset forfeiture unless a suspect was actually convicted of a crime, and stipulate that the money go to the state’s general fund…Unsurprisingly, cops are desperate to preserve the practice…We can’t stop people from having drugs unless we are allowed to steal more money has to be one of the least-convincing arguments for maintaining the drug war…

Hall of Shame (#428) 

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof is a revolting excuse for a human being:

…Dennis Hof…has started an exploratory committee to pursue a run for US Senate in Nevada, and created a plan to end sex trafficking…he plans to run on the libertarian ticket…Sex trafficking is an American epidemic far more dangerous than Ebola…and…the third biggest black market industry after drugs and arms trafficking…Hof…believes his experience with legal prostitution proves that decriminalizing the oldest profession would end one of the world’s biggest human rights issues…

Hof has never spoken in favor of decriminalization; he speaks in favor of legalization, and regularly implies that women are too stupid and weak to have sex for our own reasons without crony pimps holding our leashes.  He’s a “libertarian” like I’m a socialist.Hanna Fanni

Whore Detection

It isn’t only in the US that black women are routinely profiled as whores:

…on July 8th…the hotel staff at [the] five-star…Mövenpick Hotel [in Dubai] refused to serve [a Nigerian woman named Hanna Fanni ]…when she visited the hotel’s popular West Beach Bistro & Sports Lounge with her black American friend…“They suspected us of being prostitutes…solely because of the colour of our skin.  I have lived here for 10 years and have never been treated in such a disrespectful and despicable manner…First the waitress refused to serve us and then a security guard ordered us to leave the hotel.  At one stage he was ready to engage with us physically…he kept telling us that the bar didn’t allow unaccompanied women…[but] there were several tables occupied by women.  When I pointed to them, he said he was merely following orders…I showed [the bar manager] my business card…his face contorted in panic as it dawned on him that they had racially profiled the wrong people.  But instead of making amends, he said the security guard had asked us to leave as some black women had come in earlier and solicited their guests”…the hotel tried to make amend but they were so humiliated they had to leave…

Repeat Offenders (#449) 

Prohibitionists cut into street workers’ income by hanging around them:

They are a band of Christian soldiers who walk Akron’s streets looking for prostituted women.  Their sole goal is to pray that the weighty chains that bind these women to their lifestyles will be severed.  To tell them that there is a God who is mightier than their pimps.  And to say that He loves them for who they are — not because they can turn tricks.  The men and women who make up this army are part of RAHAB, a nonprofit ministry of hope.  To make themselves more accessible to those who are forced to sell their bodies, they work out of a house on the east side of Akron.  They say the girls who have been coerced onto the streets…are victims. And the…mission is to help them recover from the atrocities of human trafficking…

Seizing Power

Backpage.com is suing the sheriff in Chicago over his successful campaign to urge credit card companies to cut ties with the classified ads company…[the] lawsuit…[alleges] that…Thomas Dart…[is] censoring the company and its customers’ right to free speech…“Sheriff Dart’s actions to cripple Backpage.com and all speech through the site are an especially pernicious form of prior restraint,” the complaint says.  “He has achieved his purpose through false accusations, innuendo, and coercion, whereas, if he had brought suit directly or Cook County had attempted to pass a law to shut down the website, Backpage.com would have had a fair opportunity to respond and defeat such efforts, given well-established law”…

The Scarlet Letter (#553)

Unfortunately, the writer felt compelled to counter SWOP’s statements with anti-whore propaganda:

…”I’m a sex worker.  I’m not coerced.  I’m not trafficked.  I’ve been a sex worker my entire life,” [said Liz] Coplen…of the Sex Workers Outreach Project in Tucson.  Coplen said many women enter…sex work to make money.  The women on these sites range from college students, to single moms, to professionals with a side job.  Their clients also run the gamut, from police officers…to doctors, lawyers, soldiers and college professors…

Ashley Madison (#557) 

News that hackers are threatening to expose the personal information of the affair website AshleyMadison.com’s 37 million users undoubtedly has its members panicking.  The rest of us, though, are thinking, “Thirty-seven million?”  That is a whole heck of a lot of people who are looking to have affairs—roughly equivalent to the entire population of Poland.  But…only 2.3 million of those members are active users…(Think:  The population of Queens, New York.)  Disparities between total members and active users are typical with dating sites.  PlentyOfFish boasts 100 million registered users…but 3.6 million active daily users…OkCupid has 10 million active users…one in 10 dating profiles…are fakes made by scammers or spammers.  The rest are users who joined a given site and are no longer active—maybe they found love or just gave up on the whole proposition…

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“Grandpa worked really hard so that we can find out the most sensitive part of the penis” generally isn’t the sort of story family foundations want to tell.  –  Miro GudelskyLa Bodega Negra - Edited

Subtle Pimping

Another example of amateurs profiting from sex workers’ images while giving us nothing:

As Soho’s sex trade is destroyed, a twee pastiche is being created in its place. A sex-work themed theme-park…Across Soho, the bordello theme is a default.  You don’t have to stumble far to find décor suggestive of dimly lit backrooms and women of the night; a fantasy, filmic version of the sex trade.  Marketers aren’t afraid to use the trope for all its worth…As the reality of sex work in Soho disappears, its essence has become a marketing tool.  Brothel chic.  A Disneyland version of what was for many, a life, work – a world that wasn’t particularly exotic or glamorous but simply the thing they did for a certain number of hours a week to pay the bills…

Perquisites

Only in the US could the idea that men like to look at pretty girls while they relax be represented as strange or even bad:

In a city that’s being gentrified by the engineers and startup employees, the Gold Club is perhaps the most outré illustration of San Francisco’s recent excesses, a place where curious crowds come for the cheap fare and stay for the alcohol and extracurriculars.  It is also an example of how tone deaf many in the male-dominated tech industry can be.  In recent years, critics have called out technology companies for their workforces’ gender imbalances, which some argue foster a boys’ club culture and sexual discrimination…

The Proper Study

Why there are few good studies on sex work:

…Even researchers…with adequate funding and support…may find that they’re not always taken very seriously because of the stigma still attached to sexuality…and…unlike colleagues in other fields, sex researchers are often forced to contend with assumptions that their professional interests reflect their personal habits.  Few assume that ornithologists harbor a secret wish to be birds, or that medical researchers are drawn to their field due to a history of illness, but sex therapists and researchers are frequently presumed to be incredibly adventurous in the bedroom…

Saving Them From Themselves

Some stories are so egregiously stupid I just can’t resist editorializing:

A 14-year-old boy in Nova Scotia has been sentenced to…probation…[re-education] and restricted internet access for possession of child pornography…[actually nude pictures of his same-age girlfriend]…the boy…will also have to provide a DNA sample and [the state will steal] his smartphone…[Judge] Atwood laid out his decision to [pretend that] the crime [was] a violent one.  He said…that even if…sexting [hurts no one, prudes imagine]…that some day, there will be a [mysterious and indefinable] psychological impact…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If prohibitionists really want to “rescue” sex workers, why do they keep trying to stop us from getting other jobs?

…Miami police officer Sabine Raymonvil…does not deny that she used to work in the porn industry [but]…her work in porn films was completed prior to her becoming a police officer…the requirements to work for the Miami Police Department don’t specifically state anything against porn…[but] she may be terminated because of “conduct unbecoming” an officer…

I don’t really want to think too hard about why someone would leave honest sex work to become a pig, but there you are.Sex Slaves MSNBC

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#349)

How many of these must we endure?

Several organizations that advocate on behalf of both sex workers and survivors of trafficking have written a letter to MSNBC, urging them to cancel Sex Slaves in America, saying it…misleads the viewing public about the realities of both sex work and trafficking…The letter, which you can read in full here, is signed by the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, Freedom Network, Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, and Florrie Burke, a longtime human rights advocate…they’re particularly concerned with the way it seems to conflate sex work and human trafficking, and that it could compromise the anonymity of the women it films…In 2013, amid protests and another sternly-worded letter from the same organizations, MSNBC cancelled a program called Slave Hunter, in which a guy named Aaron Cohen claimed to rescue victims of trafficking…

Acting and Activism (#419)

Why is CNN so in love with the “sex trafficking” narrative and the empty-headed actresses who promote it?

Jada Pinkett Smith is helping to expose the ugly world of sex trafficking…The actress has teamed up with CNN for an hour-long special report…”Children for Sale: The Fight to End Human Trafficking” delves into the gritty underbelly of child sex slavery in America…Smith…traveled to Atlanta — a trafficking hot spot — to sit down with courageous survivors and come face to face with a trafficker…

Policing for Profit (#520) 

Presumption of innocence?  What’s that?

A D.C. Council member wants to take a page from Spokane, Washington, and several other cities and start impounding the cars of people suspected of soliciting prostitution.  Councilman Jack Evans…is calling this rights-infringing nonsense the “Honey, I lost the car” program.  As with the Spokane law, it wouldn’t matter whether the person is eventually convicted of any crime or not; if you look to some cops like you’re cruising for sex, that’s all the probable cause they need to snatch your vehicle…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#555) 

If you thought good old-fashioned Moral Majoritarians were just going to concede Puritanism to fourth-wave feminists, think again…the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE)—a group founded in 1962 as Morality in Media (the name was changed this year)—is holding an anti-pornography summit…[which] features a who’s who of anti-sex-work, anti-science, and anti-free-speech zealots, along with the father of famous kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart

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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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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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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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The fatality rate of sex workers is more than twice the rate of the most fatal “legitimate” job on the books (logging), but from what I can find, the majority of fatalities are concentrated among street workers.  A lot of the things that make street work dangerous are the same things that make it dangerous to be a taxi driver:  working at night, working alone, handling cash, etc.  But sex workers are murdered at a rate ten times higher than taxi drivers, and I think it’s because of criminalization.  Street workers avoid arrest by getting off the street as quickly as possible.  They have no time to screen, very little time to negotiate, and next to no control over their environment once they get into the car, and can’t even go to the police if anything happens.  But the majority of sex workers are “indoor” workers, and their fatality rate is much lower than street workers.  Part of it is that they’re not forced to work at night or in high crime areas, but I think it’s also important that they avoid arrest by screening and just being extremely cautious in general.  Do you think that would change if sex work was legalized?  Without the threat of arrest to keep escorts cautious, would escorting become a more dangerous profession?

Fox in the HenhouseThe murder rate for street workers is not really as high as these studies claim; they’re based in the assumption that the sex worker population can be accurately estimated, which is a mighty stretch indeed.  It is extremely likely that the total population is dramatically undercounted in these studies, but nobody cares because they want the sex work murder rate to come out much higher than it really is to provide a pretext for banning it.

That having been said, the murder rate for outdoor workers is still outrageously high, largely for the reasons you surmise but also for the fact that violent men purposefully seek out sex workers because, as Robert Pickton pointed out, nobody notices or cares when they vanish.  That simply isn’t true for indoor workers, who tend to have better social networks; their death or disappearance would be noticed just as quickly as any other woman’s.  While it’s true that escorts are forced to be even more careful because of criminalization, that vigilance all goes toward the organized predators who inflict the lion’s share of violence on sex workers: the police.  So yes, removing criminalization might make escorts less careful…but they wouldn’t need to be so cautious because the most dangerous and numerous predators would also be gone.  Under decriminalization, violence against sex workers is much lower than even in legalized regimes, and much lower than under criminalization, a system in which the foxes are set to guard the henhouse, and nobody notices or cares how many chickens they satisfy their appetites upon.

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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In the Red Light District by day, one can barely earn dry bread. – Mariska Majoor

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

One inevitable consequence of consensual crime laws: police corruption:

For years Ukraine’s police force has profited handsomely from the country’s multi-million dollar sex industry, demanding both payment in cash and payment in kind…the political elite has always known about the problem but never really wanted to talk about it…After a three-month investigation, ministry officials…caught Kiev’s vice squad raking in an average of €325,000 per month from the capital’s sex trade…

Broken Record 

Once again: Nevada is NOT whore-friendly:

Las Vegas police will be increasing patrols this week as they expect a rise in prostitution because of fans descending on the city for the weekend’s big…Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight.  Former Las Vegas escort Annie Lobert [lied]…that prostitution will likely increase 10 times over the norm this week…

The Widening Gyre sex trafficking scam

WINK News has a new warning for parents about a possible scam aimed at recruiting teens into the world of human sex trafficking.  We discovered a new flyer popping up in at least one Florida county advertising…up to $300 a week after school and on weekends, with transportation provided.  It does not specify what type of work it is advertising…The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating, but experts say it has all the signs of a human trafficking scam… “I think parents should be concerned a great deal about this,” said Alex Olivares…[of] the Florida Gulf Coast University Human Trafficking Resource Center.  Olivares says sex trafficking is more common in SWFL than people realize, with traffickers preying on kids at schools, shopping malls, and on the internet…warning signs [include]…tattoos of names on their neck or on the inside of their bottom lip, or if they have sexually explicit social media profiles…

Original Sin (#321)

When sex is involved, people believe even the stupidest claims:

…Unfortunately, there are many in our society that are blind to the link between porn and sex trafficking…Countless women have been kidnapped, abused, drugged, threatened, and coerced into doing porn…there is no way for [the porn viewer] to tell if what they are watching was made illegally or if all parties are there willingly…porn directly fuels the demand for sex traffickers to make money by selling video of their sex slaves to porn sites…

Traffic Jam (All Traffick, All the Time)

Schools are rewarded for “finding” what the government wants found:

…the U.S. Department of Homeland Security…has identified Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) as a pilot school in its Blue Campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking…Homeland Security describes its Blue Campaign as a unified collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-government and private organizations to combat human trafficking…and bring those who exploit human lives to justice…

If the concept of a university collaborating with cops and a surveillance agency isn’t enough to chill you to the bone, you haven’t been paying attention.

A Mound of Filth Dominique Roe-Sepowitz

the Where Hope Lives program at the Phoenix Dream Center…offers safe refuge and specialized counseling so that victims of sexual exploitation in all of its forms, including prostitution, sex trafficking, abuse and stripping, can be restored as functioning members of society…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…says…”It looks like sex trafficking is only a problem in certain cities in the U.S., but that is because they are the only ones looking“…Roe-Sepowitz also helped to create a program called Project Rose…which…is currently on hold because of the Phoenix police’s lack of extra manpower

Bread and Circuses 

In some places, cops don’t even pretend it’s about “rescuing” sex workers:

The Lafayette Metro Narcotics Task Force arrested eight people in a prostitution sting…[five men]…and [three women]…two more women were detained and released pending further investigation related to suspected prostitution.  The task force’s sting targeted upscale escorts and their clients who utilize social media…

Dutch Threat (#528)

Amsterdam Prostitutes are anything but amused that the municipality…has temporarily closed eighteen window brothels in the red light district.  The sex workers therefore filed a lawsuit against the city.  To support their claim, the prostitutes occupied the premises concerned…[The government claims that the windows were closed due to] forced prostitution…How long the occupation will last is unknown…

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