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Posts Tagged ‘United Kingdom’

We should…not…[create] barriers that stop vulnerable people seeking help.  –  Lord Paddick

Follow Your Bliss 

Understand that people like this are the norm in anything that involves prosecuting sexual offenses, and always will be:

A secondary school teacher who [enthusiastically] helped the Metropolitan Police grade indecent images of children was caught on film as he abused a sleeping six year-old boy…Craig Keane…now faces jail after pleading guilty to nine counts of sexual assault on a child under the age of 13.  He has been suspended from both his roles as a teacher and special constable…the victim was asleep while the assault occurred but another child in the same room hid a camera behind the curtain to capture the abuse after becoming concerned about what was happening…

The Widening Gyre sex-trafficking-shirt

Everything is a sign of lurking “sex traffickers”!  EVERYTHING!!!

When 19-year-old Ashley Hardacre left a late shift at the mall…she found what she feared was a trap.  “I…noticed that there was a blue flannel shirt on my windshield,” she wrote later that night on Facebook. “There were two cars near me and one was running so I immediately felt uneasy and knew I couldn’t get out to get it off…I drove over to a place where I was safe and quickly rolled down my window and got the shirt off.”  Hardacre…speculated that the way the shirt had been attached to her wiper was intentional…Hardacre’s post…quickly went viral.  But it’s not the first time people have suspected strange items left under their windshield wipers.  In July last year, a Wisconsin woman wrote that her mother had discovered a fancy jeweled ring on her windshield…“This is exactly how human trafficking and abductions take place,” Savannah Nguyen wrote in the now-removed post…The local police…chief [said]…the department had no evidence linking the ring to a sex trafficking attempt…

You know who else I hear puts things on people’s windshields to abduct them?  Satanists.  Commies too, I’ll bet.

Worse Than I Thought

Mormon politician fantasizes that sex workers “force” cops to rape us:

The [Utah] Senate criminal justice committee approved enhancing penalties for prostitution-related crimes as well as clarifying the definition of prostitution…Bill sponsor…Todd Weiler…said its language adds protection to [lying pigs] who [lie to rape sex workers] while conducting prostitution stings.  “Some of the women involved in this trade…are savvy enough … to force an undercover…to actually touch them, because that’s where the line is currently drawn”…

Checklist

Another ridiculous “study” based purely in the researchers’ sexual fantasies finds that mundane things are actually “signs of sex trafficking”:

Two hundred people are sold for sex every month in Lincoln and another 700 are sold in other parts of [Nebraska]…according to a new report from Creighton University…researchers spent several years [masturbating over] Backpage.com…Crysta Price and Terry Clark, cross-referenced the ads to make sure they weren’t counting one potential victim multiple times [yet couldn’t be bothered to consult even one actual sex worker.  A spokespig oinked that]…there are a number of ways to determine if an ad was made by a trafficker or by someone selling him or herself — including if the picture was taken by someone else, the verbiage used in the post and if the pictures were taken in a hotel room…Twenty-five to 30 percent of the ads researchers studied were posted by adults working independently and not being trafficked.  About 70 percent showed some sign of advertised individuals being underage or controlled by a third party…

I’m sure this is much better wanking material for prohibitionists than the mundane truth: roughly 2% coercion, roughly 3.5% underage (and only 25% of underage advertise online).

Lack of Evidence (#314) 

This will keep happening as long as laws & procedures that stigmatize sex workers are allowed to stand:

A Vancouver man was denied entry into the United States after a US Customs and Border Patrol officer read his profiles on the gay hookup app Scruff and the website BBRT.  The officer suspected the man was a sex worker because he found messages from the man saying he was “looking for loads,” and assumed it meant he was soliciting sex for cash…André, a 30-year-old Vancouver set decorator who declined to give his full name for fear of retaliation from US Customs, describes the experience as “humiliating”…Jon Davidson, legal director of the US LGBT organization Lambda Legal…says…“Their agents need cultural awareness training to not misunderstand that people who simply are leading a normal sex life are not prostitutes.”

Fuck you, Jon Davidson.  If whores’ sex lives aren’t “normal”, neither is yours. But I guess you’ve got your seat at the Big Table, so we don’t matter, right?

Paint By Numbers

Well, at least golf requires skill & activity:

A golf tournament March 31 at Sunset Hills Country Club will benefit The Covering House, which [profits from “sex trafficking” hysteria]…GENTS (Gentlemen Encouraging No Trafficking Society), a volunteer group…is playing host for the tournament…[blah blah] signs…[blah blah] suspect a child is being trafficked…[blah blah] Top 20 human trafficking jurisdictions…[blah blah] 300,000 children…[blah blah] average age of entry is 13…

Whereas this is the usual total inanity:

…Members of Congress, celebrities including Ashton Kutcher, and others…[changed] their profile photo for the End It Movement’s “Shine A Light On Slavery” Day…You don’t have to be in Washington to take part…in…[uploading] red Xs…You can also take a tube of red lipstick, mark an X on your hand, and snap a photo to post…yes-this-is-an-x

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the “End It” yahoos.

Whimsical Notions

Is “the dangerous cycle of prostitution” a used Harley bought with whoring money?

Recently we were exposed to the horrifying phenomenon of soldiers involved in the cycle of prostitution…shocking evidence of male and female soldiers…engaging in prostitution due to severe economic distress.  This phenomenon is a badge of shame for the IDF and the State of Israel…Military service is often a lifeline for boys and girls from all sorts of difficult backgrounds.  The army should set a moral example and act to stamp out prostitution in its midst, work to save these soldiers and recover them…

As far as I can make out, this dude’s pearl-clutching tone is dead serious.  Do you amateurs really believe this kind of shit?  “Shame”?  “Save them”?  “Recover them”?  Seriously?

Legal Is as Legal Does (#440)

The danger of a “tolerated” system: cops can suddenly decide to be intolerant:

A major crackdown on massage parlours and brothels across Adelaide has forced sex workers into risky private work where they are more vulnerable to violence and crime…Police have [exhibited] threatening behaviour during a flurry of raids since September that have resulted in the closure of well-established brothels and sex workers who are too scared to report crimes against them…Sex workers…[who] refused [to give cops their telephone numbers were]…threatened with a home visit.  Police officers…took sex workers’ car registration details, working names, and…told workers they would be arrested unless they left the premises immediately…[managers and] receptionists [are being hit with avails charges] “because they are the ones that handle the money”…

All-Purpose Excuse

“Human trafficking” can mean anything!

President Trump[‘s]…new policies also target unauthorized immigrants who smuggle their children into the country, as happened with Central American children seeking to reunite with parents living in the United States.  Under the new directives, such parents could face deportation or prosecution for smuggling or human trafficking…

Dirty Laundry (#452)

Good for this lady, taking a pompous judge’s attempt to get rid of her & then carrying on as usual:

…Mikaela Niculae…was arrested…last weekend…Ms Niculae had been before Letterkenny District court in June 2014 where she was part of a group of six prostitutes who were given €1,200 by Judge Paul Kelly to fly back to Romania.  The money came from a sum of €5,890 [stolen] by Gardai [from sex workers]…the…Judge…fined [her]…€500 and…order[ed her] mobile phone…[destroyed]…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (#586)

This is a good, objective look at sex work in Bangkok; it’s refreshingly free of the usual sadfeelz, judgment and imposition of “sex trafficking” fantasies on the interviews with real sex workers.  I do find it extremely funny that every Western reporter who visits a brothel feels compelled to assure the reader that he didn’t purchase sexual services; honestly, I’d have a lot more respect for one who admitted that he did, as it was demonstrate he was respectful of both the women’s time and profession.

The Course of a Disease (#652) 

This is a huge move forward for a UK political party:

The Liberal Democrats are likely to adopt as official policy a move to quash all historical sex-work convictions – including brothel-keeping, soliciting business and kerb-crawling.  The move…will be included in a key motion…as part of the party’s wider drive to decriminalise sex work…The party’s home affairs spokesman Lord Paddick said: “As a former police officer I know what works and the current laws around prostitution do not.  They might sound tough but they don’t protect people.  The police should be focusing their resources on…coercion rather than policing consenting adults…it is time for an informed debate on this complex issue and I want my party to be leading that debate”…

I’m so pleased by this I’m not even going to quibble over the ridiculous idea that human rights are subject to “debate”.

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This has given me a fear of women.  –  Zachary

Saving Them From Themselves

Who cares if a kid’s life is destroyed?  We need to “send a message”!

Zachary, now 19, is in jail awaiting sentencing for five pictures his teenage girlfriend sent him of herself in her underwear.  He faced a choice between a possible (though unlikely) maximum sentence of 350 years in prison, or lifetime on the sex offender registry as a “sexually violent offender”—even though he never met the girl in person…a month after Zachary turned 18, the girl sent him five pictures of herself in her underwear.  Her face was not visible, nor were her private parts…Zachary was arrested and charged with 20 felonies, including indecent liberties with a minor, using a computer to propose sex, and “child porn reproduce/transmit/sell,” even though he did not send or sell the pictures to anyone…the pictures came to light because [the girl foolishly trusted]…a counselor…[who betrayed her] to…the police…

Soap Opera pono-soap

The hucksters who hawk anti-pimp personal hygiene products are always pompous and self-aggrandizing, but this one’s a full-blown megalomaniac:

Kathy Xian didn’t start Pono Soaps to be just a health and beauty venture…[her] Hawaii-based…Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS) [works to harm sex workers and their clients]…PASS is responsible for the passage of 14 anti-[sex worker] state laws…She [fantasizes] that before that the laws, prostitution was “almost legal” in the state…In contrast to its image as a paradise, Xian said that Hawaii is a hub of human trafficking… “Because of its location”…

The idea that sex work was “almost legal” in Hawaii until recently will certainly come as a surprise to Hawaiian sex workers, who for years have been actively hunted by cops with explicit legal permission to rape them.  Also, since as we all know interstate highways are the main cause of “sex trafficking”, one wonders how Hawaii has any at all.

So Close and Yet So Far

It’s sad that even people who support decriminalization feel the need to infantilize sex workers and promote myths, lies & insulting tropes:

Few people grow up dreaming of being a prostitute…Prohibitionists look at sex workers’ rates of disease and likelihood of being sexually assaulted — and, understandably, want to help…black-market prostitutes are less likely to get screened for sexually transmitted infections lest they alert doctors to their illegal professional activities…criminalizing prostitution makes sex trafficking more likely.  One widely recognized consequence of prohibition is the formation of…large criminal enterprises with monopoly power…Prohibition does nothing to help [sex workers] exit the industry or provide them with education or other skills…

Blunt Instrument

Massage parlors are popular targets of “anti-trafficking” pogroms because they’re low-hanging fruit:

[Rockford, Illinois] plans to [persecute]…massage parlors…some of the people involved in these businesses are being abused sometimes even young children [fantasizes]…Venita Hervey…The new law would give the city the power to shut down massage businesses that are involved in illegal activity without a valid license…

Wait, so Rockford issues licenses for illegal activity?

Sex Rays

Sex rays could be harmful to sick people!

The Sun newspaper has publicly outed a newly-qualified nurse as a former gay porn star – for absolutely no reason whatsoever.  The article…publishes the name, age and hospital that the young man works at, as well as his picture…patients or staff…were unaware of his background until The Sun chose to investigate the “story”…As well as publishing images taken from the man’s…adult films, the tabloid appears to have sent photographers to the man’s home to take undercover photos of him taking out the bins…

Devil’s Advocate

Nobody wants to admit that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster:

Canada and Australia now have both reported charging men with breaking child pornography laws for possession of child sex dolls…the purpose of child porn laws is to protect children from being harmed in the production of child porn (where the images are themselves evidence of abuse)…With child sex dolls, however, there is no actual victim being protected, and it does not matter whether there is a market for latex dolls.  Although it is very reasonable to conclude that the consumers purchasing sex dolls are genuinely attracted to children, there is no evidence to indicate that sex doll owners are at an elevated level of risk to go on to commit crimes that do involve a victim…Men who are attracted to children have no healthy outlet for their sex drives, and it will be that way for their entire lives.  For someone who did not ask to be pedophilic and who cannot have romantic and sexual relationships like the rest of us, the only outlet they have is masturbation.  For society to hamper even that, to me, is cruel when it is in the absence of a demonstrated societal benefit.

The Public Eye (#444)

While the makers of the Law and Order: SVU episode based on Miriam’s story asked for her input, Lifetime didn’t even bother to ask her permission:

Before Lifetime agreed to make a movie called From Straight A’s to XXX, inspired by the true story of a Duke University freshman who moonlighted as a porn star to pay for college, the network had one condition.  “[They] only wanted to do it if we told the story in such a way that it was not just about a salacious story,” said executive producer Sheri Singer…the film…is also a scathing indictment of skyrocketing college tuition prices – and it has a lot to say about the double standards of men who watch pornography and then shame the women who star in it…While Singer’s team reached out to Miriam multiple times, they received no response.  So Singer and the screenwriter, Anne-Marie Hess [just did it anyway without her consent]…Singer is pleased with the movie’s perspective, especially given that it had female executive producers, a female screenwriter, a female director…and a female star…

Because it’s so “feminist” to proceed with exploiting someone just because you didn’t get an explicit “no”.  One wonders how Singer and all her “feminist” cronies would feel if some dude they didn’t even know just went ahead and fucked them because they didn’t answer when he asked for sex?

That Old Black Magic (#552)

Though this “academic” writer downplays the usual casting of Nigerian sex workers as ignorant victims of superstition, she’s still happy to portray them as helpless pawns rather than adults making difficult decisions under stressful circumstances:

Discussions about human trafficking between Africa and Europe are frequently blurred by generalisations about villainous traffickers and their naïve young victims who have been misled into prostitution.  But the world of sex trafficking is far more complex…several studies have shown that Nigerian sex trafficking rings are dominated by women, known as madams, and use of black magic rituals…But…two [other dynamics] are important.  The first is the active role that extended families play…the second is the fact that women themselves are nowadays increasingly aware of the work that awaits them, even though they cannot imagine how brutal and miserable it actually is.  The lack of research has resulted in an incomplete understanding of the much more complex reality of the circumstances under which victims fall into the hands of traffickers…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#580) playboy-march-april-2017

Gee, who could’ve predicted this?

No-nudes were apparently not good news at Playboy…The 63-year-old legendary men’s magazine is bringing back nude models in its upcoming issue — one year after banning naked photos in an effort to boost circulation and attract more mainstream advertisers.  That effort obviously has failed…

Not Worth the Paper

The Arizona anti-sex freakshow travels to Las Vegas:

A newly released study paints a picture of a violent and thriving sex trafficking industry in Las Vegas, with a majority of victims identified as children..Arizona State University…researchers…[claim to have]  identified 247 known victims in 2014, most of them younger than 18 years old…Randy Carter…[fantasizwes that] at 8 years old [he was shared by]…four pimps…Dr. Dominique Roe-Sepowitz [drooled while fantasizing about]…”a person who cut the cord off a hair straightener and…whipped the victim until she was in a coma.  We saw a lot of sexual assaults…knocking out teeth…breaking bones”…Cindy McCain [is in cahoots with her]…[Las Vegas] Vice [pigs want everyone to rat sex workers out to them]…

So “Cuckoo Clock” McCain and “Body Fluids” Sepowitz want you to believe that Vegas is so lousy with pimps they’ve been reduced to sharing one kid with broken bones & no teeth between them.  But our clients are the ones they want to pretend are sick.

The Rape Question (#630) 

Because just not being ashamed of one’s sexuality is too hard:

We live in an age of hacked celebrity nudes, leaked sex tapes, and revenge porn…Rumuki, now available through the App Store, allows users to film, encrypt and keep under digital lock and key their “most intimate moments”.  The idea is that your videos are safe from hackers, leaks, and spurned exes…Let’s say a couple wants to make a sex tape.  They both download Rumuki and then sync up with each other’s accounts.  Then, one of them uses the app to film a video with their partner.  The video is encrypted and saved on each partner’s smartphone…[it] cannot be watched by either party unless they have permission from their partner.  Permission can only be given for a one-time playback, and it expires in a week.  Without that permission, the video remains encrypted and cannot be played…The video may be on their device, but it’s encrypted, so they can’t post it to the internet.  A user can also revoke permission or delete the video at any point…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#639)

Politicians the world over promise the same evil, impossible things, and stupid people just keep believing them:

…Early last year, 34 white doves and multiple bunches of coloured balloons were released into the air to the beat of traditional Papuan drums when Indonesia’s Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa announced an [absurd] plan — to eliminate prostitution from the 17,500-island nation by 2019.  Parawana…has become the face of the Government’s attempted move to bring in a five-year penalty for all sex outside of marriage…She has also said those caught visiting sex workers will have their faces published on social media…the main tool — the growls, creaks and crashes of the bulldozer.  68 red-light districts across the archipelago nation have been razed so-far…some of the girls from the bulldozed area had simply gone to other clubs, some were working on street corners…To date, no sex workers are known to have voluntarily joined the Government’s program to retrain them in poor-paying menial jobs…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#653) 

Yes, this is actually a mainstream US newspaper giving space to a priest claiming that porn comes from “the depths of Hell”:

…Growing up is a difficult process, fraught with all sorts of emotional turmoil that tempt young men to look toward pornography for relief.  Once the seeking of relief becomes habitual…the necessary experiences that boys require to become men are often thwarted…Today this affects more of our young men than we can count…and the effects are never neutral…First exposure most often occurs during adolescence, when the brain is still forming and very impressionable by graphic images…Porn comes from the depths of hell, and is calculated to destroy the characters of young men before they even have a chance to grow into a healthy sense of who they are and what they can become.  Once your mind becomes pornified…You lose any higher sense of self, and your relationships become distorted…

One would think a newspaper would know “pornified” isn’t an actual word with any real scientific meaning.

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Victimless crime creates the surveillance state.  –  Wendy McElroy

Amazingly Stupid Statements

License to Rape

At least the European media aren’t afraid to apply the word “rape” to the actions of rapist cops:

Hundreds of people took to the streets of a Paris suburb…to denounce police brutality, after a 22-year-old black man was…sodomised with a baton during an arrest last week…One [cop] was charged…with rape, while three others were charged with assault…The man suffered severe anal injuries which required surgery and was also treated for damage to the head and face…The severity of his injuries led a doctor to declare him unfit to work for 60 days…[cops] deny the [obvious evidence] and [pretend] they were targeting lookouts for drug dealers…

Decentralization

Wendy McElroy on bitcoin and consensual crime:

…There are people who use bitcoin to buy “immoral goods” (whatever that means) just as there are people who use cash to do so.  As long as the participants are consenting adults, that’s their business.  Not yours, not mine.  The state is the one who interjects violence and harm when it points a gun at peaceful adults…The attack on bitcoin will be framed…as a way to protect vulnerable and misguided individuals who use their own bodies in “unacceptable” ways.  Or it will unfold as a campaign of resentment against those individuals who do not pay their so-called “fair share” toward maintaining the surveillance state.  A moral attack must be met with moral indignation, not an apology…

Broken Record 

How fetishists are trying to back away from the thoroughly-debunked “Super Bowl sex trafficking” trope without abandoning the larger “gypsy whore” myth:

While there was a considerable increase in the number of [sex work] ads surrounding the Super Bowl, other events like a Memorial Day motorcycle rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and various industry conferences had a bigger impact than expected, suggesting that resources devoted to combating the problem of forced prostitution have been misdirected….[“sex trafficking” fetishists fantasize] that traffickers and pimps use online classified services like Backpage.com to advertise their victim’s sexual services…[pigs bizarrely fantasize that] words like “young” and “no pimps” can be indicators that the person in the photo is a trafficking victim…

Imaginary Evils

Since there are virtually no actual “sex trafficking” cases in the UK despite massive, multi-million-pound crusades to discover them, cops keep themselves busy with fantasies of “pimps” lurking behind every ordinary escort ad:

West Midlands Police has confirmed they now [waste] a substantial part of their [time] in [fantasizing about] sex trafficking victims in the region…[based on propaganda from] The Salvation Army…The content of profiles leads to more suspicion…A lot of the prostitutes also claim to be ‘independent’…But [since we know women are too stupid to plan travel or get pictures taken] their profile pictures…[and] the fact they move around the country would…allude to a larger, more organised, illegal operation…

Cops and Robbers

These are the kind of people who call us “bad” women:

…a group of sex workers…operate from one of three houses [in suburban Johannesburg] which were attacked by [a mob which]…marched to their house on [February 5th] and tossed their belongings outside before torching them.  Beds‚ bedding‚ plasma TV sets‚ music systems‚ clothes and money were some of the things that the girls lost in the [unprovoked attack which] locals [rationalized as taking] a stand against what they say are drug dens and brothels run by Nigerian nationals…

Guinea Pigs (#630) 

Maker of fascist surveillance software uses Backpage as a prop for self-fellation:

Marinus Analytics LLC has joined DeliverFund’s International Human Trafficking Analysis Center (iHTAC), a consortium of organizations who’ve partnered to [come up with more ways to profit from hysteria over]…human trafficking…The combined capabilities of Marinus Analytic’s Traffic Jam and DeliverFund’s uniquely qualified personnel allowed [pigs]…to continue [oppressing people] without disruption during the recent Backpage.com’s closure of its adult ads section…

To Molest and Rape child-molester-cop-chris-wilbanks

Lying, tricking someone into doing something wrong, threatening harm to compel behavior…gee, I wonder where he learned to act this way?

A [South Carolina cop] was arrested after federal investigators say that he coerced an 11-year-old girl into sending him a nude picture, then told her to send more naked photographs or he would show the first one to others…Chris Wilbanks…is charged with production of child pornography…[he] posed as a 14-year-old boy nicknamed “Redneck Rick” on social media and talked to the girl, who said she was 12…the girl sent about a dozen pornographic images to Wilbanks and was crying in many of them…

Challenge (#677)

What could be more Orwellian than referring to groups trying to take away women’s rights as “women’s rights groups”?

Two women’s rights organisations are to feature in a High Court challenge to a new law making it illegal for men to pay for sex in Northern Ireland…Space International, a [prohibitionist] group [backed by the nuns who abused women in the infamous Magdalene laundries], and Equality Now, [a group led by a former prosecutor who resigned in disgrace after railroading two innocent black men for rape,] have been granted intervener status in proceedings brought by sex worker Laura Lee…amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act breach [sex workers’] human rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination.  Northern Ireland is currently the only UK region to make the purchase of sex a criminal offence…

The Naked Anthropologist (#701) 

Noah Berlatsky reviews Laura Agustín’s new book:

Laura Agustín’s novel The Three-Headed Dog…argues that the notion of innocent young girls exploited, waiting to be rescued by daredevil Kristofs, is a pernicious myth.  People who cross borders generally do so to find a better life.  They end up doing sex work because it can sometimes be the best option available, especially given prejudiced restrictions placed on immigrant entry and employment…Immigrants are often victimized, but they aren’t solely victims…The Three-Headed Dog doesn’t have an exciting rescue narrative…[it shows] exploitation [as]…a fact of life, a constant backdrop too ubiquitous to be felled with a single punch or raid…

The War Goes On 

We have so many more vocal allies now than we did when I started blogging seven years ago!

Last month, authoritarians…forced Backpage, the world’s second-biggest classified-ads website, to shut down its adult section.  A motley crew of elected officials at all levels of government…bullied Backpage and its executives into getting rid of it, supposedly because they were concerned about people being “sex trafficked”…Of course, as Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out, Backpage was already cooperating with law enforcement…something that won them numerous accolades from state and federal cops.  Purely with respect to fighting crime, the government’s victory was somewhere between empty and actively harmful…What’s more, politicians and law enforcement conflate sex trafficking with voluntary prostitution. As…Maggie McNeill has been arguing for years, there are no good data to suggest anything but a tiny fraction of sex workers are trafficked…a lot of prostitutes…used Backpage’s adult section, and the government’s self-indulgent crackdown put their livelihoods at risk…

I Swear To God (#708)

Michelle Chen on how the US tests oppressive tactics abroad before inflicting them domestically:

One of the first policy measures taken by Donald Trump…was reinstating and expanding a piece of presidential policy known as the “Global Gag Rule.”  The policy bars USAID funding for any organization abroad that provides abortions or even presents abortion as a family planning option…In another global campaign to spread “Christian values,” the US government’s long-standing “anti-prostitution pledge” restricts funding from going to any organizations that promote or support sex work.  The oath forces organizations to choose between providing comprehensive services to their constituencies, or cutting back on certain services in order to get US funding…the worst abuses of Washington’s hegemonic power have always taken place in international arenas before creeping inward.  The use of private detention facilities and military contractors in border enforcement and migration detention have been experimental sites for the most exploitative forms of prison profiteering.  It was, after all, the expansion of immigration detention that helped revive the private prison industry across the country, after the traditional prison industry’s profits plateaued after decades of mining black communities to fill its facilities…

Stupor Bowl (#711)

Liz Brown finds the usual total lack of “sex trafficking” at this year’s Super Bowl:

To hear the hysterics tell it, thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of sex-selling women will flock like cockroaches to cities where sports-fans gather, and only some will be there willingly; the rest, including many children, are trucked in by opportunistic pimps and traffickers.  As ample people have pointed out…there’s not a shred of evidence to support this rumor…examinations of actual arrest data in Super Bowl cities shows no corresponding spike in sex trafficking, compelling prostitution, or any other similar charge—despite the verifiable spike in law-enforcement and media attention to the issue…Between the Saturday before the Super Bowl and the Tuesday morning after, no criminal complaints were filed against anyone [in Houston] for sex trafficking, soliciting a minor, pimping, promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution, etc…[the rumor is] what people today like to refer to as “fake news,” and the people who propagate it year after year—police departments looking to justify vice stings and asset forfeiture, missionary groups looking to fundraise or justify federal anti-trafficking grants, sensationalist media, and state and national politicians with human-trafficking measures to promote—are not…“abolitionists” but propagandists, plain and simple.

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[Sex worker] distrust of law enforcement…is well earned. – Kate Mogulescu

Surplus Women 

Imagine the murder of any other businessperson being described as a “scuffle”:

A 25-year-old Ugandan woman was…stabbed to death [in Bengaluru, Karnataka] in a scuffle over payment for sex…Ishan…has been arrested for fatally stabbing Florence Nakayaki…the deputy commissioner of police…PS Harsha [said]…neighbours called the police on hearing screams…Harsha [otherwise repeated the murderer’s version of events as though it were fact, casting blame on the victim for asking for her fee]…

Worse Than I Thought

A perfect storm of stupidity, sex fantasy and authoritarian violence:

A plan that would expand capital punishment in Utah so that [people] convicted of aggravated human trafficking or child sex exploitation that leads to death could be executed…[was passed by a] law enforcement …committee…despite concern from both [politicians] and [normal people]…sponsor…Paul Ray [fantasizes that] human trafficking is a big problem in Utah, so…“I want to be able to pull down a cartel kingpin or somebody and put them on death row if women or girls are dying in their trafficking rings,” he [bloviated]…The proposal is only the latest effort by Ray to institute hardline death-penalty plans…

Property of the State 

Authoritarians’ latest dodge for getting around civil rights: encouraging profiteers to file civil suits instead:

…Arkansas Act 45…bans dilation and evacuation abortions, the most common abortion procedure during the second trimester of pregnancy.  Rushed from filing to law in less than two months, the legislation effectively blocks abortions after 14 weeks by making the safest procedure a felony.  The earliest current abortion bans block the procedure after 20 weeks.  With no exception for rape or incest, and a clause that allows a woman’s spouse or parent to sue an abortion provider, the law potentially allows the fetus’s [sire] to sue even in cases of spousal rape or incest, abortion rights activists say.  The law could go into effect as early as spring…

Business As Usual deblasio-wife

Prohibitionists just can’t understand why sex workers refuse to believe that clients and imaginary “pimps” inflict the most violence on us, and that the police are our “rescuers” from it:

…[politician’s wife] Chirlane McCray urged [sex workers]…in New York City to trust the police to investigate, prosecute, and punish [our sources of income]…”We are already hearing that victims are afraid to come forward for fear of being deported,” McCray said. “If you are being forced to engage in any sex against your will, we want to help you…Please, do not be afraid”…[but in reality] prostitution-related charge[s] can land a non-citizen in a database accessible to federal immigration agents…NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill described [his own cluelessness by thinking sex workers want our clients persecuted]…But [in reality, as] Immigrant Defense Project attorney Genia Blaser said, “the city has investigated sex trafficking by arresting people…for…sex work”…between 2012 and 2015, the NYPD arrested 1,300 people…for allegedly “loitering for the purposes of prostitution”…631 people were arrested and charged with practicing massage without a license last year, up from just 31 in 2012…91 percent of the 2016 cases are against non-citizens…

Safe Targets (#452)

A profile of Tara Burns, with emphasis on her activism in Alaska:

…“people in the media were saying that they were using [a 2012 Alaska] law to ‘save’ the poor trafficking victims” Burns tells me.  But…“the law was only being used against us and not…to protect us…I was familiar with all of these different issues – police having sex with people and then arresting them, and people being turned away when they were trying to report crimes,” she tells me.  After studying for a Master’s Degree in Social Justice at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and conducting her thesis, Burns resolved to fight for change – using her research to find out the percentages of people who had experienced this.  “I brought that research to the Alaska legislature to tell them how their law was working and when I got down there I found out that I had to register as a representational lobbyist – so I was the first person in the history of Alaska’s legislature to be a representational lobbyist representing sex workers”, she explains.  Now, Tara is a founding board member of the organisation Community United for Safety and Protection, which works for safety and protection in Alaska’s sex industry…

Checklist (#514) 

More absurd “air hostesses vs pimps” nonsense:

…former flight attendant Nancy Rivard, founder of Airline Ambassadors, is trying to [indoctrinate] airline staff across the nation…[in] human trafficking [propaganda, using fake stats such as the fabricated claim that] U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 2,000 human traffickers and identified 400 victims last year…[and promoting myths about] the Super Bowl…[prohibitionists like Rivard fantasize that] sex work and human trafficking often go hand-in-hand…Airline Ambassador Sandra Fiorini, 69, testified before Congress in 2010 about [her BDSM sexual fantasies about]…girls…flying from Moscow to the United States…

Vendetta (#523) 

A female “contributor” to GQ is paid to fellate Peter Qualliotine, the deeply misogynistic prohibitionist who runs Seattle’s “john school”, where he attempts to indoctrinate normal men in the dogma that their sex drives are pathological because women are too stupid to make sexual decisions for ourselves:

…Peter Qualliotine [is] a co-founder of the Seattle-based Organization for Prostitution Survivors [and a prohibitionist for many years]…In plenty of cities and counties around the country, men busted for buying sex get sent to a class known as “john school”—usually just a scared-straight afternoon with [propaganda] about STDs and jail time and the harms of prostitution…Peter had taught those classes and didn’t think much of their effectiveness.  He had something [more grandiose] in mind…In class, throughout those first weeks, a number of the men showed with their body language that they [understood] the whole exercise was bullshit, a waste of their time.  Several…made it clear that they [understood] it was nonsense that prostitution was a crime at all…

Naturally, Brooke Jarvis consulted no actual sex workers for the article, despite there being plenty of very public members of our community right here in Seattle.

A Woman’s Point of View 

As with cannabis legalization, if enough of these are thrown at the wall one of them may eventually stick:

Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution…after House Speaker Joseph Souki introduced a bill…Transgender activist Tracy Ryan says she’s pushing the bill because transgender women in the sex trade are disproportionately impacted by criminalization laws… Souki says he takes no position on the bill, but he introduced it as a favor to Ryan.  House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says this and a bill to decriminalize marijuana may be part of a push to reduce the prison population.

Gorged With Meaning (#639)

It’s so nice to see sex work treated as the normal thing it is:

…Portland State University’s (PSU) Women’s Resource Center… “supports the right of all students to seek and access safety in all aspects of life, including in the workplace.  For students working in the sex industry, this can be a unique and isolating challenge.”  Adrienne Graf is Portland State University’s Sexual and Relationship Violence Response Program Coordinator…and…created Portland State University’s Student Sex Worker Outreach Project…Graf’s been personally connected to sex workers since she was 18- or 19-years-old, when she first was starting her career in social work…“When I went into getting my Masters in Social Work, I was really intrigued and also disturbed by how social workers did and did not interact with the sex industry, and I became increasingly more involved in sex worker activism as a result”…

Pimps Ahoy wannabe-pimp-chef

I predict we’re going to see a lot more rescue industry dudes pretending to have been reluctant pimps:

[Self-proclaimed] pimp turned do-gooder Kaushic Biswas…is now teaching the sort of women he once exploited how to cook their way out of sex trafficking… in the 1990s…Biswas earned big money as a pimp, managing and selling women for sex after they had been trafficked into prostitution.  “Every night I broke down and cried…because I was part of the exploitation,” Biswas [fantasized]… “Sometimes they forced me to watch”…Biswas bought a plane ticket to Thailand to escape Mumbai, working once more as a chef, first in a 5-star hotel in Thailand, next under his mentor in Hong Kong…he found solace in a church and joined fellow believers…

Cooties (#703)

It’s always “gangs”.  Because you know women are too stupid to use AirBnB for ourselves:

More than 30 “pop up” brothels each week are being opened in Swindon, with foreign prostitutes renting properties for a few days before moving on.  Wiltshire Police said that every week, as many as 40 sex-workers, most of whom are eastern European, were advertising their services in the town.  It is the latest in a spate of reports across the country of temporary brothels, where rooms are rented for just a few days before women are swiftly moved on to evade detection…[cops fantasize] many of the brothels [are]…linked to organised crime gangs which traffic women from Poland and Romania…

The War Goes On (#707) 

The idea that women have free will is incomprehensible to the misogynistic sociopaths in “law enforcement”:

…The shuffling on Backpage is being watched closely in Miami-Dade, where prosecutors have been aggressive about going after pimps and traffickers, while [locking up women by pretending they’ve]…been coerced into selling their bodies…State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle dismissed Backpage’s widely publicized closing of its adult section closing as nothing more than a “shell game…They’ve all moved to the dating section…The same victims are being found there”…[this attitude among] law enforcement hasn’t gone over well with…some advocates for victims of [coercion]…“It’s a symbolic crusade,” said Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco, a criminology professor at Georgetown University…“They’re trying to get some accolades and look like the heroes”…

Stupor Bowl (#709)

Barely a peep out of these fanatics this year, and even then only at the last minute:

Sex trafficking tends to increase during the Super Bowl and this year is no exception, according to…Nita Belles…of…In Our Backyard…The Houston Police Department [claims to be]…busy with multiple…sex trafficking [cases]…Belle said…”If somebody’s coming here for the Super Bowl [and has sadfeelz about sex work they should rat people out to the cops]”…

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[Jessica] McGraa’s death has prompted many to ask how we have created a climate in which sex workers call anyone but the police.  –  Frankie Mullin

Lying Down With Dogs

Melissa Ditmore on Russia’s terrible anti-whore policies:

Russian President Vladimir Putin…half [joked]…that…Russian sex workers are “of course the best in the world”…but…Russia’s regressive policies on sex work, LGBTQ people, and sex education are counter to good health.  LGBTQ people are stigmatized and discriminated against and face grave violence, sex work is prohibited, the most effective HIV prevention strategies for people who use drugs are against the law, and comprehensive sexuality education is not offered in schools…

The Mote and the Beam

Liz Brown was the only non-prohibitionist invited to appear on this Al Jazeera show; in this article she discusses the incredible ignorance of the other panelists, who call for more laws without even knowing what the current ones say.

An Example To the West

Two thousand signatures:

The National Network of Sex Workers has released a statement challenging the conference being organised by the “The Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution International”…The statement has been signed by over 2000 sex workers in India who reject the conflation of trafficking with sex work, and the conflation of sex work with violence.  It calls for…an end to the use of morality to stigmatise and discriminate against sex workers…

Broken Record 

The broadest “gypsy whore” claim ever:

a new report from 2016 [redefines criteria to claim that] the number of human trafficking cases in [Florida] doubled in the last year…Florida’s reputation as a tourist destination means traffickers respond to the demand for sex tourism by trafficking victims to the state during tourist season…[prohibitionist] Bethany Gilot [publicly fantasized about]…the prevalence of sex tourism in the region…

I Swear To God

And yet “feminists” were perfectly happy when it was sex workers’ rights which were the forbidden topic:

Donald Trump signed [an] executive order…reinstating a ban on international aid…to nonprofits that provide abortions or promote information on them, regardless of what other services they offer…A…group of more than 100 public health, women’s issues, and civil liberties organizations have already issued a statement opposing the return of…”the global gag rule”…[the policy is very much like] the anti-prostitution pledge…[which] stipulated that no grant money could be used…to “provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution”…

That Old Black Magic

I’m not sure which aspect of this is the stupidest:

A woman accused of trafficking a Nigerian woman into the country and forcing her to work as a prostitute has claimed that the alleged victim was having an affair with her husband…The complainant previously told a jury that she underwent a “voodoo process” in Nigeria during which she swore she would not report the alleged trafficker, Joy Imasogie…once in Ireland she had to have sex with up to 10 men a day to pay off a €50,000 “debt”…arising from her being brought to Ireland…Imasogie said sometimes the woman would come to her house to do her hair in exchange for food but denied making her work as a prostitute…she…also claimed the mother of the alleged victim was using voodoo to take her husband away from her but “did not succeed”…

Monsters 

A 26-year-old Detroit man…[shot] a transgender woman in the face after paying her for sex.  Jason Lamar Hogan was charged…with [attempted murder]…She escaped and got treatment at Grace Hospital…

Paint By Numbers

“Dumb ‘awareness-raising’ stunts” is going to be the funniest appendix in my history of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is urging you to drop an F-bomb.  No, not the swear word.  In this case, F stands for Friend…They’re using memes with a very serious message.  It’s something we don’t like to think is happening in our community: kids forced to be sex slaves.  But Florida is one of the top three states for human trafficking…Ken Gibson from the Crisis Center…says…“It’s little kids…who are being targeted by pimps”…

Checklist (#542)

Can this reporter actually be so credulous as to believe it takes 20 cops to check to see if a strip club is displaying the magical scrolls demanded by Florida politicians?

There was no dancing when deputies and code enforcement officers were at a strip joint called Icon.  Except for the 20 or so officials, the club was nearly vacant…But the deputies didn’t mind the empty stage, as they were there to ensure that the club was in compliance with a new county ordinance requiring anti-human trafficking signs in adult entertainment establishments…

The nauseating sound of bootlicking is deafening.

Perquisites (#582) 

Yawning.

…University of Louisville…director of basketball operations Andre McGee hired strippers and prostitutes as a way of gaining favor with high school recruits from 2010 to 2014.  The scandal broke wide open in 2015, when Katina Powell, who was in charge of organizing the women to bring to campus, published a book detailing the racket, titled Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen…

Surplus Women (#614) 

It will never be completely safe for any sex worker, or really any woman, to call the cops.  But we need to give the cops far fewer excuses to force interaction with sex workers:

Jessica…McGraa’s death sent waves of horror through the sex work community across the UK.  As an independent worker, advertising online, she was part of one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry.  Her story was close to home for thousands of people working in similar circumstances.  How many of them would have called the police?…

To Molest and Rape rapist-cop-evan-cramer

Once again: if you think it matters whether a rapist cop was “on duty” at the time of the rape, you are part of the problem:

Evan Cramer…pulled [a woman] over…for a minor traffic violation…[he said] she had multiple warrants out for her arrest and said she could avoid jail time if she [submitted to rape]…Cramer…then…[forced] the [woman] into his cruiser and [drove] her to a vacant lot where…he [raped her]…The woman then went to the hospital and reported the [rape]…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (#705) 

Though this is mostly just the usual idiocy, note that “children” is defined as “people under 26”.

There are likely more than 313,000 victims of labor and sex trafficking in Texas, and roughly a fourth of them are children and people under the age of 26 who have been forced into prostitution…[fetishists] from…University of Texas…[pretend these wild exagerrations represent] “a conservative understatement of the prevalence of human trafficking in Texas”…

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Everyone knows that before ubiquitous internet porn, puberty-racked adolescents walked uphill both ways to and from school and never saw themselves as sexual beings.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Think of the Children! 

The subjects of moral panics are always “worse than ever”, yet somehow never reach the point of saturation:

A Hillfields [wanker] says prostitution in the area is worse than ever…Steve Bowen…[claims] residents have witnessed women waiting for business near the nearby school and used condoms have been found outside flats.  But despite the ongoing problem, only four arrests have been made since September 2014…Bowen says…“We have so many children who live round here and to see someone offering their services is life-changing…that is absolutely traumatic to a child…The social disruption they cause is engraved in the community.  The damage they cause to other people is never ending”…

“Life-changing”?  “Social disruption”?  I sometimes wonder if these people are even talking about the same thing.  Like maybe he’s using the word “prostitution” to mean “cops beating someone up” or something like that.

Lying Down With Dogs

What wonderful company the US is in!

An Iranian official has called for the sterilization of female sex workers and homeless drug addicts in Tehran to prevent “social harm”.  Siavash Shahrivar, head of the Social and Cultural Affairs Department in the Tehran Governorate, said those women should be “convinced” to undergo sterilization…”with her own approval, and not forcefully…Over 20 percent of them have AIDS and [they] spread various diseases…In addition to…spreading depravity, they reproduce like hatching machines and as their children have no guardians, they sell them”…

The Red Umbrella boot-cast-guy-who-attacked-sex-worker

In the US, she would’ve been arrested if she reported this:

[Toronto] police are searching for a male suspect wanted in the vicious assault and robbery of a female sex worker…on [December 29th]…After choking the woman unconscious…he…tied her up.  When she awoke, he demanded cash…he…is…approximately 25 years of age, at least six-foot-three with a thin build.  He has wavy red hair, a straggly beard and a light complexion with freckles.  He also has a boot cast on his right foot…

The Widening Gyre

“Sex trafficking” hysteria is now almost pure self-parody:

Eighteen-year-old Maddy’s family say they are terrified she is being “groomed” by a [19-year-old] in Argentina and are worried she is going to be sold as a sex slave!  Maddy’s mom, Tonia, says Maddy met…Andres, through a video game 13 months ago and ever since then, she’s been determined to fly to Argentina and start a new life with a man she has never met in person…Andres has promised her a place to live, money to spend, and…[assistance] with…schooling…Maddy says the reason she came on the Dr. Phil show is so she can prove her family wrong…she knows there is no way her online boyfriend is [a] sex trafficking criminal…

I love the way her dad declares Argentina is “known for human trafficking”, presumably because he saw it on TV or something.

The Public Eye 

It’s always heartening to see a sex worker run for office, especially when she wins:

A small Brazilian city, Manacapuru, recently made headlines after a local prostitute, Francisca da Silva, was elected deputy to the local municipality.  The candidacy…was put forward by local residents as a sign of protest against the city’s mayor Jaziel Tororó…The woman who started working as a prostitute when she was 11 earned about [$3] per client.  Starting next week, her salary will be about $2,300.  Silva currently lives with her parents and three children aged 6 to 10 years in a hut with wooden walls and a zinc roof.  After her election, she promised to distribute free food for prostitutes on the streets…

Moving Pictures 

To hear these yo-yos ranting, you’d swear this was this film had magic powers and was the only one ever made on the subject rather than one of dozens:

The digital version of SOLD…[was] released on January 10, the day before the Human Trafficking Awareness Day…a shorter PG-13 version of the film can be purchased or leased for screenings at schools, faith-based communities and corporations…The film tells the [fictional] story of a 13-year-old-girl, who is trafficked from rural Nepal to a prison brothel in India in order to repay her family’s debts…The movie has won [7 participation trophies]…at International Film Festivals…Since its release in 2014, the film’s creators have joined hands [to sing Kumbaya while standing on a lawn] with the Taught Not Trafficked campaign…The global average age of trafficked children is 13…“The International Labor Organization estimates that over 5.5 million children disappear every year into sex and labor slavery- more than at any other time in human history,” the press release said…

Cooties (#613)

It’s always “gangs”.  Because you know women are too stupid to use AirBnB for ourselves:

Police are warning owners of holiday lets in the south-west of England to beware of sex workers using their premises as pop-up brothels…Owners have no idea that their…properties have been used in the sex trade…Insp Dave Meredith, sector inspector for Newquay, has concerns that sex workers from central and eastern Europe may have been trafficked into the UK by organised gangs.  Meredith…said it was difficult to disrupt the scams…

Because renting a rental property and causing no trouble for the owner is a “scam”.

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#639)

Note that pigs use the same tactics to harass migrant sex workers whether they’re portrayed as “job-stealing” aliens or pathetic victims:

While most people in Jakarta were watching fireworks displays on New Year’s Eve, Immigration officials put on a show for the media, inviting them to film as they did a raid on the Sun City nightclub…during which they detained 76 Chinese women for allegedly working in Indonesia illegally as sex workers…Indonesian social media has recently been filled with rumors that Chinese workers were coming to the archipelago to steal work from locals…News of the Chinese women’s arrest seems to have been taken by some as a form of validation…They face likely deportation though it is possible they could receive up to 5 years in jail for breaking Indonesian immigration laws.

Morality Lessons (#640)

The “progressives” have given religious fanatics a powerful censorship tool:  declare anything a “public health crisis” and it can be harassed at will:

A lawmaker in Virginia has filed a bill that would declare pornography a public health hazard in the state…Robert G. Marshall [fantasizes that]…pornography leads to problems including the hypersexualization of teenagers and the normalization of abuse of women and children.  While not calling for a ban on porn, the proposed bill [imagines] a “pornography epidemic” [which] needs to be addressed…

Utah has moved on to step two, using civil courts to attack since the target isn’t illegal:

…Todd Weiler…who sponsored last year’s porn resolution, said he will soon introduce new legislation that would allow Utah residents who imagine themselves addicted to porn to sue the websites where they watch it.  “I’m trying to kind of track the same path that was taken against tobacco 70 years ago,” [said] Weiler…this silly “porn as public health crisis” meme seems to now be spreading to other states, egged on by folks at the group formerly known as Morality in Media

The Prudish Giant (#641) fountain-of-neptune

Facebook can’t even follow its own “standards”:

…Facebook has famously waged war on the female breast…But it’s not just breasts that offend: so do the sculpted genitalia of Roman gods.  An Italian art historian was reportedly told…to remove an image from her page showing a statue of the Roman god Neptune…Elisa Barbari used the image as an example of “Stories, curiosities and views of Bologna.”  But Neptune was deemed too explicit…[even though] …“We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures”…

Business As Usual (#664)

The final tally for 2016: 80% of all acts of violence vs sex workers in Hong Kong were inflicted by cops:

Abuse of prostitutes is on the rise and police officers are mostly responsible, according to…Zi Teng, which offers support for prostitutes…[out of] 615 reports of physical and ­verbal abuse…police were reported on 490 occasions…abuses…[included] 225 cases of [groundless] arrest…100 cases of [repetitive harassment]…11 cases [of rape]…17 [cases in which the cop used threats to obtain hand jobs]…making verbal threats and insults (57)…[sexual] assaults (three) and physical…assault…(three)…clients were accused of 125 abuses…Among them were theft (56 cases), removing a condom during sex (seven), [rape via] denial of payment (19), fraud (six) and one of [forcible] rape…

Presumption of Guilt (#684)

Remember the fascist bootlicker who wanted to eliminate high-denomination currency?  Well, India actually did that, and guess who it hurt the most?

A recent announcement which has seen two highest value bank notes in India (Rs 500 and Rs 1000) demonetised has had wide reaching impacts on many communities.  Demonesation means the bank notes are no longer legal to use.  Sex workers, women, hijra [trans people], refugees and rural poor people are reportedly amongst those standing to be most negatively affected.  The demonetisation policy was abruptly announced on 8 November 2016 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating the two cash notes would “not be legal tender from midnight tonight.”  An initial 30 December 2016 deadline was given for those able to present proper identity documents to bring the cash to banks or post offices for exchange or depositing into accounts…The Usha Multipurpose Cooperative Bank…announced it would accept the demonetised notes for a short interim period as the new policy came into place…

The End of the Beginning (#687)

Another setback for due process:

…a federal appeals court upheld a Minnesota program that indefinitely detains sex offenders after they have completed their prison sentences under the guise of treating them for mental illnesses invented by the state legislature…U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank concluded that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) violates the due process rights of the people it imprisons…he…correctly perceived that the “treatment” provided by the MSOP, which has never cured anyone in the program’s 23-year history, is a sham used to conceal a punitive purpose and justify preventive detention based on unsubstantiated fears of future crimes…According to the 8th Circuit, none of that matters, because all the state had to do was avow good intentions…

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Dr. Kate Lister runs the wonderful, informative and entertaining Whores of Yore Twitter account, and when she recently decided to start a website to go with it I invited her to tell my readers about it.  Kate’s mission is much the same as mine: to demystify and destigmatize sex work by improving communication between sex workers and the general public.

whores-of-yore-logoLast month, on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (2016), I launched the Whores of Yore website; it was the culmination of a year’s hard work on a wonderful project that took me completely unawares.  Whores of Yore grew out of a Twitter feed, that grew out of a research project on medieval sexuality, that grew out of a PhD into women and medievalism.  I am a post-doctoral researcher at Leeds Trinity University (UK) and was reading into medieval attitudes surrounding sexual sin, when I found a London court record from 1340 of two “notorious strumpets”; Alice Strumpette and Clarice la Claterballock.  I thought that was just wonderful.  The wry wit in the aliases made me laugh, as I am sure they were supposed to.  But, beyond being funny, the fact that such names would be adopted said more about sex work in the fourteenth century then many academic texts I have read; there was a real humanity to it.  I started the Twitter feed @WhoreofYore to share snapshots of history like that.

I had not foreseen any interest in the feed, but very quickly the followers grew and online articles began to be published about the content.  I started getting feedback from followers who were reacting to the material I was posting in ways I could have never predicted.  Twitter is a great leveller; your voice is on an equal footing with everyone else, and the feedback is instant.  In the beginning, getting daily, uncensored and anonymous feedback about your work is daunting, but I learnt to listen, to respond and serve.  I do get trolled, but follower feedback also made the feed better; it encouraged me to break away from a western focus, include more trans voices and bring in a daily dose of #HistoricalHottie (photographs of handsome men from history to balance up the eye-candy on offer).  But, what changed my research was that Twitter allowed me to engage directly with the sex worker community.  Suddenly, the history I was researching was no longer dead and buried; it was correcting my terminology on Twitter, and calling me a cunt when I got things wrong.  Without realising it, I had been guilty of viewing sex work only through a historical, academic lens; it wasn’t real to me.  But when a sex worker from Australiawhores-of-yore-screencap made contact with me to say she enjoyed the feed, but please could I stop using the word “prostitute” and use “sex worker” instead, I finally got it.  History is powerful because it frames contemporary debate, but it is not to be archived away and accessible only to (well meaning) academics; it should engage with lives today.  I was using the word “prostitute” in a clinical, academic way, but that perpetuated narratives that exists outside of historical research and the ivory tower.  That was the moment that I saw a project that could make history relevant to contemporary issues.  I wanted @WhoresofYore to facilitate an active process of feedback, reciprocal communication and attribution between sex workers, historians, activists, and anyone else who had a view to express.

As sex workers are stigmatised, often criminalized people, historically, they have had little opportunity to speak without intermediaries.  Rather, their stories and voices have been assumed by journalists, activists, and academics (like myself – the irony is not lost on me).  However, with the advent of social media platforms, this is rapidly changing; social media has allowed sex workers a public voice, a space to engage with those speaking for them and about them, like never before.  Online sex worker communities have been formed, alliances made and agendas set.  “Nothing about us without us” is the mantra of the sex worker rights movement; the web and social media provide a platform for the sex worker voice to be heard, and invited academics to genuinely listen to the group they research.  I wanted to build on this dynamic with a website and further bridge the gap between academic, historical research, and the sex worker voice; I hoped the website would create a space that enabled a process of democratisation and facilitate a discussion, rather than a lecture into the study and history of sexuality.

I wanted the website to feature articles on the history of sexuality and sex workers, but to retain an emphasis on sexuality and contemporary voices.  To that end, I created a several article sections: sex history, sex talk, sex worker voices, LGBT History, politics and the law and an interactive timeline of sex workers throughout history.  I put out a call for article submissions on the Twitter feed, and articles started to roll in.  I have been extremely fortunate and BASIS Yorkshire (a charity who work with street sex workers and some of the most vulnerable members of the sex work community) have agreed to write a monthly blog about their work.  BASIS is very private and protective of the people they work with, so to be able to facilitate a space for them is a real honour.  I also have a sex therapist, Drew Lawson, who is regularly blogging on the site and answering all kinds of questions about sexuality.  I work with the archivist at Delta of Venus, the web’s largest collection of vintage erotica, to bring a selection of historical pornographic images.

kate-listerBut, this is only the beginning.  So far, the project has been entirely self-funded, but I am looking into investment to grow.  The project will expand to include podcasts, vlogging and interviews with historians, activists, members of the sex work community, and those who feel they are marginalised by their sexuality.  The history of sexuality will be placed side by side with sexuality today in the hope we can join up some of those conversations.  The purpose of this archive is not to create a goldfish bowl for others to stare into, but to provide a platform and invite people to share their experience and story; if you have an article to bring to the conversation, please email me.  Shame and stigma are broken down through conversation, and when we listen to one another; I hope that’s what this project can play a part in.  As Shannon L. Alder once wrote, “Never be ashamed of who you are.  True shame always belongs to the person that enjoys being ashamed of who you are.”

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