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Posts Tagged ‘violence vs. sex workers’

Somewhere, some document says I am entitled to the pursuit of happiness.  I can’t think of many things that make most people happier than sex.  –  “Bacchus”

Lying Down With Dogs

The US should be proud to be in such august company:

A Russian lawmaker intends to draft a bill introducing fines and community service for using the services of prostitutes.  The existing draft suggests…significantly harsher sanctions for married men and women.  Oleg Mikheyev…said…his suggestions would help to combat prostitution more effectively [because of “end demand” dogma]…He [incorrectly claimed] that similar measures had worked in…Sweden and Norway…

Acting and Activism 

After two years of waffling, Amnesty International appears ready to finally get off the fence about decriminalization.  And the usual cast of Hollywood airheads is very unhappy about it:

Amnesty International says its proposed policy “is based on the human rights principle that consensual sexual conduct between adults…is entitled to protection from state interference”.  It cites many examples in which criminalization increases risks to sex workers…”This policy does not change Amnesty International’s longstanding position that trafficking into forced prostitution should be criminalised”…the proposed policy states…[this] prompted a letter of protest from more than 400 [prohibitionists]…including actors Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Anne Hathaway, Angela Bassett, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Lisa Kudrow, Lena Dunham, Kyra Sedgwick, and director Jonathan Demme…The proposed policy will be addressed at Amnesty International’s international council meeting next month in Dublin, Ireland…

empty-headed celebrities

Rooted in Racism

You can be as bigoted as you like, as long as you blame it on whores:

…Alecsandra Puflea tried to check into a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Hull with her boyfriend…but…was turned away after the receptionist found out she was from Romania.  The 22-year-old criminology and forensic science graduate…had booked the room online…The hotel introduced a policy of [discrimination]…after other Romanian women were found to be using the rooms for prostitution…the hotel has now apologised to her and is reviewing its policy…

Above the Law 

A police chief in a small island village in Ohio looked the other way when one of his officers used “roofies” to drug and rape two female cadets, then threatened the victims and covered up the crime, two federal lawsuits allege…the women charge that [Robert] Lampela, 53, wouldn’t allow them to file criminal complaints after they were…attacked in 2003 [in the town of Put-in-Bay]…Lampela…harassed them repeatedly when they complained, held a gun to one cadet’s head at her home and said he was the “God of Put-in-Bay and could make or break” their careers.  When one of the cadets allegedly got a verbal confession from their attacker, Lampela responded that “No whores are going to take down my department,” and “Who do you think they will believe, you or the chief of police?”  Lampela was [finally] arrested in February…

Finding What Isn’t There

“Authorities” amazed that an imaginary problem doesn’t materialize in response to their declaring that it exists:

The Michigan State Police claim few cases of human trafficking were reported last year…despite widespread publicity from elected officials and new laws aimed to combat the issue…only three [accusations] of human trafficking were [made] statewide in 2014…the…state Attorney General[‘s]…spokeswoman, Andrea Bitely…said the nature of human trafficking makes it difficult for law enforcement to…distinguish…victims from criminals…

If that last line doesn’t enrage you, I don’t know what would.

Broken Record 

The tiny numbers and silly language make this Irish version of the “gypsy whores” myth rather comical:

The Galway Races are set to turn sordid as…more than 50 hookers will descend on the city to coincide with one of the biggest events in Irish sport.  Plainclothes gardai will be on duty throughout the week in a bid to clamp down on prostitution…Escorts…as young as 18 are advertising on sordid websites, with 30-minute rates starting from €60 upwards, and hourly rates from €120.  All-night packages are also available for €2,000 or more.  Ruhama…[pretends] the influx of hookers is orchestrated by criminal gangs….[and] that men who pay for sex at the festival are helping to fuel organised crime…Up to 150,000 punters are expected to descend on Galway Racecourse over the course of the festival…

Skin To Skin

Kerry Porth describes her experience with a disfigured client:

…James…had severe scars from burns and skin grafts that covered 40% of his body…when he was 14 years old, his family home caught fire…he ran back in to save his sister by lowering her out her window…He continued to see me every few weeks for about 18 months.  During that time he told me about dating situations where young women had reacted in terrible ways to the sight of his scars, even though he had told them why he had them.  I wanted to find those girls and slap them.  I encouraged him to keep trying – that one day he would find the right woman.  And then one day he did…and…[came to] see me one last time to say…thank you for…convincing him that he wasn’t disgusting…

Challenge

What If They Threw a Party and Nobody Came? (#321)

The largest review of the available evidence on the…HPV vaccine Gardasil, has found no evidence of any serious short-term or long-term safety issues.  Bringing together the findings from clinical trials, post-licensure studies and data presented at scientific meetings but not yet published, the researchers focused particularly on autoimmune diseases, nervous system disorders, anaphylaxis, blood clots and stroke – but none of them is caused by the vaccine, they found…

A Year Later

The more female sex workers feel connected to their colleagues, the less they engage in risky transactions with clients who refuse to wear condoms, according to a new study urging the Conservative federal government to repeal its anti-prostitution law.  The study…found a third of the 654 Metro Vancouver sex workers interviewed over a three-year period reported being coerced into letting a client perform vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom in the previous six months…The ability of sex workers to organize and protect themselves will continue to be severely hampered by…Bill C-36…which…pushes such workers into more dangerous areas and activities so they can protect their clients…

Welcome To Our World (#536)

As I said, “nothing more than a concern troll“:

…a series of articles published in The New York Times purported to expose rampant labor abuses in New York City nail salons.  Reporter Sarah Maslin Nir claimed to have interviewed more than 100 employees of such salons and found that manicurists working long shifts for as little as $10 per day was the norm.  Public response was swift and emotional, sending the Internet-outrage-spiral into full force and even influencing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to pass emergency regulations for nail salons…But as with so much high-profile message journalism recently, the Times article seems based on dubious facts and broad generalizations.  In The New York Review of Books, Richard Bernstein challenges many of the claims on which Nir’s narrative is based…Nir [claimed]…that “Asian-language newspapers are rife with classified ads listing manicurist jobs paying”…just $10 per day.  Bernstein and his [Chinese] wife found this surprising, so they started combing through the employment ads in those papers themselves.  What they found…was a lowest rate of $70 per day plus tips, and many…up to $110…

Seizing Power

“Crucified” is a much stronger word than I would use for this nearly-toothless rebuke:

A federal judge crucified…Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart [for his]…attack…on Backpage.com…Backpage sued Dart after he coerced Visa and Mastercard to refrain from doing business with the classifieds portal.  Dart labeled the company a “sex trafficking industry profiteer“…because of its adult ads.  Backpage claimed…that Dart’s actions amount to “an informal extralegal prior restraint of speech”…[and] Judge John Tharp Jr. agreed…ordering the sheriff to cease the attacks…The judge added that “Dart’s informal lobbying of the credit card companies violated the First Amendment by imposing an informal prior restraint on the advertisements hosted by Backpage.com”…The judge did not immediately order Dart to retract the letters…more litigation is expected…

If You Want Something Done Right…

The only important nugget of information in this article:

Neal Falls, the suspected serial killer slain by an escort in West Virginia, may have…[been] involved in serial slayings in eight other states—Nevada, Illinois, Ohio, New York, Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, and California…

The rest is the typical garbage which appears so often in stories about such psychopaths:  he had a weird online profile, came from an abusive family, was a loner, had a puppy, etc.

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I knew he was there to kill me.  –  the woman who stopped Neal Falls

lady who took out Neal FallsI’ve written a number of times about “NHI” (“No Humans Involved“), the informal police policy that (in the absence of some sort of public outcry) violence against sex workers is to be ignored and left uninvestigated.  Even a serial killer preying on whores is usually allowed to continue the slaughter unimpeded by police action unless he mistakenly includes an amateur in his spree, and even then you can be sure the cops are going to let everyone know that the reason they’re taking action is to protect the “good” women and not the harlots.  Sometimes, the cops even go as far as to deny that there’s a serial killer in the first place, to cover up for him or to announce more persecution of potential victims, just so everyone knows they’re no friends of dirty whores.  So generally, the killing will continue until the murderer widens his appetites to include amateurs, or the cops catch him for something else (and then pretend it was part of their “investigation”), or he stops on his own, or someone else takes him out.  Remember the serial killer operating in Chillicothe, Ohio?  Well, he was stopped in nearby Charleston, West Virginia, by a woman he tried to add to his tally:

Neal Falls, the man shot to death by a prostitute after he attacked her on Saturday, had a cache of weapons and a list of online escorts inside his vehicle…police…suspect he may have been involved in other unsolved crimes.  “He had a machete, shovel, two axes, a bunch of knives, a double-headed ax, a bulletproof vest, numerous sets of handcuffs, as well as the firearm used to kill him,” [said] Lt. Steve Cooper of the Charleston, West Virginia, police…”Nearly immediately after he stepped into her apartment, he said ‘live or die’ and a struggle ensued,” Cooper said. “[Falls] laid his gun on a counter so that he could get a firmer grip around the victim’s throat with both his hands and she was able to scoop that weapon up and fire one round, killing Mr. Falls.”  The escort, who has not been identified, was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including broken vertebrae.  Authorities have determined the shooting was a justifiable homicide…

The Daily Dot had more detail:

When Falls began to strangle her, she…reached for a nearby rake.  Falls put down his gun to try and wrestle the rake out of her hands—that’s when she grabbed the gun and shot him.  Falls died from the gunshot wound, and she ran outside to get help…police…found an extensive “kill kit” in the trunk of Falls’s Subaru…[including] knives, a shovel, a machete, several axes, a sledgehammer, a pair of hiking boots covered in dirt, trash bags, and cleaning supplies.  In Falls’s pocket, said police, they found a list of names of future targets:  all sex workers who advertised on Backpage.  Police have not released the names, or the exact number, of women on the list…Falls…previously worked as a security guard in Oregon, and may have been living “off the grid” out of his car…

Besides the murders in Chillicothe, he may have committed four in Las Vegas:

…according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal…Falls…has been linked to the deaths of four young women:  Lindsay Harris, 21, Jodi Brewer, 19, Jessica Foster 21, and Misty Saens, 25…Harris, Brewer and Saens…were found dead near highways.  Foster has yet to be located…

Neal FallsMaybe, or perhaps cops in various parts of the country are just going to try to pin unsolved murders of sex workers on Falls so they don’t have to waste their time on “NHI” crimes; after all, time spent investigating violence against whores is time they can’t spend harassing, raping, robbing or brutalizing us.  One has to have priorities, after all.  But for now, the as-yet-unnamed sex worker is a heroine to her sisters all over the US, and if she reads this I ask that she let us show our gratitude to and solidarity with her.  She’s an inspiration to all of us, and I hope the next sex worker to be threatened by a monster like Falls is able to follow her example and do for herself and the rest of us what the cops can’t and won’t.

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One of the most dangerous aspects of our work is the swarm of moral, political and legal authorities…who treat us like children and victims and, when we won’t behave like children and victims, criminalize us in a manner that sometimes leads to fatal exchanges.  –  Fleur de Lit

Ashley Madison 100% secure

Though I’m tempted to gloat, real people are being endangered here; furthermore, the hackers’ professed motives are horrific:

Data stolen by hackers from AshleyMadison.com, the online cheating site that claims 37 million users, has been posted online…The breach was confirmed in a statement from Avid Life Media Inc…the company said it would offer all users the ability to fully delete their personal information from the site — an option that was previously only available for a fee…the hackers, who identify as “The Impact Team,” got a hold of “sensitive internal data” not only for AshleyMadison, but also for other hookup sites owned by the company, Cougar Life…and Established Men… which promises to connect “young, beautiful women with successful men”…The Impact Team is threatening to expose all customer records unless Avid Life Media takes AshleyMadison and Established Men offline “permanently in all forms”…

The hackers described Ashley Madison as “a “prostitution/human trafficking website for rich men to pay for sex” and added, “too bad for those men, they’re cheating dirtbags and deserve no such discretion“.

Against Their Will

A 23-year-old woman’s pregnancy has blown the lid off a prostitution racket allegedly being run in an Ulhasnagar rehabilitation centre, which is supposed to be a safe home for women rescued from prostitution…no men, except for those who may be working at the centre, are allowed in…Senior police inspector Dhananjay Dhopavkar of Hill Line police station said, “What can we do? This centre has no security.  The women living there have been freely moving in and out of the place”…Dhopavkar added that the centre has been allowing sex workers to continue engaging in prostitution while living there…

Surplus Women 

A man aged 91 has confessed to the murder of a prostitute outside a Soho nightclub nearly 70 years ago.  The British expat walked into a police station near his home in Canada to admit to the killing in 1946 after he had been diagnosed with cancer.  He said he had shot the woman…after she had cheated him out of money…detectives scoured through old files of the unsolved murders…and the…man picked out a picture of…Margaret Cook…It is thought to be the longest gap between a crime and a confession in British criminal history.

Divided We Fall

Much more of this, please:

…Gay culture has a long history of sex work, from 1950s “hustle” bars where “straight” guys paid a commission to the bartender in order to hook up with gay johns, to 1990s go-go bars where queer dancers were often there to display their wares to potential clients…Gay literature celebrated sex work in the ’80s and ’90s…Plenty of gay men have written memoirs of their sex work…A disproportionate number of trans and queer youth…have done sex work for survival…[yet] at a time when we should be decriminalizing sex work, there’s a movement in the LGBT world to pretend sex work doesn’t exist, isn’t a queer and trans issue, isn’t something we’ve historically embraced…It’s time the LGBT community get behind legalization of sex work and embrace rather than distance ourselves from the unique role LGBT people have historically played in the sex industry.  Legalization actually makes a safer world for the women and men who do sex work, and it destigmatizes something as old as time.  Yes, especially now, in this new age of marriage equality and post-gay parenting and our happy white-picket-fence lives, there’s a need for us to stand up for the least-protected class of people, LGBT sex workers, and demand their rights now, too.

Gingerbread House

Another paint-by-numbers “sex trafficking” tall tale:

…the Twin Cities metro area is among the nations’ 13 largest centers for child prostitution with Minneapolis as the home base of a large domestic prostitution ring…More than 50 percent of all domestic prostitution victims are classified as runaway youth...living on the street…in almost all cases, youth are not choosing this life.  Traffickers/pimps recruit youth who may…be struggling…One…group of concerned citizens has been meeting and praying about…A Christian-based, safe housing facility focused on girls ages 12-18 with equine therapy…ranch residents will get guidance to realize their deep value and potential through the love of Jesus Christ…as they heal and transition into permanent housing…“We’ve heard that Highway 2 is a corridor to Duluth for sex trafficking – from the reservations to the ports and to the oil fields,” said [a prohibitionist]. “We often don’t think it’s here in our own town but it is”…“If…men…would understand that if they stopped using [girls] the problem would go away.  They need to realize the feeders into sex trafficking, like porn”…

Monsters Meagan Taylor

Hey, Gay Inc: if prostitution weren’t criminalized, transwomen couldn’t be arrested for being profiled as prostitutes:

…Meagan Taylor was…visiting Des Moines with a friend who is also transgender, and they were staying at a hotel…where…police showed up at their hotel room….[after the staff called the cops on] “two males dressed as females…[because the] staff was worried about possible prostitution activity”…[the pig stole her hormone pills and] charged [her] with possession of prescription drugs without a prescription…Taylor could be there for months…There is…no good reason for a 22-year-old nonviolent person like Taylor to be locked up indefinitely…the real offense is a private business calling police on paying guests because they didn’t conform to gender stereotypes…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (#318)

People are starting to recognize the “Trafficking in Persons” report as a political weapon:

…the State Department is preparing to certify that Malaysia has made significant strides in fighting human trafficking — upgrading it to a Tier 2 “watch list”.  The timing couldn’t be better for the Malaysian government, which is eager to join the Obama administration’s landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal…that aims to unite nearly 40 percent of the world’s GDP into one free-trade zone…[but] anti-trafficking campaigners say that no real progress has been made.  “Human trafficking and forced labor are as bad as ever here,” [said] Charles Santiago, a member of the Malaysian parliament…But in order for Malaysia to join the trade deal, it is crucial that its status be upgraded…legislation…[prohibits negotiation] with countries that have been designated Tier 3…”If we get Tier 2, it will be a blatant display of American hypocrisy…they might as well throw the entire TIP in the trash”…

Of course, Malaysia’s problem isn’t SEX “trafficking”, so it’s all good.

Drawing Lines 

Kudos to Margaret Corvid for being willing to eat crow with a good heart:

New sex worker writers often justify their sex work with respectability politics.  I did it. I fucked up with my very first piece, in a big venue, the Guardian, contrasting my sex work to that of hypothetical trafficked workers, so-called “miserable slaves”.  Even after taking feedback about that mistake, it took me a while to quit using my own favorable personal circumstances to make sex work more palatable to my readers.  I think that I did it because I was intoxicated with the power of my writing, and I thought my experience was important.  Guess what—sometimes it’s not…

Uncommon Sense (#420)

German politicians are determined to wreck their fairly-decent sex work system:

A proposed law reform would require Germany’s sex workers to carry licenses at all times.  It would mandate their clients wear condoms.  And it would authorize police to check up on these things without notice…“News travel fast, especially in small towns and villages,” said Undine de Riviere, a sex worker and spokeswoman of the Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services…“Many sex workers only work part-time. It would be a big problem if their main employer would know about it.  You can imagine what the parents of their children’s friends would think”…

Lack of Evidence (#439)

I did tell you so:

In a trend bristling with public-health implications, Sacramento sex workers are forgoing condoms because they fear they can be arrested for possessing them, say activists and clinic workers.  “We have a huge epidemic of sex workers who are not using protection because of the police activity,” said Kristen DiAngelo, who heads up a local branch of the Sex Workers Outreach Project…multiple street workers relayed similar tales of intimidation:  cops emptying their purses and photographing condoms as evidence, and even poking holes in their rubbers before handing them back while laughing…

The Public Eye (#549)

Funny, but I started sex work at 30 because “I wanted my body to belong to me again”.  Still, it’s good to see basically-positive articles on sex workers appearing in Cosmo.

First They Came for the Hookers… (#555)

Notice how bad laws often follow fads?

…if a controversial bill dubbed the “stripper registry,” is revived…all exotic dancers in Pennsylvania would be required to pay a $50 registration fee with the Department of State.  Dancers would need to provide full name, aliases, place and date of birth, height, weight, hair color, eye color, home address, telephone number, place of employment, a copy of their photo identification and a separate passport-sized photograph of themselves.  It also would require dancers to report whether they were victims of sex trafficking or had been convicted of a crime.  Other provisions in the bill would limit alcohol sales and ban lap dances in clubs.  Amid a flurry of public criticism, the legislation, originally intended as an anti-sex-trafficking bill, was…shelved — for now…

Seizing Power

I always know sex workers are in for a jolly good ride when an influential abolitionist invokes Pretty Woman…Tom Dart did just that when he persuaded Mastercard and Visa to stop allowing their credit cards to be used…for adult service ads on…Backpage…”We cannot turn a blind eye…and pretend this is some twisted Pretty Woman situation,” Dart told CNN…I am struggling to imagine what “a twisted Pretty Woman situation” looks like, so I’ll just say that the several dozen sex workers I know personally and professionally – and all those I’ve encountered in online forums and communities and at conferences – generally understand, because we do sex work and don’t just watch it on TV, that it isn’t like Pretty Woman.  In fact, it isn’t like it’s depicted in most films, songs, photographs, paintings or any other media, including some documentaries…

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[Tom] Dart says sex workers are victims, but his actions suggest he intends to make sure they’re victims, one way or the other.  –  Noah Berlatsky

Shifting the Blame

Politician blames advertising site for damage caused by criminalization:

[Massachusetts] Attorney General Maura Healey called on Backpage.com to shut down its “adult” section after two men allegedly killed an escort…whom they had met through the website…Epshod Jeune…and Derrell Fisher…carried out a “joint venture to rob escorts at gunpoint’’…[but] Healey [pretended it was somehow the advertisement’s fault]…

The Scarlet Letter

This week in serious civil-liberties violations in the name of stopping sex, the city of Tucson, Arizona, has released information on hundreds of people with “ties” to suspected sex workers.  The move is part of a years-long investigation into a handful of massage parlors that may offer more than just muscle-pain relief.  Obviously, such nefarious criminal activity (hand jobs—for money? the horror!) warrants extreme measures, which is why Tucson cops couldn’t just stop after raiding the six massage parlors in January and seizing the owners’ assets.  Now the department has publicized the names of all the phone contacts stored in 15 cellphones seized during the raids…getting a massage is apparently now grounds for public shaming at the hands of the state…

Feminine Pragmatism 

Dog bites man:

…Nearly a third of Greeks are living below the poverty line, and children and families make up a significant proportion of those most vulnerable as a result of brutal austerity measures.  This is well-known and well-documented.  Yet one fallout of Greece’s mass unemployment is largely concealed – the rising rate of women turning to sex work to make ends meet. There are reportedly around 18,000 sex workers in Greece, up from the estimated 17,000 in 2012…the number of people selling sexual services in Greece has soared by 150% during the crisis – driven by those desperate to put food on the table after the nation’s financial meltdown…

Above the Law 

Brave heroes of the week:

A…[cop named Nakia Johnson] has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing…an 11 year-old girl.  Deputies say he was in the car with the child when he accidentally pocket dialed the girl’s mother…

Meanwhile, in Maryland:

A Maryland state trooper has been charged with forcing a woman to perform a sex act on him at gunpoint…Brian Tucker…and the woman had previously arranged an agreement for a sex act for money, but the woman…was forced to perform an additional sex act at gunpoint…

Full of Themselves (#439)

The luridly-pompous language used in massage parlor hit pieces from California is probably the most unintentionally-hilarious anti-whore pap out there:

…The number of state-certified masseuses has risen 13% since 2014 to 51,885 this year, according to the California Massage Therapy Council…Nationwide, the massage industry is growing as medical establishments increasingly embrace massage’s therapeutic benefits…more than 5,400 massage technicians list home addresses in [the San Gabriel Valley]…10% of the massage technicians in the entire state.  Now that cities have more authority over massage parlors, officials are weighing how to balance the rights of a growing profession of legitimate massage therapists against the responsibility to solve problems caused by the less savory businesses.  An athlete with sore muscles or an office worker with a stiff neck could not browse long online without running into websites offering Yelp-style reviews of sexually oriented massage parlors.  Posters swap information, using abbreviations and acronyms to throw authorities off the trail…A study by the Urban Institute…described a highly organized sex trafficking ring revolving around a chain of massage parlors in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles…

Soap Opera (#509) 

First-magnitude fabulist Theresa Flores’ maudlin comedy act, distributing soap bars to fight “pimps” hiding in hotel lavatories, continues:

As the Major League All-Star Game approaches, local law enforcement officials as well as anti-human trafficking activists are bracing for a spike in sex traffic in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.  One of their main weapons to combat such an influx?  Bars of hotel soap…The shower is one place where victims are alone and away from their pimps/controllers.  “We know with any big event or big sports event, there is always an increase in demand for commercial sex (prostitution),” said Erin Meyer, the anti-human trafficking program coordinator for the Cincinnati branch of The Salvation Army and coalition manager for End Slavery Cincinnati.  “And that will no doubt mean an increase in human trafficking.  That data is there“…The effort is part of the national SOAP (Save Our Adolescents from Prostitution) program started by Theresa Flores, a former victim of sex slavery…

Worse Than I Thought (#530)

It’s like they’re competing with each to see who can inflict the most mindlessly-draconian sentences:

[Florida] lawmakers have increased the penalties for people soliciting prostitutes…The first offense is now punishable by up to $1,000 fine…up from $500.  Second and third offenses become felonies.  First offenders will now serve 100 hours of community service, but a second offense will get you ten days in the county jail…State Representative Jeanette Nunez [belched out] “The wives and spouses…this will certainly be a wake up call for them”…Domestic Violence counselors are especially keen on provisions that require Johns to pay for and attend an education program on prostitution and sex trafficking…

Seizing Power Backpage free

As I explained Friday, Backpage has issued a big “fuck you” to Tom Dart & Swanee Hunt by making adult ads free for the time being; Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes:

…Backpage’s move to make adult ads free is a big screw you to fearmongering, First-Amendment-hating, Internet-freedom-stifling nanny statists who think they can control financial-services firms, foreign-based websites (Backpage.com is owned by a Dutch company), and the way women choose to earn a living…

Meanwhile, over at New Republic, Noah Berlatsky writes:

Dart [pretends that]…sex work is “outrageously dangerous”…and [claims] that life expectancies for sex workers [are] comparable to those in “a Third World nation”—though such statistics are notoriously unreliable.  It’s certainly true that putting up barriers to Backpage makes sex work more difficult.  But that doesn’t seem like it will help sex workers.  Instead, sex workers who use Backpage.com say Dart’s successful campaign will make their jobs more dangerous, not less…the changes to Backpage may mean that [some women]…have to work on the street—or find a manager or pimp who has developed alternate payment methods…

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

The Going Rate

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

Thinking With the Wrong Head

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

Down Under

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

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

Rooted in Racism

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

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

How many times will we have to say this?

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

Above the Law 

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

Imagination Pinned Down

Here’s another excellent example of stereotypic conformation:

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

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

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake 

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

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

Monsters 

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

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

Subtle Pimping (#330)

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

Paint By Numbers

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

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

Sex Rays

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

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

Surplus Women (#550) 

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

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

Think of the Children! Rafe Esquith

Because ordinary English words can emit sex rays, too!

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

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

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

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

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

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

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

Check Your Premises

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

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

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

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

Surplus Women 

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

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

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

Above the Law Micah Meurer

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

Chauvinism

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

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

1. Distort and destroy consent.

2. Create a framework of good vs. evil.

3. Cherry-pick voices.

4. Play the victim while holding the power.

5. Create apocalyptic urgency.

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

Mumbo Jumbo

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

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

Challenge (#402) 

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

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

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

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

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#423)

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

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

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

Rough Trade 

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

Above the Law 

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

Surplus Women (#24)

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

The Public Eye

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

Theatrics

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

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

Dysphemisms Galore 

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

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

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

Torture Chamber 

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

Sex Rays Bree Olson

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

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

Traffic Circle

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

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

Innocence Never Had

Imagine American cops making a statement like this:

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

Passive Voice (#429)

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

Crying for Nanny (#539)

Ignorance of the law creates train wrecks like this:

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

Follow Your Bliss (#544)

Who are the “sex traffickers” again?

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

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