Archive for November 15th, 2011

Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth.  –  Aldous Huxley

On several occasions I’ve described prohibitionism using the metaphor of a dam built to hold back liberty.  But in Western countries where most people look dimly upon restriction of basic freedoms (such as the right to choose one’s own sex partners, the right to engage in business and the right to bodily autonomy), governments must invent excuses with which to rationalize the prohibition; the dam must therefore also hold back the truth, which would erode prohibitionist lies and with them the support for anti-whore tyranny.  But truth, like water, tends to seek its own level, and no matter how solid the wall it eventually begins to seep out.  Take this October 28th article from the Evening Standard, which reports that a recent London study has found exactly what any prostitute could’ve told them they’d find:

Most foreign prostitutes in London are not trafficked and choose to sell sex because it earns more money than other jobs, a study has found.  The majority of sex workers questioned believe that working conditions were better than in other occupations and gave them more free time.  Other perceived advantages cited in the government-funded study include “the possibility of meeting interesting people”, travelling and the ability to help their families.  But six per cent of women questioned in the study, which was conducted among “off-street” prostitutes in central London, had been “deceived and forced” into selling sex without any control over their work.  Several of these are said to have voluntarily continued prostitution after being freed by police from their oppressors.  Other negative factors cited in the study include the stigma of working in prostitution, which forced them to lead a “double life”, and the risk of robbery, violence and sexually transmitted diseases.  The most contentious finding, which is likely to anger anti-trafficking campaigners, is that few prostitutes working in the capital are forced to sell sex.

The study, carried out by Dr Nick Mai of London Metropolitan University and funded by the Government’s Economic and Social Research Council, states:  “The large majority of migrant workers in the UK sex industry are not forced or trafficked.  Working in the sex industry is often a way for migrants to avoid the unrewarding and sometimes exploitative conditions they meet in non-sexual jobs.”  The research also covered men and nine transgendered people selling sex in London.  The women worked as escorts or strippers and the men were largely escorts.

And while the prohibitionists are continuing their campaign to destroy an effective and inexpensive method of sex work advertisement in Backpage, that website’s owners, Village Voice Media, have not remained silent; here’s the latest salvo in their war on prohibitionism, a November 3rd article explaining the methodology and results of the John Jay Study whose findings I first mentioned in “A Narrow View”:

[Meredith] Dank and [Ric] Curtis…interview[ed]…249 underage prostitutes.  From that data, they were able to put a number on the total population of New York’s teen sex workers:  3,946…Curtis and Dank’s findings thoroughly obliterated the long-held core assumptions about underage prostitution:

• Nearly half the kids — about 45 percent — were boys.
• Only 10 percent were involved with a “market facilitator” (e.g., a pimp).
• About 45 percent got into the “business” through friends.
• More than 90 percent were U.S.- born (56 percent were New York City natives).
• On average, they started hooking at age 15…
• Nearly all of the youths — 95 percent — said they exchanged sex for money because it was the surest way to support themselves.

In other words, the typical kid who is commercially exploited for sex in New York City is not a tween girl, has not been sold into sexual slavery, and is not held captive by a pimp.  Nearly all the boys and girls involved in the city’s sex trade are going it alone.  [Curtis and Dank] were amazed by what their research had revealed.  But they were completely unprepared for the way law-enforcement officials and child-advocacy groups reacted to John Jay’s groundbreaking study.  “I remember going to a meeting in Manhattan where they had a lot of prosecutors there whose job was to prosecute pimps,” Curtis recalls.  “They were sort of complaining about the fact that their offices were very well staffed but their workload was — not very daunting, let’s say.  They had a couple cases, and at every meeting you go to, they’d pull out the cherry-picked case of this pimp they had busted, and they’d tell the same story at every meeting.  They too were bothered by the fact that they couldn’t find any pimps, any girls.  So I come along and say, ‘I found 300 kids’ — they’re all perky — but then I say, ‘I’m sorry, but only 10 percent had pimps.’  It was like a fart in church.  Because basically I was saying their office was a waste of time and money.”

There’s a lot more, and I think you’ll find it worth your time to read (and comment), including the story of how authorities in Atlanta rejected a scientific study patterned after the John Jay one in favor of the Schapiro Group’s wild and wholly fictional propaganda.

Of course, it would be easier to defeat trafficking hysteria if more American prostitutes would simply speak up about the lies the way sex professionals do in most countries.  A few years ago MTV, always looking for a fad it can exploit, started “MTV EXIT” (a sloppy acronym for “End Exploitation and Trafficking”); it’s a typical ignorant anti-sex worker charity spreading the same inane lies and misinformation as all of these groups do, except that it spreads its propaganda to young people through the medium of concerts.  In Southeast Asia, it has since 2009 conspired with USAID to impose American ideas of morality, to harass, persecute and destroy the livelihoods of sex workers, to expose them to torture and rape, and to traffic them into virtual slavery in the garment industry…all with the approval of the U.S. State Department.  This report from the Sex Worker’s Rights Advocacy  Network (SWAN) is two years old, but since MTV’s vile promotion of human rights abuses is still going on, it is still topical:

Cambodian sex work activists are outraged at the way MTV is advocating for fight against trafficking at the expense of safety and rights of local sex workers…In April 2008, the government of Cambodia passed an anti-trafficking bill which outlawed prostitution and classified all sex workers as a victim of trafficking.  This bill was sponsored by USAID.  The government’s motivation behind the bill was to avoid being considered a tier 3 trafficking country, which would bar it from receiving millions of dollars in financial aid from the US government.  Women accused of being prostitutes are illegally detained and sent to ‘rehabilitation’ centres where [they are subject to] gross human rights violations…such as…deprivation of medical care, rape, torture and starvation.  Detainees…are ‘taught’ to sew and become sweatshop/garment factory workers, where 72 hour work-weeks are the norm and salaries are equivalent to 36 USD a month.  Through its association with USAID, MTV EXIT has placed itself in the middle of a battle…for the right to work and…will be seen by audiences as reinforcing the Cambodian government’s anti-trafficking law and agenda….

Here’s a video they made in answer to MTV’s anti-whore propaganda; can you imagine this many American hookers making this kind of effort?  If Cambodian sex workers can unite against oppression, why can’t we?  Despite our vastly greater numbers, sex work activism here is marginal at best; I daresay few Americans realize that the sex worker rights movement even exists.  And it’s our own fault; we’re just too damned afraid to speak up for our own, too afraid of government-inflicted violence, too afraid of social and legal persecution, and too brainwashed by false notions of “sisterhood” to fight the twisted lies spread by neofeminists.  And if that doesn’t change, and soon, all of the scholarly studies and investigative reporting in the world won’t help us.

One Year Ago Today 

Ripper” is a different sort of fictional interlude, one told from the point of view of a future fanatic who longs for the “good old days” of commercial sex prohibition…and decides to take matters into his own hands.

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