Posts Tagged ‘Sea Change’

Man’s mind is so formed that it is far more susceptible to falsehood than to truth.  –  Desiderius Erasmus

Eleven updates and two meta-updates.

Amsterdam (November 1st, 2010)

Prohibitionists claim that “sex trafficking” decreases when prostitution is criminalized and increases when it is legalized or decriminalized; the Netherlands is one of their favorite targets, and here Wendy Lyon of Feminist Ire demonstrates that recent statistics fail to support prohibitionist claims, and that what “trafficking” there is seems more the fault of Dutch controls than of the sex trade itself.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

Increasing numbers of educated people reject prohibitionist claims about sex work and even recognize it as a positive good.  One of these is Dr. Hernando Chaves, sex columnist for AskMen, who recently answered the question “Is there anything wrong with [seeing] a prostitute? What risks are there…?

…This answer for you depends on…personal attitudes, social judgments, religious/spiritual views, your culture…and a host of other variables…In many cultures throughout history, money…[has] been exchanged for…sexual activity, sometimes as a form of…worship…besides the risk of being arrested and charged where it’s not legal, the risks are quite similar those you would take on with a non-sex-work partner.  Any partner can break your heart, take your money, pass along an STI…and so on.  It’s not fair to attribute these risks [only] to sex workers…some…bring up sex slavery…and other dark sides to sexual activity, but…true sex work…is a business decision made by consenting adults…

Welcome To Our World (January 20th, 2011)

Most of you have probably heard of the controversy over Mike Daisey’s highly-falsified report of conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories:

Public radio’s popular This American Life episode about abuses in the Foxconn factories…has been retracted on the grounds of… “significant fabrications”…When you read something bad about a Foxconn factory and then see that thousands of people line up for the chance of a job at one of them, that really ought to make you wonder.  What were those guys doing the day before they decided to stand in line?…

This is of course what writers like Dr. Laura Agustín keep trying to make people understand:  prohibitionists harp on what they consider horrible conditions in third-world brothels, or in the process of migration to a more affluent country, but ignore that people nearly always chose them as the best available option.  Furthermore, busybodies just can’t resist depicting these choices as worse than they actually are:

…If you’ve ever tweeted about how bad Apple is, blogged about the evils of Foxconn’s sweatshops, or “Liked” a Facebook post excoriating how iPads are made, then you should listen [to the retraction of Daisey’s story]…I’ve covered the company as a reporter for more than a decade…Mike Daisey claimed to have come across 12-year-old workers, armed guards, crippled factory operators.  We saw none of that.  And we did try to find them.  Nothing would have been more compelling for us and our story than to have a chat with a preteen factory operator about how she enjoyed (or not) working 12-hour shifts making iPads.  We didn’t get such an anecdote…The biggest gripe, which surprised us somewhat, is that they don’t get enough overtime.  They wanted to work more, to get more money…It wasn’t paradise…some of their managers were harsh…and…others found their job boring.  Some were just plain homesick…Compared to the lies, the truth just doesn’t make good theater.

Now substitute “Nick Kristof” for “Mike Daisey”, “brothel” for “factory”…you get the picture.

Shifting the Blame (January 26th, 2011)

This story has been pitched by a number of advocates as good news, but my skeptical mind can’t help noticing that the commissioner who said “What activities these victims may have engaged in…does not matter…They were young women whose lives were cut tragically short,“ has been replaced by one who is “on the same page” with the DA who says it was the victims’ fault for being whores:

The Suffolk police…has a new chief who says he plans a fresh look at…the Gilgo Beach murders, and believes more than one killer was responsible…That view is at odds with a single-killer theory that was aired last December by then-Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, setting off an unusual public argument with District Attorney Thomas Spota, who also believes there were multiple killers.  Spota said it’s good that he and Fitzpatrick are “on the same page…Not one detective familiar with the facts of this case believes one person is responsible for these homicides”…

Of course, that’s what they would say since the chief suspect is a cop.  And speaking of serial killers…

Surplus Women (September 27th, 2011)

The FBI suspects a number of serial killers are working as long-haul truckers, the better to cover up their monstrous deeds.”  It looks like they’ve found one:

A 54-year-old truck driver from San Antonio…[named] Kenneth Dunn picked up Stephanie Williams, 43, at a truckstop outside of Dallas in February.  Dunn then fatally beat Williams and dumped her body in an industrial area…about a week later, Dunn was arrested and charged with murder…Police said that five other prostitutes have been found dead in the Lubbock area over the past dozen years…Dunn…hasn’t [yet] been charged in any of them…

Elephant in the Parlor (October 23rd, 2011)

Politicians hiring hookers isn’t news, unless they’re impotent Swedish politicians:

…[A former government] minister…has been convicted for trying to buy sex from a known prostitute…police saw him pick up the woman in his car…[but he] felt that he was being followed, [so] he stopped the car…and let her out…When he found out he was under suspicion for attempting to purchase sex he confessed straight away and was fined 19,200 kronor ($2,814).  Now, however, he denies all allegations.  “I have prostate cancer and it is treated with hormones, which means the sex drive disappears.  I am medically castrated, one could say,” he told Aftonbladet.  Instead, the man claims he was giving the woman a ride home…“The police told me that I could choose between the case being taken to court with all the public exposure that would entail or accept an order of summary punishment…”

Note how, though women are supposedly not targeted by the Swedish Model, the police spy on “known prostitutes” in order to entrap and shake down men.

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (October 27th, 2011)

Yet another Asian prostitute study confirms what we already know:

Female prostitutes on average earn VND10.6 million per month (over $500) while male prostitutes earn VND6.55 million (over $300), around 2.5 times over the average earning of the group of 20 percent highest income earners in Vietnam…Dr. Nguyen Huu Minh…says that around three fourths of the interviewed prostitutes began …at the age of less than 25; 18 percent of them at the age of 16-18 and around four percent at the age of less than 15…nearly 50 percent…have secondary, high school and university degrees…over 60 percent of the interviewed prostitutes work independently or in a group of friends and acquaintances…Most…said that they became prostitutes because of high income (53 percent)…

Note also that even in one of the poorest countries in the region, very few girls enter the trade at an age below 15…just like everywhere else.

Schadenfreude (November 28th, 2011)

Southeast Asian sex worker rights organizations enjoy making videos to call attention to their mistreatment at the hands of police spurred on by American busybodies; here’s a cute little silent comedy named “Last Rescue in Siam” from the Thai organization EMPOWER.  Enjoy!

Gullible’s Travels (December 27th, 2011)

In the first paragraph of this column I provided a short list of recent media scares; if you’d like more of the same, here’s Gawker’s “Timeline of Moral Panics in the Last Decade”.  Sex trafficking hysteria is conspicuous by its absence; I guess they only wanted scares rather than full-blown panics.

Twice as Interesting (February 11th, 2012)

The prostitute and the stripper who participated in the Ottawa “Human Library” recently published an article in which they take exception to a reporter’s coverage of the program:

…Anthony Furey…balks at “activist agendas” that “turn human beings into stereotypes”…he considers most of the human books to be “of a decidedly fringe flavour”…[and] insists that the…event “fetishizes people’s differences” and argues that “whatever differences there are have more to do with their character…”  [But] as much as we’d like to think that people are judged only by their characters, that is simply not true…for those of us “of a decidedly fringe flavour,” our experiences with stigma and discrimination have shaped our lives.  These are precisely the differences that are important to hear about.  As such, the Human Library is not fetishizing people’s differences, but rather bringing diverse (and in many cases, rarely heard) experiences to light…

Knights Erroneous (March 18th, 2012)

A couple of hours after last Sunday’s column was published, I noticed a huge surge in traffic; as it turns out, Nicholas Kristof had discovered the column and “tweeted” it to his 1.2 million followers, eventually resulting in a new record for visits in one day (3522).  A number of those visitors subscribed, so I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome them and to thank Kristof for all the new readers.  On the same day he published another of his Backpage smear columns, only this time he failed to cover his tracks:

Nicholas D. Kristof…wrote…”Alissa says pimps routinely peddled her on Backpage”…That is not true.  According to Alissa’s court testimony, she was 16 in 2003.  Backpage.com did not exist…in 2003…she…came to the FBI’s attention in August, 2005 [and] was…relocated away from…Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City…In the summer of 2005 Backpage.com did not exist in [those cities]…Had Kristof followed any of The New York Times’ standards of journalism, he would have known this.  He could have read the court transcripts…[or] coverage in The Boston Globe…[or even] asked us…Instead, he concocted a story to suit his agenda and then asked his readers to boycott Village Voice Media…

This isn’t the first time Kristof has lied to advance one of his crusades; look for “Feet of Clay”, coming April 5th, for another example from a decade ago.


Coming and Going in That Was the Week That Was (#10) (March 10th, 2012)

The Manhattan district attorney’s office spent five years and hundreds of man-hours spying on Anna Gristina, and for what? “Gristina…is considering pleading guilty to the one charge against her — felony promoting of prostitution.  Even if prosecutors were successful at winning the maximum sentence…2½ years…she’d serve only…a year…before…work release as a nonviolent first offender…”  New York readers, do you really feel this is a valid use of your public funds?  This editorialist doesn’t:  “…See, crimes should have an actual victim. If they don’t, than they don’t make any sense.  Crimes without victims are well, stupid.  They are a waste of resources, tax dollars and waste the freedoms and liberties of the people charged…This prosecution is simply idiotic…

The Sky is Falling! in That Was the Week That Was (#11) (March 17th, 2012)

Last week I reported that a newspaper editor had died while visiting his sugar baby; well, it turns out she wasn’t a sugar baby and he was a total hypocrite:

…The young woman Caldwell visited was a full-time call girl…[who] has been advertising…for three years on a regional website called TNA Board…Since 2000…Caldwell …published at least 16…editorials on prostitution.  “Some people will tell you that prostitution is a victimless crime,” an Oregonian editorial said in 2001.  “They’re wrong…[W]hen you think about it, you realize prostitution isn’t ‘victimless’ even when prostitutes reach the grand old ages of 15 or 17 or 19.”  In 2008, another…editorial linked prostitution to “distress, blight and violence,” and…[in] 2010 [another]…in favor of a city proposal to seize assets…[said] “The embarrassment factor probably doesn’t weigh heavily on pimps…but with johns, it’s a different story.”

Maybe once enough of these lying bastards are exposed, they’ll finally begin to publicly support the rights of women they patronize in private.

One Year Ago Today 

The Soft Weapon” reports on the Village Voice’s debunking of the Schapiro Group, and a Canadian editorial’s comparing sex work to hockey.

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To legislate against the moral codes of one’s fellows…is to steal their moral codes, to suppress their characters.  –  R.M. MacIver

Three forays into the bizarre world inhabited by lawheads, and a little good news.

Imaginary Lines (July 7th, 2011)

As this article Grace showed me demonstrates, it’s not only people whom the government subjects to arcane and complex border-crossing regulations, then treats as violent criminals if the paperwork is improperly filled out:

A…supplier of guitar-making parts is ensnared in an international smuggling investigation after federal authorities seized 24 pallets of exotic wood…Luthiers Mercantile International, or LMI, imported the $200,000-worth of Indian rosewood and ebony to sell to Gibson…On Aug. 24, federal agents descended on a Nashville, Tenn., warehouse where LMI’s wood was waiting for Gibson to take possession.  They seized the wood along with Gibson computer hard drives and guitars.  [Federal officials claim] the wood was “unlawfully imported, purchased and received”…[but] LMI officials say minor paperwork mistakes by their import broker on a separate wood shipment led to the raid…Though LMI has imported rosewood from India for decades, the U.S. government is now saying that Indian rosewood fingerboards are an illegal export…

Many of Sonoma County’s estimated 100 luthiers, who depend on tropical exotic hardwoods that have particular resonant qualities, say their futures are at stake…[Tom] Ribbecke, whose guitars are displayed in the Smithsonian Museum…fears that if authorities decide some of [his stock] is illegal, they will take it.  “The Lacey Act…makes all of our material that all of us have been saving and setting aside for our retirement illegal for us to own,” he said…Since 2008, the Lacey Act has made it illegal to bring wood into the United States that was exported illegally from a country of origin…but under World Trade Organization laws…what is legal in one country can appear illegal in another, based on differences in national tariff codes…

In other words, the government is fighting evil wood traffickers, working to rescue innocent boards from being enslaved in guitars, where they are sold to satisfy the sick desires of music lovers.  Don’t you feel safer now?

J’accuse (July 21st, 2011)

As I said in my column of October 23rd, most politicians hire whores at least occasionally, therefore reports that any individual politician hired a whore do not constitute news.  But this October 17th New York Post story on the continuing Dominique Strauss-Kahn hijinks has other features of interest, so I’ve edited it to remove colorful Post inanities like “bootyguard” and “serial sleazeball”:

A top French cop served as [Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s] personal pimp, organizing orgies for him in both France and New York…The new allegations came to light during an investigation into a ring of prostitutes that included underage teens…Sources…[said] that…DSK is among a group of politicians, lawyers and business leaders whose names were found in the ring’s “black book’’ of clients.  The French cop, Jean-Christophe Lagarde, also allegedly escorted ladies of the evening all the way from the French city of Lille, where the ring was headquartered, to New York for DSK.  Strauss-Kahn’s personal prostitutes were allegedly selected for him by a…procurer named Dominique “Dodo’’ Alderweireld, who…has since been arrested.  Lawyer Frederique Beaulieu says Strauss-Kahn “is asking to be questioned to put an end to these insinuations and extrapolations”…but has not yet been contacted by police…Five men…have been arrested in France and charged with pimping…

Welcome to the Wonderland of legalization.  Prostitution is legal in France, but “procuring, aiding or assisting” prostitutes is illegal, as is “living on the avails”.  In other words, it’s OK to be a whore as long as you have no friends, family, employees, assistants, managers or other human contact other than customers.  As soon as you move in with someone, tour with another girl, or pay someone to arrange travel or book appointments for you, your legal business is instantly transformed into a “ring”, your private affairs are a matter for police “investigation” and you are buried under an avalanche of dysphemisms.

Presumption of Guilt (July 29th, 2011)

How many of y’all enjoy shopping at used book or music stores, flea markets and the like?  I sure do.  But I’ll bet you didn’t know that every time you walk into such a place you might be surrounded by criminals so dangerous that, according to the Louisiana legislature, the need to catch them justifies outlawing an activity which is literally as old as civilization:

This summer…Louisiana passed a law that bans individuals and businesses from transacting in cash if they are considered a “secondhand dealer”…[which is defined as] “…Anyone, other than a non-profit entity, who buys, sells, trades in or otherwise acquires or disposes of junk or used or secondhand property more frequently than once per month from any other person, other than a non-profit entity…”  The law then states that “A secondhand dealer shall not enter into any cash transactions in payment for the purchase of junk or used or secondhand property.  Payment shall be made in the form of check, electronic transfers, or money order issued to the seller of the junk or used or secondhand property…”  The broad scope of this definition can essentially encompass everyone; from your local flea market vendors and buyers to a housewife purchasing goods on ebay or craigslist, to a group of guys trading baseball cards…Louisiana [has] effectively banned its citizens from freely using United States legal tender.

The law goes further to require secondhand dealers to turn over…their business’ proprietary client information.  For every transaction a secondhand dealer must obtain the seller’s personal information such as their name, address, driver’s license number and the license plate number of the vehicle in which the goods were delivered.  They must also make a detailed description of the item(s) purchased and submit this with the personal identification information of every transaction to the local policing authorities through electronic daily reports.  If a seller cannot or refuses to produce to the secondhand dealer any of the required forms of identification, the secondhand dealer is prohibited from completing the transaction…individuals and businesses are [thus] forced to report routine business activity to the police.  Can law enforcement not accomplish its goal of identifying potential thieves and locating stolen items in a far less intrusive manner?  And of course, there are already laws that prohibit stealing, buying or selling stolen goods, laws that require businesses to account for transactions and laws that penalize individuals and businesses that transact in stolen property.  Why does…Louisiana…need…more laws infringing on personal privacy, liberties and freedom?…Interestingly enough, although Pawnshops are still required to obtain clients’ personal information and transmit their client database information to law enforcement, they are exempt from the restriction of cash payments.  A jeweler next door to a pawnshop cannot offer clients the same payment method offered by its competing pawnshop neighbor…

The excuse used to justify this blatant tax grab and surveillance method was a recent increase in copper robberies.  The pillage of cables for their copper always increases during periods of high metal prices and/or high unemployment, but somehow government has always managed to deal with it before without requiring merchants to record the license plate numbers of little old ladies trading in romance novels or university students selling CDs they’re tired of.  But that’s because we used to have this thing called “presumption of innocence”; well, it was nice while it lasted.

Sea Change (November 4th, 2010)

My column of one year ago today discussed examples of the way that public opinion is slowly changing in our favor, and here’s a new one; on August 20th the 60-year-old Society for the Study of Social Problems adopted a resolution stating that it supports decriminalization:

WHEREAS the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work negotiated between consenting adults perpetuates violence and social stigma against sex workers, including by law enforcement…WHEREAS the criminalization of prostitution and other forms of sex work denies sex workers basic human and civil rights, including healthcare and housing, extended to workers in other trades, occupations, callings, or professions; WHEREAS the decriminalization of prostitution would lead to safer working conditions and better health for both the worker and client, and allow workers to report nonconsensual activities to law enforcement without fear of being arrested…BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the SSSP supports:  (1) bipartisan legislation to decriminalize prostitution (2) public education regarding the costs of policing sex workers and (3) normalization of the occupation.

You can read the full text at the link; it was written by Jenny Heineman, co-coordinator of SWOP Las Vegas, which was also honored by the SSSP at a banquet.  This is a small change, but it has to start somewhere; the ACLU is pro-decriminalization as well (though they rarely say anything about it), and every professional organization we can win to the cause gives us that much more credibility in the eyes of the public and politicians.

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Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark!  Now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.
–  William Shakespeare, The Tempest (I,ii)

Maybe it’s starting at last.  In the past few months I’ve noticed it, a shift in the wind if you will; more and more people are rejecting the spurious arguments of the abolitionists and recognizing that a woman’s right to own and control her body is not merely a euphemism for the right to have an abortion.  Polls conducted by respected websites and media outlets show their readers and viewers overwhelmingly in favor of decriminalization, funds for abolitionist “anti-trafficking” fanatics are starting to dry up (so much so that the website of Citizens Against Trafficking actually went down for a week due to failure to pay its bill), and even major organizations are starting to listen to us.  Perhaps this is the beginning of a “sea change” in American attitudes toward prostitution which will eventually result in sending the abolitionist movement to a watery grave, where it will lie unlamented by all sane people (and particularly by nymphs).

Here’s one example, an article I have reproduced in its entirety from the SWOP website:

This Friday November 5, 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council will review the human rights record of the United States as part of a new process – the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  The UPR calls for a review of member nations’ human rights records every four years, and this is the first time the U.S. has participated. The Human Rights Council will base its review on the U.S. government’s own self-assessment, as well as reports submitted from civil society organizations.  U.S. sex worker advocates are engaged in this process, working to highlight the appalling record that the United States has in regards to communities of people engaging in the sex trade.

A comprehensive national report on sex workers’ rights was prepared by the Best Practices Policy Project and the Desiree Alliance earlier this year.  The report draws on the perspectives of networks, such as SWOP USA, and organizations working with sex workers, people in the sex trade and people who are affected by anti-prostitution policies in the United States more generally.  Two representatives from the Best Practices Policy Project are currently in Geneva presenting summary recommendations to delegations and encouraging countries to ask the United States questions about its human rights record in regards to sex workers and to include issues pertaining to sex workers in the recommendations they will raise in Friday’s session.

Key recommendations from the report on sex workers are as follows.

The United States should implement comprehensive criminal justice reform that includes measures to stop human rights abuses committed in the name of anti-sex trade laws.  This would include repealing laws, including laws against prostitution-related offenses, and eliminate policies, such as “prostitution free zones”, that erode legal protections barring law enforcement from detaining individuals on the basis of how they are perceived or the way they are dressed (ie racial and gender profiling).  The application of felony-level charges against sex workers and people living with HIV should be halted as should sex offender registration requirements of those arrested for engaging in prostitution.  Criminal justice reform must also address the frequency of abuse of sex workers, or those perceived as such, by law enforcement and other state actors.  Similarly, reform must ensure that people involved in the sex trade or profiled as such receive appropriate responses from authorities when they are targeted for violence and other crimes.

The United States should ensure health rights for those engaged, or perceived to be engaged, in sex work and the sex trade. In many jurisdictions in the United States condoms are used as evidence of criminal activity in the enforcement of anti-prostitution laws.  Individuals involved in street economies face tremendous stigmatization in health care settings.  Sex workers urgently need access to health care services including harm reduction oriented programs, which often are prohibited from receiving federal funding.

The United Sates should reorient national anti-trafficking policy to a rights-based framework and repeal the US governments “anti-prostitution pledge” requirement on foreign aid. Migrants involved in the sex trade who experience exploitation require services and legal support, but the response to human trafficking in the U.S. currently focuses on law enforcement approaches that alienate and traumatize victims.  U.S. anti-trafficking policies and practices undermine the health and rights of sex workers domestically and internationally, including requiring recipients of HIV and anti-trafficking funding to adopt a stance condemning sex work.  These requirements should be repealed.

Though the US does have the tendency to ignore UN resolutions, a negative human rights report from the Council would kick the soapbox out from under abolitionists who try to drape themselves in the white garment of “concern for women”.  It would almost certainly provoke a major shift in abolitionist rhetoric to the “Nordic Model”, and indeed many neofeminist and bluenosed rats, perhaps sensing their anti-whore ship about to sink, have deserted it for the Nordic propaganda in the hopes of winning more women (including a few misguided sex workers) to their cause.  But many will rightfully perceive this as a retreat, and that will put the anti-sex forces off-balance.  It won’t have much effect on the behavior of sadistic cops or politicians out to make a name for themselves on the backs of whores, but SWOP is on the attack on that front as well, as demonstrated by this press release from last week:

New York City, NY, October 28, 2010 – SWOP-NYC in collaboration with SWOP-USA strongly opposes the misguided campaign against Backpage.com.  This campaign is part of a trend of actions against adult services sections online including a recent action against Craigslist.

The campaign against Backpage.com has been framed as a way to “protect innocent women and children” (as per State Attorneys General, Letter to Attorneys for Backpage.com, September 21, 2010, available at: http://ago.mo.gov/pdf/Backpage.pdf ).  However, the forced closure of this site will not diminish the prevalence of trafficking and, worse, will substantially harm victims of trafficking and people in consensual sex work.

“This campaign purports to protect people, but it actually has the opposite effect,” explained Liz Coplen, Board Chair of SWOP-USA.  “Criminalization and repression of consensual sex work drives sex workers underground, creating the conditions which lead to the exploitation and abuses of trafficking.”  The models that have been internationally accepted as best practice for addressing sex trafficking center around working with sex workers to end exploitation and abuse, not further criminalizing and marginalizing the work.

SWOP-NYC, a group of sex workers and allies, adamantly opposes all forms of coerced and forced labor.  We strongly support effective efforts to end abuses in the sex industry.  “Unfortunately,” states sex workers’ rights activist and attorney Melissa Broudo, “the current discussion seems to perpetuate the false notion that prostitution and trafficking are the same thing.  All forms of sex work are perceived as violence against women, which does not reflect the different realities of individuals who advertise on these sites.  Heightened criminalization, which stems from this conflation, causes significant harm to sex workers and survivors of trafficking.”

“The Internet provides a venue for communication and commerce for a range of industries,” says Sarah Jenny Bleviss, a new media professional and SWOP-NYC organizer.  “These repressive campaigns, forcing the closure of adult venues and communications, undermine first amendment rights and freedom of communication on the Internet as well as the safety of sex workers.  Sex workers are in the forefront as targets in a repressive campaign which challenges basic concepts of free speech on the Internet.”

Sex workers are united in their analysis that the closure of adult services pages undermines their safety.  “Most people who advertise on these sites are engaged in consensual adult activities,” said Dylan Wolfe of SWOP NYC “But these campaigns assume that all sex workers need to be rescued.  They say they are doing us a favor by closing down our advertising options, by removing our freedoms in order to protect us from exploitation.  However, the Internet offers a venue in which we can find and screen clients so that we can protect ourselves.  These closures undermine our safety.”

“First they complain when they see us on the street, then when we are off the street they try to shut our work down by closing the advertising venues.  And they claim it’s to protect us!  It’s hypocritical, discriminatory and ultimately makes sex workers more vulnerable to the violence they are supposedly so concerned about,” said Michael Bottoms.

Sex worker activist, Jill Brenneman agrees.  “This will result in moving it someplace else or out onto the street, where it can be more dangerous.  I noticed this firsthand.  If the money’s not coming from one stream, it’s going to come from another.  The street for me was always where I would end up working if somebody had shut down the main form of advertising.”

“When these websites close it means more potential for violence, more exploitation, less money to feed and house ourselves, and life circumstances that are less safe for consensual sex workers.  Trafficked/exploited people are also placed at greater risk,“ says Robin Dunn of SWOP-NYC and SWOP-CO.  “Sites such as Craigslist and Backpage are well-positioned to do more for trafficking victims, by providing training for their employees to help them act appropriately when contacted by someone who has been exploited using their website.  Such training (as well as effective and appropriate training for police) would be far more helpful for exploited and trafficked people than shutting down an advertising service and forcing sex workers and trafficking victims into situations that are even less safe.”

We’ve discussed in recent columns (especially September 28th and October 14th), how public opinion is beginning to shift in our favor, and columns like this one and this one are becoming far more common.  I’ll be quite pleased if I can continue to report such news every few weeks!

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