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Posts Tagged ‘Served Cold’

If you won’t honor people’s boundaries, you don’t belong anywhere near another human being, much less on a porn set.  –  Cyd Nova

Finding What Isn’t There

There are thousands of pimps and ‘sex slaves’, we swear!  We’re just not allowed to investigate them!

According to [Delhi] police, prostitution rackets prevail…because there are orders for local police not to carry out raids under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act without enough evidence and permission from senior officers.  The orders were issued by senior officers at Delhi Police headquarters after regular complaints of corruption and harassment of sex workers by policemen.  “The order has come to the aid of pimps”…says a [cop]…“Prostitution involving foreign women is not only rampant…but seems to be flourishing with the support of authorities.  While many are willing…there are also those who have been tricked into the trade”…says [a prohibitionist]…Police and NGOs [imagine] that Uzbekistan…[is] one of the preferred countries for these gangs.  It is also [imagined] that women from the country are managed by women of Uzbek origin settled in India for many years…[another cop fantasizes that] “The money…is paid to the pimp.  The…money never goes to [the sex workers]”…police [imagine] there must be around 2,000 women from [other] countries working in the capital…

The Widening Gyre baby box

Observation: Naive woman makes an ill-considered Craigslist post.  Conclusion: A worldwide conspiracy abducting pregnant women to steal their babies.

Georgia mother Elaine Sunwoo Williams was worried that her baby-crazy 14-year-old daughter would go and get herself knocked up.  So, assuming someone must have a spare baby lying around, Williams posted an ad on Craigslist…[asking] new mothers with unwanted babies to drop them off…at the Williams residence, where she and her daughter would “provide a loving home”…Once the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office was tipped off to the ad, they arrested both Williams and her daughter, charging each with…a felony…If convicted, [Williams] faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine…An NBC Atlanta broadcast warned viewers that baby selling is “part of human trafficking“…NBC also quotes Louise Shelly, author of the book Human Trafficking, claiming that “human traffickers are increasingly trafficking pregnant women for their newborns”…Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office is asking Homeland Security to help it find people who emailed Williams offering to sell their babies so that they can be charged with human trafficking…

Worse Than I Thought

This is the result of draconian “sex trafficking” laws: sex workers threatened with decades in prison for being in the company of slightly younger sex workers:

…20-year-old Tayari Meadows was facing a sentence up to life in prison.  But…the prosecution and defense…reached a plea deal to release Meadows…on three years probation.  Meadows pleaded guilty under…an Alford Plea where she disputes…the facts presented by prosecutors but admits guilt in participating in a prostitution operation.  Her agreement requires her to testify against [accused pimp] Jackson Fleming…Meadows [served] only the 8 months she’s been in jail since being arrested in April…As part of her probation, Meadows is not allowed to have any contact with the teenage girl who…was found with her in a…motel room when Meadows was arrested…

“Only” 8 months locked in a cage for the “crime” of being with another person.

Dirty Laundry

We should all consider the fact that on many Christmas Days…many women were locked up as slaves in Magdalene laundries, far from family and friends.”

Ruhama, a [religious group] that [exploits sex worers]…has published a new report on the extent of the situation…the group’s CEO Sarah Benson said:  “We should all consider the fact that this Christmas Day while most of us settle down to a meal with loved ones, many women will be in brothels around the country, far from family and friends”…Last month…RTÉ [broadcast a fantasy about]…gangs…[moving] women…around brothels all over the country…Ruhama is calling for [more money so they can continue to profit from] prostitution and [the hysteria over] sex trafficking…

Checklist

“If you see something, say something”, UK style:

People in Essex are being urged to look out for signs of human trafficking and modern slavery as they go about their daily lives…the county’s deputy police and crime commissioner warned that “hidden harms” such as slavery…[and] child sexual exploitation…needed tackling head-on…everyone has a part to play in identifying and tracking down covert crimes – not just Essex Police officers.  He claimed if residents looked into suspicious situations, hidden harms would come to light…

Dysphemisms Galore 

It’s hard to believe this was written by an adult in 2015:

A Peabody [Massachusetts] brothel and drug den was operating behind the suburban facade of a six-bedroom house…before authorities swooped in and arrested six people…Dawn Spurr…is charged with two counts of drug possession, being the keeper of a noisy and disorderly house and trafficking in persons for sexual servitude…“I am extremely pleased…with [snitches]…assisting with the riddance of such types of despicable acts,” Peabody police Chief Thomas M. Griffin said…

The Missing Word

That word doesn’t appear in this article, but notice that everything magically becomes “dark” and “sinister” when sex is involved:

Sexual servitude is arguably the most egregious worker violation of foreign workers in this country…a joint taskforce including the Fair Work Ombudsman and Border Force, has raided five karaoke bars in two cities, Perth and Melbourne…[following] allegations of wage fraud, sham contracting and sexual slavery of female hosts…Australians are becoming increasingly horrified by the level of exploitation of foreign workers in this country…it is undermining the economic fabric of the country…[and] robbing the Australian Taxation Office of hundreds of millions of dollars a year…

That last line is, of course, the government’s real concern.

Above the Law (#434)

One down, tens of thousands to go:

…Oklahoma City [cop] Daniel Holtzclaw has been found guilty of multiple counts of rape…as well as sexual battery, procuring lewd exhibition, and forcible oral sodomy…His 36 charges ranged from stalking and indecent exposure to forcible sodomy…he was found guilty of 18…Holtzclaw deliberately chose women he thought were unlikely to be believed — black women with criminal records from an impoverished neighborhood…

Whore Detection

Prostitution laws harm all women, but especially black and transgender women:

…There are a lot of situations that may warrant calling 911.  But seeing a transgender person is not one of them.  But that’s exactly what a hotel manager in West Des Moines, Iowa, did when Meagan Taylor and her friend, both Black transgender women, checked into the hotel…on their way to a funeral…the ACLU…[has] obtained the audio recording of the 911 call…the caller complains that they are…“two males, but they’re dressed as females with ‘male IDs’ and ‘dressed a little over the top.’”  Even the dispatcher is somewhat incredulous that this would prompt anyone to call 911.  She questions why the caller is suspicious and the caller explains, that “I just want to make sure they’re not hookers”…

Served Cold 

Doesn’t anybody else think it’s a bit horrifying that the US is conducting military raids in other countries it’s not at war with?

An international law enforcement operation culminated…with the arrests of 6 individuals involved in sex trafficking and the [arrest] of 36 sex trafficking victims, including 11 minors.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Attaché Office covering the Andean region and the Peruvian National Police (PNP) conducted the binational law enforcement operation…The rescued victims are all Peruvian and one is as young as 4 years old…This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator…HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity…

“As young as 4 years old”?  What the fuck does that mean?  A person could literally be any age above 4 and that statement would still be true.

Traffic in Nonsense (#508)

Because big strong men have to “rescue” weak, stupid women from our choices:

In January, Ohio will become the first state to require prospective truckers to be trained to spot warning signs for human trafficking before they get licensed.  Training will consist of materials provided by…Truckers Against Trafficking…“the goal…is driving human trafficking out of Ohio, because it’s going to be too dangerous for the bad guys to work here,” [a rather silly and pompous cop said]…the training program is based on guidelines first set up in Iowa to mobilize truckers to combat human trafficking…5.5 million children worldwide are victims of sex trafficking…

Welcome To Our World (#588)

This is really rather pathetic:

Somebody at the New York Times has repeatedly edited reporter Sarah Nir’s Wikipedia page to defend her controversial exposé of the nail salon industry and attack her critics…One of the 20 anonymous edits to Nir’s Wikipedia entry — since removed — dismissed the criticism as “minor controversies from right wing and Libertarian outlets, as well as several protests from salon owners unwilling to abide by the new laws created…in the wake of the story.”  Another edit blasted Richard Bernstein, who attacked Nir’s reporting in the New York Review of Books, as “a white salon owner and…author of a widely-panned book that highly sexualized Asian women.”  Besides the edits from the New York Times IP address, there were six from California last summer when Nir was on the West Coast. Another seven were from an AT&T mobile IP address…

Fallen Idol

Cyd Nova on the relief sex workers feel at being generally believed for once:

…For the survivors of James Deen whose stories are told and untold; for the sex workers whose perpetrators used the stigmatized environment of the profession to prey on their vulnerabilities; for the sex workers who have been assaulted and then continued to work, sometimes with the same person who assaulted them, because at that moment that was what they had to do to survive; this news cycle has been hell…I’ve never seen such public furor around the assaults of sex workers.  It’s left everyone I know drained thinking, talking, or reading about it. Waiting to see what direction the narrative will take—will the news coverage continue to slant in favor of the survivors?  What will the consequences be for Deen after the scandal of this story is dusted over by another?…Although I’d always hoped that someone would out him publicly, I understood why, for a long time, no one did.  I’ve been a sex worker for 13 years and have performed in or produced porn for most of that time…Building an illusion of blanket positivity about your job is not only about being a good porn star, it’s about building armor against a society that wants you to be damaged…

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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.  –  Rita Mae Brown

8 MinutesYou remember 8 Minutes, right?  That awful A&E Network “reality” show whose utterly-ludicrous premise was that a cop-turned-preacher would trick sex workers into meeting with him by lying to them, pretending to be a client (you know, like cops do)?  Then he only had eight minutes (he knew that was how long he had, ’cause he’s a hooker expert) to talk them out of their life of degradation before their pimps came busting through the door to shoot him or “traffick” him or something, and if the girl agreed he would “rescue” her and give her access to all kinds of nifty resources so she wouldn’t have to whore any more, and the pimp presumably would shake his fist and gnash his teeth while saying “Curses, foiled again!”, then skulk off to a mall or bus stop to abduct a brace of crying 13-year-old middle-class white girls.  Of course, the truth was that Kevin Brown was the Pastor of Nobody, the sex workers were contacted ahead of time and agreed to be on the show, the “rescue” conversations were edited down to eight minutes, and the “pimps” either didn’t exist at all or were the sex workers’ husbands or friends waiting for them in the car, or else just some dude who happened to be in the parking lot at the time.  And the “rescue resources” consisted of a couple of hundred bucks and the phone number of a social worker.  Oh, and when that wasn’t enough to “rescue” a kitten, and the workers went back to work because the bills were due, the big brave hero cops were watching for their pics & phone numbers so they could immediately arrest them.  Unfortunately for all involved, one of the women exploited by the show got in touch with my friend, the indomitable Mistress Matisse, who proceeded to stomp a big muddy hole in them and attracted so much negative publicity that the abomination was cancelled.

Now, one would think that given the high-profile failure of this monstrosity, AND the very public exposure of frauds like Somaly Mam and Chong Kim, AND the success of sex worker activists in causing other attempts to exploit real, living whores for entertainment value to belly-flop in spectacular fashion, AND the recent surge in mainstream media articles skeptical of the “sex trafficking” myth, that reporters would be wary of new tragedy porn masquerading as “sex trafficking” reality, or would at least temper their urge to publicly jizz all over themselves when thinking about the exciting fantasy of teen virgins in bondage, right?  Nope:

The Abolitionists gripped me from the start, giving me an inside look at O.U.R.’s (Operation Underground Railroad) child trafficker stings…Tim Ballard…founder of O.U.R and former employee of Homeland Security, leads his group of ex-spy/army/commandos…right into the thick of the child trafficking/sex trade world…He and his team spend weeks, sometimes months, buddying up to these traffickers, setting up deals to purchase kids, convincing them that they are dirty old guys who want to have sex with 14-year-old girls, and bartering/paying for as many girls as possible so that, when the traffickers arrive with their child-slaves, the bust can be as massive as possibleMr. Potato Head is skeptical

“OK”, I hear you say, “but this reviewer is some clodhopper from Idaho (not to mention possessor of a liberal arts degree) who thinks Google is a word describing the eyes of a ‘pervert’ looking at a ‘child sex slave’.  His opinion is ignorant and unintentionally hilarious, but ultimately unrepresentative of the zeitgeist.”  Fair enough; surely urbane TV producers with big bucks to lose would do their research more diligently than Mr. Potato Head, yes?

The efforts of Tim Ballard…and his nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad team to combat child trafficking worldwide are being documented in The Abolitionists, a 10-episode hourlong documentary series being shopped by EveryWhere Studios…For 12 years, Ballard served as a U.S. Special Agent for the Department of Homeland Security, helping infiltrate and dismantle trafficking organizations that kidnapped children and forced them into sex and labor slavery.  Frustrated by the red tape when chasing predators beyond U.S. borders, Ballard left his government job in 2013 to start O.U.R.  Since then, he and his team of mostly volunteers — who call themselves the Abolitionists because of parallels to the movement to end slavery  — have done missions with the cooperation of foreign governments and police departments in Haiti, Columbia, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Mexico and other locations.  Ballard recently testified before Congress in support of pending sex trafficking legislation…The process started with a feature-length documentary,  The Abolitionists, produced by FletChet Entertainment, which chronicled the launch of O.U.R. and its first two “jumps”…

Is it just me, or does the idea of a TV show about Heroes of the Homeland fighting to rescue The ChildrenTM from evil dark-skinned foreigners have a vaguely goose-steppy, repurposed-Vedic-symbol sort of feel to it?  And since that’s the case, maybe this isn’t a case of “They Never Learn” after all, but rather one of opening the collective mouth for insertion of the master’s boot.

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Sex workers know that they are generally not thought of as human by police.  –  Kristina Dolgin

Old Men and Young Women

Old people must be punished for being sexual:

…a man living in a suburban Philadelphia assisted-living facility has lost his housing subsidy after officials found a prostitute underneath his bed…the man, believed to be in his 70s, paid prostitutes using profits earned from peddling alcohol to fellow residents…

Surplus Women Lidia Pascale

A prostitute allegedly killed by one of her customers kept her working life secret from a friend, a murder trial has been told.  Lidia Pascale’s body was discovered…in a wheelie bin…two weeks after she had been killed.  Matthew Cherrington, 32, has denied murder.  Adrian Albulescu …drove [Pascale] to the address…When she failed to reappear after an hour he phoned her “many times” but her mobile was switched off…he also knocked at the door but got no reply…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic 

Paging Dr. David Ley:

…as a sex addiction/trauma therapist…I have spent many hours reading testimonials of former sex workers, many who started their sex working career as a stripper [sic].  I have come to believe strip clubs exploit wounded women who often have severe trauma in their backgrounds…It is very difficult to disconnect emotionally for dancers who perform lap dances or oral sex for money.  Many strippers display post traumatic stress disorder symptoms and will often times self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs…Some women in the sex industry develop their own sex addiction as a result of the neuro chemical changes in their brain…Many attendees to strip clubs struggle with communication and intimacy with their wives or partners, which can promote a secret life.  A secret life also changes the neuro chemistry in the brain…Often sex addiction co-exists with another addiction such as alcohol or drugs, gambling and sexual anorexia.  So…men who go to the strip clubs are also being exploited…Recovery from sex addiction requires exposing the trauma, stopping the behavior, and a commitment to rewire the brain through therapy…

Regarding the notion that the brain can be “rewired” through therapy: that sure worked out for all the gay people who sought to be “cured”, didn’t it?

Broken Record 

Even “sex trafficking” fetishists now have to address the debunking of one of their pet myths:

…[Prohibitionists claim] they want to fight the forced sex work…that they say is sure to spike during the many Super Bowl events in the Bay Area preceding the game on Feb. 7.  And, perhaps more so, they want to use the football extravaganza…as a platform for their cause.  But the linking of human trafficking to the Super Bowl and other sporting events in recent years has prompted a backlash.  Critics say evidence of the relationship is weak and overblown, and…sex workers…say the pressure to crack down on prostitution hurts them…But [prohibitionists pretend]…it worsens around big events that draw big spenders.  They must, they say, use whatever tool they can to attack [sex work]…

King of the Hill

I literally laughed out loud reading this:

…North Carolina regularly ranks in the top 10 worst states for the illegal act.  This statistic came as a shock to audience members at a seminar…Many let out gasps…Emily Fitchpatrick…of On Eagles Wings Ministries…[said] “Charlotte is the No. 1 city for human trafficking”…the girls like it so much because they make a lot of money…[there, cop mouthpiece Joel] Shores said…“There have been no arrests, but it is a problem…It’s easier to sell a woman than it is to sell drugs…”…Shores also talked about his campaign to…[arrest people for] sexting and how it can lead to becoming part of this growing illegal industry.  “We need to let these women and girls know that they have worth [by arresting them]”…

Comfort Zone (#320)

“…immigration controls are claimed to be a mechanism of protection for migrants, rather than a mechanism of oppression…”:  “Ottawa police say 11 women will be deported after a human trafficking investigation into commercial massage parlours…All 11 were found to be working without a valid work permit…

The Roof Caves In

She’s like the proverbial bad penny:

Disgraced anti-trafficking activist Somaly Mam on Monday appeared on television to promote Afesip, the NGO that she founded…and to ask for donations from Cambodian viewers.  Ms. Mam resigned as president of the Somaly Mam Foundation last year after media reports revealed she had fabricated her backstory and coached young girls to lie about their past in order to raise funds. She resigned from Afesip in 2013…

Bad Girls (#429) 

The details surrounding 27-year-old Alix Tichelman’s arrest in Santa Cruz last July—the Lifetime-esque sting operation, the “Harbor Hooker” hook, the drugs, the Google executive with a $345K yacht—were every reporter’s wet dream.  But some activists believe the case against her has been distorted by media bias against sex workers…Kristina Dolgin…[of] Red Light Legal…reached out to Tichelman…to offer additional legal services and support; she says she wants people to remember that Tichelman is innocent until proven guilty, regardless of her profession.  “They’re using language that is clearly seeking to demonize [Tichelman], strip her of her humanity and make her less than a person—to be vilified and not protected,” Dolgin says…

Served Cold Operation Underground Railroad

If this doesn’t make you nervous, you haven’t been paying attention:

…Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today he will testify on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at a Congressional hearing titled A Pathway to Freedom: Rescue and Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims…Reyes participated in a rescue sting operation with Operation Underground Railroad in Colombia where he and several others liberated over 120 young children from a modern-day sex slavery ring operated by a network of human traffickers.  Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) Founder and CEO and former CIA agent and special agent for the Department of Homeland Security Tim Ballard will also testify on the growth of NGO rescue operations and how organizations such as O.U.R. can complement government agencies in expediting human and child sex trafficking rescue and rehabilitation efforts worldwide…

Naming a fascist organization which works with government to enforce the status quo after an historical organization dedicated to opposing the government-enforced status quo makes me want to throw up.

Dutch Threat (#534)

More on Dutch sex workers’ protests, from regular reader Frans van Rossum:

As sex workers fight back against the Mayor of Amsterdam’s attempt to “legalise” violating their privacy rights, they receive some unexpected and unprecedented support from Magda Berndsen-Jansen, a member of parliament…Her parliamentary enquiry…demands answers to the very questions raised by newly founded sex worker organisation PROUD [and] proves that sex workers are finally being heard…Amsterdam’s mayor Eberhard van der Laan…[wants] city administrations nationwide to collect and…share personal data about sex workers, which the Dutch Privacy Protection Law explicitly  prohibits to be collected and shared…[in order] “to combat human trafficking effectively…and…to promote the self-reliance of prostitutes” …if this were to happen, all sex workers could consider  themselves de facto outlaws despite the fact that sex work…has been legal in the Netherlands since 1811, and still is…Berndsen-Jansen…demands no less than that sex workers are being treated equally under the law, just as anyone else…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (#535)

This story just keeps getting more horrible:

Producers employed by Relativity Media, the production company behind A&E’s 8 Minutes, manipulated sex workers and did not prioritize their privacy, [said] a person who worked…for the production’s unaired pilot…neither Relativity nor A&E had any intention of directly helping the women, but instead referred them to a local organization in Las Vegas…Mark, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, [said]…“Anybody can be pointed to resources …I can tell you, ‘If you’re hungry, you can go to CVS, there’s a bag of chips there that you can afford’.”  The charges of manipulation and indifference to privacy are very similar to allegations made by sex workers who were filmed for episodes of 8 Minutes that did begin airing…one of them said the “resource” she was given was just the phone number of a counselor.  The interviews with the sex workers, which Mark said usually lasted about an hour, as opposed to the eight minutes suggested by the series, lulled the women “into a false sense of security”…Early in the shoot, the production would start filming the women’s interaction with…Kevin Brown before they were aware that there were cameras; when these unwitting sex workers were surprised by the revelation that Brown is a pastor, most of them would quickly leave the hotel room…[so] the production changed tactics, informing the women beforehand that this was for a show so that they would stay…

Welcome To Our World (#536)

Looks like the expensive salons are trying to drive out their more reasonably-priced competition:

…scores of New York City women say they are disgusted that many nail salons pay their workers next to nothing, and vowed to try to help change things by seeking out higher-end shops, tipping more — or even foregoing the finger and toe pampering altogether.  “It’s just bad. It starts to feel like prostitution [with the exploitation of women],’’ said Sara Bashor…“I don’t feel good supporting it.”  Gov. Cuomo announced …that he is creating a multiagency Enforcement Task Force to fine or shut down nail salons caught violating labor laws.  The heightened regulation came [after] a report that the salon industry in and around the city was rife with exploitation as workers — mostly undocumented women — earn paltry wages while breathing in hazardous fumes and plastic dust…

The astounding ignorance of amateurs is highlighted by the notion that whores make low pay under bad conditions.

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When sex workers or former sex workers write as academics, their voices can’t be reduced solely to sex.  –  Noah Berlatsky

The Proper Study

Noah Berlatsky on sex workers conducting our own research:

Melissa Gira Grant…is not alone; there are many sex workers and former sex workers who research and analyze sex work from an analytical perspective.  Author, media consultant, and former sex worker Maggie McNeill, for example, discusses common myths about human trafficking…The Red Umbrella Project, a peer-led sex worker advocacy organization, conducted a study of New York City trafficking courts that found police were disproportionately targeting black sex workers and using racial profiling to make arrests…Tara Burns…researched Alaska’s trafficking laws while working toward her Master’s in social justice…Christina Parreira…has continued to work as a sex worker while also pursuing a Ph.D. in sociology…she has…interviewed other workers about how they understand their work…dropbox logo

Saving Them From Themselves

Missouri law enforcement is serving cloud-storage site Dropbox with a search warrant for an account used by area teens suspected of sexting…after school officials heard rumors that students were sharing nude photos via phones and Dropbox…cops interviewed students and seized some of their cell phones.  And what did they find?  No pics.  But…with just a little more privacy infringement, they’re certain they can turn up some nude teen photos…

King of the Hill

Two for one!  “Michigan ranks No. 2 for human trafficking sex trade behind only Nevada…

If Men Were Angels

A chiropractor in…Iowa…has had his license pulled after being accused of trading services for sex with clients and for performing exorcisms…Dr. Charles Manuel voluntarily surrendered his license after the Iowa Board of Chiropractic accused him of unethical conduct…The board also stated that Manuel had instructed some of his patients to stop taking their prescribed medications…

Schadenfreude (#434) 

Voice of America has followed the party line on “sex trafficking” thus far, so it’s nice to see them publishing an interview with super ally Anne Elizabeth Moore:

The garment industry, because there are so few employment options for women, creates this sense of an almost economic imperative..in the U.S. we talk a lot about how horrible it is for women and the sex industry in Cambodia, and how they all are trafficked.  And all the reports are about quoting Somaly Mam, who of course…spent a lot of time talking about how everyone that she worked with in her various foundations was a victim of sex trafficking, when you actually talk to the people that live in her shelters, and/or sought assistance from her, or even people who were…involved in…anti-trafficking organizations elsewhere, what you discover is actually that most of them are not victims of trafficking.  Most of them identified as people who were working either in the sex industry or another industry.  And the opportunity provided to them by the anti-trafficking organizations was simply better than their continued labor in that industry…

Served Cold

Utah based Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) has attracted a great deal of attention since it was first endorsed by Glenn Beck…This new addition to the already crowded field of anti-trafficking organisations “us[es] cutting-edge computer technology…[to] go into the darkest corners of the world to…liberate enslaved children and dismantle the criminal networks.”  It is this type of language that identifies OUR as yet another disturbing example of a “raid-and-rescue” organisation…these interventions represent the latest version of the “white man’s burden”…OUR takes things one step further by sending, essentially, gun-toting vigilantes to foreign countries in the pursuit of “hope and freedom” for enslaved children…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (#445) clogs

It would be hard to imagine a more unintentionally-revealing example of mental masturbation than this attempt to entangle the supposed morality of overpriced clogs with welfare-state propaganda and dangerously-prudish Sweden’s wholly-undeserved reputation for sexiness:

Blixt’s wooden shoes are not just “hasbeens’ because of the retro style – it’s also a comeback of retro Swedish sexiness – not the stereotype, but rather the truth.  Outdated stereotypes of Sweden as overly sexualized have reigned for too long.   “I think it’s a misunderstanding,” Blixt remarks. “Sex is one thing, and a naked body is something else; it’s natural.”  When Blixt talks about sexy shoes, she’s speaking of classic Swedish values.  In other words: au natural…Made only with natural materials in good work situations, the shoes are sustainable, durable, and handmade…“We are actually raised to be creative in Sweden, and it’s easy to start a company here with our free education, access to social security, funding and young people who dare to think big,” Blixt reflects. “People learn to dare and believe in their ideas, and that is our hope for the future”…

The smugness is so thick one could cut it with a knife.

Guinea Pigs 

Another software package designed to sell whores out to the cops:

Rescue Forensics claims it “archives massive quantities of data from classified advertisement sites specializing in commercial sex ads.”  It gathers a lot of text, and even more nude and semi-nude photos.  Then it turns all that over to the cops…what Rescue Forensics appears to be selling is just one more tool to help cops track people engaged in sex work through their online activities…there’s a good chance that if you’ve placed an ad online in the last two years for escorting, massage, BDSM, stripping, private modeling, nude housekeeping, selling your underwear, or any other permutation of the various sexual services people can put on offer, Rescue Forensics has a copy.  And because Rescue Forensics has a copy, so do their users in law enforcement…for Dalton, the fight against trafficking isn’t just about finding the people Rescue Forensics believes are “exploited”:  It’s about abolition…Dalton was a policy advisor to Shared Hope International…Dalton himself acknowledges what they’ve built isn’t enough to identify someone who has been trafficked into sex work, and that there’s no way to tell from an ad if someone is forced or coerced…Dalton still stands to profit from a product that can’t make that distinction, placed in the hands of law enforcement officers who…routinely…harass and arrest sex workers…

Worse Than I Thought (#525)

Bad laws never die, even if they appear to have been staked and beheaded:

U.S. Senators…reached a deal on legislation addressing human trafficking.  Passage of the “Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act”…had been delayed for several weeks due to a partisan dispute over abortion funding for trafficking victims.  CBS News explains the complicated compromise, which ultimately does not allow funds allocated under the bill to go toward abortions…there’s still a chance that political maneuvering could doom the legislation…if Republicans force a vote on controversial amendments concerning immigration and other issues…

Precedent

There’s a saying in American politics:  As California goes, so goes the nation.  If that’s true, we may be at the start of a nationwide fight to decriminalize sex work.  The Erotic Service Provider Legal, Education, and Research Project (ESPLERP) filed a federal lawsuit on March 4 that seeks to overturn the criminalization of prostitution in California by arguing that the ban is unconstitutional…because it hinders sex workers’ rights to participate in private and consensual activities…If the lawsuit is successful, California could become the tipping point for the decriminalization of sex work nationwide…the decriminalization argument will acquire powerful legal precedent in the most populous state in the country…it could move the conversation forward even if it fails…The state will almost certainly use trumped-up concerns over human trafficking to put the lawsuit to rest…But…nearly 40 million people live in California.  To even put this issue on the political radar of that many people is a revolutionary act…

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Revenge is a dish best served cold.  –  proverb of uncertain origin

Obama & SS goonsI’m sure all of you remember the ridiculous “Secret Service prostitution scandal” of April 2012; a group of G-men who were sent to Cartagena, Colombia hired whores as such men nearly always do, and one of them made the mistake of thinking he could cheat his escort by denying her the agreed-upon fee.  Unfortunately for Agent Cheapskate (AKA Arthur Huntington), sex work happens to be legal in Colombia; the wronged lady, Dania Suarez, went to the cops, and there followed months of hand-wringing in which the Ruling Hypocrites pretended that fair and typical business transactions were themselves the problem, rather than government agents trying to turn such transactions into rape.  We were forced to endure the farce of government officials who frequently partake themselves  pretending that “this just is not part of our [institutional] culture” and insisting that they would make magical proclamations which would ensure that never again would even the lowliest government actor ever, ever pay for sex, as long as the Capitol building stands.

Well, the public forgot about it as soon as the media found something else unimportant to obsess about, but you can bet the White House didn’t.  Grudges do not merely dry up and blow away in Washington, so I’ve been waiting to see what sort of petty revenge the executive branch might choose to inflict on the sex workers of Cartagena; a recent cluster of articles would seem to be its harbingers, though I suspect the vengeance itself will be both worse and more long-lived.  The first was this one from two weeks ago:

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.  But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never…publicly acknowledged…the way the White House handled the scandal remains a sore point among rank-and-file members of the Secret Service more than two years later.  Former and current…agents said they are angry at the White House’s public insistence that none of its team members were involved and its private decision to not fully investigate one of its own — while their colleagues had their careers ruined or hampered…The agents were told that they jeopardized national security by drinking excessively and having contact with foreign nationals…

Some of you may have wondered why I didn’t mention this story in that week’s TW3 column; it was because I suspected there was more to come.  I didn’t have long to wait:

…a privately funded organization, Operation Underground Railroad, [executed] what they called Clear Hope; a mission that would prove to be the biggest child trafficking rescue operation in history.  One hundred and twenty-three children were saved [on October 11th] in three simultaneous operations based in Colombia and resulted in the arrest of 15 perpetrators…

“Privately funded” means “we don’t need to tell you where we get our money”.  I’m sure the organization’s having been founded by a retired CIA agent has absolutely no bearing on that funding, or with the disturbing spectacle of a “private” organization working hand in glove with a US government agency to carry out operations in a foreign country:

A popular Colombian beauty queen was arrested this past weekend for her alleged role in a child prostitution ring aimed at foreign sex tourists.  The United States Immigration and Customs (ICE) led a joint operation, Cristal II, in cooperation with the Colombia’s Navy and Coast Guard to arrest 22-year old Kelly Johana Suárez Martínez Moyam and four others during a party attended by 25 minors, among others…An additional three were arrested in Armenia and four in Medellín for their involvement…The arrests took place…just a short boat ride from Cartagena…Undercover agents posed as foreign sex tourists to break up the child prostitution ring…Kelly Johana is not the typical ringleader for a child prostitution ring, but her credentials and her reputation…make her an effective recruiter of young girls and boys…

As regular readers know, the term “child prostitution” is a lie; actual children in the sex trade are very rare, and most so-called “child prostitutes” are 16 or 17.  Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette, who has studied sex work in neighboring Brazil for over a decade, has this to say about the subject:

…in ten years of work researching Rio de Janeiro’s brothels…I have not encountered a single child prostitute.  Frequent police raids on these establishments also generally come up a cropper.  There are a few cases, of course, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand, from over a ten year period.  Where, then, are these legions of child prostitutes?  If the police and I and my co-researcher, Dra. Ana Paula da Silva, can’t find more than a handful in all the hundreds of commercial sex venues in Rio de Janeiro…where are these kids?…

It’s true that Colombia is not Brazil, but they’re a lot more alike than, say, Colombia and Washington, DC.  So when cops and government bureaucrats report something that contradicts years of work by respected academics, you’ll have to forgive me if I ask for their proof.  And when the operatives involved just happen to work for a different division of the same government branch that was embarrassed by other members of the same industry in the same region of the same country, and the targeted individual just happens to share a surname with the sex worker at the center of the earlier scandal, don’t be too surprised if I assume that their real motivation is the execution of a vendetta.

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