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22nd July

  Not to mention reducing the amount of people persecuted, marginalised and jailed...

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Scientists in the Lancet calculate that decriminalising prostitution would reduce HIV infection by 46%
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the lancet logo Sex work must be decriminalised if the world is to stand a chance of controlling the Aids pandemic, say scientists contributing to a series of research papers in the Lancet medical journal.

Sex workers, whether female, male or transgender, are subject to repression, violence and abuse even at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold the law, according to the series of seven research papers presented at the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Fear of the police and other authorities, as well as the abuse itself, prevents sex workers protecting themselves from HIV infection.

Studies in Canada, India and Kenya contain testimony from sex workers who report having condoms confiscated by police, who regard them as evidence of crimes, and being subjected to physical or sexual violence. Both the sex workers and their clients are put at risk of infection by this.

Governments and the police should uphold the human rights of all people, including sex workers, say the series authors. Reducing sexual violence by clients and abusers could reduce HIV infection rates by around a fifth in both high- and low-income settings, they say, and getting more sex workers on antiretroviral treatment for HIV would reduce the amount of active virus in their bodies and cut the rate of new infections by a third. But decriminalisation of sex work would be the preventative measure with the biggest impact, they say. Across all settings, it would reduce HIV infections by 33% to 46% over the next decade.

Lancet editor Richard Horton and senior executive editor Pamela Das said in a commentary:

We might prefer to think that sex and money were unrelated, that sex was somehow immune from the transactions so common elsewhere in our lives. But why should this exception be so? And why should we condemn and criminalise the exchange of money for sex, especially if the severely adverse conditions we create for such exchange hurt women and men, and often fatally so?

Sex work is part of the human story. Accepting and embracing sex work -- supporting those engaged in sex work to protect their health and bodily integrity and autonomy -- should be our humane, as well as our pragmatic, approach to the reality of our human lives. And to our common efforts to defeat Aids.

 

21st July

 Update: Endangering Sex Workers and Criminalising Customers...

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A summary of Canada's proposed anti-prostitution law
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Canada flag Canada's government is fast-tracking a nasty Bill C-36 to criminalise people who buy sex. Here's a glance at what the government is proposing, and what critics say about the changes.

1. Going after the buyers

The bill criminalizes the buying of sex -- or obtain[ing] for consideration... the sexual services of a person. The penalties include jail time -- up to five years in some cases -- and minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence.

2. What's a sexual service ?

The bill doesn't say, meaning it would likely be up to a court to decide where the line was drawn. A government legal brief, submitted to the committee as it considered the bill, says the courts have found lap-dancing and masturbation in a massage parlour? count as a sexual service or prostitution, but not stripping or the production of pornography.

3. What about sex workers?

They also face penalties under the bill, though the government says it is largely trying to go after the buyers of sex. Under the bill, it would be illegal for a sex worker to discuss the sale of sex in certain areas -- a government amendment Tuesday appears set to reduce what areas would be protected -- and it would also be illegal for a person to get a material benefit from the sale of sexual services by anyone other than themselves. Some critics have warned that latter clause could, for instance, prevent sex workers from working together, which some do to improve safety.

4. What about those who work with sex workers?

Anyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from the sale of a sexual service, faces up to 10 years in prison. This excludes those who have a legitimate living arrangement with a sex worker, those who receives the benefit as a result of a legal or moral obligation of the sex worker, those who sell the sex worker a service or good on the same terms to the general public, and those who offer a private service to sex workers but do so for a fee proportionate to the service and so long as they do not counsel or encourage sex work.

5. Can sex workers advertise their services?

This is a key plank of the bill, which makes it a crime to knowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services for consideration, or money. This could potentially include newspapers, such as weekly publications that include personal ads from sex workers, or websites that publish similar ads. Justice Minister Peter MacKay appears to believe the ban could go after such publications. It affects all forms of advertising, including online. And anything that enables or furthers what we think is an inherently dangerous practice of prostitution will be subject to prosecution, but the courts will determine what fits that definition, he told reporters after speaking to the committee July 7. This has been welcomed by some, including Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who supports the bill overall, though she called for some changes. I didn't actually expect to see this advertising provision in this bill but I would say it's actually a really important step, to say that kind of profiteering needs to stop, she said. ]

6. Can anyone still advertise the sale of sex?

Yes -- sex workers themselves. The bill includes an exemption that says no one will be prosecuted for an advertisement of their own sexual services, though platforms that actually knowingly run the ads may face prosecution.

...

10. What's the status of the bill?

Canada's current laws, struck down by the Court, officially expire in December, and the government has pledged to pass Bill C-36 by then.

 

19th July

  A Miserable Anniversary...

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Indonesian politician set to close brothels as an anniversary gift
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Indonesia flag At least seven Indonesian red-light districts in Malang regency, East Java, are to be closed down by the end of November.

Malang administration secretary Abdul Malik said that the prostitution centers would be given a deadline of November 28, 2014 to shut down business, the date of the regency's 1254th anniversary. The closures will be a gift for the regency's anniversary, Malik said.

The seven red-light districts to be closed are Suko in Sumberpucung district, Kebobang in Wonosari, Kalikudu in Pujon, Slorok in Kromengan, Girun in Gondanglegi, Embong Miring in Ngantang and Sendangbiru in Sumbermanjing Wetan district.

Malik said the buildings of the red-light districts would be converted into new businesses.

 

11th July

 Update: Wild West Goes East...

South Korea pays bounty hunters, snitches and vigilantes for preying on sex workers
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Bounty Hunters DVD Trish Stratus Ostensibly keen to be seen to be making an effort to rid South Korean of its vices and corruption, South Korean Prime Minister, Ms. Park Geun-Hye, has implemented a national job scheme offered to those with a simple penchant for nosiness, or possibly an overzealous sense of nationalism.

Park has expanded a policy in which citizens act as professional whistleblowers or bounty hunters for organised crime . Under the legislative interpretation of Korea's current sex industry legislation, virtually aspect of sex work falls under the definition of organised crime . Park has failed to specifically identify whether the sex industry will fall under her organised crime whistleblower program; however, given that the outsourcing of law enforcement has also been something of a boon for local governments and administration with, local administrators claiming that They can save money on hiring (police) officers, and that the fines imposed on offenders generally outstrip the rewards paid to informers. For example, the reward for reporting illegal garbage dumping is about $40, whilst the fine is about 10 times as much.

Currently the professional-do-gooders for money community , as they refer to themselves, have concentrated on anti-social crimes such as dumping garbage at camping sites, coin-operated coffee machines in Internet sites lacking proper sanitary tags, and publically disposing of cigarette butts inappropriately. However, as more South Koreans are attracted to the seemingly well-paid and romanticism of the self made spy , whistleblower or bounty hunter industry, some are taking on specialities; for example, professional spies who sell information about the sex industry to the government are known within their community as seongparazzi .

As for the Park regime's new plan to stamp out organised crime, Korean sex workers have made the following statement:

Prostitution is already illegal in Korea. That is why sex workers cannot ask for protection during their work. Rather than protecting sex workers, the police violate their human rights during crackdowns. Amidst all this, this new policy will pose a new threat to the survival of sex workers. With bounty hunters at large, sex workers will have to hide in the shadows where there is neither safety nor a regular income. This policy is also dangerous as it may direct public frustration at the Park administration's incompetency, incapacity and dishonesty towards sex workers by defining sex workers as the delinquent others. Stigmatising minorities as criminals and putting them into dangerous circumstances represents nothing short of a witch hunt.

To most of male, female and transgender sex workers, sex work is a matter of survival. Before asking sex workers why would they go into this business, the government should reflect on the circumstances that renders sex work inevitable. A weak social safety net, prejudices within Korean society, and the attitude of Korean society towards poverty should be held accountable. Sex workers constantly have to be afraid and will have no access to workers' rights and human rights as long as prostitution is deemed a crime and prostitutes as filthy.

We, the members of Giant Girls, the Network for Sex Workers' Rights, express our outrage over this incompetent and irresponsible government announcement and declare that we will take every measure against the situation.

 

10th July

 Update: Liberte...

Victory for French sex workers and their customers as proposal to criminalise buyers of sex is dropped
Link Here
France flag The International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) has welcomed the withdrawal of the criminalisation of clients of sex workers from the law proposal that will be presented to the French Senate.

In the words of STRASS , the French Union of Sex Workers:

the Senate Select Committee has taken the time to organise real hearings, to listen to all points of view, including those of national and international health and human rights organisations and considered the evidence of the negative impact of the criminalisation of clients of sex workers. Above all, the Senate Select Committee has taken into account the voices of those first concerned, sex workers themselves.

This is a great victory for sex workers who have fought tirelessly against this law proposal not only in France but in every country where this dangerous approach has threatened our livelihood and our safety.

ICRSE hope that this victory in France will inspire sex workers to keep fighting for their rights and for organisations and policy-makers supporting the failed Swedish Model to really consider the growing amount of evidence against it, to follow the steps of the French Senate Select Committee and to abandon the criminalisation of clients in favour of the only human rights based approach to sex work: full decriminalisation.

 

8th July

 Offsite Article: Exploiting Trafficking to Target Sex Work...

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newstatesman logo Power Trip: Margaret Corvid on desire, change and culture

See article from newstatesman.com

 

5th July

 Commented: MyRedBook Censored...

Sex worker review/information website seized by the US authorities with a generalised justification that prostitution is illegal
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myredbook logo On Wednesday, June 25th , the long-running San Francisco area sex worker advertising/community website MyRedbook was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Two employees were arrested and the site, which featured listings and discussions forums for sex workers; a review section, and a bad date list, was shut down.

CNN is reporting that the raid was part of Operation Cross Country , a national anti-trafficking effort. CNN cites an anonymous law enforcement source saying that some of the children rescued in the sweep were identified through My Redbook. However, the F.B.I's indictment of My Redbook cites no trafficking charges. Both suspects are charged with one count of interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise, and one is charged with 24 counts of money laundering.

A statement from the F.B.I describes the grounds for its actions:

According to information available on the publically accessible website as of the date of its seizure by the FBI, myredbook.com purported to provide Escort, Massage, and Strip Club Reviews. Instead, however, the website hosted advertisements for prostitutes, complete with explicit photos, lewd physical descriptions, menus of sexual services, hourly and nightly rates, and customer reviews of the prostitutes' services.

The Indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million in property and money derived from the facilitation of prostitution, as well as the Internet domain names myredbook.com and sfredbook.com.

As my Redbook was a free service for sex workers, allowing workers to advertise services in a safe environment and to screen potential clients, it is the most marginalised sex workers who are likely feeling the biggest impact. Sex workers of The Sex Workers' Outreach Project addressed this concern with the following statement on their website :

We are very alarmed by the seizure of Myredbook. Many Bay Area sex workers have been able to improve their working conditions by using Myredbook as the site provided a private, discreet venue for negotiations that otherwise often happen in a public venues or on the street. Now that the only free local online female sex worker ad hosting site is gone, where will people go to work? We are very concerned for those who may be forced into more dangerous working conditions at this time.

Today we also lost extensive online forums for a community of sex workers to keep each other safe, screen clients, and blacklist predators. Myredbook also hosted resource guides for sex workers who were struggling and created a venue for community counseling for those in need. Many local outreach organisations used this forum to connect with vulnerable sex workers.

While we are certainly concerned with the issue of sex trafficking, this misguided effort only pushes the most marginalised of us further into the underground. The current anti trafficking moral panic is causing so much unnecessary harm, which we will continue to see as a result of this seizure. Sex workers want to end trafficking. The answer is the decriminalisation of prostitution, which would effectively end the black market, and give workers the ability to unionise and report crimes committed against and around us. It would then be much easier to see the difference between choice and coercion or force. Increasing criminalisation of poor working women in the Bay Area is a dangerous move and the most marginalised of us will suffer the worst.

Comment: Why Everyone Should be Concerned By the Seizure of MyRedBook.Com

5th July 2014. See  article from  eff.org

Electronic Frontier Foundation Last week, an online community for sex workers disappeared from the Internet. Visit SFRedbook.com, MyPinkBook.com, or MyRedBook.com right now, and you'll only find the seals of the law enforcement agencies--the FBI, the DOJ, and the IRS--that seized the sites as part of a prostitution and money laundering investigation.

The seizure is part of a disturbing trend of targeting sex workers, but more than that, it is an attack on the rights to free speech and free association exercised by a diverse group of people, many of whom have nothing to do with the alleged crimes.

MyRedBook and its companion sites served a large and diverse community of sex workers. The sites functioned as social media platforms, with discussion boards for users in topics from politics to financial tips. It also served as a resource guide with information ranging from explanations of the law as it pertains to sex work to health information. For archived versions of the forums sex workers no longer have access to, click here .

These sites were essential tools for First Amendment protected speech and association--especially important for a community that values its privacy for a variety of legitimate reasons. This platform has been pulled out from under the feet of this community. As the Bay Area Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) said in a statement:

Today we also lost extensive online forums for a community of sex workers to keep each other safe, screen clients, and blacklist predators. Myredbook also hosted resource guides for sex workers who were struggling and created a venue for community counseling for those in need. Many local outreach organizations used this forum to connect with vulnerable sex workers.

To compound the destruction of this indispensible forum, the users of these sites now have cause to worry that their private information, such as IP addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, may be in the hands of the FBI. In fact, news reports specifically note : [FBI]Agents seized several boxes of evidence @ including business documents and computer hardware.

SWOP spokesperson Kristina Dolgin put it mildly when she said , It's a very scary thing.

EFF has always supported freedom of association and free speech, no matter who is doing the talking. In fact, these rights are especially important for controversial groups. That's why we are so concerned to see these sites shut down--especially on the heels of the bank account closures of sex workers nationwide.

It's true that in many states, some forms of sex work are illegal. But sex workers have First Amendment rights to speak out about the issues that concern them, to advocate for changes in the law, to counsel each other, to discuss the issues that are important to them, and to advertise legally permissible services. And sex workers have First Amendment rights to associate with each other on Internet forums and elsewhere.

As society changes, its values and laws change as well. But the oppression of disfavored groups uses the same tactics. Today, sex workers are being oppressed, but it will be a different group tomorrow. When we allow any group to be silenced and targeted, we are paving the way for it to happen again.

EFF is keeping an eye on what happens in the case, and the ripple effect in the sex worker community as the criminal charges associated with this seizure move forward. In the meantime, we've compiled a list of resources and strategies sex workers can use to protect their anonymity.

 

5th July

  Could casual sex make us happier...

Sex researcher establishes the Casual Sex Project
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casual sex project logo

 

3rd July

  The tangled mess of Swedish PC extremism...

Swedish court finds that stereotyping Thai women as sex workers is acceptable and that a bar can therefore implement a blanket ban on Thai women
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Sweden flag A pub called Harry's Bar in Vaxjo in south central Sweden had a policy where they refused entry to "Asian-looking women". This policy was put in place on the grounds that the pub were trying to prevent prostitution from taking place on their premises as the pub owner had been informed by the police that prostitution was taking place in the area and that Asian women were involved.

A group of Asian women (who were not sex workers) and who had been refused entry to this particular pub in 2012 pursued a claim for race discrimination against the pub owner and six members of the security staff. Talking about the experience one of the women, Merlita Malmstrom, said it was a traumatic experience. No one should be treated the way they treated us.

The case was heard by the Vaxjo District Court in 2013. While prosecutors believed strongly that the actions of the pub had amounted to unlawful discrimination the court disagreed and the women lost their case. The court found that the prevention of prostitution, a 'criminal activity', was a 'legitimate reason' to refuse entry to the women.  In a nonsensical judgment the court said that the women had been refused entry not on the grounds of their appearance but on the suspicion of criminal activity.

Some of the women pursued an appeal and the decision of the Appeal Court was released a few weeks ago.  Sadly, the Appeal Court upheld the decision of the lower court finding again that no discrimination had taken place.  The Appeal Court agreed with the lower court that the prevention of prostitution was a 'legitimate reason' for the actions taken by the pub in refusing entry to Asian-looking women.

Wendy Lyon, blogging at Feminist Ire , analyses the decision:

First, of course, there's the blatantly racist nature of the policy, now formally endorsed and legitimated by a Swedish judiciary which sees nothing wrong with singling out women of colour for whore stigma. The second thing is that this decision exposes the lie that the Swedish law is not about targeting sex workers. Of course it is. They may not be targeted for prosecution, but the Swedish authorities are more than happy to go after them with any other means at their disposal.

This decision from the Swedish courts is highly disturbing.  Not only does it condone the racial profiling of women of colour but it also gives services in Sweden the green light to discriminate against sex workers. While the women in this case were not sex workers the courts have stated that preventing prostitution is a 'legitimate reason' for permitting discrimination that would ordinarily be unlawful. That means that any discrimination against people who do actually sell sex can be justified on the same grounds and discrimination against sex workers will go unpunished.  This confirms what we already know -- that the Swedish approach to sex work hurts most those it is supposedly designed to protect.

 

1st July

  The right to be forgotten extended to sex clubs...

Belgian court bans brothel owner from using the name DSK Club
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Dsk Story DVD Region NTSC A Belgian court has ordered a brothel owner to change the name of his DSK sex club, which shares its initials with those of fallen one-time French presidential contender Dominique Strauss Kahn. He objected to the name in a lawsuit.

Owner Dominique Alderweireld or Dodo la Saumure , is linked to sex parties attended by Strauss-Kahn and dubbed his latest brothel DSKlub, in an admitted reference to the scandal-hit politician.

The court decided in favour of Strauss-Kahn who is well known by his initials DSK in France and neighbouring French-speaking countries such as Belgium and Switzerland. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said they sued Alderweireld  for deliberately choosing a name that reproduces his (Strauss-Kahn's) initials which identify him to all.

Alderweireld chose the acronym for the new brothel Dodo Sex Klub which opened this year in the town of Blaton, near the French border in Belgium where prostitution and brothel ownership are legal.

 

30th June

  Proper Lap Dancing...

Ontario strip pubs proposes that they should be able operate as licensed brothels
Link Here
Canada flag An organization representing Ontario adult entertainment businesses submitted a proposal at city hall that would see legalized brothels operating alongside strip clubs in the province as part of a year-long trial.

The recommendation came in a report prepared for the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada's Ontario branch by Rudi Czekalla.

Under the plan, strip clubs, which are already zoned for sexual entertainment, would have the exclusive right to sell all sexual services.

Association president Tim Lambrinos said that if prostitution is going to be legalized anyway, it only makes sense to do it in strip clubs, which are already regulated and, he added, generally safe.

As part of his report, Czekalla commissioned a survey of exotic dancers from across Ontario. Two thirds opposed any plan that would see sexual services sold in the clubs where they work.

 

29th June

 Offsite Article: How Bing became the search engine for porn...

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bing logo Bing leaves Google searching for excuses

See article from dailydot.com

 

28th June

  Exploiting Trafficking...

US Bill introduced to conflate sex work with trafficking when considering foreign aid
Link Here

trafficking in persons 2014 Dangerous new legislation that conflates trafficking with sex work , and has the potential to impact diplomatic relations, has been introduced in the United States Congress.

Representative Randy Hultgren, an Illinois Republican in his first term, has introduced legislation that would amend the Trafficking in Victims Protection Act of 2000 to restrict foreign aid going to countries where prostitution is legal. Hultgren claims that legal prostitution leads to human trafficking.

Hultgren's bill would force the State Department to take a country's prostitution laws into consideration when determining which tier it belongs to in the annual Trafficking in Persons report. The TIP report assigns countries a tier according to how well the United States believes they are complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons (a low tier can result in sanctions). Hultgren told the Washington Examiner that he is meeting with the State Department in the next few weeks to discuss the bill, and his comments reveal that he is a little unclear on the bill's impact, and vague on its objective. He said:

I haven't felt a lot of pushback. but just some questioning of how will this impact the rankings and things. I'm not sure. But I know what we've got to do is do everything we can to protect children who are getting pulled into this, women who are getting pulled into this.

On May 21st, the bill was introduced to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as H.R.4703. The bill's full title -- To amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 relating to determinations with respect to efforts of foreign countries to reduce demand for commercial sex acts under the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking -- aligns it to the currently fashionable end demand approach taken by many abolitionist organisations. Working to end trafficking, according to the sponsors of this bill, is not enough; the demand for commercial sex must, too, be abolished.

The congressman is associated with Exodus Cry , a faith-based anti-sex trafficking organization, which is publicising his bill at their website and encouraging supporters to back it -- members of Exodus Cry are currently at the World Cup in Brazil, leading prayers and outreach actions based on the debunked notion that large sporting events lead to an increase in trafficking.

 

28th June

 Offsite Article: #FreeTheNipple...

Link Here
bikini with nipples image This Bikini Top Sticks Two Fingers Up To Censorship

See article from huffingtonpost.co.uk

 

24th June

  Dollied Off...

Indonesia closes down large prostitution complex
Link Here
Indonesia flag Officials have officially shut a massive prostitution complex in Indonesia's second-largest city amid protests by sex workers, who said their livelihoods were being destroyed.

 The mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, announced the closure of the Dolly prostitution complex in a ceremony at the city's Islamic Center. Around 100 miserable locals signed a statement supporting the closure of one of Southeast Asia's largest red-light districts.

The government plans to provide $425 to each of about 1,500 sex workers to help them start a new life.

Hundreds of prostitutes and others who said their livelihoods depend on the sex trade blocked streets leading to the complex in protest of its closure.



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