Booming property prices are killing off a Paris' red-light district off Pigalle as the area is becoming a fashionable hangout for the upwardly mobile. Real estate prices have risen by 25% in the past five years while the hostess bars have been closing
one after the other, plummeting from 84 in 2005 to a handful today.
Rue Frochot was long the epicentre of Pigalle's bar a hostesses , where scantily-clad girls, watched over by a matronly Madame , offered clients drinks and much else if
the price was right. The girls were dubbed les bouchonneuses as they were paid according to the number of champagne bouchons , or corks, for which they managed to bill a client - at around EUR150 a bottle.
Today, there are none
left on the street. The mysterious black facade of the notorious Dirty Dick still stands, but inside, it has been transformed into an inoffensive Hawaiian cocktail bar. Rue Frochot had 14 establishments in 2010. The last to close was Le F'Exhib,
where in late December.
The change has been so abrupt that Pauline Veron, the local Socialist deputy mayor, wants the town hall to step in and buy up closing hostess bars to avoid the district ending up with wall-to-wall nightclubs and retain some
of its libertarian and roguish spirit .
Volkan Sukan, who recently bought the F'Exhib and owns another bar and bistro in the area, said the days of hostess bars were over for good reason:
Tourists came to buy a drink for 30 or 40 euros (and) ended up paying 500, there were complaints, so the police put a stop to it.
Meanwhile peep shows in the nearby area are becoming lap dancing clubs for stag parties while sex shops are losing their opaque windows to become love stores for couples. Sukan comments:
don't think Pigalle is losing its soul, the profile is changing but it's still more risque' than other districts. There's something for all tastes: gay and lesbian clubs, cocktail bars, discos, restaurants, theatres, concert halls, music shops, sex shops
on the boulevard. But Parisians will always find something to moan about.
She was held for months without charge or trial, forced to labour seven days a week without wages, and made to pay for her incarceration. Pan Li is one of hundreds of thousands who have been held at their own expense in China s little known detention
system for female sex workers and their clients.
Beijing has heralded this year's decision to supposedly abolish re-education through labour (RTL) camps, long condemned for lack of judicial oversight. But human rights groups say it is partial
progress at best, given the persistence of similar measures allowing imprisonment without trial.
Thousands of people are still thought to be held in a parallel system known as "custody and education", overseen by public security
officials rather than judges. Unlike prisoners, or RTL inmates, the detainees must pay living costs and take compulsory tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
The original intention ... was to penalise unlawful behaviour that did not reach the
level of a criminal offence but it has become a penalty even harsher than criminal penalties, warns a new report from Asia Catalyst , a health and human rights group that wants the system abolished. Few have even heard of it, not least because stigma and
fear of retaliation make former detainees reluctant to discuss it.
The supreme court of Canada struck down all current restrictions on prostitution, including bans on brothels and on street solicitation, declaring that the provisions unconstitutionally violated prostitutes' safety.
The sweeping 9-0 decision will take
effect a year from now, inviting the Canadian parliament to come up with some other way to regulate the sex trade, if it chooses to do so.
The court found that existing provisions against sex workers were overly broad or grossly disproportionate.
Al Goldstein, a porn pioneers who brought his particular brand of hard-core porn to the masses died on Thursday in New York from renal failure.
Goldstein was best known for sharing his raunchy sensibilities and radical ideas via Screw magazine and his New York City public-access cable show
The New York Times wrote:
Mr. Goldstein did not invent the dirty magazine, but he was the first to present it to a wide audience without the slightest pretense of classiness or subtlety.
Sex as depicted in Screw was seldom pretty, romantic or even particularly sexy. It was, primarily, a business, with consumers and suppliers like any other.
On the 4th December police raided 25 premises in Soho and evicted, detained and harassed sex workers. They kicked down doors, closed working flats, took money and personal items, and manhandled women in the street in front of the photographers and
news crews they invited to witness this violence and intimidation. The media presence included Sky news, BBC and the Evening Standard. It would seem that victims of sex work need to be publicly humiliated and shamed in the media in order to be
properly saved from their work.
The raids were supposedly undertaken in order to locate stolen goods and to tackle prostitution (despite the fact that selling sex is not actually a crime) and to tackle human
trafficking. A number of migrant sex workers, many of whom have lived in the UK for years, have - devastatingly - been conveyed to the UKBA detention centre at Heathrow; this, despite having reassured police that they had not been trafficked into the
country, and were working voluntarily. Other women were instructed to appear in court the next morning. The charges against them are not yet known.
The closure of working flats will mean that women have lost their peer support
network, and their regular clients who they know to be safe. They will also now be working in locations unknown to outreach and health services, and will be less likely to access services - or report crimes against them - for fear of being forcibly
detained or arrested as either a victim or a criminal. They will have to continue to work, but may now have to work alone or outdoors, exposing them to greater risk. Amy, a sex worker within SWOU noted:
talking about 'greater risk', people should know, and should see from these events, that those who are supposed to 'protect' us often pose the greatest risk to us. This is the case both directly and indirectly - directly, when the cops kick down our
doors, drag us onto the street, and facilitate our humiliation; indirectly, when they signal to those who might wish to target us, that we don't deserve the protection of the law, that we can't report. The cops make us targets twice over.
The lasting effect of the raids will be increased risk, fear, violence and instability for these women, and many others like them.
Elisa , a migrant sex worker, said:
This is all so frightening. This backlash is spreading across Europe. It is more and more clear to me - seeing the German debates now too - that it all is an attempt to silence and marginalise mostly migrant workers, specifically
women, because if sex work was decriminalised and our work made safer, migrant women would achieve a place in society that they are not desired to have. Migrant women in the sex industry have to be victimised, silent, invisible (though sensationalised
and exposed at the same time when it needs to be for propaganda, and to add that spice), and better stay at home.
Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes, said:
is outrageous that the police are raiding premises where women are working together safely and collectively with friends. The police must know that some women will end up working on the street as a result, where it is much more dangerous. Most of the
women thrown out of premises are mothers and grandmothers who have now lost their livelihood.
Nic, a sex worker in Soho, said:
I feel so frightened. This is on my doorstep. Will I
be next? That the police brought the press with them demonstrates so much why we need the only legal framework that reduces, rather than increases, police power over us. Who can look at these events and think the police are using their power
respectfully, appropriately, non-abusively? This is violence against women, that the mainstream women's movement turns it's head from. We need full decriminalisation, including of our clients and our workplaces, because that is THE ONLY legal context in
which we are not at the mercy of these abusive and traumatic policing tactics; where we are not at risk of being dragged out onto the street. Sex work is work - we're already in mainstream trade unions. This is so frightening - we need solidarity.
A massive six-story development with an airport like lounge and heliport is being proposed at Walkers Court in the heart of Soho. The decision on this development is taking place
at Westminster Council planning committee on Tuesday 10 December .
A development of this kind will change the very character of the area, wreck the lively diverse community there and lead to the eviction of sex workers
from walk-up flats. Residents and small independent business will be particularly affected.
Possibly connected to this development, 200 police raided and closed 20 flats in Soho on the evening of 4 December. Both the
police and Westminster Council claim that the action was to save victims of trafficking. None of the women we are in touch are trafficked and they feel strongly that this is being used as an excuse to target them. Women are now fighting to defend their
rights to work in safety and support their families.
The raids, like the bedroom tax and benefit cap, are socially cleansing Soho for the super rich.
Please take action now:
Before Tuesday 10 December, write to the Head of the Planning Committee Robert Davis firstname.lastname@example.org with your objections.
Join us at the planning committee meeting on Tuesday 10
December 6.30pm at City Hall, 17th floor, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6PQ to demonstrate your objections.
Sign the petition to stop the eviction and prosecution of sex workers.
Over 25 sex workers' flats in Soho, Central London were raided by police last night (4 December). Police broke down doors, slapped closure notices on the doors of premises and threw women out onto the street. Some immigrant women were taken into
custody on the pretext that they may be victims of trafficking, despite their protestations that they were not being forced to work. Other women were given papers instructing them to appear in court today and tomorrow (5 and 6 December).
Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes commented:
It is outrageous that the police are raiding premises where women are working together safely and collectively with friends. The police must know that some
women will end up working on the street as a result, where it is much more dangerous. Most of the women thrown out of premises are mothers and grandmothers who have now lost their livelihood.
Evictions and closure of the flats of sex
workers are opposed by many other local residents and businesses because they feel that if the Soho girls go the whole character of Soho will change. It is this unique, diverse and tolerant community -- immigrant, LGBTQ clubs, small independent
businesses, theatre --- which attracts many visitors from around the world. People fear that the evictions are aimed at making way for large scale development, like the one proposed in Walkers Court, which most residents are against.
The German town of Saarbrucken near the French border is developing as a thriving location for the sex trade.
The city has 170,000 residents and a population of over 1,000 call girls with a steady influx East Europeans joining the sex trade, often to
escape poverty at home.
Early next year their numbers will swell even further with the opening of a new EUR4.5m 6,000sq-metre mega brothel in Saarbrucken's Burbach district. It will employ 90 full-time sex workers and be run by a permanent staff
of 45. The establishment has been described as one of the largest brothels in Europe.
Local authorities bemoan the fact that they have virtually no power to halt the expansion of the city's already booming sex industry, but two factors have
combined to create Saarbru cken's seemingly unstoppable sex trade boom.
The first is what was once hailed as an enlightened German government decision to liberalise what were considered to be outdated and repressive laws governing
prostitution and the sex trade. Back in 2001, under Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, Germany's governing Social Democrat-Green coalition tried to make prostitution a job like any other by passing laws that gave call girls full rights to health insurance,
pensions and other benefits provided they paid the requisite taxes.
The second factor that has contributed to the boom in the sex trade is the city's proximity to the French cities of Strassbourg, Nancy and Metz, where the legality of prostitution
is a grey area, and soon to get worse with heavy fines for those caught buying sex.
Paradise Island Entertainment, which is behind the city's new mega-brothel project, said it chose the city precisely because of its proximity to France.
Prostitution is on the rise in Spain and both the average age of clients and prices are falling.
Campaigners have claimed an increase of between 5 and 10% for streetwalkers . Both the associations and the police say that there are at least
37,000 sex workers in Spain (a figure that does not take into account escorts or women and students who sell sex on a non-regular basis).
Spaniards are a minority within the whole and account for only 12%. Most of the sex workers are from Latin
American (42%, mostly Brazilians), from Eastern Europe (28%), Africa (15%) and Asia (5%).
The crisis has had an effect on the prices. The associations say that sexual services performed for between 30 and 50 euros over the past few years are now
regularly had for between 15 and 20 euros.
There are over 1,200 sex workers in the capital, and two years ago the Madrid city council brought in heavy fines for prostitutes trying to get clients. The measures has not had an effect, however, as it
is difficult to catch them in the act.
Germany's biggest political parties have agreed to ban so-called flat-rate sex offered by some brothels in the country.
The move is part of a clampdown on Germany's booming prostitution industry that has been doing very well since a 2002 law legalized
sex work. Deals are offered in some brothels for men to have have unlimited sex for 100 euros.
Anja Strieder, spokeswoman for the centre-left Social Democrats, confirmed a report by Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that a ban was agreed
during coalition talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Union bloc.
She said better protection for victims of enforced prostitution and stricter rules for brothel operators will also be included in a bill that could be introduced once
the government is formally appointed.
Utrecht city council has agreed a new location for the city's sex workers, five months after the licences for most of the city's floating brothels were withdrawn.
Mayor Aleid Wolfsen cancelled the permits in July because of supposed concerns the
boat owners were involved in human trafficking. The boats on the Zandpad must now be removed by March.
The sex workers, some of whom had attempted to take over the boats themselves, will be relocated to a new location with 162 workspaces, local
broadcaster RTV Utrecht said.
The city is also introducing a minimum age of 21 for prostitutes and says the windows must have reasonable rents. Would-be brothel owners will only be given three-year licences for no more than 20% of the windows.
The French parliament has backed part of a bill that imposes a 1,500 euro fine on anyone paying for sex.
Protests for and against the bill took place outside the National Assembly in Paris as the debate took place.
MPs voted for the fine in a
show of hands late on Friday night although the full text of the bill - which contains 20 articles - will be put to the vote on 4 December.
Under the new provision, repeat offenders risk a fine of 3,750 euros. Alternatively, they can attend a
course to make them aware of the risks involved in the sale of sex. One article aims to decriminalise France's estimated 40,000 prostitutes by scrapping a 2003 law that bans soliciting on the streets. The law would instead target the customers.
Only about 30 members of the National Assembly were present when the debate began on Friday afternoon.
A draft law that goes before the French parliament this week -- and which has a good chance of passing in some form -- will introduce a EUR1,500 (£1,250) fine, rising to EUR3,000 at the second offence, for prostitutes' customers. Paradoxically, the
proposed law would also make it easier for women, or men, to offer their bodies for sale on the streets. It would increase state funds to help prostitutes seek different lives. It would make it easier for foreign prostitutes to denounce traffickers and
remain legally in France.
Supporters say this is a long overdue attempt to end the hypocrisies and contradictions surrounding prostitution in France.
Opponents of the new law -- including several groups who represent the estimated 40,000
prostitutes in France -- say it will make paid-for sex less legally coherent and more dangerous. If clients are forced underground, prostitutes will be, too. They will, more than ever, be at the mercy of traffickers, pimps and violent clients.
draft law seems likely to pass the lower house, or National Assembly, but will be opposed in the upper house, or Senat. Most argument has focused on Article 16, which penalises clients. But the law would also make it easier for prostitutes to ply their
trade. It would scrap a 2003 law, that bans soliciting on the streets.
Presumably France doesn't have any incitement laws. How can women be allowed to offer, or even encourage, men to break the law by accepting that offer?
A decade after Germany loosened already relaxed restrictions on prostitution, campaigners are seeking to ban the trade, with leading feminist Alice Schwarzer labeling the country a paradise for pimps.
Dozens of politicians, actors and
journalists this month have signed Schwarzer's appeal to Chancellor Angela Merkel and parliament to ban sex work. She said:
Germany tolerates, accepts and promotes prostitution, mostly at the expense of the poorest
women from neighboring countries.
She urged a review of the 2002 law that theoretically gave sex workers access to unemployment insurance, controlled working conditions and medical coverage. She claimed that the law backfired and has
turned Germany into a paradise for pimps who can now more easily exploit women, especially from poorer central European countries like Romania and Bulgaria. She added that the liberalization of prostitution has been a disaster for the people
involved, estimating the number of prostitutes working in Germany now at 700,000.
In a 2007 report, the government conceded that the outcome had been disappointing and the legal change did not actually improve the welfare of prostitutes.
The study found only 1% of prostitutes had an employment contract. However even treading water is an improvement saving at least the arrests, jailings, ruined lives and policing costs associated with prohibition.
Schwarzer of course cited sex
trafficking and slavery but National police data shows that reported cases of human trafficking have been on the decline since the introduction of the new law, from 811 in 2002 to 432 in 2011.
The renewed calls to ban prostitution have now made it
onto the agenda of ongoing coalition talks between Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats.
Undine de Riviere, a sex worker and spokeswoman for a professional union of suppliers of sexual and erotic services, is part of
the opposition. She told the Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung:
Feminists do not think we can speak for ourselves. The desire to control sexuality and prostitution has always been great and very difficult to get out of
Montreal's miserable new mayor has served warning to erotic massage parlours that he wants to shut them down.
Denis Coderre claimed massage parlours were havens for prostitution and human trafficking. He said they will become the target of a police
crackdown and possible legislation that will include hefty fines.
Erotic massage parlours often obtain a permit as a legitimate therapeutic massage business, hiding their true purpose.
Coderre said more inspections are necessary. Currently,
the industry largely goes unchecked. He also wants to harmonize the way permits are doled out in Montreal's 19 different boroughs. Part of the attack will involve inspections of these establishments. And new rules would punish those found to be falsely
representing their business.
A police spokeswoman estimated that there are nearly 350 massage parlours operating in Montreal and many more in its suburbs.
Germany has formed its first professional association of sex workers to lobby and fight for the rights of sex workers as well as improve their lives and working conditions.
In an interview with Spiegel Online , Johanna Weberb, the founder of the
Professional Association of Erotic and Sexual Services, said that the association caters to different sex workers working in different fields. She said:
Anyone working in the sex industry can become a member. Our
members work in all sectors of the sex industry.
She further said the association was borne from the efforts of sex worker rights advocates in the past:
We are not the first to attempt to found such
an association. There have always been dedicated advocates who have tried to build something, and we still benefit from some of their work today. We want to establish a permanent organization for sex workers. This is very important right now.
Among one of the undertakings of the association is addressing new policies and legislation that aim to curtail sex work in Germany. According to Weberb, the new legislation currently being discussed:
Lumps sex work together with human trafficking and deals with fully unrealistic beliefs. We are not fundamentally opposed to certain regulations of brothels, but the provisions of the draft law are much too wobbly, and will ensure that our jobs aren't improved, but rather eradicated. The same rules that apply to small residential brothels are supposed to now apply to larger ones. That would mean the closure of half the brothels.
UK Sport is a sports agency responsible for investing over £100 million per year in Britain's best Olympic and Paralympic athletes. It is accountable to Government through the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The group has been
threatening to use its financial clout to impose morality on athletes by telling them that if they go to lap-dancing or strip clubs they will lose Lottery funding
New guidelines for eligibility for funding released by UK Sport, which oversees
sports funding for Olympic and Paralympic athletes, included a line in its section on misconduct and disrepute which read attending a lap dancing or strip club regardless of gender .
It was described by the chief executive of one sports
body as akin to treating sports like a nanny state , and boxer Luke Campbell, who won Olympic gold at bantamweight and has since turned professional, concurred. He told The Telegraph:
It's laughable. I just find
it hard to fathom how they came up with this. It's just completely ridiculous. Going to a lap club or strip club is just harmless fun. Why would they want to tell athletes what to do in their private lives?
Anyone taking their
sport seriously would not be out in nightclubs anyway. We are role models, and we are looked up to. I'd rather see them concentrate on banning Lottery funded athletes if they are smoking, or have been drunk and disorderly, rather than this.
From the UK Sport funding eligibility document What stars cannot do:
Commit acts or make comments (whether in the media or online such as through tweets, social networking site comments, texts, blogs
etc) which...shock or offend the community or which manifest contempt or disregard.
Tell a sexist joke or make a sexist remark at a private meeting, the contents of which are subsequently disclosed.
a lap dancing or strip club, regardless of gender.
UK Sport has declared a false start over its ludicrous threat of removing funding from athletes who visit lap dancing or strip clubs. The organisation said in a statement:
As a result of the consultation ahead of
launching our new eligibility policy, a number of respondents requested examples, to suggest potential actions or behaviours that might, in theory, be considered acts of 'misconduct' or 'disrepute'.
We accept that one of the
examples we included was not helpful and has subsequently led to confusion. Therefore we have taken the decision to remove the example.
That said, the purpose of including the illustrative examples remains, that we expect our
elite athletes who benefit from the privilege of public funding to act as role models to inspire the nation.
Erotic parlours in Malaysia are offering a new type of massage, where cheese is licked from the client's body. According to the Malayan tabloid Harian Metro, cheese massages are becoming increasingly popular across the country.
involves being bathed and then having cheese spread on them and licked off. It costs around RM185 (£36/$50).
The newspaper report said they had to wait two hours to be seen at one parlour in Kuala Lumpur as the service was so popular.
Massage parlours are often used to disguise sex work businesses and authorities overlook them. Following the release of the report, Harian Metro said authorities plan to take action against any businesses offering sexual services.
Police Scotland has written to the city council arguing that if it grants licences for five saunas it should be on condition that no condoms and items of a sexual nature are allowed on the premises.
Sex workers' charity Scot-pep has condemned the
police proposal saying it could lead to an HIV epidemic. Campaigners for a safer sex trade have said that any ban on condoms would not stop people having sex but it would result in unprotected sex and higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted
Four Edinburgh saunas have been closed down by the council, but seven
others have been given permission to continue operating.
Police Scotland failed to convince councillors that their reprehensible condition that no items of a sexual nature should be allowed on the premises should be imposed. The only
additional conditions imposed, after being requested by police, were an alcohol ban and requirement that the sauna be in good working order.
There were 13 sauna applications to be heard yesterday, five in public and eight in private. Licences were
approved for Carol's Sauna, London Street Sauna, Ambassador Sauna, No Eighteen, Steamworks, Scorpio and New Town Sauna.
Speaking after the meeting, convener of the licensing sub- committee, Councillor Gavin Barrie, said:
The committee has carefully reviewed all the information presented, including information from any objectors and reports from Police Scotland. Each application was considered on its individual merits and of the 13 public entertainment
licences considered today, seven have been renewed.
Among the saunas that had their licence applications rejected last night were Blair Street, New Gentle Touch, Paradise and Dundas Street, though the decisions could be appealed. Two
other decisions were deferred.
Several men's magazines including Playboy have been busted for supposed obscenity in the Philippines.
Editors for Playboy, Maxim, FHM, and others were dragged into the Manila Regional Trial Court for printing supposedly lewd photos. They were later
released on bail.
The action stemmed from joint complaints filed by pastors and preachers of Bible Baptist Churches in Metro Manila, led by Manila District Representative Bienvenido Abante, and a senior pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist
According to the complaint, the publications contained pornographic, erotic or indecent pictures that exhibited nude or semi-nude bodies, sexual acts and private parts of male and female bodies with no educational, artistic, cultural or
scientific value from September 2007 to July 2008.
The complainants reportedly said that the magazines' photos were clearly and purely intended or calculated to draw lust, stimulate sexual drive, excite impure imagination or arouse prurient
Playboy and FHM, disputed the charges and said the complainants made a sweeping statement of culpability based only portions of publications without directly pointing to the acts of each of those charged. Playhouse also argued and
said it has never published nudity, private parts of men and women, and cannot be considered obscene. Maxim futher stated that scantily clad photos of actresses were tastefully done and did not depict any sexual act or nudity.
Rooms rented out for prostitution in Germany don't qualify for a tax break granted to hotels, a federal court said.
A VAT rate of 19% applies when rooms are used for commercial purposes, including sex work, the Federal Fiscal Court ruled from the
southern city of Munich. The reduced tax rate for hotels is 7%.
The owner of the Eros Centre in Duesseldorf, rented out 13 erotic rooms equipped with jacuzzis to sex workers on a daily or weekly basis. He argued the rooms were
eligible for the tax break because they were not specifically designed for the provision of sexual services, but operated as regular hotel rooms.
However the court ruled:
From the location of the building in a
red-light district, it is clear that the plaintiff did not keep the premises for accommodation, but for the practice of prostitution.
Switzerland's first sex drive-in, which opened two months ago in a bid to take prostitution off Zurich's streets, has been a success, the city said following an initial evaluation. Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city,
After two months I can say that this guarded prostitution site is working. We did not have any major problems, such as with pimps, violence or the neighbourhood
He said he was
surprised things had gone so smoothly. He noted that an average of 14 sex workers had used the site each day since it opened compared to about 30 who had been working in the previous red-light street.
The drive-in has a track where the sex workers
can parade and negotiate a price, and nine so-called sex boxes where they and their clients can park and conclude the transaction. Machines resembling parking metres have been installed, and the prostitutes are required to contribute 5.0 Swiss
francs (4 euros) each night in taxes to help Zurich cover the cost of running the place.
Security guards check there is only one man in each car coming in and are there to respond to alarm buttons in each sex bo x. There are on-site doctors
and social workers.
An online dating app has been attacked as sexist and has been accused of being prostitution.
Carrot Dating, developed by an MIT graduate, allows men to bribe women into offering them dates with everything from jewelry to a tank full of
petrol. Users wanting to get the romance going can even offer prospective suitors plastic surgery.
The idea behind the app is that users dangle a carrot in exchange for getting women to go out with them, according to its creator Brandon
Business Insider's Christina Sterbenz wrote:
Through Carrot Dating, users (but really men)... can buy credits to send gifts to other users ... so they'll agree to a first date. That sounds quite like an
activity illegal in most of the continental US --- prostitution.
Aside from being blatantly sexist, Wade's app clearly won't build the chemistry needed to fall in love.
In fact, this problematic app is
teaching men that women are greedy idiots who can't see through blatant and pathetic misogyny.
For the record, if you offer a woman a present in exchange for a first date, then you're implying she can be bought, much like a
Philadelphia's Tax Review Board has voted against Mayor Michael Nutter's Revenue Department and issued a unanimous ruling in favor of a group of strip club owners fighting the so-called lap-dance tax.
Nutter had tried to stretch the rules and
apply the city's amusement tax to individual lap dances. The city claimed that clubs owed back takes on past lap dances.
After six hearings, the board ruled that the clubs did not have to pay for any back taxes and penalties related to the
amusement tax. Board Chairwoman Nancy Kammerdeiner said that the Revenue Department applied the tax inconsistently and that its interpretation of the admission tax was too vague.
Asked whether the administration will appeal the decision, Nutter
spokesman Mark McDonald said:
We will look at the decision from the Tax Review Board and then we will evaluate our options.
An academic from Queen's University Belfast has challenged claims being made about the extent of human trafficking in Northern Ireland.
Dr Graham Ellison from the university's School of Law says there have only been four proven victims of sex
trafficking and three of forced labour, since figures were first published for Northern Ireland in January 2012.
He is critical of organisations aiming to rescue women from prostitution, which he dubs the rescue industry . He added:
I think there are vested interests tied up with this.
I am a bit sceptical of the number of smaller organisations popping up all over the place that have anti-trafficking at their core and which
get state funding and which seem to exist for propagating this myth or something.
Asked how the public should choose which experts to believe on the subject of prostitution and trafficking, he had a simple answer:
I don't think that the research from advocacy groups, with an abolitionist [anti-prostitution] perspective, is very rigorous. And of course I think mine is very rigorous.
Dr Ellison was awarded a grant in May to
begin his first piece of research on prostitution. With the help of other academics, he is comparing regulatory models of prostitution in Berlin, Prague, Belfast and Manchester as part of a study relating to Lord Morrow's bill.
He estimates there
are around 10 mainly street based male escorts in Belfast and up to 30 women. Advertising online he says there are around 500 women in Northern Ireland, mainly in Belfast, Newry and Londonderry who have been available for sex work appointments over
past two year period . Only around 20-30 are available on any given day, he says, though a small number are duplicate adverts.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice, which has done extensive work to tackle human trafficking in Northern
Ireland, said 17 suspected victims have been referred to the NRM/UKHTC since the start of April 2013. Six were found not to be victims, one has been confirmed as a victim and ten cases are pending.
Hege Grostad is a university student, sex worker,and lobbyist. She is at the heart of a grassroots campaign to decriminalise and regulate the sex industry.
It is a campaign being fought within Norway's well-developed welfare state, not over
the morality of prostitution, but over sex workers' rights to pensions and health and safety protection. The most vocal proponents of change are a group of women who claim they chose this career for themselves.
Selling sex is not illegal in Norway
but, since 2009, buying it has been. The industry has become progressively criminalised, with police operations aimed at those who knowingly rent property to sex workers.
Ase Michaelsen, MP for the Progress Party and a member of the Parliamentary
Justice Committee, wants to decriminalise the buying of sex:
As the law might look nice on paper, but in reality it hasn't worked. If you have problems with violent customers, you're not motivated to call the police
... because you might risk that they will attempt to sabotage your business
The criminalisation of purchasing sex in Norway has hardly affected the number of buyers, according to reports from Prosentret, an organisation that provides
help and advice to sex workers. Its director, Bjorg Norli, believes that criminalising the sex industry has had a directly negative consequence on many of those who sell sex.
A highly-publicised police raid on prostitution resulted in sauna bosses retaliating by drawing up a list of high-profile public figures who have used their services.
Fear of ending up on the list has resulted in many regular customers to refuse to
use the saunas in favour of offsite liaisons in cars, hotel rooms and flats.
Some sauna sex workers are charging inflated prices for the unsafe locations and ither girls have gone completely off radar . Critics of the crackdown say the
spread of the sex industry outside saunas poses a serious risk to public health as well as the safety of girls and their clients.
Sauna bosses reprehensibly drew up a 50-strong list of police officers, lawyers and council officials who have used
their services. They plan to use the list in court to lay bare what they claim is hypocrisy on the part of officials.
One sex worker said the list was hated by the girls and their clients. She said:
now getting calls from customers asking them to go to them instead of the client coming into the sauna because they're scared of ending up on the list.
As soon as the girls leaves the premises for a job, her safety is compromised
greatly and now, because some of the girls are getting desperate, they're doing jobs that really aren't safe. They have no security driver, they have no mobile contact with anyone to let them know where they are. It's really incredibly dangerous.
But because business has slowed down so much since the raids and then even more since the list was drafted, girls are having to do these jobs to get by.
Several individuals said to be linked to six saunas have been
charged with offences including brothel keeping and living off immoral earnings.
Spokane City Council members have rejected a proposal aimed at scantily clad baristas. The 4-2 vote against extending unlawful public exposure laws to cover bikini coffee sellers.
In public testimony that drew dozens of people, those in favor said
the law was needed to protect children and keep the city a place to raise families. They called the stands with barely dressed baristas another form of adult entertainment.
We are a family city, whinged Debra Long, a resident of
Spokane Valley and member of the Central Valley School District board. School buses on Sprague Avenue are being rerouted away from one espresso stand so kids won't see the baristas with little clothing, she claimed.
Those against the proposal said
it was an example of outdated sexist thinking and a misguided attempt to impose Puritan censorship. Natalie Ward said, I don't take my children to nude coffee stands and proponents of the law could simply do the same.