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Daisy Nokato of Uganda, speaking on main plenary at AIDS Conference 2014. (Photo via Elena Jeffreys’ Instagram account)

The International AIDS Conference in Melbourne featured discussion of how laws criminalizing sex work hinder efforts to prevent the spread of HIV. This Reuters story covers counterproductive global laws. A study was presented that argued decriminalization could cut the rate of infection by up to a third. Chinese sex worker activist Ye Haiyan was prevented from traveling to the conference.

Porn performers aren’t the only ones getting screwed over by banks:  the owner of strip clubs Scores and Penthouse Executive Club is suing Deutsche Bank for $1 million after the bank reneged on a $17 million loan when it discovered the nature of his business.

As part of its “Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care for key populations” (key populations being men who have sex with men, prisoners, injection drug users, sex workers, and transgender people) the WHO has announced that countries wishing to increase access for these populations need to remove the legal and social barriers preventing access, including decriminalizing sex work.  “The global fight against HIV and AIDS will not be won by relegating segments of the population to the shadows,” said John Berry. The WHO was guided in forming these recommendations by the actual target populations themselves.

Cyd Nova just made a handy list for you to hand out to your future acquaintance:  Nine Stereotypes Sex Workers Are Tired of Hearing About. Yes, this is a real job and no, it is never appropriate to ask someone about their abuse history. If someone actually does that, just take the list back and save it for the next person.

“What does the Swedish model get wrong?” asks this Time column, answering that it is the treatment of women as incapable of consent and the continued marginalization of sex workers. Moreover, it announces that decriminalization is actually the answer.

The Washington Post asks, “Do Dating Aps Have a Prostitution Problem?” Did the Washington Post have a slow news day problem?

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Photo taken by Silvia Escario

Visual approximation of Ms. Harm Reduction back in the day. (Photo taken by Silvia Escario.)

Dear Ms. Harm Reduction,
I’m an escort with an Oxycontin habit. For the most part I can plan ahead and maintain, but sometimes supply runs out and I have to go to work when I’m in withdrawal. I serve a middle class clientele, and I’d lose clients if they found out I was a drug user. I’m also afraid some of them might even become violent if they discovered I was a “junkie.” How do I hide the tell tale signs of dopesickness while working?

Best,
Sniffling Isn’t Cute y’Know

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(photo via Stoya’s Instagram page)

 

More from Vice on why the closure of MyRedbook is dangerous for sex workers.

Tech Savvy Sex Workers Trade Pimps For Web Pages: despite the cringe-inducing title the article is actually a pretty good look at class stratification among sex workers and the safety offered by internet advertising.

Sex worker advocate Ye Haiyan has been barred from leaving China to attend the World AIDS Summit. This is not the first time Haiyan has been persecuted by the government in her decade of sex work activism, but it is part of a new and larger crackdown against sex work.

25 sex workers were killed in Baghdad this week when a gunman attacked a residential building, leaving behind graffiti that read, “This is the fate of any prostitution.

How the Financial Sector Makes Sex Workers Lives Miserable: the recent closure of porn performers’ bank accounts isn’t the first time the financial sector has worked against sex workers; it’s part of a systemic problem called whorephobia.

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(Image courtesy of Red Umbrella Project)

(Image courtesy of Red Umbrella Project)

Prose & Lore is a literary journal published by the New York sex workers’ rights organization Red Umbrella Project. Memoir stories about sex work are collected in two issues per year (Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer). We at Tits and Sass have been following Prose and Lore since the journal began, and the fourth issue is even more fantastic than those that preceded it. Prose & Lore Issue 4 features 20 original, true stories about experiences in the sex trades, written by sex workers who were supported in writing their stories through Red Umbrella Project’s peer-led writing workshops in NYC and by mentor editors who worked with folks from outside of NYC.  Contributors include new writers we have our eye on like Ava Talley and Leigh Alanna, our very own Tits and Sass co-editor Caty Simon and longtime Tits and Sass contributors Lori Adorable and Elle Stranger, Tits and Sass interview subject and harm reduction pioneer L. Synn Stern, and veteran Desiree Alliance activist Cris Sardina. Issue 4 came out  on July 15th - order ebook or print copies directly through RedUP or enter to win one of five free copies on Goodreads. Interested in writing for the next issue? Details will be posted on this page and RedUP’s tumblr.

Here we feature an excerpt of the journal, the piece “Got Milk?” by Janet, about her experience working as a pregnancy fetish and lactation fetish provider during and after her pregnancy. Janet’s wry humor and honesty about finding a way to make bank as a single mom student escort who was terrified that getting knocked up would leave her unemployed had us cracking up through just about every paragraph.  Janet was born and raised in New Jersey and has been a sex worker for 18 years, half her life. She started dancing at lock doors and strip clubs, but after getting tired of the dancing scene, she went on to work at various services as an escort in New York City and Northern New Jersey. She has traveled and worked escort services up and down the East Coast. She is currently working as an independent escort wherever it tickles her fancy.

How does one really decide to be a lactation fetish provider? I would love to say I calculated the short time I had the true potential of making bank, especially with my great fucking nipples and high milk production, which I made it my mission to keep up. I was a single mom and horny as hell. Working while breastfeeding was the only sexual outlet I had and it helped pay some bills. Well, only a small part of that one is true. I was a single mom and it helped pay some bills, but the rest is what I like to call a stereotypical situation avoidance strategy.

I certainly was not out to be the next unwed single mom college dropout. I wish I could have thrown teenage in there but I had done this dumb shit before and like they say, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I was working on baby number two and in my junior year in college, full-time status, I may add, and technically single. I was already relying strictly on sex work to pay all my living expenses, and living in Northern New Jersey was expensive even then, more than a decade ago. I never really thought it was but everyone that I met was surprised to hear I lived alone as a single mom. They would inevitably go straight to, “Oh, what do you do?” Answering with, “Full time college student” would not work. So I avoided socializing outside of work and the occasional recreational sexual escapade when working was not my cup of tea. This way everyone I spoke to already knew what I did and that I was a full time student. Once I was naked it was pretty obvious from the stretchmarks that I had kids.

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(Image by Scott Long, courtesy of Scott Long)

(Image by Scott Long, courtesy of Scott Long)

The Cambodian garment industry’s factories often serve as the canonical example of sweatshops. Women toil away in them for long hours with low pay and awful, unsafe working conditions. There are regular mass faintings due to poor ventilation, chemicals such as insecticides and shoe glue, long hours, and lack of access to health care.

There are about 650,000 Cambodian garment workers, and 90% of them are women. The current Cambodian minimum wage is US$80 per month, though the lower end of a living wage in Cambodia is twice that, at US$160. Many Cambodian garment workers have organized themselves and are working to institute change through collective bargaining and by pressuring companies looking to improve their brands’ image. Local unions have even secured support from a number of international corporations, and these corporations and unions (as part of IndustriALL Global Union) were able to meet peaceably with government officials on May 26th. At issue were a new trade union law, mechanisms for setting wages, a demand for a US$160 per month minimum wage, and the fates of 23 garment workers who were arrested in January for protesting working conditions and pay. Unfortunately, a strike that was planned for the previous month failed. Still, protests continued.

The 23 workers were arrested as part of a violent government crackdown on January 3rd that left at least four dead and 80 wounded. There were similar protests and crackdowns the previous November, when police shot and killed one protester and wounded nine. There was another protest the previous September over mass dismissals of workers on strike and intimidation measures including the presence of military police during inspections.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, however, practically idolizes Cambodian sweatshops. Kristof has recently come under fire for disseminating false stories about sex trafficking that were fed to him by the Somaly Mam Foundation and Mam’s “rehabilitation center” AFESIP in his columns, in the forward to her memoir, and in his 2012 “documentary” Half the Sky. Information about Mam’s fraud, however, had been published in the Cambodia Daily since 2010, and it is highly unlikely that Kristof was unaware of this fact. Her fraud and its horrific consequences for local sex workers were hardly a secret among sex worker rights activists in the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work Projects.

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