Medicines at a Justice for Cindy Gladue Rally in Ontario. (Photo via Ariel Smith)

Medicines at a Justice for Cindy Gladue Rally in Ontario. (Photo by Naomi Sayers)

Content warning: This piece contains references to rape, murder, violence against Indigenous women (especially Indigenous sex workers), and other disturbing material.

When I told my boyfriend that I was going to write an article about Cindy Gladue and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), he reminded me that I should keep my bundle and medicines close to me. My elders tell me that all important activities should be entered into with good intentions and that the medicines help with this by providing strength and clarity of purpose. With that in mind, I made sure I took a moment to smudge and put out a tobacco offering before sitting down to write this. I know that writing about this is vital but it is also emotionally difficult for me. It is hard to describe through words the visceral sickening grief that I feel when I think about what was done to Cindy Gladue.

Cindy Gladue was a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree woman), like me. She had dropped out of high school, like me. She had worked in the sex trade, on the streets, like me. She had experienced a lot of violence and trauma in her life, like me.

On June 22nd, Cindy Gladue was found dead, naked, and covered in blood in a bathtub at the Yellowhead Inn in Edmonton, Alberta. She had bled to death from an 11cm wound on her vaginal wall. She was 36 years old.

A semi-truck driver named Bradley Barton was arrested and put on trial for her murder. Crown prosecutors argued that Cindy’s death was caused by Barton inserting a sharp object into her vagina. Barton claimed that Cindy’s vagina had been injured from him aggressively fisting her during consensual “rough sex.” Either way, Barton left the motel room for work the next morning, knowing that Cindy was in the bathtub bleeding profusely. He didn’t call 911 until hours later and lied to the police at first, saying he didn’t even know Cindy.

On March 18th, 2015 a Jury of 11 people, 9 men and 2 women acquitted Barton of first-degree murder and decided not to convict him of the lesser charge of manslaughter. There were no Native people on the jury.

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For her third installment of Big Mother Is Watching Youa guide to prominent anti-sex worker activists and officials, Robin D goes to Hollywood to check out do-gooder celebrities and the whorephobic campaigns they run.

Susan Sarandon and Meg Ryan

Susan Sarandon flexes her activist muscle at the Witness Focus for Change Benefit in 2009 (Photo by Kate Glicksberg, via Witness Flickr account)

Susan Sarandon flexes her activist muscle at the Witness Focus for Change Benefit in 2009 (Photo by Kate Glicksberg, via Witness Flickr account)

Meg Ryan doing a TED talk in 2010. (Photo by Flickr user redmaxwell)

Meg Ryan doing a TED talk in 2010. (Photo by Flickr user redmaxwell)

Susan Sarandon and Meg Ryan were key players in NGO fraud Somaly Mam’s ascendence in Hollywood. Mam is the celebrity activist exposed by Newsweek in 2014, after a slew of articles about her fabrications appeared in The Cambodia Daily in 2012 and 2013. She ran a re-education camp filled through brothel raids and therefore populated by local sex workers held against their will and others deemed to be “at risk” through Mam’s organization AFESIP (Agir Pour Les Femmes en Situations Precaires). Both populations were instructed on at least several occasions to lie about their stories and concoct trafficking tragedy porn to relate to visitors and journalists.

“I have been personally inspired by the work of Somaly Mam and I encourage anyone who can devote time and money to help Mam continue to make a difference in this world,” Sarandon stated on the Somaly Mam Foundation website. Ryan appears in Nicholas Kristof’s documentary Half the Sky, which lauded Mam’s organizations for their work. Both Sarandon and Ryan were photographed multiple times with Mam at various Hollywood events and fundraisers.

Sarandon seems to have missed the point of the May 2014 expose of Mam in Newsweek, saying that she continues to believe Mam’s story regardless. Mam’s victims, though, apparently aren’t worth her consideration. Sarandon has made no public statement on the testimony of the women now saying that Mam coached them to lie and fabricate horror stories about being trafficked, including Srey Mao and Meas Ratha; nor on the medical records on purported Mam trafficking victim Long Pros’ eye, proving that her eye was removed in surgery for a tumor and not by an imaginary pimp gouging it out; nor the untold many sex workers who have been and continue to be imprisoned in “rehabilitation centers,” including AFESIP’s center.

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ariels dog 2

I’m Holly, a stripper in San Francisco. This is my 10 week old goldendoodle puppy Molly, posing with my earnings after a decent Wednesday night. She rolled around in it, then tried to take the money and run—just like mom! <3

Sex workers, submit pictures of your furballs and funds here.

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Things fall apart in the Witcher brothel. (Screenshot from Witcher 3)

In this video game brothel, clients and workers become disembodied parts before they fuse together in a scene that manages to be amusing and nightmarish at the same time.

The top Honolulu prosecutor had to drop charges against the massage parlor workers who were arrested in a raid and then charged with sexual assault after the police couldn’t find enough evidence to charge them with prostitution. Elizabeth Nolan Brown shreds the whole incident and points out that, while charges are dropped, some of the women are still vulnerable to deportation.

Katie Hail-Jares calls out the Honolulu Police Department’s use of coercive tactics to “rescue” sex workers and discusses the multiple ways this policy is not only ineffective, but outright damaging.

A South African ex-sex worker and Sisonke activist discusses the economic circumstances that led to him going into sex work and the social stigma and violence South African male sex workers face.

Despite all the big talk about rescuing sex workers and helping people who want out of the industry, the Canadian sex work exit fund is too small to be of much use to anyone. More on that.

The Terrence Higgins Trust in the UK seems to be actually invested in helping HIV positive sex workers leave the industry! Unsurprisingly, THT actually works with sex worker support group SWISH.

A legislator in Tanzania takes the “If wishes were horses” approach to public health:

“It is unacceptable to find people engaged in commercial sex and then educating them on how to avoid contracting HIV. The only solution to addressing HIV prevalence is to prohibit prostitution,” Ms Ali said.

And on that note: two new studies are out examining why the attempts of other Indian states to replicate the success of Kolkata’s Sonagachi project—a “programme of HIV prevention through community mobilisation…intended to empower sex workers to tackle the social conditions which made them more vulnerable to HIV”—met with different results.

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(Photo by Flickr user notsogoodphotography)

(Photo by Flickr user notsogoodphotography)

I’m a pro domme who also sometimes does full-service work. My partner of seven years and I are thinking about trying for a kid, but I’m worried about the custody issues that might come up because of what I do for work if he and I were ever to split up, or if I got arrested, or if anything else went wrong. I trust my boyfriend, and I don’t anticipate our stable relationship breaking up anytime soon, but you never know. He’s a white collar professional, while I’ve never held a straight job: I know which one of us would look better in court. What should sex workers with children know about child protective services and how best to keep their kids?

Anxious about the future,

Sarah

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