Alaska

(Screenshot of "Alaska State Troopers, VIce Squad"—a cop wipes a arrestee's hand after she's touched an undercover officer)

(Screenshot of Alaska State Troopers, Season 2, Episode 12: “Vice Squad”—a cop wipes an arrestee’s hand after she’s touched an undercover officer)

In the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report, released in November 2014, Alaska reported 648 prostitution arrests: 1 juvenile and 647 adults. This number is up from 38 arrests in 2012 and 69 in 2011. How could prostitution arrests have jumped so much in just one year?

They didn’t. Alaska maintains a report entitled Crime In Alaska, based on the same numbers that are submitted to the FBI for the Uniform Crime Report. In Crime In Alaska 2013, released in 2014, the state reports only 46 prostitution arrests in 2013: 22 sellers and 24 buyers of sex. This number seems correct: the Anchorage Police Department reported 41 prostitution arrests, and the state made five prostitution charges in 2013.
Stephen Fischer, an FBI spokesman, explained that the issue was caused by “an error for entering data.”

Just what kind of trouble can 602 imaginary prostitutes created by a typo by the FBI cause?

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Anchorage, Alaska (via Flickr user paxson_woelber)

Anchorage, Alaska. (image via Flickr user paxson_woelber)

On April 4, 2014, Anchorage Police Department officers responded to a report of a “hysterical female.”  The woman reported that she had lost her purse and she believed her coworker had taken it.  In response, she’d threatened to tell the police about the “prostitution ring” they were involved in, and her coworker had threatened to assault her if she did.  Three months later, officers with the Alaska State Trooper’s Special Crimes Investigative Unit decided to follow up with that “hysterical female.”  They did so by flying to the town where she was then working independently and booking an escort session with her.

“Oh baby,” an officer can be heard moaning in a recording of the encounter,“I’ve never had that before.”

Moments later, other members of the Special Crimes Investigative Unit can be heard entering the room and putting the woman in handcuffs.  Under Alaska state law, which has redefined all prostitution as sex trafficking, the woman is a sex trafficking victim.  In the incident report, she is listed as a victim.  She called 911 and reported that she was, by their definition, a sex trafficking victim, and they chose to follow up on that by what sounded like having sexual contact of some sort with her during a prostitution sting operation. [READ MORE]

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(Via Kitty Stryker’s Twitter feed)

 

Rashida Jones replied (respectfully!) to Kitty Stryker‘s post earlier this week on Tits and Sass, and the two engaged in brief dialogue.

Thailand is amping up arrests of sex workers in an attempt to appear to be compliant with US regulations on trafficking.

SWOP-Seattle has written an open letter to lawmakers, asking them to stop bills that would enact the End Demand model in Seattle. You can sign the letter here.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed software that supposedly mines escort ads for information that can suggest the worker is being trafficked:

Traffic Jam gives police a rapid way to sort sex ads, spotting indirect language that may suggest sex trafficking, or grouping ads with similar language that may have been written by the same person.

A trafficking sting last weekend in Illinois resulted in the arrest of nearly 600 clients and 23 “so-called traffickers.” Given the ever-growing breadth of what that word is coming to encompass, one must wonder: were they pimps, boyfriends, coworkers sharing a space, or family members living off a sex worker’s income? Money and effort well spent?

No. And there is no rise in sex trafficking during sporting events, even Polaris and the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women agrees.   This myth conflates sex workers with trafficking victims and encourages serious misuse of funds and time, like the Cook County trafficking sting in Illinois last weekend noted above.

For the first time in the 102 year history of the Alaskan Legislature, there’s an actual advocate for sex workers present: Tits and Sass contributor and longtime activist Terra Burns is in Juneau, educating the legislators on the effects of their laws on real live women.

“They really target things that people in the sex industry do to increase their own safety,” Burns said. “Things like working indoors or working together or even buying condoms for each other.”

She adds that Alaska’s well-intended legislation has unintended consequences.

“I think it shows they are more likely to victimize workers themselves than they are to protect the workers,” she said.

Despite ostensibly having heard or at least read what Terra has to say, Berta Gardner, the bill’s sponsor, says

“My bill does not affect sex workers — it affects victims of sex trafficking,” says Gardner. “It doesn’t touch sex workers who are voluntary sex workers in any way, shape, or form.”

And Terra is using social media to raise money for her efforts! The ability of sex workers’ to use social media will never not be news, apparently.

Also?  Strippers age. Mic follows the true life stories of real women who get older, and how they deal with it.

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Tits and Sass contributor Peech promotes a fundraiser to cover the cost of funerals for young murdered strippers Tjisha Ball and Angelia  Mangum. (Screenshot of twitter feed.)

Tits and Sass contributor Peech promotes a fundraiser to cover the cost of funerals for young murdered strippers Tjisha Ball and Angelia Mangum. (Screenshot of twitter feed.)

Please donate to and share this fundraiser for a memorial for Angelia and Tjhisha, two young strippers who were murdered and left by the side of a road last week to very little outrage or coverage.

This fundraiser to support Miss Major, Black trans woman elder and sex workers’ rights proponent, to recoup her losses after her house burned down recently, is also worthy of everyone’s attention.

The first national study of sex workers has destabilized many of the arguments being used in favor of C-36 (which is in the report stage); at Maclean’s, Rachel Browne interviews the researchers behind the study. After decades of research and then this particular five year study, Cecilia Benoit (half of the husband and wife research team behind the study) says, “I realized just how similar they were to us.” It’s amazing how, despite existing apart from human society in a rarefied bubble, we still manage to be so similar to them, isn’t it?

Seventeen facts from the report.

In the wake of a documentary about underage sex workers in Malaysia, critics are saying it’s wrong to call them sex workers: not because of issues of consent or trafficking, but because there isn’t enough of a sex industry in Malaysia to warrant calling anyone in it a worker.  That happens in Thailand.  Oh.

Greg Lundgren’s movie CHAT looks like it will either be appalling or amazing: a one camera, one take film about a cam girl, unfortunately from the point of view of her clients (who cares about them) and even more unfortunately, facing an unknown future: CHAT has “only screened once before, and no one really knows if it will screen again.”  I hope it does.

File under nauseating: councils in New South Wales have been left with “no other choice” but to hire middle aged men to sleep with workers in unlicensed brothels, all as a part of busting the operations.  Though New South Wales has decriminalized sex work, a loophole regarding local council regulations renders this legal.

Noah Berlatsky reemphasizes what Daniele Watts’ arrest has highlighted: the racist and racialized stereotyping of black women’s sexuality is toxic to black women, sex workers, and sex working black women.

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RIP Andrew Hunter, President of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers activist (photo via NSWP)

RIP Andrew Hunter, President of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers activist (photo via NSWP)

Andrew Hunter, one of the founding members of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) and the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, and a personal friend and ally of ours here at Tits and Sass, died suddenly yesterday. His radical commitment to the rights of sex workers, drug users, and HIV positive people will continue to create an impact after his passing. NSWP will be collecting and posting tributes to his life and work on a memorial page on the NSWP website, so if you have memories to share please email them to secretariat@unaids.org.

Did Charles Lane, editorial writer for the Washington Post, seriously make an argument against decriminalization? Also in the Post, political scientist Samantha Majic argues that governing bodies should work with and listen to sex workers when designing policy related to sex work.

Sex work advocate Susan Davis is excited about Canada’s new prostitution ruling, but also expresses apprehension about what new laws her country’s conservative government might create.

Melissa Gira Grant wrote a short history of the red light, virtual and otherwise, at Medium: “The red light, like a review on The Ultimate Strip Club List, is a message exchanged between men.” [READ MORE]

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