Melissa Gira Grant

Murder in the Bayou, by Ethan Brown
Eight murdered woman from Jefferson Davis parish in Louisiana had two things in common: a background in drugs and/or sex work. The police blamed a serial killer. But Brown discovered something else the victims had in common: they had all worked as informants for law enforcement of some kind. The rampant police misconduct Brown uncovers in his careful reporting illustrates that the people who should have protected those women are partially responsible for their deaths.

Badge of Dishonor: Top Oakland Police Officials Looked Away as East Bay Cops Sexually Exploited and Trafficked a Teenager, by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Two reporters expose one of the most extreme examples of law enforcement exploitation when their investigation reveals that an alarming number of police officers slept with the same sex working youth in Oakland, California.

“We Can Help One Another”: Drug Use, Survival Sex, And Hope Among Afghanistan’s Marginalized Women, by Michelle Tolson
Michelle Tolson manages to obtain raw, poignant interviews with a mostly invisible population, illustrating why gender-specific support is even more vital for sex working and/or drug using women in Afghanistan in light of problems like the strictures of short-term marriage contracts, the lack of legitimate income sources for women, and heightened stigma and victim-blaming.

The Truth About the Biggest Sex Trafficking Story of the Year, by Elizabeth Nolan Brown
Innocent men are criminalized while migrant workers are called victims. Spoiler: the police exaggerated—when they weren’t outright lying.

Daniel Holtzclaw: Lawsuit Claims Police “Covered Up” Sexual Assault Complaint, by Molly Redden [Content warning: descriptions of sexual assault]
The Guardian details how the lawsuit filed by Oklahoma cop rapist Holtzclaw’s victim Jamie Ligons maintains that the Oklahoma City Police Department was well aware of Holtzclaw’s assaults. They’d received complaints from many of his Black, low-income, sex-working and/or drug-using victims as early as 8 to 10 months before his suspension from the force. But it was only after Ligons, a woman with no record who had a “familial relationship” with the department, made her complaint that the department finally took decisive action.

The Throwaways: How Detroit is becoming a flashpoint for violence against transwomen, by Allie Gross
A spate of deadly violence in Detroit forces us to examine exactly how hard trans women of color have to work to survive.

The NYPD Arrests Women for Who They Are and Where They Go — Now They’re Fighting Back, by Melissa Gira Grant
New York’s Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in Prostitution law gives the NYPD clearance to surveil, stereotype, target, and arrest women as possible sex workers—most of whom are low-income, black, and gender nonconforming.

The Audition, by Sydney Brownstone [Content warning: descriptions of sexual assault]
Brownstone painstakingly traces the roots of an elaborate and long-running faux porn recruitment scheme, in which a photographer invented a friendly adult film agent woman persona to scam vulnerable young women into sleeping with him. His rapes led one victim to attempt suicide.

Threadbareby Anne Elizabeth Moore
A vital condemnation of the global garment industry that illustrates (literally! it’s a comic!) its questionable relationship with anti-trafficking NGOs.

The Disturbing Trend of Vigilante Attacks On Sex Workers, by Frankie Mullin
All of Mullin’s sex work reporting in Vice this year, from her examination of an anti-sex work charity misrepresenting their research on a small sample group of survival workers to portray all sex workers as poorly paid and desperate to her piece on October’s Operation Lanhydrock and the history of raids on migrant massage parlor workers in London’s Soho and Chinatown over the past few years, has been uniformly excellent. But perhaps her best this year was this article on the under-reported phenomenon of vigilante attacks against sex workers cropping up throughout the UK and Ireland. To follow this story, Mullin spoke to outreach centers as well as individual sex workers and gathered the few statistics that were available. She even spoke to a man who started a Facebook thread online in support of a menacing brothel protest in Belfast’s Donegal Pass, in which people posted comments advocating “ethnic cleansing” and “a night of the long knives.” The author ties all this reportage together by considering the utility of extending the Merseyside Model, in which crimes against sex workers are counted as hate crimes, as well as pointing out the connection between the violent rhetoric of criminalization and these vigilantes acts.

How Canada’s Immigration Laws Make Migrant Sex Workers’ Jobs More Dangerous, by Brigitte Noel
Pulling together telling quotes from interviews with representatives of Immigration and Citizenship Canada and Canada’s Border Services Agency, as well as with Asian migrant sex worker advocacy organization Butterfly’s president Elene Lam, Brigitte Noel outlines how Bill C-36 and immigration policies combine to persecute and deport immigrant sex workers.

Pizzagate Rumors Falsely Link Death Of Sex-Worker Advocate To Nonexistent Clinton Probe, by Glenn Kessler
This Washington Post writer employs the paper’s penchant for rigorous fact-checking in service of sex worker rights advocate Monica Petersen’s memory. Petersen was a brilliant researcher who traveled to Haiti for her work critiquing the trafficking narrative. But after Pizzagate blew up, a fresh spate of fake news painted her suicide death there as retaliatory murder by the Clinton Foundation for an anti-trafficking investigation against them—an investigation Petersen never conducted.

Impunity Has Consequences: The Women Lost To Mexico’s Drug War, by Nina Lakhani
Lakhani’s reporting reveals that many sex workers contracted for political events and private parties with cartel members and government officials have gone missing along with thousands of other women in Mexico. The theory is that these drug war victims were disappeared because they knew too much about the connection between high-level drug dealers and corrupt politicians. These women are vulnerable to both abduction and femicide by the cartels and illegal imprisonment and torture by the security forces.

Why Are Strippers More Heavily Vetted Than Uber Drivers?, by Susan Elizabeth Shepard
Same labor model, vastly different regulations. An explanation.

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Visual approximation of what Hulk Hogan probably feels like. This is purely satire, please do not sue us Mr. Hogan.

Visual approximation of what Hulk Hogan probably feels like. This is purely satire. Please do not sue us, Mr. Hogan.

In the early 00s when I was in journalism school, my professors were feebly trying to bestow me and my fellow students with the skills required to work in print media. Sure, they said, the future of journalism is online. But none of them could quantify what that meant or how to teach it.  The school’s curriculum was a great foundation, I guess, but by the time I was done, my skill set was already outdated. I was a media dinosaur.

So I studied Gawker Media. Gawker, and Gawker’s sister sites, presented the framework for what writing online could look like—objective and sarcastic.  I suspect anyone who has ever dabbled in independent publishing online is feeling a bit sentimental this week. Almost every writer has a favorite Gawker story. They certainly remember the Gawker story they were most scandalized by.

One thing I think Gawker and its sister sites deserve credit for is consistently covering sex work and giving sex workers bylines.  [READ MORE]

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April Brogan (image via @brogan_rebecca)

April Brogan (image via @brogan_rebecca)

Melissa Gira Grant’s story about April Brogan’s death from withdrawal complications while in jail is a heartbreaking look at how little regard the justice system has for sex worker lives. Our Caty is quoted on the double stigma drug-using sex workers face.

A woman running an underground brothel in Germany has been busted; her workers, undocumented Chinese migrants, will be deported.

A new Cambodian study reiterates what the Lancet already proved: further marginalization and criminalization of sex workers, even in the guise of ending trafficking, only puts us more at risk.

Sex workers don’t owe you any answers” is a sharp, smart, and sadly necessary reminder by Alana Massey that we do not, in fact, owe you answers.  Not to friends, not to teachers, and definitely not to sad little clovers on the internet:

“The best thing sex work taught me was that men will take every opportunity to demand things they feel entitled to,” Bruiser told me in a direct message on Twitter. “I literally owe them exactly nothing.”

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Grindr screenshot, from Instagram user iamnastynate

This is new: a hyperbolic clickbait article about a rise in gay male sex workers.  Apparently—contrary to the hysterical Australian articles of a few months ago—hookup apps are facilitating paid sex, and not driving it out of business.  Whew!

The workers at Nevada’s Bunny Ranch are campaigning for Hillary Clinton under the slogan “Hookers for Hillary.”

Two very determined runaways who engaged in survival sex work have been caught by police and are being touted as trafficking victims.  One managed to escape, while the younger one was sent back to the family she ran away from.

Given the recent protests by South Korean sex workers to have the Special Law on the Sex Trade repealed, here’s a history on sex work in South Korea.

This for-profit company is claiming it can help trafficking victims by allowing law enforcement to skip the subpoena and instead pay Rescue Forensics for the online histories of sex workers. But, as Melissa Gira Grant points out,

In the eyes of advocates who work to support actual trafficking victims who may need emergency legal help, housing, or medical care, Rescue Forensics is a product built to solve a poorly defined, if not entirely nonexistent, problem: the lifespan of an online ad. “The assumption that advertising websites do not maintain information,” [Kate] D’Adamo explained, “or that this kind of advertisement is not accessible to law enforcement is not only absurd, it is a willful ignorance.”

In what makes a good tie-in to Lime Jello’s earlier post on Tits and Sass about studying sex work, Noah Berlatsky writes about the unique and necessary perspective sex workers bring to sex work research—when they’re allowed to do it.

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seattleswop

Seattle SWOP

SWOP-Seattle went to Olympia to speak in front of the legislature about the proposed End Demand bill, with the result that Senator Kohl-Welles has a third amendment to add, one which will increase the penalty for buying sex only after the third arrest, a misunderstanding only slightly less appalling than a recent senator’s offer of a hot meal to an activist lobbying against discrimination against sex workers.

Church leaders in Scotland have signed a letter calling for an amendment to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill which would criminalize the purchase of sex in Scotland.  Sex workers and rights activists are protesting, pointing to the recent report which concluded that End Demand did anything but protect sex workers.

This National Post review goes over all the work of controversial Canadian French writer and ex-sex worker Nelly Arcan, who hung herself in her apartment in 2009. Her novel Whore—a bleak account of a sex worker’s life as told to her psychoanalyst—was nominated for both the Prix Medicis and the Prix Femina, two of the most respected French literary honors. (As told to her psychoanalyst, though? Could that plot be more French?)

Trans porn performer, cam girl, and writer Rebeka Refuse talks about her entry into sex work, Marxism, her work with Trans Housing Network and her plan to create small, easily fundable shelters for trans people.

Bonela and Sisonke, two sex workers’ rights groups in Botswana, wrote a letter about the recent support for sex workers’ rights shown by Assistant Minister of local Government and Rural Government, Botlogile Tshireletso.

Simon Leahy, who clearly isn’t friends with any sex workers, is having a porn festival in New York to open up a wider dialogue about sex. The festival includes a film by James Franco; sadly, Miley Cyrus’ contribution was withdrawn.

The Virginia Trucking Association is partnering with Truckers Against Trafficking to help educate truckers about what trafficking looks like.  Not “how to provide best services to young runaways,” or “how to recognize and respond to abusive behaviors,” but “trafficking.”  Okay then.

An Australian man who raped an escort multiple times through fraudulent payments has been sentenced to eight months in jail.

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