swop

New chapter SWOP-Minneapolis honoring Dec 17th 2015 with a vigil. (Courtesy of SWOP-USA and local SWOP chapters)

New chapter SWOP-Minneapolis honoring Dec 17th 2015 with a vigil. (Courtesy of SWOP-USA and local SWOP chapters)

SWOP (Sex Worker Outreach Project) is the most recognized name in sex workers’ rights advocacy in the U.S. Currently, they have over 25 chapters around the country, and a board of directors—SWOP National. The only requirements to be a chapter are that March 3rd (International Sex Worker Rights Day) and December 17th (International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers) are recognized in some way. To avoid outing and endangerment, SWOP does not require its members to identify as current or former sex workers, though the board’s president must always be an out sex worker herself.

Savannah Sly, SWOP National’s president, newly elected in the spring of 2015, e-mailed us about the mistake the SWOP National board felt they’d made not supporting Oklahoma City serial cop racist Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims more as an organization. This mistake highlighted long held bad feeling about SWOP among sex workers who felt the organization did not stand up for sex workers of color, survival sex workers, and other less privileged members of the community. SWOP National wanted to address the community publicly about their commitment to working on these problems. I asked Sly if I could interview her about the way the organization worked and its goal to be more inclusive. The following is an abridged version of our ensuing e-mail conversation:

[READ MORE]

{ 17 comments }

image via SWOP-Seattle on Twitter

image via SWOP-Seattle on Twitter

The Seattle City Council’s unanimous vote to change the legal terminology for buying sexual services from “patronizing a prostitute” to “sexual exploitation” is an example of the limits of the city’s politically progressive character. Seattle’s progressive leaders think it’s their mission to perpetuate the idea that sex workers are victims who need rescuing and eradicate the adult entertainment industry to stop violence against women.

There have been a shocking number of bills introduced in the Washington state legislature this session regarding sex work and human trafficking. The language in these bills synonymizes consensual adult sex work with trafficking, coloring all sex workers as victims and all sex work as victimization. Senate Bill 5041 goes so far as to say that prostitution is “modern day slavery.” The bills embrace the increasingly popular “End Demand” model and suggest such measures as giving local law enforcement the authority to seize clients’ assets if they are used in the crime of buying sex (e.g., confiscating their vehicles if they negotiate with street workers from them), increasing the penalty of soliciting a prostitute from a simple misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor, and amending the state’s definition of human trafficking to include forced labor by “abuse of power, or abuse of position or vulnerability.” This vague language conflates sex work with trafficking and the bills as written would erase any remaining legal concept of sex workers’ individual agency.

These bills are a reaction to the trafficking hysteria pervading the country and Seattle in particular. Anti-trafficking groups in the area are more active than ever, hosting panel discussions and other public events, spreading misleading statistics and creating moral panic in concerned citizens. These groups fail to recognize that their efforts directly endanger consensual adult sex workers. They cannot conceive of anybody willingly choosing to do sex work. [READ MORE]

{ 0 comments }

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.

[READ MORE]

{ 0 comments }

A graphic Amanda Brooks made to illustrate the devastation abusive client Percy Lawayne Isgitt wreaked on her and Jill Brenneman. (Image via Amanda Brooks' blogs, courtesy of Amanda Brooks.)

A graphic Amanda Brooks made to illustrate the devastation abusive client Percy Lawayne Isgitt wreaked on her and Jill Brenneman. (Image via Amanda Brooks’ blogs, courtesy of Amanda Brooks)

You can contribute to longtime sex worker activists Jill Brenneman and Amanda Brooks to help them pay their medical expenses using the email abrooks2014@hush.com through Giftrocket. Brenneman and Brooks were abused and terrorized by a client over a span of two and a half years—they discussed their devastating story with Tits and Sass co-editors Caty and Josephine earlier this week.

Amber Batts is suffering the results of Alaska’s new anti-trafficking laws, which have resulted in her being charged with eight counts of felony sex trafficking for running an escorting agency. She’s been offered a plea bargain which would require her to register as a sex offender for life even after serving 10 to 25 years in prison.  Batt’s best chance against the conviction that would ruin her life is a good lawyer, but her lawyer just quit because she was unable to pay. Donate to her legal fund at crowdrise.

Mistress Anja, a pro-domme in Singapore, talks about how she got into her work and why she stays in it (because it’s a job that pays extremely well, spoiler).

Melinda Chateauvert, Savannah Sly, and Tits and Sass’s own Maggie Mcmuffin are interviewed in this article about Seattle SWOP’s symposium for December 17th, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Melissa Petro and Tits and Sass contributor Tara Burns wrote powerfully about the themes of the day, Petro for Al Jazeera and Burns for Vice. Missy Wilkinson also did a write up of SWOP-NOLA’s December 17th march in New Orleans for Gambit.

First the Swedish model and now mandatory testing: bill C-36 has passed in Canada and one public health organization there is advocating legalization, regulation, and mandatory testing, all for sex workers’ own good of course. The Canadian Public Health Association has taken the stance that legalization and regulation would create the safest climate for sex workers, allowing for the creation of

conditions that enable sex workers to access necessary health services and sexual health education initiatives to promote safer sex practices.

Although the CPHA’s paper outlining its stance uses some good language, it also has some baffling misstatements, claiming that sex workers have a higher instance of HIV and sti infection, for one. A higher instance than whom is left unsaid, but for the most part we have much lower rates of infection than the civilian population.

The Guardian asks how exactly Canada’s laws on prostitution managed to make a full 180 in one year.

[READ MORE]

{ 0 comments }

image courtesy Amanda Brooks

(image courtesy Amanda Brooks)

Amanda Brooks published this post about the ordeal a client put her and Jill Brenneman through over the past two years. It’s a horrifying and compelling must-read.

Scarlet Road, a documentary about an Australian escort and her disabled clients, is showing at the Columbus International Film Fest.

An Irish sex work abolitionist group is making fake sex worker profiles on Tinder, conflating sex work with sex trafficking in an attempt to drum up support for abolition.

The defeat of the “End Demand” addition to the UK’s End Modern Slavery bill will not stop the implementation of the Swedish Model in Northern Ireland, where the criminalization of paying for sex passed a few weeks ago over the protests of sex workers and their allies.

Naomi Sayers writes about the reality of being an indigenous woman and a sex worker and the way that marginalized people are betrayed by the people entrusted with their protection.

The drummer of AC/DC doesn’t like when escorts play with his pet dog.

Thuli Khoza, the co-ordinator of Sisonke Durban (the Durban chapter of the South African sex workers’ rights organization Sisonke) discusses the work Sisonke does around outreach, education, and advocating for decriminalization in South Africa. [READ MORE]

{ 6 comments }