The English Collective of Prostitutes

 

(Via HIPS' Facebook page)

(Via HIPS’ Facebook page, courtesy of HIPS)

HIPS is seeking donations for their new stationary space! HIPS’ mobile outreach program, now over 20 years old, is expanding into a brick-and-mortar location which will offer medical, mental health, and drug treatment services as well as their usual harm reduction, advocacy, and community services.

A new take on a tired trend: in this new “John school,” unfortunate clients read poetry and look at art by sex workers as part of a process of viewing them as victims exploited human beings.

The latest entry in the growing file of Strippers’ Court Cases finds that yes, pregnant strippers can be sexy and thus pregnancy is not viable grounds for termination. Heya! Read the opinion here.

Sex worker activists and advocates from SWOP, Desiree Alliance, and Best Practices Policy Project are in Switzerland at the UN Human Rights Council, to present a report on the US’s failure to protect sex workers’ human rights.

In the least nuanced or ethical argument for End Demand yet, someone at the Zimbabwe National Aids Council suggested End Demand as a way to curb the spread of HIV.  Rich men spread HIV, apparently, and

The best way is to stop these men from paying for sex first. From there on we will work with the sex workers by empowering them through various initiatives that stop them from visiting beer outlets.

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RIP London sex worker Maria Duque-Tanjano (photo by Scotland Yard, via the Metro)

RIP London sex worker Maria Duque-Tanjano (photo courtesy of Scotland Yard, via the Metro)

Trafficking survivor Jes Richardson offers a concise, helpful critique of most ‘rescue’ operations: “When someone is rescued the power, strength, courage, and control is placed in the hands of the rescuers, rather than empowering the person being rescued.”

Here are a few “no duh” sex tips from sex worker Siouxsie Q.

This guy read Melissa Gira Grant’s new book and now he gets it: sex work is labor, period.

Also, Melissa’s first interview for that book, Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, came out in NY Magazine. But don’t worry, she promises her interview with us will be much juicier.

Police in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan reacted to a nationally televised exposé about local sex work with raids on February 9th against 2,000 entertainment venues and the arrests of more than 60 people…with the unintended consequence of opening up a nation wide debate about legalization of the industry.

Northern Ireland’s justice committee met a real, live sex worker and it looked and felt a bit like The Crucible.

There only seems to one growth industry in the communities surrounding Zimbabwe’s diamond mines: sex work. Unfortunately, even some children have entered this market, as a means to elevate their families out of poverty.

Somebody is killing sex workers in Kenya and they have very few people to turn to for help and protection. And this isn’t the first time it’s happened.

Police in Sonoma County are rethinking the way they handle sex crimes by—you guessed it—focusing on clients.  A decoy named “Amber” was used instead of a the traditional model of a police officer posing as a john. Gee, the trial sting they ran seemed awfully similar to a legitimate prostitution ring. HMMM. The first commenter hits the nail on the head: “‘Amber’ was not a victim of human trafficking. ‘She’ was a male cop. I think police should focus on helping actual human trafficking victims rather than creating opportunities for men to commit the world’s oldest crime.”

Paris Lees says what we wish we all could say to concern trollers, in response to some of the letters she got on her Vice piece last week about escorting to get through school: “Speaking from personal experience…I doubt any sex worker appreciates your disapproval hard-on—so why don’t you just take it, like any decent whore, and shove it up your ass?”

A manhunt has been launched in London to find Robert Richard Fraser, connected to the murder of one local sex worker, Maria Duque-Tanjano, and the attack of another.

Hey, Upworthy, pick a side. First you feature videos by industry abolitionists about how all migrant sex workers are duped trafficking victims, and then you post this video by Red Light District Chicago on how, as we all know, sex workers are best positioned to stop trafficking? As the sex workers in this video state themselves: “Conflating consensual sex work and sex trafficking is a disservice to both sex trafficking victims and sex workers.”

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Bryan Saunders' "Extreme Makeover: Fuck Mattress Edition" (inadvertently?) improved labor conditions for street sex workers while it lasted (Photo via the Daily Dot)

Bryan Saunders’ “Extreme Makeover: Fuck Mattress Edition” (inadvertently?) improved labor conditions for street sex workers while it lasted (Photo via the Daily Dot)

Myanmar began a debate around decriminalizing sex work. The founder of the Sex Workers in Myanmar network (SWIM), Thuza Win, hopes the law will be changed before the 2015 general elections.

Research by University of Michigan economics professor Raj Arunachalam conducted among Mexican and Ecuadoran brothel workers and street sex workers found that beautiful sex workers make more money.  In others news, the sky is blue. (The interesting thing about the study, though, is that each subject’s beauty was measured by other sex workers.)

Tennessee artist Bryan Saunders revamped the decrepit mattress street sex workers used to entertain clients at a local park. He called the project EXTREME MAKEOVER: FUCK MATTRESS EDITION, and provided new sheets, a comforter, an array of condoms, new panties, and a trash can for the location. Slixa points out that the project’s value as a harm reduction and workplace safety measure outweighs its artistic merits. Apparently, after seven days, some of the panties were missing, all of the chocolate flavored condoms were.gone, and the flowers placed on the site were trampled on. It’d be great if someone had the bright idea to replenish the supplies and extend this undertaking to other outdoor sex trade venues.

Acclaimed queer sex worker author Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore reviews Mindy Chateauvert’s new book, Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to Slutwalk for SFGate. (Stay tuned for Tits and Sass’ own review of Sex Workers Unite as soon as we get our review copy in the mail.)

Chinese gay rights groups are calling for Southern Television Guangdong to publicly apologize for using hidden camera footage of an undercover reporter meeting with a male sex worker.

Strip club owners unite to fight sex trafficking? We’d rather hear more about strippers fighting trafficking, thanks. Remember, sex workers themselves are most effective at combating this problem. Anyway, the strip club owners’ tactics sounds like more of the same: further surveillance of their employees.

“Feminist” hashtag #realjobsnotblowjobs made its debut on twitter this week. @ThatSabineGirl said it best when she tweeted in response, “bcos it’s feminist to slut shame women while you’re saying they’re forced into sex work against their will, apparently.” Hurray for consistently whorephobic internet feminism and its discontents.

A trans sex worker, Marco Noé López Castillo, was found strangled to death in San Pedro Sula, a Honduran red light district, recently. Nine killings of sex workers have occurred in the district since early December.

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Behold that jubilant smile, and that everpresent, oh-so-stylin' riding crop. Terri Jean Bedford is a woman who knew she was going to win. Along with the two other sex worker plaintiffs of Bedford v. Canada, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott, Bedford won the day today when the Canadian Supreme Court struck down Canada's anti-prostitution laws. Looks like Canadian sex workers have a lot of decriminalized whipping to do. (Photo by Jack Boland/QMI Agency Files, via northumberlandtoday.com)

Behold that jubilant smile, and that ever present leather jacket and the oh-so-stylin’ riding crop. Terri Jean Bedford is a woman who knew she was going to win. Along with the two other sex worker plaintiffs of Bedford v. Canada, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott, Bedford won the day today when the Canadian Supreme Court struck down Canada’s anti-prostitution laws. Looks like Canadian sex workers have a lot of decriminalized whipping to do. (Photo by Jack Boland/QMI Agency Files, via northumberlandtoday.com)

What a triumphant end to this week of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Work: today, the Canadian Supreme Court struck down the country’s prostitution related laws in a unanimous decision on Bedford vs. Canada, calling all three statutes—prohibiting brothels, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating in public with clients—over-broad and “grossly disproportionate.” A resounding, grateful shout out is due to the eponymous Terri-Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott, the three sex workers who began this court challenge in the Ontario court system. However, this victory is not unmitigated—the court gave Parliament a one-year grace period to redraft a legislative scheme on full service sex work that could be judged constitutional. In the meantime, Canada’s anti-prostitution laws are still in effect. But, if twelve months from today, the federal government has not redrawn the laws to address the Supreme Court’s concern that they are too arbitrary, vague, and excessive, full service sex workers will be free to legally practice their trade; hire drivers, bodyguards, and accountants; and screen their clients as they see fit.

Here’s more on the story from the Business Insider; the Toronto Star; BBC News; a Globe and Mail op-ed expressing worry about the fact that the court’s decision, is in a way, “an open invitation to Parliament to write new criminal laws”; another Globe and Mail editorial on the ruling’s implications re: the right to self-defense; an Ottawa Sun piece on local sex workers’ reactions to the decision, quoting a representative of Canadian sex workers’ rights organization POWER; a Herald News article on the comments of staff at Stepping Stone, a Halifax support and outreach organization for sex workers, after they heard the news while celebrating their Christmas party; a CBC News blog round up of twitter reactions to the ruling; a Vancouver Sun profile of how Pivot Legal Society, an organization which was instrumental in this landmark victory, is taking the good tidings; and an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen on how the decision represents Canada’s movement towards more progressive politics.

Oh, wow, so much coverage this week 0n movement actions around the world for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers on December 17th: here’s a video and an article on the protest in Kenya, in which sex workers marched along with members of the GLBT community, demanding an end to violence against both groups; the L.A. Times on vigils in Los Angeles and New York, along with a summary of violence against sex workers throughout the year; Best of New Orleans on SWOP-NOLA’s December 17th second line parade through the French Quarter;  SWOP-LV’s press release on their event in the Las Vegas Sun; a radio interview with SWOP-Denver members (about three quarters through the audio file); the Times Colonist on Victoria, BC sex workers’ rights organization PEERS’ march (though they call it “Red Umbrella Day”);  HuffPo on SWOP events throughout the U.S., with a slide show of photos of some of this year’s sex worker murder victims; a piece in the Bristol Post on  Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner marking the occasion by publicly supporting the Ugly Mugs scheme, Naharnet on a protest in Skopke, Macedonia; Turkey’s Red Umbrella Sexual Health and Human Rights Organization’s statement for the day; Rabble with statements from sex workers’ rights organizations Zi Teng, EMPOWER, the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, and Maggie’s on the issue, plus a lament for non gender normative Indonesian migrant sex worker murder victim Rosa Ribut; a speech by sex worker activist Gina de Vries at the San Francisco event, urging the movement to center the voices of trans sex workers of color; and finally, an Australia Broadcasting Company radio interview with sex worker activists Jane Green and Ryan Cole at the Melbourne protest: “Don’t call me darling. That’s patronizing.”

Whew. We’re overwhelmed. And oh-so-delighted.

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Bibiane Bovet, Montreal municipal candidate and out trans woman and former escort (Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Bibiane Bovet, Montreal municipal candidate and out trans woman and former escort (Photo courtesy of the Montreal Gazette)

Some British GLBT organizations and trade unions are taking the excellent example of their African counterparts, standing in solidarity with sex workers’ rights organizations like the English Collective of Prostitutes and the Sex Worker Open University in their campaign against proposals to institute the Swedish model of criminalizing clients. Sign the Collective’s petition against the End Demand model—Rupert Everett will thank you for it.

One of Montreal mayoral hopeful Mélanie Joly’s hand-picked candidates for a municipal position, Bibiane Bovet, is a trans woman who used to work as an escort in order to finance her bottom surgery. Joly knows about Bovet’s sex working past and—gasp!—doesn’t care. In fact, one of Bovet’s escorting clients, another municipal employee, advised her to run for the position in the first place, and Joly went on record praising Bovet’s integrity and saying she has her full support.

File under The Headline Says It All: “Groups ‘rescue’ Thai sex workers, whether they want it or not.

SWOP-Phoenix is protesting the Project ROSE Prostitution Diversion Initiative, in which Phoenix police and students from the ASU School of Social Work team up twice a year to arrest local sex workers and have them “choose” between a six month diversion program or criminal charges. SWOP-Phoenix’s position is that diversion programs “ignore the fact that many people who work in the sex industry are not victims in need of rescue, but consenting adults who should not be arrested, coerced into diversion, or incarcerated for working.”

While on a vacation in Thailand last month, Rihanna took in a “ping pong” strip show in Phuket, tweeting afterwards that she was “traumatized” by the “live bird, two turtles, razors, darts and ping pong [balls]” pulled from the performers’ vaginas. In a pretense of shock they’ll be sure to keep up till they get their next bribe, the Thai Police shut down the club and arrested the owner, no doubt also throwing a few of the club’s performers in jail along the way. Riri! Don’t make us sad. After “Pour it Up”, we thought you were Good for the Strippers. Now it turns out that you are (inadvertently?) Bad for the Strippers. Stop getting second world sex workers arrested, Rihanna, that’s a REAL faux pas. Next time just use your celebrity tweeting powers to get the Thai equivalent of a humane society to spirit away those birds and turtles from non consensual vaginal spelunking.

Melissa Petro tells the xojane reading public what escorts already know: “Most Dudes Have Probably Bought Sex At Least Once.”

With so many Tamil men dead or missing after three decades of civil war, with southern men filling up the jobs in the north’s building boom, and seeing as how widows are traditionally seen as inauspicious and unfit for remarriage, many women in female headed households in Sri Lanka’s North are engaging in survival sex work to subsist.

We covered SWOP-NYC’s letter to the Columbia Institutional Review Board reporting Dr. Sudhir Venkatesh’s wildly inaccurate and insulting research on New York sex workers in an earlier Week In Links.  (One blog entitled the fiasco “When Your Own Research Population Organizes Against You, New York Sex Worker Edition.”) Now, our own Tits and Sass founding editor Charlotte Shane eviscerates Venkatesh’s historical amnesia, insistence on reinventing the wheel without acknowledging the work of sex worker researchers before him, and his approval of police abuse of sex workers in The New Inquiry.

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