trafficking

War_on_the_White_Slave_Trade_01Despite ample warnings about the prevalence of con men seeking to prey on easily malleable puppets like me, it is indeed a sad truth that I almost became the victim of a murky, seedy, dark, sex trafficking ring operated by equally murky, seedy, dark (-skinned) men. Eww! As we all know, prostitution—er, sex trafficking?— is never a victimless crime. Physical violence against prostituted women is underreported, which can only be true because…feminism! Indeed, all fact-based evidence to the contrary should be deeply scrutinized using right-wing silencing tactics and progressive rhetoric, ie: “You can’t possibly speak to your own experiences because your experiences perpetuate violence against women.” Furthermore, prostitution and sex trafficking are synonyms because if you disagree with that statement, you’re a pedophile! So, if you want to end modern day slavery worldwide, don’t talk about structural constraints like poverty or growing discrepancies in wealth. Instead, let the logical fallacy of “appealing to emotion” be your guide and, please, listen to my super sad story.

As a woman who dabbles in psychotropic drugs like cannabis and occasionally listens to rap music—both of which, mind you, glamorize “The Game”—I should have taken heed of cultural mouthpieces’ contentions that even consensual sex for girls like me is not consensual at all. That’s why academics, the state, and philanthropists must define consent for me. Of course, being the rebel that I am, I ignored all this socially inflicted self-doubt and left the house alone, anyway. Full disclosure: I was wearing a short skirt and was slightly tipsy off a glass of wine, so I alone am responsible for any and all violence encountered. But since I clearly suffer from false consciousness—I would have worn pants, after all, had I not suffered this insufferable condition—I am certainly incapable of being held accountable for any of my actions, ever. [READ MORE]

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The Devil's Auction, J. Gurney & Son (studio), part of the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs

The Devil’s Auction, J. Gurney & Son (studio), part of the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance from Burlesque to Clubs

The Ohio State University has made a slew of classic images from the Charles H. McCaghy Collection of Exotic Dance From Burlesque to Clubs available online. Let us take inspiration for future outfits from it.

Bad boys! Whatcha gon, whatcha gon, whatcha gon do? That awkward moment when the chief of police gets arrested for soliciting a prostitute.

Strip club regulations are so weird. San Diego police raided a strip club to check for “business permits and work cards.” The raid concludes with police officers taking invasive photographs of the dancers. So, what are the dancers going to do? They’re going to sue their asses, that’s what. And a second club has come forward to complain about the SPD’s tactics.

Tits and Sass contributor Tara Burns helps New Inquiry readers figure out if they’ve been sex trafficked in this handy dandy quiz.  So glad we can further simplify the choice/coercion dichotomy in time for April 1st!

Ex-call girl/madam Maggie Mcneill eviscerates the Urban Institute “study” on prostitution in the Washington Post: “Lies, Damned Lies, And Sex Work Statistics.”

People Magazine profiles Rajib Boy, a Kolkatan sex worker’s son selected to participate in a Manchester United soccer training camp in England: “I am not ashamed of being a sex worker’s son…[My mother] is my main source of inspiration.” The article goes into how Indian sex workers’ rights organization Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee coaches local Kolkatan children and holds a soccer tournament every two years with children participating from over fifty different red light districts around the country.

A former basketball coach accused of sex trafficking was freed after a month in jail because prosecutors concluded he had been entrapped by police. Gee, some of us wish we had that defense available to us when we were arrested by undercover cops posing as clients!

Wah wah. Honolulu police can’t have sex with prostitutes anymore after all.

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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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Appropriately bleak looking promo for Slave Hunter (via msnbc.com)

Appropriately bleak looking promo for Slave Hunter (via msnbc.com)

In 2011, I had the privilege of speaking on a local television program, Face to Face with John Ralston in Las Vegas. At the time, I worked on a national research initiative called the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC), a federally funded project. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) created CSEC in an effort to curb the alleged epidemic of sex trafficking of minors. I say “alleged epidemic” because, as most sex workers’ rights advocates know, research on sex trafficking often employs shoddy methods. Indeed, many “studies” on sex trafficking have proven to be deeply flawed or outright fabricated. The most famous example is Richard Estes and Neil Alan Weiner’s study, The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (same name, unrelated to the DOJ study.) When we hear that 300,000 children are sex trafficked into the US every year, for example, we should assume that statistic comes from Estes and Weiner’s study. Their research has been largely debunked by scholars of sex work (not to mention sex workers themselves) and not just because they operationalize the number of children “at risk” of commercial sexual exploitation as “users of psychotropic drugs,” among other things, in their study. They also claim that undocumented children are at higher risk for sexual exploitation, yet they fail to thoughtfully analyze the economic and social reasons why an underage, undocumented person might exchange sex for something in return.

Along with CSEC’s primary investigator, Dr. Spivak, I was asked on Face to Face to debate claims made by then-Las Vegas vice detective Chris Baughman. Indeed, CSEC proved over and over that underage people in the sex industry are in much more complicated situations than anti-trafficking movements would have us think. Baughman’s appearance was also a promotional opportunity—at the time, his new book Off The Street, a “true life story of [a man] fighting to protect a class of women who are too easily forgotten and readily dismissed,” had just hit the shelves. Despite grabbing onto the nonsensical trope that sex work is never a victimless crime, Baughman was a rather soft-spoken and open-minded man behind the scenes. I can say with the utmost sincerity that I’ve never had such a fruitful interaction with a cop. He listened intently as I recounted, off air, abuses I’d faced as a sex worker in Las Vegas—not at the hands of brutal pimps, but from the sadistic wiles of Las Vegas’ finest. I explained that my sisters and brothers were routinely giving blowjobs to cops in exchange for police protection. I told him I was in the process of filing a civil suit against Las Vegas Metro and that I’d experienced significant backlash from the head of vice because of it. He took out a business card, wrote down his personal contact information, and instructed me to call anytime. “We’re both trying to end abuses associated with the sex industry,” he said. “Let’s work together.” I agreed.

That was two years ago. Not much has changed in Las Vegas save for more punitive policies intent on eradicating the sex industry (funded by right-wing Christian non-profits that somehow manage over a million dollars in profit every year). And, oh yeah! Chris Baughman now has his own television program with Aaron Cohen called Slave Hunter. The new MSNBC series reveals, “in captivating detail,” what happens in the sex trafficking underworld. Posing as potential clients, Baughman and Cohen arrange to meet sex workers for the purposes of “[putting] in motion a plan to allow them to escape their bonds and build a new life outside of sex trafficking.”

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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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