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Monica at a protest last May. (Photo via SWOP Phoenix Facebook page, courtesy of Jones and SWOP Phoenix)

Monica Jones at a protest last May. (Photo via SWOP-Phoenix Facebook page, courtesy of Jones and SWOP-Phoenix)

Monica Jones’ conviction for “manifesting intent to commit prostitution” was overturned this week! Jones said:

…My conviction being vacated is important but it is a small win in our larger fight for justice. There are so many trans women and cisgender women who might be charged under this law in Phoenix and similar laws across the country. There is so much more work that needs to be done so that no one will have to face what I have no matter who they are or what past convictions they have.

Tits and Sass contributor and Portland dancer Elle Stanger is quoted extensively in this Willamette Week article about Oregon strippers drafting two workplace protection bills for the consideration of the state legislature.

According to UNAIDS, the Asia-Pacific region will not meet the current goals of ending the HIV epidemic in fifteen years unless these countries change laws which are currently hostile to vulnerable target demographics. Unfortunately, US moralism has tied a lot of funding up in ways that mandate such unfriendly legislation, so it becomes a race to see which matters more: ending HIV… or funding.

Quelle surprise: brothels are run like businesses!  The women who work at them are like women anywhere else!  Insert mandatory crack about fake names here:

The receptionist politely rattles off a roster of exotic names, “Armani, Honey, Candy, Diamond …” names which I’m quietly confident wouldn’t be found on any of the ladies’ driver’s licences.

I see what you did there.

The nuns of the Chicago Convent of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo are suing nearby strip club Allure, claiming that it’s a venue for prostitution.  This is their second attempt to close the club; the first involved them picketing it for violating zoning laws.  This is one lawsuit where I hope the club wins.

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Bianca Baxter, RIP. (Photo via Baxter's Google + profile)

Bianca Baxter, RIP. (Photo via Baxter’s Google + profile)

Ballroom dance star, actress, model, and former Playboy Playmate, Bianca Baxter, aka Barbie Mizrahi, passed away on December 21st.  You can contribute to the fund for her service here.

Ashley Renee Benson was found murdered in a Doubletree Inn in Portland, Oregon. Her family, whom she spent Christmas Day with, said they had no knowledge of her sex work. The police say contact with family is rare in cases like this:

“A lot of the time in human trafficking cases, the victims are not able to live one place and they’re not living apart from the criminal activity or their abusers.”

The police have quickly co-opted her into the trafficking framework, all evidence to the contrary.

A woman in Adelaide, Australia died under similar circumstances, and is suspected to be a sex worker although her identity hasn’t yet been established.  The way she is being written about is already significantly different, however: she’s being described as a woman who potentially came to Adelaide to work in the sex industry, no mention of trafficking.

A woman from Queens was arrested for running a brothel and “promoting prostitution,” after being found with hundreds of condoms in her car and three younger women who admitted to being sex workers but denied being trafficked.  No matter, the police were determined to fit them into the trafficking framework anyway.

A New Zealand brothel worker made history by winning a sexual harassment case against the manager of her brothel, although the IBTimes appears to find the grounds a little questionable:

What makes the case interesting is that the woman was never assaulted or raped, ripped or dismissed, trafficked or forced to do things she did not like. The victim was Williams (name changed), who worked at a Wellington brothel, and her boss used to say certain things that made her feel uneasy.

Although verbal sexual harassment is understood as harassment in most other industries, apparently nothing short of trafficking qualifies as harassment in the sex industry.

Street workers in Malawi are in conflict with bike taxis over methods of payment: according to one taxi operator, street workers use the taxis and then refuse to pay cash, offering an exchange of services instead.

Newsweek takes an unexpected (and unexpectedly pro-sex worker) look at Anita Sarkeesian’s sex work politics and her ongoing refusal to engage with sex workers around our requests for her to, please for God’s sake, stop saying “prostituted women.”

“What this tells us is that she sees men as creatures able to make sexual choices,” [Maggie] McNeil says, “but she sees women as creatures who can only have sex for traditional reasons—love, or romance or whatever. But if women are [having sex] for tactical reasons, then she sees this as somehow suspect—that a man must be doing that. Hence the [term] prostituted; someone has done this to her.”

Maddie Myers picks up the bat for us that Sarkeesian left in the dirt with this thoughtful post on Grand Theft Auto:

We need to think about what these games say about not just the people who make them, but the thousands and thousands of people who buy them, for whom this depiction of sex workers as disposable victims has become normalized past the point of even seeing the horror in it. If these games are always going to exist and never change, fine. But that does not excuse our own ignorance of them. And that does not remove our responsibility to talk with other people who play games, especially young teens, about what is being depicted.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has lifted the ban on blood donations from gay men, but still requires a year long wait after having gay sex, paid sex, or sex with an injection drug user.  Which, effectively, means there’s still a ban on gay men, sex workers, and people whose partners are IDUs or sex workers. I didn’t want to give you my blood anyway.

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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.

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Viktoria (2014)

Viktoria (2014)

Viktoria, a new film about migrant sex workers in Switzerland, is out now in that country.  Switzerland attracts sex workers from Hungary, although prejudices against the Roma—a group many of the migrants belong to—color their reception.

Jordan Flaherty, interviewed on this site about his reporting on Project ROSE, has a new story out about how Alaska’s sex trafficking laws are used against those they ostensibly protect: “Some of them appear to be charged with trafficking themselves.” The accompanying television segment is here.

The Canadian take on the End Demand/Swedish model, C-36,  passed in the Senate on Tuesday despite testimony from Canadian sex workers that it would only endanger them further.  It is now one step away from becoming law.

In the UK, the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill which would have implemented the End Demand model was defeated, bringing UK sex workers closer to decriminalization.

Kate McGrew, the sex worker contestant on Irish reality show Connected, says she is not a prostitute, she’s a sex worker, and pointed out the stigma attached to the word “prostitute” as well as the negative repercussions of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign, which seeks to implement the Swedish model in Northern Ireland.

After hearing horror stories from disabled clients, Trish St. John began Sensual Solutions, a Vancouver escort agency that works with disabled people.

Here’s yet another lawsuit over the employee rights’ of strippers has hit, this time involving the Queens, New York club Scandals. [READ MORE]

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Image via The Guardian

Image via The Guardian

Anmar, an Argentinian trade union for sex workers, launched this fantastic graffiti campaign to combat stigma and stereotypes around prostitution.

This week’s biggest news story was the US Supreme Court striking down the anti-prostituion pledge 6 to 2. Melissa Gira Grant’s take for The Nation is our first pick for detailed coverage, but you can also read more at  The New Yorker, MSNBC, the IEDE, The Economist, and The Christian Science Monitor.

The FBI gamed P411, a screening website used by escorts to confirm that certain clients are safe and not abusive, to arrest 22 adult women because: trafficking.

Speaking of which, the US downgraded China and Russia to the lowest possible tier on their master list of countries with too much trafficking. The lesson here is for those countries to start arresting more voluntarily working prostitutes, I guess?

In Canada, lawyers highlighted the importance of bad date lists, the flipside of sites like P411, in their arguments against existing prostitution laws. If you’re looking for a breakdown of the elements at play in the current Canada court case, check out this extensive Autostraddle piece or this video, or this one. [READ MORE]

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