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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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RIP Gabriella Liete, veteran Brazilian sex workers' rights activist (photo by Tomas Langel)

RIP Gabriella Liete, veteran Brazilian sex workers’ rights activist (photo by Tomas Langel)

An open letter extravaganza began this week when Sinead O’Connor wrote to Miley Cyrus, warning her that the music industry “will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its[sic] what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.” Oh, Sinead, please don’t use the word “prostitute” and all that anti rhetoric—all we want is to keep listening to I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, admiring your bravery for disclosing your Magdalene Laundry trauma. Amanda Palmer joined the fray, writing an open letter on her blog to Sinead, in which she maintains that there should be “room for Miley to rip a page out of stripper culture and run around like a maniac for however long she wants to.” Right, go ahead, Miley, please feel free to keep appropriating Black sex worker culture. Shut up, Amanda Palmer (this should really be said more often.) Autostraddle posited that all this would start a never ending sequence of offensive open letters. O’Connor then wrote a second and a third open letter to Cyrus in which she expostulated further about “acting like a prostitute and calling it feminism,” and how such behavior engenders mental illness (?).

Gabriela Leite, veteran sex workers’ rights activist and founder of Brazilian sex workers’ rights organization Davida, died of cancer yesterday, October tenth, at the age of sixty two.

Tracy Clark-Flory rants in Salon about why she didn’t want her husband to get a lap dance at his bachelor party (but, hey, she’s cool, she’s spent so much time writing about porn!) In the process, she reveals more about her own dysfunctions than any problem with strippers.

Ottawa police officer Sgt. Rohan Beebakhee is under fire in court for meeting with escorts, giving them his card, and saying things like: “I’m just here to let you know, should you have a bad date, or you find yourself in a bad situation, I don’t want you to be hesitant about calling police.”

The World Health organization published a new document informing government agencies and NGOs that sex worker led programs are a fundamental part of the fight against HIV. Sex workers themselves have known for ages how important peer-led projects are, but it’s nice to see it affirmed by mainstream organizations.

In related news, Kenya’s Medical Research Institute states that gay men working in the sex trade need to be included in the country’s HIV prevention strategy. Men who have sex with men are often prevented from accessing HIV testing and medication, and consensual sexual activity between men is illegal under Kenyan law and carries a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment.

Cathy Reisenwitz critiques New York’s new prostitution and trafficking courts in Reason. Her op-ed also discusses recent FBI trafficking stings, and there’s a choice quote included from an FBI special agent’s press conference which makes the agency’s agenda of stripping sex workers’ agency abundantly clear: “The FBI is part of the apparatus in place to protect people, sometimes even from their own poor choices.”

In reference to the closing of Edinburgh’s saunas, Vicky Allan writes in a Scotland Herald op-ed that one thing much worse than a world full of super brothels is a world in which sex work is driven underground. At this point, though, we’re pretty tired of feminists prefacing pro-sex workers’ rights sentiments by going on about how uncomfortable they are with sex work. This isn’t about your comfort.

Strip club Rick’s Cabaret banned Giants watching at the club, because their recent string of losses soured customers’ moods.

Socialist PM Maud Olivier, writer of a new proposal for the French government to fine clients of sex workers, acts like she invented the Swedish model. The Local interviewed a spokeswoman for French sex workers’ rights organization STRASS, who explains how the law would further endanger sex workers.

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Portland's vegan eatery turned strip club, Casa Diablo (Google street view)

Portland’s vegan eatery turned strip club, Casa Diablo (Google street view)

Equality Now and other abolitionist groups campaigned against the UN’s recommendation to decriminalize sex work. Don’t read the articles linked unless you have a strong stomach. Melissa Gira Grant documented a particularly exasperating twitter exchange with Equality Now’s Rachel Moran on her blog, in which Moran claimed that “‘sex workers’ don’t exist.” Scott Long also provides some valuable context.

The New York Times belatedly discovers camming. Sadly, the article feels the need to quote Kathryn Griffin. Luckily, Sienna Baskin of the Sex Workers Project is also on hand to lend some perspective.

Stoya gives her two cents about the Great Porn Condom Debate in Vice Magazine.

The law firm of Outten and Golden LLP just filed a lawsuit on behalf of dancers against the strip clubs New York Dolls, Flashdancers and Private Eyes. Dancers who have worked at these clubs and want to join the lawsuit should call Outten and Golden at 212-245-1000.

Of course you want to know how weird government regulations led to Portland’s vegan strip club.

Sex workers created a twitter phenomenon this week with the hashtag #banfreebies, satirizing societal attitudes about sex work by flipping them around and using them to moralize against non-transactional sex: “Freebies think being a freebie is empowering or it’s their choice. But that’s just false consciousness.”

African sex workers’ rights group SWEAT alerted local police that a group of about thirty five children, aged nine to twelve, were being kept in a brothel in Guateng.  But when the police finally decided to act on the report they went to the wrong house. By the time they figured out this blunder and went to the correct address, there were no children on site.

New York will establish a special court for sex trafficking and prostitution. Perhaps the court will offer better options than incarceration, but Lori Adorable responds on her tumblr, saying, “Providing more social services for individuals in the sex industry who are there by force, coercion, or choice would be fabulous, but that’s not what happening here…You mean to say that the criminal (in)justice system will FORCE those in the sex industry into treatment, rehab, and other lines of work while denying them any agency they do have. Doesn’t sound so compassionate anymore, does it? Sounds more like the fascist, racist ‘social hygiene’ shit that it is.”

A stripping history is apparently no obstacle to a security clearance.

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