The Week In Links—July 12th

by suzyhooker on July 12, 2013 · 4 comments

in The Week in Links


Picture of Jasmine shared by Rose Alliance on Facebook

Swedish activist and sex worker Jasmine Petite was reportedly murdered by her abusive ex after years of documenting his violent behavior to the police, only to have it ignored and dismissed in large part because of her occupation. You can read more here. Sweden’s criminalization of clients has long been lauded by anti-sex trade advocates and various feminists as an effective method of eliminating criminalization’s harm of sex working women. Jasmine’s inspiring twitter feed is still online.

In France, a debate is emerging around legalization of sexual surrogacy. (Which is still definitely not prostitution, ok?!)

Nicki Minaj instagrams photos of her strip club visit with the caption “I endorse these strippers.” Surely our T&S dancers also deserve such an auspicious blurb—though they’re probably not cool with being photographed at work.

Lebanese police may be called to account for their abuse of suspected drug users and sex workers.

Chinese sex workers’ rights activist Ye Haiyan was released from detention for defending herself from police assault, only to have the Guandong security police evict her, her partner, and her 14  year old daughter from their home. “‘If I ever see you again in Zhongshan, I’ll break your legs,” the head of the security police told Ye.

Philippine survivors of the Japan’s WWII era “comfort system” are planning a rally later this month to draw more attention to the decades of injustice and silence around their abuse.

India sees the positive impacts of SCOTUS overturning the anti-prositution pledge.

NYPD Commissioner jokes about shutting down 19 massage parlors in Brooklyn after finding that women working in those locations all had children still in Asia who needed their financial support. Haha!

Meanwhile, Eliot Spitzer is running for NY comptroller as a first step towards reviving his political career. Is that a 2020 run for president I feel coming on? 

Amazingly, two men were acquitted of sex trafficking after women from their escort agency testified for the defense that they were all happy working together.

The New Scientist did a brilliant if unexpected interview with Laura Agustin—or at least, she’s brilliant in spite of the interviewer being rather dim.

This is old but since we didn’t mention it before, Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of hiring an underage prostitute.

If you like Stacks & Cats, you’ll love Cash Kitty, Melissa Gira Grant’s art project currently showing in Chicago.

In “at least u tried” news, a Washington Post book reviewer decides the lesson from the Robert Kolker’s book on the Long Island murders is that prostitution should be legal…and kept in brothels “like those in Nevada.” Dude, you almost had it!

The uber-conservative National Review calls for legalization of prostitution, too. While this article also advocates regulation, it at least doesn’t consign us all to brothels.

If you’d like an opportunity to laugh bitterly, I suggest reading this account of a Texas police officer desperately trying to convince fellow officers that a street worker “jumped into his truck and would not get out” in spite of admitting in a previous statement that he knew the woman in question. (The man was fired.)

We thought the South China Morning Post was a pro-sex worker  paper, given its sympathetic coverage of Ye Haiyan’s case, but it showed its true colors in a recent feature entitled “Inside The World of a 10 Yuan Sex Worker.” The reporter admits in the article that she posed as a fellow worker to interview women in a Guangxi Zhuang region brothel. Yes, she’s so sympathetic to the plight of these survival sex workers that she’s willing to exploit them further by having them disclose sensitive information to her under false pretenses!

Speaking of journalists, ethical violations, and sex working subjects, a group of Kenyan sex workers’ rights orgs united in outrage against a local documentary which outed a number of sex workers without their consent. They’ve created a petition demanding that the documentary stop airing and pressing for an apology and a retraction from the broadcasting company.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

BP July 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I have a hard time explaining to non-sworkers (even “allies”) why confining legal sex work to brothels, and inviting state regulation, is a bad idea. I would love a 101 post or just some bullet points on why decrim is needed but regulation is harmful for sworkers.


Charlotte Shane July 12, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Good call — we should definitely have a post addressing that.


Kate Zen July 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Re: 10-yuan brothel in China

Unfortunately, talking to reporters is outlawed, as the article describes. So journalists are forced to go in disguise if they are to find out any information about the 10-yuan brothels. Maintaining that disguise is best for everyone’s protection: “If sex workers were found to be talking to a reporter, they would be arrested and fined and the whole sex shop would be raided and shut down. Many would lose their jobs.”

Perhaps it can be argued that the reporter is endangering the sex workers by visiting the brothel at all. But Ye Haiyan also posed as a sex worker in the 10-yuan brothels last year in order to get information about that very underground world. She “worked for free” for two days, because this was the only way to be allowed to see what the conditions are like. According to this account, Ye Haiyan told the Global Times in 2012, “Without working as a prostitute, I couldn’t imagine what happened in that teeny tiny dingy place.”

Neither Ye Haiyan nor Mimi Lau, the SCMP reporter, are sex workers. Both disguised themselves as sex workers in order to have a taste of that particular world in the interest of exposing unjust conditions; and neither truly “worked” as a sex worker – since Ye Haiyan’s brief volunteer stint can not fully count as “working.” The difference is that Ye Haiyan was more committed to her project, as far as we know, and put her activism at the forefront; whereas Mimi Lau, who has written multiple sympathetic articles about Ye Haiyan for SCMP, is expressing her activist viewpoint in a less direct way.


Caty Simon July 13, 2013 at 10:21 am

I’m fine with Mimi Lau fooling management, but she should have been honest with the workers, so they could decide whether or not to take the risk of disclosing information about their lives to her. Plenty of ppl have decided to risk speaking to the press under similar conditions. And I feel differently about Ye Haiyan’s “volunteer” work–like, yeah, it seems faintly ridiculous to me in some ways that she didn’t take the money, but at least she was sharing the conditions of the workers.


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