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     News: New research shows violence decreases under Nordic model: Why the radio silence?

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex Industry published at Feminist Current January 22, 2013

    You probably haven’t heard about the newest prostitution research from Norway. It has been available in Norwegian since last summer when a tiny handful of pro-prostitution peeps wrote about it, but almost no one has noted the report’s English release. Now that I’ve read it I understand the silence from pro-sex work lobbyists and the liberal media that usually loves press releases that hate on anti-pornstitution activists. “Dangerous Liaisons: A report on the violence women in prostitution are exposed to” was presented to me as proof that criminalizing johns has increased violence against prostitutes in Oslo. Norwegian newspaper The Local reported on the research and dutifully presented the results highlighted by the harm reduction researchers at ProSentret.
    “Anniken Hauglie (Conservative Party) called for the law to be scrapped after the city’s official help centre for prostitutes, ProSentret, released a report on Friday detailing deteriorating conditions for sex workers in the capital. ‘The reality is that the law has made it more difficult for women in prostitution,’ Hauglie said.”
    The 2012 research is compared to 2008 research and the conclusion drawn is that in 2008 52% of prostitutes in Oslo said they had experienced violence compared to 59% in 2012. An increase of 7% isn’t a huge jump but any increase in violence against women should be taken seriously. Fortunately, the increase in violence against prostituted women is a lie. LIARS! Several obfuscations and omissions were employed to concoct the lie, but the primary manipulation was accepting a definition of violence that equated each act of verbal abuse (up 17% from 2008) and hair pulling (up 167%) the same as being struck with a fist (down 38%) and rape (down 48%). Did I just write that since the Nordic model rapes of prostituted women were down BY HALF in Oslo? Oh yes I did. ProSentret did not consider the halving of rape to be worth pointing out, but I think that’s terrific news. I also think that pimp violence being down BY HALF since 2008 should be shouted from the rooftops along with violence from regular clients going down 65% and violence from an unfamiliar man in a car declining 60%.
    Visible injury has decreased from a third of the sample to a fourth. One thing that has changed is that the number that experienced violence from someone unfamiliar in a car has declined from 27% to 11%. We also see a decline in violence from regular clients from 20% to 7%, and 14% to 7% from boss/pimp.
    With the dramatic reductions in serious violence within the research you might be wondering from whence came the claimed 7% rise. The answer is mostly verbal harassment and minor physical assaults because no distinction is made between nasty words and being punched. Harm reductionists love to thump about how indoor prostitution is safer than streetwalking, and in some aspects it is, but the research paints a contrary picture about indoor violence. Feminists have been on a long mission to raise awareness that women are more often attacked in their homes by men they know than in public by strange men. Why would being in a brothel with a john suddenly become a place to expect less rape when inside is never safer for women? The research supports the known feminist truth of how women are harmed when trapped indoors with men engorged on their perceived right to control women. The most violent men are “unfamiliar clients” and the women they inflict the worst sexual violence on are the indoor Thai women, also the only group to report violence from pimps (11%).
    In this group we find the largest amount of respondents who say they have been threatened/forced into sex that was not agreed to. While 27% of the entire sample said they had been exposed to this form of violence, as many as 45% of this group have experienced it. In this group we also see the highest amount of robbery (30%) and threats with weapons (40%) Additionally 20% of this group said they had been raped.
    Indoor prostitutes are being sexually assaulted by their clients more than streetwalkers, who are ultimately abused more frequently but not raped or robbed more. The information about indoor versus outdoor violence also disproves the common refrain that because it’s now a “buyer’s market” prostituted women are harmed by the lack of negotiation time. Streetwalkers mostly suffer verbal abuse and minor physical assaults that aren’t violations of sex act negotiations, whereas indoor prostitutes with the supposed luxuries of pre-screening and unlimited time to negotiate are much less capable of keeping their johns from robbing, raping, and threatening/forcing them into sex that was not agreed upon. Placing all the focus on how prostituted women negotiate distracts us from questioning the varying motivations of negotiation-inducing men. It is common sense that a man who wants a quick blowjob from a streetwalker would be less invested financially and emotionally in his sexual entitlement to a prostitute than a man who pre-arranges to pay for an hour alone with a prostitute and brings a sixty minute gameplan of fantasy fulfillment with him. BITERS! Allow me to turn your attention to some freaky shit you might have missed in the statistics tsumani above: Biting nearly tripled (6% to 15%)
    Hair pulling nearly tripled (12% to 32%) I’ve lived in New York City and San Jose, Costa Rica, which is to say I’ve been verbally harassed and suffered unwanted touching from unfamiliar male passerby more times than I can count. Never have I been bitten or had my hair pulled. That’s not passerby harasser behavior, it’s john behavior. Information originally reported in the 2008 study but repeated in the 2012 report provides a clue to why minor, sex act-specific violence jumped.
    “Most of the women who said they would seek help to protect against violence said that they called or threatened to call the police when they found themselves in a dangerous or threatening situation. This would often scare the customers, or others, who were acting threatening/violent away.”
    Pro-prostitution lobbyists say men are paying for the right to sex and not the right to abuse women. Johns don’t exhibit an understanding of that difference, which is why letting men pay for sex and then trying to draw a line at abuse is doomed to failure. Men paying for the right to abuse women have crossed that line, no takesees-backsees halfway through the series of abuses paid for, especially not when BDSM inflicted on women is culturally approved as sex and not abuse. Radical feminists know prostitution is coerced sex, aka rape. We notice that most rape victims are teenage girls abused by older men and recognize the same demographic patterns in prostitution. As with rape, the sexual aspect of the crime triggers so many cultural prejudices that the core of the crime being male violence is often left on the cutting room floor. Oslo’s reduction in severe violence combined with the increase in more personal boundary violence like biting and hair pulling is a reminder that, as with other kinds of rape, sex is the preferred tool of violation but violation itself is the main point. Prostituted women in Oslo are effectively altering violent johns’ behaviors by threatening to call police, and johns are responding by lowering their violence to under the threshold that would trigger that response. Instead of rape and aggravated assault, johns have moved to getting more of their violation kicks though biting and hair pulling knowing these won’t result in a call to the cops. On that note, let’s segue into what the report tells us about police and prostitutes. COPPERS! Police abuse of prostituted women is a problem. Some studies have found that as much as 30% of violence against prostituted women can come from police officers. Police abusiveness is frequently cited by harm reductioners as a reason to legalize men’s prostitution use. ProSentret makes a big deal of the fact that prostituted women are reporting less violence because they claim it as a consequence of prostitutes trusting police less, but it’s more accurately attributed to the large drop in severe violence.
    “If we look at assistance from police, emergency care, Pro Sentret, and Nadheim, we see  approximately half the number that have received support in the 2012 study compared with the 2007/08  study.”
    Approximately half the number receiving support matches up quite well with rape being down by half and pimp violence being down by half. According to their own numbers, since adoption of the Nordic model prostitutes are 41% less likely to seek help from police, but they are 54% less likely to seek help from ProSentret! And apparently prostituted women are suddenly terrified of emergency care personnel because seeking help from them is down a whopping 79%. If you don’t acknowledge the enormous reductions in severe violence then these changes are as alarming as ProSentret makes them out to be. Combined with street prostitution going down at least 50% from 2008 to 2009 and indoor prostitution going down by 16% in the same year, the sharp drop in prostituted women reporting violence is actually something to celebrate. ProSentret’s ideological constipation won’t allow them to admit the enormous reduction in severe violence their data shows.
    “Many of the women’s actions are probably due to a fear of prejudice from the police, the justice system, and health services. The double stigma as both victim of violence and prostitute can be a heavy burden to bear. Other reasons could be among other things a lack of knowledge of the police and reporting violence in Norway, fear that the police will enforce other laws against the prostitute, a lack of trust in the police, or that the women for some other reason does not wish to press charges.”
    Persons who make police abuse of sex workers their bailiwick may find it instructional that none of the violence reported by the 123 prostituted women was pinned on Norwegian police, not so much as one instance of verbal abuse. Score yet another point for the Nordic model. Rarely does a group of pro-prostitution activists make their choice to be ignorant so evident as to ignore the data from their own research. Mind you, it’s not unheard of; New Zealand research collected by the prostitution lobby claimed no changes to street prostitution in their official summary but buried in Section 8 one finds the truth that street prostitutes in Auckland more than doubled since legalization. It is a bald lie to take the information presented in “Dangerous Liaisons” and come to this conclusion:
    “Nothing in the studies we have conducted among the women and the support services suggests that the criminalization of the customers have protected the women from violence from their customers, rather the women are protecting the customers from the police.”

    The final words of the report declare:
    This will be done by the Pro Sentret: • Organize drop-in courses about violence in prostitution and violence in close relations with a  focus on knowledge about violence, practical tips and information about offers of aid. The  courses will be organized in cooperation with Oslo Crisis Center and a provider of self-defense courses. • Work out and distribute information material adapted to the users of Pro Sentret about violence,  rights, and tips about maintaining their own safety.
    In other words, ProSentret’s goal is to build better hookers. I prefer other solutions. The Nordic model works and should keep on keeping on. If ProSentret and other sex worker rights groups refuse to get on board the abolition of sex-based slavery they’re fools, but they’re fools who can still be doing more for prostituted women from within their belief system. The first thing they can do is actively track prostitution clients more effectively. Unfamiliar clients commit the most violence and passively relying on bad date reports from survivors of john violence is not enough. There’s room for both police and nonprofits to be collecting information about unfamiliar johns in their own way. Next they can work to achieve reliable amnesty for foreign victims. I am unfamiliar with how Norway treats trafficked immigrants but I have no trouble believing more can be done to protect them from discrimination and deportation. My third and final suggestion is for harm reduction organizations to teach prostituted women that any violence inflicted on them matters. Biting and hair pulling have almost tripled but reporting them hasn’t. Johns will be as violent as they can get away with so we need to keep pushing back the bar of acceptability. Credit where due, the researchers sincerely attempted to honor prostituted women’s psychological defenses by distinguishing the categories of “rape” and “threatened/forced into sex that was not agreed upon” in recognition that many don’t call it rape if there’s no assault accompanying the sexual violence. They include this comment about cultural differences in defining violence.
    “Pro Sentret have experienced that in general many foreign women express both physical and psychological pain differently than Norwegian women. It is possible that some did not recognize their way to express pain in the options in the study.”
    It’s obvious the researchers at ProSentret care about the women they serve, I just wish they could project that concern to the millions of women they will never see and the generations of prostitutes that will come after the current one if we don’t take a stand now. Like I said in the beginning, the Oslo research has barely made a blip in pro-prostitution media channels. The usual loudmouthed prostitution lobbyists have seen it and kept their lips zipped. You better believe if the report contained solid proof that the Nordic model leads to more violence then it would be as popularized as that bunk study purporting career pornstitutes are happier than the average woman. Now you know about it, and now you know why the prostitution lobby prefers to pretend it doesn’t exist. It exists and it proves abolitionists right. Now don’t let them forget it.

    Posted by smberg on Wednesday, June 12 @ 13:19:54 EDT (3993 reads)
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     News: A Crime That Should Shame Us All

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex Industry A Crime That Should Shame Us All
    Eighty percent of trafficking victims are sold for sex.
    February 25, 2009
    By Swanee Hunt

    In the midst of the bitter winter of a failing global economy, the United Nations is calling the world's citizens to recognize the plight of the most vulnerable: slaves.

    It's fitting that on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched its first assessment of the scope of human trafficking, the modern-day form of slavery.

    The findings are grim. Based on data from 155 states, the "Global Report on Trafficking in Persons" includes country-specific information on legislation and criminal-justice responses to global patterns and criminal network flows. While the number of countries that have moved toward implementing the UN Protocol Against Trafficking in Persons (2000) has doubled since 2006, two of every five countries in the study have not convicted a single person on trafficking charges -- that's more than half of the UN member states.

    True, the number of convictions worldwide is increasing each year, but not in proportion to the growing incidence of the crime. Governments are either unequipped or, worse, unwilling to attack the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world.

    One of the greatest barriers to progress is the misleading term "trafficking," which implies movement. There's nothing magic about moving a girl from Kyiv to Paris, or from Dallas to Boston. In either case, when children are exploited for pornography, or terrified adults work for miniscule pay, it's enslavement.

    Troubling Figures

    The UNODC study estimates that 80 percent of slaves are sold for sex, while the remaining 20 percent are forced to toil in fields, homes, and sweatshops. Worldwide, children make up 20 percent of victims, with estimates as high as 100 percent in some areas of West Africa.

    The report provides much-needed data and brings us closer to understanding the depth, breadth, and scope of trafficking; but as UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa admits, "We don't know much about the size of the iceberg that lies beneath." No UNODC figures for the total number of victims exist, but the International Labor Organization estimates that it is growing by 2 million people every year -- if you don't count those who have died or been rescued. Countries documented only 22,500 victims rescued in 2006. That means that only one in 100 victims is freed from bondage.

    "Are we making some progress? I wish we were," Costa lamented during the New York release of the report. "Twenty-two thousand rescued; 2 million in the pool; 99 percent of the victims are still victimized -- I would like member states to take this more seriously. This is a very strong message." It's a message the United States and Europe, in particular, must not ignore.

    I've just returned from a six-city swing, mostly in Eastern Europe, examining antitrafficking strategies. So I was not surprised by the finding that, although European countries (with the exception of Estonia) have legislation against trafficking, there is a decrease in the number of investigations in Western and Central Europe. The number of people being trafficked within and between European countries is growing, but it seems political interest is declining.

    On a positive note, Eastern Europe and Central Asia registered a steady increase in convictions between 2003 and 2007. Although this could be attributed to pressure from the international community, countries such as Moldova, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine should be commended for taking tangible steps to root out trafficking. During my travels, I was amazed to discover that the government of Ukraine has created a unit within the Interior Ministry to target trafficking, with no less than 600 personnel.

    Negative Trends

    Perhaps the most troubling finding from the report was that a significant number of arrested members of trafficking networks are women. And often, women trafficking victims accept an offer of greater freedom and less abuse in exchange for trapping others. Has Europe failed its women twice over, creating appalling situations where women are compelled to be both victims and victimizers?

    Perhaps the real picture is that male criminals in the upper echelons of the hierarchy use women to carry out the most visible tasks, in the same way that drug lords use women as "mules." As terrorists may use female suicide bombers because they seem less threatening, women recruiters can more easily build trust with the young women they're luring into the sex trade. And once caught, women don't have the same "boys' networks" that allow them to buy off corrupt police and judges as easily as their male counterparts.

    After the Iron Curtain fell, rural villages in Eastern Europe were emptied of their women, who were shipped like chattels to the United States, Canada, and Western Europe. Although European children, women, and men are still being exported and exploited, the UN identified Europe as the destination for victims from other parts of Europe, but also Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Prague is one of the 20 top sex-tourism destinations in the world, and the infamous red-light district of Amsterdam has become a den of illegal trade in flesh. The economic crisis will probably push more women to desperation as the only thing they have left to sell is themselves.

    Attacking Demand

    We need to find ways to attack the problem at its core -- by eradicating demand. Yes, it's crucial to help rescue victims of trafficking. However, unless we deal with the market, trafficking will continue to grow. It's more likely that we can curb the demand for commercial sex and labor before we solve the social inequities that contribute to the supply.

    Although Europe overall is a leading driver of demand, individual countries are taking the lead in tackling demand, at least for commercial sex. Last year, I traveled to Scandinavia with Lina Sidrys Nealon, manager of the modern-day slavery project at Hunt Alternatives Fund, to examine the innovative ways in which Sweden and Norway are fighting the sex trade. Originally ridiculed yet now lauded around the world, Sweden's 1999 "Sex Purchase Law," which criminalized buying sex and decriminalized selling sex, is rendering trafficking almost nonexistent in that country.

    Norway recently made it illegal for its citizens to purchase any sex act anywhere in the world. In Lithuania, Greece, Ireland, and Finland, it's a crime to buy sex from trafficked persons. Britain's Home Office has taken it one step further, introducing a law in December that made it an offense to pay for sex with someone "controlled for another person's gain," including pimps, traffickers, and drug dealers who force addicts into prostitution to repay them.

    Even in Amsterdam, a third of the red-light-district brothels were closed in 2008 due to their involvement in illicit trafficking. Communities in the Czech Republic, Italy, and England have shifted law enforcement energies to arresting customers, while providing the sellers of sex with social services rather than taking them to court, in contrast to the ineffective practice we see in the United States of arresting women and girls in the sex trade, while ignoring the men.

    The UN calls trafficking "a crime that shames us all." When our fellow human beings are treated as commodities, our own humanity is diminished. Let us turn shame into action and remove this stain from our soil, from our souls.

    Swanee Hunt served as U.S. ambassador to Austria from 1993 to 1997. She is Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and president of Hunt Alternatives Fund, which includes a project focused on fighting the demand for sex trafficking.

    Posted by smberg on Tuesday, March 03 @ 15:50:22 EST (4922 reads)
    Read More... | News | Score: 5

     News: Revealed: the truth about brothels

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex IndustryRevealed: the truth about brothels

    A survey into London's off-street sex industry has exposed just how widespread it is - and documents in disturbing detail the plight of the women trapped in it.

    Julie Bindel
    The Guardian
    Wednesday, Sept 10, 2008

    When Frank rang a brothel in Enfield, he could hear a baby crying in the background. When Alan called one in Southwark, he could make out the sound of a child asking for his tea. And when Mick called another to inquire about their services, he was told that he could have a "dirty Oriental bitch who will do stag nights, anal, and the rest."The men were undertaking research for Big Brothel: a Survey of the Off-Street Sex Industry in London, the most comprehensive study ever conducted into brothels in the UK. The project, which gathered information from 921 brothels in the capital, was commissioned by the Poppy Project, the only British organisation that offers support for women trafficked into prostitution.My co-author Helen Atkins and I recruited male friends and colleagues to help with the research, and warned them that the work might be upsetting. They were to telephone brothels, posing as potential punters, with a list of questions including "What nationalities are on offer tonight?", "Do the girls do anal?", "How about oral without a condom?", and "What age are they?" We wanted to look at what really goes on in brothels - how much control the women really have; whether there is evidence of trafficking; if local councils are giving licences for saunas and massage parlours when it is clear that they are brothels; and how the sex industry is growing and evolving. During 120 hours of telephone calls, we established the following: at least 1,933 women are currently at work in London's brothels; ages range from 18 to 55 (with a number of premises offering "very, very young girls"); prices for full sex start at £15, and go up to £250; and more than a third of the brothels offer unprotected sex - including, in some cases, anal penetration. The lowest price quoted for anal sex was £15. "Come along and bring your mates," said one brothel owner. "We have a Greek girl who is very, very young." While kissing used to be off-limits for women selling sex, it can now be bought for an extra tenner. Of the brothels researched, 85% operate in residential areas. Almost two-thirds are located in flats and more than one-fifth are in a house. Wherever you are in the city, the likelihood is that buying and selling women is going on under your nose.Our researchers contacted only brothels that advertised in local newspapers - not those that advertise on websites or on cards in telephone boxes. Because of this we only uncovered the tiniest corner of the trade. But we still encountered brothels in every London borough, with Enfield (a typical residential area of north London) having a minimum of 54, and Westminster at least 71. We estimated that the brothels we surveyed made anything from £86m to £209.5m in total per year through newspaper advertisements alone. Although it is a criminal offence to advertise prostitution services, the law is not enforced, and this "blind eye" approach serves the pimps and punters well. Researchers also interviewed women who have worked in London brothels, and all reported having felt degraded and violated while selling sex. This tallies with previous research: one large US study on prostitution and violence found that 82% of women had been physically assaulted since entering the trade, with many having been raped. More than 80% were homeless, and a majority, on and off-street, were addicted to illegal drugs and/or alcohol. UK research published in 2000 found that prostitutes routinely face sexual and physical violence from pimps and punters, but have little or no "workplace" protection. One of the women we spoke to was Naomi, who, like many prostitutes, has a history of childhood sexual abuse. When she ran away from home, she met a man who pimped her - first into hostess clubs, then from a private flat. "It's an unsettling, unhealthy experience seeing 20 guys a day," she says, "and you don't know what the next person will be like".A common assumption is that brothels are safer than the street, and while it seems that women are more likely to be murdered if they are working on the streets, the prevalence of rape and other attacks from pimps and punters is also high in brothels. "The men have up to an hour to do what they like to you," says Janet, who was pimped into a Leeds brothel when she was 15, "whereas at least on the street you can always try to run away."Rachel told us about the reality of how much money the women make, as well as the inherent danger in the off-street trade. "Flats are set up to be a rip-off, to be truthful with you, because you're not going to make money for yourself." Rachel made about £200 a day, but after paying card boys, rent, the maid, and her "protector" (pimp), she came out with next to nothing. "And you're not guaranteed security at the end of the day."Alice brought it home to us just how accepted and normalised prostitution has
    become. "You sit in a basque, in a window with your red light on. When you get a client you close your curtains and turn your red light off. That starts from eight in the morning."The minister for women, Harriet Harman, is determined to curb the massive trade in women's bodies. Last week she released findings from a Mori poll of more than 1,000 British adults on attitudes to paying for sex. It found that the vast majority of both men and women polled would think it "unacceptable" if a partner paid for sex; the majority would support a law that criminalised paying for sex; and around half would back a law that decreased the number of women being trafficked into the UK.As our researchers discovered, brothels market women merely as merchandise. Frank was offered "two for the price of one" if he visited during "happy hour" (any time before 5pm). One brothel owner offered to send two women to the punter's home for a £50 delivery charge; another offered free oral sex without a condom if more than £50 was spent; and at one suburban sauna, first-time buyers were offered a voucher which entitled them to 50% off the next visit.We primed the telephone researchers to look for evidence of trafficking. There was plenty. Brothels offered women of 77 different nationalities and ethnicities, including many from known-source countries for trafficking. One researcher was told by a brothel owner, "For no condom and anal, call tomorrow. Eastern Europeans promised later in the week."One punter I interviewed for another research project told me that in choosing a woman, "I made a list in my mind. I told myself that I'll be with different races eg Japanese, Indian, Chinese. Once I have been with them I tick them off the list."Many people are unhappy that this research has been done at all. The pro-legalisation lobby do not seem to want the horrors of what goes on in brothels exposed, preferring to present such places as being similar to an office environment; simple, clean, consensual workplaces. Punters are also unhappy about public exposure of brothels. One frequent customer at a Soho brothel told me, "I don't know why people have to research prostitution - the army shoots innocent people, fast food poisons people; no one wants to research them. It's the only job that has no downside. It only brings pleasure to the customer."Some of the male researchers had previously been liberal about prostitution. Frank had thought that legalisation would be beneficial to the women, and Mick believed that some would be happy earning good money. By the end of the project, all the men considered prostitution to be a violent and abusive industry, and perceived the punters as harmful misogynists. Nigel said that after weeks of talking about sex to third parties in a cold, clinical way he realised that the women were being used as nothing more than a product. "The idea of sex started to be devalued and demeaned, its sanctity lost," he says. Tony was shocked at the number of brothels. "They're on high streets, down alleyways and in suburban two-up two-downs."Unless we think about sustainable and substantive solutions that will eventually eradicate prostitution, it will continue to grow at an alarming rate - research published last year found that in just 10 years, the number of men paying for sex in the UK almost doubled. What Big Brothel shows is that commercial sex is becoming as normalised as stopping off for a McDonald's. There are two key ways that the UK can respond. We can legalise the trade, make the women pay taxes, and declare the pimps to be legitimate businessmen. Where brothels have been legalised- in Amsterdam, for instance - the illegal sector continues to flourish. Since brothels were legalised in Melbourne, Australia, more than 20 years ago, the number of unlicensed brothels has trebled. Few prostitutes will pay tax, as the act of registering their trade is too stigmatised, and their lives are often too chaotic. There is no evidence that legalisation keeps women safe, but there is plenty that shows it results in an increase in demand for the sex trade. In Australia, $11.3bn was spent on prostitutes and strippers last year, and the trade is growing at approximately 8% a year. The other option is to bring in a law that makes paying for sex illegal, while helping to educate the public that prostitution is not a victimless crime. This has worked in Sweden, where such a law was introduced nine years ago, and 80% of Swedes now support it. Trafficking into the country is now lower than in any other EU nation. This is the approach that government ministers Harriet Harman and Vera Baird support.Most men do not pay for sex. Those who do need educating about the harm that prostitution causes to women and society in general. Some will only stop if they are frightened of the consequences, such as one charmer who told me, "If she isn't crying but says no, I keep on. I only stop if she is really crying."Others are able to justify to themselves what they do, simply because it is not against the law. When I asked why he pays for sex, one regular punter told me: "It's like going for a drink. You are not doing anything illegal." At the moment, he is right. Let's hope the government has the courage to change that.

    Posted by smberg on Thursday, September 11 @ 13:15:20 EDT (7157 reads)
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    Porn, Prostitution, Sex IndustryA new report published by Scotland’s Women’s Support Project is titled Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland: A research report based on interviews with 110 men who bought women in prostitution”. Here is the beginning of entry from UK radical feminist blog At The Root that puts some of the report's findings about johns (aka punters) into context. -Sam
    "Nothing is going to deter me from masturbation, and prostitution is an extention of that.” by Debs

    Thanks to Jennifer Drew for emailing me information about a report published recently by Scotland’s Women’s Support Project. It is entitled Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland, and is “A research report based on interviews with 110 men who bought women in prostitution,” by Jan MacLeod, Melissa Farley, Lynn Anderson and Jacqueline Golding.
    Reading the report, and especially the quotes from some of the men (a particularly telling example of which I have used as the title for this post), I was reminded very much of another post I wrote some time ago, after I had had the misfortune to stumble upon a site called Punternet, where men who bought women for sex across the UK gave reviews of those women, as though they were talking about a used car or a microwave oven. I mention this not least to show that the types of attitudes expressed by the men questioned for this report are not peculiar to Scotland. Also, the “masturbation” quote I have used as a title is extremely resonant with a comment made by Kiuku in this comment thread, saying, “It is rape because it is basically men masturbating into your body,” except the quote in this study is from a man, a punter himself, unwittingly admitting to the rape of prostituted women. Here is the quote, along with some others from the report: “Nothing is going to deter me from masturbation and prostitution is an extension of that.” “If a guy wants his hole, go and get it done with, get it out your system.” “They know what they’re there for. You get what you pay for without the ‘no.’” “It depends on if the woman has track marks on her vagina. That’s a real turn off.” “I was with a group of pals. We’d been talking about it for years, I think all blokes do. 8 of us specifically went to get the puff and prostitutes… It was a rite of passage. We went to prostitutes three times a day. We were like pigs in shit…” Another punter was a frequent prostitution tourist in Asia. He detailed the harsh conditions women were subject to in Thai and Cambodian prostitution. Exposing his narcissism and his sadism, he rationalised the commission of sexual violence against women and children.
    “I don’t get pleasure from other people’s suffering. I struggle with it but I can’t deny my own pleasures. In Cambodia I knocked back a lot of children; it makes it hard to sleep at night. But I don’t see the point in making a moral stance.”
    “I think it would help a couple if they weren’t happy and the husband was going with a prostitute now and then – may help cement the relationship. If the wife doesn’t know, it might make him happy.” Just in case anyone was under the illusion that men who use prostituted women see them as human beings, or something. These quotes are followed in the report by a woman speaking from the other side of the ‘transaction’. “Every day I was witness to the worst of men. Their carelessness and grand entitlement. The way they can so profoundly disconnect from what it is they’re having sex with, the way they think they own the world, watch them purchase a female. I was witness to their deep delusions. Spoiled babies all of them, and so many of them called [telephoned] prostitutes. I thought,maybe all men called prostitutes. It was a terrible thought, but really, what did I care. There was a system in place that was older and stronger than I could begin to imagine. Who was I? I was just a girl. What was I going to do about it? If I had any power I would make it so that nobody was ever bought or sold or rented,” Michelle Tea, 2004 These men’s contempt for the women they are paying for (and by extention, all women) could not be clearer. They are deluded, self-important pricks. They are also rapists, but, hey, let’s not be too inflammatory here. No, let’s. They are rapists, and “masturbation man”, who just came right out and said if he’s fed up of masturbating on his own, he’ll go out and buy a woman to masturbate into, admits it, whether he knows it or not. I’m going to spin wildly off-topic for a moment, and bring Johnny Vegas into the discussion. Except it’s not off-topic at all - it’s pretty much the same thing, and exactly the same attitude towards women. Unless you live in a cave half-way up a mountain, you will be aware that lovable, fat oaf Johnny has distinguished himself this week by sexually assaulting a woman live on stage as part of his side-splitting act.* Apparently, this is okay, because Johnny is “funny” and some sycophants in the audience laughed whilst he did it. According to eye-witness accounts, he actually fingered the woman through her clothes, which, as Cruella rightly points out, means penetration, which means rape.So, well-known comedian rapes woman live on stage, with, presumably, several hundred eye-witnesses, but it’s okay because…why? He’s funny? He’s ‘just a normal bloke’? He lost control for a minute? What? Rape is a criminal offence (as is the “lesser” offence of sexual assault, which definitely took place), so, why has Johnny not been charged? Why is he not being questioned by the police? Why are most people acting like this is perfectly normal and acceptable behaviour? Because, we live in a rapist society, that’s why. Because the majority of men hold attitudes towards women reflected by the johns who took part in this research, and would cheer Johnny on from the audience, and laugh and think it was a really good night out. And just as Johnny walks free, and receives pats on the back from other men, so do the men who use prostituted women walk free, and are congratulated by their friends for proving what great men they are. So, again this proves these types of attitudes are not specific to the particular men who took part in this study. It is prevelant, it is the norm - if you are a man and you don’t hold those attitudes, you are in the minority.Read the rest of the post by clicking here

    Posted by smberg on Friday, May 02 @ 17:54:16 EDT (15084 reads)
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     News: Anti-pornography conference, March 2007

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex IndustryConference: Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Re-thinking Activism

    March 23-25, 2007
    The so-called “porn wars” that were fought over the feminist critique of contemporary mass-marketed pornography derailed important academic and activist work. It is time to move on by reframing our thinking on pornography, especially in light of the important changes that have occurred in both technology and pop culture over the past two decades. In the world of the internet, cell phone porn, shock jocks and sexually degrading reality TV, the central insights of the critical feminist perspective are more important than ever. What was once called soft-core pornography has become the norm in mainstream pop culture, while hard-core porn has become increasingly accepted and increasingly misogynistic. What do such economic and cultural shifts mean for feminist theory and activism, and how can we rebuild a vibrant feminist movement that addresses the harms of misogynist images that help define our culture, our visual landscape and our sexuality? These issues will be addressed at a national conference on March 23-25, 2007, at Wheelock College in Boston. Titled "Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory, Rethinking Activism," this conference will
    • feature recent feminist theory and research on pornography, prostitution and pop culture, and
    • provide space for collaborative discussion on how we can prepare the ground for building a broad-based, energized and vibrant feminist movement that can address the harms of pornographic images in the context of a more general political and cultural crisis.


    proposed agenda:

    Friday, March 23: Opening Conference Event 7:30-9:30 p.m.--Beyond Beats and Rhymes: A Hip-Hop Head Weighs in on Manhood in Hip-Hop Culture

    Saturday, March 24: Pornography and Pop Culture: Reframing Theory 9:15-10:00 a.m.: Not Your Father’s Playboy and Not Your Mother’s Feminist Movement: Contemporary Feminism in a Porn Culture
    Rebecca Whisnant Assistant Professor of Philosophy University of Dayton
    10:00-11:00 a.m.: Real Men, Real Choices
    Robert Jensen, Associate Professor of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin

    11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Pornography and Pop Culture: Putting the Text in Context
    Gail Dines. Professor of Sociology and American Studies, Wheelock College

    2:00-3:15 p.m.: Pornography, Prostitution, and Sex Trafficking: How Do You Tell the Difference?
    Melissa Farley, Director, Prostitution Research and Education, San Francisco
    Rachel Lloyd, Director, Girls’ Educational and Mentoring Services

    3:30-5:00 p.m.: Analyzing the Pornographic Text: Charting and Mapping Pornography through Content AnalysisAna Bridges
    Erica Scharrer, University of Rhode Island, U/Mass Amherst
    Robert Wosnitzer, New York University

    7:00-9:00 p.m.: 'Fantasies' Matter: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships.
    Screening and Discussion with filmmaker Chyng Sun

    Sunday March 25: Pornography and Pop Culture: Rethinking Activism
    9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon: Talking about Pornography in a “Pornified” Culture
    1:00-3:00 p.m.: Building a new Feminist Anti-pornography Movement for the Twenty First Century: Goals, Coalitions, and Strategies to Aim for and Pitfalls to Avoid

    Posted by smberg on Thursday, November 02 @ 14:54:42 EST (10746 reads)
    Read More... | News | Score: 3.66

     News: Sisters Offering Support closing

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex IndustrySisters Offering Support closing By Mary Vorsino
    Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer  
    WEB SITE WILL REMAIN UP Though Sisters Offering Support will shut down on Sept. 30, its Web site will stay up until March 2007 to provide inspiration to those trying to escape prostitution, said executive director Lorraine Faithful.The Web site, at www.soshawaii.org, has testimonials from former prostitutes and links to other resources in the Islands and on the Mainland. 0 ) { document.write(''); document.write(''); document.write('RELATED NEWS FROM THE WEB'); document.write('Latest headlines by topic:'); document.write(''); for( i = 0; i ' + topixcats[i].name + '
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    As police battle a rise in prostitution on O'ahu, the only organization in the Islands aimed at helping prostitutes escape sexual exploitation for better lives is closing because of a lack of money. Over the last decade, organizers said Sisters Offering Support has helped hundreds leave prostitution. It has also worked to prevent young people from being lured into the industry, promoted safe sex among prostitutes and helped federal authorities reduce sex trafficking in Hawai'i. "It has been the most rewarding years of my life, being part of an organization that has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals get out of an exploitative lifestyle," said Lorraine Faithful, executive director since 2001. "For so many years, I've been helping to build the organization. Now, I'm having to tear it down." Residents and advocates for women say closure of the nonprofit is a loss to the community and couldn't come at a worse time. In August, Honolulu police reported prostitution arrests were up in 2005 for the first time in four years. Last year, prostitution arrests jumped 51 percent from 2004, from 265 to 401 islandwide, according to police statistics. The increase, along with a July homicide linked to prostitution, spurred an outcry Downtown, with residents calling for prostitution-free zones and tougher sentences for prostitutes and "clients" who get caught. Tom Smyth, Downtown Ho-nolulu Neighborhood Board chairman, said bringing harsher punishments against prostitutes will likely decrease crime. But the best deterrent, he said, is to get prostitutes out of the sex industry. "That, to me, is the most effective way to deal with the overall problem because it addresses the overall population," Smyth said, expressing dismay at the closure of Sisters Offering Support. "We definitely recognize their efforts." The nonprofit will officially dismantle on Sept. 30, about a month after its board decided to shut down in the face of diminishing funds. Already, the agency's two employees have been laid off, a 24-hour crisis hotline is no longer manned and new clients are not being accepted. Worst of all, Faithful said, about 500 people being helped with counseling programs were told in mid-September they would have to seek help elsewhere. Hale Kipa, a nonprofit serving at-risk youth, agreed to pick up the educational component of Sisters Offering Support. "That is the nice, positive spin to this whole story," Faithful said. "Some of our programs will survive." Kelly Hill, a former prostitute, founded Sisters Offering Support in 1996. Over the years, the organization has received praise for its success in changing people's lives and educating the community about sexual exploitation. Faithful declined to go into the details of the nonprofit's finances for 2006 but said individual donor contributions had dropped significantly this year while operating costs continued to rise. Plus, the agency had no savings. "In the middle of August, we saw some writing on the wall," Faithful said. "A lot of local donors chose to support the Hurricane Katrina victims." In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2005, Sisters Offering Support got $217,888 — the bulk of which came from public donations and grants, according to tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The operating funds were an increase of about $10,000 from 2003, but about $70,000 lower than totals for the three previous years. In 2004, salary costs amounted to $121,396, with Faithful earning $47,500 a year. Program costs amounted to $189,221, the returns show. Those funds went to helping between 400 and 500 clients a year, and putting on educational programs at dozens of Hawai'i public schools. In the agency's most recent annual report, issued last year, there were no apparent signs of trouble. In fact, Faithful expressed hopes in the document of opening a transitional shelter for prostitutes by 2008 and discussed the possibility of establishing a school for those arrested for hiring a prostitute. Faithful yesterday said the agency is small and any decrease in funding affected its ability to remain open. "We were already working on the bare-bones minimum," she said. "We're hoping that someone in Hawai'i will maybe pick up this same idea and continue these services elsewhere." FAMILIAR PROBLEM Cheryl Ka'uhane Lupenui, president and chief executive officer of YWCA O'ahu, said she knows all too well about the challenges of running a nonprofit. Oftentimes, she said, organizations are willing to give funds for programs but won't donate unrestricted money that can be used for everything from office supplies to wages. "We really diversify our funding stream," she said. "But it's a case example: We know sexual exploitation is huge, and here's an organization that was committed to prevention and intervention, yet they couldn't get the funding. That's scary for any nonprofit."

    Posted by smberg on Sunday, September 24 @ 11:37:45 EDT (4235 reads)
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     News: UK makes possessing violent pornography illegal

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex IndustryCracking down on violent pornography 30 August 2006 The possession of violent and extreme pornographic material is to become a criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in prison. Under new laws announced by Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker, it will be illegal to possess pornographic images depicting scenes of extreme sexual violence. This would include, for example, material featuring violence that appears to be life threatening. The proposals are part of the government's response to its consultation on the possession of violent and extreme pornographic material launched a year ago. It is already illegal in the UK to publish or distribute the material covered by the ban, but violent pornography has become increasingly accessible from abroad via the internet. The new law will ensure possession of violent and extreme pornography is illegal both on and offline. 'Deeply abhorrent' Mr Coaker pointed out that the vast majority of people find extreme pornography deeply abhorrent. He added, 'Such material has no place in our society, but the advent of the internet has meant that this material is more easily available and means existing controls are being bypassed - we must move to tackle this.' He pointed out that the government was supported on this issue by women’s and children's groups, as well as police forces. In addition, a petition signed by around 50,000 people objecting to the extreme websites that promote violence against women as sexual gratification, has been presented to Parliament.

    Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said legislation is only effective if it changes along with technological advances. This legislation, he said, 'builds on the fundamentals of the Obscene Publications Act 1959, and helps take our fight against violent and extreme pornography to where it needs to be.' Three years' imprisonment possible The proposed new offence would carry a maximum penalty of three years in prison for possession of material depicting serious violence. The government is also proposing that the maximum penalty for the offences of publication, distribution and possession for gain, committed under the Obscene Publications Acts, should be increased from the current three years in prison to five. The government intends to legislate on this as soon as parliamentary time allows.
    The new offence will apply to England and Wales, and plans are being made to extend it to Northern Ireland.

    Posted by smberg on Saturday, September 02 @ 09:20:00 EDT (5397 reads)
    Read More... | News | Score: 4.33


    Porn, Prostitution, Sex Industry US cracks South Korean sex trafficking ring
    By Michelle Nichols
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - A sex trafficking ring that smuggled South Korean women into the United State to work as prostitutes in cities including the nation's capital has been cracked and 31 people arrested, officials said on Wednesday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said another 70 women were being questioned to see if they were victims of the ring that shuttled prostitutes among brothels in places such as Washington, Philadelphia and New York. Prosecutors said ring members gave South Korean women who wanted to work in the United States false immigration documents to enter the United States, or smuggled them into the country through Canada or Mexico. By the time the women arrived in the United States they owed the traffickers tens of thousands of dollars, which they were forced to pay off by working as prostitutes. "Human traffickers profit by turning dreams into nightmares. These women sought a better life in America and found instead forced prostitution and misery," U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia told a news conference in New York. "This exploitation is not a back alley business -- it happens on Main Street in Stamford, Connecticut, it happens in residential areas of our nation's capital, it happens in the West 20s (streets) of New York City," he said. The arrests were made in at least nine states on Tuesday following raids on at least 19 brothels. Brothel owners and managers kept most of the money paid by customers and credited the rest against the women's debts, authorities said.

    "The women are in some instances told or led to believe that, if they leave the prostitution business before paying off their debts, they will suffer a range of harms," they said in a criminal complaint. "The women are sometimes threatened with harm to their families in Korea." Trafficking investigations have quadrupled in recent years and the value of assets seized rose to $27 million in 2005 from almost zero in 2003, said Julie Myers, an assistant secretary of Homeland Security. A 2005 U.S. State Department report found that up to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally each year.

    Posted by smberg on Thursday, August 17 @ 11:03:14 EDT (3479 reads)
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     News: The World Cup and the johns

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex IndustryThe World Cup and the johns
    International Herald Tribune
    Jessica Neuwirth

    TUESDAY, APRIL 11, 2006

    The global sex industry has its eye on Germany, where promotion of prostitution seems to be as much a part of the preparations for the upcoming World Cup as anything to do with soccer.

    Construction of temporary brothels in all forms is well underway, including "performance boxes" and "drive-ins" for the fast-food version of sex vending.

    The multibillion dollar enterprise that brings Indian women to Saudi Arabia, Nigerian women to Italy, Filipino women to Japan and Russian women to Israel is now bringing women from all parts of the world - an estimated 40,000 - to Germany, where profiteers will cash in on the World Cup, the latest magnet for sex trafficking.

    Many women are lured as well as forced into prostitution. They submit to or even seek out their traffickers for promises of a life free of poverty or abuse - false promises that pave the way to a life that is anything but free.

    These women, often young girls, quickly find themselves in a life of exploitation and violence they are unable to escape. Research conducted across 10 countries by Prostitution Research & Education found that 71 percent of women surveyed were physically assaulted while engaged in prostitution.

    Eighty-nine percent wanted to get out of prostitution but did not have any other options for survival; most were substance abusers and over half met criteria for post traumatic stress disorder - as many as combat veterans.

    Like any consumer industry, the commercial sex industry is driven by demand, and in economic terms the link between prostitution and sex trafficking is clear. Sex is for sale because there are buyers creating a commercial market for it, and sex trafficking ensures a line of supply.

    Yet some have chosen to exclude this critical link from discussion, analysis and strategic plans for action. Countries like Germany, where prostitution is legal, become international destinations for sex trafficking, offering retail outlets much more hospitable to traffickers than countries where prostitution is illegal. In countries where prostitution is illegal it is the peddled women, rather than those who exploit them, who bear the brunt of criminal prosecution as well as public sanction.

    Men who buy women for sex have largely escaped the reach of the law and have been virtually invisible in the ideological battles over prostitution.

    Yet it is these countless anonymous "johns" who fuel the market forces that make sex trafficking such a lucrative industry, perpetrating systematic exploitation with impunity.

    Why the reluctance to acknowledge the link between prostitution and sex trafficking?

    Opposition to prostitution is sometimes misconstrued as opposition to sexual rights and freedoms, a perspective warmly embraced and actively promoted by the commercial sex industry.

    Misconceived efforts to distinguish the women forced into prostitution from those who consent to their sexual exploitation fail to recognize the spectrum of coercion that draws on the force of poverty as much as the force of violence to bring women into the trade.

    Those who consider prostitution to be an expression of sexual rights fail to recognize the distinction between sex and commercial sexual exploitation, positioning the discourse as if one cannot be for sex and at the same time against exploitation.

    What about the right of women and girls not to be prostituted - the right to education, employment and real choices they do not currently have?

    It is time to shift the focus from those who are prostituted to the traffickers, pimps and johns who comprise the chain of exploitation in the commercial sex industry.

    The invisibility of the john is matched only by the invisibility of the harm done to the trafficked and prostituted women he buys.

    If 40,000 women will be sold for sex during the World Cup, how many johns will buy them?

    The head of Sweden's football federation, Lars-Ake Lagrell, has pledged that players with the country's national team will not use any brothels at the World Cup in Germany.

    Sweden has developed exemplary legislation, subjecting johns to prosecution for commercial sexual exploitation - not those who are exploited.

    It is time to follow Sweden's lead in acknowledging the link between prostitution and sex trafficking and addressing the commercial sex industry for what it is: the systematic subordination of women and girls through sexual exploitation.

    Giving johns a name and making them accountable might be a good first step. Germany should also be held accountable for turning the World Cup into a sex tour.

    Jessica Neuwirth is president of Equality Now, an international women's rights organization.

    Posted by smberg on Tuesday, April 11 @ 13:15:08 EDT (3433 reads)
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     News: Why British men are rapists

    Porn, Prostitution, Sex Industry Why British men are rapists

    by Joan Smith
    January 23, 2006
    The New Statesman
    In the world of stag-night excess, lad mags and lap dancing, paying for sex is losing its stigma and more and more men do it. These "clients" are responsible for a grotesque crime, yet they get away scot-free. By Joan Smith
    In the past couple of years the horrors of sex trafficking have been graphically exposed. It is now known that criminal gangs, usually from eastern Europe, offer innocuous-sounding jobs in restaurants and bars to young women who discover too late that their real destination is a brothel or massage parlour in the UK.

    Everyone agrees that this modern form of slavery is evil and there are loud demands for a crackdown on traffickers, such as the Albanian gang that was sentenced to a total of 63 years in prison at Southwark Crown Court just before Christmas. Agron Demarku, 22, and his brother Flamur, 34, were the ringleaders in an operation that ran brothels in west London. One 16-year-old girl from Lithuania was forced to have sex with up to ten men a day, and the scale of the enterprise can be deduced from one thing: a single brothel in Hounslow took between £3,000 and £18,000 a day. The Demarku brothers also traded women with other traffickers. On one occasion, reminiscent of a Roman slave market, they were filmed selling a girl for £4,000.

    Such stories rightly cause an outcry, but there is something un-settling about the way trafficking is discussed, as though it were all about foreign gangsters and their victims. Why do these men (and occasionally their female accomplices) go to all the trouble of duping women and girls on the other side of Europe and in south-east Asia, and then transporting them to this country? How has sex trafficking become the third most profitable illegal trade in the world, after arms and drugs? Who, to put it bluntly, are these young women being forced to have sex with each day?

    The answer certainly isn't foreign men. It is time to confront the fact that, in flats and massage parlours up and down the country, British men are paying money to be "serviced" by foreign women who live in terror of beatings and other punishments. In a laddish culture where women are commodities to be paraded in magazines such as Loaded and Nuts, paying for sex has lost virtually all its stigma; female celebrities collude in the notion that pole dancing is just a bit of fun, while visiting brothels has become the natural end to a blokes' night out or a stag weekend. So acceptable has using prostitutes become that punters post boastful "reviews" of women on websites.

    More British men are buying sex; research published last month showed that the number who admitted using prostitutes doubled between 1995 and 2000. They are a minority - 4 per cent admitted having paid for sex in the previous five years, and one in ten over a lifetime - but there is no reason to think the trend has reversed. Research from Sweden tells us something about the kinds of men involved: there, one in eight adult men has paid for sex at least once and the majority are or have been married or cohabiting. In other words, it isn't weird loners who are driving this modern slave trade, but ordinary men - fathers, husbands, sons and brothers. And the effect of their behaviour is showing up not just in the sheer number of people employed in the sex trade in this country - 80,000, according to the police - but in an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases.

    In spite of all this, the old blame-the-woman mentality ensures that when trafficked women are rescued they still tend to be treated as illegal immigrants rather than victims of crime. According to Amnesty International, they are more likely to find themselves on a plane than in a refuge where their injuries can be treated; this country has just one such refuge, part-funded by the Home Office, while Italy has 200. Nor has the British government signed a ground-breaking Council of Europe anti-trafficking convention that would give victims rights for the first time (ministers say its provisions, which include a 30-day recuperation period, would be a "pull factor" for illegal immigration).

    Voices are frequently raised to suggest that women and girls know what they are doing when they start selling sex, that they choose this way of life and find themselves better off than they were. Such claims ignore virtually all the facts, which have nothing to do with gilt-and-velvet Parisian brothels or the "happy hooker" stereotype of the 1960s. The Poppy Project, which runs the refuge for trafficked women, has found that there are 730 flats, massage parlours and saunas selling sex in London alone; excluding Westminster, each London borough has, on average, 19 sites to buy sex, with between four and eight women per site. Four-fifths of the women are foreign, mainly from eastern Europe and south-east Asia. British police carried out 343 operations against traffickers in the 12 months to last March, arresting 1,456 people and seizing £4.5m in assets. In effect, the sex trade has been industrialised, with trafficked women expected to "service" as many as 40 clients a day. The competition from brothels using captive women has pushed down prices on the streets, which means women are often expected to provide unsafe forms of sex to get by.

    Research published in 2001 showed that almost two-thirds of prostitutes in three cities said their main reason for selling sex was to fund a drug habit, and the Home Office estimates that 95 per cent of street prostitutes use heroin or crack cocaine. Most prostitutes in Britain come from poor backgrounds, more than two-thirds enter the sex trade before the age of 18, and half have suffered sex abuse at home before being taken up by pimps. None of this supports the arguments of those who claim that prostitutes and trafficked women are making a free choice or that the answer to both problems is regulation - legalising some or all aspects of the sex trade.

    Far from containing it, legalisation would allow thousands more women and girls to be drawn into prostitution without any demonstrable decrease in violence or involvement of criminal gangs. The European countries that have experienced the biggest increases in numbers are those where there are elements of legalisation, namely Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Italy; in the Australian state of Victoria, often cited by campaigners for legalisation, the number of prostitutes is said to have doubled between 1994 and 2002. (Australia and the Netherlands also have the world's highest number of sex tourists per capita, supporting the proposition that legalisation normalises the act of buying sex.) There is evidence, too, that legalisation acts as a "pull factor" for traffickers; in 2003 Amsterdam city council decided to close down its street tolerance zone, the mayor declaring that "it appeared impossible to create a safe and controllable zone for women that was not open to abuse by organised crime".

    What is becoming clear is that men who use brothels, massage parlours and street prostitutes are the missing link, invisible in most discussions of the sex trade. This has led to a bizarre anomaly: men who supply girls and women for sex are liable to receive lengthy prison sentences, but those who use them, and create the demand in the first place, go scot-free. When a brothel or massage parlour is raided by the police, the customers are allowed to leave before it has even been established whether the women are working there voluntarily. This absurdity was illustrated when, in September, 19 women were rescued in a raid on Cuddles, a massage parlour in Birmingham. West Midlands Police announced a big victory in the campaign against trafficking. The following week it emerged that six of the 19 were being held at the Yarl's Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, awaiting deportation, yet all the men present at the time of the raid were released without charge.

    This is happening up and down the country, even though it is clear in law that men who have sex with trafficked women are committing rape: women who have been threatened and beaten into working as prostitutes cannot give meaningful consent, as Harriet Harman argued in a landmark speech last year. A Home Office minister, Paul Goggins, agreed with this proposition in a discussion with me on BBC Woman's Hour last autumn, and a second minister, Tony McNulty, confirmed it in the House of Commons. With such clear ministerial support, the first rape prosecution of a prostitute's "client" is long overdue.

    The willingness of so many clients to pay for sex without bothering to find out whether or not the woman has been coerced is significant for another reason, however, because it exposes the pernicious assumptions at the heart of prostitution. One is the rarely challenged claim that there is something peculiar to male sexuality which makes men entitled to sexual release whenever they want it; another is that women are a class from which men should expect to get sex, regardless of the damage they inflict on individuals. In that sense, it is just as much an abuse of human rights as conventional slavery, which assumed that Africans could be bought and sold for use by white people. Naturally this argument arouses furious resistance - after all, it threatens the entire sex trade - and is often caricatured as an anti-sex position when it is actually the opposite.

    "Prostitution is sexual exploitation, one of the worst forms of women's inequality, and a violation of any person's human rights." So wrote a group of survivors of prostitution and trafficking from five countries who launched a manifesto at the European Parliament last autumn. Since 1999 this has been the official view of the Swedish government, which in that year removed penalties for selling sex and imposed them instead on men who buy it. Gunilla Ekberg, a special adviser at Sweden's ministry of industry, employment and communications, explained the thinking behind the law: "In Sweden it is understood that any society that claims to defend principles of legal, political, economic and social equality for women and girls must reject the idea that women and children, mostly girls, are commodities that can be bought, sold and sexually exploited by men." In the most radical approach ever adopted by any state, the Swedish government argues that "the legalisation of prostitution will inevitably normalise an extreme form of sexual discrimination and violence and strengthen male domination of all female human beings". Men who seek to buy sex can be punished by a fine or up to six months in jail, while women (and men) who sell it have a right to assistance to escape from prostitution.

    The effect has been dramatic. Official figures show that the number of women involved in prostitution fell from 2,500 before the law came into force in 1999 to 1,500 in 2002. By 2004 the recruitment of women into street prostitution had almost halted. With a population of nine million, Sweden is estimated to have only 500 street prostitutes, while neighbouring Denmark, with a population just over half that size, had between 5,500 and 7,800 in 2004, half of whom, it is estima-ted, were victims of trafficking.

    Supporters of the law say it has also had an impact on trafficking into Sweden, with the National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) reporting that the country is no longer an attractive market for foreign gangs. Intercepted telephone conversations show that pimps and traffickers express frustration about setting up shop in Sweden, preferring to operate in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. In its 2004 report the NCID concluded that the law "continues to function as a barrier against the establishment of traffickers in Sweden"; it estimates that roughly 400-600 women are trafficked into Sweden each year, compared with between 10,000 and 15,000 into Finland. The law's opponents claim it has made street prostitution more risky because the few remaining clients tend to be more "perverted", but most of them concede that it has reduced demand.

    The Swedish example could hardly be more relevant to the UK, as the Home Office announced its new "co-ordinated strategy for prostitution" in England and Wales. The proposed policy includes some steps in the right direction. It reverses plans, for example, to give local authorities discretion to set up "tolerance zones", and proposes ways of helping women escape from the sex trade and of clamping down on kerb crawlers. It also includes an utterly misguided proposal: to permit small brothels where two or three women can work together - an idea wide open to abuse by traffickers. This is an aberration. A philosophical shift seems to have begun, and as long as it is combined with realistic and properly funded measures to help women, including access to education and decent housing, we should welcome it. Trafficking and prostitution are expressions of a gross form of misogyny which, by denying bodily integrity to the weakest women in society - young, poor, sexually abused, dependent on alcohol or drugs, foreign and coerced - denies it to women everywhere.

    A life of prostitution

    95% of female street prostitutes in the UK use heroin or crack cocaine
    76% of the public favour introducing some form of regulation to the sex industry
    69% of prostitutes say they report no or hardly any attacks to the police
    60% of prostitutes say they have been beaten up or raped in the past year
    55% of prostitutes say men have refused to pay them for their services
    50% of working prostitutes are under the age of 25
    27% of the public believe prostitution should be stamped out altogether
    10% of men admit to having used prostitutes
    1% of prostitutes say they have stopped street sex work as a result of police activity

    Research by Sam Alexandroni

    Posted by smberg on Thursday, January 19 @ 18:57:39 EST (3974 reads)
    Read More... | News | Score: 2.33

         myth-heard by men
    Since God has determined subjection to be woman's lot, there needs no other argument of its fitness, or for their acquiescence....A wife should be inquisitive only of new ways to please her husband, and should sayle her wit only by his compass, looking upon him as conjurers do the circle, beyond which there is nothing but Death and Hell. -Rev Richard Braithwaite (1633)

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