Posts filed under Prostitution

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17th, 2012 is the 10th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. From December17.org:

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created to call attention to crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe. Originally conceptualized by Annie Sprinkle and initiated by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has empowered workers from cities around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence. During the week of December 17th, sex worker rights organizations and their allies stage actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers. The assault, battery, rape and murder of sex workers must end. Existing laws prevent sex workers from reporting violence. The stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by the prohibitionist laws has made violence against us acceptable. Please join with sex workers around the world and stand against criminalization and violence committed against our communities.

From GT 2005-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The commemoration began from the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project’s memorial and vigil for the victims of the Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Since then its purpose has expanded to a memorial for, and protest against, all forms of violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry.

I’m opposed to prostitution as an industry, on radical feminist grounds. I frankly have very deep and sharp differences with the organizers of the event, and I’m iffy at best towards the rhetorical framework of sex work as a whole, for reasons that are way beyond the point of this post. But so what? The day is an important one no matter what differences I may have with the organizers. Real steps towards ending the ongoing daily violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry are more important than that; here as much as anywhere — probably more than anywhere else — women’s lives are at stake.

… A serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women means a serious commitment to end violence against women in the sex industry. All of it. Now and forever. … And ending violence against women in prostitution also means ending State violence against women in prostitution. All of it. Law enforcement comes from the barrel of a gun, and criminalizing women in prostitution means authorizing cops to attack them. Ending violence against women means decriminalization of prostitution; it means an end to cops, guns, clubs, cuffs, jail for women who are just trying to get by in peace. It means an end to the misogynist audacity of conservative pols who use violence against women in prostitution as one of the primary excuses for attacking those women with the sword of the Law.

From GT 2008-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers:

Any serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women, means a serious commitment to ending violence against women who work in the sex industry. All of it. And that means any kind of violence, whether rape, or assault, or robbery, or abduction, or confinement against her will, or murder. No matter who does it. The one image of violence against sex workers that the malestream media never tires of repeating is the roving madman, cutting women down in the streets. But roving madmen come in a lot of shapes and sizes and uniforms. It may be a serial killer. But it may be a pimp. Or a trafficker. Or a john who imagines that paying for sex means he owns a woman’s body. Or, lest we forget, it may be a cop who believes that his badge, and his victim’s status in the system of patriarchal sex-class, makes absolutely any kind of sexual predation or physical torture a cop’s prerogative and nothing better than what the victim deserves. Or, lest we forget, a cop or a prosecutor or an immigration control freak, who calls the violence of an assault, restraint, and involuntary confinement an arrest or a sentence under the color of The Law. The Law has no more right than anyone else to hurt women or shove them around.

No matter who does it, this kind of violence — violence against peaceful people whose work, whatever you think of it, is honest work for willing customers, and is a way to get by, and doesn’t do one thing to threaten or violate the rights of a single living soul — violence against women who are made vulnerable by the violence and the killing indifference of the State — violence against women practiced in the name of enforcing patriarchal sex-class and misogynistic hatred for overtly sexual women — is wrong, absolutely wrong, and it has to stop. Immediately, completely, and forever.

There is a list of some local events at December17.org. I looked for some information on events for my friends in Las Vegas (where there usually is an event organized) but wasn’t able to find it in time for this post; if you know of local events in your area, please feel free to add information or links to them in the comments below.

May we all live free
in the glory and joy of life
that every human being deserves.

— Daisy Anarchy, I deserve to be safe

Remember. Mourn. Act.

Also.

Technological civilization is awesome (Cont’d): Internet Community Vs. Human Trafficking

MetaFilter Saved My Pals From Sex Traffickers—Exclusive Interview | Mother Jones. motherjones.com (2010-05-22):

How an online community mobilized to rescue two young Russian women.
Forget the irritating title and summary. Besides being needlessly sensationalistic, the rhetoric of "saving" or rescuing women from sex trafficking is infantilizing and intensely unhelpful; also, it's just inaccurate as a description of what actually happened.

What is awesome about this story, crappy headlines aside, is how a good friend and an Internet community managed to not only alert two young Russian women that the "agency" was lying to them, that the replacement jobs they'd been promised were actually at a skeazy strip club, and -- even more important -- while government "hotlines" and "counseling" proved to be alienating and more or less completely useless, an ad hoc group of folks on MetaFilter managed to come together to connect the women with information, a safe place to stay in New York, a friend to advocate for them and help them out, and leads on getting help to secure straightened-out visas -- meaning practical solidarity and mutual aid, through an ad hoc distributed grassroots network, scattered throughout cities all across the continent, which managed to foil a gang of lying traffickers, helped two women get themselves out of a really dicey situation, and provided with plenty of resources to help them land on their feet.

(Story thanks to a private correspondent.)

December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17th, 2008 is the 6th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

From GT 2005-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The commemoration began from the Sex Workers’ Outreach Project’s memorial and vigil for the victims of the Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer. Since then its purpose has expanded to a memorial for, and protest against, all forms of violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry.

I’m opposed to prostitution as an industry, on radical feminist grounds. I frankly have very deep and sharp differences with the organizers of the event, and I’m iffy at best towards the rhetorical framework of sex work as a whole, for reasons that are way beyond the point of this post). But so what? The day is an important one no matter what differences I may have with the organizers. Real steps towards ending the ongoing daily violence against women in prostitution and elsewhere in the sex industry are more important than that; here as much as anywhere — probably more than anywhere else — women’s lives are at stake.

You can read the rest at the original post. Any serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women, means a serious commitment to ending violence against women who work in the sex industry. All of it. And that means any kind of violence, whether rape, or assault, or robbery, or abduction, or confinement against her will, or murder. No matter who does it. The one image of violence against sex workers that the malestream media never tires of repeating is the roving madman, cutting women down in the streets. But roving madmen come in a lot of shapes and sizes and uniforms. It may be a serial killer. But it may be a pimp. Or a trafficker. Or a john who imagines that paying for sex means he owns a woman’s body. Or, lest we forget, it may be a cop who believes that his badge, and his victim’s status in the system of patriarchal sex-class, makes absolutely any kind of sexual predation or physical torture a cop’s prerogative and nothing better than what the victim deserves. Or, lest we forget, a cop or a prosecutor or an immigration control freak, who calls the violence of an assault, restraint, and involuntary confinement an arrest or a sentence under the color of The Law. The Law has no more right than anyone else to hurt women or shove them around.

No matter who does it, this kind of violence — violence against peaceful people whose work, whatever you think of it, is honest work for willing customers, and is a way to get by, and doesn’t do one thing to threaten or violate the rights of a single living soul — violence against women who are made vulnerable by the violence and the killing indifference of the State — violence against women practiced in the name of enforcing patriarchal sex-class and misogynistic hatred for overtly sexual women — is wrong, absolutely wrong, and it has to stop. Immediately, completely, and forever.

In Las Vegas tonight, SWOP-Las Vegas is holding a vigil:

Reminder! TONIGHT in Las Vegas…

Join SWOP-Las Vegas to commemorate December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers!!

Las Vegas
Wed, December 17th

7:00 pm:

Meet at The Center: 953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite B-31, Las Vegas, NV, 89104. (In the Commercial Center) Phone at The Center: 702-733-9800

We will memorialize those sex workers who have lost their lives, and honor those who are missing. We’ll also make signs for the vigil.

8:15 pm:

We will hold a vigil in The Center parking lot with candles and then take our signs and red umbrellas to Sahara, where we will walk towards the strip. We will have masks for those who wish to use them. Afterward, we will return to Commercial Center to eat Thai food! Yum!

For more information, email us at info(at)swop-lv.org or call us toll-free at 1-866-525-7967, ext. 701.

In Washington, D.C., sex workers’ freedom and harm-reduction groups are coming together for a National March for Sex Workers’ Rights:

Advocates from across the nation will converge to mark the 6th Annual Internatinal Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW). We are calling for an end to the unjust laws, policing, shaming and stigma that oppress our communities and make us targets for violence. We will both honor the lives of sex workers whose lives have passed and celebrate our vital movement. SWOP-USA, Different Avenues, HIPS, SWANK, Desiree Alliance, and many allies in harm reduction and social justice welcome your support. Join us as we march on Washington to demand human rights!

I wish that I could attend an event tonight but I will be away, traveling. In commemoration of the day, in memory of the 48 women murdered by Ridgway, and in solidarity with the living, I have contributed $120.00 tonight to Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive, a harm reduction group that provides counseling, safety resources, clothing, and food to prostitutes on the streets of the Washington, D.C. area, and $120.00 to Alternatives for Girls, whose Street Outreach Project provides similar services out of a van along the Cass Corridor in downtown Detroit. For other groups that provide similar resources and mutual aid, you can check out the links at the end of my original post.

May we all live free in the glory and joy of life that every human being deserves.

— Daisy Anarchy, I deserve to be safe

Remember. Mourn. Act.

See also:

Gynocide: violence against women in prostitution in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas police said there may be more victims in a string of slayings of Las Vegas prostitutes whose bodies were found along highways.

Police Detective Larry Hanna is asking police in other areas to check for cases similar to those of four young women with ties to Las Vegas.

The body parts of three of the women have been found off of highways in Las Vegas, California and Illinois, and a fourth woman who matches the descriptions of the others is missing.

Hanna said the women could have been slain by the same person, possibly a truck driver, because of the proximity of the women to major highways.

— KVVU Las Vegas News (2008-11-17): Police Say Slayings May Be Linked

This year, please remember that December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

See also:

Ending State violence against women in prostitution in San Francisco

Last year, a dangerous California street gang rolled up on 1,583 women and abducted them off the streets of San Francisco, tied them up, and held them against their will for days or weeks at a time. Some were robbed of money and then let go. Others were held in specially-constructed dungeons for as long as half a year before they were allowed to see the light of day again.

There has been little notice of this massive wave of violence against women in the malestream media, and little outcry, even though this same gang is still active, and is on track to abduct a similar number of women this year. Part of the reason for the neglect of this story is the fact that the 1,583 women were women in prostitution, or suspected of being in prostitution and all too many people (by which I mainly mean men, and by which I mainly mean pols, lawyers and cops) figure that assaults and disappearances are just business as usual for women in the sex trade, something that can be stamped N.H.I. and shrugged off with a blink.

The other part of the reason is that the street gang’s colors are blue, and they all carry badges, and they call these abductions arrests, the imprisonment pretrial detention or a sentence, and, even though the women they target and grab off the street through force or intimidation are just doing a job for willing customers, and threatening or attacking exactly no-one, these gangsters can count on the biggest racket of all — the protection racket known as the State — to get their back, to claim their violence is justified because it is carried out under color of The Law (as if that were somehow immune to question or challenge), and to put out well-paid mouthpieces who will insist, with a completely straight face, that when women in prostitution are being forcibly hauled off, arrested, cited, fined, jailed, and generally subjected to an attempt to forcibly destroy their livelihood, the people (mostly men) who are doing all this are actually doing it for the women’s own good.

In fact these rationalizations are no better than — really, no different from — the rationalizations that every abusive man in the world uses to pass off their controlling behavior and violence against their women as if they were expressions of love. The male-dominated State is nothing more than an abusive sociopath writ large — one that can attack women by the thousands or by the millions, and one with armies and dungeons and trillions of dollars at its disposal.

As I said last December 17th:

Any serious commitment to freedom for, and an end to violence against, women, means a serious commitment to ending violence against women who work in the sex industry. All of it. Immediately. Now and forever.

And that means any kind of violence, whether rape, or assault, or robbery, or abduction, or confinement against her will, or murder. No matter who does it. Even if it is done by a john who imagines that paying for sex means he owns a woman’s body. Even it is done by a cop or a prosecutor who calls the violence of an assault, restraint, and involuntary confinement an arrest or a sentence under the color of The Law. The Law has no more right to hurt or shove around a woman than anyone else does.

— GT 2007-12-17: December 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

This November, eligible voters in San Francisco have an opportunity to call for peace on this front of the city government’s war against women:

San Francisco would become the first major U.S. city to decriminalize prostitution if voters next month approve Proposition K, a measure that forbids local authorities from investigating, arresting or prosecuting anyone for selling sex.

The ballot question technically would not legalize prostitution, since state law still prohibits it, but the measure would eliminate the power of local law enforcement officials to go after prostitutes.

Proponents say the measure will free up $11 million the police spend each year arresting prostitutes and allow them to form collectives.

It will allow workers to organize for our rights and for our safety, said Patricia West, 22, who said she has been selling sex for about a year by placing ads on the Internet. She moved to San Francisco in May from Texas to work on Proposition K.

Even in tolerant San Francisco, where the sadomasochism fair draws thousands of tourists and a pornographic video company is housed in a former armory, the measure faces an uphill battle, with much of the political establishment opposing it.

Some form of prostitution is legal in two states. Brothels are allowed in rural counties in Nevada. And Rhode Island permits the sale of sex behind closed doors between consenting adults, but it prohibits street prostitution and brothels.

. . .

Police made 1,583 prostitution arrests in 2007 and expect to make a similar number this year. But the district attorney’s office says most defendants are fined, placed in diversion programs or both. Fewer than 5 percent get prosecuted for solicitation, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail.

Proposition K has been endorsed by the local Democratic Party. But the mayor, the district attorney, the police department and much of the business community oppose the idea. They contend that it would increase street prostitution, allow pimps the run of neighborhoods and hamper the fight against sex trafficking, which would remain illegal because it involves forcing people into the sex trade.

. . .

If the proposal passes, we wouldn’t be able to investigate prostitution, and it’s going to be pretty difficult for us to locate these folks who are victims of trafficking otherwise, said Capt. Al Pardini, head of the police department’s vice unit. It’s pretty rare that we get a call that says, I’m a victim of human trafficking or I suspect human trafficking in my neighborhood.

— Associated Press, CNN (2008-10-21): San Francisco may become safe for prostitutes

While I certainly agree that coerced sex trafficking is an evil that needs to be seriously addressed, government officials and government cops like Captain Al Pardini, who claim to be concerned about the welfare of women forced into prostitution, refuse to talk about ways to address the systemic issues that stop trafficked women from being able to come forward and speak out or seek help about what’s been done to them (like, the State’s violence against undocumented immigrants and the threat of deportation; like, the police’s refusal to take women in prostitution seriously or treat them like human beings), and instead they apparently feel perfectly comfortable insisting that their difficulties in investigating sexual slavery somehow justify laws that grant police the power to force any woman suspected of being in prostitution off the street and into police detention, under police scrutiny, to imprison her, to force her to pay punitive fines, to conduct arbitrary police raids to go on fishing expeditions for trafficked women (e.g., at Asian massage parlors) based on nothing other than racial profiling, and so forth, and so on, all in the name of facilitating the police’s attempts to investigate a different crime that affects some subset of the women being rousted up, shoved around, arrested, questioned, fined, imprisoned, and so on, and all in order to be able to force trafficked women into the protection of the criminal law, with or without their consent. This amounts to nothing more than an argument for ensuring that the State maintains and exercises plenary police state powers over all women suspected of being sex workers, for no reason other than the alleged necessity of protecting some women in the sex industry from violence, while ignoring the many crimes that women in prostitution are never able to report to the police for fear of being arrested, and while ignoring the immense violence against all women in the sex industry that is committed by cops themselves, as part and parcel of this policy of arrest and detention. Nobody would ever accept this argument if it were directed against a class of people whose basic human rights malestream society is more accustomed to granting. (E.g., We need to be able to investigate the enslavement of migrant farmworkers; let’s outlaw farming! We need to be able to investigate medical malpractice; let’s give the cops the power to arrest any doctor and charge them with a misdemeanor!) It is only when it comes to people who powerful men regard as official non-persons that these kind of arguments get made — whether they are made against the safety and freedom of women in prostitution, or against the safety and freedom of immigrants without government papers or unauthorized drug dealers, in parallel arguments for government border laws and drug prohibition. That’s despicable, and it’s baffling to reason. If you have the chance, I’d strongly encourage you to vote Yes on Prop. K, and No on police state tactics and government violence against women.

I should say that, while I’ve given up completely on electoral politics as a primary vehicle for political change, measures like Prop. K — or Question 1 and Question 2 in Massachusetts, or State Question 2 in Nevada — are a good demonstration of why, if you’re going to put in for electoral politics, voter initiatives and direct votes on referendum questions offer a much better vehicle for doing it than throwing in for the personal political prospects of some favored (or least-worst) candidate for the elective oligarchy that is so fatuously described as our democracy. Proposition K will have a hard time passing — a similar initiative was defeated in Berkeley recently by a 2-to-1 margin — but the mere fact that completely decriminalizing prostitution in a major U.S. city has entered into the political debate, that it is being considered for passage (or. mutatis mutandis, repealing the income tax in one of the highest-tax states in the U.S., or decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, or banning all eminent domain seizures for transfer to private developers in a state with one of the most intensely state-capitalist economies in the U.S.) is an achievement in itself, compared to the way in which representative politics completely smothers all serious politics, by choking off any and all political issues outside of the established bipartisan government consensus on the acceptable range of debate. Voting libertarians take note: if you’re going to spend your time on this stuff, there’s not much hope for making a difference this way, but there’s some, and that’s better than I can say for personality politics and representative elective oligarchy.

See also: