Violence against sex workers: will Smith's plans really make a difference?

by Laura // 6 January 2009, 13:00

I must admit that up until now I hadn't made a very good job of following the developments and arguments surrounding Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's prostitution bill, due to be read for the second time in parliament on Monday 12th January. My initial reaction to the announcement that punters will be prosecuted if they pay for sex with someone who is being controlled for another's gain (ie if they have a pimp or have been trafficked) whether or not they were aware of this fact at the time was essentially "quite right too". I've always argued that - as things currently stand at least - any man who visits a prostitute is potentially a rapist as he cannot be certain whether or not she has freely consented to sex, and therefore any man who actually gives a shit should avoid doing so. I of course accept that some women - and men - freely choose sex work, and can make good money out of it, but it is the women who are forced into prostitution through poverty, drug addiction, abuse and trafficking (our inhumane immigration laws doing very little to help this) that must be prioritised when it comes to policy and the law. At a glance, criminalising the men who could potentially inflict violence and abuse, while ensuring that the women who sell sex remain free from prosecution therefore makes sense. This approach also tackles the demand for sexual services, which fuels the trade in the first place.

However, while Smith's proposals may support the above line of thinking, in practice they may pose very real risks for some sex workers. As blogger Caroline points out in a number of posts related to the legislation, similar models in Sweden and Scotland have lead to prostitution being pushed underground as women are forced to conduct business alone and in secret in order to avoid punters being arrested. This in turn can lead to increased violence against sex workers. It's all very well to say that these women would be better off without the punters, but as long as they have the need to work in this way - for whatever reason - many will continue to do so, and in the short term at least it seems to me that any new laws should make what they do as safe as possible, while providing support and viable alternatives for those who wish to get out of the trade. Caroline highlights some of the many terrible cases of violence committed against sex workers in 2008; whether or not we consider prostitution to be violence in and of itself, society's most urgent priority should lie with putting an end to these rapes and murders.

Of course, if we're talking about women who are being held against their will and forced to work as prostitutes, then "making their work as safe as possible" becomes a nonsense, and prosecuting those who contribute to their abuse, as Smith suggests, seems entirely just to me. I've seen countless complaints that poor innocent men who didn't realise the frail Eastern European girl in the bed was anything but an eager and willing business woman will end up with a criminal record under Smith's proposals, and to be honest I really couldn't give a toss. No one needs to have sex so badly that it becomes OK to potentially inflict harm on others. As things currently stand, guys who don't give a damn about the women they have sex with have no reason not to have sex with them; the new laws mean that if they give a damn about their own lives (which I assume they do) they may well think twice about visiting a prostitute. A good thing, yes, but will it stop the kind of violence described above? Will the new laws protect women who are not victims of trafficking, who are not being held against their will? I'm not so sure.

It seems to me that Smith's proposals fail to take into account the wide range of circumstances under which individuals engage in - or are forced to engage in - prostitution. As a result, they may provide a form of help to some at the expense of others. So while I applaud her determination to change men's attitudes towards prostitution and to prosecute those who are willing to risk inflicting harm upon others for the sake of an orgasm, I worry that she isn't doing enough, and that what she is doing could well make things worse for some sex workers.

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 06 January 2009 at 13:26

The government's proposals in respect of criminalising men who buy prostituted women who are being controlled by pimps and brothel owners does not go far enough. The government is trying to have it both ways by criminalising certain men whilst simultaneously believing it is acceptable for other men to buy women's bodies for sexual exploitation.

The government should have adopted the Swedish model and made it a criminal offence for anyone who attempts to buy women and girls for commercial sexual exploitation. Despite claims to the contrary the Swedish models is working very effectively and it has had a serious effect on men's perceived right of sexual entitlement to women's and girls' bodies. The Swedish model provides support and assistance to prostituted women in order to enable them to exit prostitution. If we truly believe women and girls are human beings then prostitution in itself is a abuse of women's and girls' human rights. No amount of legislation will abolish prostitution totally but certainly the Swedish model takes the stance that men are not entitled to buy womens' and girls' bodies.

Much is made of so-called 'free choice' but I have yet to see vast numbers of men entering prostitution since it is supposedly 'just another job.' Ignoring the gendered division of how power operates serves to ensure there must always be a certain group of women and girls made available for men to sexually exploit and rape.

This actually feeds into the following article wherein 'rape is not rape' when it is seen as acceptable for men to rape unconscious women because these women have consumed alcohol. It is all about male beliefs in sexual entitlement and sexual access to women and girls.

MB // Posted 06 January 2009 at 14:55

I would like to know more about this ‘underground’ where actually, even groups working towards prostitution legalization have had to admit there is no evidence of an increase in underground prostitution since 1999. The best they can say is that there's not enough information, but nothing has shown numbers of underground, trafficking, or other organized criminal prostitution rising and it is clear that trafficking into Sweden has decreased dramatically. If something is pushed so far ‘underground’ that specialized police officers and intelligence cannot find them I hesitate to believe that the regular John on the street would have that much success.

Surely there becomes some sort of tipping point where an ‘underground’ becomes unable to remain hidden? (musing here) I’m thinking of the tight gun laws that we have here in the UK. Is there an underground market well yes I’m sure there is but I hesitate to believe that it has spiraled out of control because of our stringent laws.

Oh, and I agree with Jennifer.

Renegade Evolution // Posted 06 January 2009 at 14:57

The flaws with this plan or those similar to the models in Sweden and Scotland is that it really doesn't deter men who are determined or truly feel entitled to pay to abuse someone, it merely drives the whole prostitution even further underground. Countless Swedish sex workers have discussed how these sorts of laws have made their lives far more difficult and dangerous: the men now coming to them have no fear of the law and are more violent and demand unsafe sex, they can no longer work together or in pairs and feel unsafe, refusal to testify results in deportation...and they feel no safer going to the police when wronged. That doesn't sound like much of an improvement to me, really.

New Zealand and parts of Austraila have far more reasonable models in place.

It also seems to me time and money might be better spent going after criminals like the traffickers.

Caroline // Posted 06 January 2009 at 15:33

Jennifer - I understand you want to protect women who are there either against their will and / or who are very vulnerable. However, I believe these laws will in fact let these women down badly.

For example, making kerb crawling punishable as a first offense will make both clients and workers very nervous. On one hand, yes - men may indeed think twice about doing it. On the other hand, which I believe is more realistic, women will be forced to make hasty decisions in order to get the money that they need. I'm sure we're in agreement that sex workers / prostitutes, whether they choose the job or not, are very vulnerable and the last thing they need is to be rushed into making the decision whether or not to get into a car with a man.

Closing down brothels mean that 'indoor sex workers will be forced out into the street, increasing their vulnerability greatly. As I've said, the kerb crawling law will let them down even further.

As for the Swedish model working effectively - I can show you statistics that suggest assaults on street sex workers have doubled in Scotland with these same laws.

'Free choice' - well, so far I've said very little about the women who freely choose to be in the industry and do have certain privileges that will mean they are a little more protected. I've avoided writing about this because I feel it would be getting into an ideological war. For example, you see prostitution as exploitation and men buying women's bodies. I don't believe prostitution is necessarily violent, I believe bad laws and social attitudes are what breeds this violence, and I see prostitution (done freely) as selling a service.

However, I'm not sure that debating these is useful right now. We're both completely convinced that ideologically we are right, and I'm certain neither of us will be persuaded to accept the other's argument. What is utterly indesputable is that violence against sex workers happen. What is also indesputable is that sex workers face a disproportionate amount of violence. It is these facts that need to be addressed, and I don't think debating ideology does this. I think if prostitution was to be decriminalised, this wouldn't be an ideological victory for me or a defeat to you. I don't see this law as an ideological defeat, hence I have so far said very little about it. I see this law as letting down women, some vulnerable, some very vulnerable, who are legally forced to become more so. What makes it worse is that the police (see comments from Alan Gibson) do not think these laws are even enforceable, so what these laws will bring is a climate of fear. Sex workers don't need that.

Cara // Posted 06 January 2009 at 16:18

I too don't get how this makes life more dangerous for sex workers.
Surely if *selling* sex is not a criminal act, if a punter does assault or rape the a worker, they have nothing to fear in reporting it?
They pay *tax* in Sweden.

I'm not buying that this legislation *would* decrease demand because sex workers live in fear of punters being arrested, either; even with the best will in the world, police can't catch every offender, or even most offenders...can't see them being bothered really when there are murderers and armed robbers out there.

Not to mention the 'controlled for another's gain' caveat. All she has to do is show she is willingly doing sex work.

The 'but this will make sex workers' lives less safe' argument seems pretty unthinking to me.

Sex workers who genuinely want to be doing sex work and punters who respect and treat them like human beings have nothing to fear, really.

MB // Posted 06 January 2009 at 16:24

I’ll use Glasgow here as an example as Scotland is mentioned and I have several years experience of working with this group (including other Scottish cities) within an ’exit’ programme. Strathclyde Police estimates that 1,400 women are involved in street prostitution in Glasgow (Strathclyde Police Intelligence, Crime Management figures and Base 75).  It is widely acknowledged that approximately 95% are using illicit drugs, mostly heroin.  
Some of the major issues around in these women’s lives are:

Poverty

Drug/Alcohol use

Involvement in the Criminal Justice system

Homelessness/Housing problems

Previous/Current experience of sexual /emotional abuse and violence

Emotional instability/mental Health problems including attempted suicide

Low educational Achievement/Unemployment

Young People at Risk

It is recognised that violence, experience of abuse, poverty and drugs are at the root of street prostitution in Glasgow.  Women are involved in prostitution because of their need to fund drug use and because they have no other viable means of earning the amount of money which they require, through legitimate pursuits. There is overwhelming evidence that the money which women make in prostitution primarily goes straight to those supplying drugs and that women themselves do not benefit apart from ensuring their own and their partner’s drug supply.

Indicators show that women in Glasgow are likely to be amongst the most disadvantaged of any population in the U.K.  (According to the Scottish Area Deprivation Index).

Now, these issues don’t speak of autonomy or of exercising agency, they speak of abject poverty and disadvantage where other concerns aside, 95% of prostituted women in Glasgow are addicted to heroin. We have to stop papering over the cracks and several reports have recognised a need for a co-ordinated and proactive approach.  We need to develop a Social Inclusion Partnership proposal in order to provide a strategic partnership to develop policy and practice required to address prostitution issues in areas such as this, to develop a co-ordinated and proactive response by partner agencies, and to establish an intervention team to assist women exiting prostitution and to inform mainstream policy and practice within the city. The last thing the vast majority of prostituted women in Glasgow need is re-invented and sanitized legal prostitution. Yes, I agree safety is a genuine concern but can anyone see how within this instance at least ‘safety’ is a smokescreen for the enormous social and personal issues that need addressing. And this is without addressing the positive ideological messages that the proposed laws will engender.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 06 January 2009 at 16:34

I'm wondering if anyone has bothered to read Caroline's piece about prostitution in Scotland.

More recommended reading, oh, from and about actual Swedish Sex Workers right here: http://sensuellqkonsult.wordpress.com/2007/05/26/lies-about-sexwork-in-sweden/

And hummm..."Sex workers who genuinely want to be doing sex work and punters who respect and treat them like human beings have nothing to fear, really."

Really? Spoken like someone I suspect has never done the job. Doing sex work, willingly or not, in an atmosphere where any part of it is illegal makes it a bit scary...being arrested and having a record is not fun, nor is seeing your potential income arrested.

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 06 January 2009 at 19:46

Jennifer Drew: the people who are saying that there is a problem with the Swedish model are (getting their information from) the Swedish sex workers themselves, rather than official statistics.

MB: I was going to use the example of gun control myself. Here's why: 1/. did you know that the number of gun-related homicides in the UK increased by 50% in the year after the ban was introduced? 2/. do you think that gun owners with criminal intent would have cared one jot when the ban came into force, or would have disposed of any of their guns? Same principle with prostitution: the law-abiding, safer, less abusive clients who care about the law might very well stop going to see prostitutes. But the criminally-minded, violent, unsafe, potential-murder/rapist clients obviously don't care what the law says. Those are the ones who will keep on going to see prostitutes.

Which leads to

Cara: As pointed out above, if the only clients available are likely to be the type that is more violent, more likely to murder you, etc, then the business becomes more dangerous, because you still need to see at least as many clients in order to make a living. Furthermore, with a smaller number of clients in total, but still the same number of prostitutes working, market forces dictate that by the law of supply and demand, prices will fall. Equally, there will be market pressure to provide more services, including ones that one is reluctant or even loath to perform - or else find oneself with no income at all.

As for, "all she has to do is is show she is willingly doing sex work", this is no protection at all for the client - after all, whatever proof is shown might be faked by an abusive pimp, and Jacqui Smith's proposed new law means that however convincing the evidence shown to persuade the client that the sex worker is willing, he is still liable - there is NO room for "reasonable belief" or any other such caveat. He is taking the same risk whether she "shows willing" or not.

MB again: You rightly cite the many problems that afflict the lives of sex workers in many cities (not just Glasgow). However, when you say, "The last thing the vast majority of prostituted women in Glasgow need is re-invented and sanitized legal prostitution." I think there are two problems with it: 1/. "prostituted women" is not the same as "all prostitutes" (ask Renegade Evolution about the distinction between the two terms). 2/. The women whose problems you've described most certainly don't need to be stigmatised, made vulnerable to assault, rape, and murder - and ANY system other than decriminalisation only serves to perpetuate that vulnerability and that stigma. for instance, how many of the problems you cite (e.g. "involvement with the criminal justice system", "unemployment") are directly related to the legal status of prostitution (i.e. the fact that it is criminalised)? How many are factors that are largely unaffected by the legal status of prostitution, but are symptomatic of wider problems (e.g. "homelessness", "poverty", "lack of education") that could be solved without criminalising these people?

Legal sanctions against prostitution, whether they ostensibly target the clients or the sex workers, only serve to exacerbate the problems you cite (especially, "Emotional instability/mental health problems"). The very first step to helping these people is to make sure they have nothing to hide - and as long as prostitution is treated as a criminal issue, they will always have to hide - either themselves, or else their clients (who may or may not be "paying abusers").

Caroline // Posted 06 January 2009 at 19:58

Cara - sex workers unions have said very clearly that these laws will endanger them, have a look at this press release from the IUSW -

http://www.iusw.org/node/46

I'm wondering why you think this argument is "unthinking", this is a very important consideration that isn't being taken into account.

MB - I'm not arguing about autonomy with you. I don't have to argue about autonomy in this thread because I haven't used autonomy as an argument against Jacqui Smith's proposals, in everything I've written about Jacqui Smith's proposals I've focussed on women working in the industry who are considerably less privileged than the sex workers portrayed in the media, and women who are forced in the industry. As I've said, these are the women who will be most badly affected by the laws if they come through, their lives will be put at risk, risk of sexual assault will only be a part of it. Those statistics you've quoted and the major issues you've highlighted make me all the more determined to fight against Jacqui Smiths proposals. As I say, they'll be the ones worst off in all of this.

As for solutions - I do think decriminalisation and regulation will be a step towards helping the women who most need it. I don't think for a minute it will solve the issues you've outlined, but I do believe that at the very least they are entitled to a safe working environment. SCOT-PEP (who I assume you're familiar with if you've worked in an exit programme) talk about "health, dignity and human rights" within sex work - I think decriminalisation that will help with this.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 06 January 2009 at 20:11

Snowdrop: VERY well said.

Cara // Posted 06 January 2009 at 20:53

Renegade Evolution - I've never been a cleaner either, so I can't possibly comment on whether a cleaner is exploited or not...?

Caroline - oooh, yes, a union for the protection of pimps and other abusers, how convincing.
And - because it *is* unthinking.

What part of: prostitution. will. not. be. a crime. do you all not understand?

'As for, "all she has to do is is show she is willingly doing sex work", this is no protection at all for the client - after all, whatever proof is shown might be faked by an abusive pimp, and Jacqui Smith's proposed new law means that however convincing the evidence shown to persuade the client that the sex worker is willing, he is still liable - there is NO room for "reasonable belief" or any other such caveat. He is taking the same risk whether she "shows willing" or not.'
This is rubbish. The burden of proof in law is on the prosecution. It would have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the sex worker *was* coerced.

I have not seen any convincing argument for, or evidence that this new law would in fact harm sex workers. As I said in my post, they have *more* redress to the law, and less fear of being prosecuted themselves.

And there *are* no 'decent' men who visit prostitutes, because decent men don't. There are merely greater and lesser degrees of abusiveness and misogyny. Don't try to tell me that there would suddenly be an explosion in abuse of prostitutes by nasty customers. There isn't a binary division between 'good' and 'bad' johns.

As for demand falling, *I don't care*. In fact if it leads to some sex workers exiting the trade, great, I'm ecstatic.
Those women who willingly work in the sex trade, by definition, have a choice and skills, and can find some other kind of work. I don't have a problem if they eventually decide to do so. *I* don't have a right to a job if demand for my skills falls, due to economic or other reasons, nor does anyone; you find something else, that's life.

If you are going to argue that many sex workers love it and are making a free choice and all, and are not abused, these are the 'high end' girls who can pick and choose customers, work out of their own home or somewhere else safe anyway. I do not see that their clients would suddenly all run away in fear - by definition, most johns aren't the type of people who care about what the law says overly anyway. They won't be forced to go from servicing nice polite clean johns in a warm flat for large sums of money, to selling blow jobs for a tenner on the street!
As for the police investigating, don't make me laugh - in the UK they often don't come if your home has been burgled.

It's the addicts, the desperate, those who have probably been abused in childhood or by partners, those with few qualifications and so on, as MB says. who I care about.
Legalisation would only condemn them to continue in the trade. However sanitised you make brothels, you've still got to admit it is mostly the desperate and vulnerable women who would be attracted to this line of work. Prostitution is inextricably linked to drug trade and other organised crime.

Making sex work acceptable would only reduce their chances of getting out, hey, nothing wrong with sex work, so it's easy to say there's nothing wrong with drug addicted, vulnerable women being trafficked, or exploited. Seeing sex work as acceptable makes it easier to be blind to women who are not willingly doing this work. Because sex workers don't divide neatly into the 'trafficked' and the 'totally love my career, yays'.
Exit programmes would be reduced or die out altogether; unemployed women could even be required to go into sex work or lose jobseekers' allowance.

The 'right' of a tiny minority of sex workers who claim to enjoy the work is way down my list of priorities below women who do *not* want to be sex workers and are abused daily. This law would actually *help* them to get out of prostitution.

I am with MB and Jennifer.

'It is all about male beliefs in sexual entitlement and sexual access to women and girls.' Exactly.

MB // Posted 06 January 2009 at 20:57

Hi SDE. You said 1)"prostituted women" is not the same as "all prostitutes" (ask Renegade Evolution about the distinction between the two terms).

In my comment I say that I worked within an ‘exit’ capacity for women wishing to leave prostitution so yes I do know the difference between ‘prostituted’ ‘all prostitutes’ ‘sex worker’ et al and I tried to make that clear by my use of words.

2) “how many of the problems you cite (e.g. "involvement with the criminal justice system""unemployment") are directly related to the legal status of prostitution (i.e. the fact that it is criminalised)?”

In my experience the predominant factors are drug related. But, that is hardly surprising as my remit is within a substance misuse capacity. For a long time Scotland has ’tolerated’ prostitution to a certain extent and created workable zones (I do appreciate that this is undergoing changes at the moment) so therefore, my clients issues are not so much created by the legal status of prostitution but by the effects of chaotic drug use. Which, as I have stated 95% of prostituted women in Glasgow have severe problematic (mostly) heroin use. (I use Glasgow as an example even though I do have experience of many other cities)

I should have also made myself clear that I am in total support of the decriminalization of prostituted/ sex workers.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 06 January 2009 at 21:27

Cara- Of course you can comment, but with all things, is it not important to listen to the words of the people you are trying to assist when deciding "what's best for them" or what their lives might actually really be like or what their needs are? That, to me, seems to be a huge problem, people not actually taking into consideration what sex workers and prostituted people say they need and want and what they do not need and want. I'm all for exit programs and job training and countless other things for those who wish to leave the sex trade, 100% for such things, but I agree with Caroline and others that these laws would make life for a great many sex workers/prostitutes/prostituted people much worse.

Caroline // Posted 06 January 2009 at 22:34

Cara - ah, we're going to be short and irritable with each other, are we? I've been polite to you so far, but whatever. Ok.

Where did I say prostitution would be a crime? Given that I've written extensively on this matter, I think I know what's going on.

"protection of pimps and other abusers" You don't have a clue about the industry. Oh sure, you've read 'The dark side of prostitution', like you're qualitfied to judge it either way? Don't make me laugh. Try reading what actual sex workers are saying, maybe stop thinking they're unable to give reliable commentary on their own industry (or whatever on earth it is that is stopping you from taking on board what Catherine is saying). Try and read what I'm actually saying, try and think clearly, try and have an ounce of sense and see from the press release that I showed you isn't just being dramatic. Hard stuff I know.

You have no idea about johns, you're just using your own preconceptions to judge something you don't understand. How clearly can I say it?? Defending your own ideology isn't terribly important right now! As for not reading anything convincing, that's not really my problem if you're unable to understand how the law puts people at risk. People who know what they are talking about are telling you that it will. LISTEN.

As for making sex work seem as though it's "ok". Well damn, maybe it might be a better idea that justifying the belief that it's wrong and dirty, you know, all the things the scum who rape and kill them think?

"'It is all about male beliefs in sexual entitlement and sexual access to women and girls.' Exactly." - Yep, on with the ideology. Meanwhile, have a think how well it's going, you guys sticking to that soundbite. Not so well in the UK, really. How you'd love society to be? Great, but not really helping, is it?

And, once again, read this carefully - I. HAVE. NOT. DISCUSSED. WOMEN. WHO. FREELY. CHOOSE. TO. BE. IN. SEX. WORK. Capiche?

These laws won't help. Maybe when violence against sex workers double in England and Wales as it has done in Scotland you'll see that. Meanwhile, if it's ok with you, I'm going to use the information that I've got and use it to some advantage - actually helping vulnerable women.

Caroline // Posted 06 January 2009 at 23:17

Incidently, I'd like to point out something -

Prostitutes are raped, beaten and murdered. Agreed. They are vulnerable.

Now - the press release from IUSW was written by a prostitute. Cari Mitchel, who has said a great many things against this, is a prostitute. Prostitutes are telling you this law is dangerous.

Do you think, therefore, people at IUSW and ECP feel ok knowing that women are raped, beaten and murdered purely because of their job? And, furthermore, they are raped, beaten and murdered for THE EXACT SAME JOB as those as IUSW and ECP. I'm thinking they, IUSW, ECP, all those people (see sidebar on my blog if you're interested) aren't going to say shit they don't mean and not care about those less privileged than themselves for that very reason.

I'm thinking it's a good idea to listen to them. For these guys, it's personal. And I can promise you, these aren't some dumb whores who don't know what they're talking about. They do. They know more about the industry than most of us.

MB // Posted 07 January 2009 at 00:05

SDE “MB: Same principle with prostitution: the law-abiding, safer, less abusive clients who care about the law might very well stop going to see prostitutes. But the criminally-minded, violent, unsafe, potential-murder/rapist clients obviously don't care what the law says. Those are the ones who will keep on going to see prostitutes.”

Laws to tackle prostitution do not generate “criminally-minded, violent, unsafe, potential-murder/rapist clients” it just makes them more visible as they were always there. So, in effect nothing has changed, only that the “nice guys” are calling it a day leaving the “criminally-minded, violent, unsafe, potential-murder/rapist clients” in situ.

Different note and not directed at anyone in particular...

Oh yes, and it is also deeply patronizing and dismissive to suggest that a prostituted heroin dependent woman be placated with the “safe legalized John” when all that she wants is out but she can’t find a way out because of the barriers that I have noted above. We need huge social and attitudinal changes. ”safe legalized Johns” are not the answer.

Oh well, maybe we can just have some “safe Johns” until we get round to tackling the real underlying hideous social problems? No, because women deserve better than this. We need to address the reasons for drug dependency/ poverty/ women as a sub-class and so forth. And anything else is a short term sticking plaster. Now, I don’t know who here has experienced a heroin addiction or indeed worked with people who do, but believe me - there is no allusion of choice.

~~~~~~~

Caroline as you state up thread. “However, I'm not sure that debating these is useful right now. We're both completely convinced that ideologically we are right, and I'm certain neither of us will be persuaded to accept the other's argument.”

Absolutely. And I must say that I have drawn my ideologies from my own personal experiences and by working hands on, entailing both outreach and more structured settings with women and men who wish to leave prostitution. Needless to say I didn’t acquire my philosophies over night but more should I say by a long and winding route that leaves me in no doubt that we need to rethink our attitudes on prostitution within so called sophisticated societies where very often ’choices’ are in fact the absence of ’choices’ One of those answers has to be major cultural and social change in attitudes about women, sex and men’s perceived sense of entitlement. I’m not holding my breath.

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 01:05

and funnily enough, caroline, not all of them agree.

however, you seem determined to make out that they do.

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 02:33

It is shocking to read comments that suggest that organisations like the IUSW (international union of sex workers) which is part o the GMB one of the biggest unions in the land is a mouth piece for pimps.

The IUSW is run by and is a mouth piece/union for sex workers. Yes we have agency owners as members along side escorts, street workers, brothel workers, independents, lap dancers chat phone operators. The list is quite extensive and managements who are members are very few and no pimps that I am aware of.
In some ways it is quite flattering that we arouse such hate because obviously we must be doing something right. If this law is ever passed it could well see the government criminalising consensual sex between a GMB union member consensually having sex with a paying client who booked through a union agency or brothel. It will I would assume be a serious breech of human rights as in deed it is.
Much of the argument supporting the proposed law to criminalise the clients of sex workers controlled for gain is based on a mythology that has been created by massaged statistics and salacious headlines produced by prohibitionist and the government that has tried to pathologies clients as monsters in the minds of the public. It is an appalling abuse by the government that refuses to acknowledge the diverse nature of sex work, the diverse reasons why people become sex workers and why clients use sex workers. This refusal to listen to sex workers or to engage with them or even to engage with NSWP which has probably the most experience of dealing with sex workers both street and indoor coupled with a complete denial of the decades of academic evidence is astounding but not surprising.
The government uses and encourages and carefully manipulates the mythology that surrounds sex work. We are all abused and our clients are abusers. It is simplistic and like most simplistic ideologies it is dangerous not just for sex workers but for our society.
The stigma associated with sex work is enforced by criminalisation and isolation and exclusion. Those who endorse criminalisation and condemn decriminalisation as the government is doing are doing society no favours. The use of state persecution to abuse an already alienated part of our community is against every human right tenet imaginable. Abuse occurs because you refuse through ignorance and prejudice to recognise rights. Recognise rights and you start to tackle the abuses associated with sex work or any work. The real abusers are not traffickers but the government that in the UK are targeting a marginalised sector of its community quite shamefully and by doing so will create a more exploitable market where criminals will flourish.

D Fox sex worker and IUSW activist

SnowdropExplodes // Posted 07 January 2009 at 09:03

Cara: I have been a cleaner, and frankly, I'd rather suck cock for a living than do it again (assuming I'd be able to do a good job of it). NB I'm a mostly straight-identified male. See the problems I had with cleaning work here.

This is rubbish. The burden of proof in law is on the prosecution. It would have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the sex worker *was* coerced.

Go read the law as proposed again. In order for a man to adjust his behaviour to comply with the law, he needs to be able to know absolutely and without any possible doubt that the woman whom he is paying for sexual services is there willingly. That is an impossible demand. The effect will be to take away custom from those who are willing, as well as those who aren't.

I have not seen any convincing argument for, or evidence that this new law would in fact harm sex workers.

Go ask the Swedish sex workers.

As I said in my post, they have *more* redress to the law, and less fear of being prosecuted themselves.

Unfortunately, that's only half the protection they need. Because they still can't work in any region where there is adequate street lighting, or any kind of CCTV coverage, or any kind of police presence (because they know their clients would get arrested, which in turn makes the business unsustainable) - they are still much more vulnerable to assault, rape or murder as a result. And really, it's too late to do anything about it afterwards (especially if you're dead as a result of the crime against you). And it makes them doubly vulnerable to pimps.

And there *are* no 'decent' men who visit prostitutes, because decent men don't.

As for demand falling, *I don't care*. In fact if it leads to some sex workers exiting the trade, great, I'm ecstatic... *I* don't have a right to a job if demand for my skills falls, due to economic or other reasons, nor does anyone; you find something else, that's life.

A lovely theory, but right now, unemployment is rising in the UK. that implies that there are plenty of people who are not "finding something else", because said "something else" isn't out there to find. Compare, if you will, my piece on sex work into - what work? Your blithe assumption that ending sex work would actually lift women out of poverty is just absurd.

I'm going to assume that this is a case of circular argument - "[I believe] decent men don't go to prostitutes, because [I believe] going to prostitutes is something no decent man would do". It's a meaningless statement of ideology and not a statement of fact.

If you are going to argue that many sex workers love it and are making a free choice and all, and are not abused, these are the 'high end' girls who can pick and choose customers, work out of their own home or somewhere else safe anyway.

Nope, not who I'm worrying about mostly, in this case.

They won't be forced to go from servicing nice polite clean johns in a warm flat for large sums of money, to selling blow jobs for a tenner on the street!

Maybe not, but the prostitute selling blow jobs in the street now might be forced to go to selling unprotected anal sex for a tenner on the street instead. That's the problem I see here with reduction in demand. And you know, maybe (like me) she was happy with selling blow jobs, but wouldn't want to go further, but feels she has to in order to get the rent for this week - or in order to meet her pimp's minimum cut.

Exit programmes would be reduced or die out altogether; unemployed women could even be required to go into sex work or lose jobseekers' allowance.

This is a complete lie. Otherwise by now I would have been forced to go and work as a barman at a gay strip club, apply for a job in a sex shop and several other sex industry related jobs (the JC are not even allowed to insist you go for an interview at Ann Summers, which is a pretty tame sort of outlet). Furthermore, guess which groups are among the most active and vocal in promoting, and providing, exit strategies? It's the sex workers' rights groups like SWOP, the IUSW, the English Prostitutes Collective etc. that are there and doing it right now, and I see no reason why they would stop - after all, their members understand, probably far better than you do, the need within a decriminalised prostitution system, for effective and easy-to-access routes out of the trade.

Natalia // Posted 07 January 2009 at 10:41

//And there *are* no 'decent' men who visit prostitutes, because decent men don't.//

That's a rather sweeping generalization, Cara.

How many people do you know, I'm talking about both men and women now, who have employed a sex-worker at one point or another? I know a decent number, these days. Sure enough, some are the sort of people you'd never speak to again, but not all are monsters either.

As to the subject at hand - I find that people in general have a lot of rescue fantasies when it comes to sex-workers, and it doesn't seem that those fantasies are particularly helpful, especially on the legislative level. The "I'm going to save you from yourself, m'dear" thing is a whole lot less useful than "how can I make sure you won't get hurt on the job?"

Laura // Posted 07 January 2009 at 10:42

D. Fox,

"Recognise rights and you start to tackle the abuses associated with sex work or any work."

I can understand that if we're talking about individuals who actively choose sex work, but when it comes to the women MB has been talking about - those who work as prostitutes to feed a drug habit - I can't quite see how, say, unionising workers and having "safe" brothels will help, because they are doing the work out of desperation, not coming at it from the perspective of it being a regular job or career. I would also imagine that their habit would prevent them from doing this in any case (I'm making assumptions here, I know). Would these women even be allowed to work in the brothel in the first place?

Like MB, I feel that providing a "safe" place for women with drug problems to exchange sex for drug money would be nothing but a "short term sticking plaster". In fact, it sounds rather exploitative - we enable them to continue feeding their habit and potentially be abused (because - and some people seem to be forgetting this - having sex in this way can in itself feel like/be abuse, it's not just physical violence that is the problem), without providing any way for them to get clean and get out. I agree with MB that the key issues that need to be tackled here are drug abuse, homelessness, poverty and men's / society's attitudes towards sex.

Lisa // Posted 07 January 2009 at 11:10

Surely a distinction has to be made between the 2 very different goals of eliminating commercial sex in the future and protecting sex workers in the present. It appears (and many sex workers argue that this is the case) that the 2 goals require very different strategies - across a range of fields from welfare, education, public health to crime.

The criminal law is often used by people as a first resort in an attempt to minimise or eliminate undesirable behaviour - this is NOT it's primary purpose and as a qualified lawyer I have some authority to write on this matter. The criminal law exists so that the State intervenes on behalf of the complainant to punish the wrongdoer on their behalf and therefore avoid the wronged person taking revenge. It has evolved as part of the monopolisation of force by the king, then Government, so that the State and ONLY the State has the power to punish.

However prostitution was criminalised as a result of religious and public health lobbying in other words an extension of the role of criminal law. In fact long-existing legislation covering sexual assault, kidnapping and imprisonment already provide a wronged sex worker with a ground to approach the State and ask for punishment on her behalf. The problem is the enforcement of this existing legislation and modern social breakdown and anonymity which make it easier for organised criminals to isolate, control and exploit girls and women. Concrete practical measures to protect children in their communities would have the most powerful impact on their ability to acquire and control girls in the first place.

The market - the demand - as it were is a very different issue. There are complex and varied reasons why a man decides to purchase sexual services and creating a stereotyped 'John' isn't helpful to the debate. Parallels can be drawn with successful strategies for drug and alcohol abuse - a similar situation where religious and public health concerns have led to criminialisation of a previously legal activity.

Did Prohibition in the US work ? Does criminalisation of heroin addicts work ? Education, counselling and practical support have proved to be far more effective. Interestingly current and former sex workers are very keen on these sorts of programmes - as they would rather the client first be an ethical 'Fair Trade, Sex-without-Cruelty, Organic John' on the path to being a non-John than trying to put the cart before the horse. Sex workers of course who claim to like their job - and who am I to tell them they are deluded ? - don't want all Johns to disappear ! But we will never get any agreement on this until more sex workers openly talk about their choice - increasingly happening but not enough.

The following recent items which I have read are interesting :

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/jan/03/norma-hotaling-obituary
http://legalhistoryblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/simowitz-on-history-of-prostitution-and.html

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 11:30

There does seem to be an obsession with street sex work. Street sex work is on decline. Not all street sex workers are dug addled abused victims. Even those who are doing sex work as a survival mechanism to supply a habit do actually have a choice because they could always steal (sorry to be flippant) and many do. Not all drug addicts choose to sell sex on the street. If street girls are coerced through the agency of a pimp there are laws to deal with that on statute. The fact is that those street girls working under a pimp it would seem earn more than those working a lone and feel safer. I am not saying this is right but it is fact. Regardless of the rights or wrongs however our duty as a society should be to insure they are safe and allowed access to exit strategies if and only if that is what they want. It angers me when people tell other people what they should be doing because even a drug addict has agency and to deny that is to deny they are human with rights. Street girls and boys may not want the services of a union or have the choices as myself but they do not deserve criminalisation and alienation but rather support.
The problem is that laws created to deal with a perceived problem based on the caricature of the street whore or the trafficked victim fails to protect the majority who work quietly and safely (as the law will allow) but rather persecutes all of us regardless of our free choice. This would be intolerable if applied to any other sector of our community.

D. Fox (sex worker and IUSW activist)

Cath Elliott // Posted 07 January 2009 at 13:03

Caroline - "Cari Mitchel, who has said a great many things against this, is a prostitute"

No she isn't, and never has been. She's an active member of Global Women's Strike, an organisation that considers all women living under capitalism to be prostituted, and which founded Wages for Housework. In the words of their founder Selma James: "Prostitutes are one branch of housewives, and the only branch so far to be properly paid."

Violence against sex workers is an important issue, and while I disagree that across the board decriminalisation is the answer, I also think it's a crying shame that this cause has been allowed to be hijacked and appropriated by those with their own entirely separate political agenda.

Seriously, sex workers need to find their own voices in this debate, not rely on Cari Mitchel, the ECP or the IUSW to speak for them. Because trust me, they don't.

D Fox - "It is shocking to read comments that suggest that organisations like the IUSW (international union of sex workers) which is part of the GMB one of the biggest unions in the land is a mouth piece for pimps.

The IUSW is run by and is a mouth piece/union for sex workers. Yes we have agency owners as members along side escorts, street workers, brothel workers, independents, lap dancers chat phone operators."

Yes but Douglas, isn't it true that the sex worker branch of the GMB only has a handful of prostituted women in its membership? And none of those are the ones leading chaotic, drug-abusing lives that have been discussed on this thread, you know, the ones that are most in need of help and representation.

As for the IUSW being a mouthpiece for pimps: didn't Ana Lopez, GMB branch secretary, IUSW member, and founding member of Global Women's Strike, Wages for Housework, the ECP et al once say that: "pimps may be necessary for protection since most of the police fail to do this for sex workers".

D Fox - "The real abusers are not traffickers but the government that in the UK are targeting a marginalised sector of its community quite shamefully and by doing so will create a more exploitable market where criminals will flourish."

No, the real abusers are men, but being a man yourself I can see why you might have some trouble acknowledging that.

lucy // Posted 07 January 2009 at 13:19

Re: “However, I'm not sure that debating these is useful right now. We're both completely convinced that ideologically we are right, and I'm certain neither of us will be persuaded to accept the other's argument.”


Getting bitchy won't change anyone's mind, just make them more defensive, but i think it's very important that we continue to debate this issue, or at least continue to inform ourselves.

Nowhere in the world is there clear evidence for a "correct" way forward in relation to sex work. Nowhere is it proven that a certain legal status of prostitution goes on to reduce violence against women as a whole (which, in my opinion is what should be considered here, not exclusively the violence against sex workers), so can't we accept that having any sort of sure set opinion about the whole affair is going to be the result of personal feelings and un-tested theories, rather than actual evidence or fact, then realise how ridiculous it is to base important decisions like this on ideology?

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 07 January 2009 at 16:22

wait, wait, D Fox, who is sex worker, gets dismissed because he's a man? That's helpful. There are a lot of male sex workers, a lot of them, and they can and do face the same sort of violence female sex workers do, and hey, really, transgendered sex workers get the worst of it often, but because the sex worker has a penis...

I don't get it. If anything, male and trans sexworkers have the least amount of help and resources of any kind.

This is part of the problem right here: a conversation about sex workers starts, various sex workers of different types speak on it, some of whom also happen to be involved in sex workers rights activism or sex workers organizations...but suddenly, even though they sell sex for a living and these sorts of laws impact them directly, well, they aren't the right kind of sex workers, can be treated dismissively, and obviously have no idea what they are doing...even if they are the actual ones doing the sex work?

And people wonder why there is anamocity there...

polly styrene // Posted 07 January 2009 at 16:33

It's true that the issue is not just about sex workers. The existence of an "industry" in which overwhelmingly male clients buy sex from overwhelmingly female workers, reinforces the idea that men have a "right" to sex. And that women are somehow less than human commodities. The same idea that most rapists have actually. You can't separate social phenomena and claim that one doesn't affect the other, we live on earth, not Mars. A lot of men buy sex from sex workers not because they can't get sex elsewhere but because they enjoy the idea of the woman being 'degraded'.

It's also true that attempts to tackle the situation worldwide have not been successful. No matter what has been tried. Including legalisation - there's no evidence that legalisation of brothels decreases either underage prostitution or street prostitution.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3900361.stm

There may well be a number of sex workers who make a good living from their jobs and choose to do them. However presumably one reason they can charge such high rates with little competitition is illegality. Simple economics says that increased legalisation would lead to an increased supply of workers (as found in Amsterdam) for instance. And earnings would correspondingly drop - it's a matter of supply and demand. One reason why not all sex workers support legalisation.

But given that there is vast exploitation and that there are many girls under 16 being groomed in the UK for prostitution
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7092401.stm

is the government just meant to ignore the problem and hope it goes away?

If groups like the IUSW really support sex workers rights why are they not encouraging them to organise collectively and work safely? They would thus avoid exploitation by pimps and get to keep all the money they earn. Instead they seem keen to ensure that female sex workers remain in the control of largely male pimps.

delphyne // Posted 07 January 2009 at 16:35

The last time I looked at the IUSW website they were trying to fundraise, which is very unusual for a trade union branch as funds normally come from membership subscriptions and support from the main union. It would be interesting to know how many full-time members they actually have. I'd also like to know how many of their members work in prostitution, given the tendency for some sex industry activists to blur the distinction between different types of work in the sex industry in order that they can claim that they speak for the most oppressed - prostituted women.

Have Ana Lopez or any of her colleagues ever worked in prostitution? If not why on earth do they claim to speak for prostituted women?

Anyway what exactly is the argument against this legislation - that men who rape women forced into prostitution shouldn't be prosecuted in case in leads to hypothetical violence further down the line against other women? Rapists deserve what is coming to them and I'm amazed that anybody could be critical of such a move. It's terrific that the government are finally taking steps to end this legalised rape of women and children.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 07 January 2009 at 16:57

rape is already illegal in the UK, is it not?

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 17:16

depends how you define it. or more importantly, how the police and the courts do.

as it happens, when brothels full of traffiked women held against their will have been raided by police here, theyve let the dudes go as innocent punters, and its the women who are way more likely to end up in custody.

so the possibility of reversing this situation through holding punters accountable, while viewing the women as victims of crime who should be given whatever support is necessary, is a move in the right direction as far as im concerned.

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 17:22

but then the clue was in delphynes post - "legalised rape". yes, feminists do tend to see sexual exploitation as a form of rape. unfortunately the law and juries tend to be hazy about it when money is involved. as in, she got paid, so i didnt do nothing wrong guv. its this lack of accountability thats under scrutiny.

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 17:41

i want to say on this point:
"Caroline highlights some of the many terrible cases of violence committed against sex workers in 2008;"

Unless these people were known to a/ be actively pro prostitution rather than there out of desperation and b/ self defining as 'sex workers', then i view all attempts by 'sex workers rights' groups to use their names as nothing less than appropriation.

these people were murdered by the sex industry and male violence and entitlement. using their deaths to promote or defend these things is sick.


RenegadeEvolution // Posted 07 January 2009 at 17:48

V:

I absolutely think the rape of sex workers/prostituted people is a legal issue that needs to be taken more seriously. I'm just not sure criminalizing customers will inspire that.

Frances // Posted 07 January 2009 at 18:08

With all this discussion about how we are not looking at what prostitutes themselves want, why not take the example of the Iceni project following the Ipswich murders. There, many men stayed away from prostitutes, afraid that they would be accused of murder, demand dropped and a combination of support from probation, charities and social services enabled a large percentage of the prostitute population leave their work, and the vast majority of them seized the opportunity.

That sort of focus and attention is only possible where there is open, non-judgemental discussion and the number of johns is significantly reduced, providing an opportunity for women to exit. The murder of prostituted women in Ipswich showed us not only that there are a great number of violent and entitled men who use and abuse women, but also that where women can be seen as victims instead of criminals, progress can be made.

Of course, that is exactly what this legislation is hoping to achieve, by shifting the focus to make johns the criminals rather than prostitutes themselves. It is also crucial that we start acknowledging just how great a problem sex trafficking is, and that the problem is directly fuelled by an increase in demand. If we can limit that demand by putting in strict penalties in place for men that use women who have been trafficked into prostitution, because we know that currently, they just don't care (~there was a survey which I can't for the life of me track down on goggle, where men who visited prostitutes were asked what would make them stop, not a single one selected a woman being trafficked as a reason).

Whether it will succeed, I'm not as sure, but I think that has more to do with prevailing attitudes from society and within the police force. As I think renegade evolution has succintly stated - rape is already illegal and look just how far that has got (yes, I am awaare that I am twisting the meaning to make a point)

- Most of this is referenced, I am simply too lazy, the majority comes from a thesis entitled "Diagnostico e intervencion con Mujeres Victimas de Trata y Explotacion Sexual" & The European Women's Lobby

delphyne // Posted 07 January 2009 at 18:36

Currently men who rape prostituted women can use the defence that they had no idea that the woman they raped was being forced by a pimp or trafficker. Under our sexist legal system this means they cannot be charged with rape. The new law will make what they have done a "strict liability" offence - in other words ignorance will be no excuse and no defence.

According to the Metropolitan police about 70% of prostituted women in England and Wales are controlled by traffickers. This is a good law for all those women.

I'm still bemused that anybody could think it is worthwhile objecting to this but then I've never understood why the experience of the happy few should outweigh the grief, pain and sexual torture experienced by women in their thousands at the hands of men who think paying to rape them is an acceptable leisure pursuit.

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 18:55

RE "I absolutely think the rape of sex workers/prostituted people is a legal issue that needs to be taken more seriously."

I have no doubt that you do. However, regardless of what we want, its not happening. No rape in this country is taken seriously - I really believe that, after much time trying really hard to be more optimistic about the situation.

That needs to change. And with reference to prostitution - as long as a punter can purchase his innocence, that is not going to happen. Regardless of changes in law, where women are seen to have been reimbursed for sexual services, in and outside of marriage, in and outside of prostitution, violence is covered up and excused.

So why support the legal changes, you probably wonder. I support the changes because I think changing the law is a step towards changing attitudes. Right now punters are excused from accountability and I have no doubt whatsoever that most of them see themselves as innocent guys just having a good time as they are entitled to do. They, and the people around them, need to know that their behaviour does have an affect, and they need to reevaluate their position.

Any decent punter, and we're being told they exist, is not going to care about this law, or be affected by it, because he already makes sure of the people he is paying, that they consent to the arrangement.

And to be honest, regardless of what anyone else thinks about 'pearl clutchers' and our responses to kerb crawling - ive lived a lot in areas with lots of kerb crawlers, its not safe, you dont feel safe, all women and girls in the area get approached and harassed and many of us get attacked too. Kerb crawling needs to be stopped.

Ive seen it said in other places that those of us who want kerb crawlers stopped are, i dont know, posh ladies whose vanilla sensibilities are offended? As if a posh lady ever had kerb crawlers outside her house. Any idiot spilling this crap needs to spend some time living in the middle of it, see how safe and brilliant you feel when you come home from school or work and get propositioned and sworn at and have stuff chucked at you along the way.

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 19:55

So being a male sex worker who works with and surrounded by female sex workers and who through my work with the union speaks to sex workers of all genders virtually daily I somehow should not entitled to talk because by accident of birth i am a man and because some sadly view men as natural abusers. Interesting and quite amusing, if not a little disturbing.
Those who talk this way have no idea about sex work at all. None. Sex work is hugely diverse as are the reasons people do sex work and why people purchase sex. From horny first timers to married guys wanting a little no string fun to disabled guys who have little or no movement or sensation (as the case with one of my clients) to elderly men the list is endless. And to some they are all abusers and yet these same men have families and children and sisters etc but they are all rapists:). No they are human beings who buy the services (not the body or the mind)of another consenting adult. It is no concern of the state what two consenting adults do or at least is should not be the states concern. It has nothing to do with male entitlement or violence but rather human need for contact, pleasure and company. Yes violence occurs but that is because society decides in its ignorance to make the work of sex workers dangerous. Criminality encourages criminals and dangerous clients who because of the stigma associated with the work feel they can attack sex workers with impunity rather than other women. That fact is what makes those to support criminalising sex workers the real abusers.
The IUSW is run by sex workers. Catherine Stevens is a sex worker and speaks regularly, I am a sex worker (only a man though sorry). How many sex workers do you want to speak out before our voices become relevant?
The nature of sex work is to be discreet. Discreet because of clients confidentiality, discreet because of legality and discreet because idiots target sex workers and attack their children and homes. You have to be brave or mad or both to speak publicly about your work sadly. Something the antis know and use against us hence their hatred of the IUSW and the ECP etc. We should not be allowed a voice unless it is as the victim.
Two more points.
In New Zealand where decriminalisation has happened sex worker numbers have not increased and prices have not gone down nor demand gone up.
In Ipswich the girls have either moved on to other areas or are now working as sex workers using mobile phones and the internet.
Sex workers are survivors and tenacious.

Douglas

Cath Elliott // Posted 07 January 2009 at 20:03

RenegadeEvolution - "wait, wait, D Fox, who is sex worker, gets dismissed because he's a man?"

No, I don't think I dismissed him, just his analysis of who the real abusers are in this situation.

No matter how much I abhor this current government, which I do, as far as I'm aware they're not the ones going around raping and abusing sex workers: men are.

We can argue until the cows come home about whether this legislation, that legislation, or no legislation at all is the solution to the problem, and we can vote in successive governments of every different hue, but at the end of the day if we can't even identify what the real problem is or who the real abusers are we're not going to get very far at all.

It's male violence that's at the core of all this, and men's attitudes towards women and sex. It's not Jacqui Smith or Fiona McTaggart; they're just trying to find a solution, and however cack-handedly you think they're doing, at least they haven't come on here and tried to justify trafficking and pimping as Douglas Fox has done.

Incidentally, I find it interesting that on a feminist discussion site I get picked up for naming men as part of the problem, and yet Lucy's "bitchiness" comment passes unremarked.......

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 07 January 2009 at 20:06

"Ive seen it said in other places that those of us who want kerb crawlers stopped are, i dont know, posh ladies whose vanilla sensibilities are offended? As if a posh lady ever had kerb crawlers outside her house. Any idiot spilling this crap needs to spend some time living in the middle of it, see how safe and brilliant you feel when you come home from school or work and get propositioned and sworn at and have stuff chucked at you along the way."

Who says none of us "idiots" haven't?

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 20:59

i wasnt talking about you ren. but seeing as you took it personally, should i assume that you have been making insulting claims about the sexual preferences and financial status of any women who dares complain about kerb crawling?

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:02

d fox - "How many sex workers do you want to speak out before our voices become relevant? "

thats a very good question. how many prostituted women have to speak out before our voices become relevant?

if you could let us know how your union answers, that would be grand.

delphyne // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:04

How many prostituted women are represented by the IUSW D Fox? How many members do you have in your GMB branch? Why is that apparently such a difficult question to answer?

As far as I see you speak for yourselves, not the thousands of women trafficked and forced into prostitution in this country.

delphyne // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:17

You know I'm thinking that pimps could also describe themselves as "sex-workers". Would I be right in thinking that those who use the term would find that acceptable?

Douglas, exactly what form does the "sex work" that you do take?

delphyne // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:32

No need to answer Douglas. I see you run an escort agency:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/866713.we_dont_sell_sex_for_a_living/

It's a great day when pimps can call themselves sex workers.

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:52

The IUSW is part of the GMB which is the third largest union in the UK and fully supports the rights of sex workers.
Our membership is diverse and covers the whole industry. No of Members? why do you need to know? Why should it matter? If it is one or if it is one million matters not one jot. The fact is we exist and we are recognised is the problem for those who hate sex workers.
What sex work do I do? Do you really want to know the details? I am a male escort do you want my web site address?
The union is quite clear that it is against trafficking and coercion so the statement made that we represent traffickers and pimps is actually proof that we upset the sex worker haters:)
It is quite a statement thousands of trafficked women and prostituted women? Do you know how many women are trafficked because if you do perhaps you should tell the government because they do not have a clue. Pentameter 1 an 11 produced a handful of trafficked women but closed numerous brothels which were safe places for sex workers to work and destroyed the lives of brothel owners some who who had actually informed the police of possible trafficking victims and had even housed the victims giving them sanctuary. British justice but no doubt considered a sign of success by sex worker haters who think they speak for the erm prostituted women?
What I really find distasteful about those who pretend to care about trafficked victims is that they hate the people who work in the sex industry so much (no you don't hate men, you hate the women who sell sex) that they persist in demanding the full force of the law be used against an already stigmatised and criminalised sector of our society. The justification is to save us but listen please listen we do not want saved thank you. We want rights. The people you use to justify your abuse are the people who will suffer the most. This is the true tragedy of criminalisation. The vulnerable become more vulnerable. History has proved over and over again that only rights will stop abuse. It is simple and it is effective. As feminists support women even those who do a job you disapprove of. That is being a true feminist.

Douglas

Cath Elliott // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:57

Interestingly, only a few weeks ago there was a discussion on Punterlink about the government's proposals, and a contributor there was asking clients/johns to join the IUSW. Apparently they can sign themselves up as either escorts or friends, and then get themselves membership of an organisation that purports to represent sex workers' rights.

It's the second comment down if anyone wants to look:

http://www.punterlink.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=101470

Note that this contributor is also in correspondence with Nikki Adams of the ECP/Global Women's Strike/Wages for Housework

So tell us again Douglas, who do the ECP and the IUSW really represent?

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 21:59

No my partner runs an agency :)
I work have you searched for my web site as well?
The union recognises everyone in the sex industry regardless of the role they play.
The agency supports the IUSW/GMB and most of the people represented in my partners agency are also members of the GMB.
In the union we do not hate as sex worker haters do.We support people and recognise and respect their choices.

Douglas

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 22:04

yeugh, what an interview. fyi, mr fox, adult women are not 'girls' and 'ladies' isnt much better.

thats all i have to say about that, the grossness of your comments being self evident.

v // Posted 07 January 2009 at 22:32

nice, i just read that d fox's escort agency was (is?) offering a couple of hours with a 'girl' or 'lady' as part of a monthly competition prize.

yep, hes sure got us girls best interests at heart. im sure.

this is who 'sex workers' are being represented by? jeebus h.

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 22:38

This blogg detailing a report on migrant workers may be of interest to those who support the governments latest proposals.
http://stephenpaterson.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/uk-has-lowest-percentage-of-migrant-sex-workers-in-western-europe-but-from-more-countries/
It confirms basically what sex workers have been trying to get across to the government and those who support its plans.

Douglas.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 07 January 2009 at 22:41

v: nah, but I am fond of the phrase pearl clutching for all sorts of reasons...and I may have misunderstood you...as the people discussing here who are not in agreement with the new law...well, to the best of my knowledge, all of them have probably at one point or another lived in a place where there is street based prostitution, so I was not entirely sure whom all you were assuming to be idiots.

Cath: I missed the 'bitchiness" comment. I just find it odd when in discussions involving sex work that sex workers are cast in question due to having a penis. And don't worry, I seriously doubt anyone around here, except maybe Caroline, will ever accuse me of being a feminist...but I am a sex worker, so yes, I keep track of laws that pertain to them.

Delphyne: I think Douglas also sees clients, which yes, would make him a sex worker.

delphyne // Posted 07 January 2009 at 23:35

I don't hate people in prostitution or other forms of sex work. I do hate pimps and punters though Douglas.

You make a big fat living off of the bodies of women. I bet most of the women you use in your agency can't afford townhouses in Gosforth from their earnings.

You've been misrepresenting yourself throughout this thread. The story in the Northern Echo tells the true story. I saw the programme about the pair of you on Channel 4 too. You represent pimps' interests, not the interests of women in the industry.

The GMB should be ashamed of itself allowing itself to be used as a front for pimps like this.

Cath Elliott // Posted 07 January 2009 at 23:44

Douglas - "What I really find distasteful about those who pretend to care about trafficked victims is that they hate the people who work in the sex industry so much (no you don't hate men, you hate the women who sell sex) that they persist in demanding the full force of the law be used against an already stigmatised and criminalised sector of our society"

If you'd done your homework you'd understand that those of us who are opposed to the legalisation or decriminalisation of prostitution are fully in support of the decriminalisation of those working in the "trade." That's what the Swedish model is all about, criminalising the johns, and providing support and exit routes for those working in prostitution.

"As feminists support women even those who do a job you disapprove of. That is being a true feminist"

I don't think anyone here needs lessons in feminism from a man who earns his living pimping women.

Seriously, give it up now Douglas, you're done here.

D Fox // Posted 07 January 2009 at 23:56

Sadly the IUSW does not receive money from the government or any other organisation. We are self funding and we invite contributions from anyone who has an interest in the industry including clients. I emphasise we do not hate or judge others but accept people and the choices they make. We support human rights which means we even support the right of anti sex workers to have their say.
Sometimes things are said that should be of mutual agreement. No one likes abuse in any form.The tragedy about debates such as this is that there is probably many things sex workers rights groups and radical feminists (I assume that is an expression some would use) would have in common. Instead of sitting debating real issues and resolving them however there is a massive divide which is so sad.
I have said before only the acceptance of others views and an acceptance of others rights will ever stop abuse not criminalisation and stigmatisation.

delphyne // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:05

Why is it sad that your union doesn't receive money from any other organisation Douglas? You're part of the GMB aren't you (although they seem to want to keep you hived off elsewhere unless they are wanting to look right-on)? Trade unions' strength is based on their membership. If you don't actually represent women in prostitution you have no business claiming that you do. If you only represent a tiny handful, again you have little or no right to claim that you are a voice for all women in prostitution.

It's a joke that a pimp thinks he has that right, although probably pretty unsurprising. You must hate women a hell of lot to think it's OK to sell them to the kind of men I saw on that TV programme about you and your escort agency.

I'll never support your choice to sell women, and I'll never support the choice of men to pay to sexually exploit them.

FCAP // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:06

Hi everyone,

FCAP (Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution) have created a petition
on the 10 Downing Street website calling for the Prime Minister to
criminalise the purchase of sex as well as to fund services to help
women exit prostitution.

You can see the full petition here:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/FCAPpetition1/

Please do sign and forward around to your friends, contacts, email
lists, etc. It's really important to get as much support for this as
possible.

delphyne // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:08

Douglas' agency:

http://www.ct-escorts.co.uk/

They use the IUSW membership to claim that their's is an ethical escort agency (there aren't enough rolly-eyed smilies in the world for that one). So bascially trade unionism has been reduced to a marketing ploy for pimps.

What is sickening is that trade unions have done an enormous amount to promote equality in the workplace and to eradicate sexual harassment against women, yet now these pimps are trying to drag unions into supporting paid for inequality and paid for sexual harassment. It's like Alice in Wonderland world.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:10

I have a question, actually, because I've seen this a lot:

A discussion about sex work begins. People of various thought on the matter participate. Sex Workers Rights folks, many of whom also happen to be current or former sex workers participate, and then...well, it can get unpleasant. I've seen it happen with people from BAYSWAN, The Scarlet Allience, SWOP, and now IUSW. I've seen people who truly have been victimized in prostitution, like Jill Brenneman, discounted because of their decrim stances, and women like Isabella Lund, a Swedish sex worker, dismissed because she doesn't support the Swedish Model. I've seen intent and activism mocked and actual concern that is real and good that is done discounted, the fact that almost every sex workers org that I have ever seen does have exit programs for those who want them in ignored. I suppose I want to know why. I mean, I can tell you, the huge sex workers event I went to in Chicago in July? No way were all those women (and men, and transwomen) people who chose to be in sex work, but almost all of them were sex workers, and yes, many want to or are on the road to exiting, getting educations, kicking drug habits...so why the need to make it sound like these orgs are forever up to no good...because that's what it sounds like you think is going on.

MB // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:12

Here’s some more regarding the IUSW and the ECP…a small example of their beliefs. Remember, I said *small* example.

Prostitution is one of the only areas in Western society where women can feel good about their own bodies because they go into work everyday and men tell them they are beautiful

Trafficking is a myth

It is a lie that looked after children (those with a background in local authority care) are over-represented in prostitution

For children who have been sexually abused prostitution is sometimes the only job they can go into as adults

Prostitutes can make the world safer for women
Rather than encourage rape, prostitutes are there for people who have a strong sex drive and cannot find anyone to have sex with. They cope with all those with confused and repressed sexualities, removing the risk of attack they cause to other women.

Prostitutes can relieve those who cannot masturbate
People with weak, short or no arms may live in perpetual sexual frustration unless they have a toe that reaches, somebody who will help them out or the money to pay a prostitute. Denying them the opportunity to pay for what other people take for granted is denying them absolute human rights.

Prostitution enables many women to liberate themselves
It is not uncommon for women to enter the sex industry in order to establish their own sexual identity. Belle du Jour was a classic. There are many situations where women decide to enter sex work because it seems to be the only way they can throw their sexual repressive background to the wall. They usually have to keep quiet about it and never identify themselves publicly.

Sex Work can be empowering
People gain personal strength from selling their bodies because their clients worship and admire them, they have as much sex as they want and the defy traditional mores and roles imposed on them. Often prostitutes are extremely healthy, playful, creative, adventurous and independent women.

Finn Makay said recently “The IUSW are nothing more than a mouth piece of the sex industry. Pimps and brothel owners are members, as they are counted as workers in the industry too. In America where they started the IUSW have their annual conference called the ‘whores conference’ and strip clubs and brothels have stalls there recruiting.

Feminist Fightback are a member of IUSW and a big supporter of theirs, as, incidentally are several members of FAF, the Feminist Activist Forum. You may remember FAF when they were involved in the squatted women’s space talking about their involvement in a project called X Talk, which is about teaching English to ‘migrant sex workers’ in the UK (they talk about migrant sex workers you see because they think all women here involved in prostitution who have come from abroad have migrated for sex work, only a tiny fraction are trafficked apparently) you know important things like how to say - please don’t rape me - or - please inform the Poppy Project that I am being held against my will - in English. You will be glad to know that this project won an award at an erotica awards event, winning a gold flying penis. I’m sure everyone who is interested in Feminism and goes along to FAF or Feminist Fightback meetings to find out more is looking for just this kind of ‘feminism’ and gold flying penis awards is exactly what they would associate with the Feminist struggle”


Just so you know who they are.

Sorry that I don’t have a link or a screen save but they err ‘cleaned’ their act up when they were applying for GMB recognition.


D Fox // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:13

If you attack clients you are attacking sex workers. It is like allowing teachers but criminalising schools. Does that make sense.

Cath Elliot. Your dismissal me is a sad reflection of your views. I have always been a feminist and have supported womens rights through Amnesty International for which I am also an activist. I spoke on sex workers rights at their last conference in Nottingham and won support for our rights at conference.
I am happy for you to refer to myself as a Pimp if that makes you feel better. I have been called many things worse:)
I actually have little to do with the management of my partners agency but I do speak freely to the press and I am very proud of his business and the women and men who choose to be represented by him. It does show your complete lack of knowledge of the industry to assume that the women represented are some how used. It is disrespectful to them. Many have very good jobs and some live in very nice houses paid for by their escort work. I would be very happy for you and your colleagues to meet ourselves and the girls represented. It would be a learning experience for you I think and you would meet some very feisty women more than capable of making choices.
I will continue to speak as a sex worker because I am in a position few sex workers find themselves in. I am successful through my work as a sex worker and in other business interests outside of sex work and I am totally open about who I am and what I am. Most sex workers because of the stigma encouraged by criminalisation are unable to do that.

Douglas

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 00:14

ren - "I was not entirely sure whom all you were assuming to be idiots."

i was pre-empting them. every time ive seen or heard someone object to kerb crawling, theres someone who pipes up about the moralistic blahblahblah. including on feminist blogs when this discussion happens, oh, every five minutes it seems to me these days.

i didnt mention anyone by name because i couldnt be arsed to go trawling through past posts to find the evidence.

anyway - kerb crawling. not a good thing for any of us. especially shit for those who live in areas where its rife. objections to kerb crawling? mainly not coming from these moralising posh women suffering sexual repression, the modern bogeypeople who we hear about so much.. in fact, these objections are mainly coming from residents in the areas it happens, who tend to be less affluent and at risk from the shitheads who do it. and yeh, i do believe they have a right to speak up and be heard, on that topic.


Annie // Posted 08 January 2009 at 08:14

I just caught up on this thread:

I think it is very problematic when it is pimps who pretend to defend prostitutes' rights. Because I am fully aware that pimps only care about their own interest even though they may say otherwise.

The pro-prostitution racket is sheer propaganda. They keep trying to discredit the Swedish model so that they can defend legalisation. However, I checked the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women website and many other websites and I have noticed that legalisation or decriminalisation of the whole sex trade (including decriminalising pimps and punters) has so many times been proven not to work, e.g. trafficking increased, the number of illegal brothels and activities increased, etc in both the Netherlands and Australia.

I think that the Swedish model is the logical answer to prostitution: You criminalise who benefits from the victimisation of women in prostitution, ie punters and pimps; and you decriminalise those who are clearly not guilty: the women in prostitution, who are mainly there because there is a demand for prostitution.

So long as the demand for prostitution is not targeted (while decriminalising & providing exit programmes for the women & girls in prostitution), then the problem will never be tackled properly.


Cath: "I don't think anyone here needs lessons in feminism from a man who earns his living pimping women."

Exactly, we don't need that.


Cath, Delphyne, MB and v, you all did a great job. And I wanted to thank all four of you for your excellent contribution to this thread.

D Fox // Posted 08 January 2009 at 11:22

Again it is I have to say a sad reflection on those who say they care that they choose not to listen to any voice that does not pander to their caricatured propaganda.
The Swedish experiment has not worked. It is simple because it does enforce the caricature which makes certain illiberal persons feel secure.If pushing an industry underground is a sign of success then yes Sweden is a brilliant example of state persecution and hypocrisy. Take a look at the work done by Dr Michael Goodyear and other academics. Or are they paid for by pimps and traffickers as well :)
Decriminalisation has only been tried in New Zealand where it has been very successful. I agree legalisation is not a good idea because it creates a two tier system although anything that makes sex workers lives safer is always good.
it amuses me that some persons dismiss the experiences of women and men and transgender persons sex workers as soon as they speak because they do not pander to the abused victim syndrome that comforts the sex worker haters. It is not only ignorant but actually dangerous because it leads to bad laws and bad feminism as we see.
How many supporting hatred of clients and pimps (which is really hatred of sex workers) have spoken to migrant sex workers and asked them their experiences. We know the horror stories of course but how may have listened to the majority?
The attitudes of some would if applied elsewhere would enforce negative stereotypes such as all black men are drug dealers, all Muslims are bombers.
I suspect the voice of any sex worker is going to be ignored by some but is that really how to create a fair and just society?

Douglas

Kez // Posted 08 January 2009 at 11:36

D Fox says: "Sex workers are survivors and tenacious."

Nice soundbite, shame it's just as much of a generalisation as "all sex workers are exploited victims".

Doubtless his description applies to some, but many - the abused children, the drug addicted, the trafficked - can only be described as "survivors" in the most basic sense of "staying alive". And not always even that.

Anna // Posted 08 January 2009 at 11:38

I've stayed out of this thus far because I don't know enough about this highly polemical debate to have reached my own opinion on it yet.
However. Even if it is a minority of women who are being repeatedly raped and held in sex slavery, why does that mean the (apparently) happy majority should have the right to continue their 'chosen profession'? Don't the rights of those women matter to you?

Tyranny of the majority. I suggest you look it up.
It's not racism. It's regard for women's rights.

polly styrene // Posted 08 January 2009 at 11:52

D Fox, if you are claiming to represent sex workers, it IS relevant if you are actually making money from other people doing sex work. If it isn't a big deal, why didn't you mention it? Why did other people have to point it out?

If you look at the BBC news link I gave before, you will see that:

"Many brothels in Australia appear to be in the hands of the same criminals who would otherwise control street prostitutes.

In the Netherlands, a commission found organised crime's control of prostitution increased following licensing.

There is little evidence that illegal street prostitution has decreased in these countries.

The UK also fears brothels would not help tackle the serious problem of the trafficking of women into the sex trade from abroad.

Other research suggests there have been few health benefits - The Australian state of New South Wales said the prevalence of some sexually transmitted diseases worsened after the law was changed. "

New Zealand is not the only place that has tried decriminilisation, and it hasn't 'worked' anywhere.

Kez // Posted 08 January 2009 at 11:53

How convenient to dismiss those who disagree with you as "sex worker haters" and "bad feminists"!

Especially when you have so clear a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 12:01

"I suspect the voice of any sex worker is going to be ignored by some but is that really how to create a fair and just society?"

answer the questions douglas..

how long before you or the IUSW starts listening to those who dont agree with you? how long before you stop pretending those dissenting voices dont exist? my guess is, round about never - it will continue for as long as you are able to pretend that management=worker and for as long as you are able to make money off other peoples bodies.

its seriously fucking shameful that any person or organisation that claims to be left, progressive, or just plain humanitarian, covers its eyes and ears to this blatant corruption.

im sick of seeing the same handful of people, on or offline, claiming that 'sex workers' are being ignored or somehow oppressed by dissenters. clue - those dissenters have just as much right to fucking speak as you do, stop drowning us all out. stop pretending you speak for all of us - you do not.

a union that invbites and accepts pimps and punters into its membership to inflate the figures, decide its direction, be its spokespeople, and then influence law and policy, that is a corrupt union and i dont give a shit what anyone else tries to sell it as - its time people recognised whats going on here.

Annie // Posted 08 January 2009 at 12:31

Well, because Scotland has been mentioned here, the Scottich Parliament's website has a link to a four-country study report by the way:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/committees/lg/inquiries/ptz/lg04-ptz-res-03.htm

That showed that while legalisation/decriminalisation of the whole sex industry in Victoria (Australia) and the Netherlands did fail, the Swedish experiment has in fact worked.

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women has also made a whole case against legalisation. And they have gathered plenty of evidence on their website:

http://www.catwinternational.org/index.php

Some also back up the proof that the Swedish law has worked.

Annie // Posted 08 January 2009 at 12:39

Anna:"Even if it is a minority of women who are being repeatedly raped and held in sex slavery, why does that mean the (apparently) happy majority should have the right to continue their 'chosen profession'? Don't the rights of those women matter to you?"

It is in fact a majority who want out of prostitution. I've read about it. But thanks a lot for mentioning this, Anna, because even if it were a minority, I still believe that they should have the right to exit prostitution.

No woman was put on this earth to bought, sold and abused by men.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 08 January 2009 at 12:58

I think New Zealand has the right idea.

D Fox // Posted 08 January 2009 at 13:17

Polly styrene.

I speak out for human rights of which sex workers rights are important because I am a sex worker. The fact that my partner runs an agency actually allows me even more knowledge of how the industry works and I hope I also speak for the thousands of sex workers who choose to be represented by a third party.
I am also a male sex worker. Male sex workers are conveniently ignored by people like yourself.
Sadly I have to go and be abused incidentally by a man dying with MS but you know how abusive these jons are:)
I will answer your other points later this evening be assured.

Douglas

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 13:46

right so youre saying that to support the rights of people not to be prostituted is now ableist because, what, disabled people cant score lovers on their own, without payment?

delphyne // Posted 08 January 2009 at 13:51

Pimps really are the most sanctimonious self-justifying bunch aren't they?

In case anybody is under any illusions about where Douglas fits in the sex industry here are some quotes from him about his work:

"Douglas explains how it all began. "We got into the business because a friend of ours was an escort and she asked me to answer her phone calls, and through answering her phone calls, more and more ladies and a few gentlemen started calling, asking if I would represent them as well," he says. "We didn't set out at all to get involved in this industry. It was purely by accident.""

""We'd been established just over a year or so and we went through a huge legal battle that lasted 18 months," recalls Douglas. "We were accused of living off the immoral earnings of prostitutes. I think there were a lot of politics involved because John was still working for the police (as an accountant) at the time."

They suffered the indignity of arrest but when the case came to court, it fell apart. "Luckily, we had a very, very experienced London-based legal team which did an absolutely brilliant job," explains Douglas. "Basically, the ladies we represented at the time refused to turn up and the police needed them to admit in court that they were prostitutes.""

"Douglas is dancing around the issue of what goes on, but he firmly denies that he and John are merely pimps. "Our job is simply to advertise the people we represent and promote them to the best of our ability," he says. "When a client rings up we never ever discuss sexual services. We never discuss sexual services with the ladies. It's not only for legal reasons - it's simply that we believe that what happens between consenting adults is up to them. It would be very prurient delving into people's sex lives.""

I suppose it's true that being a pimp would give you a lot of insight into the industry. It would definitely give a man a clear idea of how much money he can make selling women's bodies. How much does a town house in Gosforth cost these days?

Bizarre too now that he's claiming to represent sex workers when he told both the Northern Echo and the court that they weren't in the business of selling sex.

Kez // Posted 08 January 2009 at 13:54

So, D, you're basically some kind of social care worker? Is that what you're asking us to believe?

This just gets better and better.

Annie // Posted 08 January 2009 at 13:56

Sorry I meant to say: No woman was put on this earth to be bought, sold and abused by men.

I don't think the decriminalisation of the whole sex trade (including pimps and punters) has worked either in New Zealand:

http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/Report%20on%20NZ%2010-29-2008.pdf

And according to this NZ page below, New Zealand has become a sex trafficking destination:

http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/1316907/1831498

"The US State Department's Human Traffic Report for 2008 has named New Zealand as a destination country for women being trafficked for the sex trade.

It says women from Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and other countries are being exploited in the sex industry in NZ.

The report though estimates that human trafficking in New Zealand are modest, with some reports of debt bondage and confiscation of document among women in prostitution.

The report says that while there have been no reports of foreign trafficking victims since 2001, there is evidence of women from Asia, the Czech Republic, and Brazil working in the country illegally as prostitutes.

New Zealand also has internal trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation.

The report says there have been no prosecutions here under anti-trafficking laws, which require movement across an international border.

The US Department of State has recommended that the New Zealand Government increase efforts to measure the extent to which foreign women and children under the age of 18 may fall victim to sex trafficking and aggressively prosecute cases.

There have been prosecutions in New Zealand for internal trafficking under the Prostitution Reform Act."


Wherever prostitution is completely decriminalised, the pimps and traffickers thrive. And the punters' demand for the sexual exploitation of women and children rise.

I think it is Sweden that has had the right idea: to decriminalise the women in prostitution and to prosecute punters and pimps.

Anna // Posted 08 January 2009 at 13:57

can you say 'straw man' or 'ad hominem', anyone?

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 14:41

at 4.34pm on 6th January, RenegadeEvolution implied that those who didnt agree with her didnt have any personal experience of prostitution, and throughout this thread she has continued to imply that such peoples opinions were not valid. Id like to point out that as we're talking about changes in law that refer to street prostitution and prostitution of people held against their will or otherwise forced into it, and both specifically in the UK, RenegadeEvolution by her own standards of qualification is not an authority or a spokesperson for these people. she has not, to my knowledge at least, been in either of these forms of prostitution, and certainly not in the UK. If I am wrong then please feel invited to correct me.

D Fox also has made several references to his right to be spokeperson for these groups of people, and has also implied that anyone who disagrees with him has no right to comment. yet as far as we know, D Fox is a manager of an escorting agency, which hardly qualifies him to speak on behalf of these other groups of people.

Caroline, who seems to be set up as the go-to person for organising against this bill, has also been inferring that anyone who does not publicly identify themselves as having been in those groups has no right to comment. in fact, she goes so far as to say that those who comment in disagreement with her are more concerned with protecting their ideology than with protecting or supporting the vulnerable people in these groups. did i miss the memo which tells us how Caroline is entitled to speak for and organise on behalf of these groups of people?

this is a fact - we do not all know each other, or what connections we all may or may not have to prostitution. it is probably best not to make assumptions, unless people offer the information, or unless the evidence is widely available, as in Douglas Fox's case. and those people who are insisting that they are the spokespeople, and doing down anyone elses right to comment - let them stand up to their own standards.

Cath Elliott // Posted 08 January 2009 at 14:44

Douglas - "I actually have little to do with the management of my partners agency"

Although you're still heavily involved in its discussion forum I see:

"The IUSW is changing. It remains part of the GMB union but we are also launching an IUSW campaign branch which will not require union membership for those who have issues re joining a union.........We need money to campaign however so if you do not want to join the union but can donate to the IUSW campaign then please do. I will keep everyone informed when the changes are finally agreed but if we can have some sugar daddies and mummies and agencies prepared to donate monthly funds then boy do we need them" (Douglas on the IUSW / Escorting Law forum:
A section dedicated to Douglas's IUSW work and General Discussion on Escorting Law)

http://www.ct-escorts.co.uk/c2006/main.htm

I see the site also has a feedback forum, where men can post comments about what a great time they had with one of your "ladies".

Douglas - "It does show your complete lack of knowledge of the industry to assume that the women represented are some how used"

Even your own escorts think they're being used though don't they:

"THIS internet businessman can today be exposed by the Mail for giving away hookers as competition prizes.

Millionaire John Dockerty uses his website to give punters the chance to "win" one of his girls for up to four hours at a time.

Entrants are asked to guess the relevance behind a clue he places on the site on a monthly basis.

They text their answers to a mobile phone number.

After a winner is drawn, they are given a two-hour or four-hour session with one or two of his girls.....But one colleague, who asked not to be named, said: "It is degrading that Dockerty is giving us away for free, just to attract more business."

http://tinyurl.com/7kzu5w

Douglas - "I speak out for human rights of which sex workers rights are important because I am a sex worker"

No, you speak out and appropriate the voices of those working in the industry in order to protect your fast-expanding money-making venture:

"Between 2003 and 2005 we operated a satellite agency in the City Of Carlisle and in early 2004, we decided to offer a service in the City Of Edinburgh following customer demand for a dedicated escorting service. Having one of our most popular Newcastle escorts permanently based in Edinburgh City Centre helped enormously and we expanded the service to Scotland, moving into the city permanently in March 2005.

We offer a 1st class incall and outcall service from the heart of the City Centre and plan to continue to offer the service indefinately. Edinburgh is now a sustainable escorting venture in the city and no longer exists on a satellite basis. Along with our own core of girls dedicated to the Edinburgh agency, with also offer the most exclusive North East based ladies on an incall and outcall service in the city.

In September 2006, we finally expanded into York. This is part of an ongoing expansion plan for Christony which is also developing in-roads into the Leeds and West Yorkshire market too. We've also franchised the name into Essex and Surrey with other areas coming soon. Christony will be the number one name in escorting and your first point of contact. Although we're expanding, I will always stay in control of the Northern Operation of the company and have a vested interest in franchise operations, ensuring all times that quality and commitment from those people or persons using the Christony brand us upheld."

http://www.mc-escort.com/escort-forum/archive/index.php/t-763.html

RenegadeEvolution - This isn't about not wanting to listen to those working in the industry, it's actually about wanting to do that very thing. Unfortunately though we're not able to do so, because organisations such as the one Douglas represents are not the authentic voice of sex-workers, as I think has been made crystal clear on this thread.


Caroline // Posted 08 January 2009 at 15:03

"Cath, Delphyne, MB and v, you all did a great job. And I wanted to thank all four of you for your excellent contribution to this thread."

- I'm struggling to find anything good in this thread, least of all from V and Delphyne. I mean seriously, let's look at this.

The post is about Jacqui Smith and her proposals to change the laws in prostitution. This isn't some abstract maybe, the second reading is on Monday and it's pretty important we, as feminists (sex positive, radical, the whole lot of us), have a grip on what's happening. So Laura's written a post about it and she's expressed her reservations. Laura, incidently, is one of the few UK feminists who have addressed this. I'd go so far as to say the UK feminist blog set haven't got a clue as to what's happening in parliament right now.

So, the comments.

Jennifer Drew and MB pretty much nail the counter-argument, and we start talking about the Swedish model etc, MB talks about the problem of drug abuse and how that needs to be looked at. All is going fine pretty much, as much as Cara annoys me at least she's managed to stay on topic just about. You all remember the topic? Jacqui Smith? I don't agree with her (Cara) arguments, and I don't think (as I've said a million times) preserving this ideology is a good enough reason to defend Smith's proposals.

Let me be clear - ideas, theories, beliefs - important, of course they are. To say social attitudes don't impact on sex work would be ridiculous. But while I'm saying sex work isn't inherently violent, some say it's degrading, others say it's essentially rape, whatever we *believe*, women are still being put in danger. Women are still being raped, beaten and mudered out there. Go look on my blog for the list. Our debating, my thoughts, your thoughts, aren't doing a right lot to protect or support these women.

Now, here is our opportunity to actually achieve something - we can talk about Smith's proposals and even resolve something. If you are a radical feminist - say sex work was decriminalised and regulated and women were a hell of a lot safer? Have you lost the battle? Have you lost the war? If you think you have lost the war when women are made safer, if that's your mentality, then I've got no time for you. But yeah, all the things we’ve written about sex work in the past? Now something is actually happening, something is actually changing and it’s going to change sex work radically. Are we going to talk about that? No. We’re not, apparently. We’re not talking about the laws AT ALL in fact, we’re just gonna stick with our usual shit, our “I think sex work is x”, our thoughts and beliefs on something most of us largely have very little experience of.

Enter D Fox, spokesman for IUSW. Say what you want about the dude, but damn, he knows EXACTLY what's going on with Jacqui Smith - he's actually doing shit about it. Actual activism. There are very legitimate concerns raised by Jacqui Smith's proposals and he knows it inside out. He’s in touch with people in the government, the media, his writing is all over the damn place. Are we going to talk to him about Jacqui Smith? Lisa does, she manages to stay on topic. I like this that she says – “Surely a distinction has to be made between the 2 very different goals of eliminating commercial sex in the future and protecting sex workers in the present.” I like it cos I agree with it wholeheartedly. Only she’s said it a lot more nicely than I would.

Cath Elliot – “Violence against sex workers is an important issue, and while I disagree that across the board decriminalisation is the answer, I also think it's a crying shame that this cause has been allowed to be hijacked and appropriated by those with their own entirely separate political agenda.” – I agree with that, at least. Thing is – who are the real abusers? I’m going with the traffickers, you might go with the johns. Either way – I can say that not all johns are evil rapists and I can back my shit up as much as you want, so can Ren, so can Douglas (and those two have more of a clue than me, let’s face it). So don’t be dismissing us / them as stupid and clueless. They disagree with you but they are still worth listening to.

All these comments, caustic, argumentative, whatever they are – they still address the issue. Legislation is still being discussed. Sure, ideology is chucked round, but we’re talking about legislation and we’re trying to figure out what the best way to support the women who need supporting and protecting.

Enter Polly. And Delphyne, utterly committed to discrediting Douglas and the IUSW, and shouting about what legalisation would mean to them. Sex workers are safer with decrim, sure, but they think it would mean women are would be seen as commodities, and shit, if you disagree with that then you’re just stupid. Then v – “these people were murdered by the sex industry and male violence and entitlement. using their deaths to promote or defend these things is sick.” – I’m just acknowledging what’s happened. Maybe looking at actual cases will hammer home just how important it is to talk about the changes Jacqui Smith proposes are. To say “the law in England and Wales isn’t working out” is vague and meaningless. So I gave it meaning.

And then the thread pretty much falls apart. The rads are shouting about Douglas and the IUSW, no one seems arsed about Jacqui Smith anymore, people are placing their own political opinions and agendas above everything else. Basically, I’m disgusted by it.

And do you know what it’s proved? Feminists can’t take this on. Important changes are to take place, and the UK feminists as a whole can’t deal with it, they can’t discuss it without snarling defensively. Don’t get me wrong, there are commenters in this thread who have said some really worthwhile things, but hell, they’re just lost in a sea of point scoring.

Your political agendas aren’t important in this discussion. Your opinions of men aren’t important in this discussion. This thread is one great big derailed and embarrassing fuck up. Nothing’s been achieved. I’m going to take the time to go through all the comments and pick out the stuff I didn’t know before, etc. But if anyone looked at this thread and thought “nah, can’t make me” I wouldn’t blame them.

Complete and total mess. Bloody disappointing, given how important this is.

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 15:46

caroline again claims dissenters are obsessed with ideology and not caring about prostitutes themselves.

this is the point - we do care. we disagree with carolines interpretation of what this law is about or what effect it has. we disagree with her argument that we should follow a pimps direction on policy. we disagree with her using dead women to push for an agenda that in our opinion will only put more women at risk, and not help those who are already there.

i wont support carolines exploitative political agenda. she is one person - one - and she does not represent me or any of the people i care about, including those who have been or are still in prostitution.

i have nothing to say to caroline.

Annie // Posted 08 January 2009 at 15:52

Wow, Cath, I think it is important what you found. It clearly tells us something!

I knew it. Like delphyne, I agree that a pimp has a clear money-making agenda: What is best for the women in prostitution doesn't matter to them. It is just a facade when pimps claim otherwise.

"can you say 'straw man' or 'ad hominem', anyone?"

Yes, I think we definitely can say Straw Man, Anna.

Cath Elliott // Posted 08 January 2009 at 16:20

Caroline - "So don’t be dismissing us / them as stupid and clueless. They disagree with you but they are still worth listening to."

Not sure if that comment was aimed at me specifically, but just for the record, I don't dismiss Ren's views, and I certainly don't regard her as being either stupid or clueless. I understand that we disagree strongly about these issues, but I'm more than happy to have the debate with her.

Douglas Fox on the other hand has no credibility whatsoever in this discussion and I have no intention of doing anything other than dismissing his views out of hand. He set up and is a partner in one of the biggest escort agencies in the country, with plans to expand the franchise countrywide. His agency offers escorts as prizes in monthly competitions, and he uses the agency's talk board to solicit funding and support from punters for the IUSW, an organisation that purports to be the voice for women working in the industry.

As V put it earlier: "a union that invites and accepts pimps and punters into its membership to inflate the figures, decide its direction, be its spokespeople, and then influence law and policy, that is a corrupt union and i dont give a shit what anyone else tries to sell it as - its time people recognised whats going on here."

Damn straight.

Yes it's a shame the discussion got somewhat derailed, but what do you expect when a pimp comes along and starts posting comments on a feminist site?


George // Posted 08 January 2009 at 16:46

Caroline - "Your political agendas aren’t important in this discussion."

But yours are?

nb - I fail to see how it is possible to have an unpolitical debate about political decision-making.

Caroline // Posted 08 January 2009 at 16:53

Firstly, I'm not going to dismiss anything Douglas has to say that easily. Secondly, it's not just Douglas saying it, and it's not just the IUSW saying it.

So, um, could someone tell v that? Cos don't think she's talking to me or something....

Jesus, this discussion just gets more embarrassing and painful as time marches on...

delphyne // Posted 08 January 2009 at 17:00

It was Douglas who changed the subject to himself and tried to use his "sex worker" credentials and union credentials to bolster his arguments and discredit anyone else's. So funny he turned out to be a pimp but not very surprising given the tactics of the pro-sex industry lobby.

Anyhow, no-one answered this one, so I'll try again:

"Currently men who rape prostituted women can use the defence that they had no idea that the woman they raped was being forced by a pimp or trafficker. Under our sexist legal system this means they cannot be charged with rape. The new law will make what they have done a "strict liability" offence - in other words ignorance will be no excuse and no defence.

According to the Metropolitan police about 70% of prostituted women in England and Wales are controlled by traffickers. This is a good law for all those women.

I'm still bemused that anybody could think it is worthwhile objecting to this but then I've never understood why the experience of the happy few should outweigh the grief, pain and sexual torture experienced by women in their thousands at the hands of men who think paying to rape them is an acceptable leisure pursuit."

MariaS // Posted 08 January 2009 at 17:37

I think that this is the report that Frances @ 6.08pm was thinking of:
"Challenging Men’s Demand for Prostitution in Scotland"
http://whiteribbonscotland.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/challenging_mens_demand.pdf
Prostitute users responses to the question, ‘What changes would have to take place in order to end prostitution?’ included: “Women would have to be available for sex at any opportunity, whenever men wanted it.” “You’d have to invent women sex robots.” "Nothing is going to deter me from masturbation, and prostitution is an extention of that.”

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 08 January 2009 at 19:10

V:

That's right, I don't live in the UK. However, just as the UK looked elsewhere when formulating it's plans on how do deal with prostitution, other places might look to the UK, so I keep an eye out on these things.

And, since we're going with the spirit of who knows what about the sex industry and who doesn't....don't assume too much about what I've actually done and what I haven't, who I know and who I don't. i find it odd that people like myself can more or less be demanded to show our history and creds but when we ask the same in return its mean or inconsiderate...after all, being out and open about everything is not just hard or dangerous for one side, you know...where I live the prostitutes are still criminalized after all. Do I think I can participate in some of these conversations based of my own experiences and those of people I know? Yep, I sure do. If other people are going to participate and ask to see mine, well, then they damn well better be ready to show me theres.

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 20:08

ren - thats my whole point. stop with the assumptions. you, d fox, caroline, all on this thread, repeatedly made out like your view was the only right one, that it was shared by or represented all sex workers, that anyone who disagreed must not know what they are talking about. you were the first person to bring it up, when you said to someone here "Spoken like someone I suspect has never done the job".

cut it out. you dont know who any of us are any more than you say we can know you. you want to be treated with respect - well it works both ways. stop disrespecting people then pretending youve been wronged when they retaliate.

Caroline // Posted 08 January 2009 at 20:28

Cath - no, not at all was anything I said there directed at you.

George - I'm thinking more theoretical position, perhaps that's more accurate. And believe me, if I'd have hit you with my theoretical position you would have known about it.

Delphyne - according to the Met police, this law is barely enforceable anyway. I think this law will be ineffective at best.

D Fox // Posted 08 January 2009 at 21:07

I am a sex worker. I am quite easy to find on the web as has been proven. I could have claimed to have been someone else but I choose always to be open about who I am. My partner runs the agency not me but I do support him totally and the work he does.
Now I can spend time defending who I am but what is the point. The agency is based in the N East as you can see and we have not expanded nationwide not that that is anyones business.
I will continue to speak for the industry that I love but more importantly against legislation that will endanger sex workers.
This as has been pointed out is the important issue but sadly some are more interested in finding a scape goat for for their own prejudices and can I say ignorance of sex work. The comment made by V
"right so you're saying that to support the rights of people not to be prostituted is now ableist because, what, disabled people cant score lovers on their own, without payment?"
sums up beautifully the total lack of empathy and disregard for humanity of some of the people who comment here.
The same person also comments " wont support carolines exploitative political agenda. she is one person - one - and she does not represent me or any of the people i care about, including those who have been or are still in prostitutionl" This from a person who reads and believes propaganda that claims despite the evidence that the majority of women (why never men or trangender) are coerced into prostitution. This person dismisses myself and all sex worker rights groups one assumes because we include all sex workers and recognise their rights. It is just weird and bizarre. People with no knowledge or interest in sex work except the very particular articles they read of course know more about sex work than sex workers. Anyone who supports sex workers are traffickers and pimps or at least funded by them.
I apparently earn my living from the sale of womens bodies erm as though those women like myself have no mind, no ability to think or act. Does V or any of the women on here know any of these women. If I told you many had highly paid jobs and very nice careers would you care or would they be dismissed as the few exceptions.
If I said that I speak to sex workers through out the UK who work in brothels, some on the street and they all say the same thing "give us rights"or are they all stupid. The victims of abuse who V and co claim to care about are already protected by law but the law cannot protect them if they are hidden away which is what will happen if the industry is further driven under ground. If the nonsense spoken of that thousands of trafficked victims are being abused daily by punters then why can the police not find them despite millions of tax payers money being spent on raiding brothels through out the UK in raids under pentameter 1 and 11.
What does happen is that a mother of three young children who ran a small brothel is being charged with controlling despite no trafficked victims and despite paying all her taxes. This is no millionaire but a woman running a safe establishment being prosecuted. But I suppose she is just a pimp and her children just casualties and of no importance. And the women who worked safely in the brothel well who cares about them, another victory, another evil brothel closed.
If this is caring radical feminism then shame on all of you who support it.

Douglas

v // Posted 08 January 2009 at 21:47

at this point, i think the best response to d fox and his comments is to point and laugh.

except, of course, that its not really very funny.

still, its been illuminating. if anyone ever doubts that there are some very serious problems with the IUSW, they can be pointed at this thread and his posts.

MB // Posted 08 January 2009 at 22:24

Douglas said -"sums up beautifully the total lack of empathy and disregard for humanity of some of the people who comment here."

Just one example in his comment, which leads me to.

Douglas, I respectfully suggest that you cease with the attempting to shame women on this topic.
I've seen it work to silence women long before I even identified as a feminist. It's a key anti-feminist strategy; even if that isn't the actual intent of the man and its objective is to force women to become conscious caretakers of men/ children/ everyone else but ourselves by subduing our own frustration and anger. It’s to remind women that they should strive to avoid being one of those "angry feminists" and that “we need to be ’real’ women and put every body else’s needs first.”

So please. 


Frances // Posted 09 January 2009 at 00:24

Brilliant MariaS, thank you! It makes for grim reading though doesn't it?

And what comes through mostly is a sense of entitlement and of being outside the law.
From the report -
"They specifically mentioned that they sought anal sex, corporal punishment, sadism and masochism, and “things you wouldn’t dare ask a normal female for – a female that’s not a prostitute, that’s not offering sex for cash.”"

I just cannot see what is wrong in principle with a law that makes punters responsible for their actions.

I refuse to accept that we as a society can just tolerate a whole group of women prostituted and laid out for the demands of men because they somehow have a right to have those demands sated. I don't see how we can consign women to the job of prostrating themselves to male fantasy and doing the things that consenting women in an equal situation refuse.

This isn't about hating the women, it's about hating tolerance of men whwo buy prostitution and a system that's set up to accept and conceal and protect the men who are involved as punters while leaving prostituted women hung out to dry with no resources.

I think we can all agree that regardless f our views on prostitution, there are women who are in that situation who don't want to be there, and we must do all we can to provide them with safe exit strategies, whether they are a handful or the majority. I can only see a law that decriminalising these women while laying the responsibility at the feet of those who deserve it as positivve. I have no intention of engaging in any sort of activism against the legislation, thank you very much, Caroline.

However, I will engage in any sort of activisim relating to giving prostituted men and women exit strategies, safety and protection. And potentially, as such a diverse group, maybe a useful thing we could be doing is campaigning to make sure the strategies that offer these things run effectively alongside the law and are not sidelined in favour of using legal powers to arrest lots of men while still not really assisting prostituted women?

Anthony Kennerson // Posted 09 January 2009 at 01:21

Douglas speaks only for himself and his organization...no more than Caroline speaks for herself, Ren speaks for herself, and I speak for myself. I happen to think that he and Caroline and Ren are spot on...but I guess that's because I'm a man and an evil pimp who lives only to rape and degrade women, or so the rumor goes. (And it's just that...a rumor.)

And now, I'll take up delphyne's offer and answer her question as stated thusly:

"Currently men who rape prostituted women can use the defence that they had no idea that the woman they raped was being forced by a pimp or trafficker. Under our sexist legal system this means they cannot be charged with rape. The new law will make what they have done a "strict liability" offence - in other words ignorance will be no excuse and no defence.

According to the Metropolitan police about 70% of prostituted women in England and Wales are controlled by traffickers. This is a good law for all those women.

Actually, that is just plain, to use a British term, bollocks, since these women who are abused and raped by "pimps" or "johns" (or any other man in any other venue, for that matter) can be fully prosecuted under existing rape and sexual battery laws...which I assume, have not been repealed in Great Britain or elsewhere.

And besides, not even passage of Ms. Smith's legislation will deny defenders of rape - whether of "prostitiuted" women or otherwise -- from using the typical defense that "the woman was acting or dressed 'sluttily' and was thus asking for it" to get over.

In short, actual abusers and rapists will still be able to get a free pass and escape justice, but men who actually treat sex workers with utmost respect and humanity will be immediately criminalized and publically humiliated and forced into what are essentially "reeducation classes" ("john's schools") where they will be taught that they are essential evil rapists for merely wanting sex with women. And this will be an alternative to going to jail, too.

And the "70% of prostituted women are controlled by traffickers" stat sounds a bit like the "95% of all prostituted women want out of the business" stat....mere rhetoric pulled out of Melissa Fairley's back...pocket.

I'm still bemused that anybody could think it is worthwhile objecting to this but then I've never understood why the experience of the happy few should outweigh the grief, pain and sexual torture experienced by women in their thousands at the hands of men who think paying to rape them is an acceptable leisure pursuit."

Yeah...."paying to rape them". One wonders about the depths of hatred within someone who believes such nonsense. I guess that delphyne would be much happier if rapists didn't pay their victims, but rather that they simply rape their victims for free. Oh, wait....they already do....so, where's the moral outrage there??

Maybe because it's more the "happy few" who are the real source of delphyne's loathing and disgust...merely because they disprove her stated memes about how all "prostituted women" are merely helpless damsels in distress.

Oh, well....to each, his or her own.


Anthony

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 09 January 2009 at 02:17

V: I know enough of your story that wow, gee, I listen. Other people, right, I don't necessarily know. However, I will defend my point of view either way. I'm not acting wronged, stop saying that I am, I am saying I think this law and those similar are BAD for prostitutes, and gee, I haven't shut up anyone who disagrees. However, my "creds" have been repeatedly demanded and then, oops, dismissed. Screw that. And yeah, sometimes, a lot of this stuff does sound like things said by people who HAVEN'T done the job. Just like other folk will write anyone who disagrees with them off as some special little happy hooker...whatever. I think this law has serious potential to further endanger people who are already IN danger, I think the Swedish Model is a load of crap. I'm allowed to do that, and MIGHT have a view point OTHER people MIGHT not. Don't like it, fine, that's your perogative.

Susan // Posted 09 January 2009 at 02:34

I have a few words to say Cath, Delphyne, MB, and v.

There is a difference between a sex worker manager and a pimp, just as there is a difference between a sweatshop owner and a legitimate factory owner who respects or at least follows worker's rights.

Since you're all so concerned about "trafficked women", why don't go to the escort agency that Douglas' partner operates and actually talk to them? Talk to them like they are real human beings. It's easy to come to this blog and spew about "prostituted women". Because that's so much easier than going to the brothels, escort agencies, strip clubs, and massage parlors and talking to them yourselves. But if you cared about them, you would actually do it. And not only talk to them, but actually listen to what they had to say, without prejudice.

And please do not take information off of Melissa Farley's website. Her research is faulty, and no academics in the field of human sexuality in the United States use her research or even take her seriously. Neither should you.

Laurelin // Posted 09 January 2009 at 11:36

I'm curious, Anthony, have you been to a john re-education class?

And if you don't want to be considered a misogynist, well, don't act like one.

D Fox // Posted 09 January 2009 at 11:58

http://www.nodo50.org/Laura_Agustin/satire-is-the-best-revenge-anti-trafficking-news-from-norway

The above is a little review by Laura Augustin on another country ignoring rights and the consequences to women.

Cara // Posted 09 January 2009 at 12:11

*Sigh* Ren, Caroline etc. seem to be the ones getting nasty ('yeah, 'bitchy'? on a feminist website??)

All I can say is: Cath, v, MB, delphyne, MariaS and all...good job.

I still don't see how anyone could object to this law, or how this law endangers sex workers, and yes, I have tried.

As for credentials, 'you can't comment unless you've done the work' is just another silencing tactic. Like v said - it's still just your opinion. You cannot claim to speak for all sex workers, because not all sex workers have the same experiences. There is plenty of writing out there by women who had terrible experiences in sex work and are damn glad they left. Much as you like to pretend, not all sex workers have a grand fantastic experience.

As I said, I haven't done lots of jobs...doesn't mean I can't comment on them.

It is deeply ironic that...you know...Ren and others claim that anyone who has objections to prostitution doesn't really care about sex workers, and is some ivory tower theorist, or victorian maiden. We couldn't possibly actually care about the *majority* of sex workers who a. want out and b. would benefit from these laws.

Way to dismiss and silence those who disagree with you.

And - oookaaaay. From those who are actually, unintentionally or intentionally, supporting the agenda of pimps, as is crystal clear from this thread.

I don't think I want to participate any more. I am not here to sling mud.

Kath // Posted 09 January 2009 at 12:47

"I have a few words to say Cath, Delphyne, MB, and v.

There is a difference between a sex worker manager and a pimp, just as there is a difference between a sweatshop owner and a legitimate factory owner who respects or at least follows worker's rights."

Your distinction is spurious. A pimp is someone who makes a profit from selling women as sexual commodities. He may choose to treat the women "well" just as a factory owner can treat his workers "fairly" but the motive being profit, it is never in his interests to do so. Fundamentally the pimp/factory owner is making a living from the labour/bodies of others. In a just world there would be no pimps (and hopefully no need for women to sell their bodies at all) and no factory owners, the means of production being owned by the workers.

v // Posted 09 January 2009 at 12:48

susan, can i suggest that you take your own advice.

*if you care, listen without prejudice*

George // Posted 09 January 2009 at 13:49

Anthony -

"Actually, that is just plain, to use a British term, bollocks, since these women who are abused and raped by "pimps" or "johns" (or any other man in any other venue, for that matter) can be fully prosecuted under existing rape and sexual battery laws"

To reiterate, this is the case in theory but not in practice. Rape conviction rates were around 6% in 2007; this is of *reported* rapes. Furthermore, I doubt most prostitutes have a really great relationship with their local police station... (do forgive me if I am wrong).

"I guess that delphyne would be much happier if rapists didn't pay their victims, but rather that they simply rape their victims for free. Oh, wait....they already do....so, where's the moral outrage there??"

Most Stupid Statement of 2009, anyone?

Amy Clare // Posted 09 January 2009 at 14:00

Can't we all just get along?

Seriously, it's dismaying to see the arguments breaking out on this thread. Surely everyone wants the same thing, which is ultimately to protect sex workers from violence while ensuring that they have a free choice to do what they're doing, and also chipping away at the dominant ideology which says it's okay to buy and sell women's sexuality. This ideology contributes to violence against women everywhere.

The priority must be those women who do not choose prostitution freely, as they are basically raped every time they have sex with a punter and so experience violence many times daily. The new proposals at least recognise this fact, but are limited to trafficking and pimping, when poverty, lack of opportunity, abuse and drug addiction are also factors. How much of a choice is prostitution, really? This question needs to be looked at.

Pimps and traffickers are criminals, and like other criminals they will find new ways to get round laws and this may lead to more dangerous situations, but this isn't an argument for ditching the proposals. It's the police's job to infiltrate criminal underworlds, no matter how bad or good you may think they are at actually doing this. Paedophiles operate 'underground' and are hard to find but this is not an argument for decriminalising paedophilia. And for those who baulk at the comparison, consider that many trafficked prostitutes are children. Just as buying paedophilic images is criminal, so should buying sex with a woman not free to consent also be criminal.

I would shy away from saying 'legalise it' also because that would just legitimate female sexuality as a commodity. We have enough of that with lad mags, porn mags, page 3, lap dancing bars and so on. If we legalise prostitution now in this current climate of 'pornification', imagine what will happen. I can imagine adverts for prostitutes on television, radio, in magazines, on billboards, classes springing up everywhere teaching women and girls how to give blow jobs etc (there are already pole dancing classes for children), the industry would explode (look at what has happened to lap dancing because of the lax licensing), women who weren't sex workers would feel threatened by proxy and there would still be no guarantee that the sex workers themselves were there by choice. It needs to stay illegal, but with the emphasis firmly on the buyer's criminality, not the seller's.

There clearly needs to be exit strategies to help women out of prostitution too, but if the govt actually did this I'd be very surprised, given their stingy, suspicious attitude towards benefits claimants and poor people generally.

Also I would just make the point that if prostitution had nothing to do with the dominant patriarchal ideology and was all about 'choice' and 'liking sex', then half the prostitutes in the world would be male, and half the pimps female.

So in conclusion, I do welcome the proposals. I think they're a small step in the right direction. The ultimate goal however is to make men not see women's sexual organs as a commodity.

Frances // Posted 09 January 2009 at 14:38

George - even if we did have a fantastic rape conviction rate in this country, it would be immaterial because as the law currently stands, belief in consent is a complete defence.

Therefore, all the johns have to show is that they believed the trafficked woman was willingly selling her body as a chose. This law aims to close that loop hole and put the culpability where it belongs - on the punters who demand and use the bodies of prostituted women without consequences. Why shouldn't they have the burden instead of those who are prostituted?

The experience of those who enjoy and choose prostitution and other sex work neither validates nor invalidates the experiences of those who are suffering and want to exit, or those who are forced into the sex trade

Laurelin // Posted 09 January 2009 at 15:23

""I guess that delphyne would be much happier if rapists didn't pay their victims, but rather that they simply rape their victims for free. Oh, wait....they already do....so, where's the moral outrage there??"

Most Stupid Statement of 2009, anyone?"

Not just stupid, but also callous, misogynistic, ignorant and a blatant attempt at bullying via emotional blackmail. I'm shocked that the F Word published this part of Kennerson's comment in the first place, as it is contrary to the commenting guidelines which prohibit abuse.

Susan // Posted 09 January 2009 at 15:29

>>Fundamentally the pimp/factory owner is making a living from the labour/bodies of others. In a just world there would be no pimps (and hopefully no need for women to sell their bodies at all) and no factory owners, the means of production being owned by the workers.>>

Kath, you have just admitted that sex work is actually work, just as much as factory work is actually work. And just like factory workers, sex workers are entitled to organize for better conditions and pay. In the case of sex work, part of that means decriminalizing them. And by decriminalizing them, I mean their clients as well.

MB // Posted 09 January 2009 at 15:32

""I guess that delphyne would be much happier if rapists didn't pay their victims, but rather that they simply rape their victims for free. Oh, wait....they already do....so, where's the moral outrage there??"

Said like a true hater.

Annie // Posted 09 January 2009 at 15:45

I am shocked by the way Mr Kennerson spoke to delphyne. That is not a way of speaking to a woman on a feminist site.

George is right. Few rape cases end up in convictions. That is because in most cases the victim is not believed by the courts.

Just like the prostitutes who were interviewed by Melissa Farley were not believed by defenders of the sex trade and other people.

What a misogynistic world we're living in.

Kath: "Your distinction is spurious."

Exactly. Trying to make a distinction between a pimp and a "sex work manager" is deceitful. I think they tried the exact same propaganda in Holland.

As I said, the Swedish law is the right answer and I too welcome any move in the right direction.

Although, to go back to Jennifer Drew's comment (at the beggining of the thread):
"The government's proposals in respect of criminalising men who buy prostituted women who are being controlled by pimps and brothel owners does not go far enough. The government is trying to have it both ways by criminalising certain men whilst simultaneously believing it is acceptable for other men to buy women's bodies for sexual exploitation.

The government should have adopted the Swedish model and made it a criminal offence for anyone who attempts to buy women and girls for commercial sexual exploitation. Despite claims to the contrary the Swedish models is working very effectively and it has had a serious effect on men's perceived right of sexual entitlement to women's and girls' bodies."

I have the same opinion. Ms Drew put it quite well.

I don't like when people are defending punters. It sounds like "What about the poor, poor men getting arrested?" In response to that, I say:
What about the women in prostitution and their right to a life without being bought, sold and abused by those men?

The ChalleningDemand Scotland study has revealed it right what punters' intents are really about. Thanks a lot to MariaS and Frances for bringing that up.

RenegadeEvolution // Posted 09 January 2009 at 18:09

Cara:

Incorrect. I've said if you are against Sex Workers Rights then I don't think you can actually claim to care about sex workers...sorry, I just find it hard to believe if one thinks sex workers should not have the same legal rights and protections as everyone else, they actually care about those people. It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

And everyone is allowed to have an opinion, but if I, as a straight person, see a group of lesbians (even ones of differing opinions) discussing issues facing lesbian issues or what lesbians face in life or what lesbians need to be safer in society, I figure gee, as actual lesbians, they might have a bit more knowledge or experience on the matter than I would, as I am not, nor have I ever been, a lesbian.

And I never said anyone was bitchy. Am I passionate about this issue? Yes, as are a lot of other people it seems, but the whole "oh you are being so nasty, you people, on that side" when words like idiot and unthinking have also been thrown out? Ironic.

D Fox // Posted 09 January 2009 at 19:20

Mb made a comment:
"Douglas, I respectfully suggest that you cease with the attempting to shame women on this topic.
I've seen it work to silence women long before I even identified as a feminist. It's a key anti-feminist strategy; even if that isn't the actual intent of the man and its objective is to force women to become conscious caretakers of men/ children/ everyone else but ourselves by subduing our own frustration and anger. It’s to remind women that they should strive to avoid being one of those "angry feminists" and that “we need to be ’real’ women and put every body else’s needs first.”
No one is shaming any woman in this discussion but I and others are pointing out the results of your support of policy that endangers and criminalise women (and male and trans gender sex workers). The majority of people who run brothels etc are women not men and it is those women who are often sex workers themselves or who have given up sex work to provide safe areas for other women to work who are being prosecuted by the laws supported by people on this board.
Criminalising clients apart form the human rights aspect of criminalising consensual sex between consenting adults will result only in further violence against women. The evidence is there. Look at Scotland where violence against street workers has risen dramatically. Look at the recent convictions of criminals who targeted brothels terrorising the women who they thought would be too terrified of prosecution to go to the police. This happens all the time and if brothels are further targeted guess what the criminals will target them more. In Sweden sex workers have to pay premium rates for safe flats. By supporting laws that alienated sex workers you endanger them. It is simple fact if you opened your eyes and stop endulging the caricature and instead spoke and listened to sex workers.
No one wants abuse but you are encouraging abuse by supporting bad law. There is no evidence that is sustainable that suggests the majority of sex workers are coerced but even if the majority were which they certainly are not the minority also have rights and you have to recognise those rights otherwise you deny the rights of every minority including myself as a gay man.
The argument that commercial sex is always bad and objectifies women is an ideological view which many women disagree with. Many women use their sexuality. You may not agree with that which is fine but do not support laws that endanger those women simply because you dislike their choices.
This is a human rights argument. If you respect human rights then you have to respect the rights of people who you even disagree with.
If some people in this discussion would listen and debate and try to understand others views and stopped the bullying and name calling you would do your cause some good.
I would also like to return to the statement by V who made a comment about my disabled client.
The dismissal of my client who should apparently be down the local gay bar in his wheelchair finding himself a boy friend is evidence of the emptiness of the argument by the likes of V and Delphyne and co because they only work in caricature and have no concern for real people and the situations they find themselves in.
Those who think this lproposed new law is sending out a message that women are not a commodity (even thought it ignores personal choice and action) are not of course interested in facts or in listening to real people but only in ideology.
Christianity has tried to impose sexual abstinence for over 2000 years and has failed. Strict religious regimes now prosecute sex workers in the most appalling manner but the industry thrives but often in appalling conditions for the sex workers. In America the purchase of sex is illegal for both parties and yet it thrives although many women suffer criminal convictions and some have committed suicide. In Korea brothel owners and sex workers have committed suicide and sex workers are petitioning the government to re open legal brothels.
Think seriously before supporting this new law because it is women who will suffer along side men. Actually it is all of us who will suffer because our right to choose will once again fall victim to political ideology that ignores the voices of the people it presumes to help.
Douglas

pg // Posted 09 January 2009 at 19:31

"It's the addicts, the desperate, those who have probably been abused in childhood or by partners, those with few qualifications and so on, as MB says. who I care about."

The pro-prostitution voices here don't care about those women. There isn't any point in arguing or trying to reason with them, because they just don't care. The pros only care about their careers as prostitutes and the johns only care about their continued unimpeded access to women's bodies. The small percentage of prostitutes who freely choose to prostitute themselves are the voices that carry because they are the privileged ones with computers and endless time to post on blogs any time the subject comes up, and theirs are the voices the johns want to hear. They don't care about women being trafficked, drug addicted, raped or murdered; all they care about is themselves.

Gregory Carlin // Posted 10 January 2009 at 02:44

"Where on our website does it say anything about having sex?" asked Douglas, one half of Newcastle's premier executive escort agency"

So no sex, and therefore no sex worker credentials!

I targeted Jerome Brennn for years, and eventually he went to prison for trying to procure children for a le chic enterprise in Spain.

I target all the pedophiles and pimps using Jobcentre.


"Douglas's attitude to the cover story seemed to be one of weary exasperation. Of course they're going to have sex, his expression said, but if we talked honestly about it I might be busted for immoral earnings and the police would have to waste time pushing working girls back on to the street. John's denial, though, was much more interesting: an odd hybrid of legalistic game-playing and genuine psychological resistance to the notion that he was selling sex. It wasn't that he didn't know perfectly well what was going on (otherwise why squirm so uncomfortably about the headmaster who rang up requesting the youngest escort on the books to dress up as a schoolgirl?"

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_/ai_n16657627

I congratulate the radical feminists following on this blog who are following in the footsteps of Andrea Dworkin

A pimp has to be lucky always, we only have to be lucky once.

In solidarity

Gregory Carlin

Irish Anti-Traficking Coalition

hexy // Posted 10 January 2009 at 07:24

Amy Clare: I live and work under a decriminalised sex work system. Nothing like what you envisage has come to pass in the many years since sex work was decriminalised in my State. Also, someone upthread claimed that STIs have been on the increase in NSW, Australia since decriminalisation. The truth is actually the exact opposite: recent research has shown that sex workers working under decrim in Australia have lower STI rates than sex workers working under any of the other systems enforced in different states, and that we report a higher rate of good health and happiness. Australian sex workers have a lower HIV rate than the general community.

As for the nice little sidetrack going on around DFox... personally, I do feel that sex worker organisations and sex workers rights groups should exclude sex industry business owners and operators from membership. The orgs I'm involved with do, and I feel it's for the best. That said... brothel owners or escort agency owners are not necessarily pimps. That word has a specific meaning, and expanding it to include all owners and operators serves to water it down just as much as expanding the definition to include anyone "living off the earnings". That's a stupid, anti-sex-worker law for a reason... it's rarely one used to actually protect the workers.

sarahcl // Posted 10 January 2009 at 15:53

Ah yes, Laura Augustin, who calls prostitutes who are trafficked from country to country by their pimps to avoid them picking up too much of the language or forming relationships as 'cosmopolitan subjects, who may consider the world their oyster, not their home' and 'the hope of the world' for 'having learnt to be flexible and tolerant of people's differences'.

(Agustin, Laura, 2004, 'Daring Border-Crossers: A Different Vision of Migrant Women)

She's a comedian all right.

polly styrene // Posted 11 January 2009 at 21:31

A note on law:

If a man reasonably believes that a woman consented to sex, even if she did not, he is not guilty of rape.

Therefore if a 'punter' does not know that a woman is being forced to work as a sex worker, he would not be guilty of rape.

In practice, as George points out there is currently a 6% conviction rate in the UK for REPORTED rapes. Most go unreported. It is very easy currently for a man who has sex with a trafficked woman to say he reasonably believed she consented and did not know she was being held against her will, and very difficult to prove he knew otherwise.

Thus 'punters' can, and do, get away with rape.


polly styrene // Posted 11 January 2009 at 22:10

D Fox. I know many people with disabilities (some extremely severe) who have sexual partners they don't pay. I know people without disabilities who do not have sexual partners. It is you who are being ableist, in suggesting that people with disabilities are so undesirable they cannot find a sexual partner unless they pay them.

Laura // Posted 12 January 2009 at 10:50

Hi all,

Firstly my apologies for forgetting to post a comment explaining that I wouldn't have internet access over the weekend - this is why a number of comments had been left in moderation until now.

On Anthony's comment that a couple of people have objected to - I did edit out a good deal of his original comment as it was personally attacking and potentially offensive, however I didn't want to disguise his attitude to this topic and those who have opposing views to his, which is why I left that particular part of the comment as he wrote it. I'm sorry if this upset anyone, Delphyne in particular.

I am now going to close this comments thread as I don't think we are going to get any more productive discussion out of it.

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