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27th July

  Aids: Don't Die of Prejudice...

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Former health secretary Norman Fowler writes that criminalising prostitution is killing countless people around the world
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Aids Dont Prejudice Norman Fowler Aids: Don't Die of Prejudice Paperback by Norman Fowler

Promotional Material:

Eighteen million people around the world live with HIV but do not know they are infected. Endangering both themselves and countless others, they represent a public health challenge that affects not only Africa but every part of the world, including Europe and the United States.

We stand at a tipping point in the AIDS crisis - and unless we can increase the numbers tested and treated, we will not defeat it. In spite of the progress since the 1980s there are still over 1.5 million deaths and over 2 million new HIV infections a year.

Norman Fowler has travelled to nine cities around the globe to report on the position today. What he discovered was a shocking blend of ignorance, prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. In Africa and Eastern Europe, a rising tide of discrimination against gays and lesbians prevents many from coming forward for testing. In Russia, drug users are dying because an intolerant government refuses to introduce the policies that would save them.

Extraordinarily, Washington has followed suit and excluded financial help for proven policies on drugs, and has turned its back on sex workers. In this lucid yet powerful account, Norman Fowler reveals the steps that must be taken to prevent a global tragedy. Aids: Don't Die of Prejudice is both an in-depth investigation and an impassioned call to arms against the greatest public health threat in the world today.

Sex work should be decriminalised in the UK to slow the spread of HIV and combat prejudice, says Norman Fowler, the former health secretary who led the country's response to the emergence of Aids in the 1980s. Speaking at an AIDS conference he said:

The British system needs another look at. It's all over the place, he said. Australians have a system where prostitution is totally decriminalised; as long as you meet normal business requirements on health and safety you can act perfectly legally as a sex worker or run a brothel. [But] the whole input of British law has been to take them off the streets and keep them out of sight. That might have been OK in the 1950s and 1960s but today it is badly out of date.

Are we prepared to recognise sex work and cooperate with sex workers, bringing them in to the policy dialogue, or do we call them prostitutes and assume they have no input? It is slightly a matter of attitude and requires a revolution in attitude. We need to make up our mind.

Few countries have totally decriminalised sex work, but where it has been attempted, it has led to reductions in HIV infections, and greater confidence among sex workers that they can contact the police to protect them from violence, with no significant increase in the number of street-based sex workers.

 

27th July

 Offsite Article: Online payments and prostitution...

Link Here  full story: Bitcoin...Internet cash
bitcoin logo How the internet is transforming the oldest profession

See article from thenextweb.com

 

22nd July

  Not to mention reducing the amount of people persecuted, marginalised and jailed...

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Scientists in the Lancet calculate that decriminalising prostitution would reduce HIV infection by 46%
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the lancet logo Sex work must be decriminalised if the world is to stand a chance of controlling the Aids pandemic, say scientists contributing to a series of research papers in the Lancet medical journal.

Sex workers, whether female, male or transgender, are subject to repression, violence and abuse even at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold the law, according to the series of seven research papers presented at the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Fear of the police and other authorities, as well as the abuse itself, prevents sex workers protecting themselves from HIV infection.

Studies in Canada, India and Kenya contain testimony from sex workers who report having condoms confiscated by police, who regard them as evidence of crimes, and being subjected to physical or sexual violence. Both the sex workers and their clients are put at risk of infection by this.

Governments and the police should uphold the human rights of all people, including sex workers, say the series authors. Reducing sexual violence by clients and abusers could reduce HIV infection rates by around a fifth in both high- and low-income settings, they say, and getting more sex workers on antiretroviral treatment for HIV would reduce the amount of active virus in their bodies and cut the rate of new infections by a third. But decriminalisation of sex work would be the preventative measure with the biggest impact, they say. Across all settings, it would reduce HIV infections by 33% to 46% over the next decade.

Lancet editor Richard Horton and senior executive editor Pamela Das said in a commentary:

We might prefer to think that sex and money were unrelated, that sex was somehow immune from the transactions so common elsewhere in our lives. But why should this exception be so? And why should we condemn and criminalise the exchange of money for sex, especially if the severely adverse conditions we create for such exchange hurt women and men, and often fatally so?

Sex work is part of the human story. Accepting and embracing sex work -- supporting those engaged in sex work to protect their health and bodily integrity and autonomy -- should be our humane, as well as our pragmatic, approach to the reality of our human lives. And to our common efforts to defeat Aids.

 

21st July

 Update: Endangering Sex Workers and Criminalising Customers...

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A summary of Canada's proposed anti-prostitution law
Link Here  full story: Sex Workers in Canada...Canadian sex workers campaign for safety and legality

Canada flag Canada's government is fast-tracking a nasty Bill C-36 to criminalise people who buy sex. Here's a glance at what the government is proposing, and what critics say about the changes.

1. Going after the buyers

The bill criminalizes the buying of sex -- or obtain[ing] for consideration... the sexual services of a person. The penalties include jail time -- up to five years in some cases -- and minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence.

2. What's a sexual service ?

The bill doesn't say, meaning it would likely be up to a court to decide where the line was drawn. A government legal brief, submitted to the committee as it considered the bill, says the courts have found lap-dancing and masturbation in a massage parlour? count as a sexual service or prostitution, but not stripping or the production of pornography.

3. What about sex workers?

They also face penalties under the bill, though the government says it is largely trying to go after the buyers of sex. Under the bill, it would be illegal for a sex worker to discuss the sale of sex in certain areas -- a government amendment Tuesday appears set to reduce what areas would be protected -- and it would also be illegal for a person to get a material benefit from the sale of sexual services by anyone other than themselves. Some critics have warned that latter clause could, for instance, prevent sex workers from working together, which some do to improve safety.

4. What about those who work with sex workers?

Anyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from the sale of a sexual service, faces up to 10 years in prison. This excludes those who have a legitimate living arrangement with a sex worker, those who receives the benefit as a result of a legal or moral obligation of the sex worker, those who sell the sex worker a service or good on the same terms to the general public, and those who offer a private service to sex workers but do so for a fee proportionate to the service and so long as they do not counsel or encourage sex work.

5. Can sex workers advertise their services?

This is a key plank of the bill, which makes it a crime to knowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services for consideration, or money. This could potentially include newspapers, such as weekly publications that include personal ads from sex workers, or websites that publish similar ads. Justice Minister Peter MacKay appears to believe the ban could go after such publications. It affects all forms of advertising, including online. And anything that enables or furthers what we think is an inherently dangerous practice of prostitution will be subject to prosecution, but the courts will determine what fits that definition, he told reporters after speaking to the committee July 7. This has been welcomed by some, including Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who supports the bill overall, though she called for some changes. I didn't actually expect to see this advertising provision in this bill but I would say it's actually a really important step, to say that kind of profiteering needs to stop, she said. ]

6. Can anyone still advertise the sale of sex?

Yes -- sex workers themselves. The bill includes an exemption that says no one will be prosecuted for an advertisement of their own sexual services, though platforms that actually knowingly run the ads may face prosecution.

...

10. What's the status of the bill?

Canada's current laws, struck down by the Court, officially expire in December, and the government has pledged to pass Bill C-36 by then.

 

19th July

  A Big Stick...

Bangladesh's oldest brothel closed down after threats of religious violence
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Bangladesh flag Bangladesh's oldest brothel has been shut down following pressure from local religious leaders and politicians amid rising extremism in the Muslim-majority country.

More than 750 prostitutes in Tangail city were forced out of a cluster of houses that made up the 200-year-old Kandapara brothel after the dwelling's owners ordered them shut.

District police chief Saleh Mohammad Tanvir said the owners made the decision after Muslim religious leaders and civil activists staged a march last week demanding the eviction of the sex workers. He said:

On Sunday, the house owners of the brothel issued a notice ordering all the sex workers to leave the brothel. They left without any protest.

Monowara Begum, who heads a sex-workers group at Kandapara, accused the local mayor of using violent intimidation to evict the sex workers. She said:

He (the mayor) sent dozens of young men to the brothel on Saturday. Armed with sticks, they told us that we have only one hour to leave the place or they would burn down the brothel with kerosene. After that owners started dismantling their houses, she said.

The brothel's more than 773 girls were panicked. As they were leaving, their belongings such as televisions, fridges and furniture, which were loaded on seven trucks, were looted by local people.

 

19th July

  A Miserable Anniversary...

Indonesian politician set to close brothels as an anniversary gift
Link Here
Indonesia flag At least seven Indonesian red-light districts in Malang regency, East Java, are to be closed down by the end of November.

Malang administration secretary Abdul Malik said that the prostitution centers would be given a deadline of November 28, 2014 to shut down business, the date of the regency's 1254th anniversary. The closures will be a gift for the regency's anniversary, Malik said.

The seven red-light districts to be closed are Suko in Sumberpucung district, Kebobang in Wonosari, Kalikudu in Pujon, Slorok in Kromengan, Girun in Gondanglegi, Embong Miring in Ngantang and Sendangbiru in Sumbermanjing Wetan district.

Malik said the buildings of the red-light districts would be converted into new businesses.

 

18th July

 Update: Extreme Moralism...

29 sex workers murdered in Baghdad
Link Here
Iraq flag Twenty-nine women, reported to be prostitutes, were executed inside the apartment where they worked in the Zayouna neighborhood on Baghdad's east side. Two men also were found dead inside, one of them the reported pimp. Many of those killed had gunshot wounds to the head. Police found one woman's body inside a cupboard where she had tried to hide. Photographs of the gruesome spectacle have circulated widely on the Internet.

Officially, Iraq's Ministry of the Interior is still investigating the crime, but many Iraqis believe it's clear who is responsible. They say the killing was carried out by members of a local Shia militia, religious extremists whose armed members both cooperate and compete with the government for control of the area where the killing occurred.

Written on the door of the building was the warning: This is the fate of any prostitution. The carnage and the inscription are read by Iraqis as a militia's show of power, declaring authority in the area, and warning locals that what the militia deem moral crimes can be punished with summary execution.

No one will name the group responsible for the slaughter but privately Iraqis say that it was likely carried out by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, an Iranian-backed Shia militia group that operates openly in Zayouna. There is no proof that it is responsible for the killing Saturday, but few Iraqis doubt that it is capable of such violence.

 

11th July

 Update: Wild West Goes East...

South Korea pays bounty hunters, snitches and vigilantes for preying on sex workers
Link Here  full story: Sex Work in South Korea...South Korea criminalises prostitution
Bounty Hunters DVD Trish Stratus Ostensibly keen to be seen to be making an effort to rid South Korean of its vices and corruption, South Korean Prime Minister, Ms. Park Geun-Hye, has implemented a national job scheme offered to those with a simple penchant for nosiness, or possibly an overzealous sense of nationalism.

Park has expanded a policy in which citizens act as professional whistleblowers or bounty hunters for organised crime . Under the legislative interpretation of Korea's current sex industry legislation, virtually aspect of sex work falls under the definition of organised crime . Park has failed to specifically identify whether the sex industry will fall under her organised crime whistleblower program; however, given that the outsourcing of law enforcement has also been something of a boon for local governments and administration with, local administrators claiming that They can save money on hiring (police) officers, and that the fines imposed on offenders generally outstrip the rewards paid to informers. For example, the reward for reporting illegal garbage dumping is about $40, whilst the fine is about 10 times as much.

Currently the professional-do-gooders for money community , as they refer to themselves, have concentrated on anti-social crimes such as dumping garbage at camping sites, coin-operated coffee machines in Internet sites lacking proper sanitary tags, and publically disposing of cigarette butts inappropriately. However, as more South Koreans are attracted to the seemingly well-paid and romanticism of the self made spy , whistleblower or bounty hunter industry, some are taking on specialities; for example, professional spies who sell information about the sex industry to the government are known within their community as seongparazzi .

As for the Park regime's new plan to stamp out organised crime, Korean sex workers have made the following statement:

Prostitution is already illegal in Korea. That is why sex workers cannot ask for protection during their work. Rather than protecting sex workers, the police violate their human rights during crackdowns. Amidst all this, this new policy will pose a new threat to the survival of sex workers. With bounty hunters at large, sex workers will have to hide in the shadows where there is neither safety nor a regular income. This policy is also dangerous as it may direct public frustration at the Park administration's incompetency, incapacity and dishonesty towards sex workers by defining sex workers as the delinquent others. Stigmatising minorities as criminals and putting them into dangerous circumstances represents nothing short of a witch hunt.

To most of male, female and transgender sex workers, sex work is a matter of survival. Before asking sex workers why would they go into this business, the government should reflect on the circumstances that renders sex work inevitable. A weak social safety net, prejudices within Korean society, and the attitude of Korean society towards poverty should be held accountable. Sex workers constantly have to be afraid and will have no access to workers' rights and human rights as long as prostitution is deemed a crime and prostitutes as filthy.

We, the members of Giant Girls, the Network for Sex Workers' Rights, express our outrage over this incompetent and irresponsible government announcement and declare that we will take every measure against the situation.

 

10th July

 Update: Liberte...

Victory for French sex workers and their customers as proposal to criminalise buyers of sex is dropped
Link Here  full story: Criminalising Paying for Sex in France...Mean minded politicians consider new law
France flag The International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) has welcomed the withdrawal of the criminalisation of clients of sex workers from the law proposal that will be presented to the French Senate.

In the words of STRASS , the French Union of Sex Workers:

the Senate Select Committee has taken the time to organise real hearings, to listen to all points of view, including those of national and international health and human rights organisations and considered the evidence of the negative impact of the criminalisation of clients of sex workers. Above all, the Senate Select Committee has taken into account the voices of those first concerned, sex workers themselves.

This is a great victory for sex workers who have fought tirelessly against this law proposal not only in France but in every country where this dangerous approach has threatened our livelihood and our safety.

ICRSE hope that this victory in France will inspire sex workers to keep fighting for their rights and for organisations and policy-makers supporting the failed Swedish Model to really consider the growing amount of evidence against it, to follow the steps of the French Senate Select Committee and to abandon the criminalisation of clients in favour of the only human rights based approach to sex work: full decriminalisation.

 

8th July

 Offsite Article: Exploiting Trafficking to Target Sex Work...

Link Here  full story: Trafficking Hype...Trafficking figures hopelessly over exaggerated
newstatesman logo Power Trip: Margaret Corvid on desire, change and culture

See article from newstatesman.com

 

4th July

 Update: Putting the Myths to Bed...

Researchers will analyse whether there really is a hoard of itinerant trafficked sex workers who descend on sporting events, in this case, the Glasgow Commonwealth Games
Link Here  full story: Sport of Trafficking Hype...40,000 trafficked sex workers travelling to sports events
commonwealth games 2014 logo How many times have we been told that there is going to be an increase in the number of sex workers operating (and a related increase in human trafficking) whenever a major sporting event is organised? Panic over an increase in sex work and trafficking surrounded all three of the recent World Cups in Germany, South Africa and now Brazil as well as the London 2012 Olympics. Next month Glasgow, Scotland plays host to the 20th Commonwealth Games and the same stories are surfacing as can be seen from this recent newspaper article in the Glasgow Herald:

With just under three months to go until the Glasgow 2014 Games, a strategy designed to tackle sex trafficking and prostitution is being put in place, together with a campaign aimed at changing attitudes around violence against women. High-profile sporting events, such as the World Cup and the Olympics, have historically resulted in a spike in sex crimes because countries experience a large increase in population as athletes, officials and spectators visit host cities involved. MSPs raised fears last year that the Games, which are expected to attract one million visitors to Glasgow, would lead to an influx of victims of human trafficking in Scotland.

These scare stories are finally going to be subjected to some scrutiny in an academic study run by Dr Kate Hardy of the University of Leeds called Sex in the stadium: labour and coercion in the sex industry and the Commonwealth Games . As well as exploring whether there is any truth in the allegation that high-profile sporting events result in an increase in sex work this study is also focussed on exploring the impact that these scare campaigns have on sex workers. Dr Hardy explains:

This research examines the relationship between the Commonwealth Games and working conditions in the sex industry in Glasgow. The focus is on changes to the safety and well-being of sex workers during the games and any changes to the industry as a result of it. It is being undertaken in response to arguments that coercion and trafficking increase during events of this type and to evidence from sex workers in London that they were displaced from long term working premises during the Olympic Games in 2012. The ultimate aim is to influence policy in relation to 'mega-events' in order to protect sex workers' working conditions in the short and long term.

The research is being undertaken in full partnership with sex worker rights organisations in Scotland, the Sex Worker Open University and SCOT-PEP (Scottish Prostitutes Education Project). Sex workers will be trained as peer researchers and will identify and interview other sex workers about their experiences of working in the lead up to, during and after the Commonwealth Games. Despite the many newspaper articles and blog posts written about the issue of sex work and sporting events this study will be the first that examines it from an evidence-based perspective and is very much welcomed.

 

3rd July

  The tangled mess of Swedish PC extremism...

Swedish court finds that stereotyping Thai women as sex workers is acceptable and that a bar can therefore implement a blanket ban on Thai women
Link Here
Sweden flag A pub called Harry's Bar in Vaxjo in south central Sweden had a policy where they refused entry to "Asian-looking women". This policy was put in place on the grounds that the pub were trying to prevent prostitution from taking place on their premises as the pub owner had been informed by the police that prostitution was taking place in the area and that Asian women were involved.

A group of Asian women (who were not sex workers) and who had been refused entry to this particular pub in 2012 pursued a claim for race discrimination against the pub owner and six members of the security staff. Talking about the experience one of the women, Merlita Malmstrom, said it was a traumatic experience. No one should be treated the way they treated us.

The case was heard by the Vaxjo District Court in 2013. While prosecutors believed strongly that the actions of the pub had amounted to unlawful discrimination the court disagreed and the women lost their case. The court found that the prevention of prostitution, a 'criminal activity', was a 'legitimate reason' to refuse entry to the women.  In a nonsensical judgment the court said that the women had been refused entry not on the grounds of their appearance but on the suspicion of criminal activity.

Some of the women pursued an appeal and the decision of the Appeal Court was released a few weeks ago.  Sadly, the Appeal Court upheld the decision of the lower court finding again that no discrimination had taken place.  The Appeal Court agreed with the lower court that the prevention of prostitution was a 'legitimate reason' for the actions taken by the pub in refusing entry to Asian-looking women.

Wendy Lyon, blogging at Feminist Ire , analyses the decision:

First, of course, there's the blatantly racist nature of the policy, now formally endorsed and legitimated by a Swedish judiciary which sees nothing wrong with singling out women of colour for whore stigma. The second thing is that this decision exposes the lie that the Swedish law is not about targeting sex workers. Of course it is. They may not be targeted for prosecution, but the Swedish authorities are more than happy to go after them with any other means at their disposal.

This decision from the Swedish courts is highly disturbing.  Not only does it condone the racial profiling of women of colour but it also gives services in Sweden the green light to discriminate against sex workers. While the women in this case were not sex workers the courts have stated that preventing prostitution is a 'legitimate reason' for permitting discrimination that would ordinarily be unlawful. That means that any discrimination against people who do actually sell sex can be justified on the same grounds and discrimination against sex workers will go unpunished.  This confirms what we already know -- that the Swedish approach to sex work hurts most those it is supposedly designed to protect.

 

1st July

  The right to be forgotten extended to sex clubs...

Belgian court bans brothel owner from using the name DSK Club
Link Here
Dsk Story DVD Region NTSC A Belgian court has ordered a brothel owner to change the name of his DSK sex club, which shares its initials with those of fallen one-time French presidential contender Dominique Strauss Kahn. He objected to the name in a lawsuit.

Owner Dominique Alderweireld or Dodo la Saumure , is linked to sex parties attended by Strauss-Kahn and dubbed his latest brothel DSKlub, in an admitted reference to the scandal-hit politician.

The court decided in favour of Strauss-Kahn who is well known by his initials DSK in France and neighbouring French-speaking countries such as Belgium and Switzerland. Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said they sued Alderweireld  for deliberately choosing a name that reproduces his (Strauss-Kahn's) initials which identify him to all.

Alderweireld chose the acronym for the new brothel Dodo Sex Klub which opened this year in the town of Blaton, near the French border in Belgium where prostitution and brothel ownership are legal.

 

30th June

  Proper Lap Dancing...

Ontario strip pubs proposes that they should be able operate as licensed brothels
Link Here
Canada flag An organization representing Ontario adult entertainment businesses submitted a proposal at city hall that would see legalized brothels operating alongside strip clubs in the province as part of a year-long trial.

The recommendation came in a report prepared for the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada's Ontario branch by Rudi Czekalla.

Under the plan, strip clubs, which are already zoned for sexual entertainment, would have the exclusive right to sell all sexual services.

Association president Tim Lambrinos said that if prostitution is going to be legalized anyway, it only makes sense to do it in strip clubs, which are already regulated and, he added, generally safe.

As part of his report, Czekalla commissioned a survey of exotic dancers from across Ontario. Two thirds opposed any plan that would see sexual services sold in the clubs where they work.

 

28th June

  Exploiting Trafficking...

US Bill introduced to conflate sex work with trafficking when considering foreign aid
Link Here  full story: Trafficking Hype...Trafficking figures hopelessly over exaggerated

trafficking in persons 2014 Dangerous new legislation that conflates trafficking with sex work , and has the potential to impact diplomatic relations, has been introduced in the United States Congress.

Representative Randy Hultgren, an Illinois Republican in his first term, has introduced legislation that would amend the Trafficking in Victims Protection Act of 2000 to restrict foreign aid going to countries where prostitution is legal. Hultgren claims that legal prostitution leads to human trafficking.

Hultgren's bill would force the State Department to take a country's prostitution laws into consideration when determining which tier it belongs to in the annual Trafficking in Persons report. The TIP report assigns countries a tier according to how well the United States believes they are complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons (a low tier can result in sanctions). Hultgren told the Washington Examiner that he is meeting with the State Department in the next few weeks to discuss the bill, and his comments reveal that he is a little unclear on the bill's impact, and vague on its objective. He said:

I haven't felt a lot of pushback. but just some questioning of how will this impact the rankings and things. I'm not sure. But I know what we've got to do is do everything we can to protect children who are getting pulled into this, women who are getting pulled into this.

On May 21st, the bill was introduced to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as H.R.4703. The bill's full title -- To amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 relating to determinations with respect to efforts of foreign countries to reduce demand for commercial sex acts under the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking -- aligns it to the currently fashionable end demand approach taken by many abolitionist organisations. Working to end trafficking, according to the sponsors of this bill, is not enough; the demand for commercial sex must, too, be abolished.

The congressman is associated with Exodus Cry , a faith-based anti-sex trafficking organization, which is publicising his bill at their website and encouraging supporters to back it -- members of Exodus Cry are currently at the World Cup in Brazil, leading prayers and outreach actions based on the debunked notion that large sporting events lead to an increase in trafficking.

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