SWOP Las Vegas denounces Senator Reid’s call to eliminate Nevada brothels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: SWOP LV at info@swop-lv.org

The Sex Workers Outreach Project, Las Vegas denounces Senator Reid’s call to close down the legal prostitution businesses in Nevada. This move would put over a thousand people out of a job in the hopes of possibly attracting new businesses to Nevada who allegedly stay away because of the brothels.

“To begin with, it’s just insanity in this economy to even suggest putting so many people out of work,” said Susan Lopez, founder of SWOP Las Vegas. “Where will these women go for jobs once their livelihoods are destroyed? Does Senator Reid honestly believe that it will be easy for prostitutes to find jobs in those businesses he hopes to attract? Does he really wish to destroy these peoples’ lives in this way? This is just political posturing on the backs of real, working women with real livelihoods at stake. Will Senator Reid promise to hire all the women who will be put out of their jobs at equivalent wage rates?”

“Nevada’s brothels are safer places than the streets for selling sex,” said Dr. Barb Brents, sociology professor at UNLV. “Brothels can actually help fight trafficking. Furthermore, prostitution still exists in the 49 states where prostitution is illegal. Outlawing brothels will send hundreds of women into the already huge black market, where safety, labor rights, and access to services will become issues.”

Tessa Joy, a Nevada brothel worker and voter, says, “Harry Reid needs to listen to the voices of the sex workers who depend on their jobs in the Nevada brothel system to make a living; to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. As somebody who claims to be so concerned about creating more jobs in Nevada, it’s very hypocritical for Harry Reid to try to put more of us out of work for making a legitimate living. This is going to take away the only legal way that sex workers in prostitution can work in the United States and the results will be tragic in terms of both our livelihoods and our safety. I’ve never tried to put Harry Reid out of work, so he has no business trying to put me out of work either.”

Brothels bring in much-needed revenue to the rural counties in which they operate, helping to fund public services such as firefighters, police, schools and more. Lopez says, “Scapegoating the brothels as being responsible for the bad economy is both disingenuous and dangerous. There is no guarantee other businesses will move to Nevada even if the brothels are eliminated, and if these businesses have issues with prostitution, who is to say they won’t have issues with gambling as well? Are the casinos next on Harry’s chopping block?”

Lisa Mellott, co-director of SWOP Las Vegas and social justice activist, says, “It’s ironic that Senator Reid would single out the brothels as keeping businesses away. Las Vegas’s entire economy is based on being an adult playground. Wouldn’t that keep those same businesses away?”

“Contrary to Senator Reid’s sentiment that the brothels are a throw-back to the Wild West, Nevada prostitution policy is more in step with the rest of the world than the rest of the US. Other countries across the globe are increasingly decriminalizing prostitution, as it allows the state to more easily address harms and grant sex workers rights,” says Dr. Brents.

Jenny Heineman, a co-director of SWOP Las Vegas and a Nevada resident who voted for Reid, is outraged at his proposition to “take away [her] sisters’ jobs.” She says, “I am a tax payer, a PhD student at UNLV, a sex worker, and an advocate for human rights. As my representative, I demand that he turns his attention to the real inequities suffered by Nevadans: namely the lack of revenue to support our education system. Stop screwing us for free!”

SWOP Las Vegas will fight for the rights of brothels to operate here in Nevada- the only place in America where women truly have the right to choose sex work.

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Jill Brenneman Interviewed by Maggie McNeill

Regular readers of Bound, Not Gagged need no introduction to Jill Brenneman, a regular contributor to this blog with a unique perspective on sex worker rights.  You see, Jill is what many prohibitionists like to claim we all are:  a woman who was forced into prostitution in her teens by a brutal pimp.  But though she participated in the prohibitionist movement herself for several years (and really, who could blame her?) she was open-minded enough to see the truth and reason in the arguments for decriminalization and intellectually honest enough to be repulsed by the lies and misrepresentation rampant among the prohibitionists.  She thus became an outspoken advocate for sex worker rights, and the one person whose opinion on the “sex trafficking” issue I most respect.

After Jill commented extensively on my February 7th column Amanda Brooks suggested I interview her, and I thought that was a fantastic idea so I contacted Jill and she generously agreed.  The interview was conducted mostly via email on February 11th-13th and completed by telephone on the 13th, and though Jill suggested I edit it down I have done this as little as possible because I wanted her to be free to tell her story in her own words.  Jill has read over the completed interview twice and has approved it for presentation in The Honest Courtesan in four parts, from February 21st to February 24th.  I feel I must warn you that it is not light reading; the first two parts are the most graphic, disturbing narrative I have yet published or am likely to publish again, and I must caution sensitive readers to consider carefully before proceeding.  The interview is quite long, but Jill and I both feel that it’s important to show the ugly side of the world of prostitution as well as its attractive side; our opponents are liars, but we are not.  If we hide facts which might make us look bad we are no better than the prohibitionists, and the suppressed information would then become a weapon in their hands.  The truth shines light into dark places inhabited by filth who exploit women and Jill understands, as we hope most people will one day, that only decriminalization will grant free whores the power to help the law to uncover these monsters and liberate the girls they victimize.

Doe v. Jindal: WWAV Members Bring Lawsuit against Louisiana’s SCAN Statute

Women With a Visions’ (WWAV) NO Justice New Orleans Project has brought its fight against the Louisiana Solicitation of a Crime Against Nature (SCAN) statute to the steps of the Louisiana federal courthouse with the lawsuit Doe v. Jindal. The plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a Loyola law clinic, and Andrea Ritchie, Esq.

In a complaint filed February the 14th in the Eastern District of Louisiana, 9 plaintiffs, including a grandmother, a mother of four, three transgender women, and a man, allege the statute to be unconstitutional on equal protection grounds and because the statute amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

SCAN criminalizes the solicitation of oral or anal sex for money, despite the existence of a prostitution law that covers the same conduct. While penalties for first convictions are the same for both laws, SCAN  requires second and subsequent offenders to register as sex offenders from 15 years to life. 75 percent of people convicted of a crime against nature in Orleans Parish are women, and 79 percent are black. 38 percent of those on the Orleans Parish registry are registered for a SCAN conviction. SCAN is the only registerable crime that does not involve force or the victimization of children. For more information, see WWAV’s policy brief.

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