TVPRA, Donna Hughes, Contradictions, some feminists, funding, hypocrisy.

More information about Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, statements from it’s supporters about it’s successes, apparent lack of successes, about needing more money, TVPRA supporter Donna Hughes on President Bush being the most Pro Woman President she can remember and again Randall Tobias.

First Canadian Feminist Martin Dufresne stated

“Jill, You can go on re-posting this sorry rant two, three or twenty times, it just doesn’t hold water. Donna Hughes and other anti-prostitution feminists just aren’t supporters of TVPRA as you have tried so hard to paint them. And your repeated attempts to malign them are a poor reflection of your camp.”

Only after confronted with pictures and news articles which clearly document Donna Hughes was a main participant in Trafficking Victim’s Protection Re-authorization Act, he sends out a very delayed retraction oddly arriving today, after I have left the Pro Fem Listserv.

Martin Dufresne writes that he was wrong….. Go figure,,, of course with a series of insults. Being the pro feminist that he is, he couldn’t possible admit being wrong to a heretic woman without a sideways insult.

Martin states “OK, I have read up some of the material offered and it is much more informative than the, yes, rant we were treated to from Jill twice today. Yes, Hughes supports the principle and the commitment underlying the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) – my latest post was wrong – but she also is sharply critical of its lack of implementation and misuse against women over the last five years, as she made quite clear in the Op-Ed posted by Jill herself.” End Martin quote

Begin Brenneman “What Hughes was complaining about was that she wasn’t getting enough of the funding from TVPRA. The 108 thousand dollars from TVPRA she received in funding in 2003 apparently wasn’t sufficient as she states in 2005 no reliable estimates exist and the studies haven’t been done by DOJ. Perhaps because they paid her to do it? ”

A few Hughes Excerpts from “http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51016

“Second, there are no reliable estimates of how many children and adults are caught in prostitution in the U.S. today. The Department of Justice has failed to make efforts to determine the scope of victimization in the U.S. In the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005, Congress authorized a nationwide study on the illegal commercial-sex industry in the U.S. — the kind of study that has been done for illegal gambling and drug trafficking. The Department of Justice never requested funds to conduct the study. If this study had been initiated promptly, we might now be close to having the first estimate ever of the size of the illegal commercial-sex industry in the U.S. and the number of women and children victimized in it.” End Hughes Quote


Brenneman: No reliable estimates? What did Donna Hughes do with the TVPRA funding for studies given to her? She questions if the study had been initiated promptly they might have an estimate of the size of the illegal commercial sex industry in it. What happened to the study of 2003? Which the check went to Hughes and University of Rhode Island?

From Department of Justice’s website

 

 

Here’s info. directly from

 

the U.S. Dept. of Justice website saying that Donna

 

Hughes received over $108,000 in TVPRA funding and her

 

organization, CATW, received over 147,000 in TVPRA

 

during FY 2004. Here’s the info. directly from the

 

U.S. Dept. of Justice website:

 

 

GlobalType

 

Prevention

 

 

Agency

 

U.S. Department of State

 

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

 

(DOS/G/TIP)

 

 

Amount

 

$108,478

 

 

Grantee(s)

 

Donna Hughes, Ph.D.

 

 

 

University of Rhode Island

 

 

Purpose

 

To continue Fiscal Year 2003 research on best

 

practices for addressing demand side of sex

 

trafficking.

 

Brenneman: Donna’s solution, give her and her allies in the religious right, some feminists and the Bush Administration more money for studies.

Donna Hughes: “To reverse this situation, we need the following: The Department of Justice must carry out the study on the illegal commercial sex industry as authorized by Congress in 2005. We need to have a baseline study of the problem so we can begin to understand the scope of the problem and find solutions. And the Department of Justice must initiate the grant program for local and state law-enforcement agencies and service-providers so that U.S.-citizen victims, particularly those over the age of 17, are assisted and perpetrators punished.”

Brenneman: What Donna fails to state is that TVPRA and its subsequent Anti Prostitution Oath of 2005 ban funding to NGO’s failing to take the Anti Prostitution Pledge agreeing not to work with active sex workers, not to work with any groups that don’t explicitly demand an end to prostitution. Meaning the elimination of funding for HIV outreach orgs giving out condoms, shelters for women who are homeless in Cambodia but are sex workers, that were using the shelters for such “pro prostitution” endeavors as taking a shower. Those drop in centers have folded due to lack of funding. Chilean outreach workers have no funding to give condoms to active sex workers, funding eliminated by TVPRA as being “pro prostitution”. But to spend money on condoms is considered pro prostitution and not fighting slavery. Another paraphrase of a Hughes quote, sex slaves need to be liberated not given condoms. Liberated not by protection from disease, not by organizations that support and advocate for their human rights, but for studies for Hughes and her abolitionist colleagues. Or should I say more funding. Again, where is the 108 thousand dollars for these studies?Donna Hughes who condemned President Clinton as anti woman but states the following about President Bush

From http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/hughes200601260824.asp

“Reporter Katheryn Lopez: How important has the president been in this fight?

Hughes: President Bush has been the crucial factor. He has created a political climate in which all of us, from local activists to high-ranking political appointees, could do this work. Mainstream feminists like to say he’s anti-woman, but by supporting the abolitionist work against the global sex trade, he has done more for women and girls than any one other president I can think of. And he seems to have done it because it’s the right thing to do, not because of pressure or favoritism. The new law and policy will literally initiate change for millions of women and girls around the world. Years from now, when the anti-Bush hysteria has died away, I believe he will be recognized as a true advocate for women’s freedom and human rights.The mainstream media has ignored this story. Most of the coverage has come from the conservative press as a result of faith-based groups’ involvement in coalition efforts to support the new law and policy. I believe it is a result of the liberal media dislike of the Bush administration and the lack of mainstream feminist groups’ acknowledgment of Bush’s efforts to fight sex trafficking. Most mainstream journalists don’t search out the facts, and instead accept the stereotypes and anti-Bush propaganda. When I speak favorably of what the Bush administration has done to support the anti-trafficking movement, people are often shocked because it isn’t consistent with their view of President Bush or the Bush administration. Hopefully, history will set the record straight.

Lopez: Who have been some of the other key figures?

Hughes: Laura Lederer, senior adviser in the State Department’s global-affairs office had a key role in drafting the national-security directive that President Bush issued in 2002. The directive laid out the U.S. policy on prostitution and trafficking. Lederer has a 30-year history of fighting pornography, prostitution, and sexual exploitation. She thoroughly understood the problem and the nuances of all the debates around trafficking. She was able to assist the Bush administration is drawing up a far reaching, visionary plan for the abolition of trafficking.”

Brenneman Laura Lederer who has her government job. Hughes who seemed very happy at the outset when she saw herself getting hundreds of thousands of dollars for her studies. Money taken from outreach programs giving condoms, shelter, training programs for those choosing to exit, health care. All of those supposedly “pro prostitution” goals of the “pro prostitution, pro trafficking lobby”

Below is analysis of Hughes statements about her history in the feminist movement.

Hughes: “I’ve (Hughes) spent about 17 years working on this issue — most of that time I was on the losing side, as those who supported “sex worker” rights won almost every political battle.”

Brenneman: Question, was she battling for social justice for these trafficked women or battling sex worker rights? Which leads to another question. Why would an activist supposedly fighting to protect women in the sex industry oppose their rights?

Hughes writes: “The mainstream feminist groups wanted to allow women to make the “choice” to be prostitutes and only oppose “forced prostitution.”

Brenneman: And these women are children and shouldn’t be allowed to choose sex work? For what reason? The feminist groups Hughes opposes support adult women making a choice to do sex work and opposes these same feminists who also oppose forced prostitution. Wouldn’t it make more sense to join with the feminists already opposing forced prostitution? Not to Donna and her allies. Not apparently when they can snag all the funding for themselves. Why share? Even if by her own admission the studies she was paid to do apparently never made it to the government or were never completed as by her own words studies have not been done and must be done.

Hughes “The Clinton administration funded and supported this approach. I thought we had lost. Those were the depressing years.”

Brenneman: The Clinton Administration funded harm reduction programs, funded feminists supporting the right of adult women to have self determination over their bodies and their occupation funded feminists who were also fighting forced prostitution. Yet Donna was depressed about this.

Donna writes: “During the late 1990s, almost all the media stories were about how empowering prostitution was, how much money the women made, how pimps were disappearing, how women were independent businesswomen, and how women in India were forming unions and collectives to fight for their rights as sex workers.”

Brenneman: The women making money, the pimps disappearing, forming unions and collectives to fight for their human, civil and labor rights as sex workers is a bad thing? So apparently following the Hughes and her allies logic, the women should not make money, the pimps shouldn’t disappear until studies have been done to determine how many women and apparently how many pimps exist and then while depriving sex workers of their rights, Donna Hughes, her allies and the government can decide what to do? Is there not a contradiction in terms here? Hughes and her allies claim to be fighting for women yet want to deny them money, labor rights reducing or eliminating the power of pimps and organizational rights to advocate for their civil, human and labor rights? This is feminism?

Hughes writes: “The Utopian vision that prostitution could be turned into a form of legitimate work for women by empowering victims and organizing unions ruled in all U.N. meetings, feminist conferences, and a number of government offices. Now that was depressing!”

Brenneman: How depressing to Donna. The victims she claims to represent would be empowered and organizing unions to support their rights was happening at the UN level, at feminist conferences and within the government.

Donna writes: “Slowly that is changing. Media stories are increasingly describing prostitution rings in which women and girls are beaten, raped, and enslaved. That may sound more depressing, but to me it is much better because it’s the truth.”

Brenneman: Yes, with their rights and funding taken away, the unions have collapsed, the sex workers are once again much more vulnerable and women and girls are getting beaten, raped and enslaved. Donna admits it may sound more depressing but to her it is much better because it is the truth. So taking away the funding that assisted them in gaining human rights, labor unions that organized labor and civil rights even by organizations and feminists that Donna herself stated were fighting forced prostitution is a better thing because it is the truth? Being beaten, raped and enslaved is better because it is a truth created by Donna Hughes, the Bush Administration, religious right and like minded feminists? Of course it’s the truth. Drive any group into deep oppression restricting their rights, making them vulnerable and of course the truth will be an increase in crimes against them. But Donna was happy, she was getting money from her visionary Pro woman President Bush. Only she didn’t get enough to fill her belly and now wants more money. Not to help the sex workers but to study them. Studies undoubtedly done by her and her allies. Forget the feminists who were already opposing forced prostitution as by Donna’s logic they were pro prostitution by also supporting choice of bodily determination and human, civil and labor rights.

Donna writes: “I used to hear stories like that all the time from victims, but they never made it into media stories or congressional testimonies. Now, the truth about prostitution/sex trafficking is emerging and agencies are responding as never before. I think more pimps and traffickers have been arrested in the last year than in the whole previous decade. (…)”

Brenneman: Only now Donna states these arrests haven’t happened, the pimps and traffickers in the US aren’t being arrested in her xenophobic article in the ultra conservative National Review. What am I missing here? Canadian pro feminist Martin Dufresne believes all is going quite well, just give Donna and the correct feminists more money for studies and it will all be much better. Of course what happens to the women harmed by their support and the actual legislation that is TVPRA?

Martin states “Sorry but I think this is good news and part f what I have been fighting for. Some may disagree, of course”

Brenneman: Good news that violence against sex workers is up, their rights have been taken away, outreach heathcare and shelter projects are defunct, women aren’t making money, pimps are strengthened and even by TVPRA’s strongest supporters they have no idea what statistics actually exist even though they were paid to do the studies. They want more money to studies on their program which they were paid to do studies?

Feminist activist Nikki Craft who denies she is an abolitionist or a radical feminist despite operating the Andrea Dworkin online library and advocating the arson of porn stores on her website while complaining about the violent imagery of porn, yet using a picture of a tortured woman on her website as proof that it exists denies her involvement in any of this as she was unconcerned “about the infight over money” In that perhaps she is being truthful. She was crusading about the misogynist dangers of Adobe PhotoShop. There is a vital cause if one has ever been proposed.

We shouldn’t forget either that the top official exposed the the DC Madam’s call girl escort service was none other than Randall Tobias. The Bush Administration front man for TVPRA. Which essentially was the basis for this blog in the outset

Please, let yourself be heard, oppose TVPRA, its global harm, it’s corrupt and inept organizers and supporters.

Jill Brenneman

 

Sex workers protest at Federal Building

SAN FRANCISCO -A group of sex workers will rally in front of the San Francisco Federal Building at noon today to protest the Bush Administration’s controversial “anti-prostitution loyalty oath,” which they say requires non-governmental aid organizations to explicitly oppose prostitution as a condition of receiving U.S. funds to provide HIV services.

Around 25 people were expected to participate, according to Carol Leigh, a member of the Sex Workers Outreach Project and one of the event’s organizers.

“We want the general public to be aware of the anti-prostitution loyalty oath and we want it rescinded,” Leigh said. But the event also was spurred by “Operation Strikeout,” a police operation that resulted in the arrests of more than 100 Bay Area prostitutes and their customers during San Francisco’s All-Star festivities.

“We want to give services to sex workers before they are arrested, not to use arrest as a form of rescue,” Leigh said.

“We stand behind the list of recommendations of the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution,” she said. “We need to empower people who are working in the industry and who are also responsible members of the community to have a say in the policies that affect them.”

Today’s rally was organized in conjunction with the San Francisco Sex Worker Art and Film Festival taking place this week.

Examiner

Prostitutes say “Don’t take the pledge!”

On Tuesday, July 17th at noon sex workers from around the United States will converge on the San Francisco federal building at 450 Golden Gate. Prostitutes, escorts, massage parlour workers, BDSM workers and phone sex operators will be among the participants asking federal authorities to rescind the anti prostitution oath that has been inflicted upon non-governmental aids organizations around the world. Current U.S. law requires organizations receiving U.S. global HIV/AIDS and anti-trafficking funds to adopt specific organization-wide positions opposing prostitution. Health and human rights organizations are deeply concerned that this restriction will preclude recipients of U.S. funds from using the best practices at their disposal to prevent HIV/AIDS among these populations and to promote the fundamental human rights of all persons. In fact, evidence exists that these restrictions are already undermining promising interventions.

A video was created by the Network of Sex Work Projects on the effects of the pledge and will be shown throughout the rally. http://www.nswp.org/

Who- Sex Workers Outreach Project
What- Rally and showing of “Taking the Pledge” video
When- July 17th 12 NOON
Where- 450 Golden Gate Federal Building

Sexual Slavery, Melissa Farley and sex work

Sexual Slavery, Melissa Farley and sex work

Excerpt from Melissa Farley’s Statement from her website prostitutionresearch.com


  • Prostitution can’t be made a little bit better any more than slavery could be made a little better.


Jill Brenneman writes in her blog, www.myspace.com/jillbrenneman

This statement is a contradiction. It would work well with a picture of a trafficking victim that has been brutalized or a child that has been sexually exploited commercially, but that is the extent of it. A soundbyte. A very good public relations statement that in context could make a powerful statement. One that in context I would also endorse. But this has to stay in the context and with a significant disclaimer.


If we go back to say the year 1800 when slavery was still legal in much of the world and part of many countries cultures and use hindsight as a guide knowing it would be 90 plus years for the majority of slavery to be abolished and in 207 years there would still be slavery, would we say that nothing should be done to make the lives of the slaves better knowing in this scenario that they will remain slaves throughout their lifetimes? Would the slave in Alabama or Brasil be better off by a statement that we should focus all resources on abolition and creation of awareness of all the horrors of slavery or should their be both? People working to abolish slavery and people working to better the lives of the slaves? It would be vastly unfair to those in slavery to say nothing should be done to improve their lives even a little bit because the institution is evil. Should we say that all resources should go toward fighting the slave owners and slave traders and with a set goal of freeing them but ignoring their plight during the struggle? Essentially if they are not free and aren’t going to be, better to leave them without rights and protection, because improving their living conditions may degrade the war against slavery?


With the assumption that they will remain slaves, they would be far better off having any rights and any improvement in their living conditions. If they are allowed to join together, to have their voices heard, to have the right to legal protection when victimized by crimes such as rape, assault, treatment for diseases without fear of stigmatization, and if they get out their status as once a slave not used against them, they only benefit.


The same thought process works for the sex industry. Those in the sex industry today can not be thrown away in the pursuit for social change. Sex worker rights advocates calling for basic principles such as referenced below from IUSW may be making prostitution a little bit better. I there any reason sex workers should not have the right to form unions, to work on the same basis as other contractors? Should they be taxed without rights and representation? Should they be denied the right to sue those who exploit their labor? Is it better to dirty unsafe places to work? Is denying the right to say no, denying access to clinics, denying training to those who want to leave a positive social stance? Are they better off being stigmatized by social attitudes?


Before we jump to a stance of saying prostitution should not be made a little bit better, perhaps we should look at the views of many actually in the sex industry and what they are truly advocating rather than relying on myths about sex worker rights activists and sweeping generalizations about trafficking and slavery. Those trafficked and those that are slaves deserve much better than being generalized with those who are not. And those that are not deserve much better than saying they should not have the right to improve their lives because there is exploitation in the industry the work in. They deserve better than those outside the sex industry making sweeping statements of blanket victimization regardless of what the life experiences and worldviews are of the sex workers. Feminism that states all of a segment of the female population are victims equal to slaves and those that say they aren’t are just not understanding reality is an insult to the women the feminism is supposed to represent. The abolitionist movement and abolitionist activists can do important work toward social change. But this work has to be done in alliance with those it states as representatives of. Not on top of them, not against them, not saying they are brainwashed by wanting their lives to improve and not linking them to present and historical evil or worse portraying them as collaborators with historical and present evil for taking steps to improve their lives.


• from IUSW International Union of Sex Workers website


  • Decriminalisation of all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults.

  • The right to form and join professional associations or unions.

  • The right to work on the same basis as other independent contractors and employers and to receive the same benefits as other self-employed or contracted workers.

  • No taxation without such rights and representation.

  • Zero tolerance of coercion, violence, sexual abuse, child labour, rape and racism.

  • Legal support for sex workers who want to sue those who exploit their labour.

  • The right to travel across national boundaries and obtain work permits wherever we live.

  • Clean and safe places to work.

  • The right to choose whether to work on our own or co-operatively with other sex workers.

  • The absolute right to say no.

  • Access to training – our jobs require very special skills and professional standards.

  • Access to health clinics where we do not feel stigmatised.

  • Re-training programmes for sex workers who want to leave the industry.

  • An end to social attitudes which stigmatise those who are or have been sex workers.



Jill Brenneman, SWOP East, Sex Workers Outreach Project

Patron of D.C. Madam Accused of Hypocrisy- NPR

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10089959

Patron of D.C. Madam Accused of Hypocrisy

Listen to this story...by Brenda Wilson

Morning Edition, May 9, 2007 · Randall Tobias’ name popped up on the telephone list of a woman charged with running a call-girl ring in Washington, forcing the State Department official to resign. While he denied paying for sex, his involvement in the scandal received more attention in part because of his role in enforcing laws against prostitution.

Randall Tobias: Of Pledges and Prostitutes

from remarks introducing Taking the Pledge at the UC Berkeley Labor Center, May 3rd, 2007

As a sex worker rights activist, based primarily in the US, one of my biggest frustrations is that the rhetoric of anti-prostitution activists mobilizing against trafficking attempts to draw a connection between the sex industry in the US and what they call “sex trafficking” or “commercial sexual exploitation” globally.

What’s very challenging as a US-based advocate is to get a solid, evidence-based view of how the sex industry operates in the places that anti-prostitution activists focus on: the global south, the former Soviet republics, and especially, Southeast Asia.

In March of 2006, I had the honor of representing the Desiree Alliance’s US network at the Sexual Health and Rights Project’s annual meeting, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The meeting brought together members of the international sex workers’ rights movements to strategize a global agenda for sex worker’s human rights. You will see, in Taking the Pledge, members of many these groups and workers and allies who were present.

We were privileged to meet members of Cambodia’s sex worker rights organizations, the Women’s Network for Unity and Womyn’s Agenda for Change, two groups that organize sex workers & advocate for their health & safety, civil and labor rights. These are two of many sex worker organizations who have had their HIV prevention and human rights work significantly curbed or halted by the anti-prostitution policies set by the US government as part of their own strategies – non-strategies, really – to combat HIV and human trafficking – as if a better solution to preventing AIDS and forced labor is to jail someone, not to educate them about their health and rights.

Now here is a place where the sex industry in the US, the sex industry in the developing world, and the anti-prostitution movement do connect, and it’s a story that you already know, if you’ve been following the news this week: at least, a small part of this story is hitting the press.

Deborah Jean Palfrey is the former proprietor of an adult fantasy and escort service, who, in October of last year, woke up to find her bank accounts frozen. She quickly learned that she was under Federal investigation alleging that her money had been made illegally through running a prostitution business. Now on the eve of her trial, as part of making a case in her defense, she is releasing forty sevens pounds of cell phone records from her business to the media, and this week, making them available one page at a time on her website. Now the media is consumed with extrapolating names from these telephone numbers. So far, only one man named as a customer has confirmed that he did, in fact, use Ms. Palfrey’s escort service, and this is a name that no one in this room should forget: Randall Tobias.

Randall Tobias was the Bush appointed administrator of the United States Agency of International Development, or USAID. He has been called the Bush administration’s “AIDS Czar,” and, until his unexpected resignation last Friday, was responsible for holding NGO’s and CBO’s to what we in the sex worker rights movement call “the pledge,” a signed loyalty oath stating that their organization opposes prostitution. As of 2003, under Tobias, organizations around the globe – with histories stretching to the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, who, through peer education, direct services, community education and organizing have a proven record of increasing the health and welfare of sex workers – were now condemned for doing anything that the US believes to be “promoting” prostitution.

Drop-in centers in Bangladesh serving some of the country’s the most vulnerable and impoverished women and children were shutdown because they accepted sex workers into their programs. English language education programs in Thailand were defunded because they taught sex workers. Condoms for sex workers in East Africa became so hard to come by that sex workers would wash and reuse them out of desperation. In Brazil, in resistance, $40 million of USAID funds were returned to the US on the grounds that excluding sex workers from their work was a public health and human rights failure too great to risk any money over.

If the “pledge” were, as the Bush administration and its supporters in the anti-prostitution movement contend, an effective strategy to end violence and human rights violations against vulnerable workers, then why are its only measurable effects the closing of social service programs that better the health and welfare of sex workers, and the increased kidnapping and incarceration of sex workers “for their own good”?

When you watch this video, I want you to reflect on the fact that the government agency, the very man himself responsible for enforcing this “pledge” is himself a client of sex workers. Tobias does not deny that he’s used Ms. Palfrey’s services – in fact, he’s bragged to ABC news how easy it was to invite “gals over to the condo for massages.” We, in this room… well, those of us who can or do who pay taxes… pay his salary, with which he hires sex workers for his own pleasure and robs other sex workers of their human rights to education, health, and safety. But Randall Tobias isn’t to be condemned for his desire for erotic companionship – rather, for his utter hypocrisy and his agency’s direct role in violating the human rights of the very people it claims to serve.

We in the US – sex worker rights advocates and our networks of supporters – all have a role to play in ensuring the wellbeing of sex workers around the world, and holding policies like those of USAID and its most celebrated now-former administrator accountable – are one of the most sound steps we can take, as our actions against these polices are, unlike the policies themselves, based in evidence of these programs failures, the hypocrisy of their administrators, and the requests of sex workers themselves around the world to take a stand in their name, for our collective good.

Now, Taking the Pledge.

- Melissa Gira

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