Another message from Melissa Farley

Apparently, somebody set up a counter-blog to our blog-in, a blog for responses from Farley, but to the best of my knowledge, nobody here ever got word of it. I had no idea this blog even existed until accidentally running across it when googling for something else. The blog is at vegasmadam.wordpress.com and apparently is run by a friend of Jody Williams, who (unlike Williams) is apparently not in direct contact with Melissa Farley and isn’t even entirely in the Farley camp, and who doesn’t seem to have publicized the blog, in any event. Why Farley prefers such tortuous routes of communication is beyond me – I’m sure if she just wanted to communicate directly by commenting here and/or sending longer responses to be posted, nobody here would have had any objection.

Anyway, of the two posts by Farley on that blog, we’ve already posted one. Here’s the other, I kind of FAQ-style response to her critics:

Info from Farley to Pro Sexer’s

From: Melissa Farley

Who paid for the research:

Farley’s research for Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections was sponsored primarily by Prostitution Research & Education, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reflect the voices of prostituted women, to advocate for alternatives to prostitution with the ultimate goal of abolishing the institution of prostitution. 30% of the expenses of the Nevada research project were paid for by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. None of the contents of the book has been changed to conform to anyone else’s agenda, including the U.S. State Department. The opinions in the book are Farley’s alone.

Legal prostitution does not protect women from the harm of prostitution:

Despite claims to the contrary, legal prostitution does not protect women from the violence, verbal abuse, physical injury, and diseases such as HIV that occur in illegal prostitution. Many women in the legal brothels are under intense emotional stress; many of them have symptoms of chronic institutionalization and trauma. All prostitution, even that which appears voluntary, causes harm.

There is a dangerous lack of services in Nevada for adult women seeking to escape the sex industry, services such as emergency shelters, and social services, medical and vocational assistance. Since the prostitution of 13-17 year old children is “rampant” according to one police officer, more services for children are also needed.

The connection between prostitution and trafficking:

Prostitution and sex trafficking are linked in Nevada as elsewhere: sex trafficking happens when and where there is a demand for prostitution and a context of impunity for its customers. In Nevada, women are trafficked primarily into the state’s illegal prostitution venues: strip club prostitution, escort prostitution, and massage parlors that function as illegal brothels. There also appear to be instances where women have been trafficked into legal brothels.

The links between legal and illegal prostitution in Nevada, and the profound harms caused by prostitution to all women are much like those in other countries where legal prostitution exists. The parallels between Nevada, Australia (legal prostitution), the Netherlands (legal prostitution), and Cambodia (prostitution is illegal but socially and politically tolerated as in Las Vegas) are striking.

Las Vegas is the epicenter of North American prostitution and trafficking. The sex industry in Las Vegas alone generates between one and six billion dollars per year, according to seven informed sources. Women are trafficked for prostitution from many parts of the world into Las Vegas.

Legal prostitution creates a ‘culture of prostitution’ in the state that is fostered or tolerated by politicians, developers, and the entertainment industry. A sex industry the size of that in Nevada exists because of political and judicial corruption and a willingness to tolerate organized crime including domestically organized motorcycle gangs and internationally organized Armenian, Russian, Israeli, Mexican, Korean, and Chinese criminals. Revenue from prostitution generated by international criminal networks has been connected with weapons trafficking.

Farley’s research methodology:

Farley’s psychological research is methodologically sound. Other researchers have independently replicated her methodology and subsequently published the results. Farley has published more than 25 peer-reviewed publications on sexual violence, prostitution and trafficking. She has spoken with a thousand women, men, and the transgendered in prostitution in 10 countries on 5 continents. In the Nevada study, Farley extensively cites the work of other researchers in Nevada, including Lenore Kuo, Alexa Albert, Barb Brents and Kate Hausbeck. Brents and Hausbeck reported an attempted strangulation in one of the legal brothels in Nevada. They no longer advocate legal prostitution. They now advocate decriminalized prostitution. Farley’s findings in Nevada are carefully documented and explained in detail, with 628 footnotes.

All science is infused with values, whether it’s stem cell research, research on the psychological effects of colonization of one people by another, or research on the effects of incest or rape or prostitution. The issue is not whether research is permeated with values – it always is – but whether those values are made explicit as opposed to being vaguely stated or deliberately concealed. Baral, Kiremire, Sezgin and Farley wrote a decade ago: “We initiated this research in order to address some of the issues that have arisen in discussions about the nature of prostitution. In particular: is prostitution just a job or is it a violation of human rights? From the authors’ perspective, prostitution is an act of violence against women: it is an act which is intrinsically traumatizing to the person being prostituted.” Farley has always made her perspective and hypotheses transparent. She also made her methodology and the ways in which her hypotheses were tested sufficiently explicit for others to replicate the study. Findings from Farley’s research has not always turned out in the direction she predicted but she still reports those findings.

As other researchers of prostitution have noted, it is not possible to obtain a random sample of people currently prostituting. Investigators therefore use a variety of techniques to learn about the experience of prostitution for those in it. Generally, smaller numbers of interviewees limit the generalizability of results. We have reported data from a large number of respondents in different countries and in different types of prostitution. It appears that Farley’s critic Ronald Weitzer in Washington DC has never interviewed women currently prostituting in any research he’s done. He’s a policy analyst, not a research psychologist.

Rape rates in Nevada:

The rape rate in Nevada is extremely high, as documented by some fairly devastating statistics from the FBI. On page 240 of Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections, Farley writes:

BEGIN QUOTE FROM BOOK: I asked Kelly Langdon, the Nevada State Rape Prevention Coordinator, how she understood the relationship between legal prostitution and the high rates of rape in the urban areas of Nevada. Emphasizing the inequality of the prostitution transaction, whether legal or not, she said that legal prostitution “creates an atmosphere in the state in which women are not seen as equal to men, are disrespected by men, and which then sets the stage for increased violence against women.”

A Las Vegas rape crisis counselor spoke bluntly about the relationship between the sex industry and the city’s high rape rates. ” Men think they can get away with rape here,” she told me.

Data from the 2004 FBI Uniform Crime report validates these analyses and raises the possibility of an association between legalized prostitution, the state’s prostitution culture, and rape rates in Nevada. The Nevada rate of rape was higher than the US average and was twice as high as New York’s rate of rape. The rate of rape in Las Vegas was three times greater than that in New York City.

Rape Rate per 100,000 Population by State

Nevada 40.9
U.S. average 32.2
California 26.8
New York 18.8
New Jersey 15.3

Rape Rate per 100,000 Population by City

Las Vegas 44.7
Sparks-Reno 41.3
San Francisco 24.5
Los Angeles 23.2
New York 14.0
END QUOTE FROM BOOK