MTV Anti Trafficking and MTV NO exit discussion.

Below is an email from the MTV Exit campaign, which is a Anti-Trafficking organization. MTV NO Exit is a campaign by sex workers that are part of the APNSW (Asia Pacific Network of Sex Work projects). Let’s be VERY CLEAR: Those of us fighting for Sex Worker Rights, are totally against slavery, and coercion. The problem is, that most of the anti-trafficking campaigns treat sex workers as victims, and as you can see below in Cambodia, the anti-trafficking laws treat all sex work as sex trafficking. This is our main point of contention. We have agency, we aren’t victims, and we do freely choose this work.

**************** Email from MTV to NO Exit ****************

Your methods and reasoning here concerns me. It is very clear what the aims and objectives of the MTV EXIT Campaign are. We are an anti-human trafficking campaign that focuses on raising awareness of human trafficking only. That is it. Our messages come in the form of safe migration advice, general awareness of what human trafficking is, and finally, how communities and individuals can have an impact on the issue.

As far as USAID is concerned, the change in administration does not actually change the way we work, I’m not sure why you think it would.

I’m also not sure how you think “promoting human rights for sex workers” actually fits in with an anti-trafficking campaign?

I urge you to watch our documentaries, in paticular the programme called Traffic, which was produced for the Asia-Pacific:

http://www.mtvexit.org/eng/video/lucy_traf_wmp.html

In it you will see we are educating our audience about 3 forms of trafficking: labour trafficking, domestic servitude, and sex trafficking.

Firstly, we are not planning to produce another documentary like this. Secondly, even if we were then inserting a “message of non-trafficked sex workers” into this programme would be the same as inserting a message about non-trafficked domestic workers or non-trafficked workers in other industries where individuals are trafficked. Apart from diluting our message, including messages for these non-trafficked workers (regardless of type of work) just does not make sense.

Please can you clarify something. Is APNSW claiming that unless MTV EXIT — an anti-trafficking campaign that has educated millions of people about the issue since its launch in 2004 — starts to campaign for the promotion of human rights for sex workers, then your network will continue to campaign against us?

Thanks

Simon

****************** NO Exit’s Response *********************

Hi Simon,

We understand that the MTV Exit campaign is focused on anti-trafficking and raising awareness about anti-trafficking. What we do not understand is how you can honestly try to rationalize differentiating between sex workers and the anti-trafficking policies, which your campaign encourages and represents, as they directly effect sex workers. Anti-trafficking and sex workers human rights are interlinked as sex workers across Asia have their human rights violated on a daily basis in the name of “combating trafficking” Many of these human rights violators are listed on your website as sources for further information or for referral.

When you were in Cambodia and met with us the sex workers asked you for a brief time on your video to voice their issues you said no for 2 reasons. 1. It was short notice. And 2. Your USAID contract would not allow you to do so. We took reason 2 as meaning that if the contractual obligations changed, that you would be willing to include sex workers like you said you wished you could.

Promoting human rights for sex workers fits in with your campaign in Cambodia because of the vast amount human rights violations that are a direct result on the Law on Trafficking in Person and Sexual Exploitation. It would be irresponsible for MTV to not fully inform their viewers of the entire situation, especially human rights issues directly related to the cause endorsed by campaign. This disclusion would allow people to draw the conclusion that you are not concerned about the human rights violations.

I have watched all of you MTV Exit youtube videos, and was frankly offended by the way you portray women who are trafficked or at risk of trafficking as brainless twits with no common sense and no agency. The sarcasm attempted in these videos falls dead on the eyes of an informed viewer, and comes off as insensitive and derogatory. Beyond that, we have never questioned the purpose of your campaign, just the way you went about achieving it. We don’t believe that it meets the objectives you set of raising awareness whilst not buying into the debate on whether all sex work is trafficking.

Including the message of all sex workers does make sense because trafficking laws, such as the one in Cambodia, do not distinguish between sex workers and trafficking victims and therefore make all sex work illegal. Unlike labor trafficking laws which do not outlaw all other forms of professional employment. We do not believe that campaigns such as MTV Exit can be separated from the fact that it is seen as part of an anti-trafficking movement that has an agenda to criminalize all sex work. You told us this was not your intention which why our solution is to include the voices of non-trafficked sex workers.

Finally, APNSW and our member groups never asked you to start a new campaign, we asked to be included in your current one. If MTV Exit continues to promote the broader anti-prostitution/ anti-trafficking campaigns then we will continue to oppose MTV Exit as part of our larger campaign against the anti-prostitution movement.

11 Responses

  1. Compassiontara wrote, “The problem is, that most of the anti-trafficking campaigns treat sex workers as victims, and as you can see below in Cambodia, the anti-trafficking laws treat all sex work as sex trafficking.”

    Another major problem with various so-called anti-trafficking campaigns is that they seem more focused on incarcerating sex workers than on stopping human trafficking. ( I say so-called because I feel that real anti-trafficking campaigns focus on looking for effective solutions to stopping human trafficking rather than persecuting sex workers under the guise of fighting trafficking.) Sex workers are being incarcerated under certain anti-trafficking policies. How could anybody who is against trafficking support forcibly trafficking sex workers into jail cages? Criminalizing prostitution shifts the focus away from looking for effective solutions to stopping actual human trafficking and toward incarcerating sex workers.

  2. They lock up trafficked women too, surely the whole approach is wrong for everyone.

  3. Does anybody have Simon’s e-mail address (the guy from MTV whose name is signed on the letter defending No Exit) because I’d like to e-mail him this video:
    http://blip.tv/file/970833/ .
    I think it could help him to better grasp the major human rights violations happening to Cambodian sex workers under the guise of fighting human trafficking. Has anybody already e-mailed him a link to this video? That being said, it is important to note that because they’re receiving funding from USAID, they would need to sign a gag order supporting the criminalization of prostitution. This may make them unlikely to address how U.S. imposed policies that call for the criminalization of prostitution under the guise of fighting trafficking are resulting in major human rights abuses against sex workers, commited by certain law enfocement officials who are enforcing these laws.

  4. Oops, I meant to say “MTV Exit” in the previous message, not “No Exit.”

  5. IMO its not some symbolic thing about “victims” or not, its about the real shit that happens, that it leads to so many arrests and human rights abuses against sex workers and that it hurts trafficked people too.

  6. Sexworkeradvocate,

    Simon has watched all videos about sex workers from Cambodia. He still remains unwaivering in his exclusion of sex workers from the MTV Exit campaign.

    Thus we continue NO Exit!

  7. yeah, well this is an example of how well funded the haters of prostitutes are and no we can’t expect that they are going to include our position. Why would they do that when they rely on the salaciousness of sex slavery to sell their ass.

    Does this documentary give any credible information in terms of numbers? I bet you he doesn’t because they never do. I’d go after them about that because they never give any credible information about our industry and just take him out publically. They have a vested interests in keep us quite which is exactly what he’s doing not only in his repsonse to you but also in the way he made the film in the first place. He didn’t include our position in the first place because he knew he didn’t have to. He knew that nobody was going to be holding him accountable.

    So fight back!

    Events like this https://deepthroated.wordpress.com/2009/02/05/call-for-applications-speak-up-media-training-for-the-empowered-sex-worker/

    pale in the face of the magnitude of disputing misinformation our sighting about our industry.

    We as an industry need to creating our own message as in getting a media strategy like the one taught at schools like this one. Developing a Media Strategy May 8-9
    http://espu-ca.org/wp/?page_id=359

    I appreciate anyone’s efforts to call out the unfair way our industry is being portrayed in the media but come one people, we’ve got to go beyond expecting the war on the whore profiteers to do us justice.

    We can change this ourselves but we’ve got to get on the same level of unionization and go beyond individual media whoredom jesus christ superstar which hasn’t resulted in changing a freaking oppressive laws or bringing us equal protection in every country across the planet. If fact we’re loosing on all accounts and have been loosing and will continue to loose until we do something different.

  8. Does anyone else think his tone is incredibly condescending and indicates that he has not though through at all how anti-trafficking policies affect sex workers?

  9. As I eluded to in a previous message, MTV Exit may be reluctant to address the major human rights abuses against sex workers under certain human trafficking legislation because they are being funded by USAID, and receiving such funding requires signing an anti-prostitution oath. If they express how incarcerating sex workers under the guise of fighting trafficking does nothing to stop actual cases of human trafficking, then “the powers that be” may take this to mean that they support legal prostitution, which is in violation of the USAID gag order.

  10. That video that Simon presented for us to view is an absolute joke. There are no subtitles or translations of any kind. We don’t even know what the women are saying.

  11. I am more than ever convinced that MTV Exit is not really about trafficking at all, but is a front organisation to get US govt aid money into the coffers of MTV to subsidise a giant brand promotion effort for MTV in “emerging markets”

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