“Erotic Services” Denied: Craigslist and Attorneys General Are Putting Sex Workers At Risk

This is a collaborative press release – please distribute and repost widely!

Contact:
Dylan Wolfe – Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), swank@riseup.net
Will Rockwell – $pread Magazine, will@spreadmagazine.org
Audacia Ray – Sex Work Awareness (SWA), aray@sexworkawareness.org
Susan Blake – Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Michael Bottoms – Sex Workers Outreach Project – New York City (SWOP-NYC), info@swop-nyc.org

With Craigslist’s recent announcement that its Erotic Services category will be discontinued within the week, hundreds of thousands of erotic service providers will become more vulnerable to dangerous predators. Eliminating erotic listings as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and others propose will only drive us further underground.

Policing the masseuses, phone workers, pro-dominants, and escorts using Craigslist fails to protect those of us who are coerced into the sex industry. Preventing the use of Craigslist advertisements also eliminates the advantage of screening clients online, which makes for a safer work experience by filtering out potentially dangerous individuals. Furthermore, keeping us offline hinders police investigations of violent crime. In the Boston murder of Julissa Brisman, it was online tracking that enabled the police to identify the suspect. One has to wonder: are the Attorneys General examining the evidence or simply enforcing their moral values?

“Removing the erotic services category from Craigslist does not help prevent violence against escorts and other sex workers. It only pushes me and people like me out of the places where advertising is available,” said Jessica Bloom, a sex worker from Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK). In the face of increasing criminalization, we insist upon respect. As mothers, daughters, brothers, and members of your community, we claim that sex work is real work, work that we are entitled to conduct in safety. As such, we must be accorded the human right of full protection under the law.

Rhode Island getting closer to outlawing indoor sex work.

Today is a busy day for Sex Worker Rights.  With news of Craigslist(only in the US) canceling the Erotic Services section, we’ve had a flurry of press calls.  Plus Rhode Island (the only state where indoor prostitution is legal) just had the house pass H5044 Sub A, the vote was 62 to 8, and this is the 4th year they’ve tried it, and it’s gotten way farther (it’s never even got out of committee before).  If you care about this issue, especially if you are in Rhode Island, PLEASE CALL a state senator in RI, by filling out the bottom form at this page: http://www.sec.state.ri.us/vic/ to track down who your senator is. (Yes they make it complicated, so that you WON’T talk to them, prove them wrong!)

Breaking: Craigslist to end Erotic Services

This just came across the news; posting for the sake of us having a place to hash out how to respond, what comes next, and field the inevitable questions from the press.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be holding a press conference at 11am Eastern today. We’ll post more news as it develops.

AP wire story:

Ill. AG: Craigslist dropping ‘erotic services’ ads

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says that Craigslist is getting rid of its “erotic services” ads and will create a new adult category that Web site employees will review.

Madigan’s office said Wednesday that such existing ads on Craigslist will expire in seven days.

Madigan and the attorneys general for Connecticut and Missouri met with Craigslist officials last week seeking an end to ads they contend are advertisements for illegal sexual activities.

An e-mail sent to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster was not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

Craigslist came under renewed pressure to remove the ads after a medical student in Boston was charged with the April killing of a masseuse he met on the site.

More in the Hartford Courant, Chicago local news.