change.org petition for a verified adult industry provider section

change.org is mobilizing 2 petitions: one to stop CL’s erotic svcs sec WORLDWIDE and one to go after Backpage.com ( take action by telling Village Voice Media it’s time to stop profiting from child sex trafficking now).  I CREATED THE PETITION AND IT IS LIVE!

please VOTE, TWEET, FACEBOOK!

www.change.org/petitions/view/demand_a_verified_adult_provider_section_to_stop_sex_trafficking_and_exploitation?te=npe

ARE YOU REALLY INTERESTED IN STANDING UP AGAINST PIMPS, PREVENTING EXPLOITATION OF MINORS and PREVENTING ANOTHER CRAIGSLIST KILLER TO PREY ON ADULT INDUSTRY WORKERS?

My name is Mariko Passion.  I am an adult industry worker of 13 years, over the age of 18 and I am not being forced or coerced to do any work with anyone or for anyone.  I am not being held against my well.  In other words: I am not a sex trafficking victim.  I am an advertiser on backpage.com and was a former erotic services provider on Craigslist.com. before the appearance of the Craigslist killer when things became more difficult to advertise.  I feel compelled to make this video to put a face to those that do this work and hope that I can urge you to TRULY TAKE A STAND to help those of us that are often victims of violence because we are pushed underground, forced to be ashamed and secretive about what we do and often feel that the police will not want to help us when we are victims of rape, robbery or as we saw in the Philip Markoff case: murder.

The SOLUTION to combating violence and exploitation in our industry is not to eliminate advertising sources.  Many adult providers who are NOT in human trafficking situations are also mothers, part time workers, students in college, artists, persons who would otherwise be homeless or stuck in domestic violence situations and many many other things.  Eliminating craigslist adult services and and moving onto eliminating ads in  backpage, where many of us have now advertise will hurt the last bastion of income revenue many of us.

I am proposing that advertising outlets that wish to run adult industry ads be required to create a VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION in their newspapers or websites.  This is very similar to the 2257 laws that the porn industry uses to combat claims of and actually stop the employment of underage performers in their videos.  It is also a system that is already in place by other more upscale adult provider websites like Eros.com

To advertise in this section MUST BE AFFORDABLE.  Every adult provider who comes into the advertising office to verify themselves is actually making a small contribution to STOPPING TRAFFICKING by supporting a simple verification system that helps to prevent exploitation by a 3rd party.  This system makes the adult voluntary workers and papers like LA Weekly, backpage, or others MORE responsible to the realities of possible exploitation that may exist in our work.

A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION will give verified adult providers ad space at a discounted rate that is competitive with craigslist/backpage rates per week about $35-45/week, which actually will create INDEPENDENCE from agencies or pimps that have more credit cards or capital to invest in full page buyouts of weekly papers, postcard littering campaigns on sidewalks or billboard trucks driving up and down streets.  THIS IS HOW A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION WILL TAKE A STAND AGAINST PIMPS AND AGENCIES.

A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER SECTION will ALSO be beneficial to the customers of such ads.  There will be no mistaking a A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER as a trafficked person or minor.  There will also be the added assurance for the client that the provider is only allowed to represent their own image in the ads that they run.

A VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER verifies that they are over 18 with government issued ID, are not being held against their will, are not being forced to exchange services by a third party, are entering agreements with clientele from ads willingly, AND are using REAL pictures and representing their own advertising and business decisions as listed in any ads with said publication.  They must come into the media outlet office and sign a written agreement.

Information gathered from VERIFIED ADULT PROVIDER will not contain any more information about the provider than their age and that they are not trafficked.  It shall not be used to gather information to be used against the adult providers.  NO questions in the verification process will be used to incriminate workers in any way.  They are simply verifying that they are over 18 and advertising on their own will.  It is a TRUE effort from media publications to help adult worker safety.   It is an effort to create a REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE to the strategies currently being used by the moral majority as the solution.

24 Responses

  1. Mariko, this is great work!

  2. I’m NEVER EVER a fan of having my ID recorded with my sex work in any way. Ever. It’s a nice idea indeed but in practice — not so great. Just like any regulation, it simply creates an underground of people trying to avoid the regulation.

    Though putting the funds toward an org to help stop trafficking, I’m more of a fan of putting the funds to an org that provides actual resources to all sex workers, not just trafficking victims. Though not sure just what that org would be.

    Personally, I like using free ad space or ad space that doesn’t require any real info from me. Not when I feel I’m being hunted.

    XX

  3. I understand the fear, but I feel that it is a small sacrifice to pay from having all ad sources eliminated all together. Where are those free ad spaces anymore? If you are talking about hobbyist review boards, i’d probably prefer to take my chances with craigslist and backpage guys than cater to hobbyist provider ratings and rude comments.

  4. There are TONS of free ad spaces in the US. I advertise on a lot and receive emails about even more. They’re not hard to find and new ones crop up all the time. (No, they’re not hobbyist boards, I think I’m pretty clear on what I think of hobbyists.)

    The problem with ID verification is obvious. If you read my Craigslist Future Thinking post, you’ll see I commented on this issue already. There is a real problem with enforcing “legal” regulations in prostitution (an illegal job). It can’t happen and it can’t work. They can try but I am certainly not going to voluntarily submit.

    XX

    PS: I say this; I’m already an advertiser on Eros and have been since 2002. Not much I can do about that at this point.

  5. Thank you so much for creating this, Mariko. The petition is great and very much needed on Change.org . I just have a question. You mentioned that sex workers need to actually go into the office to verify their age and that they aren’t trafficking victims, so what happens if the sex worker is in a different geographic area? Like what if a sex worker wants to advertise on a national or international website based out of SF, but lives in NYC?

  6. I know that Eros.com doesn’t require in person verification because they use copies of your ID and your credit card as acceptable. I believe they also store their information in another country so that it isn’t so easily scrutinized by domestic search warrants. this doesn’t entirely protect them of course if any information was really wanted.

    I suppose those without credit cards or ability to scan and email documentation would have to come in person. I think that media outlets COULD still allow unverified ads, like Eros or other outlets do but those ads would just cost more. Verification would be a cost incentive to the provider. this would keep agencies in business but they would pay more and not be able to dominate the market over independent workers.

  7. so the answer would be, scanning documents and sending them would be acceptable if credit card name, id name and photos used matched but an in person system would be ideal.
    Yes it is true, trafficked and pimped workers CAN still be coerced to lie and come up with fake docs, but underage folks also use fake docs to buy liquor but we can’t rule out the effectiveness of the system of carding.

  8. Copies of ID or real ID it doesn’t matter — the ID is tied in with the worker’s stage name. That is dangerous, even in countries where it is legal/decriminalized this has proven to be dangerous to the worker. I’d multiply that factor of about 100 in countries where prostitution is criminalized.

    Yes, one can always fake information, which will lead to more severe penalties if discovered.

    Still doesn’t answer the question of why we — as people with no recognized rights in the US — would voluntarily submit to this legal regulation of our work.

    XX

  9. Well, how about this idea:

    Why don’t we put a petition on change.org to decriminalize prostitution? We might as well go for broke.

    (Not sure how to word the petition, though.)

  10. After all, if this Amanda Kloer person can put up petitions to save adult women from themselves, then why not the opposite?

  11. Susan,

    It’s an idea. Problem is criminalization happens at the local and state levels, not federally. A petition for decrim would be an idea-piece, nothing that could be put into action. I don’t think. The only way I see it being effective is if it listed every city and state where prostitution is made illegal and got people from those places to sign on.

    But I don’t know how an online petition would work in this case. If one expects to use it to enact legal change.

    XX

  12. By signing a written statement at a media outlet office it verifies that 1) you are over 18 2) you are entering an advertising agreement for yourself and are not being forced or coerced to work for a 3rd party.

    THAT’S IT.

    no voluntary STD testing. no curfews. no probation bracelets. no community service.

    It is of course a difficult thing to regulate an illegal profession, but the system tries to do it anyway. This is a small attempt to keep advert outlets OPEN and also this is based on my experiences in LA having worked for bait and switch agencies who buy out entire pages of the LA Weekly. the same thing happens in Vegas and i’m sure in many other places. independent workers cannot compete. some don’t want to and have no desire to be independent. fine. let their agencies pay 3x more than the verified adult provider. Agencies summarize the “I don’t care about humanity” attitude. They don’t care if the worker is a minor, undocumented, dropped off in a scary scenario without a driver, or if their clients are ripped off on a daily basis. they really really do not care. So I use this petition with the trafficking and child exploitation keywords to try to hit the agencies (pimps) in their pocketbooks. and i can assure you that they are feeling the pain of the CL shut down.

    I know sex workers and allies who were AGAINST proposition K to decriminalize prostitution in SF. It wasn’t perfect but it was all we had so many of us worked our ARSES off for an entire month pushing it. You may not think that my peittion is perfect, but seriously if you have another sex worker led idea and are willing to show your face, then put your own petition up there! i’ll sign it!

  13. also regarding regulation of an illegal industry:

    In LA, where I was arrested, I was hit with 2 counts: prostituion and escorting without a license. the latter is the charge that stuck although i ended up expunging the whole thing on my own later.

    I went to the police department to see what kinds of regulation went into getting an escort license in LA and the list and requirements WERE RIDICULOUS, ARCHAIC and completely unreasonable. No wonder no person had ever in their right mind paid $750 for an escort license. they arrest workers all day and night on the charge of being an unlicensed escort. they hit you with mandatory HIV testing and “education” but then use your condoms as evidence against you. Hmm. Fucked up and faulty thinking? yes. Attempting to ban the use of condoms as evidence is also an example of regulating an illegal industry (in reverse, i.e regulations with the worker in mind) but we are long over due for some.

    When Prop K was running, people asked me “so when this passes, how will sex work be regulated?” and I knew that we had no plan thus far and that we were going to go on the whim of planning it AFTER it passed! Totally faulty at best of course but it was all we had! The organizers didn’t all get along but we tried to work together to push the sex worker voice and our 41.3% proved successul. So even if you don’t like me, or my face, or my ideas…keep in mind, it’s the only one I see out there and maybe it will encourage some of yous to make your own.

  14. With any business, there are regulations, so there would be some regulations with prostitution even if it were decriminalized, like in NSW and NZ.

    After reading Amanda’ Brooks’ comments, I don’t support the petition, even though I was really excited to see that a sex worker advocate wrote a change.org petition amidst all the backlash on there against sex work by one of their bloggers, Amanda Kloer.

    That being said, I feel that the fears Mariko expressed about sex workers in this country having no way to advertise if current trends continue need to be taken into consideration. The problem isn’t will Mariko, but with the backlash against sex workers and stuff that has been happening lately (e.g. CL).

    The prohibitionists and some state attorney generals got CL (one of the largest places on the web for independent sex workers to advertise) to shut down its erotic services section, and in the U.S. and the prohibitionists aren’t stopping there. Amanda Kloer created a petition on change.org encouraging CL to expand this policy to the world, and she’s also targeting Backpage. The last I checked, her CL global petition had over 2,000 signatures, so I have no doubt it’s way higher than that by now.

    I agree with Susan that we need to focus our efforts on going on for all out decriminalization, because I don’t see things getting much better under a criminalized system of prostitution.

    I appreciated how Mariko addressed ending trafficking, violence, and exploitation as central issues in her petition, and we need to also make these central issues in our efforts to decriminalize prostitution. I realize that’s a long term goal, and there may be some short term solutions that I just don’t know.

  15. Oh, I should clarify what I wrote. When I addressed concerns about sex workers in this country having no way to advertise if current trends continue, I should have expanded that concern to the world.

  16. before Craigslist was shut down, they put in this new requirement that stated that “you must state the service that you are offering in your ad” which is where my petition MIGHT be used against sex workers if they required you to state that you were as escort or a masseuse (and you did not have a license, which as I said in LA it is near impossible to get licensed as an escort). Busting someone on prostitution charges can prove to be VERY DIFFICULT (which is why you should always fight your charges if you can) but busting someone for not having a license or violating a license (finding condoms in a massage parlor) is very easy. I am going to post something on my petition to emphasize that this is not the goal of this petition. If we are doing our part to verify that we are not trafficked and we are consenting adults, they shouldn’t use that information against us ideally. But then if we do our part and get STD tested and use condoms, they use that against us. So, winning on all counts is difficult and frustrating and we can only hope for the best in each individual case.

    Law Enforcement DOES work with Craiglist to bust workers, we know this and I was busted from a CL sting as well like I said. If you sign that you are over 18 and enter an advertising agreement AND your ad says that you are an unlicensed escort, that would be the red flag that would make you a target for arrest. (but you knew that you were a target for arrest whenever you place any ad anywhere with verification or not) However, it will NOT be the verification process that will take you down. It will be 1) the language of the ad that the cops answer (are you making a blatant ad for prostitution or trying to hide it at all) 2) the language you use in person with the cop (solicitation + act of furtherance) that will be the cause of them arresting you 3) the multiple condoms and lube that you probably have in your purse.

  17. updated text of the petition:

    They are simply verifying that they are over 18 and advertising adult services on their own will. THEY WILL UNDER NOT BE REQUIRED TO STATE WHAT ADULT SERVICES THEY PROVIDE WHETHER ILLEGAL OR LEGAL. (some adult providers work and advertise LEGALLY as phone sex operators, non sexual BDSM providers, and exotic dancer/strippers) We emphasize the protection of all adult service providers by not asking questions which could be used against them in a court of law.

  18. Mariko,

    If your idea becomes an actual regulation, you can BET that they’re going to keep records. In most US hotels, they make a copy of your ID just to get a room. I can only imagine this regulation would include record-keeping and copies of ID. They would use 2257 as a guideline.

    I’m still unclear on WHY you think this is a great idea. It won’t stay under our control, if this becomes a regulation they aren’t going to make sure you’re on the committee who decides the rules for enforcement. This is the exact sort of thing I would’ve expected the antis to come up with.

    Yes, I agree with you that advertising may start to have all sorts of new regulations and it will probably become more difficult to advertise. I’d rather fight it as much as I can, than roll over and give it to them on a silver platter before they even ask.

    If we had legal status and legal rights, some sort of regulation would exist and I would be fine with that — assuming we were given a voice in the forming of the regulations. This is different. Where is our voice in any of these issues? Since when do sex workers have rights in their work in the US?

    That some cities have provisions for escort licenses means that escorting is legal (in whatever ways those laws state). It does not mean that the vast majority of unlicensed sex workers in that city are regulated or that they have rights. Obviously, if one is living/working outside the law, one is unregulated. Which brings me back to my original question of why ask for such regulation when our legal status is unchanged?

    It’s an idea that would be hard to implement — just from the paperwork alone. Again, all this verification would require some sort of record-keeping, would require new staff to take care of this and require some system for traveling sex workers to verify themselves. Just like with CL and 2257, I’m sure the authorities would request access to the info. It may not get anyone convicted but it always opens one up to persecution and/or arrest. Again, if we had legal rights it might be a different issue (though decrim generally does NOT involve record-keeping for indie workers).

    People — don’t just blindly sign something without reading it first. Of course Change.org allowed this petition on there — it plays right into the antis’ hands. This is NOT the way to fight sex trafficking or the antis.

    XX

  19. I don’t think this plays into the anti’s hands because it requires 2257 verification, and some anti’s post sexual pictures and videos without this verification (supposedly just to make a point). Also, the anti’s don’t advocate for 2257 verification, but for preventing sex work from existing period. I. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the points you’ve made are great, Amanda.

    Nonetheless, I guess people could make the arguement that this plays into the hands of the anti’s because authorities could still request access to the info. from the newspapers and websites, and go after sex workers.

    Even though sex workers wouldn’t be required to state what type of sex work they’re in, the type of language they use could give this away and authorities may suspect that all sex workers adversting are involved in prostitution, using this to gain access to their personal info.

    Anyway, I’m going to post a new entry on here about another sex workers’ justice blog on change.org . I think you really got the ball rolling by posting your petition, Mariko, even if not all of us support it. We’ve been discussing posting a petition on change.org for a while, but who knows when we would have gotten around to it? Your sense of urgency is motivating.

  20. I meant to say petition, not blog in the last paragraph. I just posted a link to this on a new entry.

  21. I tend to lean toward Amanda’s concerns, although I think Mariko’s plea is an effective and compelling response to the ongoing conflation between sex work and trafficking, providing people read it.

    The far right will abuse anything it gets its hands on, in my experience. If one is required to provide concrete ID, somewhere down the road, the far right will pressure law enforcement to take full advantage of it. Once your information is out there, it’s beyond your control. I’ve known a couple people who’ve been put at risk, both from law enforcement and from a predator, as a result of 2257, since it’s been in place, but the saving grace keeping this from being wholesale so far has been that the far right hasn’t thought to mobilize around it as a new weapon against sex work.

    Don’t give them anything they can use.

    If developing a petition, my recommendation (and something that I think some or many of the antis’ supporters could even get behind) is to petition for the empowerment of sex workers to live safe, self-determined lives through the decriminalization of all the means required to do sex work safely (“communication for the purpose of…” “living off the avails of…” bawdy house laws, etc). It’s only a step, but a significant one that will empower people to move forward toward a better solution.

  22. I don’t plan my actions waking up thinking “what will the anti-prostitution folks think of this?” it’s never been an issue to me. I’ve used their keywords to tempt them into appropriating my words for their own purposes and they haven’t really done so. I”ve been out and loud on prostitution issues since SWOP started in 2004. I’ve experimented on change.org in commenting on other articles before i mounted this petition and they haven’t really silenced me or effectively swayed the other commenters. (see condoms as evidence policy in DC on change.org)

    In Hawaii once, an abolititionist tried to call me a pimp in front of a panel and use one of my images to reveal that my love of Hello Kitty proved that I was eroticizes the juvenile in child trafficking. She was pretty much laughed out of the room and I ended up using her email that she attempting to blast around as a part of my blog.

    When I came back from the brothel spewing nightmare stories and complaints of exploitation on my blog, the Melissa Farley camp never used that to prove their theories. it’s been 3 years.

    I really do not understand why you think this is so different from giving your ID to Eros or to a brothel. In fact, if I hadn’t worked side by side with you at several activist events, by the way you are so vehemently opposed to my idea, I would reason that you were on their side. but you aren’t. something sparks a passion in you with my words and you are genuinely moved to fear it.

    the reason i feel that this is a good idea is the same spark of passion that I feel in my heart that what agencies do IS JUST WRONG. Taking 66-80% of what an escort collects is wrong and I am trying to fight it. Using fake pictures and having to put yourself at risk to dance around why this is puts us at risk. I felt the same way when I filed a backwages claim against all of my former stripclub employers and attempted to fight stage fees. That fight is soo unpopoular that even that precedents in San Francisco have been set towards a stripper victory, not many strippers do it. HOw could I bite the hand that feeds me? It’s damn scary.

    What are my intentions with this in LA?
    take as many signatures as I can to the LA weekly where I spend my money and demand verification so that independent workers can RISE UP against the domination of agency buy outs. I do see it as a PIMPS DOWN HOS up action, even tho, I am not supposed to admit that I am ho for these purposes. Even though success of this policy locally might backfire in that even if i was to advertise at a discounted rate I wouldn’t be able to make a sustainable income without the bread and butter of bait and switch clients. This has been true so far, and is the reason why I still work for them.

    Eros verification doesn’t stop my national agency from sending me on calls for a girl’s face that is not mine either. People can always get around things with determination, i just feel that it is a deterrent.

    I also know that forced prostitution is also wrong and would actually like to see something done about it from a sex worker perspective, but most of us are too busy fighting for our rights to really address that issue.

    I feel that verification would stop cases like this:
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/

    I feel that the 2257 policies in porn are a good thing, but then I think that condoms in porn are a good thing, and the workers do not. So I continue to be suprised by the range of feelings that sex workers have about their rights, as I suppose you are too.

  23. The solution to stopping forced labor in our industry is decriminalization, and I know you know that.

    The issues seems to be how do we get there?

    I know that the next decrim effort is coming, if you want to help, let me know. I also know that we need to have our legislation written and ready, now. Having our legislation ready now is the answer to all this bad legislation going around targeting ‘bad guys’ which results in everybody going to jail. Having legislation ready now takes us out of having to spend our time defending more bad punitive policy and laws aimed at keeping us in the dark. Having legislation ready now gives us something to point to that’s what we can all agree on and work towards..
    Getting our legislation is time better spent in times like these. I’m happy to host phone conference calls for those who want to be talking about legislation.

    If we don’t take action now, we’ll settle for nothing later,
    If we settle for something now, we’ll settle for nothing later.

    Rage Against the Machine

  24. […] to consider.  Rather than shutting them down outright, one idea being advanced is establishing a verified adult industry provider section in such places.  I have mixed feelings on this, especially about how identification records could […]

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