Sex Workers Stop Traffick

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
####

Contact:
Sex Workers Outreach Project
http://www.SWOPUSA.org
877-776-2004 x 2
info@swopusa.org

Sex Workers Stop Traffick

Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, a social justice and anti-violence project by and for sex workers, decries trafficking and demands protections for workers.
In the debate regarding the coercive shutdown of the Craigslist adult services sections the voices of sex workers have been conspicuously overlooked. Trafficking is not sex work. Real traffickers and child abusers must be stopped. Sex workers are in a unique position to help end trafficking, if our perspectives are taken into account.

Based on our extensive knowledge and experience with the sex industry, SWOP calls on elected officials and members of law enforcement to pursue a sane and effective approach to ending trafficking.

The conflation of consensual sex work with rape is a disservice to both victims of trafficking and to sex workers. Persecuting consenting adults for exchanging sex for money is a waste of precious resources that could better be used providing services and legal protections for minors and others who have been abused.

Trafficking and child sexual abuse are not sex work. Real traffickers must be stopped. Sex workers need health and labor protections to keep them safe while working and the ability to report crimes to the police if they are violated.

Sex workers and our clients are part of the solution- not the problem- to identify and root out real abuses. Sex workers and our clients are best situated to recognize suspicious or illegitimate activity on the Internet. The criminal status of some sex work is a barrier to helping law enforcement tap into this vital resource.

Since sex workers are not afforded equal legal protection from sexual assault and theft, we self-police by monitoring and identifying predators, work cooperatively to create safe workspaces and advise each other in safety methods that are critical to survival. Nobody is better situated to speak to the real problems and respective solutions for this community than sex workers.

SWOP demands that the voices of sex workers be included in all discussions of issues related to the commercial sex industry, particularly when the venues in which we communicate and keep each other safe are concerned. Purported rights groups, such as Change.org, have ignored sex worker voices while wrongfully vilifying Craigslist as a cause of- rather than an ally in stopping- trafficking. The continued silencing of sex workers, the trend to shut down the spaces where we communicate and the disregard of our expert knowledge demonstrate clearly that these efforts are more about stomping out sex for sale in general than in protecting those who are actually abused.

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Photo by Xtalk in April 2009 in cooperation with ECP and Sex worker Open University- London

11 Responses

  1. Thank you for this article.
    We do not belong in a stereotyped heap.
    We are human beings.
    Wives, mothers, daughters, sisters…
    We deserve to be heard… and protected.
    Peace,
    Cheyenna

  2. […] and used to target sex workers, most notably in the recent Craigslist ban.  SWOP has now added a press release: The conflation of consensual sex work with rape is a disservice to both victims of trafficking and […]

  3. DEFEND OUR RIGHT TO BONE YOUR HUSBANDS FOR MONEY BEHIND YOUR BACK! NO JUSTICE NO PEACE! THIS IS JUST LIKE WHEN BLACKS COULDN’T VOTE AND SHIT!

  4. I see the photo above, so people have seen what SWOP is talking about, but I’ve not heard anything about it before this article. Which media is going to print this? “For Immediate Release” where? If I hadn’t seen this article here, I probably would never have seen it at all. (If it’s been on the morning shows, I apologize for my ignorance; I don’t get up that early.)

    This article is good and it definitely addresses what we sex-workers want to see happen (particularly to include us in discussions about our own work). However, in being printed only here, it preaches to the choir.

    Where / who else is circulating this article?

  5. That’s one of the problems, Jolene. A big one.

    XX

  6. Whybother,

    If I want to bone your husband, I’ll sure as hell bone your husband. But if your husband doesn’t want me to bone him, then it isn’t going to happen.

    See paragraph one.

  7. YOU’RE QUITE THE LADY SUSAN! HAVE YOU ANY FAVORITE RECIPES?

  8. Yeah, I do have a few recipes, whybother. I mixing up some strong medication for you.

  9. This is the real issue and like criminalization of prostitution has been effective in addressing this corruption. I would say that in fact, criminalization has exacerbated this kind of corruption that is detrimental to everyone’s safety.

    Certainly these faux human rights groups don’t give a shit about us or anybody else who’s sexually assaulted…that’s clear because they focus all their efforts on ‘stopping the trafficking….children…when really they’re about instituting rape so they can get paid to ‘provide services to women and girls’.

    http://www.womensenews.org/story/rape/100916/witnesses-say-cops-make-rape-cases-go-away?sms_ss=facebook

    Witnesses Say Cops Make Rape Cases Go Away

    By Colleen Flaherty

    WeNews correspondent

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    A woman who was robbed and sexually assaulted in 2004 wound up as a suspect in her assailant’s crime. This week she told her story at a congressional hearing into the under-reporting and poor policing of rape and sex-assault charges.

    (WOMENSENEWS)–Sarah Reedy was working at a Gulf Station in Cranberry, Pa., in 2004 when a man came into the store and held the 19-year-old at gunpoint. After robbing the register, he held the gun to her temple and forced her to give him oral sex.

    She immediately called 911. Detective Frank Evanson didn’t believe her story.

    Instead, he accused her of stealing the money herself. Police arrested her six months later for theft, despite several rape cases mirroring her own. She was in jail for five days before being released on bail, all while four months pregnant. Her long road came to an end when her attacker, a serial rapist, was caught and confessed to the assault.

    Reedy told her story at a Sept. 14 Senate committee hearing on the under-reporting of rape and poor police response to rape accusations.

    Bookmark and Share

    Several others witnesses testified alongside Reedy concerning the repeated and systemic mishandling of sex crimes across the country. These included Scott Berkowitz, president of Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network in Washington, D.C.; Lawanda Ravoira, director of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency Center for Girls in Jacksonville, Fla.; and Susan B. Carbon, director of the Office of Violence Against Women in Washington, D.C.

    At one point in the proceedings Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota voiced worries, echoed by others, that some police departments bill victims for a rape kit that can be used as criminal evidence and expect them to seek reimbursement.
    Crimes Go Uninvestigated

    Carol Tracy, executive director of the Women’s Law Project, a rights group in Philadelphia, petitioned for the hearing.

    Tracy was made aware of this problem by a Philadelphia Inquirer story about thousands of rapes and other sex crimes that were not investigated by the city police department in 1999.

    “Thousands of sexual assault cases–almost one third of all reports from the mid-1980s through 1998–were buried in a non-crime code. The victims were never advised that their complaints had been shelved,” Tracy told lawmakers at the hearing.

    Philadelphia was not alone. Newspapers across the country contacted Tracy with similar stories about the shelving of rape reports in New York City, Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Cleveland.

    “Initially I thought the reports of egregious police conduct were isolated incidents. However, viewing the totality of the news accounts, it is clear that we are seeing chronic and systemic patterns,” said Tracy.

    The Baltimore Sun found the number of rape cases reported had declined by 80 percent since 1992, while the percentage of rape cases classified as “unfounded,” or not worthy of investigation, had tripled.

    The New York Times reported that the number of rapes in New York City declined more than 35 percent between 2005 and 2009, yet the number of sex crimes classified as misdemeanors rose 6 percent with a dramatic increase in forcible rape complaints classified as “unfounded.”

    The panel of witnesses testified about several problems with sex crimes, including a general reluctance to discuss the issue, the lack of standard criminal definitions and inaccurate statistics.

  10. http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/alaskan_librarians_sue_over_constitutionality_of_child_trafficking_bill

    Alaskan Librarians Sue Over Constitutionality of Child Trafficking Bill
    by Amanda Kloer September 17, 2010 09:14 AM (PT) Topics: Child Prostitution
    *
    * 6393 Views

    A group of Alaskan librarians and booksellers, with help from the ACLU, has filed a lawsuit over a proposed state law aimed at preventing predators from using pornography to traffic children online. Prevention of child trafficking sounds pretty un-opposable, but the librarians say the new law is so poorly worded, it could criminalize anything that even mentions sex, including art and sex ed materials.

    The legislation in question, Senate Bill 222 , was written to toughen Alaska’s laws against child trafficking, child pornography, and online solicitation of children by giving law enforcement more tools to find and arrest child predators. Certainly, keeping children safe from trafficking and abuse is a laudable goal, so why are these librarians suing over it? They aren’t remotely opposed to the goal of the law (and are presumably in support of it) but they claim the new law would make it illegal for libraries and bookstores to sell pretty much anything with a picture of a boob or a description of sex in it. That would include everything from a book of Picasso paintings to a certain popular teen vampire series where (spoiler alert!) the main characters eventually have sex. The librarians point out that banning such legal non-pornographic works is unconstitutional.

    It seems the center of this debate comes down to two little words: “electronic” and “visual”. The new law would remove these words from the description of prohibited activities, making it now illegal to distribute sexually explicit images or words in any way to anyone under 16. One one hand, that means an Internet predator who grooms a 12-year-old girl for sex trafficking with sexually explicit stories could be prosecuted under the new law. On the other hand, a librarian who checks out a book about Michelangelo’s David to a 15-year-old for art class could be as well.

    The oddest thing about this legal change is that it actually goes against the tide of trends in child trafficking. Child trafficking and child grooming is moving more online and becoming more visual, not less. Predators aren’t grooming children with erotica; they’re grooming them with sexually explicit photos and videos. And while a predator might have sat down and read a dirty book with a kid 20 years ago, those exchanges are taking place electronically more than ever before. They happen online, and increasingly, over cell phones. It seems that if Alaska really wanted to empower police to catch child predators where they are, they’d expand law enforcement tools online, not off.

    While I fully support strengthening legislation to protect children from trafficking and Internet predators, it makes sense to focus on where the crimes are actually happening, and that’s online.  And it also makes sense to target what Internet predators are using, which isn’t the square-boobed women of Picasso, but images of hard-core pornography and often illegal child pornography. And it certainly makes sense not to ban selling Twilight books to tweens, because otherwise Alaska might find themselves dealing with a revolt that makes a Caribou stampede seem easy to control.

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