Medical Survey of Human Trafficking Victims

I’ve been asked to pass this along. The survey looks at medical care recieved by victims of human trafficking in the US during the time they were trafficked. It recognizes both sex and labor trafficking. The survey is available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole.

The intro letter:

Hello,

I am an emergency medicine physician (currently at Columbia-NY Presbyterian, but still affiliated with Mount Sinai Medical Center) in NYC, conducting an anonymous survey of human trafficking survivors. The survey was designed with Dr. Susie Baldwin and the aim is learn more about survivors’ experiences with healthcare providers, while they were being trafficked, so that we can educate providers about this patient population in an evidence-based fashion. Participating survivors, so far, are recruited via community based and not-for-profit organizations, and receive a $10 gift card upon completion of the survey.

We hope your organization would like to participate; please reply if you’d like more information on how your organization can get involved!

Thank you for your consideration,

Makini Chisolm-Straker, MD
Department of Emergency Medicine
Columbia – NY Presbyterian Hospital
and
Mount Sinai School of Medicine

If you want to discuss the survey’s language or focus, please talk to Makini Chisolm-Straker.

The survey’s website, HumanTraffickingED and the survey page.

The point is for victims of trafficking to give input. If you know victims of trafficking, pass this along to them. Pass this along to any org you know who works with trafficking victims.

Prop 35 — California

Posted on behalf of Maxine Doogan:
Our group’s ballot argument was picked to represent the no on California
Proposition 35. It will be printed in the voter information guide.
If prop 35 passes in our state, you can bet this bait and switch ballot
measure brought to us by the same old extremist who’s real goal is to
exterminate the sex industry at any cost.

Prop 35 uses the same old junk science to target our intimate, domestic
and economic relationship to now be called traffickers and have to
register as sex offenders with 70% of the fines going to the anti
prostitution non profits who now call themselves trafficked victims. The
other 30% goes to the cops. These failed policies of ballot box budgeting
has bankrupted our state.

Apparently, the California State Attorney Generals office has a report on
human trafficking that is being compiled via working groups with 100
people from law enforcement, state social service providers and non
profits. http://oag.ca.gov/human-trafficking

So why didn’t the proponents wait for the report before they paid 1.6
million dollars to bring this overreaching salacious ballot measure
before the voters?

Lots of these kinds of questions have to asked and answered in the public
sphere.

Your help is needed now! Inform your selves and speak out about the many
way prop 35 will further criminalize our industry, target the innocent and
completely erode any opportunities to help victims because it relies on
their failed practice of alienating the community most effected by their
abusive practices.
Stop prop 35

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Sex Work Issues — SE Asia and China

Here are two videos I found today via Facebook. Compare and contrast:

http://www.lauraagustin.com/migrant-sex-workers-in-china-massage-parlours-hair-salons-hotel-rooms (though this one is from 2007, the scene is still the same)

Child Sex Trafficking Victim in Prison

This has recently come to my attention. A child prostitute (i.e. sex trafficking victim) killed her pimp when she was 16. She was sentenced to life in prison for killing her exploiter. She’s now 31. Has anyone heard of this case before?

A website about Sara Kruzan: http://www.freesarakruzan.org/

Adult Services Gone

Craigslist confirmed in the hearing before Congress that it had removed the Adult Services section permanently from US CL (and assuming Adult Gigs will stay down too). Nothing was said about the international Erotic Services section.

Two articles:
briefly on CNET

slightly longer article

There are other articles but none that I’ve found have looked at the hearings in any sincere or deeply-informed manner.

Also odd: I placed a new ad in a new international city and had to give my email address to create an account. This is not SOP for international ads. Worrisome.

Looking at the Schapiro Group “Scientific” Survey

This survey was done in the fall of 2009, several months after CraigsList changed the Erotic Services section to Adult Services so that it could begin charging for ads and handing over the information to authorities if requested. Remember, this was in response to a huge national campaign accusing CraigsList of being a haven for underage prostitutes. It stands to reason that men who want the simplicity of paying for sex with an underage girl would look to CraigsList. The media did all the advertising work necessary for both sides of the possible exploitation equation (pimps and clients). Not to mention that since CraigsList was getting a lot of media attention, lots of people were perusing the Adult Services section, regardless of age preferences.

Their study finds that 23% of men in Georgia have tried to buy sex in one month. This is probably true. The usual self-reporting surveys in the US yield numbers of 6-15%, which any sex worker can tell you is artificially low. Quite honestly, the vast majority of clients are not on CraigsList, which means the percentage of clients could be even higher than 23%. They have to be to support the number of sex workers out there. The vast majority of these unnoticed interactions are between adults, not teens.

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CraigsList: Future Thinking

Assuming that CraigsList Adult Services stay down, where will everyone go? Granted, the majority of those in the business in the US aren’t advertising on CL anymore. But now civilians are enjoying the thrill of discovering what’s been online for the past 10-15 years and are publicly speculating what sites advertisers will flock to.

On the one hand, other advertising sites have been obvious all this time if you know how to use Google. The current public attention might help some girls get a little extra business in what I know is a sagging economy and a seasonally slow time of year (beginning of school). On the other hand, I’m very worried by the attention thrown at other sites. The motivation for this current state of affairs goes far beyond the usual cat-and-mouse game played by local cops. The anti-trafficking Nazis have one possible victory with CraigsList and probably feel ready to go stomping on any other site adult sex workers use.

Because it’s about ending prostitution. It’s not about helping victims.

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Singapore, the US, CraigsList, Sex Trafficking and WTF

(This was originally posted at SWOP-East’s blog here.)

Singapore is a tiny country in SE Asia one day ahead of the US. The US is a big country known the world over for many things. The two countries actually have an ongoing and amiable relationship. Their militaries, finance sectors and tourism are intertwined. Each country also has relationships with other countries, of course. It’s just one relationship among many for both countries.

The US is well-known for criminalizing prostitution nation-wide (the exceptions being the 30ish legal brothels in Nevada — not much of an exception). While prostitution itself is criminalized at the local and state levels, there are plenty of federal laws regarding prostitution: when the arrangements cross state lines, when a minor is involved, when money crosses state lines and a few variations on these themes.

Singapore has a more tolerant view of prostitution. It has a licensed red-light district (Geylang and a street in Chinatown) and local hotspots known for easy pickings if you’re looking for a sex worker. To be honest, the entire island is a prostitution hotspot. The predominant Chinese culture and other Asian cultures in Singapore all have a wide-open view of prostitution. Prostitution is ingrained in the male Asian culture. Singapore is not really a sex-tourism destination because it’s considered way too expensive. The vast majority of the business is supported by locals, not tourists. (Which is why the vast majority of the business occurs in non-tourist areas.) Recently it was discovered that online prostitution exists in Singapore too!

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Desiree Alliance 2.0

Since this year’s conference is going to be a week-long event, I know that many sex workers/conference attendees will be Tweeting/blogging/whatevering about their time in Las Vegas. For those who want to follow what’s going on from their own computer, I encourage everyone who is attending DA and publicizing it to add their names and links in the Comments section below.

Anthony Comstock Would Be Proud

I’m posting this on behalf of Lailah. She recently commented on my personal blog, telling me about her arrest. I encouraged her to write her story and submit it to be posted here. Since the general public looks at this blog, I would like them to see what an arrest feels like from the perspective of a consenting adult sex worker — the most common kind of sex worker, BTW. I’m very proud she took me up on my offer.

Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Lailah (not my real name). I’m a single mama, a business owner (businesses NOT adult oriented), and a professional escort. I spend my spare time cleaning house, tending children, and being a soccer mom, just like every other mother across the country. I started escorting in early May, 2010. And I stopped in June, 2010. I loved it. I absolutely loved escorting. I couldn’t see a downside to it. I like sex and money. My clients liked sex and money. They were willing to give me money to spend time with me (admittedly, we spent that time having sex), so we both got what we wanted and went away happy.

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Relevancy of Client Status

One thing I’ve noticed again and again is that when men make online comments in any way supporting sex workers (like on news articles or major blogs), they always hasten to add that they have never seen a sex worker and have no need of it. Obviously, they believe client-stereotypes (e.g. all clients are ugly losers) and feel a strange need to pretend they’re not clients.

I wonder why they even think the disclaimer is relevant — can’t they, as arguably intelligent people — support sex workers with or without vested interest? Why the need for qualifying their statements? And isn’t it a backhanded insult to the sex workers they’re supporting with their words?

It’s rare but refreshing to see an online supporter who openly claims to see sex workers (aside from the huge and obvious discussion/review boards). I’d like it even more if anonymous online male supporters simply made their arguments and left it at that. To me, whether or not they’re clients is irrelevant. On the other hand, someone who makes a fuss about how they’re too good to visit a sex worker does taint his comment for me — in the negative direction.

Curious about others’ reactions when they read these type of comments.

Marriot Hotels Sexist?

It’s bad enough they cooperate with traumatic prostitution busts; but they also seemed to blame a kidnapped, raped woman (and her kidnapped children) for her rape/kidnapping. Marriot then blames their insurance company for the unfortunate wording in their defense.

Don’t stay at Marriots if you’re female.

The Myth of Criminalizing Prostitution

Robert Arthur, author of the cartoon and blog post sent me the link and asked me to post it here. He examines how criminalizing prostitution does not protect the worker in any way, inspired by the reactions because Markoff found his victim through CraigsList.

Quick Summary of the Situation

Someone else who doesn’t seem to be a sex worker has a great, quick, sarcastic answer to the whole CraigsList thing.

I don’t have permission to post her text here, so I’m just linking to it.

Upcoming “Sex Slavery” Conference in Macon

Amber Rhea alerted me to this upcoming conference which does not include sex worker voices. She wondered if SWOP-East had anything planned. We do not.

Her post about the conference and related issues highlights a problem I often feel — that one can end up drowing in a wave of ignorance from the public. Sex work activism often feels like beating your head against the wall. I admire those incredible long-term activists who retain their passion. Allies (like Amber), offer help and support but hit burnout too.

Every city, every state has its ongoing issues. Is it that I’m more aware of them now, or is sex work more often being thrust to the front of public policy? Either way, we’re all caught between wanting to do something and being able to do something. And sometimes there is no intersection.

Reno Says No To Brothels

To answer a question I had, it turns out that Reno and Sparks have no interest in bringing legal brothels into their city.

Reno is a family community. If degenerates want legal hookers, they have to drive a whole nine miles away. That keeps the sex and family separate — as it damn well should be!

Legalizing Las Vegas Brothels

My knee-jerk reaction to this news is: so the state is suffering. They decide they want to make money off the backs of sex workers? How is this not exploitative? I also want to know exactly how they plan on taxing one business but not other businesses as Nevada is known for being a business-friendly state, tax-wise. (Corrections or elightenment on Nevada’s business-tax law are welcome.)

Caring about sex workers does not mean registering and regulating us to within an inch of our lives. I’ve tried to work in Vegas strip clubs recently – not good. All they care about is getting their house fee and selling alcohol (even if you don’t really want to drink). A Vegas, casino-sponsored brothel? I can’t imagine the situation being any better.

Of course I support decriminalization. But that doesn’t put money into the state coffers, nor directly into the pockets of casino owners – which is really the crux of the matter. They don’t care about the dangers criminalized street workers face, the exploitation of the local agency girls or the arrest-risk independent escorts have to handle. They simply see a way of making money – off the backs of female sex workers — and magically, somehow brothels are supposed to be good for women. (I can only assume that transgendered and male sex workers are not part of this discussion at all.)

Brothel-work does indeed work for many women. And I have no doubt a lot sex workers would welcome casino-sponsored brothels in Las Vegas. I do not want to close down that option for sex workers because it is an option. My concern is that these brothels will become the one and only answer for sex work in Vegas – leading to rampant arrest and abuse of all other unregulated sex workers. Brothel work or no work – that’s not a choice and smacks of coercion to me.

Incidentally, love how Melissa Farley manages not to offer any sort of answer to the problem of criminalizing prostitution other than maintaining the status quo. Way to protect the rights of sex workers, Farley.

More news reading:
original Las Vegas Sun piece
an editiorial piece

Norma Hotaling Dies

Since I didn’t see it mentioned here, thought I would post a link to the article. Norma Hotaling died last Tuesday.

A Sex Worker-based Approach to Media

Though I know not everyone here is on the SWAN bandwagon, I do think they’re doing some good work.

Here are two news items from their feed about how they’re dealing with mainstream media, sex worker media and getting out their messages. Though these news items are vague on the how-to of it all, I like the concepts.

media sensitization seminar

sex worker training on community media

N.Y. Struggles to Aid Child Prostitutes

Posted on request:

Bill Would Divert Girls to Social Programs; Opponents
Say Threat of Jail Is Needed
By Robin Shulman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 13, 2008

NEW YORK — The girl is very slight, pretty, with
glasses, nervously fingering the blue and gold beads
on a bracelet she made herself.

She seems like a typical shy high school kid. Little
about her suggests the tortured story she tells: At 14
she ran away from sexual abuse at home and met a
24-year-old guy who seemed like he wanted to be her
boyfriend — until he told her he wanted to be her
pimp.

“I was like, wow,” recalled the girl, now 16, though
she looks younger. She was shocked, but desperate, she
said. “At the time I needed a place to sleep, so I was
like, ‘Fine, I’ll go along with it.’ ”

On and off for the next two years, she said, she
traded sex for cash, under the control of several
different men who took most of the money for
themselves. Her work as a child prostitute caused her
to be arrested in March and placed in detention.

“The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach,” said
the girl, who did not want her name to be used, like
several others who worked as prostitutes and gave
interviews for this article. “Most of the time we do
not have the right to say yes or no.”

Now New York is struggling with the question of how to
treat young girls who are involved in prostitution.
Are they criminals — or child abuse victims?

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