Sex Workers Stop Traffick

Media Statement
For Immediate Release
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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

URGENT: ‘No Condoms as Evidence’ Advocacy Needed Now

From The Sex Workers Project in New York State:

Dear Supporters of the ‘No Condoms as Evidence’ Bill,

Today we learned that the ‘No Condoms as Evidence’ Bill is on the Senate Codes Committee agenda for next Tuesday. The bill has only made it this far thanks to all of your actions, and we need to keep up the momentum. Please make a call if you can!

Remember:
• It is best to call the Senator from the district where you live or work, and mention that you are a constituent. You can find out who your State Senator is here: prototype.nytimes.com/represent.
• It is also helpful if larger, more “mainstream” organizations target the Republicans and moderate Democrat with a clear public health message, even if you are not a constituent.
• If you’re calling a bill sponsor or supporter, please thank them for supporting the bill and let them know why this matters to your organization/community.

I have attached talking points about the bill. They are drafted to show this a common sense public health measure that everyone can support. If you are able to make a call, please let us know!

Republicans:
Senator DeFrancisco (518) 455-3511
Senator Golden (518) 455-2730
Senator Volker 518.455.3471
Senator Flanagan 518-455-2071
Senator Bonacic (518) 455-3181
Senator Lanza (518) 455-3215
Senator Saland 518-455-2411

Moderate Democrat:
Senator Klein 518-455-3595/ (800) 718-2039

Democrats:
Senator Huntley (518) 455-3531
Senator Sampson (518) 455-2788
Senator Squadron 518-455-2625

Bill Sponsors and Supporters:
Senator Duane-Main Sponsor (518) 455-2451
Senator Breslin (518) 455-2225
Senator Perkins 518-455-2441
Senator Parker (518) 455-2580

Please forward to trusted allies, and thanks again for all your help!

Sincerely,

Sienna Baskin, Esq.
Staff Attorney
Sex Workers Project
Urban Justice Center
p/646-602-5695
http://www.sexworkersproject.org

Talking Points: ‘No Condoms as Evidence’ Bill!
Contacting Senate Codes Committee

1. Find your State Senator. Go to http://prototype.nytimes.com/represent.

2. Call their Albany office. Ask to speak with someone about Bill S1289, concerning use of condoms as evidence.

3. Tell the staff-member your name, what organization you represent, and if you live or work in the district.

4. If your Senator is a sponsor or supporter of Bill S1289, thank them for their support and let them know why this matters to you, your organization or community.

5. If your Senator is NOT a sponsor or supporter of the bill, tell the staff-member you are calling to ask the Senator to vote YES on Bill S1289 in the Codes Committee.

TALKING POINTS
o If the staff-member is completely unaware of the bill, explain that the bill will prevent the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution in criminal and civil court.
o The bill promotes public health by making sure everyone can carry condoms without worrying it could lead to arrest or conviction.
o Condoms are regularly confiscated by police, leading to higher risk for pregnancy, HIV, and STD’s among vulnerable populations. Sex workers fear arrest if they carry over a certain number of condoms.
o This impacts public health initiatives promoting condom use and distributing condoms to at-risk populations.
o This bill has a broad list of supporters, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Anti-Violence Project, NYCLU, the LGBT Center, and many other harm reduction and public health organizations.
d. Tell your representative why this matters to you or your organization/community.
e. End by asking the Senator to vote YES on Bill S1289 in the Codes Committee.

Phoenix Woman Obviously Linked Falsely to “Desert Divas” Prostitution Ring Sues Maricopa County Attorney’s Office

Victoria Aguayo was arrested, indicted, and nearly prosecuted for her “role” in the infamous “Desert Divas” prostitution ring, according to a lawsuit she’s filed in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Problem is: Aguayo was not a “desert diva,” and the evidence suggesting she was is laughable.

On one of the “Desert Divas'” many Web sites, the agency advertised an “escort” named “Tia.” The site described Tia as “thin, white, and blonde,” with a tattoo on her stomach that is clearly visible in the topless photo of the woman that Aguayo’s lawyer kindly sent New Times.

Phoenix Police Detective Christie Hein identified Aguayo as Tia based on the photo on the site when she arrested her on August 28, 2008, the lawsuit claims.

Read full article at Phoenix New Times

Tell the Department of Health and Human Services How the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath Harms Sex Workers

We need your help by Tuesday, December 22

Note: This is very time sensitive! Please take the simple action of reading and signing a letter (can be done electronically by individuals and organizations, within the US and internationally) by Tuesday, December 22nd.

As many of you know, the anti-prostitution loyalty oath (APLO) is a regulation that has been part of the United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act of 2003 (aka “Leadership Act”) which requires non-governmental organizations and health service-providers receiving that receive funding through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to sign an oath opposing prostitution and sex-trafficking. “Opposing prostitution” manifests in a peculiar way that essentially blocks life-saving services that sex workers once received through US funded organizations around the world.

The APLO is being reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services, and we have the opportunity to sign on to a really great letter and submit comments on the harm that the APLO does. The letter, which you can read here, was drafted based on comments from the Brennan Law Center and the Open Society Institute, as well as several other groups that support and advocate for the human rights of sex workers.

You can sign on as individuals through the Change.org petition I created here.

The turn around on this is tight – if you want to sign on to the letter, send your name and organizational affiliation (if any) by TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22. The comments will then go to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the Office of Global Affairs.

Thank you!

-Dacia

Arrest the Violence: Human Rights Violations Against Sex Workers in 11 Countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia

From Aliya Rakhmetova of SWAN.

Dear all:

To mark December 17, the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers, the Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN) of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia is releasing its new report, Arrest the Violence: Human Rights Violations Against Sex Workers in 11 Countries in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The report is based on interviews with more than 200 male, female and transgender sex workers between 2007 and 2009 and chillingly documents widespread violence and discrimination against them, particularly by state actors.

According to Rebecca Schleifer of Human Rights Watch’s Health and Human Rights Division:
Arrest the Violence is the first piece of research done under the leadership of sex workers to document human rights violations they face across Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Sex workers throughout the region report that they face verbal and physical abuse, including beatings, kidnapping, and sexual violence, by police and private citizens. Sex workers also report that police confiscated condoms as “evidence” of sex work, and subjected them to mandatory HIV testing.
These are not isolated incidents. The physical, sexual, and verbal violations of sex workers’ rights are part of a pattern of abuse by police and in the community that is documented throughout the region.
It is my sincere hope that this report will serve as a catalyst to awaken the broader human rights community to the importance of documenting and denouncing human rights abuses against sex workers, and working with sex workers to end these abuses.

To access the report, please follow the links below.

Questions or comments may be directed to SWAN@TASZ.HU.

Sincerely,
Aliya Rakhmetova
Coordinator Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network (SWAN)

Corrections Employees Fired Over Sex Worker Death in Perryville Prison, AZ

NY Daily News

PHOENIX — Sixteen Arizona corrections employees have been fired, suspended or otherwise disciplined for their roles in the death of an inmate left in an outdoor holding cell for four hours in triple-digit heat and for a “wait-them-out” practice at the prison where she died.

Full Article

A little look at some numbers in San Francisco

I haven’t seen any figures about the actual cost of the First Offender’s Prostitution Program, but from the Examiner Article I think we can infer that the expense is approximately:

100 (Street sting operations)
+ 4 (Internet based operations)
=104 x 6.6 (# of arrests per operation)
= 686.4 (participants annually)

686 x $1,908 (actual cost per participant)
=1,309,651.20 Total annual cost of program (approx)

According to the SF State website, a semester of tuition is $4,740. So to earn a degree at SF State (8 semesters, full time) it costs about $37,920

So for what the City of San Francisco spends in a single year on the FOPP, which has had no benefits to the City whatsoever, we could put 34 people through four years of full-time college, they could earn a degree and get stable work, stable housing and actually pay into the City’s tax system rather than live off of it.

When people go to jail they get sick, or their existing illnesses are exacerbated. They’re more likely to have unstable housing and employment. These problems put a strain on the City’s budget while residents are not getting relief from problems wrongly associated with prostitution such as theft and drug dealing. It’s clear that projects such as the FOPP are cash cows for the District Attoney’s Office and Police Departments while the tax payers get no return on their investment.

The sad thing is that SAGE actually provides some important resources and programs for people who are specifically in need of the services offered. Their resources are getting sucked up by this program because the PD and DA want to ensure that they get their cut of the money paid in by tax payers. Eliminating the criminal enforcement of prostitution laws and focusing on this as a social issue with community-based solutions will produce better results, even if it won’t satisfy the moralists who seem more interested in making sure that prostitutes are punished for their sins than in actually decreasing violence and corruption within this system.

Let’s hope this audit will open the eyes of San Francisco voters.