Ethics of hiring street working prostitutes in Chicago as research assistants?

Snip from a Conde Nast Portfolio bit on a new report on street sex work in Chicago:

Celebrity economist Steve Levitt of the University of Chicago and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh of Columbia University… hired former street prostitutes in the south side of Chicago to act as pollsters. The women stood on corners in three neighborhoods (Roseland, Pullman and Washington Park) and collected data from over 100 prostitutes on 2,000 transactions.

Among their findings? Police are more likely to be found having sex with sex workers than arresting them. Street workers are making on average $25-$35/hour, and less than five percent used condoms.

Aside from how different these preliminary findings are from most studies of sex workers, who report using condoms more often than the rest of the population, I’m stuck on the questions of hiring street-based workers as pollsters. What risk does this put a worker in? How much is she or he being compensated? In what conditions were survey questions asked? How were potential survey respondents selected? And how is this study of benefit to the community that it relies on for subject matter?

Chilean Sex Workers Protest the imposition of criminalization and fines

Thank you to Beatriz Mercado of SWOP East-Chile for translating this document into English!

Although this is not a breaking news item, Angela Lina protested a heavy fine to be imposed on Chilean street sex workers. I don’t know if the bill passed or not. Courtesy of a RedTraSex newsletter.

In English: More intents to fine sex workers

Last July, Las Condes major, Francisco de la Maza, moved forward in his intent to criminalize sex workers imposing a city ordinance to fine sex workers who work on the streets.

People from Independent Labor Union of Sex Workers Angela Lina, focal point in Chile of TraSex Network, along with Amanda Jofré Organization, made a protest in front of the city hall on July 4th.

This wasn’t his first try. In may, sex workers were able to stop fines from being imposed, with the support of several organizations in a meeting held at Christian Churches Social Aid Foundation.

“City major wants to profit from street sex workers, asking them to pay over $ 150.000 chilean pesos ($ 300 US dollars), an amount equivalent to what a regular worker gets for a month’s salary, as a fine applied both to the sex worker and her client” explained the leaders of the organization.

Executive Secretary of TraSex network sent a letter addressing this subject:
TraSex network wants to express their support to our friends form Labor Union Angela Lina in their fight to stop persecution and harassing against sex workers in Chile.

Once again authorities try to mistreat our fellow sex workers by taking unilateral decisions instead of calling them to reach appropriate solutions that won’t put sex workers at risk.

We demand sex workers opinions to be considered and also that authorities call sex workers to discuss issues that affect them.

as a region network
we will not stop denouncing any decision
that may violate human rights
of latin american and caribbean sex workers

The original piece: Mas intentos de multar a las trabajadoras sexuales
En el mes de julio, el alcalde de la municipalidad de Las Condes, Francisco de La Maza, avanzo en su intento de criminalizar a las trabajadoras sexuales con una ordenanza municipal que multa a las trabajadoras sexuales que trabajan en las calles.

Ante esta situacion, las companieras del Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadoras Sexuales Angela Lina, punto focal en Chile de la RedTraSex, en conjunto con la organizacion Amanda Jofre, realizaron un acto de repudio el miercoles 4 de julio frente al municipio.

Esta no fue la primera arremetida del alcalde. Ya en mayo, las companieras lograron detener la imposición de multas con el apoyo de diversas organizaciones en un encuentro realizado en la Fundación de Ayuda Social de Iglesias Cristianas.

“El alcalde quiere lucrar con las mujeres trabajadoras sexuales de las calles, a quienes quiere hacer cancelar más de $150.000 pesos chilenos, suma similar a lo que gana una persona asalariado en un mes de trabajo, traducido en una multa aplicada a la compañera y al cliente”, explicaron las dirigentes de la organizacion.

La Secretaria Ejecutiva de la RedTraSex envio una carta el respecto:

La REDTRASEX quiere hacer expreso su apoyo a las companieras del Sindicato Ángela Lina, en la lucha que están llevando adelante por la persecución y hostigamiento que están sufriendo las trabajadoras sexuales de ese país.

Porque una vez mas las autoridades se empeñan en maltratar a nuestras companieras con disposiciones unilaterales, en vez de convocarlas para llegar a soluciones adecuadas sin volver a ponernos en situación de desprotección.

Exigimos que la palabra de las trabajadoras sexuales sea tenida en cuenta, y establecer una convocatoria para discutir las distintas problemáticas que perjudican a nuestro sector.

En nuestro carácter de Red Regional Mas intentos de multar a las trabajadoras sexuales
En el mes de julio, el alcalde de la municipalidad de Las Condes, Francisco de La Maza, avanzo en su intento de criminalizar a las trabajadoras sexuales con una ordenanza municipal que multa a las trabajadoras sexuales que trabajan en las calles.

Ante esta situacion, las companieras del Sindicato Nacional Independiente de Trabajadoras Sexuales Angela Lina, punto focal en Chile de la RedTraSex, en conjunto con la organizacion Amanda Jofre, realizaron un acto de repudio el miercoles 4 de julio frente al municipio.

Esta no fue la primera arremetida del alcalde. Ya en mayo, las companieras lograron detener la imposición de multas con el apoyo de diversas organizaciones en un encuentro realizado en la Fundación de Ayuda Social de Iglesias Cristianas.

“El alcalde quiere lucrar con las mujeres trabajadoras sexuales de las calles, a quienes quiere hacer cancelar más de $150.000 pesos chilenos, suma similar a lo que gana una persona asalariado en un mes de trabajo, traducido en una multa aplicada a la compañera y al cliente”, explicaron las dirigentes de la organizacion.

La Secretaria Ejecutiva de la RedTraSex envio una carta el respecto:

La REDTRASEX quiere hacer expreso su apoyo a las companieras del Sindicato Ángela Lina, en la lucha que están llevando adelante por la persecución y hostigamiento que están sufriendo las trabajadoras sexuales de ese país.

Porque una vez mas las autoridades se empeñan en maltratar a nuestras companieras con disposiciones unilaterales, en vez de convocarlas para llegar a soluciones adecuadas sin volver a ponernos en situación de desprotección.

Exigimos que la palabra de las trabajadoras sexuales sea tenida en cuenta, y establecer una convocatoria para discutir las distintas problemáticas que perjudican a nuestro sector.

En nuestro carácter de Red Regional
NO CESAREMOS DE DENUNCIAR CUALQUIER DISPOSICION
QUE VIOLE LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
DE LAS TRABAJADORAS SEXUALES DE LATINOAMERICA Y EL CARIBE

Right Then

I get out of bed in the morning like everyone else. I shower, brush my teeth, put my jeans on one leg at a time like anyone else. I pay taxes, bitch about gas prices, shop in stores, do dishes, keep an eye on politics, just like countless other people worldwide. I mow my lawn; I like action movies, NFL football and the Discovery Channel. I drink Coca-Cola and even put up a flag on the 4th of July. I vote, I read, I enjoy a good family BBQ, like a whole lot of other people. I also work, and I work so my loved ones and me will maybe have things I didn’t. I work because like a lot of people, I have to. I also work because I want to. This year I will be able to buy something for my brother, who is having a rough time of it as of late, that he really wants and will enjoy for Hanukkah. I like being able to do this. I like not having to worry about whether or not the power will be on tonight, I like knowing that I can buy groceries. I like the idea that because I am working, maybe people I care about won’t have to work or worry so hard.

 

Just like a whole lot of other people. Looking at it that way, I am general Citizen Americanus in almost every way…

 

…but it just so happens that I am a sex worker. By choice. And I have been since I was 19 or so. For over a decade I’ve been a sex worker, in the sex biz, whatever you want to say, along with being and doing all those other things. And that makes me different. Different in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the medical field, in the eyes of society as a whole. Despite all that other average Citizen Americanus stuff, I’m a sex worker, which makes me different, other, and yes, as Judge Deni proved so brilliantly with her decision to label the rape of a prostitute a mere theft of services, lesser and not deserving of the full protection of the law. She made it plainly clear that no sex worker is. Funny how if you happen to get naked and/or perform sexual acts for living, your value as a human being suddenly drops to that of somewhat sentient livestock. You become lesser than, even though you breathe, sweat, work, feel, think, and do just like every other human being out there.

 

I’d like to say I am shocked about this ruling, but I’m not. Outrage, pissed, annoyed, but shocked? No, not in the least. Hell, I watch the news. All this “I can’t believe a woman judge would do this?” All the stunned reactions? That, honestly, is what surprises me. Not her stupid ass ruling, but the fact that people are surprised by it. Sex workers get the short end from just about everyone; society, the law, the media, religion, women and men alike, so it’s not hard at all for me to believe that a judge (even a woman one!) would pass down such an obviously inhuman and downright asinine ruling. Though it does make me want to say “Murder is a job related risk of being a judge, so if it should happens to judges, it should be looked at as an occupational hazard and reduced to crime of passion/assault in those cases”?

 

It also makes me wonder where this clown went to law school. See, if I take my car to get repaired and I drive off without paying the mechanic, THAT is theft of services. If I pull a gun on the mechanic, beat him, force him to repair my friend’s cars, then it becomes robbery with a deadly weapon, assault and battery, and assault with a deadly weapon. Oh yeah, and if I force him to have sex with me, its RAPE…even if he was hittin’ on me earlier.

 

Oh yes, but I hear you know…but Ren, prostitutes sell sex, and doing so is, in most areas, an illegal activity! Well, yeah, so what? When it’s sold, it’s a business transaction (Which, for fucks sake, should not be illegal). When it’s taken forcibly and against her will, it’s rape. Even when the victim is a prostitute. How hard is that to grasp? Sex itself is not illegal, any woman can have sex anytime she wants (as long as she’s not selling it!) and if she were to get raped, well, it’s a crime… same goes for prostitutes, bonehead judge and bonehead supporters of the judge.

 

Sex against someone’s will is rape, plain and simple, no matter what services that person provides for a living.

 

And people wonder why people like me, who are pretty much Average Citizen Americanus in almost every other way would not ever consider going to the cops in this sort of a situation. It’s very true that on the job I could be beaten, raped, threatened with a gun, and if that happened, guess what? I would not go to the law. I’d like to think I could, that it would be worth it, but this case and every other one like it just shows me otherwise. There is no faith in the justice system here on this issue. If you sell sex, well, you’re just asking for it, right? That’s what they’re saying. They are saying it loud and clear, and unfortunately, not enough people, people who actually matter to them, are saying otherwise. You can get raped by the accused and then raped all over again by the justice system and the media as well, doesn’t that sound like fun? Your whole life, your whole history, all of your business splattered out there for the whole world to see and dissect, and then some asshat judge saying it was a “theft of services”, doesn’t that sound like a wonderful way to spend a few months? Because I am pretty sure you all know as well as I do, when a woman rape victim goes to trial, even if she isn’t a sex worker, she is the one on trial…and if she is a sex worker, it’s even worse. Put my faith in a system with that attitude?

 

I think not. Hell, even when sex workers get murdered, it some how ends up being their own fault. Any attack or assault upon our persons we bring on ourselves, because we sell nudity, sex and sexuality for a living. We somehow, well, deserved it. What did we expect after all, doing something so unseemly? What did she expect?

 

I guess she really shouldn’t have worn a short skirt.

 

I guess none of us should.

 

And this is not going to change until people, people above and beyond us, people above and beyond we sex workers with Internet connections start making some noise.

 

So yeah, I am begging you, anyone reading this, anyone who actually cares about sex workers and sees them as humans, who in most ways probably aren’t all that different than you are…bring the noise.

 

And keep bringing it until Judge Deni and all the other people out there like her realize their ears are bleeding. Because that’s the only way we’re going to get heard, and the only way some real justice is going to come our way.

 

And real justice is something we all, all us humans, do deserve.

Barmaid arrested for crushing cans with breasts

An Australian barmaid has been fined for crushing beer cans between her bare breasts.Police also accused Luana De Favari of hanging spoons from her nipples, reports the Daily Telegraph.

De Favari, 31, admitted twice exposing her breasts to patrons at the Premier Hotel in Pinjarra, south of Perth.

She was fined A$1,000 dollars (£440) after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Liquor Control Act.

Off-duty barmaid Tracey Leslie, 43, was fined A$500 (£220) for helping to hang spoons from De Favari’s nipples, police said.

The hotel manager was also fined A$1,000 for failing to stop the pair.

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Penguins are turning to prostitution. Where I have been wrong as an activist

World: Asia-Pacificfrom BBC
Pick up a penguin

Penguins are turning to prostitution. But instead of doing it for money, Antarctic dolly-birds are turning tricks to get rocks off their menfolk.

Stones are essential for penguins to build their nests. A shortage has led to the unorthodox tactics.

“Stones are the valuable currency in penguin terms,” said Dr Fiona Hunter, a researcher in the Zoology Department at Cambridge University, who has spent five years observing the birds’ mating patterns.

Prostitution is described as the world’s oldest profession. But Dr Hunter is convinced it is the first time it has been seen in animals.

Penguin partners

All of the female penguins Dr Hunter observed trading sex for stones had partners.

Penguins stick to the same mate, she said, but none of the males twigged what was happening.

“There was no suspicion on the part of the males. Females quite often go off on their own to collect stones, so as far as the males are concerned there is no reason to suspect.”

She added: “It tends to be females targeting single males, otherwise the partner female would beat the intruder up.”

Dr Hunter and Dr Lloyd Davis of the University of Otago watched the penguins at work on Ross Island, about 800 miles from the South Pole as part of a Antarctica New Zealand programme.

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Bolivian Prostitutes Protest by sewing lips together

Dear all,

I think we should do something to support the women in Bolivia who have sewn their lips together in protest of losing their livelihoods. (Please see story with links below.) Antiprincess posted a note about this on the thread on the rape/robery case. (Thanks!)

I couldn’t find contact info for El Alto- the city where this is taking place- but I did find an email address on the govt. website. Can you copy the letter below and paste it into a new email inserting your location, organization and name (whichever you want to use!), and send it to this email address? I think if we bombard the email address it will at least make them pay some attention to this situation!

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Britney Spears: The world’s best paid Sex Worker

In Britney’s most recent video, she is seen dancing around a stripper pole. The video is being called ‘raunchy‘ among other things by the MSM. I’m sure that parents of teen-aged girls everywhere are freaking out. But the single is doing well at #3 in the top 100. Her fans love it. She’s making a comeback and although she’d likely never self-identify as a sex worker, everybody knows that sex is a driving force behind her fame:

Let’s face it – Britney Spears is exactly this. Britney is expected to be hot, sexy and promiscuous and she indeed delivers in her new video. And the lyrics – well, it’s Britney Spears not Shakespeare. I know, it’s trendy to attack Britney, but how about a job well done this time?

So what do sex workers think? Her pole skills are not particularly impressive and I didn’t find the video to be all that raunchy. I don’t see her being a woman who’s owning and utilizing her sexuality. To me, the video is more of her statement of compliance: They don’t want my music, they want sexual entertainment, but good girls sell records, not sex. Sex polished off and packaged as music videos, cd’s, concert tickets, etc has been selling for decades and is socially acceptable- as long as nobody acknowledges that sex is being sold. So will Britney own her sexuality and present a sincere public image of a successful, sexual adult woman, or will she grasp onto the image oif a sexually naive little girl whose sexuality is defined, distorted and distributed by the music industry?

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Prostitutes dispute Trummell charges

The Pahrump Valley Times did an interview with women who actually work in a legal brothel. They may not represent every single person who’s ever worked at Sheri’s Ranch, but they do prove that there are many different experiences.

 The scene in the Valley Inn and Sports Bar at Sheri’s Ranch, where the girls gave interviews this week, was far different from the impression speakers like San Francisco clinical psychologist Dr. Melissa Farley offered at the press conference focused on the release of a book on sex trafficking.

Sex Workers Protest ‘Feminist’ Attacks

October 5th, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Robyn Few 1-877-776-2004

Event: Sex Workers Protest ‘Feminist’ Attacks
Date: Friday, October 5th
Time: 6 PM
Location: in front of the Glitter Gulch, 20 Fremont Street
City: Las Vegas
Website: http://www.swop-usa.org, http://www.boundnotgagged.com

Sex Worker Showdown in the Streets of Las Vegas

On Friday, October 5, 2007 sex workers from Nevada and California will meet in the streets of Las Vegas to gather signatures for support of prostitutes rights in Nevada. Sex workers, advocates and allies will gather at 6pm in front of the Glitter Gulch, 20 Freemont Street to counter-protest the self-proclaimed, ‘radical feminist’ “Day of No Prostitution March.”

“Prostitution is a legal industry and the workers should be supported, not subjected to discrimination and stigma from so called feminist fringe groups,” says Robyn Few, co founder Sex Workers Outreach Project USA. “We are here to say, NO SEX WORKER PHOBIA WILL BE TOLERATED TODAY.”

“Anti-prostitution zealot, Melissa Farley has descended upon Las Vegas with manipulative statistics and rhetoric, claiming to help prostitutes by criminalizing their industry. Of course that forces it further underground. Fundamentalist feminists like her are harming, not helping prostitutes,” says Carol Leigh of Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network.

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Rebel Yell, A victimless crime? Sex workers defend legal prostitution

News

A victimless crime?

Sex workers defend legal prostitution

Published on September 20, 2007

“Criminalization of sex work and sex workers that are legal adults and consenting solves nothing,” said Jill Brenneman of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) East, an advocacy group for sex worker rights, at an online press conference Monday night.

The conference was held by workers and advocates of the sex industry as a rebuttal to the New York Times article written by columnist Bob Herbert, and a recent book-length report by Dr. Melissa Farley, a psychologist and researcher stressing that the sex industry in Las Vegas is responsible for the degradation of women and for sex trafficking.

Bound Not Gagged is a sex worker outreach project with a blog where participants include prostitutes, escorts, exotic dancers and pornography performers, and was developed by Desiree Alliance as an online resource for sex workers to respond publicly to those such as Farley and Herbert.

Farley’s book, Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connection, was published earlier this month through her organization, Prostitution Research and Education, and can only be purchased on her website. Farley was asked to study the consequences of the Nevada sex trade by John Miller, who was the former head of the U.S. State Department committee to fight human trafficking around the world.

The book details Farley’s findings of the working of the illegal sex industry within Las Vegas. Farley suggests that Nevada is the hub of North American prostitution and sex trafficking. She also suggests that those within the industry are exploited and the industry itself is harmful and dangerous to women.

“Women’s experiences working in the sex industry are far more complex and varied than [Farley’s] research or [Herbert’s] column suggest,” said Lynn Comella, UNLV assistant professor of Woman’s Studies. Many of the participants at Monday’s conference claim that Farley’s research lacks accountability because the research methods used by Farley discredits and misrepresents women working within the sex industry. She has been accused of “ignoring those who do not agree with her views.”

“I have never been able to fathom how [Farley] could claim such commitment to the protection of women without listening to the voices of the very women they claim to protect,” said Jessica Land, a sex worker, during the conference.

Sex workers’ rights was a highlighted topic, with many bloggers stressing for an end of criminalization involving consenting adults, entitled protection from coercion, violence, sexual abuse and child labor related to the sex industry.

In a statement written by SWOP East’s Brenneman, “critics will state that youth should not be in the sex industry, they are correct. However, this requires more than press releases, position statements and pusillanimous policies of government.” The statement goes on to say, “This is a social issue that has to be addressed at the source.”

Not all participants were proponents of the sex industry. A blogger by the name of “Josie” stated, “You do not have a right to do anything you want with your body in this country. There are other people involved and impacted by these decisions.”

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Where are the answers to three vital questions from anti sex industry activitists

Question 1. Both Ren Ev and I have repeatedly asked radical feminist anti prostitution activists three questions and never get answers to them. Question 1 is if you advocate abolishing the sex industry what is your plan to do this, how will you achieve it, what happens to the sex workers that are currently in the sex industry and when will it be accomplished? To be this dedicated to the concept of abolition someone must have a strategic plan. What is it?

Question 2, I have made repeated requests to radical feminists that we try to drop the acrimony and work on issues we both can agree on. Is it so awful to work with actual sex workers that you can’t work with us? Wouldn’t it be more prudent and helpful to all if you found out what we really advocate rather than obsessing on Larry Flynt, Nevada Brothels and abusive pimps, issues that the vast majority of swr activists are actually working on? Why fight us when there are actual abusers and abuses we could ally with each other to combat.

Question 3. Why does everything have to be analyzed for faults if relayed by sex worker rights activists? I discussed the very anti prostitution org in Minneapolis called Women’s Recovery Center as one I have worked with in the projects development and support and send referrals even now. And all that came was condemnation of this program from radical feminists with factual misrepresentations of WRC not offering psychological assistance to exiting sex workers. Which is perhaps a weakness in their website because they do offer it. Why are they considered a poor resource even though the project is radical feminist? Is it just because they don’t hate SWOP East and still work with us thus they are collaborators with the enemy? If this is the case it is a very sad statement. That some/many rad fems are far more interested in politics and war with sex worker rights activists than actual work. This is 2007, not 1967. Militancy had a very important place in the sixties and seventies. Without it feminism wouldn’t have been successful. But this is 2007. Times have changed. Methods need to also.

Please, I would like answers to my questions. Ren would too.

Brenneman

NEVADA VIEWS: Vegas and the sex industry



Don’t make assumptions about the choices women make

New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote recently that “There is probably no city in America where women are treated worse than Las Vegas.”

It is true that Las Vegas is the symbolic center of the sex industry, which thrives on the bodies of women. The Las Vegas tourist corridor exudes sexuality, from ads and signs for strip clubs and escort services everywhere, to tourists dancing in sexy clothes and ordering libations from scantily clad cocktail waitresses.

It is also true that the sex industry is saturated with gender, race, ethnic and age inequalities. For example, women lack economic power relative to men; it’s women’s bodies that are used to sell everything from non-sexual products and services to actual sex; and the industry is replete with misconceptions about gender, especially as related to ethnic, racial, sexual and age stereotypes.

What are the myths about Las Vegas that fuel our Sin City image?

First, Vegas is not unique in terms of the prevalence of sexualized images and messages. The U.S. economy is profiting mightily from more public sexuality, from the strip clubs in any major city, to pornographified images in mainstream advertising, to pole dancing classes on college campuses and in athletic clubs. Our culture is obsessed with sex — though as a society we fear the consequences. In Las Vegas, this trend is marketed as part of the tourist image and the national and global fascination with sexy, sinful, risk-taking decadence draws approximately 39 million visitors a year.

Second, the assumption that all women in Vegas are exploited and disrespected because of the sexualized tourist atmosphere is patently false. In some ways, including the number of women in political positions, women’s poverty rates, and wages compared to men, women fare better in Vegas than other major cities. By other measures, women in Nevada continue to suffer gender inequities. Given the coexistence of positive and negative trends for women in Las Vegas, gender issues are complex and contradictory.

What is clear is that the sex industry does not have a uniformly negative impact on all women in Southern Nevada, and women who choose to work in the sex industry do not degrade or endanger women who do not. Women, children and men who are forced into sexual enslavement or otherwise subjected to coercion or violence need the same protections from such abuses as all citizens; these crimes are not natural manifestations of the adult industry.

Third, public images, messages and discussions about prostitution, the sex industry and sexuality are not the problem. The problem is that the women in the images are so uniformly Anglo, young, heterosexual and unnaturally thin with artificially large, perky breasts. These images convey that all women should look and act like this to be desirable; those who do not are ignored, invisible or stigmatized. The problem isn’t the sexual part, it’s the rest of it. We need a diversity of images and messages that reflect real bodies and authentic human relationships.

Fourth, Herbert and his source, Melissa Farley, both conflate juvenile and adult participation in prostitution and other segments of the sex industry. They are not the same. It is condescending to treat adult women who make choices as if they are the equivalent of children; it is even worse to dilute the special and unique issues associated with child rape/prostitution and sexual violence. To say that they’re all just bad treats adults like kids and kids like adults, to the benefit of no one.

Finally, it is not accurate to say that all forms of prostitution and sex work are coercive or equally exploitative. Arrangements– in the sex industry or otherwise — that coerce, harass, abuse or marginalize women are the problem. When women cannot control their sexual images or their own embodied sexuality — in the marketplace or at home — they are vulnerable to victimization. But legal work situations where women’s labor rights and human rights are protected are good for women; this is what we need to strive for in all workplaces, including the sex industry.

After conducting research on the sex industry for more than 10 years, we have found that women entering legal prostitution, for example, do so with widely different educations, relationships with parents and socio-economic resources. These factors determine where they work, who their customers are and how much they earn. Not all women in the sex industry have personal, social or economic resources. Inequalities exist and contribute to widely differing experiences. But nowhere near all adult women who work in the sex industry are horrendously impacted and “rotten” inside, victims of all measure of atrocities as Farley and Herbert would have us believe. Instead, we challenge you to dare to believe what many women tell us, dare to take them seriously when they describe a good life of their own choosing and a sense of empowerment in their sexuality. These voices cannot be reduced to those of passive victims.

We do not argue that all women experience safe, rewarding, lucrative lives in the shadow of the neon in Las Vegas. But the key is that many do. Some women choose to move here, to work here, to stay and live here. Some women love Vegas, not because they are brainwashed victims of this tourist enclave, or sexually enslaved by the sex industry, but because it is their preference. The presence of legal prostitution in 10 rural counties outside Las Vegas doesn’t impact the day-to-day lives of women, whether working in the sex industry or not. And for many women we interviewed, choosing brothel work was the safest and most desirable option for them.

Herbert has it right that Vegas is a sexualized city space. He has it right that the sex industry, like the tourist industry, the service industry, and all other industries, can be exploitative. But he misses the ubiquity of these experiences beyond Las Vegas and outside the sex industry.

The real problems are larger systems of gender and sexual inequality that constrain women nationwide and worldwide — Vegas simply highlights the contradictions of oppression and empowerment, coercion and choice. Ultimately, though, to reduce all women in Vegas to passive victims of the city as predator is itself a predatory, degrading, exploitative argument. It is a dramatic analogy, but like Vegas’ carefully staged mirages and simulations, it is all surface and no substance.

Kate Hausbeck is a senior associate dean at UNLV’s Graduate College. Barbara Brents is a UNLV sociology professor. Crystal Jackson is doctoral student in sociology at UNLV.

Flynt Unveils More Vitter Claims

Ex-New Orleans Prostitute Says Louisiana Senator Was a Client

By ARASH GHADISHAH

From ABC News 

Sept. 11, 2007—

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter is again under fire from adult content publisher Larry Flynt. Flynt restated his claim today that Vitter patronized a Louisiana prostitution service in 1999.

The Hustler magazine publisher called a news conference today and brought a former prostitute into his Beverly Hills office to publicly name Vitter as her former client.

Wendy Ellis had previously told her story to reporters under a pseudonym, but today, she sat alongside Flynt at his ornate desk, and recounted how she was paid for sex by Vitter two to three times a week for a period of four months in 1999. Flynt also provided reporters with results of a polygraph examination which supports Ellis’s claim.

Ellis says she was a heavy drug user during the period she claims to have had sex with the then-state representative, and did not know or care that Vitter was a public official. She says she is now off drugs and hopes telling her story publicly will force Vitter to resign from the Senate. “Why do we want to have a man who is representing our country lie continuously?” she asked.

In July, Vitter apologized for a “very serious sin in my past,” acknowledging that his telephone number was among those found in the records of a Washington escort service that federal investigators say was a cover for a prostitution ring. Vitter’s involvement with the D.C. service was first revealed by Flynt, who uncovered the phone records as part of an ongoing investigation into the conduct of Washington officials.

In his July statement, Vitter denied patronizing Louisiana prostitutes.

Though the senator was at work in Washington today, his office did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News. This morning, Vitter questioned Gen. David Petraeus at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Flynt still aims to force Vitter’s resignation from the Senate. He says that Vitter’s self-portrayal as a family values agenda official makes him a fair target.

“I think that bothered her more than anything, that he was being such a hypocrite,” said Flynt of Ellis’ motivation for going public. “If you are going to throw stones, you shouldn’t live in a glass house, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Flynt employed polygraphist Edward Gelb to administer Ellis’ lie detector examination. “He was totally convinced, after administering the test to her, that she was being totally truthful,” said Flynt of Ellis’ results. “I don’t think you’d get the same results with Vitter.”

Gelb issued a statement through Flynt that polygraph results found Ellis was “telling the truth” when she answered “yes” to the question: “Did you have a sexual relationship with David Vitter for at least four months through a New Orleans escort service?”

Though she refused to say whether Flynt had paid her for her statement, Ellis claimed that money was not a motivating factor in her decision to name Vitter.

Flynt took out a full page add in the Washington Post in June that offered $1 million to anyone who could document “a sexual encounter” with a high ranking government official.

Ellis was not offered the million-dollar reward from Hustler for her story. “Wendy would have gotten a lot of money on this deal, but she wasn’t the first source to out Vitter,” explained Flynt. “The pie gets smaller as you go along.”

“This is not about the money with me,” said Ellis. “This is about being honest. … I don’t want him to apologize to me, I want him to apologize to everybody he lied to. … don’t call me a liar.”

Ellis said she feels sympathy for Vitter’s wife, but that did not deter her campaign against the senator. “She deserves to know the truth,” Ellis said of Vitter’s wife Wendy. “She deserves to know that he is a liar.”

The former prostitute will also appear in a pictorial in the January issue of Hustler.

“I’m going to take care of Wendy,” responded Flynt to repeated questions about Ellis’ compensation from Hustler. “We are working on a book deal.”

Flynt warns that Washington officials should continue to fear a call from his office. His staff is still scouring the phone records of Deborah Jean Palfrey  the so-called D.C. Madam, with whom Vitter was initially linked  for more evidence against top government officials.

Flynt said he still has 3,000 phone numbers among Palfrey’s records to check out.

“We’ve got a lot more coming,” claimed Flynt. “There is one more gay senator or congressman, and he also votes against matters of self-interest all the time. … I think he should go, he’s at the top of the agenda now.”

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures

TVPRA, Donna Hughes, Contradictions, some feminists, funding, hypocrisy.

More information about Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, statements from it’s supporters about it’s successes, apparent lack of successes, about needing more money, TVPRA supporter Donna Hughes on President Bush being the most Pro Woman President she can remember and again Randall Tobias.

First Canadian Feminist Martin Dufresne stated

“Jill, You can go on re-posting this sorry rant two, three or twenty times, it just doesn’t hold water. Donna Hughes and other anti-prostitution feminists just aren’t supporters of TVPRA as you have tried so hard to paint them. And your repeated attempts to malign them are a poor reflection of your camp.”

Only after confronted with pictures and news articles which clearly document Donna Hughes was a main participant in Trafficking Victim’s Protection Re-authorization Act, he sends out a very delayed retraction oddly arriving today, after I have left the Pro Fem Listserv.

Martin Dufresne writes that he was wrong….. Go figure,,, of course with a series of insults. Being the pro feminist that he is, he couldn’t possible admit being wrong to a heretic woman without a sideways insult.

Martin states “OK, I have read up some of the material offered and it is much more informative than the, yes, rant we were treated to from Jill twice today. Yes, Hughes supports the principle and the commitment underlying the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) – my latest post was wrong – but she also is sharply critical of its lack of implementation and misuse against women over the last five years, as she made quite clear in the Op-Ed posted by Jill herself.” End Martin quote

Begin Brenneman “What Hughes was complaining about was that she wasn’t getting enough of the funding from TVPRA. The 108 thousand dollars from TVPRA she received in funding in 2003 apparently wasn’t sufficient as she states in 2005 no reliable estimates exist and the studies haven’t been done by DOJ. Perhaps because they paid her to do it? ”

A few Hughes Excerpts from “http://www.leatherneck.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51016

“Second, there are no reliable estimates of how many children and adults are caught in prostitution in the U.S. today. The Department of Justice has failed to make efforts to determine the scope of victimization in the U.S. In the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005, Congress authorized a nationwide study on the illegal commercial-sex industry in the U.S. — the kind of study that has been done for illegal gambling and drug trafficking. The Department of Justice never requested funds to conduct the study. If this study had been initiated promptly, we might now be close to having the first estimate ever of the size of the illegal commercial-sex industry in the U.S. and the number of women and children victimized in it.” End Hughes Quote


Brenneman: No reliable estimates? What did Donna Hughes do with the TVPRA funding for studies given to her? She questions if the study had been initiated promptly they might have an estimate of the size of the illegal commercial sex industry in it. What happened to the study of 2003? Which the check went to Hughes and University of Rhode Island?

From Department of Justice’s website

 

 

Here’s info. directly from

 

the U.S. Dept. of Justice website saying that Donna

 

Hughes received over $108,000 in TVPRA funding and her

 

organization, CATW, received over 147,000 in TVPRA

 

during FY 2004. Here’s the info. directly from the

 

U.S. Dept. of Justice website:

 

 

GlobalType

 

Prevention

 

 

Agency

 

U.S. Department of State

 

Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

 

(DOS/G/TIP)

 

 

Amount

 

$108,478

 

 

Grantee(s)

 

Donna Hughes, Ph.D.

 

 

 

University of Rhode Island

 

 

Purpose

 

To continue Fiscal Year 2003 research on best

 

practices for addressing demand side of sex

 

trafficking.

 

Brenneman: Donna’s solution, give her and her allies in the religious right, some feminists and the Bush Administration more money for studies.

Donna Hughes: “To reverse this situation, we need the following: The Department of Justice must carry out the study on the illegal commercial sex industry as authorized by Congress in 2005. We need to have a baseline study of the problem so we can begin to understand the scope of the problem and find solutions. And the Department of Justice must initiate the grant program for local and state law-enforcement agencies and service-providers so that U.S.-citizen victims, particularly those over the age of 17, are assisted and perpetrators punished.”

Brenneman: What Donna fails to state is that TVPRA and its subsequent Anti Prostitution Oath of 2005 ban funding to NGO’s failing to take the Anti Prostitution Pledge agreeing not to work with active sex workers, not to work with any groups that don’t explicitly demand an end to prostitution. Meaning the elimination of funding for HIV outreach orgs giving out condoms, shelters for women who are homeless in Cambodia but are sex workers, that were using the shelters for such “pro prostitution” endeavors as taking a shower. Those drop in centers have folded due to lack of funding. Chilean outreach workers have no funding to give condoms to active sex workers, funding eliminated by TVPRA as being “pro prostitution”. But to spend money on condoms is considered pro prostitution and not fighting slavery. Another paraphrase of a Hughes quote, sex slaves need to be liberated not given condoms. Liberated not by protection from disease, not by organizations that support and advocate for their human rights, but for studies for Hughes and her abolitionist colleagues. Or should I say more funding. Again, where is the 108 thousand dollars for these studies?Donna Hughes who condemned President Clinton as anti woman but states the following about President Bush

From http://www.nationalreview.com/interrogatory/hughes200601260824.asp

“Reporter Katheryn Lopez: How important has the president been in this fight?

Hughes: President Bush has been the crucial factor. He has created a political climate in which all of us, from local activists to high-ranking political appointees, could do this work. Mainstream feminists like to say he’s anti-woman, but by supporting the abolitionist work against the global sex trade, he has done more for women and girls than any one other president I can think of. And he seems to have done it because it’s the right thing to do, not because of pressure or favoritism. The new law and policy will literally initiate change for millions of women and girls around the world. Years from now, when the anti-Bush hysteria has died away, I believe he will be recognized as a true advocate for women’s freedom and human rights.The mainstream media has ignored this story. Most of the coverage has come from the conservative press as a result of faith-based groups’ involvement in coalition efforts to support the new law and policy. I believe it is a result of the liberal media dislike of the Bush administration and the lack of mainstream feminist groups’ acknowledgment of Bush’s efforts to fight sex trafficking. Most mainstream journalists don’t search out the facts, and instead accept the stereotypes and anti-Bush propaganda. When I speak favorably of what the Bush administration has done to support the anti-trafficking movement, people are often shocked because it isn’t consistent with their view of President Bush or the Bush administration. Hopefully, history will set the record straight.

Lopez: Who have been some of the other key figures?

Hughes: Laura Lederer, senior adviser in the State Department’s global-affairs office had a key role in drafting the national-security directive that President Bush issued in 2002. The directive laid out the U.S. policy on prostitution and trafficking. Lederer has a 30-year history of fighting pornography, prostitution, and sexual exploitation. She thoroughly understood the problem and the nuances of all the debates around trafficking. She was able to assist the Bush administration is drawing up a far reaching, visionary plan for the abolition of trafficking.”

Brenneman Laura Lederer who has her government job. Hughes who seemed very happy at the outset when she saw herself getting hundreds of thousands of dollars for her studies. Money taken from outreach programs giving condoms, shelter, training programs for those choosing to exit, health care. All of those supposedly “pro prostitution” goals of the “pro prostitution, pro trafficking lobby”

Below is analysis of Hughes statements about her history in the feminist movement.

Hughes: “I’ve (Hughes) spent about 17 years working on this issue — most of that time I was on the losing side, as those who supported “sex worker” rights won almost every political battle.”

Brenneman: Question, was she battling for social justice for these trafficked women or battling sex worker rights? Which leads to another question. Why would an activist supposedly fighting to protect women in the sex industry oppose their rights?

Hughes writes: “The mainstream feminist groups wanted to allow women to make the “choice” to be prostitutes and only oppose “forced prostitution.”

Brenneman: And these women are children and shouldn’t be allowed to choose sex work? For what reason? The feminist groups Hughes opposes support adult women making a choice to do sex work and opposes these same feminists who also oppose forced prostitution. Wouldn’t it make more sense to join with the feminists already opposing forced prostitution? Not to Donna and her allies. Not apparently when they can snag all the funding for themselves. Why share? Even if by her own admission the studies she was paid to do apparently never made it to the government or were never completed as by her own words studies have not been done and must be done.

Hughes “The Clinton administration funded and supported this approach. I thought we had lost. Those were the depressing years.”

Brenneman: The Clinton Administration funded harm reduction programs, funded feminists supporting the right of adult women to have self determination over their bodies and their occupation funded feminists who were also fighting forced prostitution. Yet Donna was depressed about this.

Donna writes: “During the late 1990s, almost all the media stories were about how empowering prostitution was, how much money the women made, how pimps were disappearing, how women were independent businesswomen, and how women in India were forming unions and collectives to fight for their rights as sex workers.”

Brenneman: The women making money, the pimps disappearing, forming unions and collectives to fight for their human, civil and labor rights as sex workers is a bad thing? So apparently following the Hughes and her allies logic, the women should not make money, the pimps shouldn’t disappear until studies have been done to determine how many women and apparently how many pimps exist and then while depriving sex workers of their rights, Donna Hughes, her allies and the government can decide what to do? Is there not a contradiction in terms here? Hughes and her allies claim to be fighting for women yet want to deny them money, labor rights reducing or eliminating the power of pimps and organizational rights to advocate for their civil, human and labor rights? This is feminism?

Hughes writes: “The Utopian vision that prostitution could be turned into a form of legitimate work for women by empowering victims and organizing unions ruled in all U.N. meetings, feminist conferences, and a number of government offices. Now that was depressing!”

Brenneman: How depressing to Donna. The victims she claims to represent would be empowered and organizing unions to support their rights was happening at the UN level, at feminist conferences and within the government.

Donna writes: “Slowly that is changing. Media stories are increasingly describing prostitution rings in which women and girls are beaten, raped, and enslaved. That may sound more depressing, but to me it is much better because it’s the truth.”

Brenneman: Yes, with their rights and funding taken away, the unions have collapsed, the sex workers are once again much more vulnerable and women and girls are getting beaten, raped and enslaved. Donna admits it may sound more depressing but to her it is much better because it is the truth. So taking away the funding that assisted them in gaining human rights, labor unions that organized labor and civil rights even by organizations and feminists that Donna herself stated were fighting forced prostitution is a better thing because it is the truth? Being beaten, raped and enslaved is better because it is a truth created by Donna Hughes, the Bush Administration, religious right and like minded feminists? Of course it’s the truth. Drive any group into deep oppression restricting their rights, making them vulnerable and of course the truth will be an increase in crimes against them. But Donna was happy, she was getting money from her visionary Pro woman President Bush. Only she didn’t get enough to fill her belly and now wants more money. Not to help the sex workers but to study them. Studies undoubtedly done by her and her allies. Forget the feminists who were already opposing forced prostitution as by Donna’s logic they were pro prostitution by also supporting choice of bodily determination and human, civil and labor rights.

Donna writes: “I used to hear stories like that all the time from victims, but they never made it into media stories or congressional testimonies. Now, the truth about prostitution/sex trafficking is emerging and agencies are responding as never before. I think more pimps and traffickers have been arrested in the last year than in the whole previous decade. (…)”

Brenneman: Only now Donna states these arrests haven’t happened, the pimps and traffickers in the US aren’t being arrested in her xenophobic article in the ultra conservative National Review. What am I missing here? Canadian pro feminist Martin Dufresne believes all is going quite well, just give Donna and the correct feminists more money for studies and it will all be much better. Of course what happens to the women harmed by their support and the actual legislation that is TVPRA?

Martin states “Sorry but I think this is good news and part f what I have been fighting for. Some may disagree, of course”

Brenneman: Good news that violence against sex workers is up, their rights have been taken away, outreach heathcare and shelter projects are defunct, women aren’t making money, pimps are strengthened and even by TVPRA’s strongest supporters they have no idea what statistics actually exist even though they were paid to do the studies. They want more money to studies on their program which they were paid to do studies?

Feminist activist Nikki Craft who denies she is an abolitionist or a radical feminist despite operating the Andrea Dworkin online library and advocating the arson of porn stores on her website while complaining about the violent imagery of porn, yet using a picture of a tortured woman on her website as proof that it exists denies her involvement in any of this as she was unconcerned “about the infight over money” In that perhaps she is being truthful. She was crusading about the misogynist dangers of Adobe PhotoShop. There is a vital cause if one has ever been proposed.

We shouldn’t forget either that the top official exposed the the DC Madam’s call girl escort service was none other than Randall Tobias. The Bush Administration front man for TVPRA. Which essentially was the basis for this blog in the outset

Please, let yourself be heard, oppose TVPRA, its global harm, it’s corrupt and inept organizers and supporters.

Jill Brenneman

 

NOW to Village Voice & Other NYC Pubs: Pull Sex Workers’ Advertisements?

mattilda (a.k.a. matt bernstein sycamore) writes on the National Organization for Women’s attempts to pressure NYC publications to pull all advertisements for sexually oriented businesses:

I also don’t know what pulling advertising will do about sex trafficking, other than make it go further underground. Furthermore, as part of anti-trafficking legislation, NOW supports felony enhancement for those convicted of trafficking, and stiffer penalties on those who “patronize illegal commercial sex” (that means people who hire hookers).

More background via mattilda: Free Speech Radio News on NOW’s campaign, and NOW’s human trafficking position.

Judge Is Asked to Allow Use of Phone Records

By Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 19, 2007; Page B04

The attorney for a woman accused of being the “D.C. madam” asked a federal judge yesterday to let her use phone records from her escort business in her defense.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey considers her clients’ numbers crucial to finding witnesses who can defend her against federal charges that she ran an illegal prostitution ring, even if the information leads to the outing of clients, her attorney said.

 


 

Palfrey is asking U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to lift a ban on releasing the phone records. Her attorney, Preston Burton, argued that Palfrey’s clients and escorts should have known that they ran the risk of being identified publicly when they voluntarily sought or provided the services of her Washington area business, Pamela Martin & Associates.

“Any emotional distress incurred as a result of public disclosure of their contact with Ms. Palfrey’s business should have been contemplated by these apparently fragile potential witnesses prior to involving themselves with Pamela Martin & Associates,” Burton wrote.

He also suggested that Palfrey was being singled out. The government has charged her with running a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring for 13 years. She said her escorts provided legal fantasies and massages but not sex.

Burton complained that potential witnesses “have apparently been given a pass from prosecution by the government.”

Channing Phillips, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, declined to comment, saying prosecutors will respond to Palfrey’s arguments in a hearing before Kessler on Monday.

Burton was appointed by the judge last week to represent Palfrey, who has said she is indigent because prosecutors have seized her assets. Burton also disputed the government’s contention that Palfrey provided her phone records to reporters with the ABC News program “20/20” and other media outlets in recent weeks to intimidate people who might testify against her.

Deputy Secretary of State Randall L. Tobias resigned from his post last month after ABC News contacted him about his phone number being listed by Palfrey in records covering 2002 to 2006. Tobias said he received massages but not sex.

STATEMENT FROM SEX WORKER HEALTH AND RIGHTS ADVOCATES

Prepared for the 18th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm, Warsaw, Poland, May 2007

The statement is based on materials developed by Stella, a Canadian sex worker rights organization, for the 2006 International Conference on HIV/AIDS. A working group of sex workers and sex worker rights advocates committed to increasing the participation of sex workers and their organizations at the International Conference on Reduction of Drug Related Harm adapted Stella’s statement in consultation with our communities and networks. We are pleased to present the following key messages about sex workers rights and harm reduction issues to delegates and participants in Warsaw:

 

Human rights for sex workers: Recognizing and ensuring the protection of sex workers’ human rights is essential to promoting health and safety. By ensuring that sex workers have full enjoyment of their human rights, the discrimination and abuse that sex workers are often subject to can be reduced or eliminated and access to health and social services can be improved.

Sex workers are part of the solution: Sex worker leadership and empowerment are essential in fighting HIV and discrimination. Sex workers are their own best resource—they should be at the forefront of developing and implementing the programs and policies that impact their lives. It is only by empowering sex workers to speak for themselves and developing sex worker leadership that stigma and rights violations will be stopped.

Sex work is work, not “harm”: Sex work (itself) is not inherently harmful. The reasons why people engage in sex work vary widely, as do the reasons why people chose a variety of other jobs. Many sex worker health and rights organizations incorporate a harm reduction framework when they address the needs of sex workers who use drugs. Other sex worker health and rights organizations have a less comfortable relationship with a harm reduction because “harm” is sometimes defined as sex work or sex workers (themselves). For sex worker rights advocates, the “harm” associated with sex work results from repressive environments in which sex work is not recognized as work and sex workers lack basic human rights and access to appropriate health services.

Workers’ rights for sex workers: Sex work should be recognized as work in order to ensure safe and appropriate working conditions. The lack of workers’ rights leaves sex workers vulnerable to abuse and poor working conditions.In addition, following consultation during the 18th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm, we would like to affirm that sex workers are key players in promoting human rights and harm reduction, and are pleased to do so in conjunction with allies who share our philosophies and commitment to justice.

 

“Nothing about us, without us.”

 

www.apnsw.org

www.desireealliance.org

www.parasol.org.pl

www.sexworkeurope.com

www.differentavenues.org

www.correlation-net.org

www.chezstella.org

www.swop-usa.org

www.hops.org.mk

www.scarletalliance.org.au

www.bayswan.org

www.odyseus.org

www.tada.pl

www.bestpracticespolicy.org

 

DEROY MURDOCK: Victimless crimes

The Press of Atlantic City

— Scripps Howard News Service

NEW YORK So-called “D.C. madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey will not go down without a fight. She has shared her escort service’s phone records with ABC News and inspired the April 27 resignation of State Department foreign-aid chief Randall Tobias. He admitted to meeting Palfrey’s call girls — “to give me a massage,” but he insists, no sex.

While Tobias’ wife must be steamed, why is this news? Indeed, if he were single, some might applaud Tobias for getting lucky. Meanwhile, Palfrey has hired Preston Burton, Monica Lewinsky’s former attorney, thus returning that notorious name to national prominence.

Palfrey has made headlines because she faces prostitution charges. Since money changed hands, what otherwise would be mutual assured seduction instead is, literally, a federal case.

This never should have happened. As in so many places where police and prosecutors poke their noses, this is something else that should be none of government’s damn business.

There is an argument for discouraging scantily clad streetwalkers from tarting up their surroundings. This is exactly why discreet escorts, like Palfrey’s, who perform on private property, are preferable to hookers on street corners.

 

 

Again, if Palfrey’s colleagues simply trolled Washington, swapping drinks and dinner for massages and more, no one would notice. So why, then, does trading cash for intimacy merit handcuffs and indictments? If coercion or minors are involved, please call 911. Otherwise, police, prosecutors, judges and juries have more urgent concerns than oppressing those who profit by comforting the lonely.

Prostitutes offer just one service that adults should be free to enjoy without fear of arrest. So do psychics.

Philadelphia officials should have skipped their recent crackdown on spiritual advisers. The City of Brotherly Love turned Big Brotherly when police on April 24 began padlocking psychics’ and Tarot-card-readers’ shops. A previously un-enforced third-degree misdemeanor forbade anyone to “pretend for gain or lucre to tell fortunes or predict future events,” as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Before defense attorneys intervened, cops hammered these occult entrepreneurs, supposedly because they bamboozled clueless clients.

Really? In trying times, many Americans see their clergymen. Others consult bartenders, barbers or bowling partners. So what if some Americans believe those who peer into crystal balls? Most folks steer away from seers, but if no one got frog-marched into a seance at gunpoint, Philadelphia authorities should have focused on those who faced gun muzzles, namely the 127 people fatally shot or otherwise killed through April 24, 17.6 percent more than the 108 killed through that date in 2006.

Speaking of dangerous thugs, thank God cops nabbed Barbara Jackson, a 71-year-old Bronx great-grandmother. Jackson is a colorectal-cancer survivor whose chemotherapy has crushed her appetite.

“My taste buds are gone, but the marijuana helps me get the food down,” she told the New York Daily News. “The marijuana has kept me alive. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t smoke.”

Undercover officers arrested her March 13 when she bought grass near her home. They whisked her to the 46th Precinct, fingerprinted her and jailed her for five hours. Thankfully, Bronx prosecutors dropped charges after local journalists howled.

Despite claims by Jackson and others that marijuana keeps them breathing, drug warriors trivialize scientific evidence of marijuana’s health benefits. (The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration cynically dismisses marijuana’s medical advantages while simultaneously forbidding marijuana research that might confirm such qualities.)

Again, so what?

It doesn’t matter whether marijuana clinically stimulates Jackson’s appetite. If it merely convinces her that she can eat, defeat cancer and stay healthy, isn’t that splendid? Barbara Jackson is an American adult. Provided she does not drive under its sway, she should be free to choose marijuana to battle cancer, or at least serve as a placebo.

As Boston University’s Dr. David Felson explained on the April 30 “NBC Nightly News,” taking placebos “isn’t necessarily a scientifically valid approach, but it’s a clinically helpful approach.”

Rather than torment call girls, clairvoyants and cancer patients, government officials should meditate on a few facts: Only half of black students graduate from high school on time. Murder erased 16,692 Americans in 2005. Meanwhile, Islamofascists itch to hike that death toll a thousand-fold. Ignorance, homicide and militant Islam concretely threaten this republic. Why don’t America’s hyperactive public servants go slay those dragons?

Blogs on Reproductive Justice from RH Reality Check

From RH Reality Check

 

World Bank Reproductive Health Strategy

Serra Sippel, Center for Health and Gender Equity on May 8, 2007 – 8:45am


Serra Sippel's picture

The Bush administration has gained notoriety for using women’s health as a pawn in catering to its ultra-conservative political base. Particularly noticeable is its attempts to narrow the scope in which international agreements and agencies address sexual and reproductive health and rights, such as attempting to remove references to reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services in UN documents, cutting off U.S. funding for UNFPA, and trying to restrict WHO positions on abortion and generic drugs. To this administration, women are always dispensable.

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Global Impact of Anti-Prostitution Pledge

Julia Greenberg, American Jewish World Service on May 9, 2007 – 9:00am


Julia Greenberg's picture

Friday night, running late for a dinner party, I burst in and obnoxiously asked my hosts if I could turn on 20/20 for the big expose on the DC Madam. In retrospect I cannot imagine why in my wildest dreams I would have expected John Stossel, the 20/20 host known for his right wing punditry (and his unfortunate mustache) would deliver a cutting edge report that would bring down the halls of power.

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In Which States Is “Fristing” A Lewd Act, We Wonder?

Bound, Not Gagged blogger Veronica Monet has been on Bill Maher’s program before, so one has to wonder about the inspiration (beyond the obv Palfrey stuff) behind the escorts in this clip: