SWOP East Int. Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Two Part online event

**Please Distribute Widely**

 

For Immediate Release                              Media Contact: swopeast@gmail.com

December 13, 2007                                               

                                                             
Sex Workers Outreach Project East

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Two-Part Online Event

1) Repository for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Projects/Pictures/Events …and…

2) Live Online Vigil

Who: Sex Workers Outreach Project East Two-Part Online Event

What: Repository for International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers Projects and Live Online Vigil 

When: Repository begins Saturday, December 15th, 5:00 PM EST and continues through Monday;

Live Online Vigil Monday, December 17th, 5 – 11 PM Eastern (2-8 PM Pacific)

Where: http://www.swopeast.blogspot.com/

Beginning Saturday, December 15th, at 5:00 PM EST, the swopeast.blogspot.com will be available for posting pictures, events, comments, summaries, reactions, etc., to events related to the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Please post any comments or artifacts that you’d like to share and visit our blogspot to view happenings related to the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers from around the world.

On Monday, December 17th, beginning at 5:00 PM until 11:00 PM EST SWOP East will be holding a Live Online Vigil. Please join our virtual community to share your stories, mourn our sisters and brothers, and work toward a space where this violence is no longer tolerated.  

For questions or more information contact swopeast@gmail.com

 

SWOP East’s Growth and Expansion

I am happy to share some very good news about SWOP East. Just over a year ago, SWOP East was an independent harm reduction based project called the STORM Project, Sex Trade Opportunities for Risk Minimization. While we retain a harm reduction component, we made a radical decision as an organization to take on a sex worker rights position as the core belief and mission of our organization. I approached SWOP about bringing STORM under the SWOP banner as part of my hopes to switch to a sex worker rights position. At the time I was the only sex worker rights activist on the board of directors. SWOP-USA welcomed STORM into SWOP and we became SWOP East.

SWOP East now has a sex worker rights based Board of Directors, we added some wonderful and talented activists and allies, Jessica Land joined us and has brought her energy and experience in the movement to become our new Board Chair, Amanda Brooks, joined in May and along with our Chilean counterpart Beatriz Mercado in Chile, they have been instrumental in the now launching Pledging Action global effort to get condoms to sex workers in Santiago, Chile that have lost access to resources due to USAid anti trafficking legislation which has devastated outreach programs worldwide. Lola Silvera of Toronto is my frequent adviser and is on our advisory board. Last month saw Jill McCracken of St. Petersburg, Florida to SWOP East as our new treasurer, Ren Ev. in DC has joined us as an awareness activist and we are close to having a supporter join us from Richmond, VA.

SWOP-USA’s welcoming of what was STORM and the great, vital energy of all of the new members, of which I am eternally grateful and thankful for all of their effort, work and enthusiasm, has developed SWOP East into an organization spanning two continents, three countries, and seven states.

Our growth is part of the emerging sex worker rights movement of which I am so proud of all it’s members and thrilled to be part of! This started three years ago when I was welcomed into the sex worker rights movement by so many activists that I love and respect dearly

We are always interested in hearing from others interested in working with SWOP East, SWOP-USA or any Sex Worker Rights Org or any sex worker or sex worker rights activist, ally or supporter that wants to join a growing movement for social justice for sex workers worldwide!

In Solidarity

Jill Brenneman

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

The Post-Election Rapist-Judge Blues

Well, it’s disappointing but not surprising—Deni won her retention.

Here is a link to Jill Porter’s latest coverage on the issue.

I’m sure Deni feels vindicated by her triumph, but I know in my heart that no one who knew of her malevolence would ever vote for her. With less than three weeks to organize and zero budget, we just couldn’t reach enough voters in time. She won by the smallest margin of any of the judges up for retention but, nevertheless, she is still allowed to make her personal judgments the rule of law, forcing people of whom she disapproves to be victimized not once, but twice. We cannot let this happen. Just because we lost this battle, does not mean we can’t win the war.

What can we do now?

First, we can write to her supervisor in municipal court and demand that she be removed from any court in which she can exercise her personal biases to circumvent the law. I’m thinking traffic court for her. Her supervisor is the Honorable Judge Louis J. Presenza. His mailing address is: Honorable Louis J. Presenza, President Judge, 1303 Criminal Justice Center, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Attached below is a template that people can re-word to make their own if they wish.

Another aspect to this is Deni’s future political career. I got only one piece of hate mail over the course of the past few weeks. It came from one of Deni’s cronies who tipped her hand by mentioning to me that Deni wants to run for district attorney next year. While people might have been very lackluster about a judicial retention election, they will pay much more attention to a DA race. I shudder at the thought of her advancing her political career and it’s imperative that we keep a close eye on her throughout the next year. It’s important that we not let the memory of her recent actions die and that we maintain a careful watch over all her upcoming court activities. In the event that she does make moves towards another office, we have to be ready to mobilize a much larger campaign to defeat her.

Now that the election is over with, we might give some thought to organizing a public demonstration to help spread the word about Deni and her actions. There has been a great deal of interest from out-of-town people who would probably love to attend. We should send a message to her that we will not accept her behavior quietly and that we are still watching her. We should let all the people who unwittingly voted her into the courts for another six years have the opportunity to know who she really is.

I’d like to thank all the people who went above and beyond to try to defeat Deni in the election. I know it’s disappointing but we did reach a lot of people in a very short amount of time and we managed to send Deni the message that she cannot impart her will on other people’s lives without impunity. Anyone still interested in fighting the good fight to get rid of Deni should contact me at no.on.deni@gmail.com.

Matilda

 

——————————————————————————————————————-

Dear Judge Presenza,

I am writing to address the decision by Judge Carr Deni to dismiss all rape charges in the case of Commonwealth v. Gindraw. The case involved a young woman who had consented to a paid sexual encounter with an individual but was instead held by this individual and three others against her will and at gunpoint who proceeded to subject her to non-consensual, unprotected sexual intercourse despite the fact that she withdrew her consent and begged to be released. Because of the initial agreement between the victim and the defendant, Judge Carr Deni felt justified in classifying this violent assault as consensual and therefore threw out all rape charges. By any reasonable and humane standard this incident qualifies as rape.

The case was against the defendant and was not intended to determine the criminal behavior of the victim. Despite this, Judge Carr Deni clearly felt compelled to punish the victim for her agreement to engage in the illicit exchange of sexual activity for money. Furthermore, Deni proceeded to make a statement to the press that this case “minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.”

Pennsylvania law clearly states that rape is defined as “a felony of the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

1.        By forcible compulsion.

2.        By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution…”

and further that “[e]vidence of specific instances of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct, opinion evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct, and reputation evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct shall not be admissible in prosecutions under this chapter except evidence of the alleged victim’s past sexual conduct with the defendant where consent of the alleged victim is at issue and such evidence is otherwise admissible pursuant to the rules of evidence.”

When a victim is begging to be released to return to her infant daughter and is being held at gunpoint by four men, there should be no room to question whether or not this is “forcible compulsion”. Additionally, as the victim in this case clearly withdrew her consent, there is no legal basis for Judge Carr Deni to have based her ruling upon the victim’s past sexual conduct or reputation. While I understand the importance of an independent judiciary it is clear from her behavior both in court and in speaking to the press, that Judge Carr Deni allowed her own personal biases to determine her ruling.

Due to her obvious prejudice and disregard for the human rights of those who engage in sex work or are suspected of engaging in sex work, I respectfully request you to consider transferring Judge Carr Deni from her position in the Municipal Court of Philadelphia. Your Honor, I feel that it is clear that Judge Carr Deni is unable to maintain the impartiality required of a member of our judicial system and therefore should not preside over court proceedings that might involve women who engage in sex work.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

 

———————————————————————————————————–

From Matilda at the Deny Deni! Campaign in Philadelphia

By now everyone has heard of the horrific case of Judge Teresa Carr Deni dismissing all rape charges against a young woman who was held at gunpoint and violently sexually assaulted by four men. I’m sure everyone also knows that Deni’s reasoning was based on the fact that the 20-year-old single mom who was assaulted had initially arranged for a paid sexual encounter with one of the men.

I am appalled that anyone would view this as anything other than rape and to classify the incident as consensual is a deliberate attempt to dehumanize people who engage in sex work. I don’t see Deni’s take on the situation to be much different from the argument that women who wear tight, short skirts are begging for it. Rape is about power, not sex, and I’m horrified that anyone would argue otherwise. There is that old feminist slogan, “If I hit you over the head with a frying pan, you don’t call that cooking.” That keeps springing to my mind here. 

As I’ve worked on the campaign to get Deni voted out of office on November 6th, the evidence of her contempt for sex workers has become more and more apparent. In the first place, one of her statements to Jill Porter, the reporter who originally broke the story, (which you can find here) was that the victim had taken another client before reporting the incident.

Not only is this in no way relevant—even if she had, people who experience trauma often go on with their plans before they begin to process what has happened to them and, more to the point, she still needed to make money to support herself and her child—but it actually turns out that was an outright lie on Deni’s part. Clearly she thought this would bolster her stance in other people’s eyes but it is nowhere in the court transcripts and participants who were there that day say that no such thing ever came up. 

There have also been two different court records leaked of cases involving sex workers she has presided over in which she also dismissed rape charges. It has been repeatedly been stated to me that Deni has been a pretty good judge when some women have ended up in front of her. Apparently she is considered lenient and fair in these cases. What is also readily apparent, however, is that she has a deep-seated and irrational hatred of women who engage in sex work. She clearly feels that she is justified in punishing them for their choice of employment no matter what the reason they have come before her in court.

Furthermore, she dared speak on behalf of rape survivors by stating that this case minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped.” I know of no rape survivors who feel anything other than complete empathy for the woman assaulted in this case, it’s absolutely disgusting that Deni would attribute such a view to other women who had experienced such a monstrous thing. 

Additionally, she also completely flouted Pennsylvania law regarding rape and consent. The law clearly states that consent can be withdrawn. Even the Philadelphia Bar Association, a very staid and apolitical organization, was offended. You can read Chancellor Jane Dalton’s statement here.

There is absolutely no excuse for this behavior. No other information about her actions make this okay. There is absolutely no justification for having her act as the guardian over a court of law. On November 6th, those of us who vote in Philadelphia have the opportunity to oust Deni by voting against her retention in the court system. We hope to be successful. If we are not—as one city official said to me a couple of days ago, “You basically have to kill your mother not to win a retention vote”—be prepared, the fight is not over and we have a lot more work to do.

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.

kissing, the memory, and the aftermath

Another dirty and decidedly deleterious post in the eyes of the right from surgeon today.

It’s a diary day, por supesto.

To begin.

I’d like to talk about kissing. I enjoy kissing. Even with clients, when they have an aesthetic I can manage. I have often been told I’m a great kisser, which means nothing, but that I am a chameleon, a basset hound, and can judge taste and type with my lips. I am interested in the myriad of expressions one can find in a kiss. But I have one question. Why lead with the tongue? It happens far too often. Who really thinks it’s sexy to come at someone tongue first? Is it that the tongue represents the cock, and you feel called to demonstrate your manhood by emulating your erection with your tongue? It’s not hot. No, really. It’s not.

Second.

Yesterday, I have this call. Someone I’ve seen once before, who I cannot remember. I remember his voice, vaguely, but his name is common, and his words are nondescript. I am occasionally put in a position where I do not recall the type of session I had with someone. I remember them, perhaps, but not their proclivities. Which puts me on the spot. “Would you like to have a massage today? or…?” He responds with a, “yes, last time you gave me a massage, it was great!” Not enough details. Did I fuck this man, trample this man, tie this man up, tantric massage? Or what? I can’t figure it out. I hint, I suggest, I insinuate. Nothing. No clues, no answers, and then he arrives at my door.

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