Please Help With My Sex Worker Music DREAMS this summer!!

Are you going to be in Washington DC for the International AIDS conference in July?? I am! Check out this video and help me make my big thinking no limit WHORE REVOLUTIONARY dreams this summer. I have 24 days to raise money for my goal. Every element is about spreading sex worker activism through MUSIC. I am getting ready for a big show in Santa Monica with Madison Young and Nina Hartley on July 20th. Even after I have done activism in LA for the last 6 years, I still feel like the city barely knows what sex worker rights culture (and it is a culture everywhere else but here) IS. Help me change that! If you believe that that is worth $7 PLEASE DONATE! Click on the link below to get to the indiegogo campaign. Every donation HELPS! Thank you so much!

Sex Work Issues — SE Asia and China

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

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

For the General Public: When does sex work become rape?

This post is intended far more for the general public than for those who usually read it.  It is not a post seeking sympathy.  I”m using personal experience to illustrate a point.

Recently I went to work for an outcall escort agency.  The agency does the screening of the clients with the idea being a date is supposed to be safe and not with a police officer.  I drive to meet the client, get there, get the money everything seems fine.  The session is 1 hour or 1 climax whichever comes first.  Rules are preset about how far I am willing to go.  First he want’s a massage.  Then oral sex.   Only he isn’t able to get the response from his body that he is hoping for.  This goes on, and on, until my jaw is literally locking.  Finally he pulled away and I made the comment that maybe this just wasn’t working.  He disagreed said he knew it could work and said he just needed a drink to relax.  Asked me if I wanted one?  No, thank you I’m fine………  I give him the speech about not drinking and driving as a personal policy.  While he is getting his drink I notice framed on the wall is his graduation from training as a FAM.  Federal Air Marshall.  I think, great, this guy is quasi law enforcement.  But until this point it was still sex work.  I still owed him a few more minutes and had no issue with trying again.  He drank his drink and in one quick move had me down, handcuffed and had a trashbag over my head.  When he first handcuffed me, I thought shit, he’s a cop.  The trash bag told me different.

He hit me over and over in the head telling me to stop fighting and to give in and let him have what he paid for.  He didn’t pay for what he took.  While oral sex didn’t arouse him anal did.  He made repeated points about his hatred of condoms and that I was going to see what it felt like to have plastic over my head.  Which was an odd twist of words given we were talking about different “heads”.   He hit me in the head a bunch more times until I agreed to swallow the condom.  I was too disoriented from what was diagnosed at the ER as a moderate concussion/post concussion syndrome.   I went to the Desiree Alliance conference in Vegas a few days after this incident.  For those who spent any time with me it was likely apparent I was suffering the effects of concussion.  Along with re-activated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

When did it become rape rather than sex work.  When he forced me to do something I hadn’t agreed to.  People have argued with me that prostitutes can’t be raped, and that this kind of thing is an occupational hazard.  I say that totally wrong.  I don’t give blanket permission by virtue of being paid.  Certainly I didn’t agree to the trashbag, to the 10 plus blows to the head, or the anal sex which was never supposed to be part of the deal.  Without a doubt, swallowing the condom wasn’t.

Now that I’ve give the background.  Yes, prostitutes can be raped, we do get raped and we need full decriminalization so that we can go to the police rather than fear them.  Or be raped by them and their law enforcement colleagues.  The prohibitionists who allegedly want to end human trafficking by virtue of making it as illegal and hard as possible to do sex work.  The method doesn’t work.  How many trafficking victims are rescued vs. the number of prostitutes that are arrested, that are raped, assaulted.  Not to mention, in my case, facing another set of worries with the swallowed condom.  Although first HIV test was negative.

So general public, think before you sign documents like this one We need to move in the other direction.  Bring full decriminalization which brings it above the surface.  We need sex work to be regarded as work and abuses tackled like abuses in any other industry.  There are many of us who need the money we make in sex work and don’t have other choices.  This client gave me my eighth concussion in my life time.  He should have been arrested for multiple infractions.  If I went to the police, the likely arrestee would be me.

As soon as I no longer consented, it became rape.  That I’m a prostitute doesn’t matter.  Please don’t support things that make it harder for sex workers and trafficking victims.  Obscurity doesn’t solve the problem it only makes it occult.

We can and do get raped and it hurts us just as much as it hurts anyone else.  Rape should never be an occupational hazard.

Recent Discussion of PEPFAR’s Anti-Prostitution Clause

Melissa Ditmore discussing the ramifications of PEPFAR’s anti-prostitution policy on sex workers over at the Global Health Magazine blog.

Since we’re on the subject, especially in light of the amazing protests at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna last month, this is not a bad time to suggest you review the amazing short film “Taking The Pledge”

Prohibitionists and Consequences

Do the prohibitionists realize, or care, that their campaign to “end prostitution” actually ends rights?  A recent very poor experience with a client could have had a different ending.   Or perhaps not happened at all had there been sex worker human rights.    With sex worker rights and full decriminalization, I could have gone to the police and charged him with physical assault, sexual assault, probably a couple of other things.

Does handcuffing an unwilling participant and putting a trash bag over my head to use as leverage for negotiation count as a crime?  Or making me  eat a used condom?  How about forced anal sex while I was focused on asphyxiation?  Perhaps if we had sex worker rights and full decriminalization, he wouldn’t have done what he did at all.   Does the concussion count?   How do I explain how this happened to the doctor?  To my non sex work employer?  Oh, and why am I doing sex work?  Because I can’t live on the wages of my “straight job”, and they won’t post the schedule until 24 hours before it is valid.  Making most straight jobs impossible.

Thanks prohibitionists, you’re doing such a great job saving us………..

Citizens Against Trafficking, the brainchild of Donna M. Hughes and Melanie Shapiro state on their website:   CAT (Citizens Against Trafficking)  believes decriminalized prostitution in Rhode Island enabled the expansion of the sex industry, an industry vulnerable to trafficking.  Decriminalized prostitution meant that we were unable to identify and assist victims of trafficking.  We were unable to use some federal laws or participate in federal initiatives to combat trafficking.

So what trafficking victims were assisted Ms. Hughes and Ms. Shapiro?  North Carolina is a state where prostitution is fully criminalized.  Yet it is still here.   Where are the trafficking victims being saved here in North Carolina?

Back to the original point.  Federal initiatives?  The perpetrator was a federal law enforcement employee.  And please don’t tell me I have “rights”.  I’ve seen that process before.   You can not take on the federal government.

Thank you Donna M. Hughes, Melanie Shapiro, you made a difficult situation so much better with your “work”  Either of you ever been bagged and shagged?   Or are you safe at URI making decisions for others?

Denial of Service: Sex Workers Confront Dr. Eric Goosby and Protest the Anti-Prostitution Pledge

Since the opening plenary for the International AIDS Conference (IAC) on Sunday, July 18th, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) has been a vocal and visible presence at the conference. NSWP members have challenged both policy makers and funding agencies to break with the status quo, which perpetuates institutional violence and violation of sex worker’s human rights that lead to a higher rates of HIV infection and death.

On Tuesday, July 20th, NSWP organized sex workers and allies to disrupt a speech by United States Global AIDS Coordinator Dr. Eric Goosby to demand justice for sex workers harmed by PEPFAR’s discriminatory anti-prostitution loyalty oath.

Download the NSWP press release about the protest, a one page English PDF, here.

Here are some reports from NSWP activists who were there:

“On Tuesday, July 20 sex workers’ rights activists marched through the IAC conference centre to protest the PEPFAR Anti Prostitution Pledge at a session at which was to be a presenter. Eric Goosby cancelled his speech to avoid the sex workers and instead held a press conference in the media centre. Sex worker activists followed him there, where we loudly accused him of murdering sex workers and preventing the crucial funding for sex workers. Everyone was upset and challenging him to be responsible and support human rights for all. I sat on the table with my red umbrella and screamed that he was a murderer, and everyone was chanting “SHAME SHAME SHAME!!!!” He tried to escape and fell from his chair, and then he was helped to his feet by security and escorted out. The media stayed in the room and sex workers were venting their issues of concern. For example, in Uganda the only funding is for rehabilitation and there is NO money for condoms. In Kenya there is no funding for necessary sex worker support services, only rehabilitation. All who receive money from USAID’s PEPFAR fund have to sign an anti-prostitution loyalty oath. We left chanting, “sex workers united will never be defeated!!! PEPFAR kills sex workers!!!”

Cheryl Overs, Paulo Longo Research Institute, Asia and the Pacific Region

Watch a video of the protest, featuring some of the sex workers’ chants and impassioned speeches from Kyomya Macklean, of the Ugandan sex worker group WONETHA, and John Mathenge, a male sex worker from Kenya.

“After we chased Goosby out of the press conference room, sex workers from around the world took over the microphones and held their own press conference while the whole world was watching and declared that we will follow Goosby to every presentation he makes until he answers for the crimes of PEPFAR’s anti-prostitution pledge.”

Will Rockwell, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, North America Region

“The protesters toured the Center for Media, carrying red umbrellas and placards with slogans. One of the interviewees was the prostitute [Kyomya] Macklean, Uganda: “We want respect, recognition, social inclusion, and dialogue with our political leaders. And we can’t do all this without funding. ”

After a few minutes, everyone was ushered out of the Center for Media, but continued to move through the wide corridors of the Convention Center, moving in the direction of the Global Village. The group celebrated the impact of the action at the booth of the Global Network of Sex Work (NSWP), which promoted the protest.

Sex workers from around the world demand that the U.S. funds to fight AIDS, via USAID’s PEPFAR program, do not discriminate. It is essential to support sex worker organizations in order to strengthen HIV prevention.”

Flavio Lenz, Davida, Latin America Region

Editor’s note: Flavio’s statement is based on a rough translation using the Google translate tool. Click here for the original version in Portuguese.

Four years ago in 2006, at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, NSWP member Melissa Ditmore and journalist Erin Siegal collected footage and interviews for a short film on PEPFAR and how it harms sex workers – not much has changed. Watch the thirteen minute film, Taking the Pledge, here.

Time for Change in Fight Against Human Trafficking

With a new administration in the White House, many sex workers and their allies are looking to the Obama administration with high hopes that we can effect substantive change towards acknowledgement of sex workers’ human rights.

Melissa Ditmore has a new article over at RHRealityCheck.org:  The Right Time for  Change in the Fight Against Human Trafficking.

In 2007, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, sponsored a Senate resolution creating the National Day of Human Trafficking Awareness, which we observed on Sunday, January 11. Human trafficking is rarely on the pundits’ list of priorities for President Obama’s administration, but he knows that early action in this area could have global impact. For starters, he should reconsider the current approach of raids, raids and more raids. It’s not working.

The Obama administration has the opportunity to reassess this failed federal approach to human trafficking. The recent passage of federal anti-trafficking legislation championed by Vice President Joe Biden offers a fresh start – and a chance to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

A good first step would be to move away from high-profile, resource-intensive and largely ineffective raids and to address the economic and social circumstances that increase vulnerability to trafficking. It flourishes in labor sectors with few protections, such as domestic work, agriculture, the service industry, and informal economies such as day labor and, yes, sex work. Expansion and targeted enforcement of labor laws in these sectors would not only go a long way toward locating, identifying and assisting trafficked persons, it would also protect the rights of all workers.

For the long term, strategies led by individuals and communities with knowledge of and access to trafficked people are far more likely than raids to meet with success. Obama’s 2007 Senate resolution recognized this, noting that the people most likely to come into contact with trafficking victims are “essential for effective enforcement” – but at the moment, such people are not shielded from immigration consequences or arrest if they come forward.