Singapore, the US, CraigsList, Sex Trafficking and WTF

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

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

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

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

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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”

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.

Sigh. Anyone feel like helping out over at “Hope for the Lost”?

Sigh. Anyone feel like helping out over at “Hope for the Lost”? The following is Victor Malarek’s response to Pye Jacobssen’s video criticizing the Swedish Model. He wrote “The Natashas” and “The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy it”.

“The pro-prostitution organizations…which are basically individuals used as fronts by the sex industry (which is only interested in making huge amounts of money), will come out of the woodwork and vociferously attack any group that fights legalization and decriminalization of the flesh trade.

The arguments put forward by the pro-prostitution groups are specious and full of lies and propaganda. The fact is that wherever legalization has been implemented, it has led to a monumental failure in all aspects of the so-called trade. It has always led to more and more women trafficked, and has not led to an improvement in the condition of women ensnared in the trade.

The pro-prostitution groups’ position against trafficking is a ruse. Their attempts to separate trafficking from legalization are a divide and conquer tactic…they know full well that huge numbers of trafficked women make up the trade. To see how bad the situation is where legalization has been implemented, read ‘The Johns’ and what has happened in Amsterdam! Moreover, the legal and illegal brothels in several Australian states which have legalized are filled with Southeast Asian women. These women do not speak English, they don’t have any money. They don’t have the business acumen to set themselves as business contractors.

It is interesting that in ALL my talks in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Britain, Ireland, Copenhagen, Madrid, Helsinki, Kiev…reps from the pro-prostitution orgs come out in force to take me on, and after my speech, not a peep! Because they know I know B.S. when I hear it and can challenge their claims with ease.

My issue here is one of social justice for the vast majority of women who are forced into the sex trade fiasco…not the minority of twits who yell and scream on behalf of the sex industry!”

You can go here to comment: http://www.hopeforthesold.com/author-victor-malarek-responds-to-swedish-sex-workers-statements/

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Accu-Weather on Prostitution….. Huh?

Well, I can’t say that I ever thought of this or expected to see it. But Accu-Weather, yes, that Accu-Weather, the one you hear on radio forecasts, you know, “here is Joe Bastardi with the, Accu-Weather Forecast on 99.9 FM, The Fan”, etc,,, Yes, that accuweather.

Somehow they are now discussing prostitution…… Perhaps this explains penguin prostitution?

Friday, November 27, 2009
Prostitution Link??

From Accu-Weather Meteorologist Brett Anderson

When I first glanced at this article I just shook my head. This is a bit of a stretch, right?

Anyway, according to GMANews.TV, some women in poor, coastal countries are being driven into sex work due to climate change. More

Open Invitation to the Int’l Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

poster_small_jpgIn 2009, sex workers from around the globe met gruesome deaths and endured unspeakable violence. Some died at the hands of a solitary perpetrator; others were victims of serial “prostitute killers.” While some of these horrific stories received international media attention (Boston, Grand RapidsTijuana, Cape Town, Sussex, Moscow, New Zealand and Hong Kong, just to name a few), other cases received little more than a perfunctory investigation. Many cases remain unresolved, sometimes forever. In fact, most violent crimes against sex workers remain unreported. Stigma and criminalization facilitate this violence; when sex work is criminalized, prostitutes can’t turn to the police for protection without risking prosecution themselves.

Each year, December 17th marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Last year’s event in Washington, D.C. was a big success and this year, sex workers and their allies from across the U.S. will gather together in Arizona to remember and honor sex workers who, by virtue of their profession, have been victimized  – including rape, assault and murder.

You are invited to join us on December 17-18, 2009 in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona to honor their memory.  This year is especially poignant for us in Arizona because in May, 2009, Marcia Powell, an inmate at the Perryville women’s prison outside of Phoenix who was serving 27 months for prostitution, died when she was left outside in a holding cage in 107 degree heat without shade, food or water. Marcia Powell’s death is not only a travesty of justice and a failure of the prison system, but bring into sharp focus the unjust nature of current anti-prostitution laws which continue to oppress sex workers everywhere. We are outraged and saddened, and we ask for your participation in putting an end to the violence.

To learn more about the IDEVASW events in Arizona, please click here or visit SWOP-Tucson.  If silence is the voice of complicity, then your presence in Arizona this December will be a powerful message for justice to be heard across the world.

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IDEVASW Event Schedule – Arizona

December 17, 2009 – Tucson

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. “No Human Involved” Event

El Presidio Park, 160 West Alameda Street, Tucson, AZ.

Performance art/art installation with the theme, “No Human Involved.” The central image will be a physical representation of the Perryville Prison which will honor Marcia Powell and sex workers everywhere who have been victims of violence; a performance piece/die-in and live music.

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. “Remembrance Memorial”

El Tiradito Shrine, 354 South Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ.

Join us in remembering and honoring sex worker who have been victims of violence. Live music, performance poetry, ritual, candlelight vigil and refreshments. El Tiradito is a national historic shrine dedicated to the “castaway sinner” and holds a special place in the hearts of Tucson sex workers.

December 18, 2009 – Phoenix

Political Rally at the downtown Phoenix offices of the Director of the Arizona Department of Corrections to protest current anti-prostitution laws and prison conditions. Did you know that in Arizona, a fourth conviction is a mandatory Class 5 felony with 180 days of prison for consensual sex between a client and a sex worker? Please visit http://swop-tucson.org for more details. Volunteers are needed to organize this day!

For more information or to volunteer, please email info@swop-tucson.org

Shout out of support for Victoria Thorne in UK!

Latest adult woman persecuted by zealous prohibitionist police. She’s going to jail for 15 months!

Some choice quotes:

“It is plain that those who thought they knew you, and knew you well, are at a loss as to how you came to be involved in such a seedy world.” ~the judge who sentenced her

“In this case Vicky Thorne showed complete disregard for both the law and our own high standards and paid the price through the loss of her career and freedom.” ~ Det. Insp. Andy Jones

Policewoman turned escort jailed in UK