SWOP-Chicago Responds to Murder of Sex Worker at Downtown Hotel

For more on this case, please visit- http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-bail-set-at-1m-in-slaying-of-woman-in-chicago-hotel-20111014,0,7982823.story

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Friday, October 14, 2011

Contact: Serpent, (312) 252-3880

serpent@swop-chicago.org

www.swop-chicago.org

CHICAGO – Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-Chicago) were saddened by the recent tragedy in a Chicago hotel which resulted in the senseless violence against and murder of Sarai Michaels, of Wisconsin. As fellow sex workers and allies, SWOP-Chicago extends its sympathies to the family of Sarai Michaels.

The Chicago Police Department are to be commended for their quick work in catching the perpetrator so that he can be brought to justice. Additionally, the high bail set by the Cook County Prosecutor’s office and the presiding judge appropriately express that violence against sex-workers should not be, nor will not be, tolerated.

“When prostitution is criminalized, sex workers become alienated from law enforcement and as a result, vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, assault, and murder. Because sex workers fear entrapment and arrest by law enforcement, they come to fear law enforcement representatives and also, perhaps, to feel that while engaging in sex work, they do not have the same right to police and law enforcement protection and support as all American citizens.” says Hannah Talos-Roddam, an organizer with SWOP-Chicago. “Thus, when a sex worker feels threatened by a client, when confronted with violence or threats of violence, sex workers often weigh these perceived threats against the threat of legal repercussions, and, as a result, do not seek aid from police or other law enforcement representatives.”

“We believe that recognizing the legitimacy of sex work and working to building alliances between particularly vulnerable populations in sex work and law enforcement officials would greatly reduce the amount of violence against sex workers, as has been sufficiently demonstrated in areas where such efforts have been made.” adds Jeffery Walsh, SWOP-Chicago member. “Decriminalization would create a safer environment for sex workers, free from stigma and discrimination.”

It is important to remember that sex workers are human. They are someone’s daughter, son, parent, sister, brother, wife or husband. Like most working Americans, many sex workers are trying to survive these tough economic conditions and provide for themselves and, often, families as well. Criminalization of prostitution dehumanizes the sex worker and makes them unprotected targets of violence.

Sex workers are not targeted because sex work is inherently dangerous. Sex workers are targeted because perpetrators know prostitutes are afraid of law enforcement and won’t seek the aid of law enforcement until it’s too late. They are targeted because of the stigma surrounding sex work. This stigma is constantly regenerated in the way politicians, end-demand advocates, and media representatives talk about prostitution.

On December 17, 2011, SWOP-Chicago will be participating in the annual “International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.” Sarai Michaels will be remembered in this year’s events.

For more information on this event, please contact SWOP-Chicago at sexworkchicago@gmail.com

33 charged in the massive raids of the Sedona Temple and the Phoenix Goddess Temple

Dear BnG community.  These raids have hit us hard in Arizona, and we are devastated for the loss of the Temples.  Please stay with us as we will be putting out much more information, calls to action, and ways that you can get involved.  To begin, won’t you please go to http://goddessbless.org and sign their petition?  And will you or your organization consider signing on to this letter of support?
love and rage,
Surgeon
For Immediate Release9/17/2011, Tucson AZ

September 7th, 2011 Yavapai County and Maricopa County Sherrifs raided the Sedona and Phoenix Goddess Temples and arrested eighteen people.  A SWAT Team descended on the two temples detaining practitioners at gunpoint.  To date thirty-three  people have been charged, and the temples are being investigated as brothels.  Temple practitioners were paraded in front of the waiting media, and their mug shots and legal names publicized.

Both Temples hold legal status as churches, and no minors, weapons, or drugs were found on the premises of either Temple.  Tracy Elise, the founder and High Priestess of both Temples is still in jail along with 7 other people and her bail is set at an astonishingly high half a million dollars.

These arrests came after six months of undercover operations by the Yavapai County and Maricopa County Police Departments.  It is the largest sex work related bust in Arizona since 2008, when the Desert Divas prostitution ring was busted, with over 100 people charged, including phone operators and photographers.  There were no minors found in that investigation either.

We believe that these arrests, and all other arrests of consenting adults engaged in healing or sexual practices equate to a modern day witch hunt.   In many cases, the money being spent by the police force to arrest, intimidate, and establish undercover sting operations is coming from large scale anti-trafficking campaigns intended to target child prostitution.  Instead, the money donated by a public horrified by images of young children in cages, and sensationalized stories of sexual slavery is diverted into operations like the so called “Operation Goddess Temple.”

In press conferences, Police spokesmen say that Temple practitioners were engaging in acts of prostitution under the guise of religion.  We say that the Arizona Police are using valuable funds, and unnecessary force to arrest consenting adults under the guise of protecting citizens and saving children.

Whether one believes in the validity of Tantra or sexual healing practices as a religion, it is not the charge of the government to legislate morality.  Sex is legal in this society.  Criminalizing prostitution, massage, and healing sexual practices bears all the injustice and inefficacy of prohibition, sodomy laws, and religious intolerance.

We demand the immediate release of all those arrested in affiliation with the Phoenix and Sedona Temples.  We demand an end to police raids for non-violent crimes.  We demand an end to the persecution of practitioners of sexual healing, and the decriminalization of prostitution.

To support the Goddess Temple directly, please visit http://goddessbless.org
To take action and support decriminalization, please visit http://swop-tucson.org

Sincerely,
SWOP-Tucson (Sex Workers’ Outreach Project, Tucson chapter)

For further information, or to speak directly to a spokesperson from SWOP-Tucson for press or media, please email info@swop-tucson.org

Sex Worker Groups Respond to Long Island Murders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Friday, April 8, 2011
Contact: Dylan Wolf, SWANK, 347-748-9163, swank@riseup.net
Sarah Jenny Bleviss, swop.nyc@gmail.com

New York – Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK) and Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC) are dismayed that four more bodies were discovered on Long Island earlier this week. Police believe that a serial killer is responsible for murdering at least eight people found on a remote Suffolk County beach since December. Reports indicate the murder victims were in the sex trade. As sex workers and allies, SWANK and SWOP-NYC mourn the lives of these individuals and extend our sympathies to their families and communities.

“Sex workers are targeted for violence because of the stigma against what we do,” Dylan Wolf, a SWANK member said, “People think they can do whatever they want to us and they won’t get caught. And because of bad laws, social isolation and discrimination, they get away with it all the time. But like those murdered, we’re not disposable, bad people – we have lives that matter and people that love us. No matter who we are or what we do to make ends meet, we don’t deserve to die – we deserve good lives.”

A recent New York Times article suggested that dozens, if not hundreds, of people in the sex industry have been murdered in New York State since 1990. “Stories like what’s happened on Long Island make us fear for our safety,” said SWANK member Michael Bottoms, “As sex workers, we already know that stigma puts us at risk for being targeted, and so we take as many precautions as we can. But if we do experience violence, most of us can’t go to the cops, because we could get arrested, they might not take us seriously, or they could have been the ones who were violent to us in the first place.”

“When we ignore violence against sex workers, we support a culture where a serial killer can murder eight, twelve, or even dozens of sex workers without the media, the police or the general public being outraged or even thinking twice,” said Maryse Mitchell-Brody, a SWOP-NYC organizer, “We won’t end this violence by keeping the sex trade illegal, because it isn’t going anywhere – this just drives people further underground and makes them more vulnerable to violence. Murders like these show that we must use new strategies to create safety and dignity that don’t reinforce stigma or discrimination.”

To learn more about what you can do to support the rights of current and former sex workers and those with experience in the sex trade to safety and well-being, visit www.swop-nyc.org.

###

 

Human Trafficking Program in Chicago

One of my regular readers in the Chicago area forwarded this to me.  SWOP Chicago is involved, and some points we often make are on the agenda so those who will be in Chicago in two weeks may be interested.

THURSDAY April 14
6:30-8:30pm
Human Trafficking: Strategies and Solutions
*Featuring our own Serpent Libertine!

http://www.uic.edu/jaddams/hull/_programsevents/_upcomingevents/_2011/_human%20Trafficking/apr14.html

Human trafficking, for sex, for other forms of labor, or any purpose of involuntary servitude, is an exploitative practice that is prevalent in countries all around the globe, including the United States.

Activists and scholars fervently debate the definition of trafficking, moral distinctions that are often made between labor and sex work, various understandings of victimhood, and questions about the intent and success rate of “rescue operations.” In addition, there are complexities of migration to consider and debates about the relationship between forced labor and the global economy.

Join us for an evening of discussion and education. Scholars and activists working to end trafficking will discuss their strategies and positions. Hull-House history and Jane Addams’ relationship with the movement to end “white slavery” will be highlighted.

Panelists represent the following organizations:
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
The International Organization for Adolescents
National Immigrant Justice Center at the Heartland Alliance
Sex Workers Outreach Project Chicago

Kristin Davis May Run for Mayor if Spitzer Enters the Race

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
25 March 2011
press@manhattanmadam.com
Contact: 917-791-0445

EX-MADAM WILL RUN FOR MAYOR IF SPITZER THROWS HIS BLACK SOCKS IN THE RING

To mark the third anniversary of her arrest Ex-Madam Kristin Davis who supplied high priced call girls for former Governor Eliot Spitzer said she will jump in the 2013 New York City Mayor’s Race if the former Governor, now a CNN talk show host makes a bid.

Davis filed 18,000 signatures to get on the ballot last year, participated in the televised debate between Democrat Andrew Cuomo and Republican Carl Paladino last year and got nearly 30,000 votes in the race for Governor running on a libertarian platform.

“If Spitzer throws his black socks in the ring I may have to throw in my lacy brassiere” said Davis who once ran the most successful high end escort service in US history.

“I had pretty much decided to focus on the sex trafficking issue and not to run for public office again,” said Davis. “I am working to take the GOLD program, put forward by an advocacy group in Miami to combat sex trafficking nationwide.” Davis kicked off Hope House, a New York based non profit to fight the conscription of women into prostitution last month.

“The women who worked for me chose to be sex workers,” said Davis. “80% of the women working as escorts are doing so against their will,” said Davis. “Until prostitution is decriminalized we must provide an escape from this life for thousands of young women”.

“Running for Governor was great fun and very educational but I decided to pursue advocacy activity and some entrepreneurial efforts in legal industries,” said the ex Hedge Fund Vice president. “The one thing that could probably get me off the bench is a Mayor candidacy by Eliot Spitzer. I’d have to look at it. The opportunity to expose the inequality in our Justice system may be too great”.

SWOP East Radio on XXBN International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17, 2009 2 PM Eastern Listen to the Show

In honor of International Day to end Violence against Sex Workers Jill Brenneman and Renegade Evolution discuss progress and set backs facing Sex Workers Rights Movements all over the world. From laws to social attitudes, allies to enemies, the personal to the political, a lot of change has happened in the last 365 days, so please join us and feel free to call in at 646.200.3136 regarding this topic.

Presented by SWOP East Nuanced Humanism

Loved Ones Fear Truck Driver May Be Linked To California Missing

CUE Center For Missing Persons
PO Box 12714
Wilmington, NC 28405
Contact:
Monica Caison
(910) 343-1131
(910) 232-1687
cuecenter@aol.com

www.ncmissingpersons.org

For immediate release:
April 23, 2009

Note left behind reveals that a body can be found on the “15”

Wilmington, NC: April Pitzer vanished on June 28, 2004 and despite multiple searchers, public awareness campaigns, national coverage and pleas to the Newberry community; she remains missing. “It has been a long road paved with many tears”, said Gloria Denton, Pitzer’s, mother; “she has two little girls and a family who loves and misses her deeply,” she added. April was last seen in Newberry Springs, California; it is believed she took a ride with a trucker with plans to travel to her mother’s home in Arkansas, but never arrived. April called her grandmother from Arizona while traveling with a truck driver advising her of this information; a note was found in a bathroom stall at a pilot truck stop in Oregon possibly referencing a connection to April Pitzer’s case.

The family of Catherine Marie Lique is very concerned with the media headlines of woman’s remains being located and the recent FBI announcement of a possible serial trucker driver killer; leaving all to wonder if Catherine may have took a ride or trusted someone that she may have not known. At the time of her disappearance it was believed that Catherine was prostituting at area truck stops to support her long term drug addition and was last seen in Barstow/New Berry Spring, California areas.

“Two families brought together for one reason, to help each other search for their missing loved ones”; “something often seen in the world of those who suffer a missing person”, said, CUE founder, Monica Caison. “We will continue to search for these woman and all of our cases for any links to this serial truck driver, it is important to have all missing person cases reviewed at this point” she added. Families who have not had their DNA entered into CODIS should explore that option for a positive identification and to avoid the missing person from becoming a Jane/John Doe somewhere. CODIS is a free resource service offered to law officials across the country for the DNA process and the purpose of identifying missing individuals.

For more information on CODIS
http://www.fbi.gov/hq/lab/codis/clickmap.htm
DNA.gov: What is CODIS?

Tags: ireport_for_cnn, april beth pitzer, catherine lique, cue center for missing persons, monica caison

In response to assignment: iReport for CNN

New French sex worker union founded

Just to make sure people know about last week’s events in Paris, which included the founding of a new sex worker union. It’s easiest for me to post links to the abundant media coverage, many of which have photos. I hope this is okay.

(Posted by Laura; edited for formatting by Melissa, who apologizes her French is so slow)

February 23, 2009: Protest Prostitution Charges against San Francisco Transgender Activist

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                   

San Francisco Transsexual Activist Falsely Accused of Having Sex with SFPD Officer-
Suspected Prop. K Retaliation
Location: 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco Hall of Justice
Date: Monday February 23, 2009
Time: 8:30 am
Contact: Acire          Acire4SWOP@gmail.com
San Francisco, California, February 23, 2009   In an act of harassment by the San Francisco Police Department, Shelly Resnick was falsely charged, and given a Citation on for “Solicitation to Engage in the Act of Prostitution” on November 12, 2009. On January 7, the District Attorney took it a step beyond the claims of the arresting officers and officially filed charges against Shelly for “Engaging in the act of Prostitution” alleging that Shelly engaged in prostitution with an SFPD Officer.
“These charges are completely false.” states Shelly as no such act took place. Shelly strongly disputes the content of the police report as patently false. “This is harassment and discrimination.” Shelly has been speaking with local attorneys and activists who suggest that Shelly was likely a direct target after her extensive work on the campaign for Prop K. Shelly was set up on a police sting. She did not solicit and nor did she agree to any act of prostitution, but she was cited anyway.
“The police have no evidence to support these charges” says Acire Roche of Sex Worker Outreach Project.” In the police report, SFPD claim that the day after the election, an allegedly unidentified person sent an “anonymous complaint” saying that Shelly was sending text messages to random phone numbers asking for sexual services. “This is absurd,” says Acire, “This did not occur, and of course SFPD has absolutely no record or evidence of this.” Sex Worker Outreach Project joins Shelly in support at her hearing, protesting this discrimination and misconduct. “Ms. Resnick filed a complaint with Office of Citizen Complaints on November 19th. SWOP and Ms. Resnick will resist these false charges and vows to bring to light this misconduct and discrimination by the SFPD.”
SWOP-USA in conjunction with BAYSWAN and other Bay Area transsexual and sexworker organizations, will be conducting a peaceful protest in the front of the Courthouse.

The Police, the DA and SAGE: A lucrative partnership

by  US PROStitutes Collective* in support of Yes on Prop K

Since the First Offender Prostitution Program in San Francisco (FOPP) began in 1995, there has been much public concern over the amount of money it costs to the city of San Francisco, the use of that money and the increasing criminalization of women and men arrested for prostitution charges.

The path-breaking 1996 San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution recommended decriminalization of prostitution and a diversion of funds from prosecution to protection. The FOPP has been used to oppose demands for decriminalization as it gained wider public support.

FOPP’s three main partners are the police, the District Attorney’s Office and Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE). It’s stated aim is “an educational program for first offenders, rehabilitation, vocational training . . .for women trying to exit prostitution and services to aid girls to permanently exit the criminal justice system”. What that means in practice is that women and men arrested for prostitution-related activities in street sweeps are diverted to FOPP programs and men can be charged $1000 to attend. Public defenders report that people are sent to FOPP by the courts in preference to other diversion programs, which are free and reportedly more effective. How is the decision made by the court what program women are to be sent to?
Continue reading

Sex Workers at San Francisco Pride!

** Please distribute widely!

Sex Workers and Allies will be out and proud with SF Pride this year, come see all the great things we are doing:

Saturday June 28th, 2008:
* Sex Workers Outreach Project USA will be @ the Dyke March, Sat. June 28th, 2008. It’s located @ 18th & Dolores. (16th st mission BART, or 18th & church muni stop) Starting about 3PM, with the march starting @ 7PM. Come help us carry our banner in the march or hang out under our Umbrella.
* We will also have a booth at SF pride (C12 on Grove between larkin & Market) starting @ NOON and ending at 6PM (Civic Center BART). We will be sharing this booth with ESPU-CA, which will be collecting signatures for the upcoming vote to decriminalize prostitution.
Sunday June 29th, 2008:
* Sex Workers, SJI, CSC and others will be riding a trolley Gold Rush Style down Market street starting @ 10:30 AM from Market and Beale (Embarcadero BART) down Market and finishing on 8th St (Civic Center BART). Costumed Ho’s and allies welcome to join the contingent, to get the most updated info email Sadie at sadiewantsawife@gmail.com
* SWOP-Norcal will be serving drinks from booth B5 (Civic Center BART – on Golden Gate st near Polk st — in between federal and state building), noon till 6PM. We still need volunteers, definitely come help!! email: vafeldman@ucdavis.edu
* SWOP-USA will have a booth (C12 on Grove between larkin & Market) with ESPU (again collecting signatures) from NOON till 6PM. Come by our booth and say hi!
We will have amazing Professional Bumper Stickers and t-shirts for donation, and will have pamphlets, flyers, Legal and Know Your Rights information and amazing people(with a few Celebrities!) hanging out and spreading the Sex Worker Rights Message!
For more information email: tara@swopusa.org.

Sex Workers Thank UN Secretary General for His Support

Contact:
Laxshmi Narayan Tripiti, Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers, laxmirakasha@yahoo.co.in
Melissa Ditmore, Network of Sex Work Projects, +1 646-242-1658
Prostitutes of New York, pony@panix.com
Women’s Network for Unity, +855-12-222-171

Sex Workers Thank UN Secretary General for His Support

Sex workers from around the world unfurled a banner reading “Sex workers support Ban Ki Moon” during his speech at the opening plenary of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Sex workers thank United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki moon for his support of their efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

On March 26, 2008, the Report of the Commission on AIDS in Asia was released with a statement from the Secretary General. This excellent report calls for the decriminalization of sex work, and counsels governments and other actors to, “Avoid programmes that accentuate AIDS-related stigma and can be counterproductive. Such programmes may include ‘crack-downs’ on red-light areas and arrest of sex workers.” Realistic efforts to include affected populations including sex workers are critical to combat the spread of HIV – in fact, sex workers are generally leaders in sexual health when their human rights are respected. The report further promotes the needs of marginalized populations including drug users for efficacious and ethical solutions, such as harm reduction methodologies, to the HIV epidemic. The report further promotes the needs of marginalized populations including drug users for efficacious and ethical solutions, such as harm reduction methodologies, to the HIV epidemic.

Unfortunately, some Asian governments have not adopted the methods recommended in this report. Cambodia has recently outlawed prostitution and since then brothels, bars, street areas, and karaoke clubs across the country have been closed or gone underground. Hundreds of women have been arrested and imprisoned, or have had to move. Dozens have been raped and beaten by police and prison guards. HIV prevention and care programs have collapsed. This law makes sex workers easier prey for traffickers, and makes it impossible for sex workers to use condoms. Sex workers in Cambodia protested this law on June 4, calling for repeal of the law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation and for an end to raids on sex workers. They said, “Don’t be fooled by talk of rescuing ‘sex slaves’ until you have heard our testimonials and seen video evidence of the brutality and misery this new law is causing.” http://blip.tv/file/970833

Melissa Hope Ditmore, Ph.D.
Coordinator
Network of Sex Work Projects
rights@nswp.org, secretariat@nswp.org

P.O. Box 20853
New York, NY 10009
USA

Urgent Call to Action! Anti-Trafficking Law in Cambodia

From Andrew Hunter at the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers

Cambodia has recently passed an anti-trafficking law which equates all sex work with trafficking and has led to massive closures of brothels and widespread human rights abuses against sex workers. Sex workers have been forcibly detained in rehabilitation centres where they have been raped and robbed by police and guards. Thousands of women have lost their livelihoods and HIV positive sex workers have great difficulty in accessing ARV’s- both in and outside the detention centres.

Condoms are being used as evidence of sex work and carrying condoms leads to arrest or forced “rehabilitation.” Sex workers are scared to carry condoms and to access STI services. The national HIV prevention programs for sex workers have completely broken down.

On June 4 Women’s Network for Unity, Cambodian Prostitutes Union and Cambodian Network for Men’s and Women’s Development- Cambodia’s 3 grass-roots Sex Worker Networks are coming together with APNSW to have an open day of Action.

WNU have also written to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen asking for his intervention to protect sex workers from the human rights abuses encouraged by this law, and those abuses that are a direct result of it’s enforcement.

The press release is pasted below and the letter to PM Hun Sen is attached.

APNSW calls on all those organisations who support the human rights of sex workers to sign onto these demands by declaring their support for WNU’s call for this situation to be urgently addressed by the government of Cambodia and for UNAIDS and other UN agencies to openly declare their support for sex workers human rights and to reject the anti-trafficking law itself as a violation of sex workers human rights.

“OPEN DAY OF ACTION!”


TO STOP SEX WORKER RAIDS AND CALL FOR THE REPEAL OF THE TRAFFICKING LAW THAT THE CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT PASSED TO MEET STANDARDS IMPOSED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT

Sex Work Is Work…Defend the Right to Livelihood’

June 04th 2008: The Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), a group of sex workers who work to empower vulnerable women and who are involved in the reduction of the spread of HIV/AIDS, closely collaborating with the Cambodian Prostitutes Union (CPU) and Cambodian Men, Women Network for Development (CMNWD), will organise an “Open Day of Action” to stop sex worker raids and call for the repeal of the “Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation” that the Cambodian Government passed recently, under pressure to comply with the United States policy on human trafficking. The Open Day of Action also has strong support from the Asia Pacific Network for Sex Workers (APNSW).

The law was introduced to eliminate trafficking by stamping out the sex industry. Since then brothels, bars, street areas, and karaoke clubs across the country have been closed or gone underground. Hundreds of women have been arrested and imprisoned, or have had to move. Dozens have been raped and beaten by police and prison guards. HIV prevention and care programs have collapsed. This law makes us easier prey for traffickers, and makes it impossible for us to use condoms.

The negative impact of the law will be shown by sex workers through role play, speech and video evidence of the brutality and misery this new law is causing. There also will be two sex workers from India who will speak about sex workers fight against trafficking, a model of anti-trafficking that respects human rights, is effective and not in conflict with HIV prevention programs. There will be a video about the activities of sex workers in Sonagachi, India, to fight trafficking. The Messenger Band will sing a song on sex workers defending the right to livelihood.

We strongly call for repeal of the law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation and for an end to raids on sex workers.


Don’t be fooled by talk of rescuing ‘sex slaves’ until you have heard our testimonials and seen video evidence of the brutality and misery this new law is causing.


I did not receive the letter attached to the original email. As soon as I get it, I’ll make it available here.

New York City: Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Tracy Quan is co-hosting the following event with the Drug Policy Alliance in New York and it looks like fun.

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

http://www.drugpolicy.org/absinthe/

The Drug Policy Alliance is throwing a cocktail bash and networking opportunity for students, young professionals, human rights activists and other movers-and-shakers on May 22, 2008 at an exclusive gallery space in SoHo. The theme is inspired by the one-year anniversary of the re-legalization of absinthe in the U.S. I hope the event will encourage people to think about the variable relationship between drugs, society and the law — and art.

Thursday the 22nd of May

six o’clock until eight o’clock

DJ Varick (Home, Guest House, Pink Elephant, Marquee)

light appetizers and open bar

21 and over only; proper ID required

~

151 Wooster Street

between Houston & Prince

B, D, F, V to Broadway/Lafayette or R, W to Prince

GET MORE INFORMATION and RSVP at
http://www.drugpolicy.org/absinthe/

This is an opportunity for plugged-in professionals to meet the people working to end the drug war. You’ll find like-minded New Yorkers at this event and learn how to come together to promote new drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

If you’re with PONY, SWANK, Desiree Alliance or the $pread collective, come fly the flag! Our persecution is often linked with the drug war.

You’ll also get to try absinthe (if you haven’t already). And see Flash, Cash and Trash, an exhibition by contemporary young artists on the sex, drugs and rock n roll of the 1990s.

Sincerely,

Tracy
http://www.tracyquan.net

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network on Blog Talk Radio

Here is the latest updated program listing. All shows available at www.xxbn.net www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast Times listed are Eastern time. All programing subject to change. All previous programs are archived, please check for great guests. Thank you to Liz Berlin of Rusted Root and The Naked Heroes for their music for our programs. Listener call number 646.200.3136

  [172657]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Desiree Alliance The Desiree Alliance is a diverse, volunteer-based, sex worker-led network of organizations, communities and individuals across the US working in harm reduction, direct services, political advocacy and health services for sex workers. We provide leadership and create space for sex workers and supporters to come together to advocate for human, labour and civil rights for all workers in the sex industry.
Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/2/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [171963]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest: Renegade Evolution Profile of a Henchwoman: Often over generalized as a bit of a clockwork apocalypse, heartless capitalist and generally ruthless scum, the terrifying truth is RenEv is a stripper, Internet pxrn performer, sex workers rights advocate
Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/3/2008
6:30 PM
60 Minutes
  [172663]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Discussing the alleged “The Pimp Lobby” Maxine Doogan, Jill Brenneman and other guests..
Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/4/2008
12:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [171948]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Melissa Gira Bio: http://www.melissagira.com​ht Unpacking the Wired story on tech & sex work: http://www.wired.com​ht — and adding more on how sex workers internationally use technology in advocacy for human rights.   Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/4/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [172226]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Gracie Passette Gracie Passette is a sex worker, though no longer working directly with clients in the flesh; she now uses media to work with the issues of sexuality.   Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/5/2008
10:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173836]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network SerpentLibertine
SerpentLibertine is a veteran sex worker and activist with Sex Worker’s Outreach Project-Chicago. She has worked in many facets of the sex industry as a dominatrix, escort, masseuse, and madam, as well as behind the camera doing castin, camera, and sound on shoots. She is currently creating sex worker made videos and podcasts for her new project, Red Light District Chicago and helping organize the Desiree Alliance Conference in Chicago in Summer of 2008. You can also visit her blog at http://www.sexpr Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/6/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173589]
XBN Swopeast Broadcast Network
Queen of the Sky the Most Famous Blog-Fired Flight Attendant”
Politics Progressive
Everyone
4/7/2008
4:30 PM
60 Minutes
  [171042]
XBN Special Guest Der Gregor
Der Gregor- FEMINISM UNMODIFIED Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/7/2008
11:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173109]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson Politics Progressive
Adults Only
4/8/2008
9:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173858]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
The Naked Heroes, time to be determined Politics Progressive
Everyone
4/10/2008
9:00 PM
60 Minutes
  [173647]
TBD
TBD Politics Progressive
Everyone
4/22/2008
10:00 PM
60 Minutes

Live on Blog Talk Radio XBN: Sex Worker Rights Broadcast Network 5PM Eastern Saturday 3.29.08

XBN Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Please join XBN at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Listener Call in number 646.200.3136

Join sex workers and sex worker rights activists in media created and driven by us!

Upcoming Guests

Guest Carol Leigh! Carol Leigh AKA Scarlot Harlot Unrepentant Whore published by Last Gasp Carol Leigh,

3/31/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171865]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest to be determined

4/1/2008
8:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest to be determined

4/2/2008
6:00 PM
60 Minutes [171963]

XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network

Guest: Renegade Evolution Profile of a Henchwoman: Often over generalized as a bit of a clockwork apocalypse, heartless capitalist and generally ruthless scum, the terrifying truth is RenEv is a stripper, Internet porn performer, sex workers rights


Everyone 4/3/2008
9:30 PM
60 Minutes [171948]
XBN SWOP East Broadcast Network
Guest: Melissa Gira Bio: http://www.melissagira.com
ht Unpacking the Wired story on tech & sex work: http://www.wired.comht — and adding more on how sex workers internationally use technology in advocacy for human rights. internet, jill brenneman XBN, Melissa Gira, sex work, sex workers, sex workers outreach project, swop, swopeast Politics Progressive
Mature 4/4/2008
3:00 PM
60 Minutes

All previous shows are available for playback or download at www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast

Previous Guests include:

Veronica Monet

Constance Sisk

Stacey from Desiree Alliance

Maxine Doogan

Amanda Brooks

And a live call in show after a Presentation by Jill Brenneman at William & Mary, this program hosted by Amanda Brooks, features many live calls from the presentation audience from the Brenneman presentation who stayed and joined XBN’s live broadcast which was being simulcast over the auditorium. This presentation was in response to the significant protest and backlash against the organizers and supporters of the Sex Worker’s Art Show Appearance at William & Mary and protests against the Sex Workers Art Show themselves. As the show demonstrates there is a lot of support for the Sex Workers Art Show at William and Mary.

Many outstanding guests are being scheduled, please watch for updates! If you would like to be a guest on this revolutionary project bringing sex workers voices to the media please contact www.swopeast.org

If you are a sex worker or sex worker rights musician and would like to make your music available to XBN, please contact us as we are in need of both theme music and would love to feature and credit sex worker and sex worker rights musicians.

XBN: Sex Worker Voices, Sex Worker Viewpoints, Sex Worker Rights

Many Thanks to The Naked Heroes for letting us use their awesome music on XBN! Please check them out and support them!!! http://www.myspace.com/thenakedheroes

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Shameless self promotion, Brenneman on Rock 102 WAQY

I confess. It’s shameless self promotion. But we need to be heard.

My interview on Rock 102 Springfield
Category: News and Politics

It’s edited, they misquote my role in SWOP, cut part of the interview out, add pieces to it and move things around, but it compared to other media events, this one they didn’t do a bad job with.. Brenneman on Rock 102 WAQY Springfield

I was able to get out key phrases like sex worker rights, SWOP, what sex worker rights were, how we could be victims of rape and how sex worker rights were part of social change. Bax and O’brien weren’t perfect, they each played their stereotypical roles and I and O’brien don’t know each other as he implies. But……….. Nonetheless I achieved what I felt was important. I never said I was co founder of SWOP. They misunderstood that.

 

ELIOT SPITZER SCANDAL HIGHLIGHTS THAT CURRENT POLICIES AROUND SEX WORK AND TRAFFICKING ARE NOT EFFECTIVE

STATEMENT

For Immediate Release: Contact: Sapna Patel, SWP, 646/602.5626, spatel@urbanjustice.org

Friday, March 14, 2008 Juhu Thukral, SWP, 646/602.5690, jthukral@urbanjustice.org

ELIOT SPITZER SCANDAL HIGHLIGHTS THAT CURRENT POLICIES AROUND SEX WORK AND TRAFFICKING ARE NOT EFFECTIVE

(New York City, March 14, 2008) – Eliot Spitzer resigned from his position as Governor of New York after being implicated in a prostitution scandal. The irony is that Mr. Spitzer’s office helped pass Anti-Trafficking Legislation in New York and specifically pushed through controversial provisions that we opposed, one enhancing penalties for clients of all prostitutes, and another that made trafficking into all sectors other than prostitution a lesser crime. As advocates for the protection, safety and human rights of sex workers and trafficked persons, we are not interested in Eliot Spitzer’s personal life. However, his resignation provides an opportunity to reflect on the counterproductive and moralistic policies that he supported as Governor.

To focus solely on the salacious scandal created by Mr. Spitzer’s alleged actions without attention to the realities and needs of sex workers does nothing to provide solutions for sex workers. Sex workers are individuals whose reasons for engaging in sex work – and leaving it – are personal, economic and social – as complex as anyone’s reasons for involvement in any type of work. The current scandal brings to light the variety of sex work people engage in and the reality that, although many may find themselves in the industry due to lack of economic opportunity, not all are forced or coerced.

The inaccurate conflation of prostitution and trafficking encourage policy makers to create laws that in reality provide no real solutions for safety and protection for sex workers or that comprehensively address the issue of human trafficking. Mr. Spitzer’s alleged involvement in this scandal further evidences that “end demand” policies that emphasize criminal punishment of the clients and shaming simply do not work. As seen in this situation, seemingly no efforts have been made to address the needs of the sex worker involved in this scandal. A narrow focus on demand in the context of sex work represents a dangerous move toward policies which, under the guise of protecting sex workers, is another way of undermining sex workers’ independence and causing more harm to them. Enhancing penalties for clients of sex workers will not “eliminate the demand” and end trafficking but instead makes sex workers more afraid, more stigmatized and less safe. The fact that someone with as much to lose as Eliot Spitzer would still visit sex workers speaks volumes about the efficacy of such strategies.

Sex workers’ voices are largely absent from discussions of the policies that affect them. Laws and regulations on sex workers’ health and safety are generally made without their input and often overlook or even deny their human rights. It is ironic that sex workers’ human rights are often jeopardized by the very policies intended to help them. Policies based on the assumption that sex work is inherently dehumanizing can never recognize or improve the reality of sex workers’ lives.

Policymakers must revisit perceptions and policies towards sex work in the U.S. and instead of narrowly focusing on ineffective criminal justice strategies to protect sex workers and eliminate trafficking, they must redirect resources to social services that provide real solutions, realistic economic opportunities, and protections against violence and exploitation. Addressing basic human needs for education, equal opportunity and a realistic array of economic options would help to ensure that no one who enters sex work does so because of trickery or coercion.

The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center provides legal services, legal training, documentation, and policy advocacy for sex workers in New York City. For more information, please visit our website at: http://www.sexworkersproject.org

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Sex Workers Blow Spitzer a Farewell Kiss

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Madeleine Dash, Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), 
877-776-2004 x 2 swank@riseup.net

Audacia Ray, 718.554.1714
Sarah Bleviss, Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC),
swop.nyc@gmail.com
Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Desiree Alliance, http://www.BoundNotGagged.com


Sex Workers Blow Spitzer a Farewell Kiss

New York, NY –  In the wake of former Governor Spitzer’s resignation, sex workers and human rights advocates remain concerned about the representation and future of “Kristen” and other sex workers, who do not have the legal and social privileges that will be afforded to Mr. Spitzer. The identity of the sex worker implicated in this case has already been made public, a situation mirroring many a sex worker’s worst nightmare.  “Kristen’s” exposure may entail not only bring her legal repercussions, but invasion of privacy, financial hardship and social opprobrium.

Rather than continuing to sensationalize Spitzer’s actions and those directly involved, we urge the press and the public to shift their focus to the legal climate under which sex workers operate, while respecting “Kristen’s” agency to have chosen sex work as a viable source of income.  “Everyone wants to know how high her rates were, all the salacious details, but the real issue at stake here is that the hypocrisy of criminalizing sex work has been exposed!  It’s a part of our society, of every society, and we need to take this opportunity to stop with the value judgments and start coming up with policies that respect the human dignity of all people, sex workers and all workers. ” says Dylan Wolfe of SWANK (Sex Workers Action New York).


Former Governor Spitzer took a lead role in developing the NY State Anti-Trafficking Law as well as other initiatives that stigmatize sex workers and their clientsIt is the stigma of sex work that leads many individuals like “Kristen” to keep their occupations a secret, creating further isolation and opportunities for exploitation. This same stigma compromises the safety and well-being of people like “Kristen” when their private lives become public knowledge.  Sex workers are then forced to work further underground, rendering them more vulnerable to abuse, while denying them access to the basic civic participation, health and social services available to other people. “Hopefully Mr. Spitzer’s unfortunate public decline will send a message to all like him who pass laws that endanger the safety of sex workers while indulging in the service themselves,” Sarah Bleviss of SWOP said, “Sex workers clearly provide them a very valuable service; it’s time for lawmakers to return the favor.”   Too little attention has been paid to what the repercussions of this case will be for those most directly concerned, sex workers, and more generally to the impact of laws and attitudes that marginalize them. It is time for a change. 

 

Spitzer pushed through penalty enhancements against clients of all sex workers. Sex worker advocates fought against such provisions because these policies drive people who need help further underground. Often prostitution is wrongly conflated with trafficking and vice-versa. People are trafficked for many kinds of work, be it domestic labor, farm work or other jobs, and this kind of exploitation undoubtedly needs to be addressed. The majority of men, women and transgendered people working in sex work, however, are ‘normal’ members of society who have used their own intellectual agency to decide to make a living in a sexually-oriented way. Laws, like the Mann Act (against inter-state transportation for the purposes of commercial sex), are too often used for punishing sex workers and their clients rather than those who profit from their exploitation.

 


S
ex workers make a living in an industry with the potential for high risks and little by way of protection from abuse.
The stigma surrounding our work can be lethal at its most extreme: we are often the targets of notorious serial killers, like the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway who targeted prostitutes because he thought he “could kill as many of them as [he] wanted without getting caught.”  If sex work were decriminalized and legitimized as a form of paid labor like any other, or seen simply as an intimate exchange between consenting adults, the associated harms would be greatly diminished. Furthermore, sex workers could access their basic human rights and social services without fear of legal reprisal or personal upheaval. Eliot Spitzer has represented himself to the public as a law and order man, and ironically, has been in the vanguard of further criminalizing sex workers and clients. . . However, it’s a shame that so much time, energy, and tax payer resources are being spent to criminalize consensual sex between adults. It’s time to decriminalize prostitution.” says Sarah Blake of Prostitutes of New York (PONY). 

 

 

Incoming Governor Paterson and other law-makers need to create policies that actually reflect the realities of their own lives and those of their constituents, including sex workers, rather than the harmful legislation of morality, whereby private matters become public scandals.


 

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WHAT ABOUT KRISTEN? New York Sex Worker Organizations Respond to Spitzer Scandal

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts
Shakti Ziller, Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK), swank@riseup.net 877-776-2004 x 2
Audacia Ray, 718.554.1714
Sarah Bleviss, Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC), swop.nyc@gmail.com
Prostitutes of New York (PONY), pony@panix.com
Desiree Alliance, http://www.desireealliance.org/

WHAT ABOUT KRISTEN? New York Sex Worker Organizations Respond to Spitzer Scandal

New York, NY – In the last few days, Governor Eliot Spitzer has publicly admitted to being associated with an escort agency and is considering resignation. As sex worker advocates, we are concerned about the representation and fate of “Kristen” and sex workers who are being thrust into the spotlight because of the investigation into the Governor. We also share the widespread concern for Governor Spitzer’s family.

Sex worker organizations urge the press and the public to focus on the violation of sex workers rights and the need to change these laws and policies, rather than simply on the story of one individual who has purchased sexual services.

“Nobody is talking about the impact of this story on ‘Kristen’ and other women, men and trans people who are currently working in the sex industry,” Shakti Ziller of SWANK in NYC added, “Prostitutes disproportionately face punitive action after arrest as compared to clients. Whether or not she will face prison time, “Kristen” has been dragged into the spotlight and will be subjected to public humiliation. Shouldn’t the police emphasis be on catching perpetrators of violent crime and protecting sex workers – not exposing adults who are consenting to a transaction? All she did was try to make a living.”

“Governor Spitzer ran on a platform of being a different kind of politician and then portrayed an inaccurate image of himself. Being involved with the services of sex workers is a very common thing, if all forms of consensual sex work were decriminalized for adults involved in a consensual transaction, sex workers could access the services they need,” says Dylan Wolfe of SWANK (Sex Workers Action New York).

Governor Spitzer took a lead role in developing the NY State Anti-Trafficking Law. Over the objections of advocates who worked directly with victims of human trafficking and with sex workers, Governor Spitzer pushed through penalty enhancements against clients of all sex workers. Sex worker advocates fought against such provisions because these policies drive people who need help further underground.

“Spitzer has stood up for workers’ rights in certain capacities, but has not followed through with meeting the real needs of sex workers,” Audacia Ray, author of Naked on the Internet, noted, “It would be great if the government could use money towards services, not punitive measures.”

The press has picked up on the relationship that inter-state trafficking laws (under the Mann Act) have to this case. This connection illustrates a point that sex worker advocates have been making for a long time: Laws against inter-state transportation for the purposes of commercial sex are too often used for punishing people working as sex workers and those who work with and patronize them.

The exposure of Randall Tobias last year as a customer of an escort agency, Senator Vitter’s rumored association with sex workers and now this recent news of Governor Spitzer, the corruption and hypocrisy inherently associated with prohibiting consensual prostitution are again being brought to light. Shaming these men will do nothing to improve the nature of the sex industry and the deeply-rooted corruption that is associated with the prohibition of prostitution.

“The criminalization of prostitution breeds this type of hypocrisy and makes our politicians (and other public figures) vulnerable,” says Carol Leigh of Sex Workers Outreach Project-USA. “This vulnerability exists until our society recognizes that consensual sexual behavior is private and these private acts should no longer be criminalized.”

“Many of our clients are politicians, judges, lawyers and even police,” Monica S., 26 of Brooklyn said. “It’s odd that they spend so much effort putting us into jail, but then turn around and give us their money in exchange for sex. Why do they think they won’t get caught breaking the laws that they make?”

The commentary on Dealbreaker.com, a Wall-Street news site, says about Wall-street’s anti-Spitzer reaction to the ‘Client 9’ story: “‘There is a God’ was the first thought on Wall Street. The next thought is, ‘Please don’t let it be revealed that I’m Lucky Number 7.'”

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