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

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.

_________________________@@@_____________________

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

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.

Trouble Viewing Dec. 17 Videos on BNG

I’m having trouble viewing the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers videos posted on BNG from my computer.  They’re coming up as empty squares with a box in the upper corner.  Is anybody else having this problem?

More From the DC March!

Sexworkers take to the streets of Bangalore

Chandni, a hijra sexworker addresses the gathering as Suvarna from Vaishya Anyaya Mukthi Parishad and Manohar Elavarthi, a social activist look on

visit http://sexworkerskarnataka.blogspot.com/ for photos

Karnataka State Coalition Against ITPA
No. 9 ABABIL, Patel Cheluvappa Street, J C Nagar [M R Palya], Bangalore – 560006


POST EVENT PRESS RELEASE
July 1, 2008, Bangalore

KILL THE BILL

Sexworkers take to the streets of Bangalore
demanding the central government to
drop the ITPA amendment process

National Day of Action against ITPA Amendments

Around 700 Sexworkers and human rights activists working on issues of women, dalits, workers, HIV-AIDS, sexual minorities, children, farmers, religious minorities, urban poor, environment etc. marched on the streets of Bangalore today, the National Day Of Action against the ITPA (Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act) amendments to urge the central government to drop the ITPA amendment process immediately. Sexworkers took to the street today not only in Bangalore but also in Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Baroda, Rajamundry and Bhuvaneshwar. The public rally started from Chikka Lalbagh (Majestic) at 3:30 PM and culminated at 5 PM at the Mysore Bank Circle.

Rallyists carried placards with messagesDon’t destroy the livelihood of Sexworkers by criminalizing their clients’, ‘Drop ITPA amendment process immediately’, ‘Recognize sexwork as legitimate work’, ‘Criminalizing clients of sexworkers will not help in combating trafficking’, ‘Criminalizing clients of sexworkers will increase HIV-AIDS’, ‘Criminalizing clients of sexworkers will increase human rights violations against sexworkers’, ‘Central Government must listen to the voices of sexworkers’, ‘Sexworkers demand workers rights’. All through the rally people were shouting slogans including ‘Kill the ITPA Amendment Bill’, ‘Anti-people Central Minister for Women, Renuka Chowdhry – Down, Down’, My Body – My Right’, ‘Our Future – We Determine’, ‘Sexworkers are not criminals’, ‘Punishing clients will increase the spread of HIV’, ‘We want Justice’, ‘Where and Who got independence of 1947 – not us, not poor people of India’

More than 2000 people gathered at the Mysore Bank Circle and listened attentively to the fiery voices of sexworkers leaders. Veena, treasurer of Karnataka Sexworkers Union said ‘I condemn the attitude of the Indian government which does not listen to the voices of the sexworkers and plans to go ahead with the ITPA Amendment process. We have been protesting on the streets for the last 3 years, have advocated with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on this issue and have been appealing to the central cabinet ministers. This government disregards the views of not only sexworkers but also of the parliamentary standing committee on this issue’.

Elavarthi Manohar, social activist said ‘The ITPA Amendment Bill seeks to: bring consensual sexwork under criminal law, criminalise poverty induced sex work as trafficking, punishes clients visiting brothels, allows lower ranking Police to arrest sex workers and raid brothels and detain sex workers in ‘corrective’ institutions for seven years. The ITPA Amendment Bill fails to support survivors of trafficking, exposes sex workers to violence & abuse and undermines HIV prevention work. The bill needs to be killed immediately as it proposes to terrorise sexworkers and their clients’.

The public meeting ended by burning the ITPA Amendment Bill 2006 symbolically.

Veena

Treasurer (Karnataka Sexworkers Union)

For more information contact: 9880223460 (Manohar), 9880365692 (Gurukiran)

Constituent Organizations: Aneka, Ashodaya Samithi, Jyothi Mahila Sangha, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Karnataka Sexworkers Union, LesBiT, Samara, Sangama, Sangram, Suraksha, Swathi Mahila Sangha, Veshya Anyay Mukthi Parishad, Vijaya Mahila Sangha

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

Add XBN: The SWOP East Broadcast Network to your blog or website by inserting this code. <a href=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/swopeast”><img id=”btn180×60″ border=”0″ alt=”Listen to swopeast on internet talk radio” src=”http://www.blogtalkradio.com/img/180×60_wht.gif”/></a>

Melissa Farley Words v Actions: Ethics or Not?

Melissa Farley has taken a stand opposing Governor Spitzer’s hiring of the escort Kristen. Does she deserve to be congratulated for doing the right thing and criticizing Spitzer’s hypocrisy of spearheading a campaign against prostitution while hiring escorts despite the fact that until his arrest he was advocating similar political strategy as her? Was there any risk in her doing so? Not really. One would have to assume that she like many of her allies in the anti trafficking movement feel betrayed by Spitzer’s. Her other actions contradict her integrity.

There has been a large outcry against the public outing of Kristen by the media. Rightfully so. Her outing was an abysmal example of the lack of integrity of many media outlets. The media’s outing of Kristen is disgusting. Their blatant misuse of the pictures from her myspace page are jaw dropping in their lack of integrity. Especially given many of the media outlets were supposed to be ones that operated at a higher standard. That professed themselves to be above the level of tabloid shit like the National Enquirer.

Those that stand behind Melissa Farley and Nikki Craft need to consider that the actions of these two anti trafficking, abolitionist activists are as an egregious breach of the rights of a sex worker or worse, if the pictures depicted on their websites are as they described, victims of human trafficking and coerced torture as they are presented by Farley and Craft. Both Farley’s Prostitution Research and Education http://www.prostitutionresearch.com “trafficking jamming” blog and Nikki Craft’s ACLU, “Always Causing Legal Unrest” show porn pics of women in bondage. Pictures that it can easily be speculated are without the consent of the women being photographed as neither Farley nor Craft have ever responded to requests to prove consent to use the image or even if the women are of legal age. While lack of response is not inherently guilt, it is hard to fathom a reason why either “anti trafficking activist” would not be outspoken if they had acquired consent of the women depicted. Farley’s is more graphic and after outspoken criticism from sex worker rights activists and from Farley’s statement apparently survivors of rape, she put a disclaimer rather than having any viewer including those under 18 be ambushed by a picture of which any pornography site would be held accountable under law to have warnings about adult content, illegality of underage viewing and full consent of the actresses depicted. Farley’s explanation of placing the disclaimer on what had been a blatant image as soon as one hit the blog page ”

In response to comments by survivors of torture and other sexual abuse, we have placed a warning and additional link to the photograph of kink.com torture. Traffick Jamming visitors can now choose if and when they look at the photographs.

Her disclaimer reads ”

WARNING If you open the red torture photo link directly below this paragraph, you will see two photographs of people being tortured. One is the widely-circulated photograph of a hooded figure with electrical wires of man being tortured at Abu Ghraib. At the same link, you will also see a photograph of a woman being tortured. This photograph of torture is from the website kink.com. The woman’s face is masked and unrecognizable and she has on a thong that covers her genitals. Her breasts are concealed here. She is shackled by the ankles and hung with her arms tied to the wall over her head. The woman is being electrically tortured by someone off-camera with what looks like a cattle prod. All you can see is his arm with the cattle prod. There is also what appears to be an electrical outlet or battery in front of her. Click Here to view photo. I have not enabled the link from here to the pictures. This blog is taking extensive traffic and given these pictures are in very high probability without consent, they are as exploitative as the news media. Showing a naked woman being tortured with captions describing the action without the consent of the woman in the picture…………. Sorry, if you want to find this you can look yourself. My goal is to make a point, not to direct a high traffic load to pictures that I believe are being used in a manner that is a horrendously egregious breach of privacy and law that is being overlooked because it is done by the alleged freedom fighters for trafficking victims as Farley and Craft self portray.

Outspoken self proclaimed radical feminist “Pony” in response to the disclaimer states

Please DO look at the photographs, which are not owned by the people depicted, but by the torturers. As long as the only people who see these and others like them are the torturers and torture and pornography consumers, women haters, abusers and traffickers win, because ordinary people will not see what pornography is really about.

Whether Pony is speaking for herself or on behalf of inside knowledge of Farley apparently not having consent to use the photo of the women being tortured. She advocates that one look at the photos. Pony who in other posts advises that she does not “frequent pro porn blogs” has no problem viewing the kind of porn she condemns if it is on an anti porn site and encourages others to follow despite her opposition to these very types of images. Despite by her belief Farley does not even have consent to use the picture which if this were on a non anti porn website one would very likely see very outspoken criticism from Farley, Craft, Pony.   If the pictures are owned by torturers, not the people depicted, this even by Pony’s admission and her ally Farley is using pics owned by torturers and Pony is advocating one look at these pics.  Hmmmm,  seems like an odd contradiction.  Farley and Pony come from a school of thought which considers giving condoms to working sex workers collaborating with traffickers and pimps.  Thus what does that make a feminist using stolen pictures without the consent of the persons depicted, taken by photographers identified by Farley and Pony as torturers without even a safeguard to protect minors or compliance with 2257 which deems the pictures legally assumed to be without consent and of minors.  That is feminist?  By what standard?

So, back to the hypocrisy issue. Farley jumped on the bandwagon with her betrayed colleagues. Sex worker rights activists have condemned the hypocrisy of a leader in a fight, Spitzer, against sex work by consenting adults with clients hiring escorts while hiring the very people he is persecuting. Sex worker rights activists also oppose human trafficking and coercion. That is not a stance owned by just the “anti trafficking movement”. The suggestion that a sex worker rights movement would be pro trafficking is absurd. The idea behind a movement for the rights of a population is exactly that. Rights. Right to consent among other things.

Including the right to consent to the use of your pictures. Farley in her blog opines about the porn actresses who later wished to have their images removed and had to go to litigation and attempt to force these images to be removed via legal action after various website owners would not grant the wishes of the actresses. As a sex worker rights activist, as Executive Director of SWOP East, I can state firmly that we advocate strongly for the right of consent to the use of images and the right to terminate consent both of which being held by the actress portrayed at all times. If the actress wishes the pictures to be removed they should be removed. An empowered sex worker rights movement would have a much greater chance of having this kind of protection built into contracts with website owners and legal remedy for damages in the event of contractual breach. Farley wants this right except when it applies to websites owned by Farley and Craft. Then she wants what Spitzer wanted. To be above the law.

So my questions are to anti trafficking/radical feminist/abolitionist activists. If you oppose the outing of Kristen and the blatant misuse of her pictures without her consent, one would assume then that you would also want these protections for the actresses in the pictures of websites owned by Farley and Craft. Otherwise, once again we have a hypocrisy issue.

If Farley wants credit for condemning Spitzer perhaps her actions should speak more loudly than her words and the pics should be removed. Not to mention perhaps a mea culpa. If her allies want her condemnation of Spitzer to be more than words perhaps they should consider the step of condemning two of their own engaging in their own ethical transgressions.

Sextortions: Washington Terrorist Pimps

I’m posting this on behalf of Robin Head, with permission.

Robin Head, Former Texas Madam, Sent to Prison for 10 Years for Refusing to SEXTORT clients for FBI/CIA agents – PIMPS.

Sex Slavery, Forced Prostitution, Human Trafficking, extortion, blackmail―of the most egregious kind―of U.S. Citizens by the U.S. Government Brothel of Bureaucrats

My name is Robin Head, previous owner of Playboy Escorts in Houston, Texas. I was approached by various law enforcement agency’s, FBI, ATF, etc… who wanted me to abet them in entrapping “State and political officials” having sex so they could extort, control and blackmail them, not to charge them with misdemeanor prostitution. At the same time, women at my service were being tricked and trafficked overseas to Bangkok and called me collect from a jail in Vienna.

A madam from Alabama was found hanging in a federal jail cell in nearby Brazoria County. When I refused to abet in the extortion, I was thrown in jail, no bond, a ‘Life’ sentence filed on me, and then my son and family were harassed and attacked endlessly in some kind of gang like Mafia style.

I went to the FBI, but it was like reporting the devil to the witch, they said they would help me but only if I would help them, again, to set up officials. They had no interest in the corruption aspect. Some very high profile names were involved, people seen on TV news commentary.
Who are these agents with this monstrous agenda and what do they want? This is not a left/right wing thing it is a most vicious entity in this country.

This country has become as fearful as any other 3rd world country when it comes to reporting crime to officials just exactly like in Russia, Iraq, Africa, Mexico, etc… where it is the officials that are the perpetrators of the crimes, kidnapping, ransom, drugs, and it is dangerous to report to them.

More information and links available at: http://fbicorruption.250free.com

Which Sex Workers Deserve To Be On YouTube?

Thinking about Lisa’s comments on whether or not sex workers should use social media (like this blog):

If giving individual voice to a sex industry worker perpetuates the stigma and so futhers the agenda of those who truely are waging a campaign to silence us, than it hurts us all as a movement and an industry.

…makes me concede that, yes, there is a war on sex workers going on. But is withdrawing any of our voices from the precious few outlets we have available to us doing any of us or our common cause a service?

As long as people like this guy, who gets $100,000 a year from members of his community in order to harass alleged and actual sex workers off the streets is out there uploading his paid-for jolly-getting off the backs of our sisters and brothers to YouTube…

…then like hell I’m going to use YouTube, too.

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

 

Fifth Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

December 17th, 2007

December 17th is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This event was created to call attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe.

Originally thought of by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and started by the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA in 2003 as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington. International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has empowered workers from over 30 cities around the world to come together and organize against discrimination and remember victims of violence.

During the week of December 17, 2007, sex worker rights organizations will be staging actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers. The assault, battery, rape and murder of sex workers must end. Existing laws prevent sex workers from reporting violence. The stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by the prohibitionist laws has made violence against us acceptable. Please join in drawing attention to this around the world with the 5th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

We would like to add your event to our new DEC 17th website please check out our work in progress and please send pictures.

If you or your organization are holding an event please email your info to: dec17@swopusa.org

If your organization would like to help sponsor an event in your local area please send your contact info to: dec17@swopusa.org

Please go to the website for Dr. Annie Sprinkle’s ’10 Things You Can Do for International Day to end Violence Against Sex Workers.

We encourage participants to carry red umbrellas on Dec 17th as a symbol of international solidarity for sex workers’ rights!

***Please post widely***

Sorry Your Grandmother was Mugged…

Anti Prostitution Group Commits Violence On Sex Worker At UC Berkeley Performance

East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Labor & Workers | Womyn

 

Anti Prostitution Group Commits Violence On Sex Worker At UC Berkeley Performance

by Maxine Doogan
Sunday Nov 11th, 2007 10:29 PM

“My Real Name” was a One New Earth Production performance by Students and Artist Fighting to End Human Slavery. Sponsored by the UC Berkeley Ethics Studies and promoted by the SAGE Project violent scene after violent scene was played out against streetbased prostitutes. This play actually turned out to be a propaganda piece conflating incest, rape, domestic violence, economic disparity, homelessness, drug addiction with the occupation of prostitution by depicting graphic sexually violent images and reenactments.

<!–

–> Anti Prostitution Group Commits Violence On Sex Worker At UC Berkeley Performance
By Maxine Doogan

11/09/07

An altercation involving Maxine Doogan of the Erotic Service Providers Union, followed a performance sponsored by U C Berkeley Ethic Department at UC Berkeley Worth Ryder Gallery on Nov. 9th 2007 which resulted in the U C Berkeley Police issuing a 7 day stay away order to Ms Doogan, Lisa Roelillg one other companion.

“My Real Name” was a One New Earth Production performance by Students and Artist Fighting to End Human Slavery. Sponsored by the UC Berkeley Ethics Studies and promoted by the SAGE Project violent scene after violent scene was played out against streetbased prostitutes. This play actually turned out to be a propaganda piece conflating incest, rape, domestic violence, economic disparity, homelessness, drug addiction with the occupation of prostitution by depicting graphic sexually violent images and reenactments.

The producer had stated that this performance was meant to be interactive and invited audience members to interact with the people depicting the violence during the performance. It was unclear if the people relating the violence were actors or the actual people who had experienced the violence originally. The producer also said a discussion about trafficking in the sex industry would follow the performance.
Many people walked out before the end as did Doogan, who returned at the conclusion expecting to find a discussion under way but instead found her comrade, Lisa Roellig, a former streetbased worker surrounded by anti prostitution activist, like researcher Melissa Farley, who recently called for the closing of the legal brothels in Nevada.

Roellig, an ex-streetbased worker and Doogan attempted to converse with the producer about her relationship to the issues raised in the performance. The producer responded by yelled and waved her arms saying she didn’t believe in the comodification of women and that no discussion was going to take place. However a loud discussion ensued between all parties with the producer stating that Doogan ‘sucked the dicks of corporate America’ and was ‘a white and privileged’. Another anti prostitutionist, also a former streetbased worker, stated that all prostitutes are dogs, and used physical intimidation to push Doogan out the door while evoking the name of blood of Jesus Christ. Doogan responded by leaving the building and calling the anti prostitution group “poverty pimps”. Annie Fukushima, U C Berkeley Doctorial Candidate, threatened to call the cops and Doogan encouraged her to do so.

Doogan, Roellig and the third person made statements to the police that Doogan had been physically assaulted. UC Berkeley Campus Officer Sanchez only wanted to know if the women who called the police were women of color. All three women were issued 7 day stay away orders.

Said Roellig, “While they were privileged enough to call in the cops because two women show up to question their view of our lives, I was not ever privileged enough to call the cops when I was raped, assaulted or robbed on the street because I was a criminalized worker. These women are outspoken on their abolitionists views and are advocates of the continuation of the States oppressive laws that control our bodies, our economies and most important make us easy targets for police abuse and corruption”

Please call, write or email the Berkeley Police Department and tell them to receive the report of battery on Maxine Doogan. And the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Department because it failed in its commitment to be understanding of the deep multiple meanings of racial diversity in the Americas in the area of prostitution when they sponsored the performance and facilitated racial violence against sex industry workers.

Office Of The Chief Of Police

Victoria Harrison, Associate Vice Chancellor/Chief
(510) 642-1133
vlh [at] berkeley.edu
Mitch Celaya, Assistant Chief
(510) 643-9597
mjc [at] berkeley.edu
Jennifer Woods, Executive Assistant
(510) 643-7500
jwoods [at] berkeley.edu
Adan Tejada, Administrative Lt.
(510) 642-3679

Andrew Tucker, Administrative Sgt.
(510) 642-1157
atucker [at] berkeley.edu
Jennifer Sakai, Training Officer
(510) 642-1135
jvargas [at] berkeley.edu

Department of Ethnic Studies 506 Barrows Hall #2570, Berkeley, CA 94720-2570. (510) 643-0796 (510) 642-6456 [Fax] Email: ethnicst [at] berkeley.edu
Beatriz Manz Chair and Professor

Graduate Group Staff
Ethnic Studies Graduate Group Staff
Name Position Phone Number E-mail Address
Francisca Cazares Student Affairs Officer (510) 642-6643 fcazares [at] berkeley.edu

Ethnic Studies Graduate Group Advisors
Ethnic Studies Graduate Group Advisors
Name Position Phone Number E-mail Address
Laura Perez
Graduate Advisor (510) 643-1584 leperez [at] berkeley.edu
Sau-ling Wong
Advisor for GSI Affairs (510) 642-6195 slwong [at] berkeley.edu
Francisca Cázares Student Affairs Officer (510) 642-6643 fcazares [at] berkeley.edu

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,

 

———————————————————————————————————–

Judge Deni, feminism, genderberg, the importance of rallying together

In a post Gretchen mentioned that Genderberg was also addressing the Deni issue.  Which is great.  It is important that anyone and everyone that is interested address the issue.  I’m not minimizing their efforts.  I appreciate them.

But, to my understanding, and I could be wrong as I haven’t spent much time looking for the answer, my understanding is that most of genderberg is private and closed.  Thus the only member of Genderberg that was public with us was Gretchen.  I believe she truly needs to be an example for her peers at Genderberg and the radical feminist community.  Judge Deni won by a landslide.  The rape survivor has now been raped three times, by the rapist, by Judge Deni and by th Pennsylvania Electorate.  With a 66 percent vote of support for her return to office, one would have to believe that the biggest reason this issue did not impact more voters in Pennsylvania is that they were not aware.

We have commonality in opposing violence, opposing rape, opposing violence against sex workers between our movements.  The Deni victory has to be a benchmark for it to be remembered what and who we are truly fighting.  Sex worker rights activists aren’t allowed in Genderberg.  Again, this is an assumption.  I haven’t applied for membership either.  But given the response to my posts from Genderberg’s owner, there isn’t much reason to believe I or others would be accepted.  Which I understand the need for private space.  The sex worker rights movement also has our private spaces.  But some need to be open.  Some occasions call for unity regardless of political division.

One of the great disappointments of this live blog and the awareness campaign regarding Judge Deni is very few people outside the sex worker rights movement joined us in making a public statement against the social injustice perpetrated by Judge Deni.  As sex workers and sex worker rights activists, given the nature of this issue involving Judge Deni and her treatment of a sex worker that was raped, we have an important place in this fight.  There is a time and a place for debates within feminism.  Those debates are important.

There is a time and a place for feminists, women’s rights activists, supporters, and others, who may not agree with the sex worker rights movement, to put aside the political differences and join us in an issue far more important than our differences.

We held an open forum.  Anyone was welcome to post here.  To my knowledge one radical feminist, Gretchen dared to do so.  I know for a fact there were others that cared about this issue and were outraged at Judge Deni’s decision and equally outraged at her victory last night.  But for whatever reason all but Gretchen stay away from us publicly.  While it was heartening to receive private emails supporting our work on this issue from radical feminists, those voices would have been so much more powerful in public standing with us.  The idea isn’t to congratulate me for doing something viewed as constructive.  The idea is to fight for social justice.  That as to be public.

I don’t mean this post inherently as critical of anyone.  It is intended as a rally call.  It is apparent from the election results that too few voters knew about this.  We could have done so much more together and been able to get the attention of the media much easier as a group than separate.  The vast power of the media to effect change can’t be understated.

How can sex workers expect justice in court when we are shunned and stigmatized by most feminists even though they are fight for the same cause we are in this instance?

Who knows better the pain, horror and fear of rape and the injustice dealt to sex workers that are victimized than sex workers themselves?  This is a call for feminists who don’t want to be seen working with sex worker rights activists to rethink their position.  If we can’t even not be stigmatized and ostracized by anti violence, anti rape feminists, how is social change and society as a whole going to be expected to change?

This is not intended as an insult to radical feminists.  The idea is not to touch off a confrontation of who is the better activist.  That is exactly the opposite.  The idea is to lightly bonk some over the head and say please, remember that sex workers are human, we are women, and that is a commonality we all share.  We feel pain just as any other rape victim does.  Fighting for our justice is fighting for justice for all women and a stand against the much greater enemy which is violence against women.

There is a time to define our positions and a time to join together in one.  This is the latter.

Since we are locked out of radical feminist forums and ours are open, this is a call for radical feminists to stand with us.

Jill Brenneman

SWOP East

Election results from Philly. This makes me sick.

2007 Municipal Election
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Unofficial Returns
*** 6,626 out of 9,268 Districts (71.49%) Reporting Statewide ***

Judge of the Municipal Court
Judicial Retention


1st Judicial District (Philadelphia County)

Candidate Votes Percent
DAHER, GEORGANNE V. “Yes” 72,250 68.3%
“No” 33,457 31.7%
DENI, TERESA CARR “Yes” 70,385 66.1%
“No” 36,107 33.9%
GRIFFIN, DEBORAH “Yes” 75,976 71.3%
“No” 30,647 28.7%
MERRIWEATHER, RONALD B. “Yes” 82,952 77.2%
“No” 24,560 22.8%
PEW, WENDY “Yes” 78,480 76.1%
“No” 24,707 23.9%
PRESENZA, LOUIS J. “Yes” 77,646 75.1%
“No” 25,694 24.9%

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.