sex work

Elizabeth's picture

Adding injury to insult in Vancouver: Seriously flawed study gets reported in a totally unconscionable way

"HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia: A growing epidemic" (McInnes et al 2009) was just published in the peer-reviewed Harm Reduction Journal (PDF). The study's abstract clearly states that intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men are involved in the vast majority of HIV transmissions in Vancouver (IDUs and MSMs in the study's objectifying abbreviations). But you'd never know this from reading the Vancouver Sun.

Pamela Fayerman's article, "Local study sheds light on HIV: More than a quarter of female sex trade workers in city infected with virus" begins with a headline that is not just sensationalistic headline but is also false. The study doesn't show that at all. The study isn't based on the sort of data that could even begin to sort out what proportion of female sex workers in Vancouver have HIV because it is based on data collected only from prostitutes working on the street doing what is called "survival sex work." Fayerman's article ignores the majority of the study's findings to focus on one small and inaccurately presented piece of information.

Click here to read more.

Elizabeth's picture

Would you deny rights to child care workers because of the nature of their work?

Would you deny rights to child care workers because:

...their work is dangerous? (Consider the spread of infections and exposure to bodily fluids, let alone the heavy lifting. No, we would advocate for hand sanitizer and worker protection laws so that we could be sure our kids would be as safe as possible.)

...their work is often exploitive? (Day care workers in centers and in homes are poorly paid, often have no benefits. They are among the most necessary and most vulnerable workers. Instead of denying them rights we argue for better wages and working conditions.)

...their work is sometimes done illegally? (Many people taking care of children work off the books and some work without documentation. And when lots of more privileged moms hire this way we turn a blind eye and don't call them pimps or johns.)

...their work is associated with migrant labor and human trafficking? (Women are trafficked for many reasons including domestic service and child care.)

...their work is associated with care that is otherwise provided out of love and devotion to family? (Would we ever argue that because a woman cares for other people's children for pay that she is incapable of loving her own children and caring for them well?)

Click here to continue reading.

Will drug addiction + prostitution make Albuquerque residents feel safer?


Editor's Note: M. P. Clark is a new guest contributor at Sex In the Public Square and I'm grateful for her contribution. That it comes on International Sex Worker Rights day is all the more fitting. -Elizabeth Wood


Yesterday, March 2, 2009, the Albuquerque Journal featured on its front page photographs of a number of women reported missing from the area over the last decade or so. Exactly one month earlier, a woman walking her dog discovered a human bone at a worksite being cleared for new housing development in a part of Albuquerque known as the West Mesa. An investigation of the area turned up other bones—five sets, six, then eleven, and now thirteen. Twelve sets of bones are believed to belong to women, the thirteenth to a fetus of about four months old. Yesterday’s Journal article speculates whether there’s a connection between the women in the photographs and the bones.

Click here to read more.

Caroline's picture

Sex Traffic at Institute of Contemporary Arts in London

via Laura Agustín.

SEX TRAFFIC at London’s ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts

11 March 2009 - 1900 / 7pm

The media and NGOs have raised awareness of sex trafficking in recent years, but does it serve the interests of migrant sex workers to suggest they have been trafficked, or does it collude in their criminalisation and deportation? Should our priority be to give migrant women in the sex industry more control over their own lives, or to stop the traffic?

Speakers: Laura María Agustín, author of Sex at the Margins and a former educator working with expatriate sex workers; Georgina Perry, service manager for Open Doors, an NHS initiative which deliver outreach and clinical support to sex workers in east London; Catherine Stephens, sex worker; Jon Birch, inspector, Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit. Chair: Libby Brooks, deputy Comment editor, The Guardian.

Nash Room.  Book here  £10 / £9 Concessions / £8 ICA Members

Elizabeth's picture

NCSF Statement on Pro Dom work and Prostitution statutes

NCSF logo

I love the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. The NCSF is one of those organizations you know you can count on to fight for the right to sexual expression even around stigmatized types of sexual expression like exchanging sex for money, or engaging in BDSM.

Prostitution arrests in Dungeons and porn shops (where prostitution may not have been occurring at all) have raised much concern, and NCSF advocates spoke with law enforcement representatives to find out how they're interpreting "prostitution". The findings are troubling and are reported below.

Elizabeth's picture

Protecting the kids - ur doin it rong

Audacia Ray has an excellent post on Waking Vixen that reports on two recent news stories involving teens and sex. The first was the story about teenagers sending naked photos of themselves to their boyfriends or girlfriends and being arrested and convicted of sex crimes. The second is the story of Operation Cross Country, which claims to be an attempt to rescue underage prostitutes but is much more effective at arresting adult prostitutes. In her post she asks this important question:

"Why are child prostitutes being rescued while adult prostitutes are being arrested? Why are kids who make porn of themselves being arrested while adult porn performers legally go about their business?"

Click here to keep reading

Elizabeth's picture

Sex Is Not A Public Nuisance

The New York Times this morning reports on a meeting last Wednesday involving city and state elected officials including Christine Quinn (City Council Speaker) and Thomas Duane (State Senator representing parts of Manhattan), Brian Conroy (the NYPD's Vice Squad commanding officer), and LGBT rights activists. The meeting focused on whether or not the city is targeting gay men for arrest on prostitution crimes because of their sexual orientation.

That is the wrong question.

The more relevant questions are: Why is sexual activity - the buying and selling of pornography, the accepting of money for sex - being defined as a public nuisance in the first place? And, what does it mean that simply liking pornography and being in a porn shop is enough to make one the target of a prostitution sting?

Click here for more.

Caroline's picture

SCOT-PEP's funding withdrawn

SCOT-PEP, or the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project, describes itself as "promoting health and dignity in prostitution". Want their creds? Sure you do -

Between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007 SCOT-PEP worked with 557 individuals - recording 3,977 contacts. Services and support were provided to an average of 122 sex workers each month. 367 of our service users were indoor-based sex workers and 89 were street-based sex workers. During the year contact was maintained with sex workers in 37 establishments.

The average number of individuals accessing sessions were:

* daytime service - 10.43 (189 sessions)

* establishment outreach - 6.41 (86 sessions)

* night-time services - 10.94 (97 sessions)

We provided
info and advice to 404 individuals on 2,627 occasions;
a listening ear to 318 individuals on 1,669 occasions;
referrals for 192 individuals on 1,152 occasions;
high level support to 8 individuals on 12 occasions;
and our website received 5,729 hits.

Safe Sex Supplies - SCOT-PEP distributed 91,063 condoms.

Guest Post: This is CNN?

More like Fair-and-Balanced when it comes to reporting on "Natalie Dylan" and her virginity auction.

Lorraine K avatarI was sent a link to a CNN story yesterday afternoon. It is the latest update in a story that's become quite the media frenzy: "Natalie Dylan"  (not her real name) and her creative alternative to student loans. This 22 year old woman is auctioning off her virginity in hopes of raising enough money to finance her Masters degree. This is remarkable, due not only to the high sum her "cherry" seems to be going for these days (between 3.7 and 3.8 million dollars, when last checked), but because of the shock and awe that has followed in its wake. A perfect example of this is the commentary provided by CNN's Prime News host Mike Galanos and correspondent Richelle Carey . Billed as "hard news with a human side," Prime News "challenges news makers and experts to help viewers gain a clearer understanding of the 'right vs. wrong' conflict playing out across the country every day." (If you ask me, this sounds more suitable for Fox News than CNN, but I digress...) Click here to read more. 

Elizabeth's picture

Speaking out against the prohibitionists who claim to speak for all

We write a lot about sex work on Sex In The Public Square and it is my sincerest hope that we never appear to be speaking for sex workers as if they were a homogenous group with a single set of needs that can be defined and advocated for by others. Sex work covers an enormous range of jobs from phone sex to erotic massage, from still-photo modeling to web cam work, from stripping to prostitution, you get the idea. Within each type of work there is a range of working conditions, and within each group of workers there are degrees of exploitation and autonomy. 

Specifically regarding prostitution our focus here has typically been on destigmatization and decriminalization, and supporting sex workers and their allies in shaping the way that their work is portrayed in the media.  Recently Caroline of Un-cool and now of Better Burn That Dress, Sisterhas blogged here about the changes in UK prostitution policy that increase the stigma and criminality of purchasing sex. Renegade Evolution, another of my favorite bloggers, has been writing a lot about the shift overall toward Swedish-style policies that criminalize prostitution by making the purchase of sex illegal even while decriminalizing the sale of sex. And beyond writing about the policies themselves, these two in particular - not alone but certainly leading the pack - have been speaking out about the way that the prohibitionists who push these policies attempt to speak for all sex workers in justifying their work. Ren  in her most recent post on the subject, has called for greater and louder response and a reframing of the discussion, and I wholeheartedly support her. Specifically, she nails the problem this way: Click here to read more

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