Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some excerpts from the ongoing discussions at "Bound, Not Gagged"

..in no particular order:

Where are the answers to three vital questions from anti sex industry activitists?
Posted on September 19, 2007 by jillbrenneman

Question 1. Both Ren Ev and I have repeatedly asked radical feminist anti prostitution activists three questions and never get answers to them. Question 1 is if you advocate abolishing the sex industry what is your plan to do this, how will you achieve it, what happens to the sex workers that are currently in the sex industry and when will it be accomplished? To be this dedicated to the concept of abolition someone must have a strategic plan. What is it?

Question 2, I have made repeated requests to radical feminists that we try to drop the acrimony and work on issues we both can agree on. Is it so awful to work with actual sex workers that you can’t work with us? Wouldn’t it be more prudent and helpful to all if you found out what we really advocate rather than obsessing on Larry Flynt, Nevada Brothels and abusive pimps, issues that the vast majority of swr activists are actually working on? Why fight us when there are actual abusers and abuses we could ally with each other to combat.

Question 3. Why does everything have to be analyzed for faults if relayed by sex worker rights activists? I discussed the very anti prostitution org in Minneapolis called Women’s Recovery Center as one I have worked with in the projects development and support and send referrals even now. And all that came was condemnation of this program from radical feminists with factual misrepresentations of WRC not offering psychological assistance to exiting sex workers. Which is perhaps a weakness in their website because they do offer it. Why are they considered a poor resource even though the project is radical feminist? Is it just because they don’t hate SWOP East and still work with us thus they are collaborators with the enemy? If this is the case it is a very sad statement. That some/many rad fems are far more interested in politics and war with sex worker rights activists than actual work. This is 2007, not 1967. Militancy had a very important place in the sixties and seventies. Without it feminism wouldn’t have been successful. But this is 2007. Times have changed. Methods need to also.

Please, I would like answers to my questions. Ren would too.

From 'Speaking of Being Privileged...'

swoplv, on September 20th, 2007 at 4:39 pm Said:

Ya know, we count among our allies 60,000 sex workers in Sonagachi, India, as well as many other large groups of rather poor and certainly not privileged sex workers in India, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, and so on and so on.

They fully support our efforts, as their lives are most poignantly affected by the Bush Administration’s policies against prostitution.

karlykirchner, on September 20th, 2007 at 6:10 pm Said:

For some of us, doing sex work IS a privilege.

I bought my computer with money that I earned as a sex worker, I pay my DSL bill with money earned in sex work, I pay the tuition on classes where I learned how to use my computer with money from sex work and I support organizations that make computers and other resources available to less privileged sex workers with money from sex work.

I consider my ability to do sex work a privilege that gives me access to the tools necessary to make the world a better place, not just for sex workers, but for humanity (yes, it may come as a surprise to some, but sex workers do care about issues that reach far beyond debates at this blog.)

My privilege as a white woman is something that I was born with and I utilize it both as a sex worker and as an activist. However, economic privilege is something that developed because I CHOSE to do sex work.

Jo Weldon, on September 24th, 2007 at 10:19 am Said:

Well, the problem I have with being accused of having a privileged perspective, when it comes from hardline anti-prostitution feminists who claim that all prostitution is a form of rape, is 1) it’s an accusation, as if I somehow criminally assumed my privilege because I have no compassion for those who can’t assume privilege, and 2) it doesn’t jive with the idea that all sex work is a form of rape, since there is no privilege in being repeatedly raped, and I’m a sex worker.

I understand that privilege applies to a pre-existing set of circumstances and opportunities and not to the actual advantages it accrues to the holder of said privilege, but do they?

I believe that my privilege needs to be taken into account. I don’t , however, believe it invalidates every opinion I have about the issue. I also think it’s entirely relevant to the examination of sex work to consider the input of privileged workers, since their privilege does not automatically exempt them from many of the drawbacks of sex work, such as discrimination, threats of violence, acts of violence, arrest, having their children taken away, etc., etc. The fact that people of privilege can be discriminated against in this fashion because of their jobs is INFORMATION, which is what research is supposed to be gathering.

It may be that the methods of addressing these issues with regard to workers of relative privilege must differ from those used to address workers in less privileged conditions, which is the whole POINT. The whole freakin POINT is that there has to be more than one view of sex work and what it means to be a sex worker or to have sex workers in a community. The point isn’t that sex work is great. The point is that IT ISNT ALL THE SAME. Abolitionists do NOT get to represent the entire world’s population of sex workers, no matter how much extra funding that means they might get for their research, in which they explicitly exclude statistics about people who don’t find having done sex work to be entirely hideous.

And that means that dismissing their point of view when they are struggling with labor, safety, and social issues that affect them, their children, their families, and the communities around them, simply because they may get served more easily in restaurants which favor a clientele of their skin color, is very self-serving.

From Working together for effective solutions to trafficking and forced labor
Posted on September 23, 2007 by karlykirchner

josie, on September 19th, 2007 at 2:20 am Said:

“Karly, this is an issue I am deeply intereseted in. What should be the standard practice when dealing with trafficed women cuaght in raids? There are obviously going to be raids. And at least in Nevada, there are many undocumented people caught up in them.

So what should be done? Obviously ICE is not the answer. We can’t just send them back to their trafficker. So what is the human standard of care here? Anyone?”

Hi Josie, thanks for posting this question. It seems important, so I decided to make it a whole new thread.

Since I am a US-based worker, I cannot speak from personal experience about what trafficking victims go through before, during or after raids. For information, I look to trusted organizations such as:

The Network of Sex Work Projects

The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center

EMPOWER, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Zi Teng, Hong Kong

And there are many others. These are just examples to get you started.

This article provides a chronological explanation of how money for trafficking is routed in the US. It highlights the problem of using un-scientific and exaggerated figures to quantify the problem of trafficking. Using these figures dilutes the real problems of trafficking that exist, focuses energy on punishment rather than services and wrongfully discriminates against women who travel here from other countries, even if not for sex work or any other labor.

From my perspective, even one case of sexual exploitation is too much and something should be done about it. But one instance of abuse does not mean that all sex work is abusive. Sex workers should be seen as allies in this fight. We need real solutions that provide assistance and support to people who are actually in need, rather than money being funneled through law enforcement agencies. The Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in NYC provides legal support and assistance with immigration paperwork/T visas/etc. I would check them out for info about the actual practical details of assisting an identified trafficking victim. These efforts require money, but the money available for this work comes with all sorts of strings attached. Here is a statement from SWP:

Statement on Trafficking in Persons for the 51st Session of the Commission for the Status of Women on the “elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child.”

We recommend a realistic and effective policy model on human trafficking and prostitution, which would include:

• Training people who work in all industries where trafficking occurs to identify and aid trafficked persons;

• Enforcement of laws against assault, extortion and other human rights abuses committed against trafficked persons and sex workers;

• Access to comprehensive health care, education, and opportunities to seek a living wage in adulthood for all girl children;

• Removal of harsh immigration policies that exacerbate the vulnerabilities of those who are susceptible to being trafficked;

• Reform the criminal justice response to prostitution, as harsh systems increase vulnerability for trafficking and other abuses;

• Training in business and money management;

• Reductions in social stigmas that often prohibit sex workers from moving into other forms of labor if they want to do so; and

• Education and empowerment for sex workers on ways to prevent the spread of HIV.

willow, on September 25th, 2007 at 2:00 am Said:

The lack of compassion for victims of sex trafficking here is appalling. Why is it so important to you to minimize it? Is it because it would force you to look at the fact that your johns are assholes who don’t care where that 16 year old Korean girl came from? Does that mess with your fantasy of the sweet lovable john?

Are some of you traffickers? Or pimps who make money on the backs of those trafficked women and children? What the hell is your motivation?

Do you honestly think they all WANT to come here and are using “sex work” as an immigration vehicle?

Being kidnapped and repeatedly raped is not “work” or “choice” or “a legitimate option for poor women.” I would expect to find a little more compassion here and a plan of action to help the victims.

Is your entire agenda just to attack Farley? You have nothing else to offer? Nothing that can help real women…today?

staceyswimme, on September 25th, 2007 at 10:04 am Said:

Willow, you may need to re-read this post, and the rest of this site for that matter. Nobody here has sympathy for anybody who would force women into sexual servitude. This post actually outlines resources for trafficking victims and the positions that an organization that actually works directly with trafficking victims has on this issue. Perhaps you should follow the links and see what services SWP actually provides.

None of us are traffickers or pimps- although that seems to be the favorite accusation of abolitionists when you don’t have any better grounds to attack us on.

Our agenda is not to attack Farley, had you read through this site at all, you’d see that it is about a lot more than that. Challenging Farley’s unsubstantiated claims are a current topic of discussion.


karlykirchner, on September 25th, 2007 at 12:43 pm Said:

Gosh, it seems the more diplomatic and open we are, the more folks respond with anger and hostility.

I made this post in part to give kudos to some folks who are doing good work. And in part to make the point that blaming sex workers for the existing problems with human trafficking does nothing to assist the people who are actually being trafficked- ACCORDING TO the people who actually provide direct services to victims of trafficking, not just numbers and statistics used by ‘researchers’ and lobbying groups.

Willow, you’re new here and haven’t actually had a chance to engage with us. I’m sure if you hang out for long enough you’ll find that we have very common goals that we should be working on together.

sexworkeradvocate, on September 25th, 2007 at 3:52 pm Said:

Willow, just because we support the right of sex workers to cross borders legally and safely doesn’t mean that we lack compassion for trafficking victims.

The conflation of all migrant sex work with trafficking actually makes workers in the sex industry more vulnerable to trafficking and other abuses that occur on the illegal market. If sex workers had the opportunity to cross borders safely and legally, they would have no need for traffickers to sneak them over the border for thousands of dollars. They would at least have legally recognized labor rights and perpetrators of violence could no longer use the criminalization of these sex workers as a tool to get away with abusing them, hold them in debt bondage, or cheat them out of pay. under the criminalization of prostitution, the pepetrators can threaten to turn sex workers into authorities in order to silence them and get away with such abuses as the ones described above. Migrant sex workers face the additional fear of deportation.

Also, in response to your comment that our clients “are assholes who don’t care where a 16 year old Korean girl came from,” are you trying to say that all Korean sex workers are trafficking victims? If so, this is a very xenophobic attitude that has resulted in many sex workers who came to the U.S. from South Korea being subject to raids, arrests, and deportations. Is that your idea of compassion?

Also, you didn’t mention how U.S. pressure on South Korea to enforce prohibitionist policies against prostitution has resulted in mass arrests of prostitutes in South Korea and thus, numerous South Korean sex workers are fleeing South Korea to seek work else where, and some of these workers have come to the U.S. What a self-fulfilling prophesy……………….