Gay group calls for legalizing prostitution in D.C.

GLAA says ‘prohibition’ creates more problems than it solves

By LOU CHIBBARO JR
Jun. 27, 2008

The Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA), the local gay group credited with persuading the D.C. government to adopt far-reaching gay and transgender rights legislation since the 1970s, added to its 2008 election year agenda a call for legalizing prostitution in the District.

In a development likely to create a stir in local political circles, the group will include a question about legalized prostitution in its questionnaire for all candidates running this year for seats on D.C. City Council. The non-partisan GLAA uses responses it receives from questionnaires to formulate its widely publicized candidate ratings on gay issues.

“We know that we are breaking a taboo by discussing this,” the group states in a 26-page election year position paper, “Agenda: 2008,” which it posted on its web site, http://www.glaa.org. The paper discusses a wide range of gay and AIDS issues unrelated to prostitution.

“But avoiding the issue will not make it go away,” the GLAA document states. “We ask those who disagree with our position to address our arguments seriously. Failed policies do not deserve to be defended with reflexive dismissals.”

GLAA Vice President Rick Rosendall said the group decided to take a public stand on prostitution as part of its advocacy work on certain issues that are not specifically gay related but that have an impact on gay people and on civil liberties and personal freedoms for all people.

Rosendall points to the GLAA Agenda: 2008 paper’s assertion that people involved in prostitution — both men and women — are likely to face problems that won’t disappear upon legalization, although those problems would be mitigated if the government did not subject prostitutes to criminal prosecution.

He said communities faced with problems of street prostitution, including neighborhoods in D.C., would be better off if prostitution were legalized, regulated, zoned and taxed.

“When it’s forced underground, you can’t control where it takes place,” he said.

The GLAA Agenda: 2008 document states that negative effects of criminalizing prostitution have spilled over into the gay and transgender community.

“As advocates of the legalization of prostitution, we think it needs neither sanitizing nor glorifying,” the agenda document states. “It is not a profession filled exclusively with people who freely chose it from a host of options. No doubt there are some in that category, like the college student turning tricks for extra cash.

“But too many turn to it by necessity,” it says. “These include gay teenagers who have been thrown out of the house by their parents and transgender people whom discrimination has left with few options.”

The GLAA agenda document adds, “Harassing, arresting and prosecuting people for survival sex solves none of their problems. It only piles on more.

“Whose idea of responsible public policy is this?” the paper says. “To be justified, any public law ought to serve some identifiable common good … No matter how bad you may think something is, if your proposed response is only likely to make it worse, then you should pull back.”

The Nevada Coalition Against Sex Trafficking, which advocates for re-criminalizing prostitution in Nevada, charges that the state’s legal brothels exploit the women sex workers.

“Legalization of prostitution does not decrease the physical and emotional safety of women in prostitution,” the group argues on the anti-prostitution web site, prostitutionresearch.com. “There is no way to make prostitution ’a little bit better.’”

George Flint, executive director of the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, disputes those claims, saying virtually all advocates for re-criminalizing prostitution in Nevada oppose it on moral grounds and almost always “tell a pack of lies” about what goes on in the state’s legal brothels.

He said strict state regulations and a strongly held policy by brothel owners, provides the mostly female sex workers with a safe and supportive work environment. He said most full-time sex workers in the legal brothels earn between $200,000 and $300,000 a year.

Although most of the male customers are older, often overweight and rarely look like Hollywood movie stars, Flint said the brothels have a tight security system and strict policies in place that never tolerate mistreatment of the sex workers.

There have been no reported cases of a prostitute in a legal brothel in the state being infected with HIV by a brothel customer since the start of the AIDS epidemic, Flint said. He said the last syphilis case reported to have occurred from a john to a prostitute in a legal Nevada brothel occurred 13 years ago, and transmission of other, non-HIV sexually transmitted diseases are extremely rare.

GLAA leaders say they don’t expect the city to legalize prostitution any time soon and they acknowledge that Congress would swoop down and overturn even the most limited law to lessen the current city laws making prostitution a crime.

“Our purpose is to get people to think about this,” Rosendall said.

The question that will appear on the GLAA candidate questionnaire on the subject states, “What are your thoughts regarding GLAA’s proposal, as explained in Agenda: 2008, to mitigate the problems associated with prostitution by legalizing, regulating, zoning and taxing it?”

http://www.washblade.com/2008/6-27/news/localnews/12842.cfm

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Govt urged to legalise sex industry in South Africa

Liesl Hattingh GARDEN ROUTE CORRESPONDENT

A GROUND-BREAKING study on sex work and human trafficking in Cape Town, authored by Chandré Gould, of Hoekwil near George, was launched last night with a critical thinking forum that aims to encourage legalisation of the industry.

The two-year study, entitled Selling Sex in Cape Town: Sex work and trafficking in a South African City, is the first of its size and kind in the country, and the first in Africa to gather quantitative data on human trafficking.

Researchers say it provides a model for much- needed similar studies in other South African cities.

Gould‘s studies found that most sex workers are young black women between the ages of 24 and 28, only five per cent are foreigners, and there is no evidence of human trafficking.

The Cape Town industry, with 1200 workers, of which 250 worked the streets, was fairly small, Gould said, and would probably remain that way if it was legalised due to the stigma attached to the industry.

“The kind of help sex workers need is protection by the law,” said Gould, a senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria. “It‘s too easy to see women in the industry as victims … opting for sex work is not easy but sometimes people‘s choices are limited,” she said.

“There will always be women who choose to do this, so let‘s make sure they‘re safe doing it.”

This could only be done in a regulated environment where workers, employers and clients were encouraged to report abuse, said Gould and co-author Nicolé Fick, of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat).

Last night‘s launch at The Castle in Cape Town featured a critical thinking forum hosted by the Mail &0x0026; Guardian and chaired by constitutional law expert and High Court judge Dennis Davis.

“There will never be a good time to discuss this as it will always be a contentious issue. But it‘s important to protect the rights of women who are currently vulnerable to exploitation and abuse,” Gould said.

The study found evidence of employment practices in brothels that would be unacceptable in regulated industries, including taking 36% to 60% of earnings, heavy fines for late arrival or not reporting for work according to strict timetables despite being in effect freelance.

Sex workers on the streets were often harassed and threatened by police.

“Rather than reducing the number of sex workers, an aggressive policing strategy results in women working longer hours or taking more clients to make up the income lost through paying fines or spending time in jail,” the report says.

Gould‘s next study will focus on violent repeat offenders.

http://www.theherald.co.za/herald/news/n07_27062008.htm

In Egypt, “Prostitute” Is a Slippery Term

By L.L. Wynn, American Sexuality Magazine
Posted on June 26, 2008, Printed on October 15, 2009

It was 2000 and I was at a dinner party in Cairo. I was sitting with *Malak, a belly dancer, and we were eyeing up a young woman who had large oval eyes thickly lined with black kohl and a wide mouth painted salmon. It was the first time Malak and I had seen her at Haroun’s house. After she’d been introduced around to the group of friends — dancers, actresses, businessmen, and me, an American anthropologist — that met every Thursday night for drinks and dinner, Malak looked her up and down skeptically, and then she said to me in a low voice, “She’s a prostitute. Look, obviously that vulgar man thinks so too, because he wouldn’t dare put his hands all over her like that unless he was sure she was a prostitute.” Continue reading

Punishing Sex Workers Won’t Curb HIV/AIDS, Says Ban-Ki Moon

The politics of human trafficking

06/26/2008 07:38 PM | By Joseph A. Kechichian, Special to Gulf News

When Ronald Reagan was president of the United States, the US Department of Defence published a series of glossy annual reports titled Soviet Military Power, which annotated thousands of minute details about the USSR’s armed capabilities.

They were impressive documents but full of exaggerations and, over time, Moscow engaged in a similar exercise, either to refute American assertions or engage in its own propaganda efforts.

At the State Department, and about the same time, modest programmes launched the annual Patterns of Global Terrorism, although the latter were far more descriptive.

Only the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices preceded these publications, going back to the early 1970s, when President Jimmy Carter elevated human rights concerns to the policy level.

In all of these reports, including the ones that displayed blatant misinformation, an effort was made to let facts speak for themselves. Starting in the late 1990s, a slew of new areas of concern emerged, including religion – with the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom -and now human trafficking.

The June 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report, a 295 pages document available at http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2008/, is in its eight edition and seeks to address a deadly serious issue.

Human trafficking means the actual trade in persons, which is akin to modern-day slavery, as its victims are clearly forced into labour or sexual exploitation.

The detailed report estimates that approximately 600,000 to 800,000 individuals are made to involuntarily cross national borders to satisfy criminal gangs each year.

To be sure, trafficking in people is wrong, and using physical force is neither pleasant nor victimless. Whenever someone is enslaved – readers are encouraged to consult the original to better understand heart-breaking cases – we all lose part of our humanity.

The extremely detailed report clusters countries in four categories.

Using a unique methodology, the manuscript seeks to determine whether a nation is a “country of origin, transit, or destination for severe forms of trafficking,” the extent to which a particular government complies with international standards, as well as capabilities “to address and eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons”.

Those that comply are in Tier 1 (29 States) and include such impeccable powerhouses as France and Britain.

Those that are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance are placed in Tier 2 (70 States), including Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, the UAE and Yemen.

Governments that do not fully comply with minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to correct their behaviours are placed in Tier 3 (14 States).

This is the shortest list and includes Algeria, Burma, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Kuwait, Moldova, North Korea, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Syria. Remarkably, 40 countries, including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Libya, are grouped under a special Watch List because of mixed results.

Besides its infantile classification bordering on a high-school grading system, what is troubling in this latest study, is the sense of misplaced proportionality.

Undeniably, they are abuses in many spots around the world, including in rich countries such as the United States where modern-day slavery and prostitution rings are notorious.

While the US is not listed (an involuntary lapse that will hopefully be corrected in the 2009 edition), frequent news reports surface -when they do – of smuggled Chinese workers brought into the country in shipping containers, or Latin American garment workers illegally held in miserable sweatshops not far from Beverly Hills.

Thousands of former East European women work on the streets of London or Rome or any number of capitals. While these countries have strict laws, how often are they actually enforced? How many of those forced to travel to wealthy nations are apprehended?

Although most of the individuals who are arrested are eventually deported, what happens to their smugglers when these cases surface, and what about the corruption that exists within law enforcement communities?

Foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) issued a rare declaration, which “deeply regretted” that the information on their countries were wrong, and called on the State Department to “revise its unfriendly policy towards” them.

Ministers further concluded that such data intended to place “unjustified pressure for political ends” that must have come as a shock.

In the event, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were on the Tier 3 blacklist, allegedly because many domestic servants or other low-skilled labourers faced “conditions of involuntary servitude”.

Bahrain and the UAE graduated to Tier 2 status for noticeable progress and, in the words of Ambassador Mark Lagon, US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice’s senior adviser on the human trafficking problem, the two countries “continued to make significant improvements”.

Disturbed

If the GCC ministers were disturbed by the tone of this latest report, their unusual call for revisions insisted on a fairer appraisal of whatever cases existed within the region.

Indisputably, there were cases of abuse among the 20 million expatriate workers that toiled on the Arabian Peninsula, but these needed to be placed in their proper perspectives.

Absent such attention, governments around the world will ignore or criticise well-thought-out and clearly well intentioned reports, just as so few paid attention to the old propaganda bulletins that entertained so many.

Human trafficking is a terrible tragedy and the result of man’s insatiable and universal appetite to accumulate wealth fast.

Its gradual disappearance will occur when honest work is once again valued far more than get rich schemes and, towards that end, it behooves those who pride themselves of living in “perfect societies” not to throw stones in haphazard fashion.

Everyone must remain vigilant but one should also be careful not to crumble under one’s own weight in hypocrisy.

Dr Joseph A. Kechichian is a commentator and author of several books on Gulf affairs.

http://www.gulfnews.com/opinion/columns/region/10223831.html

Cabaret owners lash out at sex trafficking claims

By Nassos StylianouCABARET owners launched a scathing attack against the authorities as the House Equal Opportunities Committee yesterday found that there were too many loopholes in attempts to tackle the sexual exploitation of women.

The Association of Cabaret Owners was furious that they had not been invited to yesterday’s meeting of the Equal Opportunities Committee on the issue of human trafficking in Cyprus. In a statement released by the Association, they said they were victims of public misinformation.

“In a democratic state, a thorough discussion should be had, something that is not taking place in Cyprus since we are not allowed to answer criticisms made against us,” their statement read.

They also condemned the police for allegedly using false declarations from witnesses, while the Justice Ministry was not immune from criticism either, with the cabaret owners claiming that refuge centres for victims of human trafficking were a “witness hatchery”.

The House committee said yesterday that they may consider inviting the cabaret owners to a meeting in two or three weeks, but first wanted to hear from various government departments in a bid to get to the root of the problem.

During yesterday’s meeting, it became apparent that sexual exploitation through human trafficking was not being tackled effectively, as court cases against suspects of sexual exploitation could take more than a year to be examined, meaning that the victims may have already left the country.

Rita Superman of the Cyprus Police’s Anti-Trafficking Unit Police confirmed that some victims were also being blackmailed and threatened by former employers into not giving evidence against them, while she added that nobody had been sentenced on the grounds of sexual exploitations and the length of sentences for people found guilty of similar crimes were not harsh enough.

Asked why cabarets and other nightspots notorious for sexual exploitation of women that were found guilty were not closed down, Superman said:

“Cabarets have been closed down in the past, but their owners always seem to find ways of getting around this, for example we have had cases where they simply changed the name of ownership and open the same business again,” she said.

The Mediterranean Institute of Management last week announced that trafficking of women for sexual exploitation in Cyprus has taken on dangerous dimensions after the latest US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report placed Cyprus on what is called the Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year.

Cyprus is the only EU country in that category.

Maria Poyiadji from the Social Welfare Service said that it was a serious problem of mentality on the island that gives Cyprus such a bad name in Europe when it came to human trafficking.

“There is a serious issue of a problem when it comes to mentality,” she said. “Victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation are not only found in cabarets, they can also be found in other places, even in village coffee houses,” she added.

According to Superman, the Anti-Trafficking Unit had noticed a shift in the countries of origin of victims of human trafficking, with a significant number of women who suffer from sexual exploitation on the island coming from the Dominican Republic.

“Fifteen out of the 41 victims this year are from the Dominican Republic. As the standard of living in Eastern Europe has gone up and awareness has increased in those countries, human traffickers are moving to other countries,” she said.

A Justice Ministry representative confirmed that victims of sexual exploitation from the Dominican Republic were told that they would be taken to Spain and have no idea of the kind of work lined up for them in Cyprus.

 

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008http://www.cyprus-mail.com/news/main.php?id=39967&cat_id=1

India: Tirupati-Tirumala hills grapple with rising AIDS cases

Shwetal Rai
CNN-IBN
SCARY STATS: AP AIDS Control Society says there are over 200 sex workers in the Tiruptai-Tirumala hills area.

 

Hyderabad: There has been a steep rise in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in one of India’s holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites, the Tirupati-Tirumala hills.

 

Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society has found out that over 200 commercial sex workers operate in the area.

 

“We have come across this information through unofficial sources that there is commercial sex activity even in Tirumala. There are about 200-300 sex workers there,” Project Director, AP AIDS Control Society, K Chandravadan said.

 

The discovery reveal that sex workers clandestinely operate in about 15 secluded spots in the hills.

 

Chittoor — another district known for its pilgrimage sites — has also been identified as a high-risk zone. Incidentally, smoking, drinking and non-vegetarian food are banned in the Tirupati-Tirumala hills.

 

The temple authorities, however, have denied the findings.

 

“I disagree with the media reports. There are thousands of employees here who are sincere and dedicated. There is no scope for such scandals. We would never allow it,” Executive Officer, Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam, KV Ramanachary defended.

 

Special VIP darshans, a possible dress code and alleged discrimination against scheduled castes — the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam has been enmeshed in various controversies lately.

 

While the temple authorities are now in damage control mode, news of rampant prostitution has shocked devotees.

http://www.ibnlive.com/news/tirupatitirumala-hills-grapple-with-rising-aids-cases/67487-3.html