Not quite jam and Jerusalem: Women’s Institute ladies toured the world in search of the perfect brothel

By Natalie Clarke

Last updated at 9:37 AM on 29th July 2008

The two ladies of the Women’s Institute arrived promptly for their appointment at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. They were greeted by the ranch owner, Dennis Hof, wearing a sharp suit, a fat cigar in his mouth and two nubile blondes at his side.

Jean Johnson, the 62-year-old wife of a retired British Airways captain, and Shirley Landels, a 73-year-old engineer’s widow, were there to make an inspection to report back to their WI branches back in Hampshire.

Would this rather garish brothel, plonked surreally in the middle of the Nevada desert in the U.S., be a suitable model for similar establishments back home, they wondered?

WI

Unlikely chat: Shirley Landells, 73, and Jean Johnson, 62, of the Hampshire Women’s Institute spoke to sex workers at the Bunny Ranch, Nevada

Not quite. While it ticked some of the boxes on their list – regular testing for sexually transmitted infections, a safe environment – it was altogether, well, over the top.

They didn’t approve of the way the girls were brought out in a lineup for the client to choose. As Jean put it afterwards: ‘It was a bit like a dog show.’

Shirley did not like the fact that the girl who was chosen didn’t have an option about whether to accept. ‘I think a girl should be able to say no to a man if she doesn’t like the look of him.’

So what, precisely were these Hampshire grandmothers doing, weighing up the pros and cons of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch? 

The ranch was one of a number of brothels visited by the pair in Holland, America and New Zealand as part of their ‘research’ for the campaign by Hampshire WI to decriminalise prostitution.

Obviously, the WI is the last organisation you might expect to take on such a campaign, but then things have never been quite the same since those ladies from Rylstone and District WI in North Yorkshire stripped off for a calendar and their exploits were turned into the film Calendar Girls.

It seems they’ve discovered a taste for notoriety. But while the calendar was frivolous, this, say the ladies of the WI, is deadly serious.

While there is no doubting the women’s good intentions, some, perhaps, might find the idea of two grandmothers from the WI gallivanting around the world, effectively promoting prostitution, a trifle odd and unsettling.

WI fighting for the legalisation of prostitution

The Hampshire WI are ready for the legalisation of prostitution for Britain – but are the rest of us? 

The unlikely story of the two grandmothers fighting for the decriminalisation of prostitution is told in a Channel 4 documentary to be screened this week, in which they can be seen – among other things – sitting together in the window of an Amsterdam brothel and taking a mobile ‘WI brothel’ around Hampshire.

In short, the documentary makers have milked the ‘jam and Jerusalem grannies see the inside of a brothel’ angle for everything it’s worth.

Will viewers regard the placing of two grandmothers in a brothel window as a tawdry and exploitative stunt?

So how did it all begin? It was Jean, a mother-of-three – including one daughter – who decided that something must be done about the prostitution laws in Britain following the murders of five prostitutes in November and December 2006 by the so-called ‘Suffolk Strangler’ Steve Wright, who was convicted last year. 

Jean raised the subject at a meeting of her local WI in the village of Holybourne, Hampshire.

‘These girls were from all stratas of society,’ she says. ‘They were somebody’s daughters, somebody’s grand-daughters and somebody’s sisters.

‘If it could happen to them, it could happen to anyone. My concern was that if women were to work as prostitutes – and there will always be prostitution – then they should be able to do so in safety. I wanted to get prostitutes off the streets, where they have no protection. My fellow members agreed with me.

‘Our feeling was that the best way forward was for prostitution to be decriminalised and then work out a way of licensing brothels.

The WI inspection of sex toys has a Carry On feel

‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning prostitution, but you have to be realistic.’

The branch made the licensing of brothels the subject of its motion for debate at the autumn meeting of the WI’s Hampshire Federation, which has 6,000 members. The motion received almost unanimous backing.

In order for Holybourne to pass the motion, it had to be seconded by another Hampshire branch, so Jean got in touch with Cheriton WI, which Shirley has belonged to for the past 40 years.

That’s how Shirley, a retired local government officer and mother of a grown-up son and daughter, became involved.

The Hampshire WI’s campaign was reported in the Press and soon afterwards Jean and Shirley were approached by the documentary team.

They decided to visit Holland and New Zealand, where prostitution was legalised in 1997 and 2003 respectively. They would also stop in at Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. 

Under a quirk of Nevada law, any county with a population of fewer than 400,000 people is permitted to license brothels.

First stop was the red-light district in Amsterdam, where women sit on display in shop windows.

After a cursory inspection of some sex toys – again this has a rather Carry On feel about it – the women decided that in order to gauge how it feels for a prostitute to advertise her services in a – window, they should have a go at it themselves.

They must have stood out more than they intended, given the actual prostitutes in the windows wear as little as possible, and these two were dressed in smart trousers and jackets.

‘We were told we had to make eye contact with passers by, but I must say I found it very difficult,’ says Jean. ‘Shirley did better than me, however – she said someone winked at her.

‘We saw the inside of the room where the girl takes the man. It was spotlessly clean, with a hand basin and shower and a panic button, in case things turn nasty. Panic buttons are a very good idea because they help ensure the safety of the girl, which is of paramount importance.

‘I spoke to a man who has more than a thousands girls working for him in 20 windows,’ says Jean. ‘He says girls under 21 are not allowed to work for him because they are not emotionally able to handle it. A rule like that is a good thing.

‘I discovered that in brothels in Holland men must wear condoms, which makes sense, and girls are regularly tested for infection. This is very important, not just for the girl, but for the family of the man who has been to see her.’

But although Jean and Shirley found much to recommend Amsterdam, on balance they decided they didn’t think brothels with hookers in windows were quite right for places such as the village of Holybourne or the charming Georgian town of Alresford, close to where Shirley lives.

‘I would hate to see a girl in a window in Britain advertising herself,’ says Jean without blinking. ‘I think it must be quite degrading.

‘I felt it was rather in your face,’ adds Shirley.

In Amsterdam, the two women also visited a club with tiger-skin wallpaper and hostesses serving champagne at £800 a bottle. The ladies drank orange squash.

‘We didn’t want anything stronger,’ says Shirley. ‘The girls there were very attractive. It was quite upmarket as these establishments go.’

Jean and Shirley also visited an escort agency next door. 

‘Apparently, a man will call asking for a type of girl,’ explains Jean, ‘for example a blonde with a DD bust. I’ve learned that a DD bust is important. The computer will call up a girl matching that description and she’ll be sent off in a chauffeur driven car to his hotel.’

The next stage of the ‘research’ took place in Nevada at Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

‘It was very interesting,’ says Jean with some understatement. ‘The girls were standing in line like we used to at school for selection in the hockey or football team,’ says Jean.

‘Apparently, men come from all over the world, they’ve even got a helicopter pad. We had to laugh, otherwise I think we would have cried. All in all, it really wasn’t something we would want in Hampshire.’

Shirley adds carefully: ‘I can’t say I was absolutely happy with the system in Nevada.’

So while the trip so far had been enlightening, Jean and Shirley had not yet found a prototype brothel for the WI to introduce in Britain. 

But in Wellington, New Zealand, they found two brothels they were very impressed with. The first of these was a house in an upmarket suburb of the capital.

‘It was a beautifully situated suburban house,’ says Jean. ‘Very discreet, no one would know what was happening. What I liked was that there were two girls there, which provided safety for each other.

‘It’s what they call a Small Owner Operated Brothel. And the hours were so civilised – 10am to 7pm Monday to Friday. Just like a regular job, really.’

To Jean and Shirley, it was a perfect model: clean, safe and not seedy in the least – as least as they saw it. The other brothel they liked in Wellington was in the city centre and was more luxurious.

‘It was like a boutique hotel,’ says Jean, ‘with antiques and designer robes. What was especially good was that the rooms have a peep hole, so if the girl doesn’t like the look of the man knocking at her door she can turn him away. 

‘If a girl does invite a man into her room and then decides she doesn’t want to see him again, that is her prerogative. I do believe that the girls should have the right to say no.’

And so, by the end of their trip around the world, the ladies of the WI had the perfect brothel in mind.

A nice suburban house with panic buttons and a peep hole, health-and-safety checks, mandatory use of condoms and the option to turn a man away.

They returned to Hampshire and continued their research. Earlier this month, the two women hired a camper van which they transformed into a mobile brothel of sorts and went on a tour of Hampshire, taking in Winchester, Southampton and Alresford.

Along the side ran the words: ‘Hampshire WI resolution on brothels’ and along the back was the line: ‘Safe working practices for working girls.’ 

Inside were condoms, clean towels and talcum powder.

‘People we spoke to when we visited those places were hugely supportive about our campaign – I’d said more than 90 per cent,’ says Jean. ‘A few huffed and puffed and I’ve had letters saying the path to hell is paved with good intentions, but I just ignore them.’
And at a shopping parade in Winchester, the documentary team set up a window brothel like those seen in Amsterdam.

This time, it wasn’t Jean or Shirley who posed – perhaps this was a bit too close to home – but the journalist who made the documentary, Nicky Taylor.

It was decided, in the circumstances, that there would be a WI theme, so in the window along with Nicky the ladies from Medstead WI had set up a stand with cakes and flowers.

And so this bizarre campaign goes on. At the moment they’ve just got the WI in Hampshire on board, but they hope the WI will take on the cause nationally.

Then these two most unlikely radicals will lobby the Government for a change in the law.

Certainly, it is an extraordinary view to emerge from this most conservative of organisations.

Whether the rest of us should listen to their argument is perhaps another matter.

  • The WI And The Search For The Perfect Brothel is on Channel 4 on Sunday at 10pm.

Original Story

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Tea and sex: Women’s Institute members tour brothels in campaign to legalise prostitution

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:24 AM on 28th July 2008

It’s a long way from jam-making and knitting.

Two members of the Women’s Institute have just returned from a tour searching for the world’s best brothel.

Grandmother Jean Johnson, 62, and her friend Shirley Landells, 73, members of the Hampshire WI, met Amsterdam’s shop-window call girls, inspected sex toys and group-sex rooms, toured the Bunny Ranch in the Nevada desert and visited a ’boutique brothel’  in New Zealand, which they voted the best.

Enlarge   WI

Tea and discussion: Shirley Landells, 73, and Jean Johnson, 62, of the Hampshire Women’s Institute spoke to sex workers at the Bunny Ranch, Nevada

The pair went on the tour, which was filmed for a Channel 4 documentary, as part of a campaign started after the murder of five sex workers in Ipswich in 2006.

Steve Wright, of Ipswich, is now serving life in prison.

Mrs Johnson proposed to her local WI the organisation lobby for brothels to be legalised.

She was greeted with gasps but argues it is in the tradition of WI campaigns on equal pay and HIV research.

In an interview with this week’s Radio Times, she says any family could be affected: ‘Everybody looks on these girls as being from the lowest stratum of society and that’s not true. One of those girls [murdered in Ipswich] was into horseriding, the whole works.’

Ms Landells added: ‘Some say, ‘Oh, prostitution shouldn’t happen.’ But the fact is that it does.

‘Providing somewhere for it to happen would not only help to make the girls safer, it would have a wider impact on health for the girls and their clients, as well as clients’ families.’

In Amsterdam the women saw back rooms where 50 euros buys 15 minutes of a prostitute’s time. They were impressed to see a panic button and a basin for men to wash their genitals.

They visited a shop selling sadomasochistic accessories and a room where up to 80 men could join in sex with about four prostitutes for eight euros.

‘I thought it was absolutely disgusting,” said Mrs Johnson.

At the Bunny Ranch they met prostitutes who had regular health checks and paid taxes.

One, Air Force Amy, mimed her method of oral sex. ‘These are things I’ve never, ever talked about,’ Mrs Johnson said.

In Auckland they accompanied an inspector to the Purely Blue brothel. ‘It was lovely, just like a hotel,’ said Mrs Johnson.

At the Bonton, a boutique-style venue, most sex workers had degrees and professional jobs.

‘’Magnificent,’ was the verdict.

The women have presented a petition to Downing Street and hope their proposal will be taken up by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes.

INDONESIA: Poverty at root of commercial sex work

http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=79441


Photo: A. Mirza/ILO
Although Indonesian NGOs run concerted campaigns to rescue girls working the streets, most of them want to continue being sex workers because, they say, they and their families need the money

JAKARTA, 24 July 2008 (IRIN) – In a district of the northeastern part of West Java, commercial sex workers are touting for business right outside the mosque. Bandungwangi, a local NGO working against trafficking, says half the women and children it rescues from prostitution in Jakarta come from this district.

“The root of the problem is poverty, but in some areas – like that district [child protection agencies have asked that its name not be revealed] in West Java – prostitution is accepted. It’s the culture,” explains Arum Ratnawati of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour, with people so poor they are forced to sell or send their children into commercial sex work to earn income for the family.

In a country with high unemployment and over 4 million school-age children unable to go to school, it is not difficult to understand how trafficking can thrive. The latest government estimates in 2004 put the number of children trafficked for prostitution at 21,000 for Java and 70,000 for the whole of Indonesia. But the ILO says this is just the tip of the iceberg as trafficking is notoriously difficult to track.


Photo: A. Mirza/ILO
In Jakarta, girls await customers and for an overpriced bottle of tea, as little as US$5.50, a customer gets to fondle the young girls

In seedy areas of Jakarta, these girls can be found in small cafes offering customers off-menu items or trawling the streets to find men. For a mere IDR 50,000 (about $5.50), in many cafes, the men get to fondle the girls from the waist up.

In the Batam Islands, 45 minutes by ferry from Singapore, and on the beaches of Bali, ILO says thousands of girls have been trafficked to service foreigners. Elsewhere, locals are the customers. Dolly and Jarak in Surabaya, the main seaport city in eastern Java, are now considered the biggest red-light districts in Southeast Asia, Ratnawati told IRIN.

The stories are usually the same: poor, uneducated girls who do not know how to protect themselves are preyed upon by people they trust, including relatives or neighbours, who promise to give them jobs in the city or abroad. They end up working in brothels, forced to pay off the IDR500,000 or IDR1 million ($55 or $110) the trafficker paid their parents.

Uphill battle

NGOs such as Bandungwangi, however, struggle to prevent more trafficking and to rescue victims. “It is very, very difficult to get women out of prostitution,” executive director Anna Sulikhah told IRIN.

While they conduct awareness-raising activities and provide skills training, these NGOs find that many prostitutes do not want to be rescued. “Out of 500 children we tried to rescue over the past four years, only around 150 really want to quit prostitution,” says Ratnawati. “They give up their rights because of their economic situation. They need the money.”

Exacerbating the problem is that a third of children in rural areas have no birth certificate, and passports are easily forged in Indonesia. “They can just go to the village leader to ask for a letter that says they are 21 years old,” adds Ratnawati. This allows children to cross borders for work.


Photo: A. Mirza/ILO
Prostitution and human trafficking thrives in Indonesia, principally because of poverty. Government estimates in 2004 put the number of children trafficked for prostitution at 21,000 for Java and 70,000 for the whole of Indonesia

In the northeastern district of West Java, the problem goes even deeper than poverty and inefficiencies in the system. “In this district, girls are treated like ‘assets’ because they can marry several times or become prostitutes,” explains Sulikhah. “It is the culture of the area.” Sheer poverty and the lack of income-generating opportunities have made commercial sex work a norm in this district. In fact, some of the girls they rescued and returned home were sent back to Jakarta by their families.

The local government tries to stem the tide of girls leaving their district by refusing to issue letters that guarantee they are of working age, knowing they will end up in brothels around Indonesia or abroad. But the families tell them: “Who is going to feed us then?”

The Indonesian government last year passed an anti-trafficking law and appointed as focal point the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment. It remains to be seen if this is enough to address the culture of prostitution, however, according to analysts.

jd/mw

UK: WI turns brothel creepers

WI Guide To Brothels

WI meets hookers … Jean and Shirley with Nevada prostitutes

WI members will go on a whirlwind tour of some of the world’s brothels in a new Channel 4 documentary.

 

Hampshire WI members Jean Johnson and Shirley Landels met the working girls in a licensed Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada and visited a upmarket prostitution co-operative in New Zealand.

 

On their return they try to create a version of the perfect British brothel.

 

The documentary The WI Guide To Brothels is part of a Women’s Institute campaign calling for the legalisation of brothels in Britain and the reform of prostitution laws.

 

It’s been made with investigative journalist Nicky Taylor who in the film talks to women who sell their bodies on British streets and work in illegal brothels.

 

Nicky also talks to lap dancers, helps a prostitute’s maid, mans an X-rated phone sex line and tries to sell her body in a Winchester shop window.

 

A C4 spokeswoman said: “It’s a bid to see if it’s possible to set up the UK’s first legal brothel.”

 

The WI Guide To Brothels, C4, August 3, 10pm

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/article1465672.ece

“On the Issues Magazine” on Sex Work

“NEW YORK: Prostitution penetrated the news in a major way in recent
months — from ex-governor Eliot Spitzer of New York and his paid
binges with women to the suicide of DC madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey
and the Showtime fluff of “Secret Diary of A Call Girl”

But the media, politicians and feminists have not grappled with the
real complexities of prostitution. In its new Online edition, “Works
Hard for Her Money: Feminists and Prostitutes” ON THE ISSUES
MAGAZINE releases compelling original content — diverse articles,
art and poetry that challenge current notions and urge new thinking.

“The issue of prostitution has divided feminists for years,” writes
publisher and editor-in-chief Merle Hoffman in “Divide, Conquer and
Sell”

“Is the prostitute herself a victim of an oppressive patriarchal
system, or a free agent choosing sex work as a rational career
choice in difficult circumstances? ” Since sex is “a continually
renewable resource — unlike other body resources (sales of
kidneys), it does not self-exhaust; it can just keep giving …. We
ask who owns that resource, who has the power to use, abuse, buy and
sell it,” writes Hoffman.

Angela Bonavoglia’s “Of Victims and Vixens” describes the feminist
abolitionists who link prostitution to violence against women and
their clash in worldview with women who run sex-for-pay services and
see it as empowering. Juhu Thukral explains how differing
interpretations of human rights by feminists has become a flashpoint
in new anti-trafficking legislation in “Feminist Divisions Cause
Real-World Repercussions”

Major thinkers and artists offer other perspectives. In “Pimping:
The World’s Oldest Profession” Kathleen Barry frames in vivid terms
why some feminists see prostitution as bondage. Carol Leigh,
aka “The Scarlot Harlot,” describes the frustration of erotic
laborers who are denied basic rights. Artist Suzanne Lacy, featured
by art editor Linda Stein, narrates a display of her travels with a
prostitute.

To these provocative topics, Shere Hite, known for her work on
female sexuality, calls for a redefinition of women’s pleasure
in “Female Orgasm Today”

The range of the voices on the topic also includes Alexis Greene on
a gripping play by Lynn Nottage about war, rape and prostitution in
Africa; Sonia Ossorio of NYC-NOW on stricter anti-trafficking laws;
Ann Jordan on hardships caused by brothel crackdowns in Cambodia;
poets Minne Bruce Pratt and Erin Whitfield with two views on the
aftereffects of prostitution. Other works are by: Bernadette Barton,
Rita Nakashima Brock, Ariel Dougherty, Mahin Hassibi, Norma Ramos,
Jane Roberts, Nicole Witte Solomon and artists Audrey Anastasi and
Tiana Markova-Gold. Several videos are mounted, including “Turning
The Corner” by BeyondMedia.

ON THE ISSUES MAGAZINE will probe the topic further with new
commentary in its unique feature, “The Café” with incisive feminist
voices.

A print publication from 1983-1999, ON THE ISSUES MAGAZINE ONLINE
offers full archives and all content for free as a committed public
service to upgrade the level of feminist conversation. Visit
www.ontheissuesmaga zine.com

Religious Repugnance Obscures Need for

by Rita Nakashima Brock


In the mid-1990s, Asian feminists concerned about the sexual exploitation of children and women and the growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS urged Susan Thistlethwaite and me to write a book about the sex industry. We traveled to six Asian countries and to major cities in the U.S., interviewing sex workers, anti-prostitution activists, government officials, medical personnel, social workers, brothel owners, members of the military, religious leaders and even a few customers to write Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States.

We did not expect to advocate for decriminalization, but that is where our research led us.

Moral Judgments Interfere

Many find sex work morally repugnant, but similar assessments could be made of other forms of work, such as the nuclear arms industry. Moral arguments that frame prostitution as sexual immorality see it from the perspective of its customers, and this focus on sex tends to make the subject religiously radioactive. (Editor’s Note: See “Casting Stones: The Theology of Prostitution” by Brock in the Summer 1997 On The Issues Magazine.)

Judgment is cast, not on the customers seeking sex, who are often respectable family men and community leaders, but on those who provide services to them. Sex workers, on the other hand, see what they do as business, and most seek to collect their fees with as little sexual performance as is necessary. They separate their work from their own private relationships, as many workers do. Seeing prostitution as sexual immorality, rather than as business, maintains the gaze of the privileged with power and marginalizes the most vulnerable and visible in the system.

How Decriminalization Won Me Over

In Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States, we concluded:

  • 1. Criminalization has little impact on the supply or demand for sex workers but makes prostitution lucrative for organized crime syndicates;
  • 2. Pimps teach exploited children to fear the police and entrap them by threatening them with arrest and imprisonment;
  • 3. Pimps and brothel managers use fear of law enforcement to force sex workers to comply with dangerous practices, such as prohibitions against condom use or refusing a customer;
  • 4. Because most law enforcement officials are male and socialized as men, they commonly demand sexual favors in exchange for better treatment—many are customers themselves, belong to professional associations with traffickers, pimps, or customers, and/or run their own brothels with impunity;
  • 5. When other more serious crimes are committed against sex workers, law enforcement officials will often ignore them in favor of arresting the sex workers who report them;
  • 6. Sex workers, even when victims of violence, slavery, or fraud, are reluctant to report to authorities or to prosecute such crimes not only for the reason above, but also because they are required to use their real names to file charges;
  • 7. Sex workers, if they have access to medical help, are often reluctant to tell doctors the kind of work they do in order to get appropriate medical care and advice about how to avoid HIV/AIDS;
  • 8. Poverty, addiction, and/or family abuse force many into sex work, but in leaving it, they are followed by a criminal record, which can prevent their finding other work;
  • 9. Sexist systems deny women agency or respect their right to make choices about their own lives, and criminalization denies women one means of income to support themselves and their families;
  • 10. Taxes are spent prosecuting adult sexual activity instead of more serious crimes such as rape, child sexual abuse, assault, trafficking, slavery, and murder.

Decriminalization Recognizes Consenting Adults

Decriminalization is no panacea for fixing the worst aspects of sex work, but it is a step in the right direction. In contrast to legalization, a system we call “the state as pimp,” decriminalization prevents the state from prosecuting adults for consensual, nonviolent sexual activity, whether or not money is exchanged.

Laws already prohibit nonconsensual violent sex, as well as slavery, human trafficking, sex with a minor, rape, assault, extortion and robbery. Criminalization makes prosecuting major crimes against sex workers more difficult and the work more dangerous.

New Zealand, a country that has long had women at top levels of government leadership, passed the Prostitution Reform Act of 2003, or the PRA, which decriminalized sex work. Controversial at the time — the PRA passed by one vote — opponents have failed at repeal efforts.

A thorough 2008 study of the short-term impact of the PRA concluded:

(T)he sex industry has not increased in size, and many of the social evils predicted by some who opposed the decriminalisation of the sex industry have not been experienced. On the whole, the PRA has been effective in achieving its purpose, and the Committee is confident that the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off under the PRA than they were previously.

The study identified areas that still needed work, such as the impact on neighborhoods of street solicitation and coercion of sex workers to take customers against their will.

Rejecting Benevolent Paternalism

In reaching our conclusions, Sue and I followed a basic feminist liberation principle: those most vulnerable and negatively impacted by an exploitive system must be respected and listened to carefully as experts with knowledge gained from experience. Benevolent paternalism, as well meaning as it may be, is still a way for those in power to deny it to those they seek to help and to impose their view of the world on others.

Sex workers should be in leadership in any movement intended to make their lives better. Their agency over their own lives must be enhanced, even when we disagree with their choices. We followed this principle in writing Casting Stones, and it led us to conclude that decriminalization is one feminist strategy for helping women lead better lives.


Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock, Ph.D., is Senior Editor in Religion at The New Press and co-author of Casting Stones: Prostitution and Liberation in Asia and the United States, which won the Associated Catholic Press Gender Studies Award in 1996. She is a board member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and a former director of the Radcliffe Fellowship Program at Harvard University.

Also see: Casting Stones: The Theology of Prostitution by Rita Nakashima Brock, On The Issues Magazine, Summer 1997.

http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/july08/july2008_4.php

Legal Momentum Applauds Senators Biden and Brownback on the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act

Last update: 3:41 p.m. EDT July 21, 2008
NEW YORK, July 21, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — As the oldest legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights of women and girls, Legal Momentum stands with our allies who work every day with trafficking victims to support the Senate version of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act co-sponsored by Senators Joe Biden and Sam Brownback.
“The United States Congress enacted historic legislation eight years ago, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, to combat the scourge of human trafficking,” said Legal Momentum’s President Irasema Garza, “and this legislation has helped thousands of victims escape slavery and receive protection, while their traffickers are prosecuted.”
But these gains are in jeopardy because of a House-passed bill that would distort the definition of human trafficking by expanding it to include adult prostitution.
Victims’ advocates and survivors oppose equating adult prostitution with human trafficking. Under current law, human trafficking is defined as labor or commercial sex performed under force, fraud or coercion or any commercial sex performed by minors. The House legislation proposes a major change in this definition. It removes the force, fraud or coercion requirement from adult commercial sex cases. By doing so, it places under federal jurisdiction cases, which are traditionally the province of state and local authorities.
Changing the definition will not make trafficking cases easier to prosecute. In fact, by requiring federal authorities to expend resources investigating adult prostitution cases which are traditionally under the jurisdiction of state and local authorities, it will spread thin the resources dedicated to policing trafficking. It will harm the most vulnerable victims of human trafficking — children — by reducing the resources dedicated to finding and prosecuting predators who go after children.
The Senate bill improves victim protections and strengthens the ability to prosecute human trafficking. It builds on the House-passed bill and expands protections for minors who are trafficked, and eliminates many of the obstacles trafficking victims have faced in accessing protection. This bill goes far beyond any of the prior reauthorizations and reaffirms the United States’ commitment and leadership towards eliminating modern-day slavery.
While trafficking cases are difficult to prove, federalizing prostitution will not make trafficking cases any easier to prosecute. The Department of Justice stands in solidarity with the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Attorneys General, and the National District Attorneys Association, all of which agree with victim’s rights, women’s rights and human rights organizations and the Senate bill on the need to preserve the current definition of human trafficking.
Any change in the legal definition of human trafficking attacks the fundamental integrity of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and will severely undermine our government’s ability to battle what is now an international trade in children and women. Senators Biden and Brownback have taken a courageous stance to protect women from modern-day slavery. Their bill expands our country’s commitment to protect vulnerable women and girls beyond the historic efforts to which our government dedicated itself with adoption of TVPA eight years ago.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SCHEDULE AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT OF LEGAL MOMENTUM, CONTACT: Altagracia Levat, Legal Momentum, 347.739.7664, alevat@legalmomentum.org.
SOURCE Legal Momentum
 http://www.legalmomentum.org

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