Pappadum Pam

The Electric New Paper

Recall
Her acts enthralled a nation

Her sex-capades almost brought down a government and made her a media star. It was 1989. The New Paper was a year old.

26 August 2008

IT was 1989. The New Paper was a year old. http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,174411,00.html

The Cold War between the former Soviet Union and the United States was on its last legs.

Burmese opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest and the Tiananmen Square incident happened.

And then there was Pappadum Pam.

Pamella Bordes nee Singh was a 23-year-old sultry former Miss India-turned-prostitute who scandalised Britain and the then-Conservative government.

Her fee for a weekend of sex: $6,500.

She had paid sessions with several Members of Parliament, a junior government minister Colin Moynihan (who is now chairman of the British Olympic Committee) and prominent newspaper editors.

Using her high-level political connections, she snagged a research job that came with security clearance for the British House of Commons.

It was also alleged that she was friends with the cousin of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi and was the mistress of infamous arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi.

When her story broke, everyone wanted to know everything about her.

How did the daughter of an Indian army officer became a hooker and very nearly threaten the political survival of the British Conservative government?

It was a scandal that instantly drew comparisons with the 1963 Profumo affair when British War Minister John Profumo’s mistress, Christine Keeler, was revealed to be having an affair with a Soviet naval attache.

That controversy resulted in the downfall of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s government – Keeler was jailed and Profumo resigned in disgrace, and the man who introduced them killed himself.

Margaret Thatcher’s government managed to withstand the shock of Pappadum Pam. There were no political fallouts, even though the prime minister was pressured to investigate the matter when the alleged Libyan links were seen as a threat to national security.

A Thatcher aide had remarked then: ‘As far as we can ascertain, there is no political dimension at all to this.’

The Sun newspaper took the liaisons lightheartedly, polling British national editors to find out if they too had had an affair with Pamella. The paper later apologised to one editor, who complained that by leaving him out of the poll, it had challenged his manhood.

Pamella eventually sold her story to The Daily Mail for £250,000 ($660,000).

It was not just readers in the UK who were hooked on her affairs.

In June 1989, when The New Paper started carrying a series of reports on her, it pushed daily circulation to a high of around 66,000. The figure was around 38,000 in July 1988 when the paper was launched.

But soon after all the shortlived thunder and fury, Pamella slipped out of the limelight and went into hiding in India.

She resurfaced in 1992 and reinvented herself as Pamela Singh, serious photographer. By then, she had dropped the extra ‘l’ in her name and her French businessman husband Henri Bordes.

But she could not shake her past completely.

British-Asian journalist and author Mihir Bose recalled his encounter with Pamella in 1992, in his 2006 book, Bollywood: A History.

He recounted how Pamella, who was hired to take photos for his article on Bollywood, was frightened of being recognised in India. She checked into a Mumbai hotel using her maiden name but word soon got out that she was in town.

Instead of treating her like a leper, she was feted by the Indian media and the Bollywood glitterati as a conquering heroine, for taking ‘revenge’ on India’s former colonial masters.

Mr Bose even received a phone call from Pamella’s mother, who had disowned her daughter 12 years earlier.

The mother reportedly urged her daughter: ‘Come to Delhi and stand for parliament; the youth of the north are all for you.’

Mr Bose concluded: ‘I ended up writing the most extraordinary story I have ever written, not about the Bollywood stars but about the photographer who was supposed to be merely taking the pictures to illustrate my piece.’

Pamela became a freelance news photographer in 1993, shooting for publications such as The Washington Post, The Telegraph, The Independent, Paris Match, Elle, Newsweek and wire agencies such as Reuters.

Recluse

The Hindu Business Line reported that Pamella did a stint in architecture at the New York Parson School of Design and attended the International Centre for Photography in the same city.

She later trained under photographers such as Peter Beard, David Bailey and Raghu Rai of India.

She said: ‘These masters taught me the art in their own unique ways. And I was as keen a student as one could ever get.’

The New Paper’s attempts to find the elusive woman, now 42, were unsuccessful.

She is said to be a recluse living in Jaipur and rejects all media interviews.

If she does give the rare press interview, she never talks about her past, only about her work and exhibitions.

The New Paper found an e-mail address and a mobile number from a New Delhi art gallery where she held her last exhibition.

We also tried another e-mail address, another phone number and made a dozen phone calls to Indian newspapers – but Pamella could not be found.

And it seems that is the way she likes it – quietly doing her work in India, meditating, doing yoga, travelling and just being left alone with her studio and cameras.

She said: ‘Whenever I am in the mood, I pack my bags and head for some exotic destination with a set of frames in my mind. I am enjoying my work and want to do it in a perfect way.’

Pappadum Pam has become Zen.

Prostitutes tell of gang rapes

5:34pm Thursday 28th August 2008

By John Davies »

A Slovakian miner has gone on trial accused of being part of a rape gang which was responsible for five attacks on Bradford prostitutes.

A jury at the city’s crown court heard today that while one of the sex workers was being subjected to a series of rapes in the back of a people carrier, 33-year-old Lubomir Kora filmed part of it on his mobile phone.

Kora, a married father-of-six, has denied a charge of conspiracy to rape relating to a spate of attacks between February 7 and March 13.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood told the court that five prostitutes aged between 19 and 34 had been lured into the distinctive vehicle and subjected to serious sexual assaults by a group of men.

“The aim of group was to get a girl, picked up from the street, for their own sexual gratification,” said Mr Wood.

“Each of them knew that in all likelihood violence would be used against the women in order to subjugate them and make them compliant. There was no question of any of these women consenting to what happened to them.”

Mr Wood described how each of victims, who cannot be identified, were approached by a man who initially asked for sexual services for himself or a second man.

The jury heard that after the prostitute had got into a Kora’s Toyota Previa she would be driven to a secluded location where other men would either come out of their hiding place in the vehicle or from a separate car.

Mr Wood described how the first two prostitutes managed to escape from the gang after they had been picked up in the city’s red-light district four days apart.

In March a 19-year-old sex worker was approached by two men with Czech accents and driven to Arthington Street, a cul-de-sac.

“Once at this location two further males actually climbed over the rear seats. They had been hiding in the back and immediately started to attack her,” said Mr Wood.

“She was struck in the face and they began to try and rip her clothing from her. With the exception of the driver, who watched what unfolded, the other three males raped her.”

The teenager suffered bruising to her face, upper body and legs in the attack and her mobile phone was stolen from her.

A week later a 33-year-old prostitute was again approached by two males in a people-carrier vehicle.

“The prosecution’s case is once more that the driver was Kora,” alleged Mr Wood.

“The driver engaged her in conversation and agreed a price for each man. The people carrier then drove off to Long Lane at Heaton and pulled into a lay-by.’’ Mr Wood said the driver had consensual sex with the prostitute, but after she refused to have sex with his passenger two other men appeared from their hiding place and pinned her down.

While she was being raped by the passenger Kora took photographs of the attack on his mobile phone.

Kora later told police that it was one of his cousins who had asked him to take the pictures and he had been forced into it.

The prostitute was repeatedly raped during her ordeal and had her phone taken from her before she was allowed to leave the vehicle.

She was picked up by a passing ambulance crew in a distressed state.

“She said that she knew she was a working girl and that people would think that she deserved it, but she went on to say no-one deserves this,” said Mr Wood.

Two days later a 34-year-old prostitute was also picked up by two men in a people carrier as she worked alone on Gaynor Street.

After it was driven to the same cul-de-sac in Arthington Street three other men arrived on the scene.

“Four of these males became aggressive in demeanour towards her. She was punched. They began to remove her jeans and rifle through her handbag. Whilst this was occurring the driver watched,” alleged Mr Wood.

The prostitute was raped by all the men including the driver during an ordeal which lasted about 40 minutes.

“The people carrier was then driven off to Long Lane while she was physically held down in the back of the vehicle,” said Mr Wood.

“On arrival there the male she describes as being the most violent demanded sex again. She was restrained by the other males whilst this man raped her again.’’ Mr Wood said the semi-naked and injured woman managed to escape from the vehicle during a lull in the attack and managed to flag down a passing motorist.

The next day detectives found the Toyota parked outside a hostel on Idle Road where Kora was living with his family.

During a series of police interviews he admitted driving his cousins round in the vehicle because they were “bored”.

He said on one occasion they had picked up a girl, but he had let her out of the car after they had been fighting in the back.

Kora said the others had chastised him for letting her go because she was “nice, beautiful and they could have done stupid things with her”.

Kora claimed he had just gone along to help the others who had threatened to tell his wife if he did not drive them.

He denied having sex with any of the women, but admitted had become sexually aroused by watching what his cousins were doing.

The trial continues.
http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/local/localbrad/3629854.Prostitutes_tell_of_gang_rapes/

Taliban slays women for “prostitution”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Viewer discretion is advised.

http://womenagainstshariah.blogspot.com/2008/08/taliban-slays-women-for-prostitution.html

Pa. town sued after rejecting pole-dancing studio

It’s not Porn, but the idiots who run this town think it is….

PITTSBURGH – A suburban Pittsburgh woman has sued a town that refused to allow her to open a pole-dancing studio on the grounds it was a sexually oriented business.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Pittsburgh by the American Civil Liberties Union claims Adams Township officials violated Stephanie Babines’ right to free expression by denying her an occupancy permit.

Babines, a computer analyst from Cranberry Township, alleges “the small-town municipal officials do not approve of the type of dance she teaches. They believe it is ‘provocative,’ full of sexual ‘innuendo,’ and too dangerous for their township.”

Babines claims her studio does not fit the definitions of adult business in the township’s zoning code and wants a judge to rule that barring a dance studio that doesn’t involve nudity violates the First Amendment.

“My classes are a specially designed exercise for women that allows them to have fun, feel confident about their bodies and express their sexuality,” she said in a statement. “This is not a strip joint or gentleman’s club.”

Although Babines’ classes include pole-dancing, power lap dance, strip tease and “SeXXXercise,” they are all taught and done fully clothed, the lawsuit states. Men can’t take the classes, and no spectators are allowed.

The occupancy permit was denied because “we recently received information that would classify your business as an ‘adult business’ because of the content of your advertising and information” on Babines’ Web site, township code enforcement officer Gary Peaco wrote to Babines in March.

At an appeal hearing in May, Peaco testified he didn’t need to interview Babines because her Web site’s “pink-and-black color scheme … and the high-heeled shoe in her logo” indicated to him she planned to run a sexually oriented business, the lawsuit states.

The hearing included testimony from Babines’ students, including “a self-described Christian grandmother,” all of whom said the routines were not sexually explicit, the lawsuit states.

Babines operates a dance and fitness program called “Oh My You’re Gorgeous,” and teaches pole-dancing in a Cranberry Township studio and at homes. She wanted to expand her business and leased a former children’s clothing store in nearby Adams Township, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh.

She said she spent about $10,000 installing flooring, mirrors, poles, dressing rooms, additional walls and other amenities. She wishes to use the space to teach dance and fitness classes and hold bachelorette parties where she would teach pole dancing, as well as sell “non-sexually explicit merchandise such as poles, high-heeled shoes, feather boas and T-shirts.”

Peaco said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation. Township solicitor Charles Flach did not return a call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

http://www.pornnewz.com/2008/08/pa-town-sued-after-rejecting-pole-dancing-studio/

Cambodia: Sex workers, 100% condom use and human rights


Juliana Rincón Parra
From: Global Voices Online

Cambodian sex workers have taken to the internet to make their plight and fight for human rights better known. In Cambodia, a 100% condom use law which states that sexual exchanges with clients have to take place with condoms on sounds like a good idea, but it has been turned against those it is supposed to protect, by being used as a means to imprison sex workers, using the fact that they carry condoms with them as evidence for them doing sex work.

Sex workers arrested are sent to “rehabilitation” centers that are basically prisons, where women are held in communal cells with no bathrooms or running water, hardly receive food or water, some are beaten and raped, and are denied Anti-retroviral drug treatment for HIV positive women.

The Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers has a series of studies of the perceived results and effects of the 100% Condom Use Program according to sex workers in different countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. You can also see the video the have uploaded on their Blip.tv channel Sex Workers Present, where a comprehensive video with explanations of the implications of the 100% condom use program, interviews with women who have been arrested or sent to “rehabilitation” facilities where no type of education or training is received, and how these programs that connect condom use exclusively with sex workers are not going to be able to impact HIV and STI propagation among the rest of the population. The Asia pacific Network of Sex Workers recently won the 2008 international Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights at the International AIDS conference in Mexico City the first week of August. The organization was founded in 1994 and has been working with sex workers on health and human rights along with other organizations and groups such as Empower Thailand, Sweetly Japan, Pink Triangle Malaysia, the Scarlet Alliance Australia and Sonagachi.

http://ki-media.blogspot.com/2008/08/caught-between-tiger-and-crocodile.html

UK: Stigmatisation of prostitutes

From
August 29, 2008
A precedent for singling out one identifiable group has already been set

 

 

 

Sir, Carol Sarler says in her article (“Paedophiles may be mad or bad”, Aug 21) that it would create a precedent to single out one identifiable group and exclude it from the principles of law that apply to all others. I beg to differ. There is a precedent.

 

There has been one group that has been differently treated under the law since the 19th century, that of the women labelled “common prostitute”. This label has been applied to women and girls by their being cautioned twice by a police officer for soliciting. Happily, this has stopped for children since the late 1990s. They are now seen to be the victims that they have always been, ie, abused children. But for women with the label in place, they can be brought before any court, described as a “common prostitute” and are guilty before trial. It is a lifetime label and has employment implications.

 

Why should men who have abused children, who are without choice, be championed? Women prostitutes, on the contrary, deal with adult men who have choice. So why should women be labelled in this way as they have been for 200 years?

 

The social reformer Josephine Butler campaigned to remove this stigmatising label from prostituting women until her death, as do we still at the Josephine Butler Society.

 

Valerie Gore
Chairman, Josephine Butler Society
Canterbury

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/letters/article4628076.ece

Yet Another Obscenity Trial? We Should Be Ashamed

By Dr. Marty Klein, AlterNet
Posted on August 29, 2008, Printed on August 29, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/96366/

Last week I traveled 14 hours to Staunton, Va., to testify in an obscenity trial. A guy was accused of selling DVDs in his shop that showed adults having sex with each other — which, of course, he had.

Staunton is the kind of small town in which locals enjoy being helpful to strangers. In fact, when I pulled into a gas station needing directions, the mechanic fixing a flat asked me where I was from, shook my hand and introduced himself, welcoming me to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.

But I couldn’t have coffee with the guy. I was in Staunton to defend the Constitution from his neighbors. Maybe even from him.

I am desperate for you to understand this: An American city, in the year 2008, asked a jury of seven men and women to declare that a movie of adults having sex could be illegal. City prosecutor Ray Robertson said that some movies — these movies, for sure — could be so dangerous that they fall outside the protection of our glorious First Amendment.

What could these films contain that make them so treacherous? If the films called for organized revolution, they would be legal. If the films said blacks were lazy, Jews were cheap or Catholics were disloyal Pope-lovers, they would be legal. If the films said our two-party system was corrupt, and that censorship laws were destroying democracy, they would be legal.

The indicted films didn’t say any of these things. But the government said these films were so dangerous that adults must be prevented from buying them.

In the United States. In 2008. Films that simply showed adults having sex: no kids, no animals. Not even a pretend rape. Just a few hours of boobs, boners and butts, waxed vulvas and a few pints of ejaculate (much of it on women’s faces or chests). And hours of smiles.

To a casual observer, the bust looked simple enough: A small-town cop buys a DVD and gives it to the DA, who convenes a grand jury, which issues an indictment, and a small-time businessman gets hauled into court.

That would be bad enough. Remember, this is America.

But something more sinister was afoot: The federal Department of Justice was involved in this. Attorney Matthew Buzzelli, part of the DOJ’s medieval Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, was serving as co-prosecutor, even though there were no federal indictments. Prosecuting a tiny shop in tiny Staunton is part of a bigger plan to attack smut across the country. “They’re interested in how we do here,” said local prosecutor Robertson.

Now let’s roll in the irony.

Staunton, Va., is just a few miles from Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson — author of the Declaration of Independence. And it’s only a few miles from Montpelier, the home of James Madison — who wrote the Constitution.

Staunton itself, in fact, is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, who guided the United States into and out of World War I. His presidential library is on North Coalter Street, two blocks from the courthouse. James Monroe’s estate is less than an hour away. Founded more than three centuries ago, Staunton is thick with the perfume of history. The history of freedom.

The trial to decide whether one adult can sell a movie to another adult of other adults having sex was taking place in the shadow of Jefferson and Madison. If anyone noticed the depressing irony of this, they didn’t mention it.

The government claimed the movies should be criminalized because:

 

  • They depict sick behavior. 

     

  • They appeal to sick people. 

     

  • Watching movies like this makes people masturbate and makes them watch more movies, rape women and molest children. 

     

  • Criminalizing the movies is part of protecting American society from moral depravity.

 

The first three points are demonstrably not true. The government couldn’t prove any of them, so they just asserted them, over and over.

The fourth claim is merely overheated rhetoric, a judgment about personal morality that any American is free to make. The idea that anyone could enforce that judgment on another American, however, is repulsive.

And yet that’s what the government did — it lied repeatedly about the first three claims and asserted the jury’s responsibility to pursue the fourth.

In fact, the government used the slimiest tactic imaginable. Although every actress in “Sugar Britches” had proven she was over 18, the government said one looked much younger (small breasts, shaved bush, etc.). Therefore, according to the argument, the film appealed to pedophiles; it encouraged them to molest children and was thus so dangerous it had to be banned.

Judge Thomas Wood had already warned the prosecution not to make this a trial about child pornography. He became so angry at its repeated references to children that he threatened the government with a mistrial if they continued.

Without this inflammatory strategy, the government had nothing of substance to say. Its “expert,” sexual trauma specialist Dr. Mary Anne Layden (who said porn is the “most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of today” and porn addicts have “more trouble recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts”), had no peer-reviewed studies and no nonclinical samples.

Similarly, federal attorney Buzzelli claimed the films were designed to appeal “to an unhealthy interest in sex.”

Prosecutor Robertson argued that “You’ve never seen anything immoral in Staunton until this store came here,” and “It was wrong for this community, obscene for this community.” He urged the jury to exile the store and its products: “Go where they allow it … where they don’t care about the morality or the decency of their community. … Don’t turn Staunton into Las Vegas.”

From small town to the mighty feds, that was the case: These films are immoral and so should be illegal.

To decide if the movies were dangerous, the jurors had to watch the movies. In broad daylight, fully clothed, sitting next to strangers, right after breakfast, they had to watch three hours of porn. Some of them had never watched porn in their lives and assumed, quite reasonably, that they would die some day without ever doing so.

Naturally, those men and women hated the experience the government put them through. Think about how you’d feel being forced to listen to hours of Bill O’Reilly, or whatever sounds to you like fingernails on a blackboard. Then multiply this by a thousand. That’s what it must have been like for those jurors.

After that, they were supposed to imagine a normal person watching one of these films for a few minutes, getting excited and happily climaxing — and then going back to a normal life, normal marriage, normal parenting.

Jury members were the only ones on Earth forced to watch the films. Then they were supposed to decide if their neighbors could be allowed to watch them voluntarily. How completely mixed up is that?

In the end, the clerk who sold the films to the cop was acquitted. The guy who owns the store was convicted of selling obscene material to a consenting adult. He will be punished. He has already spent tens of thousands of dollars defending himself. He has been dragged into court, branded a danger to his neighbors and their children, and threatened with spending month after terrifying month in jail.

The people on the jury will go home to their lives. They’ll have a story to tell their friends. They’ll have watched porn when they otherwise wouldn’t have. Or they’ll have watched familiar porn in a very unfamiliar situation.

But these seven people decided that there’s a movie so dangerous that it challenges the entire basis of American democracy. It is so dangerous, it must be wiped out from the community. It must be kept away from adults, who are allowed to drive, to vote, to own guns, to raise children, to do surgery and to serve in the Army.

The movie is that dangerous, said the jury.

So people of Staunton, don’t shake my hand, don’t welcome me to your pretty little town, don’t be so damn friendly. I hate what you did to my country last week. You spurned Jefferson, denied Madison, spit on the America you claim you love.

After the trial I walked down Market Street, back to the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. Bumper stickers exhorted me to Support Our Troops and Bring Democracy to Iraq.

I packed my things and drove to Monticello, as I’d planned. But I had trouble enjoying the tour of the place where Jefferson dreamt up America. My heart just wasn’t in it.

Editor’s note: To get provocative, compelling articles about sexuality in your mailbox, sign up for our free Sex and Relationships newsletter.

Dr. Marty Klein is a licensed marriage and family therapist, certified sex therapist, and sociologist with a special interest in public policy and sexuality. He has written six books and more than 100 articles about sexuality.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/96366/

Sex Worker Rights Are Human Rights

By Juhu Thukral, On The Issues Magazine
Posted on August 28, 2008, Printed on August 29, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/96875/

The idea of sex workers fighting for their human rights is a foreign concept to most people, even those who identify politically as progressives or feminists. Sex workers have lived on the margins of society through most of human history, and despite the prevalence of this work all over the world, sex workers are often treated as less than human, both in cultural attitudes and public policy. In fact, it cannot be said enough: sex workers are people — friends, neighbors, family members, wage earners, and parents — and they deserve the same human rights as everyone else.

What Human Rights?

Feminists and advocates of all stripes have argued that they want to work for the human rights of sex workers, often without an analysis of what human rights for sex workers might look like.

While many people would agree that access to human rights includes the right to be free from harm, to have access to health care and housing, and to seek safe employment that pays a living wage, there is fierce debate as to what any of this actually means. Some feminists argue that sex work is inherently harmful and that the very act of trading sex for money is a violation of a person’s sanctity or dignity, and is, in and of itself, an act of violence. For these feminists, the story ends there, even when sex workers all over the world speak out, not to ask to be pulled out of sex work, but to demand that their rights be protected as they work.

Others, like the Sex Workers Project, believe that a human rights framework includes active participation of sex workers from different backgrounds and experiences; efforts to combat violence, whether it is at the hands of customers or of the police; advocate for public health programs that promote the autonomy of sex workers, and work to empower sex workers so that they can make the best choices for themselves and their families, assessing their life circumstances as best as they can. These elements are key to any effort to respect the human rights and health needs of sex workers; to properly assist those who want to leave sex work for other work, and to protect the rights and safety of those who continue in sex work.

Another key issue that gets less attention is the fight over the role of the criminal justice system. Some feminists view prosecution and punishment through the criminal justice system as the cornerstone for helping victims of violence. Others view rule of law as one of many important keys toward guaranteeing human rights, but argue that an excessive focus on the criminal justice system is detrimental to many marginalized groups, including sex workers, who have been victimized by the police. There are fundamental clashes between the needs of a criminal justice prosecution, and the needs of a human being who would most benefit from a rights-based approach.

Feminists Line Up Differently on Law Revision

These debates, often centered on agency and autonomy, might seem theoretical and unimportant in the realm of people’s daily lives. However, the debate often plays itself out in concrete policy terms, especially around the issue of human trafficking.

While human trafficking involves the experience of force, fraud, or coercion in any type of labor, such as domestic work, agricultural labor or sex work, it has been salaciously painted as being synonymous with prostitution. The idea that prostitution equals trafficking has been burned into the public mind by lurid headlines that scream of victims rescued from their captors, often without follow-up news items that might explain that the reality is more complicated, and that any number of prostitutes decided to go into that work because it was a way to make enough money to live on and also support their families, who are often in other countries.

Feminists who wish to abolish prostitution entirely have found strong allies in the Christian right and in the Bush administration. The efforts to incorrectly equate prostitution and trafficking as the same have culminated in recent efforts around the federal anti-trafficking law that Congress has been considering for reauthorization in 2008 (final vote still pending in early July).

The House version of the legislation includes a dangerous and unnecessary change to the Mann Act, a federal law that prohibits interstate travel for the purpose of prostitution. This change has nothing to do with human trafficking, and thus far, the Senate has bravely withstood pressure from some feminists and have not included this expansion in their version of the bill, SB 3061.

The federal anti-trafficking law, enacted in 2000, already defines anyone under 18 who is involved in commercial sex acts, and anyone in prostitution who experiences force, fraud or coercion as a victim of human trafficking. Changing the definition of trafficking so that law enforcement does not need to look at a person’s age or experience of coercion (the heart of the trafficking crime) will put the focus squarely on prostitution, rather than on labor and prostitution situations in which people are living under a climate of fear and experiencing genuine human rights abuses.

Are We Listening?

As law enforcement look for more victims, they will inevitably arrest more sex workers, and will lessen their focus on people who are trafficked into sectors other than prostitution. This will lead to untold harms to people who have been trafficked into other labor sectors and who cannot receive the help and attention they deserve; and to those who work in prostitution for reasons as diverse and complicated as any that go into deciding how to make money and build a life. At the Sex Workers Project, we find that most of our clients go into sex work because they can make more money and work more flexible hours than in other industries. In our 2005 study, 67 percent of the sex workers we interviewed did not make a living wage in other jobs such as waitressing, administrative work, or retail. For many, sex work was not their only form of work — 46 percent supplemented their income from mainstream jobs with sex work.

The people we see every day at the Sex Workers Project are just like everyone else — they want to know that if they are a victim of a crime, that they will receive the same attention as anyone else. What they do not want is to be classified as a victim of human trafficking as they go about the complicated business of living their lives and supporting their families as best as they can.

All feminists need to agree that when we hear the voices of sex workers advocating for their human rights, we need to really listen, rather than impose our own views of what life decisions we might deem acceptable.

Juhu Thukral, Esq., is the director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York City. She has been an advocate for the rights of immigrant women in the areas of health, work, and sexuality for fifteen years.

© 2008 On The Issues Magazine All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/96875/

Taking On the Traffickers

August 23, 2008
NYT Editorial

 

The Federal Trafficking and Victims Protection Act of 2000 was an ambitious attempt to rescue women and children who are smuggled into the country as sex slaves and to step up prosecution of the pimps and traffickers who drive this ghastly business. It has fallen short on both counts.

The law is now up for reauthorization, and Congress must strengthen it and extend protections and services to victims born in the United States.

The legislation provides federal funds to local trafficking task forces made up of prosecutors, law enforcement officials and social service groups. The social service groups are supposed to help identify victims and then provide them with the guidance and support they need to rebuild their lives.

According to federal estimates as many as 17,000 people — most of them women and children — are brought into this country and forced to work in brutal and inhumane conditions, often as prostitutes. The 42 federally funded task forces that have been set up have only been able to identify a small fraction of those victims.

There are many reasons for this. Traffickers are experts at moving people around without being detected. They also train the women they exploit to fear the police. The task forces are often understaffed, with too few investigators to do the job effectively. That needs to change if the country is going to get at this problem.

Prosecutors are also having a hard time making cases against traffickers and pimps. Even victims who are not too terrified to testify, must meet a very difficult standard. They must prove that they did not consent to become prostitutes and did so because of “force, fraud or coercion.”

The House reauthorization would help prosecutions by adding the Mann Act’s somewhat easier-to-prove standards that calls for prosecution of pimps who “persuade, induce, entice” women into prostitution. The Senate should add that language as well.

The social service groups that help prostitutes on the streets have zeroed in on another serious shortcoming: the government’s failure to protect and support sexually exploited women and children born in this country. The House reauthorization requires the Justice Department to conduct a study of domestic victims so that there is at least an understanding of the scale of the problem. That would be a start but is not enough.

Congress was right to take on the problem of sexual trafficking. Now it needs to pass a more effective law; one that will provide real protection and help for all exploited women and children.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/23/opinion/23sat2.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail0=y&oref=slogin

NC: Fighting prostitution takes community effort, expert says

Anderson officials say they are working on the problem
By Liz Carey , Charmaine Smith-Miles
Monday, August 25, 2008

ANDERSON COUNTY — The toll prostitution takes on communities and people can be seen on some streets in south Anderson.

Drugs, crime, violence, vandalism and blight permeate the area, the cousins of the world’s oldest profession. Experts and community leaders say the solution requires everyone within a community to come together.

While police continue to make arrests, residents and business people on the south side of Anderson say the problem isn’t getting any better.

Since 2005, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office has arrested only 68 women and men for prostitution. In the past three years, the Anderson City Police Department has made only seven arrests for prostitution, records show. <!–more–>

Getting rid of prostitution in the community has been a concern for local leaders, but experts say it’s going to take more than a few arrests and undercover operations to make an impact.

Ronal Wietzer, professor of sociology at George Washington University and an expert in the sex industry, says effectively combating prostitution requires targeting not only prostitutes, but also those who solicit them. In addition, he says, it requires a community coming together on the issue and offering treatment and rehabilitation for the women who sell themselves on the street.

“Some cities have increasingly focused on the prostitute’s customers instead of the workers themselves,” he says. “Evidence has shown that a guy who is arrested for solicitation has a very low recidivism rate. In one study, only 2 percent of those arrested for solicitation had been arrested again for the same crime three years later.”

“Johns,” or the men who solicit women for sex, are more likely to be concerned about the impact their arrest will have on their families, their friends, their reputation and their jobs, he says.

Just as much as deterring those who frequent prostitutes, communities need to offer incentives to prostitutes to get them out of the industry, Wietzer says.

“Instead of just arresting people and letting them go after a few days in jail, we need to increase the opportunities to get people off the streets,” he says.

That approach seems to work.

In Tacoma, Wash., residents formed a community group called Safe Streets to deal with the issues of prostitution, crime and blight in their neighborhoods.

Steve Jewell, deputy director of Safe Streets, said the group brought together local organizations, community members and local government to help individuals and neighborhoods combat crime and take back their streets.

Prostitution also was an issue, he said. The group worked to not only eliminate prostitution, but also to eliminate the demand for sex workers.

Safe Streets works to deter “johns” through “John School,” comparable to traffic school where those charged with soliciting someone for sex are taken through a course that shows the impact of their actions. Those arrested for prostitution are also given help in getting out of the life.

“A lot of them want out,” he said. “They are just so pulled down by their own life, they can’t deal with it.”

But the key to Safe Streets success, he said, was a concerned community working in concert to bring the issues before county and city government.

“One of the things you will find is that these crimes will move into an area that is not organized and doesn’t care,” he said. “When we go out and march through the neighborhoods peacefully we let the Johns know they are not welcome.”

Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts agrees that those areas in south Anderson have changed. Prostitution has moved into these communities as homeowners left and houses became rental properties, he says.

“On Whitner and Market streets, many of those homes were owned and not rented,” Roberts says. “My observation is, when I go to St. Mary’s of the Angels (church) on White Street during the week, there are women walking the streets. And we receive complaints from business owners.”

Roberts also emphasized the need for residents to get involved.

“I would think, by the very nature of it, it is a very hard thing to see — as far as people being concealed,” the mayor says.

Seeing a woman walking on the street is not a reason to charge someone, law enforcement officials say. And catching them in the act is harder than one might expect. So having residents or business owners tip off the police as to where prostitutes are conducting their business is a big help, he says.

“It’s a matter of getting the people who live in affected areas to trust the officers to pass that information on,” Roberts says.

He believes part of the solution is patrols and visibility of officers.

Anderson Police Chief Martin Brown has more officers on patrol between the midnight to dawn hours to increase their presence during high-crime hours.

Both the police and sheriff’s office say that by working with community groups, they hope to identify the problems and move the prostitutes and drug dealers out of their areas. In 2004, there was a surge in the creation of grassroots community groups on Anderson’s southside.

Since then, those groups — which bring together residents, public officials and law enforcement — were instrumental in alerting the authorities to criminal activity in their neighborhoods. Roberts says those who come to the meetings are doing what is needed: passing on the information they have about prostitutes and where they are.

The one thing that could help even more, he said, is for more residents to get involved in those meetings.

But how do you combat a crime that is at once undercover and out in the open?

On the Internet, places such as the VIP Spa in Anderson, are listed as places men can go for more than just a massage. VIP Spa was one of the sites of an undercover bust for prostitution in 2007.

Even Web sites as innocuous as citysearch.com provide detailed reviews of the services women at the spa are willing to perform.

Web sites like World Sex Guide, list provide reviews on an Anderson hotel.

On craigslist.com, a Web site offering free classifieds, women advertise themselves for sex. In the Greenville/Upstate area, more than 180 women listed themselves as looking for men, many of them listing their prices — from $125 to $250 per hour, and many with pictures.

Those web sites are kept under surveillance by law enforcement as well, said Capt. Roy Stuart, with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

“You can put anything on the Internet, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true,” Stuart said. “We know the Web sites, too. And we do investigate them. We never forget. It may take us a while, but we never forget about it. … We know where the problem is.”

Investigations of sex for sale, however, take time and resources.

Specially trained officers must ensure that conversations with the suspect are recorded and that they do not use words that may be construed as enticing or entrapment. In addition, officers need to know the lingo used and how to respond to a suspect’s questions.

And undercover stings are an expensive way to catch one or two people, said Capt. Kevin Marsee, head of the Anderson City Police Department’s special forces.

“If you’re going to do an undercover operation, it’s going to take you a lot of personnel. … It’s going to take a team, decoys, unmarked cars. … You may work for three hours to arrest one prostitute,” he said. “Or you may work four or five hours to arrest three or four people soliciting prostitutes.”

The solution, he says, is to make an area inhospitable for crime in general.

“If you go into an area and you just look for all violations — whether it’s someone with a crack pipe or whatever — if you can arrest for other offenses and let the neighborhood know that this is an area that is going to be dominated by the police, then … the word gets out that this isn’t the place to go,” he said.

Marsee said the city’s work has effectively pushed the elements out of the city and into the county. Eliminating it from the county will mean the city and county have to work together, Weitzer said.

“When the police start cracking down on an area and they don’t do it every few weeks, but … in a sustained way over a period of two or three weeks, prostitutes will move out of the areas,” he said. “There’s a displacement effect. What you need is for law enforcement to work in unison if you want to eliminate it from an area.”

But, law enforcement officials say, the problem will never go away completely.

“Prostitution and drugs will always be there,” Marsee said. “There’s no way to eradicate it completely.”

Chrissy Adams, 10th Circuit Solicitor agrees that drugs are a major part of the problem.

“Prostitution remains a challenge for our community but I believe that drug dependency which often leads to prostitution is of greater concern,” she said. “If we can make strides in reducing drug dependency in Anderson then I believe there will be a corresponding reduction in prostitution.”

Jailing prostitutes is not the solution, she said. Instead, she backs community support of places like the Shalom House to provide alternatives for the women.

“Jail may sober them up for a time but if they have nowhere to go but the streets then that is where they will go back.”

Link to original story on Anderson Independent Mail