Perpetuating the Prostitution Pledge: Allegiance to Failure

Sex Worker Rights Are Human Rights-A Major Woodhull Focus

From Woodhull Freedom Foundation news letter

By: Carol Queen, Board of Directors WFF

Over th
Carol Queene past two years, the Woodhull Freedom Foundation has become increasingly active in an important human rights issue-protection of sex worker’s rights.  Last fall, WFF helped sex worker organizations put on the first-ever Sex Worker’s Leadership Institute.  This year, we sponsored and participated in the national Desiree Alliance Sex Workers Conference, which was held this July in Chicago.  And today we are again providing support to the coalition of local and national groups working in San Francisco to pass Proposition K, a city ballot initiative addressing major issues crucial to the sex worker rights movement.

What do we mean when we talk of “sex workers”?  The term encompasses a wide range of wage-earning activities (by men and women) in which the worker is paid to perform sexually or to render sexual services to a client or clients.  Broadly interpreted, it includes work in the porn industry, erotic dancing in clubs, and even some forms of waitressing, in addition to escorts, street walkers, phone sex operators, etc.

You will note that we refer to this as a human rights issue.  It was recognized as such by the Secretary General of the United Nations at this summer’s International AIDS Conference.  The decriminalization of sex work is not just about the legal right to engage in a specific type of employment.  If treated as criminals, sex worker’s access to health services is compromised and their vulnerability to HIV and other STDs is increased.  They also have scant ability to access legal resources for employer violation, or for abuse by clients, or to seek fair wages and safer working conditions.

In fact,  criminal treatment of sex workers actually leads to abuse by the police themselves!  A recent study by the University of California, San Francisco found that one in five sex workers had been paid for sex by police officers and one in seven were threatened by officers with prosecution if they refused a demand for sex.  In San Francisco, the police and DA’s use presence of condoms as evidence of prostitution, a clear disincentive to practice safe sex.

Proposition K addresses these problems.  It would decriminalize prostitution and focus law enforcement on the real criminals-rapists, abusers, and those who traffic in unwilling victims.  It would stop police from harassing innocent people engaged in consensual sex. It would end the waste of $11 million dollars of taxpayers’ money now spent on harassment and prosecution of consensual sex workers and their clients.

Proposition K will be a hard fight.  Conservative forces are lined up against it.  But its passage, or even a strong showing at the polls, will be a major step toward improving the lives of sex workers, preventing prosecution of fully consensual sex, and redirecting law enforcement toward the real criminals.

For More information contact

UN: HIV and International Labor Migration





International labour migration—the movement of people across national borders for employment—is an increasingly important aspect of global, regional and national economies. Recent estimates indicate that 86 million people are international labour migrants.1 This policy brief focuses on the HIVrelated needs and rights of international labour migrants,2 regardless of their status as regular or irregular,3 or the duration of their migration.


Migrant workers benefit from increased employment opportunities. Origin and destination countries both benefit, the former as remittances are a reliable source of income and the latter because of the important contribution labour migrants make to the economy and society in which they live.4 Yet migrant workers experience particular HIV risks and needs, which must be addressed in striving towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services by 2010.5


International labour migration and HIV risk


Social, economic and political factors in origin and destination countries influence the risk of HIV infection of international labour migrants. These include separation from spouses, families and familiar social and cultural norms, language barriers, substandard living conditions, and exploitative working conditions, including sexual violence. The resulting isolation and stress may lead migrant workers to engage in behaviours, e.g. unsafe casual or commercial sex, which increase HIV risk. This risk is exacerbated by inadequate access to HIV services and fear of being stigmatized for seeking HIV-related information or support.6


Female migrant workers may be particularly vulnerable to HIV. Many are employed in relatively unskilled jobs within the manufacturing, domestic service or entertainment sectors, often without legal status and little access to health services. They are often susceptible to exploitation and/or physical and sexual violence, in some cases by their employer, and have few alternative employment opportunities. Women left behind by their spouses, faced with the same economic challenges, and other challenges besides (e.g. food insecurity) that contributed to their husband’s migration, may be forced to exchange sex for food or money and thus become vulnerable to HIV. They may also be at risk if their husband returns infected with HIV.7


International labour migration and people living with HIV


International labour migrants who acquire HIV in transit or destination countries, or who are already living with HIV, often cannot access HIV services. Migrant workers rarely have the same entitlements as nationals to insurance schemes that make health care affordable, particularly if their status is irregular.


Culturally and linguistically appropriate HIV programmes are often scarce in host countries; additionally migrant workers may be living in geographically isolated areas (e.g. construction and mining sites) with little provision of health services.


More than 60 countries restrict people living with HIV from entering or remaining in a country for any purpose; international labour migrants may be refused entry or face deportation if they are found to be HIV-positive.8 Where HIV testing occurs in the context of migration, internationally agreed standards for informed consent, confidentiality and counselling are not routinely applied.9 Migrant workers receiving antiretroviral treatment in the destination country may also have their treatment disrupted by deportation, if, in the country to which they return, they cannot access HIV services.


The main government rationales for HIV-related travel restrictions are to protect public health and to avoid excessive health care and other economic costs perceived to be generated by HIV-positive non-nationals. There is no public health justification for such restrictions. HIV is not transmitted casually and everyone, whether HIV-positive or -negative, national or non-national, can prevent further transmission by practising safer behaviours. Thus, travel and migration by HIV-positive people in itself does not entail a risk to public health.


Given the economic benefits of international labour migration, and the extended productivity of people living with HIV from improved therapies, it is increasingly difficult to argue that people living with HIV will incur more costs to the destination country compared to the benefits they contribute over a long-term stay. Where refusal of entry or deportation is based on HIV status alone, these measures are discriminatory and unwarranted.


Policy position


The 2001 United Nations General Assembly Special Session Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, adopted by all Member States, calls for “national, regional and international strategies that facilitate access to HIV/AIDS prevention programmes for migrant and mobile workers”. Addressing HIV among international labour migrants will also contribute towards reaching the universally agreed Millennium Development Goal and target of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015.


International labour migrants have the same human rights as everyone else,10 and HIV status in itself is not an indication of fitness to work. Migrants workers, irrespective of their HIV status, can and do make important economic and social contributions to both origin and destination countries. To maintain this, they need access to culturally and linguistically appropriate HIV programmes in origin, transit and destination countries at all stages of migration—before departure, on arrival, while in the destination country, and upon return and reintegration into the origin country.


States retain the right to determine who enters their country, so long as their policies are consistent with international human rights norms. Yet international labour migrants, whether in regular or irregular status, should have the same human right to health as nationals. Promoting migrants’ health is essential for achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, besides improving the productivity and economic independence of individuals and families.


Effectively addressing HIV requires both HIVspecific actions and actions aimed at the root causes of HIV risk behaviours, including poverty, gender inequality and human rights violations among international labour migrants in both regular and irregular status.11 UNAIDS, the International Labour Organization and the International Organization for Migration urge partners in origin, transit and destination countries to collaborate on the following actions.


Actions for governments

  • Ensure that national laws recognize the right to health for international labour migrants and do not create barriers to accessing health and HIV-related services.
  • Include international labour migrants in national development, health and HIV-related policies, strategies and plans.
  • Ensure, through funding public health services, nongovernmental and private organizations, that international labour migrants and their families (including those left behind) have the same access as nationals to gender-, language- and culturesensitive HIV services.
  • Integrate HIV services into pre-departure, postarrival, return and reintegration processes.
  • Ensure there is no discrimination on the grounds of HIV status in the context of entry requirements, immigration, employment or reintegration procedures12, and where testing is done to assess future health-care costs, ensure HIV infection is treated equally to comparable health conditions and not singled out as a basis for discrimination.
  • Ensure that laws, policies and programmes respect the rights of both workers living with HIV and international labour migrants and their families.
  • Enforce minimum national labour standards for both nationals and non-nationals.
  • Collaborate to implement regional strategies for addressing HIV-related issues among international labour migrants.


Actions for workers’ organizations


  • Promote sound HIV workplace policies.
  • Support the formation of associations by international labour migrants, their inclusion in existing organizations, and the incorporation of HIV-related issues into programmes implemented by these bodies.
  • Support efforts to eliminate discrimination both against people living with HIV and international labour migrants.
  • Advocate ratification and implementation of international conventions on migrant workers.

 Actions for businesses


  • Develop and implement sound workplace policies in line with the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work.
  • Reduce financial costs for migrant workers in sending remittances to their families and communities.


Actions for civil society


  • Support international labour migrants to access HIV-related services and broader appeal mechanisms, e.g. migration, labour or human rights boards.
  • Establish gender-, language- and culture-sensitive HIV programmes for international labour migrants and their families.
  • Conduct and disseminate research on international labour migrants and HIV risk,
  • Advocate for equal treatment of international labour migrants and nationals, and challenge stigma and discrimination against migrants, including that perpetuated by the media.

 Actions for international partners


  • Support national AIDS programmes, civil society and other organizations, in origin, transit and destination countries, to provide health and HIV-related services to international labour migrants, including those in irregular status.
  • Conduct and support research on migration and HIV to inform policies and programmes.


First Person Voices


Brian Brink, Senior Vice President – Medical, and Edward Bickham, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, AngloAmerican

AngloAmerican is a global leader in mining and natural resources. Labour migrants, including those from surrounding countries, constitute a significant proportion of our workforce in South Africa.


We maintain a strict policy of non-discrimination between migrant and local workers. Since 2002, all employees have been encouraged to seek voluntary counselling and testing, and if HIV-positive are eligible for wellness programmes and free anti-retroviral treatment. We have made good progress in moving away from a hostel system and towards providing family-friendly accommodation or housing allowances, so that migrant workers can bring their families with them if they wish.


If AngloAmerican didn’t provide these programmes, we would have faced the premature death of many workers and been party to a humanitarian disaster. Instead, our HIV programmes are now largely self-funding via reduced absenteeism and skills loss, and because 95% of employees on treatment are fit to do their normal work. A good HIV response represents, quite simply, good management practice.


Marianito D. Roque, Secretary of Labor and Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippines


OWWA is the lead Philippine government institution looking after the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). In 1995, OWWA conceived and implemented a Medical Care Program for overseas Filipino workers and their families. In 2002, OWWA responded to the rising incidence of HIV among OFWs by strengthening its information campaign against HIV and providing other related services throughout the migration process.


Applicants must receive information on HIV before they can be issued clearance to work overseas. OWWA assists OFWs by ensuring that foreign employers respect contract provisions, including health-care benefits. Repatriated OFWs are provided with personal, economic and community reintegration services and encouraged to undergo voluntary HIV counselling and testing. These services are free.


Working abroad is full of challenges and threats – and one of the threats is HIV. We must help ensure our OFWs come home with success stories and are HIV free; after all, their sacrifices help keep the Philippine economy afloat. We must likewise assist them deal with the consequences if they do become HIV-positive.


Ana Avendaño, Associate General Counsel, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)


AFL-CIO is a voluntary federation of 56 labour unions, representing 10 million people of every ethnicity and walk of life across the United States.


In 2002, AFL-CIO adopted a policy in support of legalizing the status of undocumented workers and their families in the United States. If there are exploited workers, this leads to substandard wages and conditions for everyone. Currently, migrant workers in both regular and irregular status have little access to health and HIV services, and are often forced to use emergency departments when in need of care.


AFL-CIO never asks a worker to reveal their immigration status when they come to us for help. As unionists, we must focus on the rights of all workers, regardless of their status. We must also continue, with other international partners, to find trade union-based strategies for addressing HIV.


A longer version of this policy brief is available at

1 International Labour Conference, 92nd Session, 2004. Report VI. Towards a fair deal for migrant workers in the global economy ILO Geneva
2 This policy brief does not focus on internal migrants and trafficked persons, while recognizing they also have similar risk factors for HIV
3 Migrant workers are considered undocumented or in irregular status if they are not authorized to enter, stay and engage in remunerated activity in the State of employment (Article 5, International Convention of the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families 1990).
4 Beath A (2007). Migration. In: Goldin I, Reinert K, eds. Globalisation for development: trade, finance, aid, migration and policy. World Bank.
5 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. Article 20.
6 Asia Pacific Migration Research Network, UNDP (2004). No safety signs here: research study on migration and HIV vulnerability from seven South and North East Asian countries; UNDP; Anarfi J (2004) “Women’s migration, livelihoods and HIV/AIDS in West Africa” In: Women migrants and HIV/AIDS: an anthropological approach UNESCO Paris
7 CARAM (2004).The forgotten spaces, mobility and HIV vulnerability in the Asia Pacific – abridged version; CARAM, Kuala Lumpur; Brummer, D (2002) Labour migration and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. Geneva, Regional Office for Southern Africa, IOM.
8 For further information on specific country requirements see Global Database on HIV-related Travel Restrictions,
9 CARAM (2007). State of health of migrants 2007: mandatory testing CARAM Kuala Lumpur
10 These include the right to work (Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and the right to a healthy and safe working environment (Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).
11 All actions should be in line with An ILO code of practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work (2001), the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990), the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and human rights(2006); ILO (2005) Multilateral framework on labour migration; non-binding principles and guidelines for a rights-based approach to labour migration; Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97); and Migrants Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143).
12 UNAIDS does not support mandatory testing of people under any circumstances, see UNAIDS & WHO (2004). UNAIDS/WHO policy statement on HIV testing UNAIDS and WHO Geneva


  • OJP
  • Phone: (202) 514-2007

Task Force Members, Others Meet to Discuss Investigations and Services for Victims

ATLANTA – Associate Attorney General Kevin J. O’Connor today announced almost $10 million in additional funding to supplement existing task forces and to expand the number of task forces working with community-based organizations to combat human trafficking. The Associate Attorney General made the announcement at the 2008 National Conference on Human Trafficking, where more than 350 representatives from federal, state, and local organizations gathered to discuss methods of investigating human trafficking and servitude and how best to provide services to trafficking victims.

“Human Trafficking is a serious crime and deserves the focused attention of law enforcement and victim service providers,” said Associate Attorney General O’Connor. “The task forces receiving funding today are made up of both of these important elements. We will continue to use all of the resources at our disposal to make sure that traffickers are convicted and that victims receive the assistance they need to recover.”

Since 2002, the Department has partnered with state and local law enforcement, and victim service organizations to convict 342 traffickers and assist 1,300 victims from 80 countries. In 2007 alone, the Department opened 154 new trafficking investigations.

Of the funds announced today, more than $4.1 million will go to task forces in: Washington, D.C.; Hawaii; Boston, Mass.; Suffolk County, N.Y.; New Jersey; Nassau County, N.Y.; San Jose, Calif.; Saint Paul, Minn.; Lee County, Fla.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Multnomah County, Ore. Three new task forces will be established in Westminster, Calif.; Homestead, Fla; and Pitt County, N.C. To date, the Department has provided more than $70 million in funding to these task forces.

In addition, the following victim service organizations have received funding to work with the task forces:

Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance
International Rescue Committee, Miami, Fla.
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Salvation Army, Orange County, Calif.
Bilateral Safety Corridor
San Diego, Calif.
YMCA of Greater Houston Area
Houston, Texas
Heartland Alliance for Human Needs
Chicago, Ill. area
Safe Horizon, Inc.
New York City and Nassau County, N.Y. areas
Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Island Division
Justice Resource Institute, Inc.
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST)
Los Angeles, Calif.
Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach
International Rescue Committee
Phoenix, Ariz.
International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis
St. Louis, Mo.
Tapestri, Inc.
Atlanta, Ga.
Catholic Charities of Venice, Inc.
Lee County, Fla.
Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pa.
Catholic Charities Oregon
Salvation Army Alaska
Refugees Services of Texas
Northeastern University

The Department also announced more than $400,000 to fund two studies conducted by Abt Associates, Inc. and San Diego State University Research Foundation. The studies will assess criminal justice strategies and collaborative programs across the country and internationally that focus on reducing the demand for commercial sex.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. More information about OJP’s work on human trafficking can be found at More information about the efforts of the Civil Rights Division to combat human trafficking can be found at



Lambda Legal Files Federal Lawsuit Charging Johnson City Police Department with Bias

From Lambda Legal
‘In America, the police do not get to add an extra punishment to people they don’t like.’

(Johnson City, Tennessee, September 30, 2008) — Today Lambda Legal is filing a federal lawsuit in Tennessee on behalf of Kenneth Giles against Johnson City and its police chief. The lawsuit centers on the fact that the Johnson City Police Department (JCPD), in a highly unusual action for that Department, released photos of Giles and 39 other men who were arrested in a public sex sting operation.

“In America, the police do not get to add an extra punishment to people they don’t like,” said Greg Nevins, Supervising Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “They also do not get to ignore the principle of innocent until proven guilty. The JCPD went out of its way to humiliate Mr. Giles and caused irreparable damage.”

On October 1, 2007 the JCPD issued a press release, personally approved by the police chief, that included photos that were taken at the scene where 40 men, including Mr. Giles, were arrested in a public sex sting. The local news ran the story prominently along with the pictures and addresses of the men involved. Lambda Legal reviewed the police department’s press releases for over a period of a year and found that out of approximately 600 other releases, none pertaining to arrests was accompanied by photos or personally approved by the chief. Of the 40 arrested, one man has committed suicide, and several others have lost their jobs, including Kenneth Giles, who was fired from his job as a nurse at the VA hospital.

“I don’t understand how the police department can release photos of one group and not any others,” said Kenneth Giles. “I lost my livelihood because my arrest was treated differently.”

Lambda Legal argues that the JCPD violated federal equal protection law by singling out these men for harsher treatment by making their images available to the media. Indeed, the actions of the JCPD are the latest in a long history of the police going beyond legitimate law enforcement measures to take extraordinary action designed to target gay men for humiliation and harassment, as explained in the attached Background Information Sheet.

Greg Nevins Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office is handling the case, Giles v. City of Johnson City, et al. Lambda Legal’s cooperating counsel in this case are John Winemiller of Merchant & Gould, P.C., and Lisa Linsky and Jill Basinger of McDermott, Will & Emery, LLP.


Contact: Tika Milan; E:


The actions of the Johnson City Police Department publicizing the photographs of men arrested as part of a sting operation targeting gay and bisexual men, while not similarly publicizing other arrests, are the latest chapter in a long history of police departments’ unequal treatment of members of the public based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Set forth below are examples based on historical records of anti-gay activity by law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

Police departments have selectively targeted gay men for enforcement of public sex laws while failing to devote the same enforcement efforts to public sex between men and women. See Baluyut v. Superior Court, 12 Cal.4th 826, 829 (1996) (court found that arrested gay men “established all of the factors necessary to establish constitutionally impermissible discriminatory prosecution .”); see also Hope v. City of Long Beach, 2005 WL 6009954 (C.D. Cal. 2005); Brown v. County of San Joaquin, 2006 WL 1652407 (E.D. Cal. 2006).

Some officers, not content with arresting wrongdoers, have gone to great lengths to entice men to commit crimes. In July 2008, a judge in Florida threw out charges of indecent exposure, committing a lewd act, and battery, because the officer “initiated the topic of sexual acts and repeatedly asked the defendant ‘what he was working with'” in order to entice the defendant to expose himself. City of Fort Lauderdale v. Marsh, In the County Court of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County, Florida, Case No. 70-018738MO10A, Order Granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss.

In 2006, an appellate court in New Jersey reversed a conviction for lewdness, because the defendant presented “a persuasive attack on [the officer’s] credibility, raising serious doubts about whether it was believable that a police officer could have had almost a hundred men approach him, pull out their genitals and start masturbating without any enticement by the officer at all.” State v. Mamone, 2006 WL 2237733 *6 (N.J. Super.A.D. 2006).

As in the Johnson City case, the police often have sought to punish men arrested for lewd conduct, often before conviction of any crime, through unusual public exposure of these arrests. Many police departments have publicized the identity of men arrested for this activity in ways that they do not do for other crimes, even those that are much more serious. “These solicitation laws frequently have devastating personal, social, and economic effects for those arrested, even though criminal penalties typically are slight . . .” Richard D. Mohr, Gays/Justice, A Study of Ethics, Society, and Law (Columbia University Press, 1988), 54-55.

One common practice has been sending reports of the arrests of gay men to their employers and landlords. Robert K. Woetzel, “Do Our Homosexualitly Laws Make Sense?”, Saturday Review of Literature, 48, p. 23-25, Oct. 9, 1965.

“[T]he overwhelming majority of abuses, along with the customary notification of employers and publication of names in local newspaper, was simply endured.” Gary David Comstock, Violence Against Lesbians and Gay Men (Columbia University Press, 1991), p. 13.

“Very often, the charges were thrown out, but by that time, damage was done: local newspapers had published the names of the people charged, and their jobs, marriages, and positions in society were all at risk.” Simon LeVay and Elisabeth Nonas, City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America (MIT Press 1995), p. 44.

Over the years, police departments have engaged in large-scale roundups of gay men for “questioning” with no charges. One of the most well-known of these anti-gay campaigns involved the rounding up of 1400 men in Boise, Idaho in the 1950’s. John Gerassi, The Boys of Boise (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001).

Police in Miami Beach admitted to a similar practice, with the Miami Beach police chief that his force would “harass” gay men “and let them know in no uncertain terms that they are unwelcome on Miami Beach.” One, Vol. II, No. 1 (Jan. 1954), p. 19.

The Vice Squad director in Tampa confessed in almost verbatim words that this also was true in his jurisdiction; One, Vol. IX, No. 12, p. 9 (Dec. 1961) (the “harassment routine . . . will continue until we’re sure these people know without a doubt they are not wanted in Tampa.”). One incident reflected the Tampa police department’s hostility toward lesbians, in addition to gay men. There, the police held twelve women without charge on “general investigation,’ to be fingerprinted, questioned, and subjected to mug shots. If their records are clean, said the vice chief, ‘We’ll have to let them go for now, but we’re going to keep after them until we run them out of town.'” One, Vol. V, No. 8 (Oct.-Nov. 1957), p. 19.

Law enforcement officials falsely have suggested that gay men are more responsible than heterosexuals for sexual assaults on children. For example, in Dade County, a police commission official stated that there was a “connection” between the open operation of gay bars and increased complaints of child molestation in the community; One, Vol. II, No. 1 (Jan. 1954), p. 21. Indeed, not only have scientific studies failed to prove a link between men’s interest in other men and pedophilia, but some studies have shown that such an incidence is very rare. See Gregory Herek, Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation, (citing study of 175 men convicted of sexual assault against a child where, of the 60% who were primarily attracted to adults, none of them were primarily sexually attracted to other adult males (citing Groth, A.N., & Birnbaum, H.J. (1978). Adult sexual orientation and attraction to underage persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7 (3), 175-181); citing a study of abused children in the Denver area where the abuser could be identified, only 2 of the 269 children were abused by a gay man or a lesbian (citing Jenny, C., Roesler, T. A., & Poyer, K. L. (1994). Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals? Pediatrics, 94(1), 41-44)).

Police have engaged in extortion schemes targeting gay men, exploiting these men’s concerns over public trials that would expose their sexual orientation. For example, a grand jury in Pittsburgh uncovered a racket by Pittsburgh police “of framing men on ‘morals charges’ then arranging, through ‘cooperative’ attorneys, to drop charges after ‘payments’ were made.” One, Vol. V, No. 4, p. 11 (Apr. 1957).

A nearly identical scheme was uncovered in Chicago, in which the lawyers would kickback some of their excessive fees to the arresting officers. Robert L. Jacobson, ” ‘Megan’s Laws’ Reinforcing Old Patters of Anti-Gay Police Harassment,” 88 Geo. L.J. 2431, 2438 n.50 (July 1999).

Over the years, there has been a significant improvement in many police departments’ recognition of their obligation to “protect and serve” all members of the community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many departments actively train their officers to respond to the needs of all segments of the community and some have created a liaison officer position to respond better to the needs of the LGBT community. Nevertheless, as this case reflects, much work needs to be done to ensure that the men and women charged with keeping our communities safe live up to the highest ideals of the public trust vested in them.

UK: Playing politics with sex workers

Planned government legislation makes assumptions based on unreliable data that will make women less safe

Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Thursday 16 October 2008 12.30 BST

In her speech to the Labour conference this September, the home secretary Jacqui Smith made clear her intention to criminalise clients of “trafficked” sex workers and stated that, from October, she will begin work to outlaw paying for sex with those who are “forced into prostitution at another’s will, or controlled for another’s gain”.

Stirring stuff, yet Smith seems coy about giving the actual figures for trafficked workers. The official figures for the police operation Pentameter 1 showed, that despite 55 forces hunting for them, only 88 women were trafficked. Since it is accepted on all sides of the debate that 80,000 work in the sex industry, then the number of those trafficked amounts to 0.11% of those in sex work. According to a recent parliamentary answer, Pentameter 2 improved on that performance with the recovery of 167 victims of trafficking – but that still represents only 0.21% of sex workers. Continue reading

Anti-Prostitution Pledge Results in Discriminatory Treatment

Sex-industry segments in Spain

29 September 2008 by laura agustin

I spent some years living in Spain, visiting, observing and thinking about different segments of the sex industry. It struck me from early on that the endless discussion of ‘prostitution’ failed to comprehend the variety within the industry – variety that could be seen as good, bad or indifferent but that is there. Here are descriptions of four: large highway clubs, private flats, small houses associated with agriculture and the international coastal zone. After each description, I highlight the socially interrelated themes that arise from even such a brief glance, in order to point out how a cultural study of commercial sex – not prostitution – might proceed.

Highway venues called clubs – not in the sense of having membership

Streams of cars and trucks roar along multi-laned routes that connect Spain with France, Germany and other states east and with Portugal to the west. For long-distance truck drivers, the backbone of European commerce, long stints of solitary driving must be broken up with places offering rest and recreation. The buildings strung along these superhighways, as well as along smaller, provincial roads, are known informally in Spanish society as puticlubes (whoring clubs), but to those that work there they are hoteles de plaza, a term that refers to the employment system used, in which those offering sex for sale pay a daily rate for a place to live and work for three-week stretches. These businesses may house 50 workers or more…

To read the rest of this blog post, please go to:

Women say NY’s dollar-dance clubs have darker side

By CRISTIAN SALAZAR, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 3, 4:22 PM ET 

As neon lights bathe the dance floor of the darkened nightclub, a group of young women from Latin America sit at tables, sipping water or soda and waiting for men to approach and hand them cash.

For $2, the women will dance one song. For $10, they will dance a set. Forty dollars buys an hour of their time.

The scene plays out in immigrant neighborhoods across New York City, providing a key source of employment for immigrant women and a haven for men seeking to stave off the loneliness of being far from home. It is a perfectly legal form of entertainment — there is no stripping but plenty of hand-holding.

But some of the women say the clubs have a darker side. They complain about exploitative management, sexual advances from clients and even violence. A 24-year-old dancer was recently shot and killed in Queens, and one of the city’s largest dollar-dance venues is now the target of a federal lawsuit.

For many dancers, the stigma of working at the clubs is the most trying problem.

“Sometimes people or clients say we’re prostitutes, but we’re not. We dance,” said Tania Zarate, a dancer at one club in Queens.

That dancing can veer from prudish to the sensual grind. Some clubs demand that dancers wear skimpy uniforms. Elsewhere, they dress in jeans and T-shirts. Bouncers are often hired to fend off unruly customers or those with straying hands.

Many of the dollar-dance places can’t rightly be called nightclubs. They are bars that just happen to feature dance floors with women who get paid by the dance.

Zarate, 35, who is from Veracruz, Mexico, wore a short jean skirt, white blouse and white tights on a recent summer night. She said she returned to dancing after leaving the job to try her skills in another line of work. But that job ended.

She was not happy to return to work as a dancer.

“To have to come from my country and work this kind of job? No!” she said in Spanish, with a wave of her hand. “Sometimes you dance with a guy and then he doesn’t want to pay up.”

The idea of women dancing with a partner for a song has a long tradition.

During the Depression, men in many big cities could go to “taxi-dance halls” to pay for dances. Back then, each dance cost just a dime, and the women were largely of Eastern European descent.

Today, the woman hail from Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere. They are often single mothers who have become migrant workers to support the families they left behind.

Carla Ramirez, 26, a married mother of three, said she began dancing at a club soon after arriving from her native Ecuador. She said she keeps the job secret from her husband.

“He thinks I work in a restaurant,” she said. “He doesn’t like me drinking or dancing with another man.”

The men she dances with at a nightclub on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens are mostly laborers from Latin America. They are often construction workers, landscapers and restaurant workers. Many come to the clubs still wearing boots and jeans, splattered with paint and mud.

A 41-year-old laborer, who spoke on the condition that he be identified only as Emilio because he didn’t want to be known as a patron of the clubs, said he sometimes spends hundreds of dollars a night on dancing, drinks and female companionship.

“When a man is lonely, he looks for someone who he can talk to and someone he can spend time with,” he explained.

Ramirez said she sometimes worries about safety. “There are times when the guys are drinking, and they start to fight and throw bottles,” she said, but adds that the club where she works hires bouncers.

The need for security was highlighted in December 2007 when 24-year-old Adriana Valderrama, a dancer at the nearby Tulcingo Cafe, was fatally shot and her dance partner wounded. There have been no arrests in the killing, and detectives believe the gunman fled to Mexico. Messages left for the bar’s owners were not returned.

Dancers can also face the relatively ordinary peril of labor exploitation.

A lawsuit against the Flamingo, a tropical-themed nightclub in Queens, alleges that the bar’s owners failed to pay wages and overtime, subjected the dancers to video surveillance in a dressing room, and required them to pay entry fees of up to $11, plus fines if they were late for work or missed a day.

Diana Trejos, a former dancer who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, complained that the women were controlled as if they were employees: They were given schedules, required to have doctors’ notes if they missed work because of illness and required they buy uniforms for theme nights.

“All of these things were controlled,” said Trejos, 40, who is from Colombia.

Attorneys for the owners of the business asked a court to dismiss the complaint, arguing that nothing in the suit was true.

The dancers and their lawyers disagree.

“You can’t call a worker an independent contractor and avoid the requirements under the labor law,” said Elizabeth Wagoner, an attorney for a community organization that is supporting the former Flamingo workers in their lawsuit and has organized protests against the nightclub.

Gary Kushner, an attorney for the Flamingo’s owners, said he asked his clients not to comment. He said they had promised the federal judge they wouldn’t litigate through the media.

Handwritten posters in the window of Flamingo apparently put up by current dancers at the club disputed the former employees’ claims: “We are happy to work in the paradise of Flamingo,” and “They’re against us because they’re not here.”

When banks fail, do prostitutes win?

On Blake Hounshell’s blog, at Passport, a blog by the editors of Foreign Policy
Tue, 09/30/2008 – 2:00pm

Sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh of Freakonomics and Gang Leader for a Day fame thinks so:

One thing I’ve learned is that economic downturns can be boom times for high-end sex workers. Sex workers of the past waited on street corners, outside bars, and around parks, and their transactions were fleeting and usually for a few dollars. Today’s high-end sex workers see themselves as therapists, part of a vast metropolitan wellness industry that includes private chefs and yoga teachers. Many have regular clients who visit them several times per month, paying them not only for sex but also for comfort and affirmation.

The cost may be thousands of dollars for an evening of leisure. Few people outside of the corporate work force can afford this price tag. And, in good times, Wall Street came calling. […]

But bad times seem not so bad either, at least in the short run. […] In my study, approximately half of the sex workers I have been following (150) work in the high-end sector. Nearly all of them tell me that this pattern of increased activity following an economic downturn lasts about six to eight months. “They get tapped out,” [one sex worker] told me.