Concerns for Sex Workers Amid Serial Killer Investigation

Sex workers are being advised to use the buddy system so that someone knows where they are.
Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011 | Updated 3:12 PM EDTBy Chris Glorioso

The investigation into a suspected serial killer who may have preyed on prostitutes, dumping their bodies near beaches on Long Island, has spawned new warnings for sex workers who advertise online.

Police have yet to identify all the victims, or even say whether the latest six sets of remains are linked to the first four found last December.

But the first four bodies were identified as young women who all posted sex ads on Craigslist. And that has advocates for sex workers making extra efforts to counsel the women on best practices to avoid violent clients. Continue reading

Legal prostitution would be safer

By Daniel Akst
Thursday, April 14, 2011 – Updated 2 days ago

Remember Chandra Levy? How about Natalee Holloway? Nothing is more effective at triggering a media frenzy than the disappearance of an attractive young white woman. That’s what happened when Levy, a Washington intern, vanished in 2001 and Holloway disappeared in Aruba four years later. Sadly, things are different when the woman has accepted money for sex.

Police have so far found the bodies of four young white women, all prostitutes, in scrubby dunes on the beaches of New York’s Long Island (five and possibly six more sets of remains are unidentified). The women had been missing for months or even years.

It’s hard to see what change in law might save someone from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But some of the Gilgo Beach deaths might well have been averted if Continue reading

Feeling good about feeling bad… A Global Review of Evaluation in Anti-Trafficking Initiatives

This research explores and assesses the evaluation of anti-trafficking policies and programmes worldwide, including three international, two regional and nine national anti-trafficking initiatives. It highlights common themes and emerging patterns between a range of approaches to evaluation in this sector and finds overwhelmingly that anti-trafficking initiatives are not being sufficiently evaluated, impeding the effectiveness of anti-trafficking responses and limiting progress in combating trafficking. Urgent action in the form of adequate evaluation systems is imperative to ensure anti-trafficking programmes are effectively targeted and delivered.

Download PDF: http://www.gaatw.org/publications/GAATW_Global_Review.FeelingGood.AboutFeelingBad.pdf

Foreword:

To a large extent, anti-trafficking efforts operate without a sufficient evidence-base. Ten years after the unveiling of the United Nation Human Trafficking Protocol there is still a dearth of reliable information on the scope and nature of this highly globalized crime and horrendous violation of human rights. Information on its dynamics, on its interrelations with other Continue reading

SEX WORKER GROUPS RESPOND TO LONG ISLAND MURDERS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Friday, April 8, 2011
Contact: Dylan Wolf, SWANK, 347-748-9163, swank@riseup.net
Sarah Jenny Bleviss, SWOP-NYC, 347-841-4908, swop.nyc@gmail.com

New York – Sex Workers Action New York (SWANK) and Sex Workers Outreach Project NYC (SWOP-NYC) are dismayed that four more bodies were discovered on Long Island earlier this week. Police believe that a serial killer is responsible for murdering at least eight people found on a remote Suffolk County beach since December. Reports indicate the murder victims were in the sex trade. As sex workers and allies, SWANK and SWOP-NYC mourn the lives of these individuals and extend our sympathies to their families and communities.

“Sex workers are targeted for violence because of the stigma against what we do,” Dylan Wolf, a SWANK member said, “People think they can do whatever they want to us and they won’t get caught. And because of bad laws, social isolation and discrimination, they get away with it all the time. But like those murdered, we’re not disposable, bad people – we have lives that matter and people that love us. No matter who we are or what we do to make ends meet, we don’t deserve to die – we deserve good lives.”

A recent New York Times article suggested that dozens, if not hundreds, of people in the sex industry have been murdered in New York State since 1990. “Stories like what’s happened on Long Island make us fear for our safety,” said SWANK member Michael Bottoms, “As sex workers, we already know that stigma puts us at risk for being targeted, and so we take as many precautions as we can. But if we do experience violence, most of us can’t go to the cops, because we could get arrested, they might not take us seriously, or they could have been the ones who were violent to us in the first place.”

“When we ignore violence against sex workers, we support a culture where a serial killer can murder eight, twelve, or even dozens of sex workers without the media, the police or the general public being outraged or even thinking twice,” said Maryse Mitchell-Brody, a SWOP-NYC organizer, “We won’t end this violence by keeping the sex trade illegal, because it isn’t going anywhere – this just drives people further underground and makes them more vulnerable to violence. Murders like these show that we must use new strategies to create safety and dignity that don’t reinforce stigma or discrimination.”

To learn more about what you can do to support the rights of current and former sex workers and those with experience in the sex trade to safety and well-being, visit http://www.swop-nyc.org.