Note to anti-prostitutionists: Sex worker movements are nothing to sneer at

[Article by Laura Agustin in response to a book written by Swedish anti-prostitution propagandist Kajsa Ekis Ekmans]

Ordinarily I avoid ideological debates, but this time I had to chime in, because the author of a nutty Swedish book actually lied about me in it. I don’t mean she distorted my ideas – that is conventional amongst feminists who feel they are engaged in a battle to the death about prostitution. No, this was a lie about me and my life: she described me as an employee of the Network for Sex Work Projects, and the company publishing her book didn’t get anyone to check her facts – even about living people, which is reprehensible. Since I am independent with a highly precarious income, and because my opinions are only my own, I could not allow the lie to go uncontested.

The book’s an attack on two activities: commercial sex and surrogate motherhood. The drivel about me is a very small part of the book, which also provides an egregiously selective and ideologically driven version of the history of sex worker rights movements. I decided to use the publishing opportunity to provide a more honest, if still very brief, version, complete with links to the evidence – probably the first such thing published in Sweden. The original book title can’t be translated exactly but means something like Being and Being a Product – the idea of commodification. Continue reading

SWEDEN: Women are not children – remember? Flawed ideas about improving the sex-purchase law

From The Other Swedish Model
Gender, sex and culture, by Laura Agustín

Much of my work revolves around prostitution law, sex worker rights and the cultural study of commercial sex: see Border Thinking, where I blog several times a week. I wrote the following piece after some people in Sweden welcomed a parliamentarian’s suggestion that Sweden change to a regulatory regime that comes from the 19th century.

Does sexköpslagen, the law against buying sex, work or not? Everyone wants to know. Camilla Lindberg is right that talking about the possibility that the law does not work is taboo in Sweden. The government’s official evaluation of the law has been delayed, probably because it has not been easy to find evidence to demonstrate the reasons behind an absence. That is, you may look around and not see sex workers and their customers where you did before. But you cannot know whether they have stopped buying and selling sex or, if they have not stopped, where they have gone.

Evaluators will question police and social workers, and maybe get to speak to a few sex workers, but none of these can give an overview of sex markets that operate via private telephones and the Internet, in the privacy of homes and hotel rooms. And evaluators certainly cannot say how many people are doing what. Street prostitutes are estimated in some countries to constitute less than ten per cent of all sex workers, so, even if there are few left to see, 90% are unaccounted for. When businesses that sell sex are outlawed, they hide, so government accountants are unlikely to find them – and, after all, many are just individuals working alone.

But if we want to discuss the whole sex industry more openly, we should not focus on the concept of brothels, as Lindberg suggests – particularly not on the idea of health checks for workers. This 19th-century French idea could not be more patriarchal and thus the very opposite of jämställdhet, sexköpslagens guiding principle. Basic common sense tells us that, if disease-transmission is a concern, all parties exchanging fluids have to practice safer sex – not ‘be checked’. And although laws in the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Nevada and parts of Australia allow and regulate brothels as one form of commercial sex, many people who sell sex in those countries prefer to work on their own, in small groups in flats or – yes – on the street. In France, organised sex workers vociferously oppose a proposed return to the old system of maisons closes with health controls that stigmatise prostitutes as (female) carriers of sexually-transmitted diseases…

Read the rest at The Other Swedish Model

National US health care plan, what does ‘public option’ mean?

Posted on March 29, 2010 by compassiontara at Bound, not Gagged

Thank you to Melora from SWOP-Boston for putting this all together.

Primary Source: TIME magazine
Secondary Sources: wikipedia.org, healthreform.gov, nytimes.com, various google searches (checking search lists for irregularities, will only site every source used upon request)

Note:

If you do not fall under one of the categories below, you will experience no change in coverage or costs. For the purposes of the following, Medicare means both Medicare, and Medicaid.

Have questions? Ask!

Have opinions? Dare to debate.

Effective 2010:

* Uninsured with pre-existing condition receive immediate coverage (though i have not yet put together HOW – it depends on a plethora of factors that vary from one individual to another including income, employment, and geographic.
* Uninsured and age 26 or younger are now approved to be covered by their parents’ insurance
* Insurers no longer allowed to deny care to a patient who becomes sick (currently private companies are able to suspend coverage of individuals who develop certain illnesses, despite having paid their premiums)
* Insurers no longer allowed to end coverage after a patient reaches a certain age (many companies will not cover you if you live past 80, for example)
* Insurers no longer allowed to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
* Employers of small businesses to receive tax credits if they purchase insurance plans for their employees.
* Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries receive $250 as a stipend when they hit the doughnut hole.
* What is the doughnut hole? A rule in medicare part D prescription drug coverage that states that once Medicare has paid $2,700 in prescription drug coverage for an individual, they are then on their own to cover the full cost of prescription medications until they have reached $6,154 in prescription drug expenses.

Effective 2011:

* Insurers required to spend 80% of premiums collected on Continue reading

Phoenix Woman Obviously Linked Falsely to “Desert Divas” Prostitution Ring Sues Maricopa County Attorney’s Office

By James King, Tuesday, Jan. 12 2010 @ 2:58PM

Victoria Aguayo was arrested, indicted, and nearly prosecuted for her “role” in the infamous “Desert Divas” prostitution ring, according to a lawsuit she’s filed in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Problem is: Aguayo was not a “desert diva,” and the evidence suggesting she was is laughable.

On one of the “Desert Divas'” many Web sites, the agency advertised an “escort” named “Tia.” The site described Tia as “thin, white, and blonde,” with a tattoo on her stomach that is clearly visible in the topless photo of the woman that Aguayo’s lawyer kindly sent New Times. Continue reading

A Few Questions for Belle de Jour, Call Girl and Scientist

November 20, 2009, 1:30 pm
By RYAN HAGEN

In 2003, a young American woman in London studying for her PhD. ran into money trouble. To support herself while writing her thesis, she joined an escort service. Under the assumed name Belle de Jour, she started to blog her experiences. That blog led to a series of successful, jaunty memoirs beginning with 2005’s The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl. The books were adapted for television in the U.K. (where she is portrayed by Billie Piper) and later in the U.S. All the while, as Belle de Jour garnered more attention — and criticism, for portraying prostitution as a glamorous career choice — the woman behind Belle de Jour struggled to keep her anonymity. This month, as an ex-boyfriend threatened to blow her cover, Belle approached one of her critics, the London journalist India Knight of the Sunday Times, to reveal her identity. That resulted in an article, published Nov. 15, outing her as Dr. Brooke Magnanti, 34, a neurotoxicologist at the Bristol Initiative for Research of Child Health. This week, she agreed to answer a few questions for the Freakonomics blog, about her work as a call girl and as a scientist. Continue reading

Congressman Attacks NIH Funding for Study on Prostitutes

July 24, 2009

Studies of sex workers and drug abusers are an easy target, and today a conservative member of Congress took pot shots at three such overseas projects—all part of the U.S.-funded effort to understand and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. Representative Darrell Issa (R–CA) was successful in stripping the relevant grant money from the House of Representatives bill that funds the National Institutes of Health.

Issa, who sponsored an amendment to kill the grants, criticized them as repetitive and wasteful—saying it isn’t necessary to buy a $9000 plane ride to Thailand to observe prostitutes’ behavior. (One of his targets was an NIH-funded Continue reading

Hooker Hunting in God’s Country

Blog post
By Sarah Braasch

[Editor’s Note: Please welcome Sarah Braasch back to Daylight Atheism for her second guest post! You can read Sarah’s bio from a post last month.]

A few months ago, through some fault of my own, I found myself on a driving tour of Naples, Italy, assiduously avoiding the unwanted sexual advances of some US Navy boys. I was not enjoying myself much at all when one of the sailors suggested we go hooker hunting, as he so charmingly phrased it. I was suddenly rapt with attention and very keen to experience the famed seedy underbelly of Naples. I was also more than a little concerned that my companions intended to do more than window shop, but that was not about to dissuade me from witnessing the Neapolitan sex industry first hand. Continue reading