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

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

Men and football: a recipe for sexual violence?

From Laura Agustin’s Border Thinking

Men and football: the assumption that these make a super-volatile combination that will lead to violence against women is everywhere, yet there is no real research backing it up. It feels intuitive, something like Oh my god, they get so worked up and nationalistic at those matches, they scream and take off their shirts, and look at how some hooligans bash each other, and they get so drunk they don’t know what they’re doing. Okay, but the connexion with sex is? Some think that these activities involve a rise in testosterone, which could mean fans become rapacious about wanting to have sex, and in their blind fervour go racing off to fuck anything in sight. Or, correlations have been made between drinking alcohol in heavy quantities and becoming aggressive – for some people, not all – but the aggression usually comes in the form of fighting amongst other drinking men. Or is the idea that some general amoral, violent side rises up via the enthusiasm for sport in a way that makes fans want to grab women? Sometimes the assumption is just that when bunches of guys get together they are liable to run amok. The World Cup is feared to bring out the worst in its fans.

It’s muddled thinking, however. Stag parties, in which groups of men ritualistically drink and whoop it up together, often have a sexual element, but that usually consists of …

Read the rest at Border Thinking

NZ: Decriminalisation of sex industry positive move

Taking the Crime out of Sex Work

Thursday May 13, 2010

Decriminalisation of New Zealand’s sex industry has resulted in safer, healthier sex workers, a new book by University of Otago, Christchurch, researcher Gillian Abel shows.

Since decriminalisation seven years ago sex workers are more empowered to insist on safe sex, Abel’s book “Taking the crime out of sex work – New Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalisation’’ shows.

Abel is a senior lecturer at the University of Otago, Christchurch’s Public Health and General Practice department.

She edited the book with Lisa Fitzgerald (a former Otago University, Christchurch, health promotion lecturer) and Catherine Healy (with Aline Taylor).

They interviewed 772 sex workers for the book. Continue reading

Australia: No money, no honey

April 21, 2010

Paying for sex is no longer a male preserve. In the final part of our series, Mary-Anne Toy explores the world of male escorts and why more women want their services.

SHE is well educated, well spoken and very well groomed: an attractive blonde in her 30s used to men hitting on her in bars. So why did ”Eva”* pay a man to have sex with her? And how did that encounter lead her, a single mother with a full-time professional job, into secretly running a male escort business?

About two years ago, fed up with internet dating and the desultory randomness of the bar scene, but missing male company, Eva toyed with the idea of using a male escort. Continue reading

Italy: Cassation Court: Refusing to pay a sex worker is rape

PostDateIcon Thursday, 18 March 2010 16:23 | Print

If you agree to have sex with a sex worker in Italy and for some reason you change your mind and refuse to pay for the services received, you can be charged with rape.

The Cassation Court has upheld a sentence against a sex worker’s client who refused to pay for the sexual services received.

The man will serve a four year prison sentence in addition to paying the sex worker 2000 Euros in damages.

Ms. Pia Covre, President of the Committee for the Civil Rights of Prostitutes (CDCP) expressed satisfaction at the sentence. She said that having sex with a commercial worker without paying for the services received is equivalent to sexual violence.

The Cassation Court has now made it clear that the oral contract between a sex worker and a client must be respected because it is legally binding, Ms. Covre said.

She noted that the ruling is a step towards recognition of an activity which if carried out freely, should be recognized as legal work.

Ms. Covre said that for a long time, many clients of sex workers have been refusing to pay for their services, but it was difficult in the past to convince sex workers to report their clients to the police.

She appreciated the fact that sex workers are now reporting such cases to the police in order to seek justice. This is a sign that sex workers are increasingly becoming aware of their rights and are determined to make sure that they are not violated, Ms. Covre said.

By Stephen Ogongo

See original at Africa News