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

SOCCER/FOOTBALL LEGEND: 40,000 prostitutes enter the country hosting the FIFA World Cup.

Soccer/Football Legends Revealed #4

This is the fourth in a series of examinations of soccer/football-related legends and whether they are true or false.

Let’s begin!

SOCCER/FOOTBALL LEGEND: 40,000 prostitutes enter the country hosting the FIFA World Cup.

STATUS: False

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you. A country is worried about “the invasion of ’sex-workers,’ who are expected to flood the country next year to cater for male soccer fans” while “The event’s organisers are expecting at least 40,000 prostitutes to descend” on the country to meet demand.

If you said that that sounds like discussions surrounding this year’s FIFA World Cup in South Africa, you would basically be correct. Those quotes generally do describe the mood in South Africa regarding the influx of prostitutes via trafficking rings (to get such large numbers of incoming prostitutes, trafficking rings involving forced prostitution would have to be involved). However, those quotes are actually from five years ago, in an article by Tony Paterson for The Independent in reference to how Germany was going to handle the “invasion” of prostitutes to the 2006 FIFA World Cup that was held in Germany.

But if you look at an article last month Continue reading

SWEAT Statement on Research Seminar: Prostitution in South Africa: developing a research agenda

13 April 2010

The Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sisonke Sex
Worker Movement note with regret the press release circulated on the
Health Systems Trust “60%” mailing list on 12 April 2010.

SWEAT, Sisonke and sex work researchers are concerned about a number of
aspects of the research seminar entitled “Prostitution in South Africa:
developing a research agenda” organised under the auspices of the Medical
Research Council (MRC), the Embrace Dignity Campaign and the Coalition
Against Trafficking in Women.

We highlight a few concerns here:

1. The press release notes that the research presented will
“assist the law-makers on deciding which legal model is most suitable for
South Africa.” Yet, the seminar agenda only includes presentation slots
for discussion of the “Swedish model” (partial criminalisation) of sex
work and does not allow for research findings on the other legal models in Continue reading

The numbers of sex trafficking victims are exaggerated

Figures relating to sex work and trafficking have been fudged by mainstream media, conservative feminists and career politicians. The numbers of people who are victims of sex slavery and trafficking are far lower than what is generally reported, writes Elena Jeffreys.

A startling report by investigative journalist Nick Davies for The Guardian last October, Inquiry fails to find single trafficker who forced anybody into prostitution, has shocked English policy makers and created a new war of words over migration, sex work and exploitation. Numerous opinion pieces, first hand accounts and rampant moralising followed The Guardian’s coverage of the issue between October and November last year, but Davies’ articles remains an important contribution to understanding the figure-fudging in relation to sex work and trafficking.

Davies writes that politicians and the media have been exaggerating the numbers of sex workers who are victims of sex slavery and trafficking. He goes on to compare the exaggerated numbers of trafficked sex workers with other government lies including weapons of mass destruction, and the sexed up policy dossiers that rationalised UK’s hawkish actions in relation to Iraq. Continue reading

Internet fuels virtual subculture for sex trade, study finds

Published: Oct. 21, 2009 E-mail Editor

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Internet has spawned a virtual subculture of “johns” who share information electronically about prostitution, potentially making them harder to catch, according to a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University criminologist.

The research by MSU’s Thomas Holt and Kristie Blevins of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte challenges the common perception that sex customers act alone and do not interact for fear of reprisal or scorn. The study appears in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Continue reading

UK: Sex trafficking is no illusion

Nick Davies argues that the problem of sex trafficking has been exaggerated. This is the last thing trafficked women need

Comments (362)
Rahila Gupta, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 October 2009 11.00 BST

An article on trafficking into the sex trade has been written by the investigative reporter Nick Davies, whose reputation will lend authority to it – although it is a hugely selective piece of reporting of the available research.

The article purports to show that so few women are trafficked into the sex trade that the policy, services and funding focus on it is completely misplaced. The debate on trafficking is bedevilled by the lack of credible data – but the parallels are not with the weapons of mass destruction case, as Davies suggests, which was ultimately verifiable, but with other subterranean issues such as domestic violence or rape. The widely accepted statistic that one in four women experience violence, for example, is based largely on anecdotal evidence and extrapolations from local surveys. It could be similarly taken apart by anyone who wanted to assert that the case was overblown, because ultimately the numbers are unknowable. Continue reading

UK: Trafficking: we can learn from victims

A report in today’s Guardian suggests sex trafficking has been exaggerated; but it must not be reduced to a numbers game
Comments (89)
Helen Bamber
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 October 2009 22.30 BST

Knowledge about the wider picture of trafficking can be accumulated only over time and gleaned from a detailed and dedicated approach to the cases of individual victims. This requires improved systems for protection and assistance, which is the only way that frightened and vulnerable trafficked people are enabled to come forward. So the comparison made in today’s report between the existence of trafficking victims and that of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was overblown and inappropriate.

At the Helen Bamber Foundation we provide psychological care and treatment to survivors of torture, genocide and those who have suffered gross human rights violations including those who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and forced labour. But the referral of these women, men and children to us for clinical services or documentation of injuries relies upon whether individuals come into contact with a small number of specialised Continue reading

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