Category Archives: (Commercial) sexual exploitation of children

Ninotchka Rosca: If your intersectionality isnt women-centered then it is not feminism

Following on from this previous post (and the original blogger does cite the source, I just missed it in the tags), here is the quote and its source:

Ninotchka Rosca was interviewd by Feminist Current last year, and the podcast is available here.

In this episode, I speak with Ninotchka Rosca, an incredibly accomplished activist and writer from the Phillippines. She is the author of six books, including two bestselling novels — The State of War and Twice Blessed (which won the 1993 American Book Award for Excellence in Literature) — a two-time recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and has written for numerous magazines and websites. She was a political prisoner under the dictatorial government of Ferdinand Marcos and went on to work with Amnesty International and the PEN American Center, drafting statements on women and human rights at the UN’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and the UN’s World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna. A powerful anti-prostitution advocate, Ninotchka was press secretary of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery which convicted Japan’s wartime era leadership for enslaving and exploiting Asian “comfort women.”

Ninotchka founded and was the first chairperson of Gabriela Network, a US-based organization of women and women’s rights advocates supporting the Philippine women’s movement, which eventually became AF3IRM, a transnational feminist organization. AF3IRM’s national summit will be held on October 21st in New York City, and will look at the foundational ideas of American feminism — concepts and wisdom drawn from the tribal societies of this continent, particularly the Iroquois, with whom pioneers of the American women’s movement were in touch.

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QotD: “Outlaw prostitution websites to protect enslaved and trafficked women, say MPs”

Ministers will come under intense pressure from a cross-party group of MPs this week to follow the US by banning so-called “prostitution websites” amid mounting evidence that they are enabling a huge growth in sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women to the UK for profit.

Members of the all-party group on prostitution have secured a parliamentary debate during which they will demand that the Home Office acts to make websites such as Vivastreet and Adultwork accountable under law for encouraging and profiting from sexual exploitation.

The websites make money by placing advertisements on behalf of gangs and individuals running networks of women, many of whom are trafficked from abroad. Vivastreet operates in 19 countries and is owned by an offshore holding company based in Jersey. Adultwork is registered in Panama.

A recent inquiry by the all-party group heard evidence from the Joint Slavery and Trafficking Analysis Centre – a multi-agency intelligence unit set up by the police, the government, and the National Crime Agency – which concluded that “adult services websites represent the most significant enabler of sexual exploitation in the UK”.

This was because the sites are at the heart of a money-spinning online industry that allows running networks of women to connect with men who want to buy sex. Investigators believe much of the profit made by those managing the women is then used to fund a wider network under which vulnerable women are sought out abroad and systematically trafficked to the UK.

Amid rising outrage about the use of such websites, US President Donald Trump signed a bill earlier this year that gives federal and state prosecutors greater power to act against platforms that make money out of such advertisements. The bill also enables victims and state attorneys general to file lawsuits against the sites.

The MPs say it is now crucial that the Home Office follows the US and changes the law in the UK to make such websites directly accountable under law for encouraging exploitation and trafficking. They will demand swift action from Theresa May, who made action to stamp out modern slavery a top priority of her time at the Home Office and reiterated the same commitment on entering Downing Street.

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham and a member of the all-party group, said she would attend the debate and press whichever Home Office minister represents the government to follow America’s swift action. “UK legislation needs to be radically overhauled to keep pace with the changing face of prostitution,” Champion said. “We need to update our laws to make websites legally accountable for facilitating and profiting from sexual exploitation. The idea that commercial prostitution sites make it safer for women is not true.”

Diane Martin, who was awarded a CBE for services to vulnerable women and survived trafficking and prostitution in her late teens, now supports exploited women. “As a survivor, my perspective means firsthand experience of the realities of prostitution,” she said. “My years of supporting hundreds women to exit prostitution has also only strengthened my fervent belief that we are failing some of the most vulnerable women in society unless we address the demand of the buyers and the greed of the pimps.

“Currently, UK legislation is inadequate to deal with this. I want to call on MPs, and all with the power to make positive change, to see the reality of prostitution, to be on the side of the most vulnerable and to adopt an approach where pimps, brothel owners and third-party exploiters are not tolerated.”

This article was published in the Observer, which is editorially independent from the Guardian, but shares its website.

It’s almost laughable how much the Guardian is dedicated to the ideology of ‘sex work’, and calling commercially raped women and children ‘sex workers’: the Observer places the article under the category ‘prostitution’, while on the front page of the Guardian, it is under the category ‘sex workers’, and the word ‘prostitution’ has been taken out of the headline.

Women’s Hour: The Truth Project

How do we as a society tackle child sexual abuse? How do we start a national conversation about it? The Independent Inquiry, launched in 2014 is trying to answer these questions, and are running an initiative called ‘The Truth Project’ to give survivors an opportunity to share their stories. Today, for the first time, some of these accounts are being published.

Jane hears from victims who decided to share their experiences with The Truth Project and she is joined in the studio by a group of those involved in running it. Barrister Dru Sharpling, Chief Psychologist for the Inquiry Dr Bryony Farrant, and a member of the Victims and Survivors Panel, Emma Lewis.

Available on BBC iPlayer here

QotD: “Claims about social benefits of sex robots greatly overstated, say experts”

Sex robots are coming, but the argument that they could bring health benefits, including offering paedophiles a “safe” outlet for their sexual desires, is not based on evidence, say researchers.

The market for anthropomorphic dolls with a range of orifices for sexual pleasure – the majority of which are female in form, and often boast large breasts, tiny waists and sultry looks – is on the rise, with such dummies selling for thousands of pounds a piece.

While some are simple sex dolls, others are sexbots that can move and talk, some with a choice of nipples and dishwasher-proof labia. Indeed the industry is churning out ever more realistic mannequins featuring artificial intelligence, lubrication systems and even vaginas that can mimic an orgasm.

“Our conclusion is that there are a lot of health claims with no evidence” said Susan Bewley, professor of women’s health at Kings College London and co-author of the new research.

Some have suggested that such claims might be more about normalising the use of such dolls than providing actual health benefits.

“In a way [this research] is a sort of academic plea [not to] make false claims, and if there is something genuine in this beyond the creation and marketing of a new device, then let’s study it properly,” said Bewley.

While some argue sexbots are simply the next step in a booming $30bn sex tech industry, others say they are a world apart from the humble vibrator and have serious social implications.

The latest study is not the first to look at sexbots: last year a report by the Foundation for Responsible Robotics also raised questions about the potential benefits and harms of such devices, noting there are already sex-doll brothels in Asia.

Writing in the journal BMJ Sexual and Reproductive Health, Bewley and co-author Dr Chantal Cox-George searched databases of scientific papers but found none that studied the health impacts of sex robots.

However the hunt, together with discussions with experts in the field, revealed that the anthropomorphic dolls are being hailed as providing a host of benefits including, offering sexual companionship to lonely or marginalised individuals, and potentially helping to treat sex offenders and paedophiles.
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Looking into the debates around such topics, the authors highlight a number of issues, including who is legally responsible for injuries and infections from sexbots, and that rather than protecting sex workers, the dolls might fuel exploitation of humans.

And while Bewley notes robots are being explored for use in health and social care, she and Cox-George say its unclear if robots could help in the bedroom, for example aiding people with sexual dysfunction or who are lonely, noting such robots might cause a rift with human partners or even that robots’ lack of emotion might cause distress. “While a human may genuinely desire a sexbot, reciprocation can only be artificially mimicked,” they write.

As for the idea that sexbots could help to treat paedophiles and protect real children – one company already produces childlike dolls – the team say there is no evidence for the claims, noting that it might normalise such acts and even increase the risk of sexual assault and rape for children and adults. “It is a powerful idea. It might be true, it might be untrue – but the fact that someone who is selling these dolls is saying this, [means] you have to take [it] with a big pinch of salt,” said Bewley.

Last year a childlike sex doll intercepted by UK border police led to the arrest of the man who ordered it after the force discovered he had child abuse images on his computer.

The team note there are further questions, including whether sexbots, with their exaggerated forms based in fantasy, could influence what is deemed attractive in actual women – while there are also concerns that some sexbots come with a non-consensual mode, potentially allowing users the opportunity to act out rape.

Prof Oliver Bendel, an expert in machine ethics from the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, who was not involved in the study, said he is not in favour of banning the development of sexbots or “love dolls” and that the technology will remain niche, with most people preferring sex with other humans.

But Bendel agreed research is needed. That said, there is a problem. “Most universities in Europe don’t want anything to do with this topic. Most scientists find the subject repulsive,” he said, adding that researchers might find it hard to recruit study participants.

“It’s an old human dream to have artificial love partners. Pygmalion created a female sculpture and laid down with her. Aphrodite brought the sculpture to life,” he said. “It is interesting for science and business to create artificial people. But we must not leave the people alone with the machines.”

(source)

Raffaëla Anderson and the French Porno Industry

Raffaëla Anderson, whose ethnic background is partly Arab, is a former pornography performer, who has now become a non-fiction writer and occasionally an actress in mainstream French productions.

The French pornography industry is just as violent as the American one. There is also a Gonzo genre over there, with films containing extreme sexual practices which seem painful to the women who experience them.

After leaving the pornography business, Raffaëla Anderson wrote a book entitled Hard (2001), describing her experience in that industry and decrying its abuses. Raffaëla stayed four years in the porno industry. Her last appearance in an explicit film was in Virginie Despentes’ controversial (unusual porn) French film “Baise-Moi” (2000), which was distributed internationally.

In 2003, Director Emmanuelle Schick Garcia made a documentary on the French pornography business. Entitled “La Petite Morte,” the documentary included interviews with Raffaëla Anderson, who related being abused as a child, along with the ongoing exploitation and suffering which take place in the porno industry.

In 2006, Raffaëla wrote her second book Tendre Violence (“Tender Violence”, in English) a narration of her childhood with her Muslim family in Gagny, in the suburb of Paris. In this book, she reported that, from the age of 5 years old until her teenage years, she had suffered a form of sexual abuse (“bad touching”) by her alcoholic uncle. She also reported physical abuse: during her childhood and teenage girlhood, she had been beaten up by her father and brothers. She had also been brought up in a family environment in which sexuality was a taboo subject, and, at age 18, she decided to enter the French porno industry.

Her first book Hard ( “Hard” means “Hardcore” in French slang), that she had written in 2001, described her experience in the French porno industry. In it, Raffaëla Anderson explains that, as a teenager, she had an admiration for Dutch porn actress Zara Whites, whom she was seeing on TV. Raffaëla was seeing a participation in the porno industry as a good way to earn money easily to be able to flee her abusive familial environment, and acquire a desired autonomy. However, she did not expect the difficult and abusive situation she was going to find herself in, inside of that industry. She was taking drugs and drinking alcohol to be able to cope with the “job”. She explained how she gradually became disgusted by men and discovered her homosexuality. While walking in the streets once, she got raped by two men who recognized her as a porn actress. She reported it to the police. In the documentary “La Petite Morte”, Raffaëla explained how the prosecutor and Judge in her case dismissed the rape with the attitude: “You’re an actress in pornographic films, so you can’t complain.” Her rapists would not go to jail, since the French justice system concluded it was her fault.

In her book Hard, Raffaëla also gave the readers an insightful look into her experience as a porn performer. Indeed, her testimony is explicit. Here are a few excerpts:

“I’ve got to be on the set [again] on Sunday […] I’m crying. I don’t want to get fucked anymore. Only the thought of it hurts me. I want to take back what I gave years ago: me, my crotch, my dignity. I’ve only got a small part of my brain left, I want to keep it. I’m crying […] I can’t take it anymore, I’m in pain each time, I can’t put up with it any more.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“The Big Boss asks me for the usual double penetration: one at the front, one at the back […] The Boss asks us just one minute in this position. I’m feeling kinda stunned. I know that I’m not gonna be able to take it. It’s inevitable, I’m fainting. Nobody notices, the Boss says to me that it’s super, he thanks me. It’s also at this moment that I regain consciousness. I hear: “Let’s get to the cum shot…”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“In the morning, you get up, you stick for the nth time the enema syringe up your ass and you clean the inside. You repeat this [process] until it’s clean. That alone, that hurts. […] After this, you find yourself on a set and you suck, you bend over. They call you a bitch in the name of arousal, and what else? Nothing is worth such a suffering. Not even the money you’re making.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“I’ve got a scene to make in a swimming pool under water. There are electric wires everywhere, apparently it’s dangerous. […] They cover the pool for I don’t know what reason. I’m under water, and nobody’s there to rescue me. These assholes refuse to remove the wires. If I stay under the water, I drown, if I get out, it’s electrocution. […] After hesitating for a moment, I’m going back up to the surface […]. Off camera [someone says]: “We’re doing it again”. I could have died and all they’ve got to say is “We’re doing it again”. […] They’re crazy in this industry, you can die, and all that matters for them is the scene that has to be done.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Raffaëla also wrote about the sexual exploitation of women and the human suffering she has witnessed in the porno industry, including the case of Eastern European women, who are trafficked into the French porno industry (these women are poor and forced to “work” to pay their pimps):

“I consider those scenes [of double and triple penetration] as real “hardcore” […]. Other girls had to do worse. Starting with double vaginal penetration, double anal penetration, then both at the same time. Imagine four guys, North-South, East-West, and the girl on doggie-style, barely able to breathe, during a two-minute close-up, the minimal time required […]. I’ve seen those girls [from Eastern Europe] suffering and crying […]. Imagine a girl with no experience, not speaking the [same] language, far away from her home, sleeping at a hotel or on the set. She’s got to do a double penetration, a vaginal fisting, along with an anal fisting, sometimes both at the same time, a hand up her ass, sometimes two. At the end, you’ve got a girl in tears who’s pissing blood because of lesions, and who generally shits herself because noboby explained to her that she needed to have an enema.[…] After the scene which they are not allowed to interrupt, and anyway nobody listens to them, the girls get two hours to rest. They get back on the set […]. The director and the producer encourage those practices […] because the consumer asks for them.”
— Raffaëla Anderson, in Hard, published by Grasset (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Raffaëla Anderson’s realistic account of porn performing and the French porno industry is not the only one. Even Ovidie, a former porn actress who has now become porn director and who is one of the loudest defenders of pornography in France, admits such things as:

“I was very sick. I had a fever and I was vomiting. It was horrible. And nobody went to get me an aspirin […]. I felt humiliated, just a hole for the camera. I was only a product.”
— Ovidie, in Porno Manifesto, published by Flammarion (Paris), quoted in Michela Marzano, Malaise dans la sexualité: Le piège de la pornographie, published by JC Lattès (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

“There are things which are very violent and leave scars.”
— Ovidie, interviewed by Michela Marzano, quoted in Michela Marzano, La Pornographie ou l’Epuisement du Désir, published by Buchet-Chastel (Paris) [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Another French porn performer, Coralie Trinh Thi, explained:
“At the beginning of my career in XXX, I was completely traumatized when I was seeing a girl on the brink of tears during the making of a movie, especially during the scenes of double penetration […]. Actually, in hardcore scenes, they are more suffering than they’re coming.”
— Coralie Trinh Thi, Source: lesfuries.chez-alice.fr/prostitution.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Porn perfomer Karen Lancaume, who Appeared in the film “Baise-moi” with Raffaëla Anderson, commited suicide in 2005, by overdosing on barbiturates. Karen was injured by her experience in pornography and she denounced the selfish attitude of the people in that industry. Interviewed by the French newspaper Libération, Karen said:
“A double penetration, followed by the cum shot. I was covered in sperm, drenched; I was also cold, and nobody handed me a towel. Once you’ve done the scene, you’re not worth anything anymore.”
— Karen Lancaume, Source: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Lancaume [accessed on 06/01/07] [TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH].

Interviewed by Radio Canada, filmmaker Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, who made a documentary (on the French pornography industry) called “La Petite Morte” (2003 — see www. lapetitemorte.com/about.htm), said:
“I think Raffaëla [Anderson] describes the [pornographic] world very honestly for what it really is, there are moments of happiness, especially for a girl who never had any friends in her life, or love from her family, and found it in this world. Not real love like we know it, but love as it would be recognized by someone who felt abandoned and alone. Then there’s the other side, where for a victim of incest and rape like Raffaëla, pornography becomes a reconstruction of the abuse she’s lived all her life. And for a lot of girls in that world, […] love is like how they’re treated in pornography. It’s someone who tells you how you should have sex. It’s having someone tell you, you’re going to do this scene, like this, with this person. And it’s exactly what they’re accustomed to, because growing up they never got to choose… So, for me, when pornographers say, it’s fun or that the girls like what they’re doing, I see it as lies. Because I learned everything to the contrary. I spoke with many girls in that world and often, I would say about 85% of those girls were victims of sexual or physical abuse growing up.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: lapetitemorte.com/article58.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

Interviewed by IFQ, Shick Garcia also said:
“There are very heart breaking and horrible things about the pornographic world. But, most of those things happened to actresses and actors long before they arrived in the pornography world. The pornography industry is just a place where a lot of victims relive their abuse, where they can continue to destroy themselves like their abusers destroyed them. That’s what is the most disturbing to me. The incest, rapes, child abuse and neglect that become the springboard for a lot of participants to enter the industry. People in the industry will tell you this isn’t true, but I learned everything to the contrary. This excuse makes it easier to go to work, that’s all.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: independentfilmquarterly.com/ifq/interviews/petite.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

When asked about the title of her documentary (“La Petite Morte”), Shick Garcia replied:
“It refers to the female orgasm, because in porno films they want you to believe that a woman is always having an orgasm, which isn’t true, and there’s also the depressing aspect of the name, with death, there’s just something inside a lot of those girls that seems dead. To me, it’s just a really sad world.”
— Emmanuelle Schick Garcia, Source: lapetitemorte.com/article58.htm [accessed on 06/01/07] [INTERVIEW WAS ALREADY TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH]

From the (archived) Against Pornography website

QotD: “Cyntoia Brown, Trafficking Victim Serving Life Sentence for Murder, Will Get Clemency Hearing”

Cyntoia Brown, a Nashville woman who is serving a life sentence for killing a man who picked her up for sex while she was being trafficked as a teenager, will receive a hearing that could lead to her release, officials said on Thursday.

The clemency hearing, set for May 23, will be the first for Ms. Brown, 30, since she was sentenced nearly 13 years ago, said Melissa McDonald, a spokeswoman for the state Board of Probation and Parole.

The board, appointed by the governor, will hear Ms. Brown’s petition and decide whether to recommend that she be released from the Tennessee Prison for Women, where she is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting Johnny Allen, 43, in 2004. “It is up to the governor to decide the process after we make our recommendation,” Ms. McDonald said. “The governor may act on it or choose not to act.”

When she was 16, Ms. Brown, who had run away from her adopted family, lived in a motel with a pimp known as “Kut Throat” who raped and abused her while forcing her to become a prostitute, Charles Bone, her lawyer, said last year.

“While Cyntoia’s clemency application is still in process, we will not be making any further public comments,” Mr. Bone said on Thursday.

Mr. Allen picked her up and drove her to his home, where Ms. Brown shot him. She said she saw him reaching under his bed and thought he was getting a gun, according to court documents. She took money and two guns and fled.

Ms. Brown was tried as an adult in 2006. A jury rejected her claim of self-defense, finding her guilty of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Her case has attracted the public support of celebrities including Rihanna, LeBron James, Snoop Dogg, and Kim Kardashian West.

The announcement of the clemency hearing was first reported by The Tennessean. It comes two days after an appeals court agreed to hear oral arguments in the case on June 14.

Ms. Brown’s supporters have described her as a model inmate. While in prison, she took classes from Lipscomb University, a private Christian college in Nashville, and earned an associate degree.

But Jeff Burks, who prosecuted Ms. Brown and is now an assistant district attorney in Madison, Ga., has contended that she shouldn’t be considered a victim of trafficking, and that she tried to recruit someone to return to Mr. Allen’s apartment after killing him to steal from it.

“What should the law be as to a 16-year-old who does this? I don’t weigh in on that,” he said. “But the facts of the case, I have a strong position on.”

State Representative Jeremy Faison, a Republican from Nashville who has been pushing for Ms. Brown’s release, said Thursday that it would have been more difficult for her to be tried as an adult under the trafficking laws and laws governing juvenile offenders that are now in place in Tennessee.

Mr. Faison, who introduced a failed bill in 2016 that would have required reviews of life sentences for juveniles after they serve 15 years in prison, said he regularly speaks with Ms. Brown.

“Did she kill the guy? Absolutely. Did we have proof of why she killed him? No, we don’t,” he said. “She was the victim of a man who picked her up when she was 16.”

Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, a Republican, is in his final year in office. He has not yet granted any clemency petitions, The Tennessean reported.

“The governor thoughtfully reviews any clemency application and recommendation from the Board of Parole,” said Jennifer Donnals, a spokeswoman for Governor Haslam.

Mr. Faison said he has also asked the governor to consider a pardon.

“I would like to tell you that I think the odds are good,” he said. But “it is hard to get government to admit they are wrong.”

New York Times

QotD: “Prominent Canadian aid worker charged in Nepal with sexually abusing children”

A prominent Canadian aid worker has been arrested at his mountain villa in Nepal and charged with sexually abusing children, an official said on Monday.

The Central Investigation Bureau chief, Pushkar Karki, said Peter Dalglish was arrested in April at his home with two Nepalese boys aged 12 and 14 after weeks of investigation. His case is being heard by a court in Kavre, a town near Kathmandu.

Karki said Dalglish was charged with raping the two boys and faces up to 13 years in prison if convicted.

Dalglish, 60, has denied the charges.

Dalglish helped found the charity Street Kids International and has worked for decades for a number of humanitarian agencies, including UN Habitat in Afghanistan and the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response in Liberia. He has focused much of the time on working children and street children.

Officials said he helped families who lost their homes during a devastating Nepal earthquake in 2015 that killed 9,000 people and damaged nearly a million houses.

Karki said Dalglish lured children from poor families with promises of education, jobs and trips, and then sexually abused them.

Investigators followed Dalglish for weeks after they received information about alleged abuses, Karki said.

He said officials plan to expand their investigation because they have found evidence linked to cases of child abuse more than 12 years ago. He would not elaborate.

Nepal lacks clear laws on crimes related to pedophilia. A new set of regulations dealing with sexual offenses against children is to take effect in August.

Officials say six foreigners have been arrested in Nepal in the past two years on allegations of sexually abusing underage children.

(source)

QotD: “Which UK political party cares more about women?”

Which UK political party cares more about women: Labour or the Conservatives? If I’d been told five years ago that I would even be thinking of asking that question, I’d have thought it was a joke.

As a lifelong Labour voter and supporter, who has found herself disillusioned and dismayed with the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, I have been hopeful that socialist men will finally recognise the dire need to tackle sexual and domestic violence towards women and girls as a major priority. I have been bitterly disappointed.

I will never vote Conservative, because as a feminist campaigner I believe that for all women to be liberated it is necessary to understand and work to dismantle the endemic inequality that exists within every facet of society. The Tories have a terrible track record in terms of funding services for women escaping violent relationships and giving a damn about women at the bottom of the pile, preferring to focus on the “glass ceiling”, which affects about 5 per cent of the most privileged women.

Despite having failed to elect a female leader in 118 years, probably most would still say Labour is the party that cares most about women, and understandably. It is not for nothing that Labour feels like a more comfortable place if you are female.

Under Tony Blair, some female-friendly (as opposed to hard-hitting feminist) policies were introduced, such as national minimum wage, tax credits, childcare strategy, increased child benefit, increased public sector spending, same sex adoption rights, and Sure Start children’s centres.

The criminal justice system also was given a shakedown during this period: for example, the provocation defence for domestic homicide was scrapped, which had previously allowed some men who killed female partners to claim they had been “provoked” into killing as a result of her alleged infidelity, or “nagging”.

These are hard-won changes. So it is with a heavy heart that I have watched Labour concede whole swathes of feminist ground to the Tories over the last few years. If anyone at Labour HQ has noticed, no one seems to care. Some of it undoubtedly has more than a hint of virtue signalling. But something much more profound is going on.

Under Blair, women-only shortlists were introduced in order to address some of the massive imbalances in the House of Commons, but Corbyn has decided that the only criteria for being included on such shortlists is self-identification. In my view, this renders the initiative null and void.

Labour is supposed to be the party of socialism, and to recognise structural inequality. What better example of desperation, poverty, and indignity is there than the sex trade? And yet in 2016, Jeremy Corbyn said, during a talk at Goldsmiths University, that he is in favour of blanket decriminalisation of the sex trade. “Let’s do things a bit differently and in a more civilised way,” he said.

While I would hope that anyone with any sense would support the decriminalisation of the women (and men) selling sex, socialists, both male and female, should recognise that the global sex trade is a dumping ground for care leavers, childhood sexual abuse victims, girls and women of colour and from indigenous communities, and women subjected to domestic violence.

The last thing we should be doing is removing all criminal penalties from brothel owners, pimps and punters, as Corbyn and many other men on the left are in favour of doing.

In 2015, John McDonnell sponsored a laughably ideological report from a group that would like to see prostitution completely decriminalised. Decriminalisation is another way of saying: open season on women’s bodies. Like the Netherlands, where women suffer the indignity of standing in window brothels so men can select which ones they consider worthy to buy. Only a small number of courageous Labour Party women speak out against this crazy position, such as Thangam Debbonaire and Naz Shah.

On the other hand, the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission is currently carrying out an inquiry into prostitution and the law. This is a fairly mainstream Tory group with MPs from all wings of the party. As part of this inquiry, I today spoke in a debate in parliament on the motion: “Should men have the right to buy sex?”, moderated by Baroness Fiona Hodgson.

This inquiry is streets ahead of anything else that has happened in parliament for ages.

The Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry last year effectively collapsed after its chair was found to be paying for sex himself. Other previous efforts have all got stuck trying to sift the contradictory evidence from other jurisdictions.

My opponent, Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon, argued that “disabled men, and returning war heroes, should be allowed to buy sex”, the implication being that these men, “can’t get a real date”. I argued that there is no such thing as a “right” to sex, and that it is a classic neoliberal argument.

This inquiry is asking crucial questions. In a previous hearing, sex trade survivors were asked: “What does it mean to freely enter prostitution?”, and “When does prostitution become exploitative?” Yes, yes, yes.

When women’s bodies are being rented for orgasm, when women are routinely abused, even killed. When women in poor countries are being told to sell themselves out of poverty, we need to ask ourselves if the decision to advertise their flesh as consumable is a just one.

Julie Bindel (18th April 2018), full article here

QotD: “Governments are complicit in the prostitution of women when prostitution is defined as work”

The New Zealand Ministry of Health accepted information about prostitution almost exclusively from the NZPC rather than from less biased sources. The lobbying success of the NZPC in promoting prostitution as work has resulted in passage of a law and also production of a Report (Prostitution Law Review Committee, 2008) intended tosupportthe law. The NZPC offers no programmatic support such as job training or housing advocacy for the large majority of those in prostitution want to escape it. The Report white washes or suppresses evidence that prostitution remains harmful to those in it even after its decriminalization (see the following paragraphs for details regarding the bias of the Report).

Governments are complicit in the prostitution of women when prostitution is defined as work and especially when government revenue is generated by prostitution. For example, the Philippines’ government grants visas to women who are known to be bound to prostitution but who are named “Overseas Performing Artists.” It’s likely that the government assumes that money otherwise not available would be sent home. Extremely poor women who might otherwise demand local jobs that would compete with men were trafficked overseas for prostitution in what Roces (p 14⁎) in this issue accurately describes as the government’s sacrifice of its women for economic gain.

Organized crime is another material reality that is always associated with trafficking for prostitution, yet rarely mentioned in theory. In 2006 Auckland lawyer David Garrett declared decriminalization a “disaster” that had resulted in an “explosion” of children trafficked for prostitution in Auckland and Christchurch as well as three murders of people in prostitution. The trafficking of children in NZ has increased since decriminalization, especially the trafficking of ethnic minority Maori children. A legal pimp who recruited children was arrested and charged in Auckland (Woulfe, 2009). Gangs have waged turf wars over control of prostitution in certain areas in Auckland (Tapaleao, 2009).

Most theories about trafficking fail to address the reality of prostitution’s impact on communities. Since decriminalization, street prostitution has spiraled out of control, especially in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. A 200-400% increase in street prostitution has been reported since prostitution was decriminalized in 2003. Yet the Prostitution Law Review Committee, dominated by the viewpoint that prostitution is a reasonable job for poor women, opined “For people whoseemployment options may be limited, sex work, and particularly street-based sex work, can offer a quick means of achieving financial gains…” (PLRC, 2008:121).

After decriminalization, New Zealand citizens found it difficult to challenge brothels even if they were located near schools or in residential neighborhoods. In response to numerous complaints, the Mayor of Auckland served an abatement notice on a brothel in a residential neighborhood located near a school. Staff at an Auckland agency noted that the numbers of johns in the streets has doubled since decriminalization. Debbie Baker is Manager of Streetreach New Zealand, a support service for people in prostitution that encourages them to leave the sex industry by providing exit strategies. In September 2008, Baker noted adverse effects of New Zealand’s decriminalization of prostitution.

We have also seen a marked increase in men cruising the streets trying to buy sex. Although the numbers vary from day to day, it appears to us that overall, the number of men buyers has doubled since decriminalization. We as a team have been solicited by men while working with our clients on the street. Before decriminalisation this had not happened. These solicitations of the Streetreach staff occurred both in the street and also in massage parlours. The staff at Streetreach believe that the clients of prostitutes who are trying to pick up women have generally become more open and forthright. (Baker in phone interview with Farley 15 September 2008)

Once defined as work, NZ’s decriminalized prostitution law not only encouraged men to buy sex, it transformed prostitution into an acceptable, even attractive job for young, poor women in New Zealand. In one of the Report’s own surveys 25% of those interviewed said that they entered the sex industry because it had been decriminalized (PLRC, 2008:39).

Melissa Farley, 2009, Theory versus reality: Commentary on four articles about trafficking for prostitution

Sex Trade Survivors, Women’s Rights Advocates, Anti-Trafficking Organizations Globally Urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Uphold and Implement Canada’s Prostitution Law

New York, April 20, 2018 – Within 24 hours 2,280 sex trade survivors, women’s rights advocates, anti-trafficking organizations and concerned individuals, including Canadian citizens, from all over the world signed an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling on him to uphold and ensure full implementation of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). Feminist author and activist Gloria Steinem was among the signatories. The call to action came in response to the Young Liberals of Canada’s proposed resolution, “Decriminalization of Consensual Sex Work and Sex Trade,” scheduled to be tabled at the National Liberal Convention this week.

PCEPA, which passed in Canada in 2014, decriminalizes prostituted individuals, who are mostly women, offering them services, and targets sex buyers, who are overwhelmingly men, for the harm they cause in prostitution. This legal framework, which was originally known as the Swedish Model, has been adopted by Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Northern Ireland, Ireland and France. While PCEPA still criminalizes prostituted women in certain circumstances, something Canadian activists are working to amend, the law’s goal is to end the commercial sexual exploitation of individuals and protect human rights, especially those of women and girls, while recognizing that sex buyers fuel the global multi-billion dollar sex trade. Despite these laudable aims and evidence from other countries of the efficacy of this legal model, Canada has not comprehensively implemented PCEPA throughout its provinces but those that are using it are finding the law an excellent tool.

“Every day I witness the unspeakable violence and devastation that prostitution inflicts on women and children,” said Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre in Ontario, who advocated for the enactment of PCEPA. “If we have to re-debate whether the best Canada can do for our vulnerable is facilitating their commodification and sexual exploitation by decriminalizing prostitution, then we have failed in our promises for equality and protection of human rights for all.”

The open letter also calls on Prime Minister Trudeau, as the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party to reject the Young Liberals’ proposal to overturn PCEPA and to decriminalize all aspects of the sex trade in Canada, including pimping and sex buying.

“When Canada and its leaders speak about ending gender-based violence and violence against women, but support a pro “sex work” motion, which would decriminalize pimping and sex buying, Canada is being hypocritical,” said Alaya McIvor, an Indigenous sex trade survivor working with Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Manitoba. “We should be embarrassed about these efforts trying to reverse the great work that’s been done and a law for which we fought so hard to protect victims of sexual exploitation.”

While Indigenous Peoples in Canada only comprise 4.8 percent of its population, evidence shows that Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately represented in the sex trade. In one report, a network of front-line service organizations across Canada estimated that of the women and girls they serve who have been sexually exploited in prostitution, 50 percent of girls and 51 percent of women were Indigenous. Evidence has also shown that full decriminalization or legalization of the sex trade would spark an increase in sex trafficking, including of minors, to meet the consequent demand for prostitution.

CATW International, Equality Now, London Abused Women’s Centre