The government of Bangladesh has started sending emergency food and aid to the tens of thousands of women working in the country’s commercial sex industry as brothels across the country close.
To try to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the authorities have ordered the lockdown of the sex industry, closing the country’s biggest brothel in Goalanda in the Rajbari District of Dhaka until 5 April along with many others across the country.
The closures will leave many of the estimated 100,000 women working in brothels in Bangladesh with no way of supporting themselves or their children.
“We don’t earn much here, I make enough to survive day to day and most of us are in debt,” said one 26-year-old woman who has worked in a brothel in Goalanda for more than seven years. “What will happen if things don’t get better? Yesterday I needed to get some food but all my money is stuck in online banking apps and all the cashpoints are closed. I managed to borrow some from a friend, otherwise I would have been in big trouble.”
Local government official Rubayet Hayat, of the sub-district of Goalanda, said food and financial aid from the disaster management and relief ministry would start to be distributed by the end of this week.
“There are some 1,800 [prostituted women] in the brothels under our jurisdiction. We have asked for 30kgs of rice and 2,000 taka (£20) [for each of these women],” he said. “We have got the initial approval and are hoping the funds will be sanctioned by the end of this week.”
Healthcare workers at a charity hospital near to the brothel in Goalanda said more help would be needed to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19 in brothels and red light districts.
“The brothel area is very dirty and unhygienic. The rooms are inhumanly tiny. The house owners built the rooms strategically for more profit so that they can fit more rooms in a small area,” said Zulfekar Ali, the in-charge doctor at the Gonoshasthaya Kendra charity hospital. “In that same tiny room, the [prostituted women] live, work and often cook. Many share common toilets.”
He added that many women working in the brothels are often reluctant to access healthcare services because they fear being shamed and stigmatised. “We are using loud hailers to spread awareness in the brothels, telling the women who are there to wash their hands properly,” he said.
Prostitution is legal in Bangladesh and the government estimates that around 100,000 women are working in the sex industry. One study reports that less than 10% of those working in prostitution entered the sex trade voluntarily.
So many truths hidden in plain sight (I have ‘edited’ the use of the term ‘sex worker’ to more accurately reflect the reality of the situation), and waiting till the end of the article to mention that over 90% of the women in the sex industry are coerced, and not even bothering to mention that many of these ‘sex workers’ will actually be girls as young as 12! I have sent a complaint email to The Guardian, although they have never once replied, please feel free to copy or adapt the below:
I am writing to complain about the article “Bangladesh sends food aid to sex workers as industry goes into lockdown” (https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/apr/06/bangladesh-sends-food-aid-to-sex-workers-as-industry-goes-into-lockdown).
There is something incredibly dishonest about writing an article on ‘sex workers’ in Bangladesh, and only admitting in the final paragraph that over 90% of the women you are writing about are coerced, while the side-bar links to an article that reveals that many of these ‘workers’ will be girls as young as 12.
Under any other circumstances, coerced sex is called rape, but, somehow, if the rapist hands over money afterwards, this rape is relabelled ‘work’. ‘Sex work’ is a partisan, obfuscating term, it turns a sexual abuse issue into a mere labour issue, and disappears the abusers.
The Guardian is still asking for financial support, I will not give you a penny while you are still calling commercially raped women and children ‘workers’.
Amazingy, The Guardian has responded, and changed the article!
Thank you for your email.
We put your points to the relevant editor who replied:
Yes, in this instance I do agree that the headline was not what it should have been and the reader makes a fair point. We have changed the headline and moved the last paragraph up to near the top of the piece.
We take great care to distinguish between the terms prostitution, sex trafficking and sex work, and the only place that the term ‘sex workers’ was used in the body of this piece was in a direct quote from the Bangladeshi politician. At all other times we used “women working in brothels” as we have no way of knowing how many of the women receiving these aid packages are coerced or working in the brothels of their own free will.
Prostitute and sex worker are very politically charged terms and we usually use the words “women working in prostitution” when not referring to sex trafficking.
I hope this goes some way to addressing your concerns.
The current article is here (same url, changed headline):
An archived version of the original article can be found here:
I’m very angry today
Yesterday I went to the women’s march. It was great. It felt a little shallow, some people had signs with memes or fandom things in them. There was a guy with a sign that said “real men respect women” which lol.
But there were young women, a collective of old women who had knitted a whole sign out of yarn, a collective of romani women dennouncing discrimination and misogyny they face, little girls with their moms, there were marxist women, women fighting for education, there were some people with trans flags too, and also many signs making a symbol out of their female bodies and making chants referencing it, there were marxist women, there were women pro and anti hijab/forced modesty, and women pro and against prostitution. It was a very plural experience, and that felt good, to have us all screaming against sexual violence and sitting down in honor of the women murdered in 2019. It was a good reminder that we’re very plural, and that the people who would demand to control the narrative really don’t control all of what feminism is. Too much difference of opinion weakens a fight, but in such a time when any difference among feminism is severely punished, it’s important to realize that yes, different opinions can coexist. Because that’s the important thing, the march I attended was peaceful.
That was not the case in Madrid or Barcelona. In the later, they had “kill terfs” signs. In the former, a group of women who are prostitution and gender abolitionists had a really big sign demanding an end to sexual slavery and explotation and people tried to cover their sign, when that failed, they tried to cut it up, with A KNIFE, people took one of the signs down and tried to break it and stomp on it claiming it was “transphobic” (all the sign said was “stop misogynistic violence” but you know, it was made by a group that supports the abolition of prostitution so, they’re Satan) the feminists in question were pushed around violently, one was punched, someone tried to threaten an old woman and her dog. The people who did it? Some were part of THE MARCH ORGANIZING COMMITTEE, others were trans activists with pink bands on their arms meant to signify and “inclusive march”.
So I read that this morning, and I’m very very angry, but for once, that anger feels good. It feels righteous, like anger I can turn into something. Because I went on Twitter, and there were so many women talking about this, and not just random gender critical women, but women who have been historical figures of Spanish feminism for decades. Important activists. Journalists with a very big following. People who had no real clue what was going on but the violence didn’t sit right with them. A deputee of our Congress just casually rting gender critical articles. There has been a lot of talk on tv here over the last few days over the divisions among feminism especially when it comes to self-id and prostitution/pornography, and it is very clear whose side the mass media is on. But our perspectives were brought to the forefront, and they were listened to somewhat. And after yesterday’s circus so many more people are speaking out about who the problem is and who actually causes these so-called divisions. I don’t know if this means that we have a chance to influence things, we’re gonna have our own gender self-id row very soon (also our Minister of Equality said, about the proposal to make a law that deals with sex trafficking since we have so many cases of that, that she’s “for the complete abolition of sex trafficking but she has friends who are for the regulation of prostitution so :(” and so many people are calling bullshit, but there’s being talk of a law tackling trafficking by activists groups, the conversation is out in the open, now we must move our pieces)
I don’t know if this new notoriety is gonna make anyone listen, but we’re here, we’re condemning the absolutely despicable behaviors promoted by liberal feminists and trans activists, and so many people with a big following are doing it. For once it really feels like they won’t shut us up.
Ok I’m gonna tell you what they did in France and Belgium.
A prostitution survivor named Fiji was holding a sign that said : I am a survivor of incest and prostitution and I am an abolitionist. «Abolitionist» is what we call anti-prostitution feminists in France.
As she was bravely marching, the liberals kept following her, laughing at her and taking pictures to identify her. Then some girls came behind her, one of them asked : «are you against prostitution ?» she replied «yes», the girl said «I am pro sex» and, still smiling, tried to steal the sign from Fiji’s hands. All the feminists that were supporting her held on to her sign and protected her. The liberals were laughing. The feminists were outraged «how are you not ashamed ? How dare you do that to a victim ? How dare you speak of feminism ?» they asked. The liberals laughed some more and started chanting «DEATH TO ABOLITIONISTS».
The liberals kept following them and laughing… feminist survivors were not safe… in a march for women’s rights. After a while, the liberals took out their own sign it said : transfeminists. You can see them behind Fiji on the picture I posted above.
Anti-prostitution activist Joana and her group (which included ex prostituted women) were attacked and punched in the face by men and women wearing masks.
«They saw us preparing for the march, taking out our banner and they jumped us, kicked us, hit us». Their big anti-prostitution banner was stolen. Joana tried to run after the thieves to get her banner back. As a result 5 people wearing masks beat her up in the middle of the street. The police had to intervene to stop the beating.
Later that day a local «anti-fascist» group wearing masks posted a picture of themselves proudly posing with a racist banner they had stolen. On the ground is Joana’s banner that says “survivors, feminists, abolitionists fighting” and “collectif abolition porno prostitution” which I don’t need to translate I think.
After realizing that Joana’s banner was visible the “anti-fascist” page changed the picture.
Too late. They have been reported to the police.
Several survivors of prostitution have reported that as they were marching some liberals/trans activists were chanting «death to abolitionists» and «death to fascists». A prostituted friend of mine added : «there were no fascist near us, yet the trans activists were looking at us, they were menacing and trying to provoke us, you could tell they wanted to beat us up». One liberal screamed “no feminism without whores !”, others were getting close enough to whisper “death to abolitionists” in women’s ears and then disappear into the crowd like some sort of sick game.
On facebook, prostitution survivor Emma wrote this post:
«I just came back from the march for women’s rights in Bruxelle. We had abolitionist signs. We were booed several times by women who chanted «death to abolionists, death to fascists» looking us straight in the eyes.
So I had to endure the violence of a pimp, the discrimination that goes with prostitution and now I am told to die during a march for women’s rights because I am speaking up about the suffering I’ve been through.»
She added a video to her post in which we can see and hear liberal women chanting «death to abolitionists».
All that being said and speaking from my experience in France, liberal pseudo-feminism is more of a cult than anything else. They are a minority who have built an echo chamber for themselves, mostly on the internet, and when out in the real world, facing their limits as an idiotic and self centered little cult they shout and threaten and grin and kick but normal people don’t understand a word they are saying. They remind me of skinheads actually. Dangerous and pathetic at the same time.
Anyway, nothing can stop actual feminism and sisterhood.
QotD: “COVID-19 puts women in New Zealand’s sex trade in more danger than ever; why isn’t the decrim lobby helping?”
On March 21, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country would go on lockdown in response to COVID-19. She explained:
“We are fortunate to still be some way behind the majority of overseas countries in terms of cases, but the trajectory is clear. Act now, or risk the virus taking hold as it has elsewhere.
We currently have 102 cases. But so did Italy once. Now the virus has overwhelmed their health system and hundreds of people are dying every day.
The situation here is moving at pace, and so must we.
We have always said we would act early, decisively, and go hard. And we will.”
Ardern introduced the four-tiered alert system the government would be using, to first Prepare to tackle the virus, then Reduce risk of community transmission, then further Restrict person-to-person contact, and finally Eliminate risk by imposing full quarantine.
By Monday, March 23rd, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 3 and prepared to move to Level 4 after 48 hours. Our borders are closed and people are being asked to stay home and remain two metres away from each other, for instance when “undertaking essential shops.” Essential services are still operating, and schools are closed except to the children of people who keep them running. Ardern has clarified that “there will be no tolerance” for breach of orders, adding:
“The police and the military will be working together, and there is assistance at the ready if required. If people do not follow the messages here today, then the police will remind people of their obligations, they have the ability to escalate if required, they can arrest if needed, they can detain if needed.”
Many New Zealanders take pride in Ardern’s leadership. The government has prepared financial packages for employees, businesses, and sole traders to reduce the financial burden as people are asked to self-isolate to stop the virus from spreading, and laid out the details on a Unite Against COVID-19 website.
Women’s Refuge, an organization that oversees a network of domestic violence safehouses throughout New Zealand, has acknowledged that one of the biggest concerns of the lockdown is that many women and children are not safe at home. Chief executive Dr. Ang Jury explained that, “although it’s clearly very necessary, self-isolating will likely mean an escalation of violence for many women.”
The alternative for many women would be to join the 34,000+ New Zealanders who suffer severe housing deprivation. Homeless women are more vulnerable than their male counterparts, also because of the high risk of sexual violence. For women, the threats of domestic violence, homelessness, and prostitution are connected, and many women in prostitution have suffered domestic violence as well as homelessness and transience.
This begs the question: what advice is the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) issuing in response to COVID-19? This is a question that needs to be asked for another important reason: prostitution also lends itself to the spread of disease. The Ministry of Health funds NZPC to the tune of $1.1 million per year ostensibly for this reason: to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The NZPC’s approach is to distribute condoms, pamphlets, and a 125-page manual titled, Stepping Forward, to “assist” prostituted women in dealing with the problem themselves. About half of Stepping Forward is dedicated to describing common STDs, using small, badly photocopied images of genital warts, gonorrhea, and chlamydia as they appear on men’s genitals.
A handbook produced by the Department of Labour’s Occupational Safety and Health Service advises women in the sex industry that, in the event of condom breakage, they should remove semen by “squatting and squeezing it out using vaginal muscle exertion. Fingers can be used to scoop.”
In 2005, a 24-year-old woman was strangled, bound, raped, run over, and killed after an argument with a john resulting from his refusal to use a condom.
Those who defend decriminalized prostitution often argue that completely eliminating the risk of the violence and disease involved with prostitution is not possible, because prostitution is inevitable and cannot be stopped, and because it is essential — some men simply cannot live without sexual access to women. So, offering women pamphlets and condoms, and normalizing prostitution by legitimizing it legally, is the best that can be done.
Yet after the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, NZPC updated the front page of its website to announce that prostitution must be halted by midnight on Wednesday. The page reads:
“COVID-19 INFORMATION: INSTRUCTIONS TO STOP PHYSICAL CONTACT SEX WORK BY MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY 25 MARCH 2020
NZPC recognises that sex work is work and is the main form of income for a number of people.
However, with New Zealand going to a Level 4 alert, sex workers are asked to comply with the requirement to stay at home during the four-week period of isolation indicated by the Government. Only those in essential services will be permitted to work. Sex work is not classed among the essential services (doctors, pharmacists, police, ambulance, fire, vets, food production, and supermarkets).
Therefore NZPC wants all sex workers to comply with the four-week closure.
Failure to comply could result in officials arriving at your place of work to enforce compliance.”
The message concludes with a link to the Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) website, and to the government’s Unite Against COVID-19 site.
There are a few concessions involved in this notification on NZPC’s website. One is that prostitution can be stopped — and immediately — if the political will is there and the need is considered urgent. The fact that the rate of sexual violence against women in prostitution is higher than that committed in any other context has simply never constituted an urgent enough threat. The second concession here is that men do not actually need prostitution — it is not essential, a human need, or a right. It is something men can live without.
There are also some assumptions underlying NZPC’s decision to target prostituted women with its instructions to “STOP PHYSICAL CONTACT SEX WORK BY MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY.” According to studies that NZPC helped to carry out, 72 per cent of these women are stuck in the sex industry due to circumstance. A 2007 survey conducted by NZPC to review the current laws showed that 10 per cent of women in prostitution say they “don’t know how to leave,” 8.5 per cent say they “can’t get help to leave,” 24 per cent “don’t know what else to do,” and 29.5 per cent “have no other income.”
Yet NZPC assumes that it is these very women who have the power and responsibility to shut down the industry. They assume it is the “supply,” not the “demand” — or more accurately, the victims, not the perpetrators — who should be threatened with state intervention in case of “failure to comply.” Will prostituted women be arrested? Are we going to see a return of the brothel raids that police used to carry out before the Prostitution Reform Act? Will this be endorsed by NZPC?
That the NZPC is putting full responsibility in the hands of these women, who have little if any alternative, and threatening them with police intervention if they fail to comply, demonstrates that the organization is not a feminist one, nor anything resembling a union standing for workers’ rights.
This response to COVID-19 highlights the fact that full decriminalization of prostitution does not actually protect women.
On Tuesday, the survivor-led organization Wahine Toa Rising (WTR) sent a letter to ministers in parliament asking, “What financial and other support is available for women and young people who are currently in prostitution,” and, “What measures are in place to ensure women and young people in prostitution are protected from catching or transmitting the COVID-19 virus?”
The least that a Ministry of Health-funded organization could do for women in prostitution in response to COVID-19 is to demand an allocation of funds from the government to help women exit the industry safely, and to insist on the banning of buying and pimping women, rather than threaten abused women into staying home, when they are part of a demographic that makes them especially likely not to have a safe home to go to.
NZPC tends to minimize the true hardships involved with prostitution. In a 2017 article announcing the launch of a safehouse to help women exit the sex trade, NZPC programmes coordinator Dame Catherine Healy claimed that only 10 per cent of women need assistance leaving prostitution. This does not agree with global research, survivor testimony, or NZPC’s own surveys.
This leads to another point: prostitution is an industry that profits from crisis, and this crisis may be no exception.
The workforce is gendered — this is the problem that pay gap campaigning points to. Care work tends to be feminized — 92 per cent of New Zealand’s nursing staff and 72 per cent of teaching staff are women. In industries and sectors that are not “feminized,” women tend to be paid less, considered more dispensable, and are more at risk of losing work and a living wage. In cases where companies are shedding staff, women will likely carry the burden disproportionately. Airlines, for instance, are likely to be sending stewardesses home as they reduce business.
This is how crisis tends to unfold and one reason why it typically leads to an expansion of the sex trade — because women still need to shelter and feed themselves and their children during economic crises. Men will exploit their increased dependence regardless of the circumstances. Hell, they are apparently already making corona virus-themed pornography.
If New Zealand’s sex trade expands because of women’s vulnerability and the economic fallout resulting from COVID-19, it goes without saying that this will lead to a spread of disease, and not only this respiratory illness. Syphilis is on the rise in New Zealand. In the year ending March 2019, 548 cases were reported, up from 82 in 2013.
Yet NZPC continues to simply hand out condoms and pamphlets and promote the legitimization of the sex trade. It offers no exit services, and, as stated, even undermines the need for them when other people take on the task. It does not protect women from danger. The advice NZPC offers women in Stepping Forward, in terms of “dealing with violent clients,” is:
“Make as much noise as possible to attract attention. Try calling FIRE, a passerby will probably pay more attention. If you wear a whistle around your neck, blow it in his ear.”
NZPC later says that “getting loud” can “backfire because some clients are just wanting you to do this so that they have an excuse.”
Before the lockdown was announced, on March 19, liberal news site The Spinoff released an article titled, “Covid-19: What happens when touching people is part of your job?” which included reference to prostitution. In it, Healy casually advised women in prostitution:
“There’s also cam work, but that’s not a big money earner generally. When you think we have several thousand sex workers at the moment, the best suggestion is for them to find alternative income.”
That week, Healy responded to an inquiry she received from a woman asking her for help by sending her a screenshot of the WINZ Job Seeker form, totally ignoring the fact that the nature of her job is to help women whose circumstances are desperate.
Prostitution is also correlated with family violence through pornography, of which camming is a form. The filming of prostitution to make pornography has been called a “public health crisis,” and in New Zealand, approximately 54 per cent of child abusers are known to use pornography. Many of these porn-consuming men will now be spending more time at home, with their children.
As Wahine Toa Rising founder Ally Marie Diamond says:
“Full decriminalization only protects the pimps, buyers, brothel owners, and those who profit from the sex trade. As COVID-19 has proven, women in the sex trade in New Zealand are not protected. They are not safer, they are ultimately in more danger now than they would have been prior to 2003. When are we going to start opening our eyes and waking up to what is happening around us? It really is time to look at it another way.”
Another thing COVID-19 has proven is that when a threat is considered urgent enough and the political will is there, the government and the New Zealand public are willing to commit to a course of action that will not just reduce but eliminate that threat.
While we are in isolation, many people will be reflecting more deeply on their lives and relationships. Prostitution and porn affect us all. They perpetuate rape and objectification and there is no end to how much and how deeply they affect sexual relations and the culture we live in. Right now, these industries and their normalization are contributing directly to a situation in which many women and children are unsafe, including at home, under quarantine.
Perhaps a few questions for us all to consider while we are on lockdown are these: isn’t men’s violence against women and children an urgent threat, worthy of eliminating? Can it end as long as rape is accepted as inevitable, and normalized and made profitable through prostitution and porn? What would it really look like for us, individually and collectively, if we took the steps necessary to eliminate the threat of men’s violence against women and children from our lives, and from our culture?
Two victims of a bizarre social experiment in which Berlin’s city hall deliberately placed troubled children in the care of paedophiles are on the brink of winning compensation.
From 1969 to 2003 the authorities put at least nine boys in the hands of convicted sex offenders on the advice of a disgraced social scientist.
The idea behind the Kentler experiment — named after Helmut Kentler, an academic who argued that paedophilia could have “positive consequences” — was that unruly and “feeble-minded” children would benefit from adult sexual attention.
In the late 1960s Kentler persuaded West Berlin’s ruling Senate that the homeless boys would jump at the opportunity to be fostered by paedophiles and would be “head over heels in love” with their new father figures.
One of the boys, referred to in legal proceedings as Marco, had been taken into care after suffering physical abuse at the hands of his father. In 1989, aged six, he was placed with a convicted child abuser. A year later this foster father, Fritz H, began going into Marco’s room for a “cuddle”.
Marco has claimed in an interview with Der Spiegel, a weekly news magazine, that for ten years he was repeatedly beaten and raped by Fritz H, until he reached the threshold of adulthood and fought back.
Another of Fritz H’s victims, given the cover name Sven, was abandoned by his parents at the age of seven and contracted hepatitis B on the streets of Berlin. In 1990 he was entrusted to the paedophile and suffered repeated sexual assaults.
Fritz H is alleged to have recorded the abuses on a video camera and kept the boys isolated from the outside world in his flat.
From 1974 Fritz H, who has since died, fostered four other boys. One of them, who is referred to as Sascha, lived in the flat at the same time as Sven and Marco. Sascha was allegedly neglected and denied medical care, leading to his death in 2003 from pneumonia.
It is not known how many children were subjected to the Kentler experiment. Four years ago the Berlin Senate commissioned an inquiry into the scandal from experts at Göttingen University. Their final report has yet to be published.
At the beginning of the experiment, Kentler, who died in 2008, was regarded as one of Germany’s foremost sexologists and often appeared as an expert witness in court cases. He boasted of having secured the acquittal of several alleged paedophiles.
In 1970 he urged the Bundestag to decriminalise sex between adults and children in West Germany, arguing that teenagers were “almost always more seriously damaged” by the prosecution of their abusers than by the abuse itself.
Nine years later he published a book in which it was claimed that numerous scientific studies had produced no evidence of paedophilia’s negative effects.
Marco and Sven were so badly scarred by their ordeal that they have been unable to work. In 2016 they brought a formal complaint to the city authorities.
The Senate has now agreed in principle to pay them compensation as part of an out-of-court settlement, according to Der Tagesspiegel, a daily newspaper, but there is a dispute over the extent of the damages.
One of the victims’ lawyers is said to have pressed for a lump sum of €100,000 and a monthly pension of €2,500, backdated to the end of the fostering arrangement in 2001.
The city of Berlin has said that it is working on a “solution that would satisfy the interests of those affected”.
Teenagers are being exposed to graphic images on social media that promote life-threatening sexual acts, such as strangulation and erotic asphyxiation, prompting concerns that this is “normal” for a generation.
An investigation by this newspaper has uncovered hundreds of images of sexualised choking and strangulation on the virtual scrapbook Pinterest, the photo-sharing platform Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and the microblogging site Tumblr. All three allow children as young as 13 onto their sites.
The images, which include pictures of young women being pinned down and strangled by men, and women with gags over their mouths, are often posted under hashtags such as #daddy, #chokingkink, #breathplay and #strangle.
On Pinterest there were images of children being gripped by the throat. One picture on Tumblr showed a bed with rose petals spelling out the words “bruise my oesophagus”.
Users also post phrases that promote these acts, such as “grab me by the throat and call me yours”, “Netflix and choke me” and “I’d probably still adore you with your hands around my neck”.
Campaigners argue that Fifty Shades of Grey, the sadomasochistic romance series, has helped normalise violent sexual practices. Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, a forensic criminologist, said: “Fifty Shades opened the floodgates to this. Women felt under pressure to indulge in dangerous behaviours.”
They argue that social media are now helping to make these acts mainstream, so that young women feel they cannot refuse sexual partners who wish to strangle them during intercourse.
Fiona MacKenzie, founder of the campaign group We Can’t Consent to This, said: “Social media sites normalise it, so that for young women there becomes an expectation that they may be choked or strangled.
“We hear this from women in their twenties all the time. This was once a very niche practice; now there is a push for young women to accept it as normal — to go along with it because it’s ‘sexy’.”
According to a survey by the research company Savanta ComRes last year, 38% of women under the age of 40 have experienced unwanted slapping, choking, gagging or spitting during consensual intercourse.
Sahana Venugopal, 23, a journalism student, said that she had seen this type of explicit material on Tumblr from the age of 14. “I’d inadvertently see a lot of pornographic material because accounts would use the hashtags of other popular TV shows or media to bring followers to their porn sites,” she said.
“After my experiences with Tumblr, I felt that choking was normalised as a sexual behaviour. It’s shown as an expression of passion and it’s something that girls are kind of groomed into doing, but it’s only recently that I see that being critiqued as something criminal.”
Under their community guidelines, Instagram and Pinterest do not allow images that promote violence on their sites.
MacKenzie added: “People know this practice is promoted on porn sites — they don’t expect it to be on Instagram or Pinterest. Some of what I saw on Instagram was so graphic that I couldn’t sleep afterwards. Strangulation is also a common risk factor for future homicide.”
Some Pinterest users also advertise T-shirts, necklaces and cards on the site that promote strangulation with slogans such as “treat me like a princess and choke me”.
Some of the content — including all the Pinterest posts — was removed after it was flagged by The Sunday Times. Pinterest said it did not allow content that promotes “graphic violence or sexual fetishes”, and Facebook said it removes images that promote “sexual violence or sexual acts which could cause serious physical harm”.
Tumblr said it did allow “some content that may be sexual in nature” but not posts that promote violence.
Former (for now, hopefully permanent) stripper here. I think a lot of people who don’t have first hand experience of stripping don’t understand that the job is about %10 actual dancing at most. There are some regional differences, club differences, I know girls get tipped more in places like Vegas or Atlanta but if you go just about anywhere else, you do NOT make your money dancing on stage. Stripping is not just being some hot and unattainable things gliding around a pole while awestruck men make it rain.
The majority of your money comes from private dances and from tips. If you are in the industry you know that the best way to ensure your income is to gather regular clients. There are two ways to do this: you can either give them sexual favors or you can play along with their fantasy that you are their girlfriend/will meet them outside the club. Both are objectifying and degrading, not fun. Not sexy.
Aside from having to deal with regular clients, stripping means swimming in a sea of misogynistic assholes. Some men get off on hurting women physically, some men get off on making women cry. You could be a 10/10 and you will still be subjected to abusive treatment by men. No matter how hot you are, there is always some man who feels entitled to list all the “flaws” he sees in your body to put you in your place. Stripping means existing every day in an atmosphere of violence and sexual aggression and having to constantly fend off men who repeatedly try to violate your boundaries.
As rude and entitled as the customers might be, they are nowhere near as bad as club owners/managers can be. Coerced sex is as ubiquitous as you’d expect it to be. Managers can force you to work back to back shifts until you drop or develop a coke habit (so you can buy from them), they can force you to give dances to men that smell like piss and they can retaliate against you if you piss off the wrong client by refusing to fuck. I’ve been called a cunt, a bitch, a whore, literally any insult you can think of – and I was Top Earner for almost a year straight. And I put up with it because I couldn’t afford to stand up for myself and lose my job.
And when i’m saying this, keep in mind I worked in the most expensive, “high-end” club in a major metropolitan city for years. I was one of the hot, “lucky” ones. This is the high end. On the low end you’ve got clubs that are actual no-bones-about-it-lube-in-the-goddamn-sanitizer-bottles brothels filled with trafficked women from Eastern Europe and Asia.
I’m sure some strippers are gonna say it’s not degrading yadda yadda, “I’m empowered!” But I’ve never met a stripper who hasn’t had some sort of emotional breakdown on a shift at least once, and that kind of says something.
The privileged sex worker tourists looking to gain some sort of dangerous mystique/male validation/”self-discovery”/whatever the fuck supplemental identity might never experience this, but who cares about them anyway, they are a joke to the rest of us.
tl; dr – take it from a stripper, it is degrading. What I wrote above is pretty stream of consciousness so i’m sorry if it seems unpolished. I just get scared and frustrated when I see things like this and wanted to get this out of my system so I could go take a bath and chill.
I quit stripping not long after I started because I had an anxiety attack (I didn’t know what an anxiety attack was back then). I was lucky enough that I could quit because I could find money elsewhere and hadn’t been there long enough to get stuck. Not long after that the club got shut down for prostitution.
I assure you, everything she said above is true. The owner/manager is an abusive pimp, the girls are doped up just to get through the night, men try to take advantage of you at every turn, it’s a nightmare.
You know what my appeal was? That I had just turned 18 and was a virgin (I wasn’t a virgin, but that was my gimmick). You know who all of my regular clients were? Men old enough to be my dad or, more often, grandfather, trying to get me to suck their dick for extra cash. They’d try to get my drunk enough to do it, but all my “rum and coke”s were just soda.
Girls who needed more cash or drugs could fuck the boss for it. He would pay us to get a tattoo of the club’s name and logo. There all still girls out there with it permanently on them even though now the club is gone, always reminding them of what went on in there.
This isn’t some sexy emporium of pleasure, it was a stock yard and we were cattle, branded and caged, for men to buy.
A US judge has awarded $13m in damages to 22 women who were defrauded by the owners of GirlsDoPorn, a website specialising in “amateur”-style pornography.
The women were coerced and tricked into making pornography that was released on to some of the biggest adult sites in the world without their consent, leaving some of them suicidal.
The San Diego superior court heard evidence from the women, Jane Does 1 to 22, in a case their lawyers say has “exposed the rotten underbelly of the San Diego sex industry”.
GirlsDoPorn is an adult subscription service launched in 2006 by New Zealander Michael Pratt and operated by Ruben Garcia and Matthew Wolfe. Filmed in homes, hotels and trailer parks, videos on GirlsDoPorn specialise in promoting the image of the “ordinary” college girl who is making her first and only pornographic film.
The women told the court they had replied to ads on Craigslist asking for “beautiful college-type preppy girls” aged 18 to 22 interested in modelling.
After applying for the modelling work, they received phone calls from other women who have been described as a key part of the business – “reference women” who pitched the idea of making porn and assured them that it would never go online.
The women all said they were pressured into taking part. Those who tried to back out once it was clear what was involved were threatened, plied with alcohol and told they would have to pay for their own way home from San Diego.
They were promised that the footage would go straight to DVD for wealthy buyers in other countries, in particular Australia and New Zealand, where the defendants come from.
The videos were in fact uploaded to some of the most used adult sites in the world and have been viewed more than a billion times. Anonymous emails were sent to their families, universities and friends, linking them to the videos.
In her evidence, Jane Doe 1, who was studying law when the videos were released and seen by fellow students, family and friends, said: “I felt ripped apart, piece by piece. Honestly I wanted to commit suicide when it all came out … I tried moving away. I have tried going places people don’t know me and it just follows me everywhere.
“I’m always paranoid when I meet new people that they have seen my video or [when I] meet new people [they] are going to say, ‘I know you.’”
Judge Kevin Enright described in his findings how the need to keep finding young women new to the porn industry drove the “deceptive, coercive and threatening behaviour” used by the defendants.
He said: “Subscribers [to GirlsDoPorn] are meant to be left with the impression that the women in [the] videos are everyday women that they could encounter in their communities, campuses and daily lives.
“In accordance with this ‘one time only’ paradigm … business is dependent on recruiting a constant stream of new models. The court finds … that fraudulent practices [were used] to facilitate such recruitment.”
After the films were released details of the women were published on WikiPorn.
Enright said: “Defendants’ tactics have caused the videos to become common knowledge in [the women’s] communities and among their relations and peers – the very thing that [they] feared and that defendants expressly assured them would not happen.
“Collectively, they have experienced severe harassment, emotional and psychological trauma, and reputational harm; lost jobs, academic and professional opportunities, and family and personal relationships. They have become pariahs in their communities. Several plaintiffs have become suicidal.”
During the course of the civil trial, Pratt, Garcia and Wolfe were criminally indicted for sex trafficking, among other charges. Garcia and Wolfe are currently in federal custody. Pratt is a fugitive.
Jane Doe 1 also gave evidence about the enormous impact online publication and subsequent WikiPorn leak had on her life. She has since had plastic surgery to try to disguise her appearance.
“I’ve gotten cheek fillers to try and change the structure of my face and microbladed my eyebrows to try and change my appearance,” she said.
At one point, the judge asked her if she needed a break from talking, as she described holding a loaded gun and thinking about taking her own life.
“I shake, I throw up from anxiety. I am on four different pills a day for anxiety. In law school I couldn’t focus.”
In November 2015 60 emails and phone calls called for her to be expelled. The emails went to the dean of the law school, and to the head of the student body with links to the video. “I felt ripped apart, piece by piece. Honestly I wanted to commit suicide when it all came out … I tried moving away. I have tried going places people don’t know me and it just follows me everywhere.
Her life, she says, is irrevocably changed, and her hopes of a legal career have been ended.
“I do not want a career as an attorney. My name is completely destroyed.”
QotD: “If someone had told me 10 years ago that so-called feminists would be demonstrating outside a lap-dancing club, waving placards in support of stripping for a living, I would have laughed”
I am, according to those who seek to legitimise prostitution, a Swerf — meaning sex-worker-exclusionary radical feminist. This is a fairly new insult brought to you by the nice folks that introduced Terf (trans-exclusionary radical feminist).
Swerf means a feminist who considers prostitution to be harmful and abusive, which it most certainly is, and I have been labelled a Swerf since the acronym first emerged online in 2013 on a website called Everyday Whorephobia. Before that I was merely a “pearl-clutcher”, “prude” and “anti-sex puritan”.
In 2017, during the Sheffield launch of The Pimping of Prostitution, my book on the sex trade, a group of blue-fringed “feminists” (and a few bearded men) picketed the venue, shouting slogans such as “Blow jobs are real jobs!” and “Proud whores!”.
Swerf and Terf — which when used together sound like a bad meal at a tourist-trap steak house in Leicester Square — are misogynistic insults aimed at us uppity women who refuse to accept the erosion of women’s hard-won rights.
The former prostitute Rachel Moran, whose memoir, Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution, laid bare the reality of the sex trade, was compelled to embark upon a lengthy defamation case against a pro-prostitution lobbyist who repeatedly claimed, over a period of eight years, that Moran had made up her entire story of child abuse, homelessness, substance abuse and being bought and sold on the streets of Dublin. The “happy hooker” crew cannot easily deal with the abuse and exploitation inherent in the sex trade, and often attempt to shame and silence its victims. Every high-profile sex-trade survivor who exposes the truth of prostitution comes in for similar treatment.
Where did this valiant attempt to sanitise the sex trade emerge from? The Labour Party officially supports blanket decriminalisation of the sex trade, but I am not sure Jeremy Corbyn realises that this means the removal of all laws against pimping, brothel-keeping and paying for sex. Many assume decriminalisation means stopping the arrest of those selling sex, but don’t realise it also means exploiters go free.
The Liberal Democrats also take the view that prostitution is a job like any other, and have ignored survivors telling them otherwise. One of the party’s prominent female members, Wendy Chamberlain, argued against criminalising the punters by saying that “sex work has been going on for thousands of years and sadly no policy will end it”. So has murder, but I have yet to hear calls for its decriminalisation.
When Caroline Lucas was its leader, the Green Party supported an increasingly popular strategy of criminalising the demand while supporting those in prostitution to leave the sex trade, but a bit of haranguing on Twitter soon had her changing her mind.
If someone had told me 10 years ago that so-called feminists would be demonstrating outside a lap-dancing club, waving placards in support of stripping for a living, I would have laughed. But this is what happened in Sheffield recently when Sophie Wilson, a 23-year-old councillor and the Labour candidate for Rother Valley in South Yorkshire, decided that the feminists campaigning to have the licence of the city’s branch of Spearmint Rhino revoked on the grounds that stripping is exploitation were, as she eloquently put it, “trashy Swerfs”.
The pro-prostitution lobby almost always holds up the “rights” of “sex workers” to “choose” to sell sex. It is interesting how the terms “agency” and “empowerment” are only ever applied to degrading things imposed upon women, such as stripping, pole-dancing and prostitution. While jumping on to the #MeToo campaign about sexual harassment and consent, the anti-Swerf brigade seem to forget that prostitution is paid sexual harassment.
De Wallen, a well known red-light district in AmsterdamANDREA PUCCI
One picket line I had to walk through was on my way to speak at Leeds city council about the disgrace of its “managed zone”, where men can shop for sex with a vulnerable, drug-addled woman without fear of arrest. The protesters were shouting “Swerfs off our turf!” and “Hands off our clients!”
When a woman was murdered in the zone by a punter, the subsequent evaluation of the pilot scheme, conducted by academics so woke they need never set an alarm clock, concluded that the initiative had been a success and that it should become permanent.
The anti-Swerf crew were given another shot in the arm in 2016, when Amnesty International adopted a policy supporting the removal of all laws relating to prostitution — or, as Amnesty calls it, “adult consensual sex work”. An internal policy document, leaked to me in late 2013, made it clear that senior personnel had already reached the conclusion that men have the right to pay for sex and that women often “choose” prostitution as a career. There was even a suggestion that criminalising the punters, or even sending them on a “re-education” programme, could be a serious human-rights violation.
When feminists support the sex trade, they are giving men permission to buy and sell the most disenfranchised women on the planet. To invent and use an insult against the women campaigning for an end to commercial sexual exploitation is grotesque and unforgivable.
To suggest that supporting prostitution is somehow woke and progressive is ridiculous. I recall the words of the late feminist author Andrea Dworkin: “Only when women’s bodies are being sold for profit do leftists claim to cherish the free market.”
Senior lawyers and women’s organisations have condemned the increasing use of “rough sex gone wrong” as a courtroom defence to the murder of women and called for a change to the law in the UK.
In the wake of the conviction of British backpacker Grace Millane’s killer in New Zealand, researchers have revealed a tenfold rise over the past two decades in the number of times similar claims have been made in UK courts.
According to the campaign group We Can’t Consent to This, in the past decade 30 women and girls have been killed in what was claimed to have been consensual violent sexual activity in the UK.
Of those, 17 resulted in men being convicted of murder, nine led to manslaughter convictions and two ended in acquittals. In one further case, there was a murder conviction but only after the victim’s husband confessed; police had initially treated the death as non-suspicious. The case of one woman’s death has yet to go to court.
In 1996 there were two cases in which deaths and injuries to women were blamed on “rough sex”; by 2016, that had climbed to 20 cases a year.
During the Auckland trial of Millane’s murderer, the accused’s lawyer, Ian Brookie, told the jury that the 21-year-old backpacker had died during “a perfectly ordinary, casual sexual encounter between a young couple … as a result of what they consensually engaged in.”
The jury, however, did not believe him and unanimously found the killer guilty of murder. “You can’t consent to your own murder,” the crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said.
Fiona Mackenzie, an actuary, set up We Can’t Consent to This after the outcry over the killing of Natalie Connolly, 26, by her partner John Broadhurst, 40. Despite having 40 separate injuries, including serious internal trauma, a fractured eye socket and bleach on her face, Broadhurst received a sentence of three years and eight months for manslaughter.
Mackenzie supports changes to the domestic abuse bill, put forward by the MPs Harriet Harman and Mark Garnier, to incorporate the principle of R v Brown into statute.
She told the Guardian: “As well as changing the law, we need to have an attitude change across the justice system. People need to stop buying into these ‘rough sex’ excuses.
“Everywhere you look in the world, there’s the same failure in countries’ criminal justice systems. It’s terrifying.”
Consent, which has increasingly entered popular consciousness as a key concept in rape cases, is no defence to injury, let alone death. The principle was established in a 1993 test case, R v Brown, in the House of Lords in which a group of men were convicted of assault and wounding even though their sadomasochistic victims had willingly participated in the violence.
The defence of “rough sex gone wrong” has no official status in law but can, campaigners claim, influence prosecutors to reduce a charge from murder to manslaughter or a judge to lower the eventual sentence.
Sarah Green, the director of the End Violence Against Women coalition, said: “Women monitoring femicides in the UK believe the so-called ‘rough sex defence’ is growing. It is deeply alarming and at worst reflects the fact that defence is, actually, a business where some are willing to ‘test’ approaches that might win in court. It sets women up to be harmed in life and grossly insulted after their deaths.
“We’re also appalled at the willingness of large parts of the media to uncritically reproduce this deeply misogynistic line. Editors need to get a hold of this now and stop the thoughtless and sensational communication of cases where women have died.”
Prof Susan Edwards, a barrister who teaches law at the University of Buckingham, believes strangulation should be made a stand-alone offence.
“Strangulation is the cause of death in around a third of all spousal homicides,” she said. “Now there’s a burgeoning use of [rough sex excuses] because there’s greater acceptance of BDSM [bondage and sadomasochism] in relationships.”
Thirty years ago, she said, the more common excuse from a violent partner would have been that they were provoked, that it was unintentional or they lost control.
Campaigners partly blame the cultural normalisation of rough sex on the growth of violent online pornography and books such as Fifty Shades of Grey with its themes of sadomasochism.
What is not so clear is whether there has been a significant rise in the number of sexual strangulation deaths or whether the excuse of “rough sex” is simply being deployed more often than in the past.
Karen Ingala-Smith, the chief executive of the domestic violence charity Nia, said: “Women don’t die from rough sex. Women die because men are violent to them.”
She said violent and degrading online pornography was “socialising young men into different expectations of what they are supposed to do in bed. Women are pressured, whether they’re conscious of it or not, to accept violence during sex and do things that weren’t commonplace 10 or 20 years ago.”