News & Updates

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February 25, 2017 – New laws not deterring sex workers, says Ruhama by Stephen Rogers

Opponents of what has become known as the Nordic model say it is only with full decriminalisation that the rights of sex workers can be protected. According to an article in Time magazine, the model “strips women of agency and autonomy” and “still means arresting, fining and jailing people over consensual sex”.

A fact not mentioned in this article in the Irish Examiner is that the new law also increases penalties for brothel-keeping and other charges; while these supposedly are to fight exploitation, too often they are used against sex workers who share apartments or communicate with one another in order to stay safe.

February 24, 2017 – Sonke Gender Justice seeks input on pamphlet for sex work clients
CoSWAC has been contacted by Zia Wasserman, Consultant for the Policy Development and Advocacy Unit of Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa, seeking input on their draft pamphlet for sex work clients.
Please check the PDF draft here, then email any comments/suggestions that you might have to:
zia AT genderjustice DOT org DOT za.
Many thanks!

February 24, 2017 – Options for Fighting Sex Trafficking Under Decriminalization by Desmond Ravenstone

If we followed the all-or-nothing thinking of sex work prohibitionists, we would ban chocolate. After all, much of it is produced by child laborers under harsh conditions. Forget that there is an option that encourages better conditions. Forget that driving an industry underground, and using police resources to arrest black market merchants and their customers, has never been shown to succeed. We need to send a message!

Well, there are more effective ways of sending messages, whether you’re buying and selling chocolate, chamois shirts, or a charming time with an erotic professional. Decriminalization opens the door to those options.

Click here for the full post by CoSWAC’s administrator on his blog The Harlot’s Bulldog.

February 23, 2017 – Prostitution operated openly in San Bernardino for 90 years, served as economic base by Harvey Kahn

“Technically there were laws, but if they stopped prostitution it would have destroyed the city economically,” explained [historian Philip] Kassel. “There was no public assistance then. Poor people went to the police. The police would then go to the prostitutes for money. It was the prostitutes who funded our public assistance programs.”

Click here for the full article in the Inland Empire Community News.

February 23, 2017 – Sex worker Kate McGrew on the ew which makes it illegal to pay for sex by Aoife Bannon

Criminalisation clearly further damages trust in the police. We are appalled this Government is going against international expert opinion to bring in a law which jeopardises our safety, removes our bodily autonomy, and puts us at further risk of poverty.

Click here for the full article in The Irish Sun featuring the coordinator for the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland.

February 22, 2017 – You Do What?! The Stigma Behind Sex Work by Miss Kate Kingsley

You would be amazed at how much more accepting people are when they fully understand something. Don’t keep it a dirty little secret. When you do that, you make yourself feel like you are all those things that society says you are.

Click here for the full article from the webzine O Camgirl.

February 20, 2017 – Liberal Democrats move to quash all historical sex-work convictions of prostitutes and punters by Joe Watts

“Sex workers face enormous discrimination and are more likely to fall victim to crime and violence simply because the law criminalises them. We should target our policies and efforts at reducing harm not wasting police time and creating barriers that stop vulnerable people seeking help.”

Click here for the full article in the Independent on the British LibDem’s latest move as part of a wider drive to decriminalize sex work in the United Kingdom.

February 18, 2017 – Toronto ‘body rubber’ advocates new laws for sale of sex by Jeremy Grimaldi

“I would like to see lawmakers looking through the lens that there’s nothing morally wrong with providing sexual services for money, … I would like them to ask, ‘How can we help people work without shame and afford them the same rights that everyone else is protected by law?'”

Click here for the full article from YorkRegion.com, featuring Onyx Ronin.

February 18, 2017 – Inherently Harmful? by Desmond Ravenstone

Ask the question of what makes selling sex “inherently” bad for the seller, and you hear one of several theories about what sex “really is” or “ought to be”, and how applying that theory to something other than sex isn’t right because “sex is different” because, well, it just is, okay? Yeah, prostitution is “inherently” bad because sex is “inherently” different.

you-keep-using-that-word
Click here for the full post on The Harlot’s Bulldog.

February 16, 2017 – Yes, sexual exploitation and slavery exist. But they are not the same as sex work by Meena Saraswathi Seshu

The health and safety of sex workers is undermined by the continued criminalisation of sex workers, their clients and the organisation of their work, as well as the repressive use of other kinds of laws. (For example, anti-trafficking and immigration laws that lead to raids, detention and deportation of sex workers ostensibly in the name of protection; administrative offences penalising sex work; vagrancy or loitering laws that target sex workers and/or their clients.) Such punitive legal environments and practices lead to multiple violations of sex workers’ rights, including the rights to life, liberty, and security of the person, safe working conditions, privacy, equality, freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and the highest attainable standard of health.

Click here for the full article in Scroll.in, written by a leader of India’s sex worker community in response to a prohibitionist piece.

February 15, 2017 – Ashton Kutcher Claims He Helped Cops Save Way More Sex-Trafficking Victims Than Authorities Say They’ve Found by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Considering the data we do have on state and federal human trafficking cases, the only way the numbers from Kutcher’s group could make sense is if a) they’re counting every red-flag ad Spotlight identifies, regardless of whether these tips are ultimately deemed worthwhile enough to prompt a criminal investigation, or b) they’re counting cases of consensual prostitution between adults and lumping all adult sex workers identified into the “adult trafficking victim” numbers.

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

February 15, 2017 – How to Treat Sex Workers, According to Sex Workers by Maxime de Vries

With the exception of the occasional inconsiderate asshole, most people know how to behave at the shops, the hairdressers, or when they’re catching an Uber. They know not to skip the line, to tip, and not to barf all over the backseat. But a lot of people don’t know how you’re supposed to behave when you visit a sex worker, or when you’re drunkenly trying to stay upright in a chair while a stripper grinds on your lap. Considering the men and women who work in the sex industry offer up their bodies, it’s only fair that you try and be polite and considerate.

Click here for the full article from the online magazine Vice.com.

February 15, 2017 – ‘This approach will not help victims of trafficking’: Groups at odd as sex bill passes final stage by Gareth MacNamee

A number of groups have expressed their disappointment with a new bill which criminalises the purchase of sexual services and increases penalties for aspects of the work. … Four human rights groups said they were disappointed that their concerns were not taken into account and said the amendments to the current law make sex workers more vulnerable.

Click here for the full article in Ireland’s online news magazine thejournal.ie.

February 14, 2017 – Singapore: Sex Workers are Workers, Not Criminals by Vanessa Ho

Sex work is a chosen livelihood for many. For some, it enables them to break the poverty cycle; for others, it’s about financial independence and empowerment. Adult consensual sex work shouldn’t be considered a crime alongside rape, assault, and robbery, especially if it means perpetrators of violence are granted impunity, which only emboldens them to continue to target sex workers. Sex workers need to be seen as workers before we can begin to talk about granting them control over their working conditions. Decriminalization of sex work will enable that process by putting power back into the hands of sex workers.

Click here for the latest installment on the World Policy Institute’s series of blog posts on sex work policy.

February 14, 2017 – Let’s Talk About Sex (Work) by Abigail Hall Blanco

We should respect people’s choices. While we may have moral or other objections to prostitution, that is not a valid argument for criminalization. Opponents of legalized sex work often correctly note that many sex workers are poor. But this should make no difference. It can hardly be said that criminalization helps poor women. If caught, they face fines or even prison. Prohibition does nothing to help them exit the industry or provide them with education or other skills.

Click here for the full article on Inside Sources.

February 13, 2017 – When Even Prosecutors Think Backpage’s Shutdown Sucked by David Meyer Lindenberg

It’s notable how few people have come forward to defend what happened. The most vocal messages of support came from the participants themselves, who made a point of congratulating each other for their role in bringing it about. And when Florida prosecutors and the staff of Reason magazine agree that an act of government was ill-advised, you can be pretty sure it wasn’t the greatest idea ever.

Click here for the full article on Mimesis Law.

February 12, 2017 – Woozle Effects and Heffalump Attributions by Desmond Ravenstone

Dorothy Allison noted that “Things come apart so easily when they have been held together with lies.” Whether the Woozles and Heffalumps of the prohibitionists are the result of rationalization or deliberate deceit, the best way to hunt and trap them is by simply asking – even demanding – to know the source for such assertions, and to keep questioning in the press for proof. No one who is genuinely confident of the truth of their claims should object to such scrutiny – and no one is obliged to believe anyone who tries to avoid it.

Click here for the full post on CoSWAC administrator Desmond Ravenstone’s blog The Harlot’s Bulldog.

February 11, 2017 – The ethics of prostitution: Selling sex out of the shadows by Corazon Miller

Dressed in trousers and a loose-fitting shirt, holding her baby to her breast, ­Antonia Murphy is a far cry from pop culture expectations of a brothel madam. But the San Francisco-born and raised, Ivy League-educated mother is the madam of Whangarei’s The Bach, an enterprise she’s taking pains to describe as an ethical brothel. “If you start by saying it’s a ­brothel, in my experience people immediately start relating it to violence and gangs and drugs,” Murphy says. “That’s absolutely not what we are ­doing, so I start out by saying ethical.” This means treating her workers with respect – providing them with condoms, briefing them on their legal rights, paying them at least $150 an hour – and there’s free childcare on site.

Click here for the article and video from the New Zealand Herald, showing how decriminalization had led to more responsible commercial sex businesses.

February 10, 2017 – High-Level Staff Knew of Police Sex Crimes Months Before Oakland Mayor Says She Was Informed by Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston

Last year, when news first broke about the Oakland Police Department sex-crime scandal, Mayor Libby Schaaf said she and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth were unaware of potential crimes committed by several cops until March 2016. However, emails obtained by the Express reveal that multiple officials from the City Attorney and Administrator’s offices knew detailed information about officer misconduct as early as November 2015 — four months before the mayor says she learned of the case.

Click here for the full article in the East Bay Express, with more damning details about the Oakland Police scandal.

February 9, 2017 – How a Heartwarming ‘Hero Flight Attendant’ Meme Helps Donald Trump Deport People by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

The story of this “hero flight attendant” quickly spread from tabloid outlets like the Daily Mail to the pages of The New York Times and BBC News. But each new iteration failed to produce additional facts. There was no follow-up on where the alleged trafficker had come from, what happened to him after the flight—arrest? prosecution? prison?—or data on how often law enforcement responds to in-flight staff tips. (There were also many misreports that Fedrick’s tale coincided with last year’s Super Bowl in San Francisco, though it happened years earlier.) Most stories mentioned Airline Ambassadors International (AAI), an organization training flight attendants on how to handle suspected human traffickers, but none dug beyond AAI’s own statements about intent and impact. If they had, they would’ve found something far less simple, and darker, than a heartwarming human-interest story.

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

February 9, 2017 – Sex work an occupational for some in industry: study by Linda Givetash

Prof. Cecilia Benoit, a scientist at the Centre for Addictions Research of [British Columbia], said she’s heard a variety of reasons why sex workers get into the business through past studies, reasons that not only contradict the public perception of being coerced or exploited but also questions the efficacy of prostitution laws that are based on the notion all sex workers are victims.

Click here for the article in Canada’s CTV News on this study.

February 8, 2017 – Canada: Racial and Gender Justice for Sex Workers by Anna-Louise Crago and Robyn Maynard

Canadian sex worker organizations continue to advocate decriminalization, as supported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Movement for Black Lives, and many others. Sex workers know all too well that human lives, primarily those of the most marginalized and racialized cis and trans women, are the cost of laws that aim to eradicate sex work through criminalization rather than seeking to eradicate violence and uphold sex workers’ human rights.

Click here for the latest post on the World Policy Institute’s blog, part of a series addressing sex worker issues.

February 7, 2017 – Things Not To Say To a Sex Worker from BBC Three

February 5, 2017 – “They’re now chasing after our Clients”: Sex worker to challenge Northern Ireland Law by Zoe Tabary

Sex worker and law graduate Laura Lee is due to appear before Northern Ireland’s High Court on Monday to challenge a law making it illegal to pay for sex. … Northern Ireland followed Canada, Sweden, Norway and Iceland in introducing laws designed to punish the client without criminalising those who have been driven into prostitution, and to end trafficking. But Lee said there was no evidence to show the law would help tackle sex trafficking. “It’s instead damaged the relationship between sex workers and the police, as they’re now chasing after our clients,” she said. “That has led to more assaults and even rapes, and there’s now a marked reluctance among our community to come forward and report those crimes.”

Click here for the full article in The Sydney Morning Herald; and if you want to help defray Laura Lee’s legal expenses, make your contribution here.

February 5, 2017 – The Backpage Saga: A Symbol Goes on Trial, a Woman Goes to Jail by Melissa Gira Grant

The war on trafficking is a war on symbols, but with real victims. First among them were low-income sex workers who rely on Backpage. At the sex worker-run blog Tits and Sass, Caty Simon put it like this: “two competing neoliberal agendas are clashing, indifferent to the material plight of the sex workers caught between them.” On the one hand are the policymakers who know the fight on Backpage is one unlikely to lose them any political capital, because opposition is most likely to come from groups like sex workers. But on the other side is Backpage. “What they are essentially arguing for is the First Amendment right to profit off a criminalized group of people,” Simon writes. This is the only defense available to Backpage. If they were going to mount a defense based on the ways sex workers use their site to place their own ads, they would potentially incriminate themselves. As the Backpage prosecution and defense is playing out now, those who rely on it for their basic income, and who are going to suffer from the site’s closure, are made invisible.

Click here for the full article on Pacific Standard magazine.

February 4, 2017 – Hawaii bill would legalize prostitution industry from the Associated Press

Hawaii lawmakers are considering decriminalizing prostitution in the Aloha State after House Speaker Joseph Souki introduced a bill.

Transgender activist Tracy Ryan says she’s pushing the bill because transgender women in the sex trade are disproportionately impacted by criminalization laws.

Click here for the post on WLNE-TV’s website.

February 3, 2017 – United States: End Systemic Violence Against Sex Workers by Julia Lukomnik and Akynos

When sex work is criminalized, sex workers are denied the ability to control their work environments to ensure their safety. For example, to enforce criminal laws, law enforcement agencies often weaken or eliminate access to tools that keep sex workers safe. In 2014, when the FBI closed MyRedBook, a website used to conduct background checks on clients and share warnings about those who might be dangerous, it destroyed a mechanism sex workers used to self-regulate their industry. Similarly, the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution leads to sex workers carrying fewer to avoid police detection.

Click here for the full article on the World Policy Institute’s blog.

February 3, 2017 – Portland State University’s Student Sex Worker Outreach Project Aims to Normalize Sex Work by Bri Griffith

Adrienne Graf’s Student Sex Worker Outreach Project isn’t trying to convince students to get out of the sex industry; instead, [Ph.D. candidate Meg] Panichelli notes that the program was created to support students. “If you had a bad experience, or want a safety plan, the program will meet you where you are,” she says.

Click here for the full article in Studybreaks.com on this innovative program.

February 1, 2017 – Investigating the Super Bowl sex-trafficking myth by Jon Wertheim

Sometimes, the sporting event doesn’t need to be major to sound the alarm. EXPERTS SAY DRAKE RELAYS BRING SPIKE IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING, read a 2015 headline on MSN.com. The accompanying story made the claim that the annual college track and field competition in Iowa doubles as “an opportunity for criminals to make money offering young women for sex” and also “draw[s] a darker side to Des Moines.” Which would be horrible … if, in fact, it were so. Neither the news reports nor the Iowa authorities provided data supporting the claim.

Click here for the full article from Sports Illustrated

February 1, 2017 – The Demons of Prohibitionism by Desmond Ravenstone

But just as the conspiracy theories of the satanic panic eventually unraveled, so we’re beginning to see with the distortions of the prohibitionists. Not only is the stereotypical pimp a rarity, but in many cases where a third party helps with bookings or other aspects of the business, it’s the sex worker who is the boss.

Click here for the full post on CoSWAC administrator Desmond Ravenstone’s blog The Harlot’s Bulldog

January 31, 2017 – Hungary: Navigating Sex-Work Regulations by Boglárka Fedorkó

Sex work in Hungary is subjected to highly discriminatory policing in order to remove sex workers from the public sphere. The requirement that sex workers receive medical examinations every three months, vague restrictions on the location of sex work venues, abusive policing practices, and regular police raids on sex work venues all undermine sex workers’ right to safety and limit their ability to negotiate safe sex and control their working conditions. Sex workers in the country therefore call for the removal of all punitive laws, policies, and practices that violate their rights. They demand that sex workers not be treated as victims of trafficking or violence perpetrated by men, but as they truly are: experts on issues they experience firsthand, including sex work, migration, social marginalization, women’s rights, and LGBT rights.

Click here for this latest installment in the World Policy Institute’s blog.

January 31, 2017 – Ukraine: Respect Sex Workers as Citizens by Olga Grishina

It’s important to change the social attitude toward sex workers so that people will see and treat sex workers with tolerance and without prejudice. Sex workers must be respected as citizens, and they must have opportunities to influence and affect political decisions on the local and national levels in order to protect their human rights.

Click here for the full article on the blog for the World Policy Institute.

January 29, 2017 – Canada: Sex Workers Need Decriminalization by Brenda Belak

Decriminalization involves removing all laws that punitively target the sex industry, but laws of general application prohibiting violence and trafficking would still be enforced. Decriminalization would allow sex workers to enjoy the benefit of labor protections that all other workers enjoy. It would mean sex workers have the right to work safely on their own terms. Sex workers worldwide have been asking for decriminalization for decades. It is the right thing for governments to do.

Click here for the full article by Pivot Legal Society’s Brenda Belak, published in the blog of the World Policy Institute

January 26, 2017 – 100 Years Ago Today, Sex Workers Marched for Their Rights in San Francisco by Lamar Anderson

On the morning of January 25, 1917, the anti-vice crusader Reverend Paul Smith opened the door of the Central Methodist Church in the Tenderloin, surprised to find 50 prostitutes bearing down on him. And the women kept coming, until they numbered more than 200. In the photograph that ran in that evening’s Bulletin, they looked like proper ladies going to church, in hats, long coats, and low heels. It was an unusual public campaign by “women of the underworld” — as that evening’s headline in the Bulletin called them — who had come to speak against a crackdown on brothels planned for Valentine’s Day. In a speech directed at Smith, a madam named Reggie Gamble proclaimed: “Nearly every one of these women is a mother, or has someone depending on her. They are driven into this life by economic conditions. . . . You don’t do any good by attacking us. Why don’t you attack those conditions?”

Click here for the full article in San Francisco Magazine.

January 25, 2017 – Listen to Sex Workers by Ruth Messinger

Many assume, as I once did, that every sex worker is a victim of trafficking, and that the trade must be stopped at all costs. But when you listen to sex workers talk about their lives, you begin to understand the difference between a girl or a woman who is trafficked—which is horrific and oppressive to its core—and a consenting adult who sells sex to support her family because she has deemed it her best option.

Click here for the full article on the blog for the World Policy Institute.

January 25, 2017 – The Invisible John Interview About Jane

Since “Coming Out Under The Red Umbrella”  December 2014  at CUSP’s International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, mixed with the last few years of media and law enforcement frenzy, my work world has been devastated. This all has endangered my welfare, and my safety, much more so then when I was simply a consensual sex worker with good days or bad days. Every new call I am terrified I’ll be on some new version of Sex Slaves of America, 8 Minutes, or caught up in some deviant, for-profit diversion program.

Click here for the full interview of former SWOP Chapter Rep M. Dante, posted on sexualpolitixxx.blog.

January 23, 2017 – Soliciting Sex Could Lead to 10 Years Prison in Connecticut by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Linehan’s bill wouldn’t do anything to change the fact that sex workers are arrested for prostitution (also currently a class A misdemeanor in Connecticut), it would just drastically enhance penalties for their clients. And this can further punish sex workers and put them at risk, by limiting the pool of customers to only those willing to risk severe punishment or making clients less willing to submit to screening processes and other measures that protect sex-worker safety and health. If Linehan actually cares about helping those who sell sex out of economic desperation, she wouldn’t seek to stymie their earning potential while driving their activities further underground.

Connecticut is currently in the midst of rolling out another prostitution-related measure, passed in 2016. Under the new law, all hotel and motel employees are required to undergo training on how to spot human trafficking and “activities related to human trafficking.” But like so many “human trafficking awareness” shams, the hotel-employee training really only encourages people to report any and all suspected prostitution—a move that not only harms sex workers but also those in groups most likely to be stereotyped as sex workers. (Already, we’ve seen flight-attendant “trafficking” training result in the detention of random Asian women.)

Click here for the full article on Reason.com. And contact Connecticut’s state legislators to kill this Draconian measure!

January 22, 2017 – Ombudsman investigates 70 sex claims against gardai by Cathal McMahon

Lucy Smyth, director of online safety scheme for sex workers uglymugs.ie, said that the figures were “very disappointing”.

“We think this problem is much more prevalent than the numbers suggest. Seeking justice after any sexual assault is difficult. When the offender is a garda [police officer] it is so immensely difficult that victims are unlikely to come forward,” she said.

Click here for the full article in the Irish Independent.

January 20, 2017 – The Women’s March Is Pro-Choice and Pro-Sex Workers’ Rights — and Should Be Proud of It by Melissa Gira Grant

Here’s what is not up for debate: When sex work, like abortion, is criminalized, women are made criminals, and that hurts women. The sex workers’ rights movement, like the reproductive rights movement, made serious gains on this ground in the 1970s, along with the strength of the global women’s movement. Yet some feminists still refuse to even use the words “sex work.” One of them is honorary Women’s March co-chair Gloria Steinem. In recent years, sex workers’ rights have been pushed into the mainstream of human rights and LGBT rights movements. A watershed moment was Amnesty International’s support for the full decriminalization of sex work. Yet Steinem opposed this support for sex workers’ demands for rights. (I asked Steinem for her response to the Women’s March and their support for sex workers; she has not replied.)

Click here for the full article in Pacific Standard magazine.

January 19, 2017 – Gloria Steinem Believes in ‘Bodily Integrity,’ Just Not for Sex Workers by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Over the summer, Steinem was one of a group of Hollywood celebrities and high-profile feminists condemning the human-rights group Amnesty International for its support of completely decriminalizalizing prostitution. In 2014, Steinem said it was wrong to use the term “sex work,” a preferred term of many women who willingly work in the sex trade, because prostitution is merely “commercial rape” — a “body invasion” that is “not like any other work.” Never mind that a lot of grown women choose to be sex workers and do not experience prostitution as commercialized rape; that’s how Steinem sees it, and so pity the poor sex worker who thinks she gets to define her own experience.

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

January 18, 2017 – Decreasing Human Trafficking through Sex Work Decriminalization by Erin Albright and Kate D’Adamo

In order to decrease human trafficking, health care workers should support the full decriminalization of prostitution. Similar to trafficking in other forms of labor, preventing trafficking in the sex trade requires addressing the different forms of marginalization that create vulnerable communities. By removing punitive laws that prevent reporting of exploitation and abuse, decriminalization allows sex workers to work more safely, thereby reducing marginalization and vulnerability. Decriminalization can also help destigmatize sex work and help resist political, social, and cultural marginalization of sex workers.

Click here for the full article in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics. Co-author Kate D’Adamo is a national policy advocate for the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project.

January 18, 2017 – On the Women’s March ‘Guiding Vision’ and its Inclusion of Sex Workers by Janet Mock

I am proud of the work I’ve done as part of the Women’s March policy table – a collection of women and folk engaged in crucial feminist, racial and social justice work across various intersections in our country. I helped draft the vision and I wrote the line “…and we stand in solidarity with sex workers’ rights movements.” It is not a statement that is controversial to me because as a trans woman of color who grew up in low-income communities and who advocates, resists, dreams and writes alongside these communities, I know that underground economies are essential parts of the lived realities of women and folk. I know sex work to be work. It’s not something I need to tiptoe around. It’s not a radical statement. It’s a fact. My work and my feminism rejects respectability politics, whorephobia, slut-shaming and the misconception that sex workers, or folks engaged in the sex trades by choice or circumstance, need to be saved, that they are colluding with the patriarchy by “selling their bodies.” I reject the continual erasure of sex workers from our feminisms because we continue to conflate sex work with the brutal reality of coercion and trafficking. I reject the policing within and outside women’s movements that shames, scapegoats, rejects, erases and shuns sex workers. I cannot speak to the internal conflicts at the Women’s March that have led to the erasure of the line I wrote for our collective vision but I have been assured that the line will remain in OUR document. The conflicts that may have led to its temporary editing will not leave until we, as feminists, respect THE rights of every woman and person to do what they want with their body and their lives. We will not be free until those most marginalized, most policed, most ridiculed, pushed out and judged are centered. There are no throwaway people, and I hope every sex worker who has felt shamed by this momentarily erasure shows up to their local March and holds the collective accountable to our vast, diverse, complicated realities.

Thank you, Janet Mock, for your vision and dedication!

January 18, 2017 – Will the Backpage Shutdown Make Sex Workers Less Safe? by Melissa Petro

The sex workers I spoke to all agreed that fighting sex trafficking responsibly requires fighting for affordable housing, adequate healthcare, and alternative economic opportunities that are equal to or better than sex work. It means fighting to reduce harm and violence towards individual who choose or feel compelled to sex sell— not grandstanding to take away resources.

Click here for the full article in Esquire magazine.

January 16, 2017 – Sign this online petition: Sex Worker Rights are Human Rights

The rights of all sex workers to participate without discrimination in decisions affecting their lives must be respected. In establishing laws and policies relevant to sex work, whether they relate to entry, participation or exit, governments should ensure the meaningful participation and consultation of sex workers, including, in particular current sex workers. Participation must involve sex workers from marginalized groups and those facing discrimination on the basis of, for example, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, caste, ethnicity and Indigenous identity. To be effective, such consultation must allow participation of sex workers in a way that permits anonymous engagement and other measures required to protect them from criminalization, retaliation, or harm. The consultation process should also ensure effective access to information and resources to allow meaningful engagement.

Click here to access this petition, and add your signature!

January 16, 2017 – Despite Law & Sanity, Backpage’s Adult Section Falls by David Meyer Lindenberg

As a legal matter, the witch hunt against Backpage and its CEOs is a complete debacle: a messy, ongoing violation of the Constitution and the CDA. As a practical matter, the fact that the government managed to wear Backpage down is no less bad. Not only will the disappearance of the adult section make it harder, not easier, to go after child sex traffickers, but as sex-workers’ rights advocates contend, closing down the sites where they prefer to ply their trade puts them at risk.

Click here for the full article on the “Fault Lines” section of MimesisLaw.com.

January 16, 2017 – Backpage Backed Into Corner Over Adult Ads. Is Government’s Goal a Goodbye to Sex Trafficking, or Free Speech? by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

After the hearing, [Senator Claire] McCaskill told a crowd of assembled reporters that Backpage refused to remove ads it knew were for minors and, when reminded that the witnesses had said no such thing, countered with the claim that she knew lots of other cases where this was true. When I pointed out that the California criminal evidence against Backpage execs also showed ads being removed upon request, McCaskill asked who I was and what press outlet I was with. A brief bit of further interaction with McCaskill yielded her assertion that Backpage must have known ads featured underage girls because some contained the word “teen.” But of course 18- and 19-year-olds are both “teens” and, legally, adults. And as an unidentified reporter pointed out to McCaskill, labels like “teen” and “jailbait” are often used as marketing categories on porn websites, even though women featured therein are (documented to be) 18 or older. Did McCaskill see this as evidence of widespread child exploitation by porn sites, he asked?

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

January 16, 2017 – Bill calls for study decriminalizing sex work by Elizabeth Dinan

Text of the bill states that the committee would study reports about sex work and human trafficking by Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, the International Labour Organization, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundation and Anti-Slavery International. The bill notes the committee would also student “positive and negative changes to laws” in the state of Nevada and Rhode Island.

Click here for the full article on Fosters.com about this development in the New Hampshire legislature.

January 16, 2017 – Nick Kristof plays fast and loose with the facts – again by Allison Bass

Now that Backpage has shuttered its adult ads section, adults who are selling sex by choice will merely gravitate to other websites that advertise their wares (many have already done so). But those who traffic in children will just move to offshore websites that are not as accountable to American laws or law enforcement, and that simply drives trafficking victims further underground.

Click here for the full entry on The Huffington Post.

January 14, 2017 – Raising awareness: of what? for what? by whom? for whom? by David A. Feingold

In 1997, when I began the UNESCO trafficking program for the Mekong Region, there was little public interest in human trafficking. However, over the past decade and a half, human trafficking (sometimes clad in the sexier guise of ‘modern slavery’) has become a durable flavor of the month. To that extent, awareness-raising has worked. However, we must differentiate between careful investigative reporting and documentaries, authoritative research reports, and validated studies on the one hand; and ‘real men don’t buy girls’ feel good campaigns on the other. My view is that, today, broad-scale scatter-shot public awareness campaigns often do more harm than good.

Click here for this article on openDemocracy.net, part of a series discussing the impact of human trafficking awareness campaigns.

January 13, 2017 – Marketing mass hysteria: anti-trafficking awareness campaigns go rogue by Cristine Sardina

Sensationalized television shows highlighting sex trafficking as the main focus always concludes with law enforcement going into economically repressed communities where vice is rampant and arresting the drug addled street worker. After berating and slut-shaming her, she is arrested for prostitution and drugs. She is not offered services by anti-trafficking organizations, she is pipelined to the county jail. She now carries a record of prostitution, preventing her from employment opportunities, academic opportunities, decent housing (The Crime Free Multi-Housing Program), and the stigma of a conviction. If this woman has children or is engaged in any ongoing interactions with child protective services, a misdemeanor conviction of prostitution can almost guarantee she will lose her children. What good has been done when the collateral damage of save and rescue is painfully high?

Click here for the full article in openDemocracy.net by the coordinator of Desiree Alliance, a national sex workers rights organization.

January 13, 2017 – Why the Senate’s Attack on Backpage Will Backfire by Mike Ludwig

If the Senate’s Backpage probe proves anything, it’s that lawmakers continue to understand sex work as a simple crime and not a job that people do for a variety of reasons. Sex work advocates argue that criminalization is what drives segments of the industry into the shadows and makes it difficult to enforce standards that can prevent trafficking and other labor abuses in the first place.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Truth-Out.

January 13, 2017 – Introduction: do the hidden costs outweigh the practical benefits of human trafficking awareness campaigns? by Joel Quirk and Ellen Shih

Defenders emphasise the role of campaigns in inspiring action. Critics maintain that the actions that campaigns usually recommend are superficial, and that the deeper political and economic causes of exploitation and vulnerability are excluded from the equation. Defenders regard campaigns as one component of a larger portfolio. Critics maintain that campaigns too often become an end in themselves. Defenders highlight the unique evils associated with human trafficking. Critics maintain that a narrow and exceptional focus on human trafficking too often excludes larger systemic patterns of vulnerability, complicity, and exploitation.

Click here for the full article on the openDemocracy.net website.

January 10, 2017 – Backpage Shutters ‘Adult’ Ads Section Following Years of Government Bullying by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

“It’s a sad day for America’s children victimized by prostitution,” Lois Lee, founder and president of sex-trafficking victim organizaiton Children of the Night, said Monday. “Backpage.com was a critical investigative tool depended on by America’s vice detectives and agents in the field to locate and recover missing children and to arrest and successfully prosecute the pimps who prostitute children. The ability to search for and track potentially exploited children on a website and have the website bend over backwards to help and cooperate with police the way Backpage did was totally unique.”

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

January 9, 2017 – Press Release: Backpage.com Removes Adult Content Due to Unconstitutional Government Censorship….Vows to Fight First Amendment Battles

As the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship, Backpage.com has removed its Adult content section from the highly popular classified website, effective immediately. For years, the legal system protecting freedom of speech prevailed, but new government tactics, including pressuring credit card companies to cease doing business with Backpage, have left the company with no other choice but to remove the content in the United States. … This will not end the fight for online freedom of speech. Backpage.com will continue to pursue its efforts in court to vindicate its First Amendment rights and those of other online platforms for third party expression.

Click here for the full contents of this press release, along with links to other supportive statements.

January 9, 2017 – High Court Won’t Hear Appeal Over Backpage.com Escort Ads by Sam Hananel

Lawyers for the website have said the company does more than any other online classified site to prevent the trafficking of minors. They argue that Congress wrote the law to preserve free speech on the Internet by giving immunity to websites for items posted by third-party users.

Click here for the full article on the ABC News website.

January 4, 2017 – Amnesty International expels RI coordinator over views on sex work by Jacqueline Tempera

Amnesty International’s policy on sex workers, which was published in May after a vote by chapters internationally, calls for “the decriminalization of all aspects of adult consensual sex work due to the foreseeable barriers that criminalization creates to the realization of the human rights of sex workers.” … [Former Rhode Island chapter coordinator Marcia] Lieberman first spoke out against the leadership in a Sept. 2015 letter to the editor published in the New York Times. Days later she received a phone call from David Rendell, the group’s Northeastern representative, and an email from Becky Farrar, a membership chairwoman, warning her that members are not allowed to speak against policies in public.

Click here for the full article in the Providence Journal.

January 4, 2017 – New Hampshire legislator wants study committee to consider decriminalizing commercial sex

Rep. Elizabeth Edwards, a Democrat from Manchester, wants to create a study committee to look into decriminalizing sex work. She knows it’s controversial. But she’s been convinced by research from organizations such as Amnesty International that decriminalization would make it safer for those in the sex worker trade.

Click here for the article in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

January 3, 2017 – Stop State-Sponsored Rape: Make It Illegal for Police to Have Sex with Sex Workers Before Arresting Them on Care2 Petitions

In 2013, Alaska made it illegal for police to have sex with people in their custody and/or to use the threat of arrest to coerce someone into sex, but it is still legal for police to trick prostitutes into having sex with them before arresting them. A recent survey showed 90% of Alaskans agree that police officers’ sexual contact with suspects, victims, or arrestees should be against the law.

Click here and sign this important petition!

January 3, 2017 – 10 Questions before supporting a Human Trafficking organization at Rate That Rescue

Rate That Rescue encourages donations to human rights organizations and sex worker positive organizations who provide direct services for housing, food, clothing, legal advocacy of all types and education and information.

Click here for the full blog post at this excellent resource!

December 30, 2016 – Why Cracking Down on Sex Sites Won’t Stop Traffickers by Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco

Ultimately, there is no evidentiary or theoretical basis for why any attorney general or legislator should rationally expect sex trafficking or the commercial sex industry to be eliminated or curbed by a closure of Backpage.com. What is more likely is that the advertisements will move elsewhere, perhaps to the Dark Web, on sites less inclined to cooperate with law enforcement and thus creating additional barriers to combat the burgeoning commercial sex industry online.

Click here for the full article on The Crime Report.

December 28, 2016 – 2016’s Best Investigative Reporting on Sex Work by Suzyhooker

Fourteen exceptional pieces of journalism on the realities of sex work

Click here for the post on Tits and Sass, with links to the articles mentioned.

December 28, 2016 – Maggie McNeill on The Politics of Sex Work

Maggie McNeill’s thoughts on The War on Whores, at the 2016 Exploring Anarchism conference.

December 24, 2016 – HRGJ Clinic Successfully Urges U.N. to Address U.S. Policies that Harm Trafficking Victims

The Special Rapporteur recommended that the U.S. adopt “a human rights based approach to trafficking which includes the de-criminalization of those who engage in prostitution” and “encourage[d] law enforcement officials to use their discretion to avoid arresting sex workers as they can be potential victims of sex trafficking.” Because services and immigration and other relief to trafficking victims are often conditioned on cooperation with law enforcement, which many victims are unable or unwilling to provide, she also urged government authorities “to refrain from conditioning services and residence status to victims’ cooperation with law enforcement authorities.”

Click here for the full report from CUNY School of Laws’ Public Square.

December 23, 2016 – Merry Christmas: Kamala Harris Files Brand New Criminal Charges Against Backpage Execs After Last Ones Were Tossed Out by Mike Masnick

Never let it be said that Kamala Harris gives up after being told her totally bogus legal crusade is totally bogus. She’s now filed brand new charges against the execs who run Backpage.com — despite having the very same lawsuit thrown out a few weeks ago.

Click here for the full article in TechDirt.

December 20, 2016 – Mandating Tests for Sex Workers Doesn’t Get a Passing Grade by Desmond Ravenstone

There is no good reason to impose [mandatory STI testing] on sex workers when other people in similar circumstances are not similarly required. To impose such a burden is nothing more than discrimination, rooted in stigma and unnecessarily perpetuating it. Sex workers have long known how to minimize these risks, as proven by empirical studies. They need neither bureaucrats nor moralists to require anything further. If anything, the rest of us would benefit from listening to their collective experience.

Click here for the full blog post.

December 17, 2016 – Can we end violence against sex workers? by Frankie Mullin

When deaths occur in other industries (there were 27 in agriculture this year, 43 in construction), the usual response is to ask how working conditions can be made more secure, not whether the industry should be scrapped. Of course men don’t need to buy sex, but nor does London need more luxury flats. These arguments should have no impact on the right of workers to be protected.

Click here for the full article in the UK publication New Statesman.

December 14, 2016 – ‘The Review Board’ Bust: 12 More Men Face Felony Charges for Posting to Seattle Web Forum by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Prior to this new wave of charges, the King County Sheriff’s Office has already prosecuted more than a dozen men in 2016 for what amounts to little more than online speech related to prostitution. Many of those men accepted plea deals after the county threatened to add additional charges and a sexual-motivation enhancement (i.e., more prison time and sex-offender status if convicted) for anyone who attempted to fight back but give those who plead guilty lenient sentencing. … This is, of course, part of the evil genius of how King County is going after people who pay for sex. With the “promoting prostitution” charge, law enforcement needn’t show that defendants actually engaged in pay-to-play sexual activity themselves. All they must show is that the men “advanced” the prostitution careers of others by saying positive things about them online. … Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change (CoSWAC) issued a Tuesday statement “condemn[ing] this continuing crusade” and expressing solidarity “for those being arraigned tomorrow. We call on the King County prosecutor’s office to put an end to this fiasco, and work to find real solutions for public safety, including the safety of sex workers in the Seattle area,” it said. “We call on the people of Seattle to examine all facts before rushing to judgment, and to join us and the sex worker community in advocating for more humane and effective alternatives.”

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

December 13, 2016 – #TalkTraffick: Why Decriminalize Sex Work? from the New York Anti-Trafficking Network

In this informative video, experts summarize how decriminalization provides a better means to fight human trafficking:

December 13, 2016 – CoSWAC Statement Condemning Continued Prosecutions in Seattle Review Board Case

King County, Washington (Seattle area) is on a crusade against clients of sex workers. In January, law enforcement and the county prosecutor told the people of Seattle there was sexual slavery in their midst but that they, the authorities, were out to hunt down and prosecute the sex traffickers and to rescue women forced into prostitution. A number of men will be arraigned on Wednesday of this week in the service of that crusade.

But they will not be the first. Since January the county has been hard at work arresting, threatening and arraigning. The problem is, although they’ve brought in several bewildered, ordinary individuals, no trafficking, coercion or abuse has come to light, and it’s hard to find any reason why zealous prosecutors could have ever honestly suspected such. The good people of Seattle, who care deeply about real slavery, are being manipulated.

In an initial batch of 21 unlucky souls arrested and charged by this summer, not a single one was charged with trafficking. After all the grand standing and after the media had its drooling field day associating any defendant in these cases with trafficking, these hapless clients were, for the most part, charged with writing reviews of sex workers. Nothing remotely similar to coercion, abuse or underage sex. The prosecutor calls posting reviews a felony and he threatened some defendants, if not all of them, with sex offender registration and a year of incarceration for each review they had written.

On Wednesday morning, they will bring in more for arraignment, the prosecutor’s appetite apparently not yet sated. We can look forward to more of the same – character assassination in the press, followed by a felony charge of having done nothing more than posting an online message that a particular sex worker was enjoyable company.

CoSWAC condemns this continuing crusade, and stands behind those being arraigned tomorrow. We call on the King County prosecutor’s office to put an end to this fiasco, and work to find real solutions for public safety, including the safety of sex workers in the Seattle area. We call on the people of Seattle to examine all facts before rushing to judgment, and to join us and the sex worker community in advocating for more humane and effective alternatives.

December 12, 2016 – The Question Anti-Prostitution Zealots Refuse to Answer by Desmond Ravenstone

As much as these so-called “abolitionists” keep trying to pin the blame on clients and people inside the industry, sex workers will tell you that they have more to fear from law enforcement – not just being arrested, but systematic harassment, assault, and exploitation.

Click here for the full blog post by CoSWAC’s administrator, as part of the “All In for #Decrim Blog Carnival”.

December 10, 2016 – Backpage Leaders Beat Pimping Charges as Court Affirms Importance of Immunity for Web Publishers of Third-Party Speech by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

[Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael] Bowman concluded in a December 9 decision that “defendants have, at most, republished material that was created by a third party.” … In his conclusion, Bowman once again wrote in boldface type that “Congress has spoken on this matter and it is for Congress, not this Court, to revisit.”

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

December 10, 2016 – How Prostitutes Settled the Wild West from “Adam Ruins Everything”

Infotainment video about the role that sex workers played in building communities in the West, even advancing women’s suffrage:

(Yes, it’s based on research! Look for reference citations, and a cameo with commentary by historian Jan Mackell Collins.)

December 7, 2016 – Canada’s new sex trade laws violate rights of sex workers, says report by Kim Pemberton

“The PCEPA has been mischaracterized as targeting only those who harm or exploit sex workers, without criminalizing sex workers and others who may enhance their safety. Analysis of the Criminal Code provisions in the PCEPA shows that the legislation has resulted in sweeping criminalization of the sex industry, threatening the physical and economic security of sex workers, even though they are immunized from prosecution in certain circumstances. The PCEPA violates sex workers’ rights to freedom of expression and association, security of the person, and equal treatment under the law.”

Click here for the Vancouver Sun article on Pivot Legal Society’s damning report.

November 29, 2016 – Cops went crazy on teens after blaming them for botched hooker sting: suit by Joshua Rhett Miller

The suit, filed on Nov. 18 in federal court in Detroit, alleges a “blatant abuse of authority” on behalf of the officers on Aug. 26, when Hassan Abdallah and Ibrahim Bazzi, both 17, picked up their friend Ali Chami, 18, after his shift at the Coney Island restaurant in Detroit. As the three were about to leave, Hassan spotted a relative pull into a nearby CVS and waved to the man, who drove over and greeted the teens.

But cops thought the teens were discouraging the man from talking to an undercover prostitution “decoy,’ according to the suit alleging a slew of bad behavior and police hijinks that got out of hand. The suit seeks unspecified damages.

“These teens did absolutely nothing wrong,” attorney Nick Hadous told The Post. “These cops accused them of interfering with a prostitution sting and the obvious issue is, there’s no crime here. It’s not even a close call. You don’t have an underlying crime or the beginnings of an underlying crime.”

Click here to read the full article in the New York Post and the details of abusive behavior on the part of Detroit police.

November 27, 2016 – Copenhagen sex ambulance is safe space for capital’s red-light workers by Richard Orange

“Maybe it doesn’t work, we don’t know, but at least we’re trying,” says Susanne Møller, a prostitute turned activist whose Sex Workers’ Interest Organisation (SIO) partners [with] Minoritet, Lodberg Olsen’s organisation. “A lot of people say there’s a lot of violence on the street against sex workers, but very, very few do anything about it.”

While Denmark legalised buying and selling sex in 1999, it is still illegal to profit from other people selling sex, making it difficult for sex workers to rent premises, or employ drivers or security. Street Lawyers, a Copenhagen charity, has checked that Sexelance is doing nothing against the law. “If we were charging for entering Sexelancen, then it might be illegal,” says Maja Løvbjerg Hansen, one of their lawyers.

Click here for the full article in the UK’s Guardian about this effort at harm reduction.

November 22, 2016 – Kamala Harris’ futile attack on Backpage.com

Not content to wait for federal prosecutors to use the new law against Backpage, Harris filed charges in September against Backpage’s chief executive and its two founders, accusing them of violating state pimping laws by building a business around advertisements by prostitutes and pimps. The election-year effort appears to be just as futile as Harris predicted it would be in her 2013 letter to Congress; on Wednesday, Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman in Sacramento tentatively granted Backpage’s motion to dismiss the charges, saying the company was protected by the Communications Decency Act. Instead of cutting the state’s losses, Harris has asked for more time to persuade Bowman to change his mind.

Click here for the full Los Angeles Times editorial.

November 17, 2016 – Transgender Sex Worker Murdered in Nantes, France reported by Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP)

Since France adopted a new law that criminalises the clients of sex workers, many sex workers have lost income. Many sex workers, including Niurkeli, have moved to more remote and dangerous areas to work because that is where their clients feel more secure. Transgender sex workers were the most affected by the new law because they also experience social exclusion. There are less clients on the streets. Many sex workers do not have enough money to rent an apartment to see clients indoors. … It is not the first murder since the law. Two women were also killed in August in Paris.

Click here for the full report on this tragedy.

November 16, 2016 – Judge Says Backpage Protected by First Amendment, Rejects Pimping Charges for CEO… Then Backtracks a Few Hours Later by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Although Bowman could not issue a final ruling until after oral arguments, which were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, he said that the final ruling come as early as that evening. And it did: Bowman now wants more info. According to Cheryl Miller of California legal newspaper The Recorder, the judge has now said he won’t dismiss the pimping charges just yet and would like more briefings from both sides before deciding whether to make the tentative ruling final.

Click here to read the full article on Reason.com.

November 16, 2016 – The California Attorney General Wants to Imprison the Owners of Backpage.com and Curtail Internet Freedom by Stephen Lemons

Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman called the attorney general’s criminal complaint “a fairly astonishing document” and lambasted the legal theory underpinning it as a dangerous one that could outlaw “any publication that sells ads.”

Click here for the full article in The Phoenix New Times.

November 14, 2016 – The Case for Legalizing Sex Work by Peter Singer

Countries that criminalize the sex industry should consider the harms these laws cause, as Amnesty International has done. It is time to put aside moralistic prejudices, whether based on religion or an idealistic form of feminism, and do what is in the best interests of sex workers and the public as a whole.

Click here for the full essay by Professor Singer, one of the leading ethical philosophers today.

November 14, 2016 – CoSWAC administrator Desmond Ravenstone is guest columnist on The Honest Courtesan

We hope to encourage and empower more sex work clients to come out of the shadows, and work with sex workers and other allies towards decriminalization and other common goals.  As we grow and network with existing groups, we hope to provide more resources towards this end.  So, if you are a client, we encourage you to connect with CoSWAC.

Click here to read the full post.

November 5, 2016 – Victims Were Kids for One-Third of U.S. Police Officers Who Lost Badges for Sexual Misconduct by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

A Cato Institute study of 2009 and 2010 data found sexual misconduct was the second most-common complaint against cops, behind excessive force.

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

November 3, 2016 – Chicago Cop Arrested for Sex Trafficking and Child Porn, Accused of Paying Teens—Including Braces-Wearing 14-Year-Old—for Sex by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Whitley’s case serves as a great example of the culture of corruption and lack of accountability present at so many police stations throughout the country. His file reveals at least 28 complaints against him, going back as far as 1991, including several incidents in which a temporary suspension was ordered. In the past six years alone, Whitley has been sued twice for wrongful arrest, though one case was dismissed before trial and a jury found in his favor in the other.

Click here for the full article on Reason.com.

November 2, 2016 – Irish Minister claims ‘there’s nothing wrong’ with lonely men paying for hookers by John Drennan

Asked about a set of hypothetical scenarios involving those with special needs or lonely farmers, the minister notes “in that hypothetical situation where you are talking about a lonely chap who wants to go out and spend his money to have a physical relationship because he’s got a need, there’s nothing wrong with that”.

Read Drennan’s full article in The Irish Sun.

October 29, 2016 – New Twitter feed for CoSWAC
We now have a Twitter feed: @SexWorkClients. Follow us and share your tweets and hashtags!

October 25, 2016 – Operation Cross Country X: Everything You Need to Know About the FBI’s Annual ‘Underage Human Trafficking’ Sting In One Chart by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

As Sydney Brownstone writes at The Stranger, “no one, including sex worker advocates, wants minors (or anyone) to be abused in the sex trade.” (And just to be clear, no one’s advocating to decriminalize knowingly paying minors for sex.) But “the world of sex work is a lot bigger — and a lot more complex — than projects like [Operation Cross Country] depict. Local sex workers and international organizations like Amnesty International say that decriminalizing sex work, and allowing sex workers to exercise their labor rights, would help prevent exploitation, rape, and other abuses, including abuses of minors.” And even short of decriminalizing adult prostitution, there are better ways to address underage prostitution than the raid-and-rescue model perpetuated here, which tries to address issues of poverty and marginalization by playing heroes and villains.

Click here to read the full article.

October 15, 2016 – More Lives Sabotaged by National Faux-Sex-Trafficking Witch-Hunt by Elizabeth Nolan Brown
More details on the so-called “National John Suppression Initiative” orchestrated by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and bankrolled by Swanee Hunt … Click here to read the full article.

October 14, 2016 – California judge allows bail for Backpage.com operators by Don Thompson

“Defense attorneys said the three [Carl Ferrar, Michael Lacey and James Larkin] will challenge the charges at a Nov. 16 hearing. They said the charges violate First Amendment free speech protections and a federal law that blocks state actions against websites that distribute content created by others.”

Click here to read the full article.

October 12, 2016 – Sociologists looking for sex work clients to take survey
CoSWAC has been approached by a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who is conducting research on the commercial sex industry, and would like input from clients of sex workers. The survey for this project takes only 15 minutes, and your confidentiality will be respected Click here to access the survey and read more about this project.

October 11, 2016 – Publisher of Sex-Trafficking Ads Isn’t the Criminal by Noah Feldman

“Preventing sex trafficking of children is a compelling state interest. But criminalizing the publication of ads for escorts almost certainly would not count as narrowly tailored to achieving that goal. Criminalizing the ads would cover plenty of conduct that is legal. Narrow tailoring would be to prohibit the illegal act, not to prohibit ads that might lead to the illegal act.”

Read the full article on Bloomberg.com.

October 10, 2016 – Send your support to Carl Ferrer!
From SWOP Behind Bars: Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage, is being held without bail at Sacramento’s County Jail. The address for sending letters and postcards of support:

FERRER, CARL X-5094010 6W109A
Sacramento County Main Jail
651 “I” Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

October 9, 2016 – Statement by CoSWAC on the arrest of Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer

The organizers of CoSWAC – Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change – express our dismay and indignation at the arrest of Carl Ferrer, the CEO of Backpage, by agents of California’s Department of Justice. We are especially concerned how this continued vendetta against Backpage will adversely affect the lives of erotic service providers who use its platform.

To level these charges against Ferrer and his associates is to ignore the clear wording and intent of Federal law. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act unambiguously protects internet service providers from liability for user-generated content on platforms such as online classifieds. Additionally, Backpage has actually engaged in screening and reporting protocols to detect possible cases of child sex trafficking. For California’s Attorney General and DOJ agents to contend that such protocols constitute evidence of guilt is downright Orwellian.

We hope that Backpage continues to operate its adult classifieds while Ferrer fights these charges. Erotic service providers depend on platforms like this as a safer means to screen prospective clientele. Also, given Backpage’s protocols, it seems more sensible for law enforcement to work with them in fighting trafficking rather than scapegoating them. Shutting down Backpage, as with other similar platforms, will only serve to drive both traffickers and consenting sex workers further underground, making conditions worse for everyone involved.

We stand with the sex worker community in support of Backpage and Carl Ferrer, and for an end to these overzealous and misguided actions by law enforcement.

October 7, 2016 – Here’s How Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer Supposedly Profited From Child Sex Trafficking by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

“Throughout the complaint, [California Special Agent Brian] Fichtner uses instances of Backpage cooperating with law-enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in identifying and finding potential victims as evidence that Backpage profits off of exploitation. Backpage is literally rejecting—and turning over to the government—ads that may promote sex trafficking, and the government says, see! proof that sex traffickers love Backpage! Shut it down! It’s like a building owner reporting predatory activity out front and the cops arresting him and tearing up the street corner instead of tracking down the predator.”

Click here for the full article.

October 6, 2016 – Backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer Arrested in Texas for Pimping, Conspiracy by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

“The charges stem not from Ferrer’s own actions but because he owned a user-generated ad website where these activities are said to take place.”

Nolan’s article further notes: “Backpage is protected by Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. It says that user-generated content sites cannot be held strictly liable for things members or users post.”

Click here for the article on Reason.com and stay tuned for more.

October 3, 2016 – Sex work client’s blog returns!
Rick Pettit’s fledgling blog, “My Name is Rick, Not John!” has been re-established on another platform. We applaud Rick’s courage, and support his efforts.

October 1, 2016 – King County Sheriff Continues to Offer Distorted View of Seattle Sex Trafficking by Elizabeth Nolan Brown
Follow-up coverage of Liz Brown’s earlier expose of Seattle law enforcement’s crackdown on The Review Board, alleging “sex trafficking” among consenting adults.
Click here for more.

September 29, 2016 – CoSWAC says No on Prop 60
noonprop60
CoSWAC’s organizers have joined SWOP-USA, the Free Speech Coalition and a growing number of groups in opposing California ballot Proposition 60. This measure would not only mandate condom use for all adult films, but make every potential viewer a “bounty hunter” by allowing them to file suit and claim a portion of any fines collected. Adult film performers already have a high safety record; Prop 60 is unnecessary and overly intrusive. We urge voters in California to vote NO!
Click here for more information on the No on Prop 60 campaign.

September 24, 2016 – Blog by sex work client taken down
Shortly after being featured on The Honest Courtesan, Rick Pettit’s fledgling blog “My Name is Rick Not John” has been taken down. No explanation has been given, and CoSWAC hopes Rick is well.

September 22, 2016 – Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Creating National Database of Sex Buyers by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

“Keeping the personal info of people arrested for prostitution-related charges in one handy national database might help with whatever new Vice-Squad-on-Steroids agenda that Dart is designing. But it’s obviously worrisome from a privacy perspective. Keeping all that sensitive information in one place would seem to make it a ripe target for hackers, but nowhere do Demand Abolition or Dart even mention cybersecurity.

Check out this article on Reason.com.

September 18, 2016 – SWOP-USA newsletter celebrates launch of CoSWAC

“Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change was recently launched, as a place for clients to connect with each other for the purpose of advocating against criminalization and stigma. The group who founded CoSWAC has been in touch with sex workers involved with SWOP for input and guidance. They are open to constructive feedback, invite other clients to join them, and look forward to joining sex workers in our combined fight for autonomy and human rights.”

Check out The Scarlet Letter for more valuable news and info!

September 15, 2016 – CoSWAC on Facebook
Check out our Facebook group here, and invite supporters you know to join!

September 9, 2016 – The Truth About the Biggest U.S. Sex Trafficking Story of the Year by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

” … as more information about the case has become available, [King County Prosecutor Dan] Satterberg’s narrative starts to break down. The reality—as evidenced by police reports, court documents, online records, and statements from those involved—is far less lurid and depraved. Instead of a story of stark abuse and exploitation, it’s a story of immigration, economics, the pull of companionship and connection, the structures and dynamism that drive black markets, and a criminal-justice system all too eager to declare women victims of the choices they make.”

Click here for the full article at Reason magazine.