News & Updates

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October 20, 2017 – New report shows compelling reasons to decriminalize sex work by Linda Selvey, Basil Donovan, Jonathan Hallet, Kahlia McCausland, and Roana Lobo

Contrary to popular belief, sex workers were more likely than not to report that their work enhanced their wellbeing. Sex workers reported feeling increased self-confidence as a result of their work, and many enjoyed the non-sexual interaction they had with clients. The financial benefits were also important, as was work flexibility. Stigma and discrimination remained major impediments to sex worker wellbeing. This had impacts on their interpersonal relationships, as well as access to health services and the police.

Click here for the full article in the online journal The Conversation.

October 20, 2017 – Feds ‘Rescue’ Women from Freedom and Money in 11th ‘Operation Cross Country’ by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

One young woman who told me her story said she dreamed of being a nurse, but a prostitution arrest at age 18 “shattered” that ambition. During the sting, she removed a small bag of marijuana from her bra as she was getting undressed, so police booked her for not just prostitution but felony drug possession too. Now she can’t get the student loans she would need to go back to school, and she’s barred from even getting a bartender’s license. The girl was first arrested for prostitution at age 17, as part of Operation Cross Country. Her name and mugshot were publicized along with the names of the other women they picked up as part of this so-called rescue mission. Only after that did police realize she was underage and retract her name—adding her instead to their tally of child sex-trafficking victims “saved.” But “the vice agents pretty much just took me to my parents house and dropped me off,” she says. “Never offered any counseling, any emotional/physical support, they just wanted to get me out of their way.” She soon ran away, working by herself from a motel for a few months until that proved too dangerous and then working with another woman and a man.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

October 13, 2017 – Who’s ‘the Harvey Weinstein of’ Sex Work? The Police by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Every week brings a new story of police officers abusing their power to extort sex from women, especially women whom they’ve known to engage in prostitution. Since the start of October, at least five cops and a police dispatcher have made headlines for prostitution offenses, sometimes with underage women. And of course these are only the ones getting caught.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

October 8, 2017 – How $40 Can Land You in Prison for Seven Years and on the Sex Offender Registry for Life by Victoria Law

The danger of sex trafficking has become a rallying cry for law enforcement, prosecutors and politicians. Furthermore, sex work and sex trafficking are often conflated, aided by inflated (and wrong) statistics and sensationalized stories, and reflected in laws that fail to distinguish sex work from trafficking. When minors are involved, prosecutors and courts come down especially hard. But in the rush to “save” people, little attention is paid to sex workers swept into the dragnet of these laws — and then subject to prison and a lifetime of punishment. The FBI reported 744 arrests for human trafficking for sex work in 2015, a steep jump from the 399 arrests the year before. Of the 439 trafficking convictions secured by the US Department of Justice in 2016, 425 were for sex trafficking. But the numbers aren’t broken down into how many convictions were handed to people who coerced, threatened or forced other people into sex work, how many were coerced, threatened or forced themselves, and how many were simply engaged in sex work and arrested for helping another sex worker.

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Truthout.

October 5, 2017 – 10 Reasons to End the War on Drugs and the War on Sex Workers by Britta Love

Sex workers and drug users share the questionable distinction of being two groups of people who are consistently and often acceptably stereotyped and maligned as a whole, even in so-called progressive circles. The general campaign against sex work through state and federal laws (as well as lobbying by anti-trafficking organizations) is not generally called the War on Sex Workers — but that’s effectively what’s taking place. Selling sexual services is illegal, and many activities that help ensure the safety of sex workers are criminalized under pimping or trafficking laws. Like the War on Drugs, these laws further marginalize the most marginalized. Just as the drug war makes drug-taking more dangerous and disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, the War on Sex Workers makes sex work more dangerous too — unfairly targeting certain workers based on gender, race and class.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine AlterNet.

October 5, 2017 – D.C. Could Become Only U.S. City to Decriminalize Prostitutiuon by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Unlike moves by Canada and many Western European countries, the D.C. plan would not attempt to regulate sex work by setting up red-light districts, providing for brothel permits, or similar schemes. In countries where prostitution is highly regulated (including parts of Nevada), those engaging in sex work outside these parameters are still sought out and punished by police, thereby recreating all the worst harms of criminalization. This is especially true in countries that have adopted the “Nordic model” of sex-work regulation, wherein people who pay for sex are still criminalized but those offering sexual services are not.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

October 4, 2017 – City Attorney’s Crackdown on Johns Has Dire Consequences for Immigrants, Defense Attorneys Say by Sydney Brownstone and Steven Hsieh

One year later, cases from the Euro Spa sting of June 2016 are still slowly making their way through Seattle’s Municipal Court. Some men arrested that night have pled guilty to “sexual exploitation,” the city’s recently modified term for the misdemeanor of patronizing a prostitute. Others have requested trials. This is par-for-the-course in municipal court, where cases tend to reach boring resolutions without making headlines. But one accused john — we’ll call him John — adopted a different legal strategy in his sexual exploitation case. John’s lawyer, Bob Goldsmith, filed a motion in July challenging City Attorney Pete Holmes’ little-publicized policy for prosecuting men charged with buying sex. Goldsmith’s filing shows that Holmes directed prosecutors to rule out pre-trial diversion for those accused of soliciting prostitutes. Seattle attorneys are instead expected to push for guilty pleas that will result in a criminal record. That means city prosecutors no longer work out deals allowing suspected johns to avoid criminal convictions if they get social services. Such deals are common for people accused of drug charges and other misdemeanors, an approach that has made Seattle a national model for criminal justice reform.

More evidence of the monomaniacally punitive methods of Swanee Hunt, who has been bankrolling Seattle’s crackdown. Click here for the full article in the online version of The Stranger, Seattle’s newsweekly.

October 4, 2017 – Rape, Nude Catfighting, Prostitution… Your Fall Guide to Officer-Involved Sex Crimes in America by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Consider this a handy guide to officer-involved prostitution, coerced sex, and sexual assault at the start of autumn 2016.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason.

September 27, 2017 – Book Review: “Sex, Lies & Statistics” by Dr. Brooke Magnanti by Desmond Ravenstone

The biggest uphill battle for advocates of sex workers’ rights and dignity is the constant barrage of bogus research and misrepresentation on the part of radical “feminists” and right-wing religious fanatics. Sex workers and their allies have had to comb through the Internet, finding bits and pieces here and there, like scroungers in a prison camp gathering what meager resources are available for survival and eventual escape. Imagine you’re such a scrounger, and you come across a treasure trove of maps, blueprints and other documents providing vital intelligence for the escape committee. Brooke Magnanti’s book is just such an invaluable trove of information. She dissects the falsehoods of the “rescue industry” being peddled as research, and presents solid evidence that the best path towards assuring safety and human rights for people in commercial sex is full decriminalization. Skilled in both writing and scientific acumen, her work is both thorough and accessible, critiquing and dismantling her opposition, while providing solid evidence for her case.

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

September 26, 2017 – 5 Reasons We Must Decriminalise the Sex Industry – And Fast by Laura Connelly

Anti-prostitution advocates are wilfully misrepresenting views like mine as “pro-prostitution”. In one fell swoop, all the nuance of our carefully considered and empirically-informed arguments is lost – an age-old tactic to delegitimise views that oppose one’s own. We know, of course, that the sex industry is not made up entirely of empowered escorts. We recognise there is a whole spectrum of lived experience within the sex industry. But the majority of sex workers today tell us that criminalising the purchase of sex will not make sex workers safer. What has to happen before the government listens?

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Novara Media.

September 26, 2017 – Police drop support for bylaw banning sex workers from suburban Christchurch by Tina Law

Earlier this year police said they were willing to support the council in enforcing a bylaw, but [Canterbury Metro Commander Superintendent Lane] Todd said police had since reviewed that position. Todd said in the letter, after seeking further advice and looking at the legislation and issues in more detail, police were unable to enforce such a bylaw, but “remained committed” to supporting a reduction in street-based sex work. “We want residents to feel safe at home and in their neighbourhood streets, and we also want street-based sex workers to feel safe and part of the community. We are confident that by coming together as a community we will find a solution that is acceptable to all involved,” [council chief executive Karleen] Edwards and Todd wrote.

Click here for the full article in the online New Zealand news magazine Stuff.

September 18, 2017 – If You Think “End Demand” is a “Progressive” Program, You Need to Read This by Desmond Ravenstone

Nowadays, many self-described progressives are so horrified at the idea … that it leads them to be skeptical about everything from reproductive surrogacy to genetically modified foods. They need to remember that their ideological predecessors were some of the biggest supporters of this failed program – and that the same simplistic logic behind it is now being used to promote the cruel failure of the Swedish model and other prohibitionist policies against sex workers.

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

September 15, 2017 – Wiretapping Sex Workers, Punishing Pre-Crime, and National Strategy to Stop Sex-Buyers Approved by Senate by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Under these new measures, the FBI and immigration agents as well as state and local police can secretly wiretap suspected sex workers, or those who associate with them. The wiretapping authority extends well beyond sex traffickers, including consenting adults on any side of a commercial sexual exchange. The bills call for a new national strategy to reduce “demand” for prostitution, order all U.S. attorneys offices be trained on treating the sex trade as “a form of gender-based violence,” and make anti-trafficking training for police include tips on “arresting and prosecuting buyers of commercial sex.” A large focus throughout both bills is on prostitution customers. But there’s also plenty in the package to harm sex workers, too, including a rule that no federal funds can go to any nonprofit that helps people who profit off sex and a broadening of the term “criminal street gang” that could capture any five or more sex workers traveling together. Criminal street gang members face 10 years more prison time than they otherwise would for the same crime.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

September 13, 2017 – How Decriminalising Sex Work Would Help Some Of The Most Stigmatised Workers In The Country by Cat Stephens

Prostitution is having sex for money, and neither having sex nor getting paid is inherently abusive, exploitative or harmful. Yes, there are people in prostitution who are coerced or drug dependent or have otherwise limited choices – the problem is coercion, drug dependency, lack of choice, social exclusion and stigmatisation. By confusing prostitution with a whole host of other problems, we allow those problems to continue to flourish. It is vulnerability that creates victims. We demand our rights and we demand justice.

Click here for the full article in the UK edition of The Huffington Post.

September 11, 2017 – Major unions are getting behind decriminalisation of sex work in the UK

The GMB and ASLEF have come out in support of the full decriminalisation of sex work in Britain, the first major unions to do so. A motion to the TUC conference in favour of de-criminalising sex work put forward by ASLEF has been endorsed by the GMB union. The unions, which have a combined membership of over 600,000, are calling for the UK to adopt full decriminalisation, similar to the approach adopted by New Zealand, which since 2003 has provided sex workers with legal protections. As it stands in the UK, it is illegal for people selling sex to share premises or organise work with others. The unions’ backing of decriminalisation follows the recommendations of a Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016. A meeting organised by ASLEF at the TUC conference in Brighton today called ‘workers’ rights are universal, time to include sex workers’ put forward the case for decriminalisation.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Left Foot Forward.

September 10, 2017 – Male escorts reveal the hardest part about their jobs by Natalie Keegan

One man, who made the sex industry his full-time career, revealed: “I’m a male sex worker and porn performer in Australia that’s been doing this job full time for the past four-and-a-half years. I only see female clients. Looks wise, I see everyone. All ages, from 20 up until nearly 70. All body shapes and sizes. If you’re working as a sex worker and you’re discriminating based on looks you’re not going to very successful. There’s a common misconception that there must be something wrong with clients, that they’re not able to go on a date or sleep with someone outside of seeing a sex worker. In my experience that’s never the case. The most common type of booking is just one that involves a fair bit of talking and sex.”

Click here for the full article recently reprinted in the New York Post from Britain’s The Sun newspaper.

September 9, 2017 – CoSWAC Statement on Conviction and Sentencing of Hope Zeferjohn

Clients of Sex Workers Allied for Change (CoSWAC) condemns the recent sentencing of Hope Zeferjohn on felony charges of human trafficking.

Zeferjohn was herself the victim of trafficking by Anthony Long, who was convicted and sentenced prior to her sentencing. The charges were based on actions committed when she was 15 years old and under duress, particularly online chats with another minor. Despite these mitigating factors, she faced a dozen criminal counts from county prosecutors, and was intimidated into making a plea deal on the trafficking charge. Zeferjohn could now serve up to six years in prison, followed by lifetime court supervision and registration as a sex offender.

Such an extreme sentence is a direct consequence of anti-trafficking legislation pushed through under the claim that it would “protect children” and “rescue victims” from predators. Instead, we now see a victim being treated as a predator for actions done while still a minor – the latest in a long list of harsh penalties being imposed on sex workers, trafficking victims, and others.

CoSWAC joins sex workers and victims’ advocates in calling for a remedy to this miscarriage of justice. We ask Kansas Governor Brownback to review this case, and use his power to pardon or commute the sentence, and for the Kansas legislature to review and reform the laws and procedures which allowed a victim of trafficking to be further victimized by the system intended to protect her.

September 8, 2017 – Why don’t we know if anti-trafficking initiatives work? by Benjamin Harkins

The standards of evidence have been set very low for anti-trafficking projects and there isn’t much incentive for practitioners to pursue better data. Interventions continue to be designed and funded largely based upon donor policy agendas – and the outsized supply of anti-trafficking organisations that are ready to pursue them – rather than results-based decision-making on what works. There is a real sense that many of the same strategies will be continued indefinitely regardless of the outcomes produced.

Click here for the full article on the openDemocracy website.

September 7, 2017 – Husband Gets Human-Trafficking Charge for Driving His Wife to a Motel by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Prosecutors say Hicks is guilty of “human trafficking” because he did “take or cause another to be taken to any place for prostitution.” If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. The assault and child neglect charges could cost an additional 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. How saddling the mother of two young boys with a criminal record and imprisoning the children’s father for decades (and labeling him a sex trafficker) will help anyone is unclear here. But restoration and justice aren’t the true aims of vice laws. The point is keeping cops busy, giving them a chance to play hero, and letting them seize all the assets they can. These days, sadly, that’s often true of trafficking laws too.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

September 6, 2017 – Why police erroneously label nationwide prostitution arrests as trafficking stings by Alison Bass

The way police involved in this nationwide sting chose to spin their costly efforts to entrap the buyers and sellers of sex is just one more example of how law enforcement and others routinely conflate consensual prostitution with far rarer instances of actual sex trafficking. According to federal law, trafficking victims are defined as women and men who have been forced or coerced into selling sex. In addition, anyone under the age of 18 who is selling sex is automatically considered a trafficking victim since they have not reached the age of consent.

Click here for the article in The Huffington Post.

September 5, 2017 – The Problem with Moderates by Desmond Ravenstone

For all their good intentions, moderates still cling to a shallow understanding of sex work issues, rooted in paternalistic attitudes. That doesn’t mean they can’t be educated. It just means they need to do more work, not only about the facts behind sex work, but how they view the people involved in it.

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

September 4, 2017 – Sex work is how I support my family by A Mother

Some people make the argument that any woman who needs money is not free to truly choose sex work, but is forced into prostitution by circumstance. They say sex work is not empowering, it is exploitation. They say my clients should be arrested, and they want to stop me from being able to work. They say I’m in a predicament with no other choices, but I say sex work is getting me out of a lifelong predicament, and I’m glad I have the option to do it legally. After struggling for years in a desperate situation of poverty and pain, being failed by social welfare and lacking safety nets, I finally found sex work. It’s a job I can do, it enables me to work and save, and it’s making my life a lot better. Sex work buys me mental health and happiness, because it buys my daughter a future, and every day that me and my clients aren’t being arrested is a day that my life gets a little easier.

Click here for the full article in New Zealand’s online magazine The Spinoff.

September 4, 2017 – ‘Dramatic rise’ in attacks on sex workers since law change by Conor Gallagher

One group [Ugly Mugs Ireland] said it had received 1,635 reports from sex workers who were concerned about clients in the five months since the law change, a 61 per cent increase on the same period last year. Some 137 of these incidents involved violence, including sexual assault, with knives or guns reportedly produced in 12 of these case. A total of 79 incidents of violence were reported in the first five months of last year.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of The Irish Times. Kudos also to Ugly Mugs Ireland and Sex Workers Alliance Ireland for their tireless efforts for the safety and dignity of sex workers.

September 2, 2017 – This Labor Day, Let’s Recognize the Work of Sex Workers by Margaret Corvid

Sex work is famously called the oldest profession, but it gets little respect. All of us, wherever and however we work — in bedrooms and dungeons and parlours, on the streets, on camera, or dancing on stage — bring skill, ingenuity, creativity, and experience to our work, but media portrayals objectify us, calling us broken or evil, and traitors to the feminist cause. What these portrayals, and the policymakers who use them, almost never do is see us as workers.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine The Establishment.

August 31, 2017 – Backpage Executives Escape Pimping Charges Kamala Harris Brought (Twice) Against Them by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Judge Lawrence G. Brown notes in an August 23 decision that Backpage leaders are now “being charged with, essentially, either investing money into [an] underlying criminal scheme, or conducting transaction with profits from the scheme.” To make their case, state prosecutors (now under the leadership of AG Xavier Becerra) will have to show specific Backpage profits came solely from underlying criminal activity — in this case, the alleged facilitation of prostitution and sex trafficking. “Regardless of whether [California prosecutors] will succeed in meeting their burden of proof, the theory and the charges under which they are proceeding appear to be valid under California law and adequately pled such that any defect does not bar prosecution,” Brown wrote, acknowledging the state’s criminal complaint was “not a model of clarity.” The court will let the money-laundering case against Ferrer, Lacey, and Larkin proceed except as it pertains to pimping. The judge granted a motion to dismiss the 11 pimping charges against Ferrer and conspiracy to commit pimping charge against all three men.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

August 30, 2017 – Child Sex-Trafficking Victim Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison for Child Sex-Trafficking by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Zeferjohn was just 15 when she met [Anthony] Long, then in his early 20s. She and her infant son had moved in with Long shortly before she attempted—at Long’s urging—to recruit a 14-year-old friend from church camp to join them. The girl never agreed to the scheme, and the extent of the damage was Long sending her sexually explicit Facebook messages. Zeferjohn’s role, meanwhile, was limited to chatting with the girl on Facebook and digitally introducing her to Long. Nonetheless, Shawnee County, Kansas, arrested both Long and Zeferjohn on felony human-trafficking charges. Long was sentenced in April to 35 years in prison.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

August 29, 2017 – Purity is a Luxury That Activists Cannot Afford by Desmond Ravenstone

This post is a warning to those in the sex worker rights movement who have adopted such a purist approach. My experience in social activism spans three and a half decades. I’ve seen my share of successes and mistakes. One of the most consistent factors is the more a group embraces purism, the more likely it is to either die or stagnate into irrelevancy. Purism has an understandable appeal, of making you feel comfortable in the short run, safe within a tribe. But in the long run, activism is not about staying in a safe place – it is about taking risks to achieve what change is possible and desirable, one step at a time.

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

August 26, 2017 – In Alaska, Not All ‘Sex Traffickers’ Are Sex Traffickers by Hilary Hanson

At the federal level, “sex trafficking” means coercing, forcing or deceiving an adult into a commercial sex act, and “child sex trafficking” means inducing a minor by any means to perform a commercial sex act. Under Alaska law, however, coercion, force and deception are not necessary to garner a sex trafficking charge. The 2012 law, for example, defines “procuring a patron” for a prostitute as second-degree sex trafficking, which is a felony. Managing or owning a “place of prostitution” is third-degree sex trafficking, also a felony. Fourth-degree sex trafficking, a misdemeanor, is described as “engaging in conduct that institutes, aids, or facilitates” prostitution other than through “a prostitution enterprise.”

Click here for the full article in The Huffington Post.

August 24, 2017 – My Grandma, the Sex Worker by Rachel Grace Almeida

My grandma is still the best woman I know, and her life choices have made her who she is. She’s 82 now and lives a long way from appointment-only brothels of Caracas. Down the phone, she told me her story with the same authority and confidence she had back then. “If men have the right to pay for sex without judgment,” Grandma told me, “then women also have the right to make sex their career. I’ll stand by that until the day I die.”

Click here for the 2015 article in the online magazine Vice.

August 22, 2017 – Canberra brothers jailed for ‘thoroughly disgraceful’ sex worker attacks by Megan Gorrey

“My only hope after this ordeal is that fewer sex workers will ever have to go through what happened to me. The level of respect, kindness and support shown to me from the ACT police and DPP has given me much to hope for. I hope that people in the community will see the outcome of this case and be reminded that violence against sex workers is never OK, that we are unconditionally deserving of the same rights as any other person in any other industry or profession, that we are not easy targets, and that men like this who stand here today think twice before targeting a sex worker on the job and thinking they can get away with it.”

Click here for the full article in the online edition of the Canberra Times.

August 21, 2017 – He’s 93, has dementia, and makes love with a sex worker by Sherele Moody

Emma said the nursing home staff understood the important role sex workers played in the lives of people with dementia. “They roll out the red carpet for me, because they know the profound nature of this service and what it really means for this client,” she said.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of the Sunshine Coast Daily of Australia.

August 19, 2017 – Sex Workers in Alaska Say Cops Are Abusing Their Power To Solicit Sex Acts by Jenavleve Hatch

In Alaska, as in every other U.S. state, it is currently legal for members of law enforcement to have sexual contact with individuals who are under investigation. The line is legally drawn at penetration. Victims have recounted being threatened into sexual favors by members of Alaska’s law enforcement, or finding themselves in legal trouble after providing sexual favors to a man presumed to be a client, but who is actually a cop.

Click here for the full article in The Huffington Post. And sign this petition to bar police from this abusive practice.

August 18, 2017 – What’s the Real Reason for Julie Bindel’s Obsession with Abolishing Sex Work? by Desmond Ravenstone

To me, a person’s view of the world, and their vision of an ideal future, answers the question of that person’s motivation more than any scripted response. And from what I’ve seen of Bindel, it’s darker than any portrait she paints of those she opposes.

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

August 17, 2017 – No, the Solar Eclipse Will Not Cause a Spike in Sex Trafficking by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

In Kentucky, Allyson Cox Taylor, head of the state’s Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention, suggested that “people who weren’t trafficking before may decide, there’s people in town that are anonymous, people we don’t know from another place, and this is an opportunity to make money.” Apparently she thinks finding and forcing others to do your bidding is something that people just up and decide one day to do on a whim.

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

August 16, 2017 – Trumping the Prohibitionists by Desmond Ravenstone

Anti-prostitution activists and law enforcement have been pushing the panic around sex trafficking so much, they are now seeing histrionic claims multiply beyond their own control – yet they are still unwilling to admit that their own distortions and confabulations are the fatal flaw. Let’s also not forget the radical feminist concept of “re-framing experiences” by embellishment, exaggeration and even outright fabrication. This is no reason, however, for sex worker rights groups to be overconfident. Just as Trump tries to divert attention from his errors as part of his “doubling down” tactic, it makes sense that prohibitionists will do the same. They will look for any flaw, any error, any shortcoming in their opposition, and exploit it for their own purposes. We need to anticipate these attacks, own up to any mistakes, show how we responded, and most importantly, bring the conversation back to the core issue of empowering sex workers by removing legal barriers, and holding the architects of the prohibitionist movement accountable for the harms they have caused.

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

August 14, 2017 – Technology drives the need to rethink sex work industry regulations by John Scott

There is little evidence that criminalisation can reduce the incidence of sex work. It has, however, been shown to increase risk of harm and violence for both sex workers and their clients. Criminalisation also provides opportunities for police corruption and the exploitation of workers, as was historically the case in New South Wales and Queensland. … Decriminalisation views sex work as an occupation that involves consensual sexual exchanges between adults for some form of remuneration. It accounts for the way in which technologies have changed the structure and organisation of sex work in recent decades – a shift from pathology to professionalisation.

Click here for the full article in the online news journal The Conversation.

August 11, 2017 – Department of Justice: Baltimore cops “coerced sex in exchange for immunity from arrest” by Victoria M. Massie

While the Justice Department’s report points a finger at the BPD, sexual misconduct is common among police officers around the country. According to the Cato Institute’s National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, sexual misconduct is the second most common form of police misconduct after excessive force. An investigation by the Associated Press last year showed that from 2008 to 2014, around 1,000 officers lost their badges for sexual misconduct: 550 officers were decertified for sexual assault, including extorting civilians for sex to avoid arrest; 440 other officers lost their certification for other sex offenses, including child pornography, sexting juveniles, or having sex while on duty.

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Vox.

August 9, 2017 – The stigma of sex work comes with a price by Zahra Zsuzsanna Stardust

Sex workers continue to mobilise, engage and fight against stigma. The hashtags #rightsnotrescue and #facesofprostitution are examples of the diverse human faces behind sex work. But one of the most insidious consequences of stigma is its ability to curtail the capacity of sex workers to fight for basic human rights. Both external and internalised stigma impacts the mental health and emotional resilience of sex workers to engage in advocacy, organising and activism. Stigma feels heavy. Stigma is exhausting. Stigma is grieving the death of another community member and friend. The sheer weight of stigma is an intergenerational burden passed on and held by sex workers. The greatest travesty is that stigma directs sex workers’ energies to the reactive work of responding to sensationalist headlines or political expediency and diverts it from peer education, community building and world-making – the very generative work that allows us to survive and thrive.

Click here for the full article in the online news journal The Conversation.

August 9, 2017 – An Arresting Gaze: How One New York Law Turns Women into Suspects by Ricardo Cortés

From 2012 to 2015, nearly 1,300 individuals were arrested in New York City under the law, and data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services show 85 percent of them were black or Latina. According to a class-action lawsuit filed September 30, 2016 by the Legal Aid Society of New York and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, transgender women are especially victimized, and have been arrested in “sweeps’ of places where they gather as a community.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Vanity Fair

August 8, 2017 – The Sorry State of Sex Trafficking Research by Daniel Pryor

It is easy to make blanket and cavalier assertions regarding both trafficking and prostitution when (1) solid data are lacking, (2) the media simply recapitulate “official” claims without questioning or fact-checking them, (3) experts who challenge official assertions are ignored or denounced, and (4) the participants in sexual commerce are highly stigmatized and marginalized. This unfortunate pattern can be seen in both prohibitionist nations (e.g., Sweden) and in nations facing resistance to their current [comparatively] liberal policies (e.g., Germany, the Netherlands).

Click here for the full blog post on the website for the Adam Smith Institute.

August 8, 2017 – Radical feminists’ objection to sex work is profoundly un-feminist by Lauren Rosewarne

If the sisterhood can support my decision to swallow contraceptive pills or terminate an unwanted pregnancy, then there is a duty for them to support my choice to have as much or as little sex as I like and, if I so choose, put a price tag on that sex. For me, it’s a matter of consent, of bodily autonomy. If feminists aren’t fighting for my right to use my body how I choose, then they’ve dramatically detoured from their mission.

Click here for the full article in the online news journal The Conversation.

August 7, 2017 – Kamala Harris: Whorephobic Enforcer in Progressive Clothing by Desmond Ravenstone

I myself am a political pragmatist, and fully aware that no candidate is perfect. The record of Kamala Harris, however, raises questions about her administrative abilities, her political priorities, and even her integrity. As much as some would have us believe she is a progressive reformer, her record suggests an establishment figure all too willing to compromise principles to fulfill her ambitions. Not exactly the kind of star I’d want to hitch my wagon to.

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

August 5, 2017 – A Bill Intended to Stop Sex Trafficking Could Significantly Curtail Internet Freedom by Mike Godwin

SESTA’s language is so broad that it could lead to state lawsuits and prosecutions of sites that don’t carry any advertising at all. It could sweep in every online service that hosts user-generated content – perhaps even including email services and comments sections. To draw an analogy, the bill would be as if Congress decided that FedEx was legally liable for anything illegal it ever carries, even where it’s ignorant of the infraction and acts in good faith. That would be a crazy notion in itself, but rather than applying only to FedEx’s tech equivalents – the giants like Google and Facebook – it also would apply to smaller, less well-moneyed services like Wikipedia. Even if the larger internet companies can bear the burden of defending against a vastly increased number of prosecutions and lawsuits – and that’s by no means certain – it would be fatal for smaller companies and startups. Amending Section 230’s broad liability protection for internet service providers would expand the scope of criminal and civil liability for those services in ways that would force the tech companies to drastically alter or eliminate features that users have come to rely on. It could strangle many internet startups in their cribs.

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Slate.

August 5, 2017 – Prostitution decriminalized: Rhode Island’s experiment by Elana Gordon

While prostitution is a crime in most places, there are notable exceptions and variations. The Swedish or Nordic model takes aim at the demand, making it illegal to buy sexual services but not to sell it. Canada has a version of that. Meanwhile in Germany, prostitution is legal. In Australia, the laws vary from state to state, but in some parts, sex workers can legally operate out of their homes, once registered. In Nevada, prostitution is legal in certified brothels, but it’s limited to certain counties. Understanding the scope, harms and public health implications of policies addressing the world’s oldest profession is really tricky. While prostitution – the buying and selling of sex – is a multibillion dollar industry, the sex trade is clandestine by nature. It’s taboo. That makes it really hard to study, especially in the United States. That’s most often the case, except in this one part of the country, where the laws of prostitution were totally upended. It’s a peculiar story that’s largely left out of the current discussion. The place in question is not Nevada, where there’s a small number of regulated brothels in certain rural counties. It’s a whole state – Rhode Island. For several years, ending in 2009, indoor prostitution such as in massage parlors, strip clubs and through online escorts, was not a crime in this tiny New England State. The whole thing happened somewhat unintentionally. But at the time, it fueled a heated public debate about sex, crime and health. Years later, some are revisiting the lessons learned.

Click here for the full article, plus an audio recording of a related NPR broadcast, in the online news site Newsworks.

August 3, 2017 – Stigma and stereotypes about sex work hinder regulatory reform by Paul Maginn and Emily Cooper

Consensual sex work takes multiple forms and takes place in a variety of spaces. The actual practice of sex work, like non-commercial sex, predominantly takes place behind closed doors; it is discreet, private and out of view. When sex workers experience exploitation or violence at the hands of clients, employers, the police or others, these crimes must be be dealt with promptly and justly. For Australian sex workers and peer-led sex work organisations, decriminalisation is seen as the only model of regulation because it affords protection of their human and labour rights.

Not just Australia, but everywhere! Click here for the full article in the online magazine The Conversation.

August 3, 2017 – Missouri Attorney General Files Desperate and Deceptive Motion to Dismiss Backpage Lawsuit by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Despite the hysterical antics from elected officials, there has never been any evidence that Backpage leaders knowingly promoted forced or underage prostitution, nor that they’ve behaved in ways that would exclude them from the immunity provided to open publishing platforms under federal law. Among the “new” evidence that Hawley submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri is a January report from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Despite the senators having access to all of the internal Backpage data and hosting a theatrical in-person inquiry, they found nothing sufficient to spur a criminal investigation or any charges.

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

August 3, 2017 – Rentboy’s former CEO Jeffrey Hurant sentenced to prison by Derek de Koff

Judge Brodie characterizes Rentboy as “the very thing that is illegal” although, surprisingly, she also recognized that “there is no question it did a lot of good.” … As he left the courtroom, Hurant gave this statement to the media and a crowd of supporters: “I believe that consensual sex work between adults should be decriminalized and destigmatized. But that hasn’t happened yet. My business was ultimately illegal, but it shouldn’t have been. We must fearlessly fight for the rights to allow consensual adults to choose what they do with their bodies.”

Click here for the full article in the online LGBTQ magazine Queerty.

August 2, 2017 – Seattle Prosecutor Val Richey’s Warped Idea of Consent by Desmond Ravenstone

Money is not the instrument of coercion here. It is the archaic and inhumane laws against consenting adults agreeing to their own conditions for sexual expression. It is the enforcement of these laws which hamstring the ability of sex workers to assure their safety through screening and other measures, and to seek recourse whenever consent is violated. It is the paternalistic ideology of prohibitionism that is to blame for unduly limiting the choices available to both clients and providers. Whenever government shackles the power of individuals to consent with one another, it is tyranny.

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

July 31, 2017 – Sexual Consent in Seattle Must Involve Element of ‘Leisure,’ Claims Top Cop by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

In Seattle, sex must be a “leisure activity” for both parties or it’s nonconsensual, according to one area prosecutor. In a splashy Seattle Times feature in which local law enforcement play hero protagonists, Val Richey – a senior deputy prosecuting attorney for King County, Washington, and one of the driving forces behind the area’s anti-prostitution efforts – lays out his tortuous framework for treating all sex workers as victims of rape and, in this case, human trafficking. “What you have is someone paying this person essentially to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes,'” Richey told the paper. “Because as several of the buyers…observed, these women, as a leisure activity, are not looking to have sex with 10 guys in a day. They’re doing it for the money.” By that logic, anyone who wouldn’t perform their job without remuneration is a victim of labor trafficking!

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

July 29, 2017 “The Wrong Light”: Sex, lies, and the story of Mickey Choothesa by Emily Jordan

“The Wrong Light” ultimately emerges as a fascinating testament to the power of story and the way that people glom on to pretty female faces as buoys in in a dark sea. The same way it’s easier to understand a crime about violating the innocence of a pretty child, it’s easier to embrace the rescuer of that child as a cardboard hero, so why bother figuring out what’s true? Of course, rescue is also a convenient myth. As is the John Wayne narrative of a man who storms in and saves sweet little girls from the nefarious clutches of Evil Doers. That isn’t the antidote here. The truth is, there may be no antidote. In fact, at the end of “The Wrong Light,” more is revealed about Choosetha that we would rather not know. Uncle Mickey was really as creepy as he seemed.

Click here for the full exposé in Salon.

July 29, 2017 Kamala Harris’ Whorephobia Is Sadly No Surprise by Melissa Petro

Bottom line: Sometimes, for some of us, politics is more than an intellectual exercise — it’s a lived experience. When it comes to the issue of sex work, I don’t think; I feel. I don’t know what politicians like Kamala Harris are thinking or feeling when they willfully ignore the voices of individuals with experiences in the sex trade. Although I no longer work in the sex industry and was never a survival sex worker and directly impacted by the brunt of what the most marginalized have to bear, I still empathize. When you support people with anti-sex work views or share whorephobic bullshit on social media, it suggests that you don’t.

Click here for the full piece in the online magazine The Establishment.

July 22, 2017 – Five Suggestions for Improving Review Boards by Desmond Ravenstone

Review board are both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, they provide a convenient means for sex workers and clients to connect and negotiate. The down side, however, is that they are clearly structured to the advantage of certain clients – self-described “hobbyists” – and to the distinct disadvantage of service providers. Having read the complaints that sex workers post on their own blogs and zines, and compared this to how similar sites work in other industries (e.g., restaurants), I’ve decided to offer some recommendations on how review boards could do a better job for everyone. These are not gospel, and I certainly welcome comments from both sex workers and clients. I just hope these ideas spark some constructive conversation …

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

July 21, 2017 – Campbelltown woman jailed for claiming to be sex-trafficking victim by Rachel Browne

Samantha Azzopardi, 28, pushed her luck too far this year when she posed as a 13-year-old Sydney high school student named Harper Hart and repeated a lie that had previously fooled authorities in Ireland and Canada.

It should be no surprise, given how the “rescue industry” rakes in so much donated dollars, but fall short of checking their facts, that scammers like this come along. The real tragedy, however, is how so many actual victims are denied meaningful help, especially if they don’t toe the party line. For more on this story, click here for the full article in the online edition of Australia’s Wollondilly Advertiser.

July 17, 2017 – NY Politicians Push Feds to Keep ICE Agents Out of Human Trafficking Courts by Katie Honan

In June, ICE agents were inside the human trafficking court in Queens Criminal Court looking for a Chinese woman, officials said. Her lawyers posted her bail, fearing she would be detained. “In the United States, immigrant communities are particularly vulnerable to forced labor and sex work through human trafficking,” the politicians wrote.

Strange that these politicians say sex work, and yet in the same sentence, parse it from other kinds of work … Click here for the full article in the online journal DNA Info.

July 16 2017 – Civil Asset Forfeiture: If You Can’t Arrest Them, Rob Them by Desmond Ravenstone

You’re driving in your car. The police pull you over on some pretext, and start asking you questions; they may even ask you, point-blank, if you have a large amount of cash in the vehicle. Then they tell you that they “suspect” that your money or car is being used for some criminal purpose, and seize them. But don’t worry, there will be a hearing where you will have to prove that the cops are wrong before you’re able to get your stuff back – and the person in charge of the hearing has a vested interest in keeping your stuff.

Click here for the full post regarding one of the most heinous weapons used against people involved in commercial sex, on CoSWAC administrator Desmond Ravenstone’s blog The Harlot’s Bulldog.

July 13, 2017 – Damning New Report Shows How Oakland Cops Covered Up Their Sexual Exploitation of a Minor by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Before the feds stepped in, civil rights lawyers and California residents had been pleading for then-Attorney General Kamala Harris (now a U.S. senator) to open an independent investigation into the situation, since it spanned several police departments and involved allegations of coverups. During this same period, Harris was on a showy and unconstitutional crusade against executives at Backpage, claiming they were complicit in the sexual exploitation of teen girls. A judge dismissed the charges against Backpage execs while chastising Harris for her overreach; Harris responded by refiling nearly identical charges in another California court. But she never responded to the petitions and pleas asking her to look into systemic sexual exploitation by state agents in Oakland.

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

July 9, 2017 – Why Are Cops Catfishing Sex Workers in Canada? by Allison Tierney

Jelena Vermillion, 23, a sex worker in Ontario, said she is “fed up” with how police and the law in Canada deal with the field she works in. “Sex workers deserve a lot more respect and dignity. We have so much autonomy, and we’ve just been screaming into the void for so long, and no one seems to want to listen to us,” Vermillion told VICE. “We’re not babies – trafficking may be a real issue, but trafficking in sex work and consensual sex work are very different.”

Click here for the full article in the Canadian edition of Vice magazine.

July 7, 2017 – Open letter decries police posing as sex-worker clients in “repressive” Operation Northern Spotlight

We ask British Columbia law enforcement to decline any future invitation to participate in Operation Northern Spotlight. If the forthcoming Provincial Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines are modelled upon the Vancouver Police Department’s Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines, as per Forsaken Recommendation 5.8, Operation Northern Spotlight will be at odds with provincial guidelines for sex work-related policing approaches.

Click here for the full text of the open letter by sex worker activists and organizations, published in The Georgia Strait. CoSWAC joins these organizations in their condemnation of these police operations.

July 7, 2017 – The robot sex doll revolution may have some big downsides, experts warn by Carter Sherman

Right now, robotic sex dolls are still in their early stages, but the race is on to make them ever more realistic. Sex doll companies have recently introduced at least five robotic models, which all use some degree of AI technology, are customizable to clients’ preferences, and retail in the thousands, according to the report.

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Vice; also, check out CoSWAC administrator Desmond Ravenstone’s thoughts on the issue of sex robots here on this blog post.

July 7, 2017 – Stop Singling Out Street-Based Sex Workers by Desmond Ravenstone

When moderates separate street-based sex workers from others in their profession, they are helping to perpetuate the twin stigma of whorephobia and whorearchy. It’s bad enough that prohibitionist fanatics exploit their stereotyped image and marginalized status as fodder for propaganda. When they are singled out by appeals to respectability, they open the door to undue restrictions on all sex workers, and the problems that are likely to spill over from that. From banning commercial sex on the street, to restricting where incalls may be located, or that “legitimate” sex workers be registered and subjected to invasive mandatory health checks, legalization schemes never seem to stop at the street corner.

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

July 6, 2017 – Bill to Decriminalise Sex Work Passes South Australia’s Upper House by Jess Jones

Sharon Jennings from the South Australian Sex Industry Network said the proposed change is an exciting and welcome one for workers in the state. “It will mean better safety for sex workers, better access to police if we’re victims of crime, and better access to health services,” said Jennings. “It will mean the start of breaking down the stigma that surrounds commercial sexual services. That freedom of choice, to be able to do what you want to do for a living — it’s not everybody’s ideal job but it’s some people’s choice, it’s my choice and my community’s choice, and the law shouldn’t stipulate that we’re not allowed to make those choices.” The proposed reform would see sex work treated like any other industry, similar to decriminalisation of the industry in New South Wales.

Click here for the full article in Australia’s online LGBTQ magazine Star Observer.

July 5, 2017 – Male escort says he gave up IT to do something more meaningful by Kat Hall

“I get to make a genuine difference to people’s lives – a small number to be sure, but it’s something that IT never allowed me to do,” said the 45-year-old, who is also working on a series of short films about sex work. His website states you can book a date with him “to experience the luxury of personal intimate attention like you have never experienced. From relaxing talk with a glass of wine, to a meal cooked to order, erotic massage, and of course intense and satisfying sex.”

Click here for the full article in the online magazine The Register.

July 4, 2017 – Sex workers could be legalized in South Australia by Rhiannon Eston

Sharon Jennings manages the Sex Industry Network in South Australia, which advocates for those in the industry. She says decriminalisation would make a huge difference to the lives of sex workers. “We could have work health-and-safety rights. We could go see Fair Work Australia if we weren’t being treated in an equitable manner. It would start to break down the stigma, as well, because the stigma is not just around the fact that we’re having intimate liaisons, it’s around the fact that we’re criminalised”, explains Jennings.

Click here for the full article (including audio track) on the SBS website.

July 1, 2017 – The Road to Decrim: A Hopeful Hypothesis by Desmond Ravenstone

Given current realities, how would the full decriminalization of sex work be accomplished in the United States? Realistically, it would involve not just many tactics and strategies, and the influence of events in other countries, but many political changes. While I have no crystal ball, I do have both an active imagination and a touch of whimsy. So, without further ado, here is a proposed timeline of how that might take place in the near future. Again, don’t take this (too) seriously. I claim no powers of precognition. But one may always hope.

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

July 1, 2017 – This charity keeps raising money to help young sex-trafficking victims. But where are the victims? by Marjie Lundstrom and Sam Stanton

Located on 52 acres of rolling countryside, Courage House opened in 2011 as a state-licensed group home for up to six girls, ages 11-17. The nonprofit organization opened another home for sex-trafficking victims around the same time in the East African nation of Tanzania. Millions of dollars poured in from churches, major corporations, foundations and individuals – a “who’s who” list that has included some of the most recognized names in the Sacramento region. Additionally, the state was contributing $9,100 a month per girl in public money through the Department of Social Services. Even after the group home closed, [Courage Worldwide, Inc. founder and CEO Jenny] Williamson continued to tout elaborate plans for a major expansion of the Northern California facility to house up to 60 young girls. But donors were receding and, by year’s end, at least $600,000 in planned contributions to the group had been withdrawn … The group’s troubles continued this year when Courage House lost one of its oldest fundraising efforts – a Thanksgiving Day “turkey trot” race in Elk Grove – amid criticism from one city councilman, who called the group’s representation to the city “deliberately deceitful” and “dishonest”. “I realize it’s difficult to believe when someone speaks so nicely, but that is how cons are performed,” Councilman Darren Suen wrote in a Feb. 17 email to another city official who had been working with Courage Worldwide officials.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of The Sacramento Bee.

June 29, 2017 – Sex workers who love their jobs face daily struggle against stigma by Robert Buffam

A significant percentage of sex workers enjoy what they do, even considering it a healing profession, yet continue to be burdened by stigma. Click here for the full video clip from Canadian television news.

June 29, 2017 – The Protection of Children Act is anything but by Melysa Sperber and Jean Bruggeman

Children fleeing violence, suffering from recent abuse and exploitation, deserve compassionate care and support. They deserve time to eat, rest and feel safe before they are asked to retell their entire history of abuse and trauma. Instead, the PCA offers them a cold chair in a crowded room, interrogation by heavily armed Border Patrol Officers, and a few minutes to give a compelling legal argument. If a child has not managed to prove within 48 hours that they are a victim of severe trafficking, or present credible evidence that they would be at risk of being trafficked if returned, that child will be sent home.

Click here for the full piece in the online version of The Hill newspaper.

June 27, 2017 – Legislators Want To Open Up Wiretap Laws To Target Sex Workers And Their Customers by Tim Cushing

The named target is sex trafficking and the supposed beneficiaries would be children, who are kidnapped and exploited all the damn time according to stats made up out of thin air. But the real targets will be the oldest profession, which includes plenty of un-exploited sex workers voluntarily providing services to paying customers. But the end result will be a spectacular amount of collateral damage — and that’s not just limited to customers having their conversations intercepted or being hit with hate crime enhancements. The proposed legislation would also wreak havoc on the internet.

Click here for the full article in Techdirt.

June 27, 2017 – Why Victoria Police prioritize sex worker safety over enforcing laws reported by Robert Buffam

In Victoria, British Columbia, police only arrest “johns” when a complaint is filed; not one sex work client has been arrested simply for trying to buy sex. Police also partner with outreach agencies to build trust so that street-based sex workers will be more empowered to report violence against them. Click here to watch the video clip from Canadian television news.

June 24, 2017 – Sex Robots: No Reason to Panic by Desmond Ravenstone

[Kathleen Richardson, founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots] believes without hesitation that sex robots are bad despite the fact that there are no sex robots around with which to test her thesis. Apparently, because another person wrote that he saw a parallel between sex robots and sex work, and because she opposes prostitution as inherently exploitative, that means that using sex robots would promote exploitation. By this logic, because some people think consuming cow’s milk is unhealthy, then substitutes like almond milk and soy cheese ought to be banned.

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

June 20, 2017 – Decriminalizing Sex Work is at the Frontier of Workers’ Rights by Aaron Barksdale

According to Clay, the misunderstanding of how sex trafficking differs from sex work contributes to the stigma against sex workers. “People hear the concept of anti-trafficking and hear stories of people who have been survivors of violence and abuse, and of course they want to do something to stop it,” she said. The line between sex work and trafficking isn’t blurred. “Sex work is work. You provide services for cash, goods, resources, whatever is,” Jinadasa said. “With trafficking, someone has coerced you, you do not receive compensation for your services and you do not want to be participating.”

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Vice Impact.

June 16, 2017 – The Need for Skeptical Feminism by Desmond Ravenstone

It is no surprise that the prohibitionist camp sees sex work in overly simplistic and absolutist terms. This is, after all, the methodology of its parent ideologies – religious fundamentalism, and radical feminism.

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

June 13, 2017 – Cops Have Lost Control of Their Sex-Trafficking Panic, and It’s Beautiful by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

For years, U.S. police have been using tall tales about an American “sex trafficking epidemic” to scare citizens into giving up civil liberties (or at least offering up the rights of sex workers and their clients) and go about the government’s typical types of thuggery. But now the narrative is getting away from them. So sure are Americans (despite all evidence) that sophisticated criminals are waiting to snatch up our girls and women at every opportunity that people are now inventing sex-trafficking rings of their own…and berating police for not taking action.

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

June 12, 2017 – The False Promise of “End Demand” Laws by Sebastian Kohn

Exempting sex workers from prosecution doesn’t exempt them from the negative effects of criminalization if the transaction itself remains a crime. Research from Canada suggests that police crackdowns on clients actually increased the vulnerability of sex workers by making it harder for them to screen clients or trust the police.

In many countries, these laws have expanded the scope of criminalization—so the landlord renting the premises where a sex worker does business, for example, may be breaking the law against brothel-keeping. In Norway, Amnesty International found that this led to sex workers being evicted from their homes, while the fear of eviction kept others from reaching out to police when they were the victims of crimes.

Sex workers also reported that the law made it harder for them to protect themselves by working together or hiring security, because those actions could be interpreted as “promoting prostitution” or running a brothel, which are against the law.

The end-demand model is also supposed to include social services to help people leave the sex trade. But in practice, the emphasis is always on law enforcement; the promised services are an afterthought. When services do exist, they are often underfunded and vulnerable to budget cuts.

Click here for the full article published by Open Society Foundations.

June 12, 2017 – The Social Contexts of Sweden’s Sex-Purchase Ban by Desmond Ravenstone

While Sweden tries to present its sex-purchase ban as a progressive innovation, it is in fact the latest in a long line of efforts to suppress sex workers based on rigid social attitudes against nonconformity, a political tradition of paternalistic social engineering, and radical feminist ideological constructs being appropriated during a period of heightened anxiety around increased immigration and Swedish identity in a changing Europe. While terminology and demographic factors may change, one constant remains in all of these futile attempts to deal with prostitution: Sex workers themselves have never been allowed a voice in the political process in which these decisions are made about them. This is in stark contrast to the situation in New South Wales and New Zealand, where sex worker organizations were important stakeholders in developing laws and policies that improved the lives of their constituents. Whether and when Sweden will learn from these examples – and their own repeated failures – remains to be seen.

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

June 7, 2017 – Can Sex Work Heal Trauma and Anxiety? by Emily McCarty

Shakti uses her training in Tibetan tantric philosophies to create safe spaces for her clients with sexual trauma. She does tantric massage, breathing exercises, and meditation. “In the case of sexual trauma, people need to find someone with training who can help them to heal,” she said. “Sexual abuse is so common in our culture and it’s not dealt with in a sensitive manner at all. So I think that sex workers are a really important part of that healing.”

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Vice.

June 7, 2017 – A Very Large Grain of Salt by Desmond Ravenstone

These groups and their leaders have a history of distortion, embellishment and fabrication in order to advance their goals. Stories are often presented second-hand, with no means of verifying them, almost invariably following the same narrative template. Even when survivors are given space to tell their stories, they are “encouraged” to “re-frame” them. … Is it any wonder, then, that individuals such as Somaly Mam, Chong Kim, Stella Marr, Justine Reilly, and others have been able to misrepresent themselves as “victims” and “survivors” within such organizations, or to set up shop on their own to bilk donors of their cash? Or how evasive these groups become when the game is played out?

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

June 6, 2017 – Are concerns over human trafficking surge during NBA Finals part of a law enforcement myth? by Cory Shaffer

Politicians and law enforcement across the country have for years offered the blanket claim that public events like the Super Bowl attract some of the highest levels of human trafficking in the world, a claim that researchers have been unable to prove.

Click here for the full article in the online news site Cleveland.com.

June 6, 2017 – Sex Work Is Work: A Documentarian Gives Sex Workers a Voice by Michael Aaron, Ph.D.

Regardless of how someone came to be a sex worker, I think we should really examine our attitudes towards sex work and the sex worker and engage in healthy dialogue and discussions about sex and sexuality and stop the shaming of and moralizing to the sex worker. As one person said, “People want to judge us, but you don’t want to step inside our world.”

Click here for the full article in Psychology Today.

June 6, 2017 – So You’re Dating a Sex Worker by Andre Shakti

Be one of the good guys: Calmly but intentionally speak up when in the presence of microaggressions against sex workers, particularly if your partner cannot. Any time you hear your brother assert that all strippers have “daddy issues,” or a friend declare that it’s “impossible to rape a prostitute,” challenge them.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine MEL.

June 2, 2017 – Happy International Whores’ Day! Celebrating the Birth of the International Sex Worker Rights Movement by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

For a brief time, St. James and sex workers’ rights activists were able to win support from mainstream feminists, including the National Organization for Women. That didn’t last for long (though I’d argue younger feminists today are trending back toward supporting sex work decriminalization). In a paper comparing French prostitute protest movements in 1975 and 2002, sociologist Lilian Mathieu notes that the earlier protest movement “immediately garnered broad support from the feminist movement.” In its later incarnation, however: “Not only did a majority of feminists refuse to support the prostitutes’ cause on the second occasion, but the focus of debate shifted from challenging police repression to a controversial debate about the very existence of prostitution itself, and about the legitimacy of the people who practice this ‘profession’ to enter as such in public debate.”

Click here for the full blog post in the online version of Reason magazine.

June 1, 2017 – Backpage: Sex workers can find safety in online marketplace by Brenda Belak and Kim Mackenzie

Over the past few years, there has been a war against online classified-ad websites such as Backpage that carry sex workers’ ads. While this war started in the United States, it has crept across the border to Canada as the discourse around sex trafficking has intensified. But one perspective is consistently missing: that of the sex worker exercising agency and using the Internet as a safety tool.

Click here for the full opinion piece in the online version of Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

May 31, 2017 – ‘Operation Big Bad John’ Used 75 Cops Six Federal Agencies to Catch 13 Sex Buyers by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Every day I could bring you another example of how “human trafficking operation” and “sex trafficking sting” are simply police code for “prostitution bust.” The story never changes: Police arrest sex workers or their clients, slap a catchy title on their efforts, call it a win against “modern slavery,” and blast it out to local reporters, who faithfully frame the whole thing exactly how the cops want. To the casual reader, it must seem like law enforcement is doing a seriously good job at stopping sexual exploitation. But all they’re really doing is wasting tons of time and taxpayers’ money to stop consenting adults from having sex.

Click here for the full blog post in the online version of Reason magazine.

May 31, 2017 – Upper House Committee Recommends Decriminalising Prostitution after Interstate Brothel Tour by Adam Langenberg

Under Ms Lensink’s bill, sex work would be decriminalised by amending five separate pieces of legislation [in South Australia], allowing the profession to be regulated as per other professions. All MPs would be able to vote according to their conscience on the legislation, with Ms Lensink saying it was “too early” to gauge the prospects of it passing the Upper House.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Adelaide Now.

May 30, 2017 – A Paradox of Prohibitionism by Desmond Ravenstone

Prohibitionists have crowed repeatedly how their “end demand” strategy of targeting sex work clients for punishment and derision is “the most effective means” to achieve their desired goal of “ending the sex trade”. Recently, however, I’ve noticed many of these groups lamenting that sex trafficking is on the rise, even in Sweden where “ending demand” became law and public policy almost two decades ago. So, how is it that this strategy is being adopted at an increasing rate, based on claims of success, yet the evil of sex trafficking and exploitation has also increased, indicating failure?

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

May 29, 2017 – Decriminalising sex work is the only way to protect women – and New Zealand has proved that it works by Lynzi Armstrong

Decriminalisation – of both the sale and purchase of sex – is incredibly important for enabling access to justice when crimes are perpetrated against sex workers. A study conducted with street-based sex workers indicated a significant positive change in relationships between police and sex workers after the law changed. It showed how decriminalisation supports sex worker’s safety strategies, enabling street workers to take their time in initial conversations with clients, without risking their clients being arrested and losing income as a result. It also means that clients can provide information to police when sex workers are assaulted. A woman I interviewed in 2009 was assisted by a client to contact police after she was attacked by a passerby.

Click here for the full article in the online UK newspaper The Independent.

May 29, 2017 – Bodies As Battlegrounds: Debating The Pros And Cons Of The Decriminalization Of Sex Work by Amanda Ocasio

Alex Etchart & Siobhan Knox, the creators of “Sex Workers Opera” in the UK, use their production as a means of integrating sex worker’s voices into discourses on sex worker rights. They’ve observed that everyone has an opinion about sex workers, but seldom are those opinions informed by conversations with actual sex workers. To try to help remedy that situation, there are never less than 50% sex workers involved in their show at all times. “It shouldn’t be an argument anymore,” says Knox, “It should be an act of listening … We want people to realize that you probably know a sex worker … Art has a responsibility to represent people on their terms.”

Click here for the full article in the Queens Free Press, which examines the legal and political status of sex work in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

May 28, 2017 – How a sex worker negotiates consent

“One of the great things inherent in exchange of sex as service — you inherently know that consent and negotiation is involved,” she says. The fact that communication is — and has to be — so open from the get-go sets a precedent for discussion around what is OK and not OK.

Click here for a link to the audio recording of this program from CBC Radio.

May 27, 2017 – The sex worker and Instagram philosopher championing queer female sexuality by Stephen A. Russell

Sex work and feminism have sometimes proven uneasy bedfellows. “Unfortunately sex workers have to expend a lot of their energy defending themselves against feminists who really should be supporting us,” Lawless says. “They have belittled us, spoken over us, made assumptions about us, all for a theoretical point, really, rather than recognising that sex workers are humans who live in a capitalist system where people are going to utilise whatever they can for financial survival. People are always going to go into sex work and really we should be focusing on how to make people within that industry as safe as possible, rather than arguing about whether or not it should exist.”

Click here for the full article on the website for Australia’s SBS television channel.

May 25, 2017 – Hassling and shaming prostitutes no solution to community’s concerns by Lynzi Armstrong

Banning street-based sex work from residential area is not a solution to tensions between sex workers and some residents. Furthermore, we must be mindful that street-based sex workers are also members of our communities, who are often subjected to appalling abuse and harassment by passers-by when they are working. They deserve our support, and it is essential that any initiatives intended to resolve community tensions do not jeopardise their safety and rights.

Click here for the full piece in The Press News (New Zealand) online “Stuff” magazine.

May 25, 2017 – Alaska Cops Fight for the Right to Sexually Exploit Prostitution Suspects by Maggie McNeill

Deputy Chief Sean Case told the Alaska Dispatch News that the freedom to engage in sexual behavior with people under investigation is vital to doing police work.

In the same interview, however, Case claimed that police “are not out there to go out and find that street prostitute….What we’re interested in now is the trafficking.” In other words, Anchorage police are arguing that they must be allowed to molest trafficking victims in order to do their jobs.

These are not isolated incidents. In August 2015, judges threw out three prostitution cases in Minneapolis because the cops “went too far,” arousing the ire of the city’s (female) chief public defender. In April 2013, a Pittsburgh-area sex worker’s defense attorney tried to get her case dismissed because the cop had waited until the woman had finished giving him a blow job before arresting her; police departments in the Pittsburgh area have a long history of this kind of misbehavior, such as the 2006 case in which state troopers paid an informant to pay for sex at a massage parlor four times before busting anyone (the judge dismissed the case, calling the scheme “sophomoric”). In Pennsylvania, as in Florida and Indiana, police departments actively defend cops caught in this practice, arguing that such tactics are necessary because sex workers are “sophisticated” (while simultaneously being passive “sex slaves,” of course).

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

May 23, 2017 – Judge Orders Oakland Cop to Trial; Says He Was ‘Like a Pimp’ to Exploited Teen by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

The prostitution and sexual exploitation scandal that shook Oakland and nearby California police agencies last year could finally see an officer on trial. An Alameda County judge ruled last Thursday that there is sufficient evidence to try former Oakland Patrol Officer Brian Bunton on charges of felony conspiracy to obstruct justice and misdemeanor engaging in prostitution. Bunton, who just retired from the Oakland Police Department (OPD) in March, was “actually pimping her like a pimp would,” Judge Thomas Rogers said of the teenager at the center of this case

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

May 20 2017 – Selling a Bill of Goods Swedish Style by Desmond Ravenstone

South Africa … engaged in a continuous public relations campaign to “sell” apartheid to the rest of the world, especially the United States. … Now Sweden is doing the same thing in an effort to promote its sex-purchase ban, using exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims to convince other nations to follow its lead. Both the Swedish Institute and the country’s diplomatic corps have used publications and personal appeals to evangelize their policies – yet hiding its uglier elements, such as ongoing police harassment. … Norway has apparently joined the act, too. In 2012, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry shelled out $1 million to Hunt Alternatives, the parent organization for Demand Abolition.

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

May 19, 2017 – 996 Sex Workers Busted in FBI’s Last ‘Operation Cross Country,’ Says Comey by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

In Operation Cross Country 10, which went down over several days in October 2016, the FBI coordinated stings in 135 cities, with participation from 55 FBI field offices and agents of 400 city, county, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations. Their efforts yielded just 10 federal indictments as of May 2017, and only three cases involving any actual juveniles. In those cases, none of the victims—two 17-year-old girls and one 15-year-old girl—allege abduction, abuse, threats, forcible detainment, or other mistreatment of any kind at the hands of the defendants. Meanwhile, police and FBI agents arrested 996 “adult prostitution subjects” in OCC 10, according to Comey’s May 3 testimony. That’s 332 times as many sex workers arrested in the stings as people indicted on federal charges involving a minor

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

May 18, 2017 – Advocating for Workers in the Commercial Sex Industry and Survivors of Human Trafficking

SWAN [Social Wellness and Advocacy Network] is an anti-trafficking and human rights agency. The distinction is key to understanding the difference between SWAN and the high profile human trafficking organizations who receive the majority of the community support, financial resources, and media attention, says [Executive Director Billie] McIntyre. “Our priority is to ensure that the needs of survivors of sex trafficking and those identified as sex workers can be met. We work from a non-oppressive framework that acknowledges sex workers as autonomous individuals that hold multiple perspectives on issues regarding sex work.” The organization supports women who are in the commercial sex industry and is led by survivors of the commercial sex industry and also of human trafficking. McIntyre said that SWAN is the only organization in Colorado led by survivors of the industry and by current or former sex workers and works to influence public policy in human trafficking legislation in Colorado. Coming from a non-oppressive driven framework she said, the group offers services of a direct intervention nature including filing violence reports, healthcare referrals, life coaching, case management, support services and mediation in the judicial system, and progressive legislative work.

Click here for the full article on the KGNU website.

May 16 2017 – CoSWAC joins Free Speech Coalition and over 60 other groups and individuals in support of adult performers from “Hot Girls Wanted”

In response to complaints of harassment and privacy complaints by adult performers featured in the Netflix production “Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On”, the Free Speech Coalition has released a letter calling for a meeting with Netflix executives and producers of the documentary. CoSWAC joins over sixty civil liberties and sex workers’ rights organizations and activists as signatories of the letter, and calls on others to show their support.

Click here for FSC’s press release, including a copy of the letter, and how you can add your signature!

May 14, 2017 – “End Demand” is to Sex Work What “Build a Wall” is to Immigration by Desmond Ravenstone

It’s no coincidence that such anti-immigration policies and rhetoric have pervaded the contemporary crusade against commercial sex. Not just that they hope tightening border controls will somehow aid their so-called “fight against human trafficking”, or that the beginnings of “end demand” in Sweden were linked to fears around migrants entering that country. Trump’s approach follows the same pattern of thought and action as the prohibitionist fanatics.

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

May 13, 2017 – The Work in Sex Work by Hennessy Williams

Legally, trafficking describes the recruiting, harboring, transporting, provisioning, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. Driving a sex worker, doing a sex worker’s taxes, seeing a sex worker, working with a sex worker – all can get you arrested on trafficking charges. In fact, when two prostitutes work together, each one can be charged for trafficking the other. This definition, capacious to the point of absurdity, muddies discussions about trafficking while stripping consenting sex workers of any autonomy.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Jacobin.

May 11, 2017 – Detroit Cops Raid an Innocent Family’s Home at Gunpoint on Bogus Sex-Trafficking Tip by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

In the high days of America’s militarized war on drugs, baseless and botched home raids have become a defining feature—with often disastrous consequences. Now we’re seeing the same sort of overzealous enforcement efforts in the fight against forced prostitution.

According to family matriarch Maria Navarete, police told her to “shut up, you have no rights” when she asked what was happening. She claims police never showed her or anyone in the household a warrant.

In efforts to catch imagined “pimps” and human traffickers, officials have long considered the liberty and rights of adult sex workers (and their customers) to be an acceptable sacrifice. The rest of us were really never far behind.

Click here for the full article in the online version of Reason magazine.

May 10, 2017 – Alaska Police: We Need To Have ‘Sexual Contact’ With Sex Workers by Tracy Clark-Flory

The bills at issue are the result of activism by the Alaska-based Community United for Safety and Protection (CUSP), which alleges that sex workers in the state have been subjected to sexual abuse by police during undercover busts. The group’s website features several testimonials from women with stories of cops allegedly groping and even having “sex” with them during undercover stings. (“Sex” is in quotes here, because under these circumstances it would be based on deceit and is arguably better described as sexual abuse.)

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Vocativ.

May 10, 2017 – ’Ugly mugs’: the technology saving the lives of sex workers Alex Feis-Bryce

Sex workers around the world are frequently targeted by dangerous sexual predators, in large part because of the quasi-criminalised context in which they are forced to operate and the stigma attached to their work. For many, reporting to the police just isn’t an option. While almost 2,000 reports have been made to National Ugly Mugs since July 2012, only 25% of the victims were willing to formally report to the police. We need a way to fight the stigma and end violence against sex workers – and that’s where our charity comes in.

Click here for the full article by the former Chief Executive of National Ugly Mugs in the United Kingdom, published in The Guardian

May 8, 2017 – Kay Khan’s Crazy Contrivance Against Commercial Sex by Desmond Ravenstone

If Khan still believes that the “Swedish model” relieves sex workers of being burdened by police, she needs to read these excerpts from the memoirs of Simon Häggström, head of the Stockholm Police Prostitution Unit. This is not decriminalization by any reasonable measure – it is an attempt to re-brand a failed attempt at repressive social engineering that has caused harm to thousands of sex workers and those associated with them

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

May 7, 2017 – State severs ties with group after leader argued for legal prostitution by Kevin Landrigan

According to one of the 41 stipulations of the grant, the Manchester Police Department cannot promote, support or advocate for the legalization of prostitution. The stipulation also prohibits Manchester police from using grant funds to promote, support or advocate for the legalization of prostitution, according to grant paperwork.

Of course, Manchester police did no such thing. But apparently they could not tolerate having someone else talk about decriminalization, so they wreck their own task force to silence dissent. Click here for the full article in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

May 5, 2017 – Instead Of Photographing Sex Workers, This Artist Turns Her Camera Lens To Men Who Pay For It by Justina Bakutyte

The models are men of all ages and all walks of life: from a 28-year-old nightclub security guard Silvio, who pays for sex at least three times a month, to 50-year-old Walter, who isn’t married and has no girlfriend, so his only resort is to get a girl for the night.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Konbini.

May 5, 2017 – GAATW publishes special edition of Anti-Trafficking Review: “Where’s the Evidence?”

Despite increasing interest in human trafficking and related exploitation, a great deal of anti-trafficking work still appears to be based on assumptions that are not well-proven or adequately questioned. Policy formations, advocacy campaigns, concrete interventions and popular understandings of trafficking have all been accused of making exaggerated claims and resting on thin, if any, evidence. There is an almost obsessive desire to know the scale, proportion, size, major sectors and geographical concentrations of human trafficking. Similarly, the monitoring and evaluation of interventions prioritise numbers of people reached rather than any significant change in knowledge or behaviour. This focus on quantification has come at the expense of quality and a true understanding of the lives of the migrants and trafficked persons it is supposed to benefit.

This issue of the Anti-Trafficking Review explores the role of evidence, research and data in anti-trafficking work and how they influence our understanding of the issue and responses to it. Contributors examine the evidence used—or rejected—in the formation of national anti-trafficking policies in Northern Ireland, Canada and India, as well as the role of statistics, and monitoring and evaluation of anti-trafficking interventions. In the debate section, four authors take turn defending or rejecting the proposition ‘Global Trafficking Prevalence Data Advances the Fight against Trafficking in Persons’.

Click here for the ATR website page where you can open PDF files of the full issue, or selected articles. CoSWAC highly recommends this excellent resource from Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women.

May 3, 2017 – Police Are Allegedly Sleeping with Sex Workers Before Arresting Them by Sirin Kale

“The reality of some police having sex with sex workers during the course of undercover operations has been in existence as long as selling sex has been a criminal offense,” explains Dr. Alexandra Lutnick, an expert on the US sex industry at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute. A research study that she conducted in San Francisco found that over 14 percent of sex workers said that they had been threatened with arrest unless they had sex with a police officer, and two percent had been arrested after having sex with an officer anyway.

Click here for the full article posted in the online magazine Broadly.

May 2, 2017 – Free Thoughts, Ep 184: The War on Sex Work (with Elizabeth Nolan Brown)

April 29, 2017 – Why Governments Always Exaggerate the Prostitution Threat by Camilio Gómez

Frankly, forbidding sex work is impossible and attempts to prohibit this occupation have largely proved unsuccessful. What has been successful is decriminalization, as evidenced by the New Zealand Model in which sex workers are recognized as part of the community. As a result, they can call the police when needed and publish ads without fear of arrest. Even the World Health Organization has praised decriminalization because the countries where it had been implemented have seen decreased HIV and other STI transmission rates among sex workers and their clients.

Click here for the full article from the Foundation for Economic Education.

April 29, 2017 – ‘John school’ takes repressive approach to sex by Stuart Chambers

Punishing sexual desire to fit perfectionist ideals of sexual expression failed in the case of conversion therapy. John school will fare no better. Unfortunately, it’s a lesson that moral crusaders have yet to learn.

Click here for the full article in the Winnipeg Free Press. Then check our related resource page: Say NO to “John Schools”!

April 28, 2017 – The Groups “Rescuing” Sex Trafficking Victims Are As Bad As The Pimps by Laura LeMoon

What we need as survivors, in order to begin to take back our own movement, is the creation of philosophies that are purely survivor-lead and that begin with the telling of our own stories. But many of the nonprofits out there aren’t taking that approach.

Click here for the full post in the online magazine Wear Your Voice. Warning: Contains anecdotes of trafficking survivors being exploited and marginalized by the very industry which claims to be helping them.

April 27, 2017 – Grad students present student sex worker research in NYC conference by Mercedes Mayer

“Our objective was not to label or generalize the population by coming up with statistics” Anderson said. “We wanted the individual to have the ability to tell their stories and let the stories represent the person versus letting a number become a placeholder for the people behind the story.” Through Anderson’s internship at the Women’s Center, and among other panel discussions, students were open to share their experiences as sex workers. Anderson also disclosed her personal connection to the topic. “I had personal history with sex work, I was a sex worker for 15 years, and I didn’t feel like my story was represented in the research,” Anderson said. She said research typically focuses on portraying a small piece of sex work, usually stereotyped with connections to drugs, STDs, homelessness and criminality. Anderson wants to disprove these stereotypes.

Click here for the full story on The Daily Sundial, news magazine for California State University Northridge.

April 24, 2017 – Now Is The Time To Decriminalize Sex Work by Sandeep Prasad

Governments have an obligation to show due diligence in the protection of sex workers’ human rights, including their right to health and to freedom from violence. Laws and policies must be evidence-based and address the intersecting and layered systems of oppression impacting sex workers’ experiences. This can only start with our government taking the necessary steps toward the decriminalization of sex work in Canada.

Click here for the full blog post by the Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, on HuffPost Canada.

April 17, 2017 – My Mexican Husband Was Accused Of Trafficking Our Daughter On A United Flight by Maura Furfey

We never thought, however, that flight attendants on a major airline – United Airlines – would choose to take such an observation seriously – and in doing so, that the Port Authority and CBP would drag my husband and daughter off an airplane and interrogate them with a presumption of guilt. Never mind that he was traveling with a green card, carrying passports with the same last name and a notarized letter stating that I was allowing my daughter to travel to México for the week.

Click here for the full article in the Huffington Post.

April 16, 2017 – When It comes to buying sex, are women any different from men? by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

Men, we are told, want to sleep with multiple partners to spread their seed; women want just one good provider who will help raise their offspring. For men, sex is recreational; for women, it’s reproductive. … The reality is more complex, on both sides. Some women hire escorts to enjoy sex on demand, without complications. Some men hire female sex workers merely to talk.

a href=”https://aeon.co/essays/when-it-comes-to-buying-sex-are-women-any-different-from-men”>Click here for the full article in the online magazine Aeon.

April 14, 2017 – I’m a Sex Worker Who Is Sick of Female Misogyny by Elle Stanger

Sex workers and adult entertainers are tired of defending their livelihood. “Exploitation” is a heavy word to toss around, especially when the “victim’s” own feelings about their experience are entirely disregarded. If you want to help women, help those who are truly in need. The real voices of capitalism and commercialism are unheard, in agricultural fields, in sweatshops, and in kitchens. More women face sexual violence in their own home than in a strip club, how are you proactive against domestic violence? “Boys will be boys” is the poison pill that so many of us prescribed: shut up and take your medicine and swallow the blame, whore. And besides, some of these so-called arguments are moronic.

Click here for the full article in The Huffington Post.

April 13, 2017 – Project Equinox: One observer says the London-led sweep that led to dozens of arrests could drive prostitution problem underground by Randy Richmond

The arrest of 35 johns during a massive Southwestern Ontario human trafficking sweep will do more harm than good to most sex workers, says a leading London agency advocating for women. “Sex work will go farther into the margins. This puts sex workers in further danger,” said AnnaLise Trudell, manager of education and research at Anova, which provides shelter and counselling for victims of abuse and violence. … Trudell said Wednesday she doesn’t believe publishing the names of johns, “publicly shaming them,” does anyone any good. “Sex work is not going to go away because we arrested johns,” she said. “I don’t believe clients of sex workers are all awful human beings.”

Click here for the full article in the London Free Press of Ontario.

April 13, 2017 – What ‘Harlots’ Tells Us About the Lives of Sex Workers Today by Kitty Stryker

While there are many historical departures for the sake of narrative in Harlots, I still find myself resonating with the main themes. The tension between facing the stigma and institutional dangers of being a sex worker and the need for financial security in a society that offers such to very few is so real to me. The sacrifices one makes to achieve class mobility rings true to my experience, too—and the harsh reality that the police will never treat you as a human being, but as an expendable object, is one I wish I didn’t feel so deeply. Perhaps this show will help viewers see how ridiculous it is that our morality has shifted so little from 1763. Let us leave sex work stigma in the past, along with beauty spots to hide our syphilis marks and lambskin condoms.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Vice.

April 12, 2017 – Are Sex Work Abolitionists Feminists? A Sex Worker’s View by Melina Antunes

Abolitionists could be better feminist allies to sex workers if they would support decriminalization, but because they don’t like sex work and want a Utopia where sex work doesn’t exist, they support criminalization. Why not, instead of trying to criminalize the clients of sex workers, just decriminalize sex work (full stop) and let us work on the problems that the sex industry has? We could even find common ground where we could work together! When they fight for criminalizing men, they are fundamentally saying that all men are violent, and that in every encounter we have with our clients we are victims of that violence. When we challenge this, they say that we don’t understand, that we have been brainwashed by patriarchy and we have no agency. I had three full days arguing with abolitionists who are organizing a feminist conference in London, they ended up bullying me, hiding the conversation and later deleting it (but I have screenshots, ah!). This is silencing the voice of the women they think need help. It doesn’t make any sense.

Click here for the full article in the online news and opinion magazine The Leveller.

April 11, 2017 – In Full Sight: ‘The Pimp Lobby’ at the Amnesty AGM by Frankie Mullin

Amid the selective blindness, fantasy flourishes. And this is why the ‘pimp lobby’ myth is more than just an amusing quirk of the abolitionists. It indicates the extent to which their views are divorced from reality and the void is vast. The pimp lobby – a conspiracy theory in which astroturfing pimps are behind the movement for decriminalisation – erases the reality of sex workers. No activist community is free from troublesome characters but this is no grounds to write off a global movement and decades of history.

Click here for the full blog post on VersoBooks.com.

April 11, 2017 – Topeka Teen With Violent Pimp Faces More Than 10 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Is this justice? In Zeferjohn, we have someone who is very likely the victim of a domestic abuser or an abusive pimp, depending on how you look at it, and unquestionably a “sex trafficking victim” under federal law. It requires someone to be engaging in prostitution that’s been forced/coerced or to be engaging in prostitution while under 18, no matter the circumstances, and Zeferjohn meets one if not both criteria. The young woman has already lost custody of her child, and will have to register as a sex offender.

Click here for the full article in the online edition of Reason magazine.

April 10, 2017 – “Signs” of Trafficking to Make You Wonder by Desmond Ravenstone

Last weekend, I flew out of town to attend a conference where the annual meeting of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom was being held, having been invited to co-present on sex workers’ rights for the Coalition’s leaders. I took just a small backpack crammed with clothes, papers, and other items. The room was paid for by another NCSF activist, who was staying in a suite with their partner. As is my usual practice, I kept the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the entire time, as well as leaving the TV on, because I’m one of these folks who is more comfortable with an unmade bed than having others go through my things. Believe it or not, I might have been tagged by a hotel employee as a possible sex trafficker.

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

April 8, 2017 – Rebellious Prostitutes Hit the Streets of Paris Demanding ‘More Clients’

On Saturday, female sex workers took to the streets of Paris protesting a lack of clientele and poor working conditions. The rally, which started in the afternoon at Pigalle Square had about 200-300 prostitutes screaming slogans such as “Stop hypocrisy. But not our customers!”, “Sex business is my work,” “My body is my business,” and so on. … In some extreme cases, girls committed suicide; some were infected with AIDS because for the sake of earning they were forced to agree to any demands made by men. Also, there have been cases of women being beaten by aggressive and drunken customers.

Click here for the full article in the online news site Sputnik International

April 8, 2017 – How Sexual Surrogates Are Helping Transgender Clients by Carrie Weisman

Sex surrogates work alongside licensed therapists, using sexual contact and coaching to help clients struggling with various forms of sexual dysfunction. While the industry experienced a boom in the 80s, things slowed dramatically with the AIDS epidemic. These days, the practice is moving back into the spotlight, but things look much different now than they did in its heyday. Surrogates once appeared to be all but reserved for male clients; as society inched forward, an increasing number of women began voicing an interest in improving their sex lives, as did gay men and lesbians. Today, surrogates say an increasing number of transgender people are turning to their services in order to become more comfortable with their sexuality.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Vice.

April 7, 2017 – Sex Trafficking Victims Urge NYC To Stop Criminalizing Prostitution by Emma Whitford

“I don’t know what movie the mayor is watching,” said Kate Mogulescu, who heads up the Legal Aid Society’s human trafficking advocacy program. “Please don’t justify arrests by saying we’re helping people, when what they need can’t be obtained through criminal court,” she added. Her team has argued that not all prostitution is exploitative, and that focusing the narrative on trafficking—suggesting that police sweep in as saviors—has bolstered criminalization all around. … Many defendants also reported that they weren’t satisfied with the incarceration alternatives meted out in [Human Traffcking Intervention Courts]. Services they are offered, typically counseling, do not match with the services they feel they most need: employment, followed by housing, education and healthcare. Of the roughly 1,400 people surveyed for this report, only one listed mental health assistance as a primary need.

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Gothamist.

April 6, 2017 – Jenny Nordbak was a dominatrix for Hollywood A-listers by Bobby Quillard

“I think the world needs more sex positivity, particularly from women and I think more openness around sex work as well is a good thing,” she said. “There are women out there who are doing it and are not desperate or being exploited. They’re put together driven women who happened to be in a profession that’s outside of the norm.”

Click here for the full article on FoxNews.com.

April 5, 2017 – Why More Women Are Paying for Sex Services by Carrie Weisman

Women may not be the most likely demographic to spend money on sexy forms of fun, but those who do do so for very specific reasons. Escorts interviewed for the 2015 UK study echoed Ley’s conclusion that the rise is partly attributable to technology’s ease of access; another possibility is that women may have less need for relationships today, preferring the ease of access to male companionship that the sex work industry provides. Either way, men have enjoyed safe, secure and stress-free ways to experiment with sex and pleasure for a long time. Better salaries, less stigmas and more options mean women can finally get in on that game, too.

Click here for the full article in the online magazine Vice.

April 5, 2017 – Crackdown: Sex workers in Canada say a wave of john stings is making life more dangerous for them by Rachel Browne

Chris Atchison, a sociologist at the University of Victoria who has conducted extensive research on those who purchase sex, says he’s spoken to hundreds of clients in Canada who say that john stings typically don’t end up curbing the demand at all, but send it further underground. “It also increases the levels of stigma, reduces the chances that sex workers and clients will report acts of violence to the police, and it creates more dangerous conditions,” he said. “There’s no such thing as an inherently bad client or sex workers. Bad people can only do bad things in bad conditions.” He added that he’s seen no evidence that “john school” is effective in changing the desires of clients, and they are primarily run by groups that seek to abolish the sex trade — not make women safer. “These programs are based on a very particularly moral agenda based on misinformation and fear mongering,” he said.

Click here for the full story from the online news magazine Vice.

April 5, 2017 – NCMEC Hypocrisy on “Stranger Danger” by Dr. Marty Klein

NCMEC is driving the issue of sex trafficking as hard as it can. By expanding the definition of “sex trafficking” to include every sex worker, porn actress, and minor person having sex with an adult, they have successfully convinced Americans that huge numbers of Americans are sex trafficked. It’s a lie.

Click here for the full blog post where Dr. Klein shows how the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has made things worse, not better, for young people at risk.

April 4, 2017 – Human Trafficking, After the Headlines by Melissa Gira Grant

“Trafficked domestic workers demanding that respect and dignity are having to do so while also cutting through layers of anti-trafficking rhetoric and policy, aimed not at ending trafficking but at ending sex work. Perhaps most striking of all, domestic workers report some of the same kinds of abuse faced by sex workers: working and living in dangerous places, and for bosses who assault, abuse and deceive them. But this abuse is recognized as a potential trafficking situation when it takes place in a brothel or strip club, not in a kitchen or a nursery.”

Click here for the full article in the online news magazine Pacific Standard.

April 4, 2017 – Former sex worker defends ‘real work’ by Randy Richmond

A girlfriend introduced her to sex work, and the opportunity to create her own rules. “My friend never kissed a client. She kept that for her own needs. She told me what were her no-gos and I was like, ‘Oh, you can actually say no to these people even though they are paying me?'” Taya says. “That was an empowering moment. Coming from abuse and not being heard or listened to when I said no to things, it was like, these people are actually listening.” She engaged in sex work to make money, to avoid staying in shelters or to get groceries or medicine she couldn’t afford on welfare. That made her no less a victim than other people working to survive, Taya says. “There are a lot of women who enjoy it. They enjoy the respect they can demand. It is real work.” That statement sits at the centre of the debate over sex work, locally and worldwide.

Click here for the full article from the Free Press of London, Ontario.

April 2, 2017 – Proposed Tweak to Internet Law Could Spur Seismic Shifts in Web as We Know It by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

The Section 230 bill deals not a wit with the people actually causing sexual exploitation; it simply opens up a new category of defendants that can be punished as child sex traffickers. It gives victims – most of whom fall prey to petty pimps with few assets, not organized criminals – a civil-suit target with much deeper pockets than the criminals who exploited them, and the same for state prosecutors with asset-forfeiture fever. And it does all this while a) defining child sex trafficking victim as anyone under 18 who accepts money or anything of value for sexual activity and b) defining child sex trafficking as a crime that need not involve any real children.

A huge number of “child sex trafficking stings” in this country involve police posing online as sex workers (using pictures of young adults, because otherwise they would all be posting child porn) and, once a customer is interested, “admitting” that they’re actually under underage (usually 16 or 17). The men who still agree to meet for sex are greeted by police officers and charged with things like patronizing a minor for prostitution or, increasingly, child sex trafficking. Their vehicles and sometimes other assets are seized. Imagine if cops could do this sort of “random virtue testing” (as Ars Technica‘s Nate Anderson aptly described it) but then go after big web publishers and platforms instead of just impounding a few cars.

Click here for the full article in Reason online magazine.

April 1, 2017 – Sex Work is Work. And it Needs a Safe Workplace by SB and Anna Bongiovanni

How Backpage’s shut down helps trafficking victims has not yet been explained by Senator Harris or anyone else. That Backpage also worked with anti-trafficking group[s] and law enforcement to track down traffickers was similarly ignored. Politicians, anti-trafficking non-profits, and journalists all participate in an ongoing war against sex trafficking which does not address the root causes. Closing Backpage is nothing but a symbolic victory for them. But even symbolic victories can have real victims.

Click here for this educational cartoon piece published on The Nib.

March 31, 2017 – The IKEA Child Sex Trafficking Story is Fake News by Lenore Skenazy

My point is not to make fun of the folks freaking out. My point is to try to give us all a reality check: Come on — two men are going to grab three kids, all under age 7, IN PUBLIC, in a camera-filled store, with the MOM and the GRANDMA right there, not to mention a zillion other fans of moderately priced furnishings?

Click here for the full post on Reason magazine by the blogger and author of the book Free-Range Kids.

March 30, 2017 – Confessions of a former SWERF by Taryn De Vere

There is an essential paradox in being a SWERF, how can you truly be a feminist if you do not listen to and believe the experiences of other women? How can you take such a paternalistic view of sex workers and think you know what is best for them even when they are clearly telling you otherwise? My own SWERF views came from ignorance and a patronising kind of moral crusader vibe, “I know what is best for you fallen women. Come on and I’ll help you out of your awful life.” I never said that or thought it but it was at the root of the beliefs I had about sex work and sex workers. I cringe to think of it now, how condescending, how arrogant, how offensive. I’m publicly atoning for my prior awful SWERFy ways now and hoping that by doing so I might reach out to a few people who are open to some new ideas about sex workers.

Click here for the full blog post on the online magazine Medium.com.

March 30, 2017 – Economics must embrace the sex industry by Victoria Bateman

[T]here is a logical inconsistency with the way that we think about consensual prostitution – a largely female trade – compared with the male-dominated spheres of soldiering and boxing – all of which come at significant risk to the body and the brain. As Barbara Einhorn, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Sussex, wrote in a 2016 letter to The Guardian, “prostitution and soldiering are arguably the oldest professions. While doubts about their legitimacy are understandable, both provide a service that society appears to need. Yet one is heroised, the other vilified.”
Click here for the full opinion piece in Times Higher Education.

March 29, 2017 – Hollywood and the Prohibitionists by Desmond Ravenstone

It’s not just that prohibitionists love having celebrities on their side. It’s not just that they keep accusing supporters of sex worker rights of “falling for the fantasy” of Pretty Woman. Prohibitionists are in love with Hollywood because, like the film industry, they prefer to package things in eye-catching tropes that doesn’t strain the brain.

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

March 27, 2017 – Nicaragua has found a new way to protect sex workers by Samantha Eyler

Nicaragua recently gave legal power to 18 of its 14,486 sex workers to act as mediators finding solutions to problems facing their communities without having to rely on police.

Click here for the full interview with a documentary filmmaker and a leader of Girasoles (Sunflowers), Nicaragua’s peer-led sex worker organization.

March 23, 2017 – Sex workers have blunt message for Aussie women by Matt Young

“Men are looking to be understood and be heard. They’re looking for that bit of love that they’re obviously missing. I could open up a school to teach women how to be intimate because there are so many out there that are not giving intimacy to their husbands.” The 58-year-old woman said that 90 per cent of her clients, ranging in age from 20-45, pay $350 for half an hour to engage in a heightened degree of emotional intimacy. In some cases, they engage in reciprocal sexual pleasure (girlfriend experiences), but in other cases, they won’t have sex at all (companionship experiences). “There’s definitely more demand for it. I can’t tell you the number of times a client and I haven’t had sex. We may have just sit there and talk, we may have dinner. There’s so many times that you will not have sex. Sometimes there will be a run of it when I think … ‘wow’. It’s not this wild, crazy, hang-from-the-chandeliers porn star experience they want. They just want to be with a girlfriend for an hour. Cuddling, being together, talking, having that intimacy with somebody. I’ve got clients in their 20s who want that. It’s pretty amazing. I’m still in shock over how many young guys are into me. It’s bizarre.”

Click here for the full article from Australia’s Chincilla News, which gives a glimpse into the complex realities of provider/client interactions.

March 22, 2017 – Rich in funds but short on facts: the high cost of human trafficking awareness campaigns by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Several fundamental issues have been obfuscated or overlooked by public awareness campaigns focused on human trafficking. Instead of identifying root causes, such as poverty, campaigns too often direct resources away from effective programmes toward marketing, thereby enriching the coffers of organisational staff and the often for-profit public relations contractors tapped to create campaigns. While the base intention of any public awareness campaign should be to foster wider and more accurate knowledge of a given subject, human trafficking awareness efforts have done little to clarify the issues at stake. Even the term itself remains vague and ill-defined, often appearing as a synonym for slavery, prostitution, debt bondage, or even legal sex work.

Click here for the full article by the author of Threadbare, part of an ongoing discussion on openDemocracy.net.

March 22, 2017 – The Big Lie of “Partial Decriminalization” by Desmond Ravenstone

It is a lie to repeatedly refer to the “Swedish Model” as a form of decriminalization, because in fact it still gives police the power and authority to control sex workers. If those who sell sex are to be free of such control – and the abuses that inevitably come with it – the answer is full decriminalization of consensual commercial sex, allowing existing laws against assault and exploitation to protect them. This is what has worked in New Zealand and New South Wales, and what sex workers themselves rightly demand.

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

March 19, 2017 – Challenging the Common Conception of Sex Work by Kathleen McNamee

Both Wylie and Ward question why the New Zealand model wasn’t examined more closely by legislators in Ireland. Here, there was strong data concerning who the sex workers were and what they were looking for with regards to legislation. “What the law does is it says that the buying or selling of sex is not subject to the law”, explains Ward. “So it removes law completely from the buying or selling and then what it says is that all acts around that are governed by existing laws. So there’s no specific law in relation to the buying or selling of sex at all.” This means that instead of criminalising the work done by sex workers, the legislation governs issues such as making sure they are working in a safe environment and have access to appropriate health care.

Click here for the full article in the University Times of Ireland.

March 18, 2017 – 9 Stereotypes Sex Workers Are Tired of Hearing by Cyd Nova

Although these questions tend to be obnoxious generalizations, they don’t necessarily come from a malicious place, but rather from simple ignorance about the everyday lives of people in the sex industry. Instead of framing discussions about sex and sexuality through a sex-positive lens, many people work tirelessly to remove these topics from educational settings, which leads to a culture defined by slut-shaming remarks and behaviors.

Click here for the full article on Mic.com online magazine.

March 18, 2017 – ‘It Was A Wonderful Adventure’: What It’s Like When You Retire From Sex Work by Sirin Kale

As with exiting a job in any profession, former sex workers look back at their time in the industry with mixed emotions. For some, it was a means to end: a debt-free college degree, a loan on a house, or a way to pay the bills when times were tough and options limited. For others, it was a positive experience, but one they outgrew as they got older. As with many former sex workers, Billuni continues to be frustrated by how society tends to view the sex industry. “People expect sex work to be something you escape,” she comments. “But for me, it was a wonderful adventure in my youth that really shaped who I am, and that I had to embrace as I grew up more.”

Click here for the full article in Broadly online magazine.

March 18, 2017 – American Sex Police by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Advocates of Operation Cross Country often justify the stings by saying that “if it saves even one child, it’s worth it.” That ignores tremendous opportunity costs. The vast array of resources — money, manpower, time — that go into Operation Cross Country come from a limited pool. Authorities are routinely taking money set aside to stop child sexual exploitation and using it to find and punish adults, many just a few years past childhood themselves, for private sexual activities. It’s tough for anyone to defend this type of siphoning, let alone those who claim to be the most concerned about helping kids.

Click here for the full article in Reason magazine.

March 18, 2017 – Media selectively ignores sex workers by Kylie Cheung

Ultimately, perhaps it’s the people who equate consensual sex work with the subjugation of women, who refuse to accept that women are capable of making decisions about their bodies and careers, and not sex workers, who are feeding societal oppression of women. The popular notion that women who sell sex are, in the words of former President Jimmy Carter, objects to be “bought and sold,” serves to bind a woman’s whole identity to the mere act of sex, so that she is not merely selling a service but her entire self.

Click here for the full piece in the Daily Trojan, student newspaper for the University of Southern California.

March 16, 2017 – First Amendment Lawyers Ask New Calif. Attorney General to Drop ‘Abusive’ Crusade Against Backpage and User-Info Dragnet by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

On March 14, FALA — a nonprofit membership association launched in the late ’60s that has boasted some of the country’s top constitutional lawyers — sent a letter to Becerra condemning “the abusive prosecution of individuals associated with the online classified advertising website Backpage.com, and also the use of expansive search warrants seeking vast amounts of constitutionally-protected material, including personally identifiable information about all of the website’s users.” In the letter, FALA President Marc Randazza says he can identify “no theory under the First Amendment that would countenance such an abusive use of prosecutorial discretion or such a dragnet demand for information.”

Click here for the full article in Reason magazine.

March 16, 2017 – The wastefulness of human trafficking awareness campaigns by Dina Haynes

If you have money to allocate, use it to fund legal advice – from a lawyer – to a trafficked person. Playing the numbers game, as donors have been known to do, does not help. Reaching a million viewers who do nothing to help end trafficking, and may even undermine the cause by understanding the problem too superficially, is less valuable than helping a handful of people to avoid being trafficked or to access support after it has taken place. Assistance and awareness have too often been confused or conflated, with the later taking up energies that could have gone to more useful projects.

Click here for the full post on openDemocracy.net, part of their ongoing conversation on this important topic.

March 15, 2017 – Double Whammy Against the Swedish Model by Desmond Ravenstone

[J]ust as law enforcement found Backpage a valuable resource here in the States, their counterparts in other countries also get a significant amount of tips from sex work clients. Even the Swedish police relied on clients for help – that is, until their “sex-purchase” ban was put into place … But this fact doesn’t just undermine the claim that the Swedish Model helps to fight trafficking and abuse. It also challenges the fundamental premise that clients are all exploiters who don’t care about those who sell sex. It doesn’t make sense to paint all “johns” or “punters” in this way when you have evidence from the police themselves that people looking to pay for sex were willing to come forward and report suspicions of coercion and abuse.

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

March 12, 2017 – City of Greeley agrees to pay woman $150,000 to settle federal lawsuit against former Greeley police officer by Tommy Simmons

Ping Wang was arrested on suspicion of prostitution and running a place of prostitution out of her massage business in February 2015. A jury found her not guilty of those charges a year later. Two months later, she filed a case in civil court, in which she claimed Greeley Police Detective Jared Weeks blatantly lied in the affidavit for her arrest.

Click here for the full article from the Greeley Tribune of how an officer lied about an incident to get a bogus prostitution arrest.

March 10, 2017 – Why Ashton Kutcher’s Tears Are Everything That’s Wrong With the Anti-trafficking Movement by Laura LeMoon

America is obsessed with fetishizing sex trafficking, even though, statistically, labor trafficking is far more common globally. Arguably, this skewed focus that America has on sex trafficking is because of the puritanical “values” of the religious fanatics who invaded this country in 1492 — and the fact that in America, sex is still all about morality, and morality is a huge catalyst for the “justification” these saviors use when getting involved with this cause.

Click here for the full post on We Are Your Voice magazine by sex worker and trafficking survivor Laura LeMoon.

March 9, 2017 – BREAKING: Federal Court Gives Victory To Young Strippers by Joe Cunningham

A federal judge has ruled against state officials charged with enforcing a law passed last year that prohibits anyone age 18 to 20 from dancing nude in Louisiana strip clubs. The decision deals a major blow to what legislators have described as an effort to shield young women from being exploited by human traffickers that they say recruit young women in clubs and use the venues for prostitution.

Click here for the full article on The Hayride online news magazine.

March 7, 2017 – Shell Game by Desmond Ravenstone

I’ve been an activist for decades, facing all sorts of foes – creationists, anti-abortionists, warmongers and hatemongers. Every one of them has put forward a legislative goal, and actually invested resources to get that goal accomplished. This is the first time I’ve seen a movement hold up a specific law as its main goal, but never get a single bill to propose in in any state legislature. When I also consider the distortions and fabrications they use to justify their moralistic crusade, it’s the most dishonest approach to activism I’ve ever seen.

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

March 4, 2017 – Sex workers march in Ukraine demanding legalization

“It is the first time that we have had the courage to come out and say that we exist,” Yuliya Dorokhova of Legalife, a Ukrainian non-governmental organisation for sex workers, said standing in front of the parliament building. “We ask the authorities to lift the punishment for sex work. We would like to pay taxes rather than fines,” she added. According to human rights campaigners, there are some 80,000 sex workers in Ukraine who feel vulnerable — particularly to police abuse due to their profession being outside the law.

Click here for the full article in the Borneo Post, originally from the AFP news service.

March 2, 2017 – Is it time to decriminalize sex work? by Sylvia Lin

Savannah Sly, the president of the national SWOP USA, also lives here in Washington, and estimates the number of sex workers in the state to be “a couple thousand.” She acknowledges the number is hard to count since the criminalized industry has to conduct their business in secrecy. Sola, Sly, and many other sex workers, don’t go by their real names because of fear of prosecution. Washington state law deems all commercial sex as illegal.

Click here for the full article in The Seattle Globalist news magazine.

March 2, 2017 – Why can’t you pay for sex? by Ninos Malek

It is the duty of government to protect property rights and to prosecute individuals who coerce or force themselves upon others. However, the government needs to stop wasting resources on voluntary, adult sexual exchanges. A police officer who could be out stopping real crime, but who is instead assigned to a vice squad as an undercover prostitute, represents a lost opportunity to make communities safer. It is time to put an end to this hypocritical and wasteful prosecution of sex workers and their clients.

Click here for the full article by economics professor Ninos Malek.

March 1, 2017 – Trump’s Mythical Crackdown on Sex Trafficking by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

The idea that there have been “an unprecedented number” of sex traffickers arrested since Trump took office has similarly little basis in reality, and there’s zero truth to the claim of law-enforcement busting up child sex-trafficking rings. Meanwhile, many of the arrests Crokin includes in her tally—arrests that include mostly women selling sex and men trying to engage in consensual adult prostitution—are part of annual sting operations, were the result of investigations in the works long before Trump took office, and/or had absolutely nothing to do with federal law-enforcement directives or activities. (That is, when we can check Crokin’s sources; two of the pages she links to as evidence can’t be found.)

Click here for the full article on Reason magazine.

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 law 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.