LA billboard companies refuse message disputing claims that sex workers are trafficked or enslaved
From press release from
After being rejected by every billboard company in Los Angeles, the sex workers' rights project SWAAY (Sex Work Activists, Allies, and You) has launched their public awareness campaign with a mobile billboard, which will be running for eight days
between November 1 and November 9, 2011.
SWAAY's text-only billboard reads, Sex worker: a person who consensually exchanges their own sexual labor or sexual performance for compensation. Sex work is not the same as forced sex trafficking or sex
slavery. Learn about the people and facts behind sex work at SWAAY.org.
Any variation of the group's message was banned by Clear Channel, CBS, Lamar, Regency, Van Wagner, Avant Outdoor, LA Transit Authority, and Outdoor Solutions, but was
finally picked up by a mobile billboard company.
SWAAY was founded in June of this year to address the public's misconceptions due to the lack of factual and accessible information about sex work, and to fight against the outright lies and junk
science statistics pushed by moral and religious crusaders who advocate for further criminalization and stigmatization of sex workers.
A sex worker is a person who exchanges their own sexual labor or sexual performance for compensation, such
as an escort/prostitute, porn star, stripper, dominatrix, phone sex operator, sensual masseuse, or web cam performer. Sex workers are part of the larger sex industry - which includes adult movie directors, club owners, webmasters, retail stores, and more
- but are distinct because their job involves making money off of their own sexual labor, not writing about, photographing, managing, or selling the sexual labor or performances of others.
Bad laws and hurtful social stigmas work together in a
vicious cycle that makes life more dangerous and difficult for the people who engage in sex work, says Sabrina Melmoth, a volunteer with the group. SWAAY seeks to chip away at both problems by sharing non-sensationalized, first-person information
about life as a sex worker, and advocating for the full decriminalization of sex work.
Sex workers campaign in favour of classified ads for adult services
20th October 2011. From prostitutescollective.net by US Prostitutes
Listings magazine Village Voice is under attack for running Backpage.com the on-line adult classified ads service. Advertising allows many sex workers to work in the relative safety of premises. The same people who witch-hunted Craigslist with a
big bucks campaign, have now targeted the Village Voice. They blame adult ads for promoting trafficking and the exploitation of women and children, and use false statistics to exaggerate the numbers of victims trafficked into the sex industry.
Politicians, celebrities, religious and feminist groups have all jumped on the band wagon.
One sex worker commented:
People -- not just prostitutes -- have sex for many reasons. Sometimes, for
some of us, one reason is money. Craigslist provided a simple, familiar forum through which I could do my business with complete anonymity, from the safety and convenience of my own home. I kept every penny I earned, all without the interference of an
agency or other ubiquitous middle man.
In all the media hype, real victims of trafficking and others who are criminalized by poverty and immigration laws, are forced further underground and made even more vulnerable.
Millions of dollars have gone to anti-trafficking groups while a Bill to fund shelters with beds, clothing, counseling, case work and legal services for underage prostitutes has stalled.  Trafficking laws have primarily been used to target immigrant
sex workers for raids and deportation, particularly women of color. (SeeTrafficking -- A Justification for Increased Deportations and A Moralistic Crusade against Prostitution.)
Village Voice's investigative series The Truth
Behind Sex Trafficking questioned the research methods and the accuracy of the statistics. They showed that figures claiming a massive increase in online child trafficking had been gathered by researchers guessing the age of young women from their online
photos. Figures of 100,000 to 300,000 US child sex slaves were found to have no scientific basis -- researchers admitted that it was a calculation of children at risk of sexual exploitation including runaways, transgender youth and female members of
gangs. Despite this admission, the figures have been relentlessly promoted by celebrities such as Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.
Update: Pots and Kettles
31st October 2011. See
article from business.avn.com
36 clergy have weighed into the campaign against the Village Voice adult services section. It goes with the territory that those who believe in religious nonsense, will also be a bit gullible about the propaganda hype surrounding sex
trafficking. Anyway the clerics of the newly formed multifaith coalition of mainline Christians, Catholics, Jews, evangelical Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Humanists and other moral and religious leaders, wrote:
open letter to Village Voice Media
We agree with 51 Attorneys General. Girls and boys should not be sold for sex on Village Voice Mediaís Backpage.com.
It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex. So we were surprised and stunned to realize your company, Village Voice Media, continues to publish an Adult section on its classifieds Web siteBackpage.com that
has been used as a platform for the trafficking of minors.
Arrests of adults selling minors for sex via Backpage.com have been reported by the media in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New
Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. And these are just some of the cases that have been documented.
As moral and religious leaders of many creeds and backgrounds, we are united in calling on
your publication to shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com.
We appreciate your efforts to put in place new measures attempting to screen for ads featuring minors. However, we do not believe that these measures are doing
enough to adequately solve the problem, and we share the opinion of the nationís 51 Attorneys General that the best way to eradicate your companyís connection with the sex trafficking of minors is to shut down the Adult section of your Web site, as
Please shut down the Adult section of Backpage.com immediately so that no minor is exploited through advertisements on your Web site.
Village Voice Media replied by
outlining the steps they are taking in response to the issues raised
Here are just some of the things we are doing:
The review of all ads and images in the personals and adult sections of the site.
The implementation of key word searches to quickly identify banned advertisements and inappropriate discussions.
The significant increase in staff to quickly identify illegal ads.
The implementation of roadblocks to prevent minors from accessing mature content.
of dedicated tools on the site to educate users regarding online safety and security.
The empowerment of users to report abuse and an expeditious process to handle user complaints.
It must have been tempting to have replied instead:
Please shut down your religions immediately so that no minor is exploited through the actions and deeds of your adherents.
can't help but think this would result in several orders of magnitude of more minors saved from exploitation.
Marauding band of trafficked sex workers booked for the London Olympics and Euro 2012
I wonder if any trafficked sex workers have ever been found at a major sporting event
Levels of human trafficking may rise during both next summer's Euro 2012 soccer championships in Poland and Ukraine, and the London Olympics, according to European Union officials.
Myria Vassiliadou, the EU's anti-trafficking coordinator, claimed
sporting events are a hub for criminal gangs, adding that it appears that similar large sporting events in the past have been accompanied by a spike in prostitution and trafficking, reported the Associated Press.
Vassiliadou, who was
attending an EU conference on human trafficking, said the issue rests largely with EU nations. She added that the EU was nevertheless trying to raise awareness of the problem.
Offsite Comment: Meanwhile at the Indiana Super
3rd November 2011. From business.avn.com
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has a problem: What to do about all the forced prostitution that he's
sure will be happening when Indianapolis hosts the Super Bowl this winter on February 6.
Of course, Zoeller's actual problem is that he (and his cadre of advisors and consultants) haven't yet figured out that most of the women involved in
prostitution have affirmatively chosen their profession---and that all those statistics he's been reading about the number of trafficked women and children in the U.S.---he's claiming that as many as 300,000 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 are
lured into the United States' sex industry annually ---are staggeringly inflated.
Marauding band of trafficked sex workers moves onto Hawaii
See article from
Hawaii is considered a paradise by many people, but at night, it becomes even more fun with the presence of tempting Eves engaged in the oldest profession in the world: prostitution.
However local officials are concerned that the upcoming
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit this November could spike prostitution, and naturally, they don't want sex tourism to steal the limelight away from the numerous attractions of the islands.
Local politicians, hoteliers and
law enforcement authorities are beefing up security to combat the mythical surge of sex-trade workers who would be flying in from the mainland. According to the usual bollox from an official of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, the APEC Leaders'
Summit could pose a huge sex-trafficking problem, especially with the military population mixing-in with travelers, all of which make for attractive business opportunities for prostitutes.
According to the campaigner's propaganda, sex
workers are brought in from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta by pimps, who also pick up local runaways and girls with misdemeanors and send them to work as sex slaves in other states.
Some visitors have voiced their concern about the blatant
soliciting by prostitutes working the streets. Wearing their killer stiletto heels, skimpy shorts or skirts and barely-there tops, these women walk the streets and loiter along boutiques, hotels, shopping centers and business establishments, with some
even doing it a block from police substations.
Lawmakers are now proposing stiffer penalties for men who hire prostitutes within 750 feet of schools or public parks. The proposed law, said local authorities, will mainly target customers and not
the sex workers, since many of them are either supposed victims of sex traffickers or simply do it for survival.
Miserable Philadelphia police spoil the fun of the Downtowners Fancy Brigade
An anonymous snitch shopped an undercover sex party at the clubhouse of one of Philadelphia's famed Mummers brigades. Two club officials and 11 others were arrested by killjoy police.
As part of a six-week investigation, undercover policemen
went to the Downtowners Fancy Brigade, one of the clubs that parades through the city on New Year's Day.
The police were told by a snitch that there were prostitutes at the clubhouse on the second Tuesday of every month. When the policemen
arrived, they were charged a $30 cover charge for beer and other refreshments and found 50 to 60 men and about 15 to 20 women inside, with many of the women naked or partially naked and performing sex acts, according to police.
The policeman were
offered sex for money and sex acts were being performed in public view, with the women charging $30 to $100, police said.
Two victims of the police raid were a club steward and the club's financial secretary. They face charges for liquor
violations and criminal conspiracy; the club did not have a liquor license, police said. Ten women were arrested on prostitution charges.
The Mummers Parade, often called Philadelphia's Mardi Gras, is a century-old Philadelphia tradition in which
costumed revellers march through the city on January 1. The parade is composed of elaborately festooned musicians, comics and other performers from different clubs that compete for prizes and bragging rights.
San Francisco poster campaign about awareness of sex workers' rights
Based on article from
The St. James Infirmary (SJI) has announced its first major media campaign featuring local sex workers to raise public awareness about sex workers' rights.
SJI initially sought to place this campaign on area billboards, but the creative was
rejected by the two major San Francisco billboard re-sellers Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor, the latter stating that sex worker [is] not a family friendly term. SJI has also sought to circulate its message via public art opportunities through the
San Francisco Arts Commission, but has been repeatedly rejected from those venues as well. Titan 360, reseller of ad space on all Muni, BART, and AC Transit Vehicles, readily agreed to sell ad space to SJI, acknowledging the importance of SJI's work and
its contribution to the SF Bay Area community.
The media campaign promotes SJI's philosophy that social stigma contributes negatively to the health and wellness of sex workers. Our goals are to raise awareness of the important work of SJI, to
increase financial support of our work, and to educate the community that sex workers are equal members of society. The vast majority of media coverage on the topic of sex work focuses on sex trafficking, leaving little space for important coverage of
other issues pertinent to sex workers. The statistics quoted by anti-trafficking media campaigns are often highly inflated and under-researched. SJI believes that biased research leads to harmful policies, and leads legislators to channel funding to law
enforcement rather than housing and health care.
US website under suspicion for hooking up sugar daddies with sugar babies
A US website has been accused of promoting prostitution by helping cash-strapped college students pay off their debts by dating older men. SeekingArrangement.com offers its sugar babies the opportunity to collect money through dates with older, more financially set men.
One of the site's users, Taylor, said she was paid $350 to have sex with a man more than twice her age. Taylor said: I just wanted to get out of that situation as safely as possible, pay off my debt, and move on.
Brandon Wade, the
founder of Seeking Arrangement, told the Huffington Post that business is booming: Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded. A growing number of strapped college students are finding their way to 'sugar daddy
sites to help pay the bills
And Seeking Arrangement isn't alone - several other sites operate under the same pretenses.
And this raises the question: Are Seeking Arrangement's 800,000 members guilty of prostitution?
Weitzer, a sociology professor at George Washington University, said: Under the banner of sugar daddy and sugar baby arrangements, a lot of prostitution may be going on.
Las Vegas lawyer Allen Lichtenstein said the legal parameters of
prostitution are clouded: Any relationship that is an ongoing one that's not purely about sex but may have a sexual aspect to it, you can't really classify as prostitution.
Anti-prostitution activist 'research' correlates sex buyers with more general offending
Actually I would suspect that a sample of people partaking in a generally disapproved of pastime may indeed correlate to a wider issue of not toeing the
society line. Of course the activists will twist this obvious correlation into something more causal without suggesting any evidence whatsoever. 20th July 2011. See
article from reuters.com
Anti porn activist 'research' has clamed that men who pay for sex are more likely than non-buyers to commit a variety of offenses, including violent crimes against women.
The Boston study was based on face-to-face interviews with 202 men conducted
by the campaign group Prostitution Research and Education and led by Melissa Farley, a well known anti-prostitution activist.
Buyers and non-buyers of commercial sex from the Boston area were paired by age, education and ethnicity to
compare their perceptions of women, after voluntarily joining a research study. Men who paid for sex more often reported having committed felonies and misdemeanors, including crimes related to violence against women and those related to substance abuse,
assault and weapons.
The 'study' considered behavioral tendencies between men who buy sex that are different from their non-buying peers. For example, significantly fewer sex buyers, 47% against 70%, reported that they were taught about respect
for women in sex education classes. Almost 75% of the sex buyers reported they learned about sex from pornography, whereas only 54% of the non-buyers did so.
The two groups also held significantly different attitudes regarding whether prostitution
was consenting sex or exploitation. Men who bought sex were significantly less empathetic toward women working as prostitutes.
61% of sex buyers and 70% of non-buyers currently had a wife or girlfriend. The were recruited using an advertisement in
a local free daily newspaper.
23rd July 2011. See article from
Newsweek is trumpeting its exclusive coverage of a new study on men who pay for sex with the grabby headline The John Next Door. Too bad the research -- which set out to compare sex buyers with men who don't buy sex --
absurdly lumps together johns with porn watchers and strip-club visitors. Also? It was conducted by self-declared prostitution abolitionist Melissa Farley -- whose methodology when studying johns in the past has been rightly criticized -- but the
magazine's coverage doesn't bother to mention that until more than halfway through the article. The piece egregiously fails to mention that the stridently anti-porn activist was arrested on multiple occasions in the mid-'80s for entering stores that sell
Penthouse and destroying copies of the magazine in protest.
...Read the full article
US police harass webmaster of punterNet like website on ground of promoting prostitution
David Flory has been arrested for allegedly running a website promoting prostitution. It was a sex worker review site featuring 200 women and about 1400 customers.
Police are now trawling through the client database to find out who was using
the website, and are urging members to give themselves up.
Flory was arrested in Albuquerque after a six-month undercover operation to track down who was behind the site, Southwest Companions. According to police, Southwest Companions was run
entirely by Flory, who designed three categories of membership, each of which had to be approved by him.
First-time visitors had to gain Flory's trust before they could access the website, police said. They did this by sleeping with one of the
girls, who allegedly reported back to Flory with details of payment and the sexual acts performed. At this point members were classed as verified , and could access more of the site. Only once they became frequent users were they upgraded to trusted
members, allowing them to view the whole site - including tips on how to avoid police.
Lieutenant William Roseman said Once you became a trusted member you had access to reviews of the girls... where they would actually write reviews of the
girls they've slept with, what acts they would commit, how much their charged.
He told the Record: They had descriptions of my officers, phone numbers they used, videos of an attorney telling them that if you get busted by the police,
here's what you should do. This was a website designed, managed and run fully for prostitution.
He said police tracked Flory down after one of the prostitutes tipped them off. Undercover detectives then posed as website users for months,
eventually becoming trusted members so they could see the whole site and eventually find Flory.
Utah bans 'lewd gestures'
In an attack on prostitution a new Utah law has made it illegal for people to touch themselves in a supposedly 'lewd' way.
Two escort services have now filed a lawsuit to try to stop the solicitation law, claiming strippers or escorts could be
arrested just for acting sexy.
The new law, which was introduced in the state earlier this month, has broadened the definition to include any person who indicates through acts such as exposing or touching themselves that they intend to exchange
sex for money.
Lawyer Andrew McCullough, who is representing the escort services said the law is so broad it could lead to police officers arresting pole dancers or strippers who are just doing their job. He said that the law is virtually
identical to one struck down by a federal judge as being unconstitutional in 1988.
The expanded law includes language that states that a person exposing their genitals or touching themselves sexually is an indication that they are offering
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank claimed that under the new law officers would not target anyone who is not a prostitute.
'Dating' app approved for iPhone
See article from
A 'dating' app, with the strap line: Where romance meets finance , has achieved Apple's approval for inclusion in its AppStore.
According to the dating site SugarSugar.com, its Dating App will be available for download on
June 1st through SugarSugar.com and iTunes. It will, the site says be compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry devices:
The app will use GPS technology to instantly identify those
seeking 'mutually beneficial' arrangements within the user's vicinity. After 'checking in, the application will map out the profiles of nearby members. Users will be able to trade stats, show photos or send messages to arrange an effortless rendezvous.
The website explains its fun loving ethic:
SugarSugar.com is for generous men looking to spoil, and dynamic women looking for financial support with bills, or who just need some
excitement in life! Started by a real sugar baby, SugarSugar.com only accepts true, proven sugar daddies and sugar babies, and provides a staff of sugar dating experts to help you find the perfect mutually beneficial arrangement.
Sugar Daddy relationships are as old as mankind itself. Men have a natural instinct to surround themselves with beauty, and women have always sought out the security of a mature, financially stable man. While these aren't the only
qualifications for a good dating experience, they are a good place to start!
Women's Funding Network sex trafficking study is junk science
3rd April 2011. See
article from villagevoice.com
Under intense scrutiny from the government and crusading advocacy groups, as well as state attorneys general, owner Craig Newmark memorably applied the label Censored in his classifieds where adult advertising once appeared.
During the same September hearing of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary, members of Congress listened to vivid and chilling accounts regarding underage prostitution.
congressmen heard testimony from half a dozen nonprofit executives and law enforcement officials. But the most alarming words of the day came from Deborah Richardson, the chief program officer of the Women's Funding Network. She told legislators that
juvenile prostitution is exploding at an astronomical rate.
An independent tracking study released today by the Women's Funding Network shows that over the past six months, the number of underage girls trafficked
online has risen exponentially in three diverse states, Richardson claimed. Michigan: a 39.2 percent increase; New York: a 20.7 percent increase; and Minnesota: a staggering 64.7 percent increase.
wake of this bombshell revelation, Richardson's disturbing figures found their way into some of the biggest newspapers in the country. USA Today, the Houston Chronicle, the Miami Herald, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and the Detroit Free Press all
repeated the dire statistics as gospel.
The successful assault on Craigslist was followed by a cross-country tour by Richardson and the Women's Funding Network.
None of the media
that published Richardson's astonishing numbers bothered to examine the study at the heart of her claim. If they had, they would have found what we did after asking independent experts to examine the research: It's junk science.
Update: Junk Methodology
7th April 2011. See
The widely reported statistics on underage prostitution that helped shutter Craigslist's adult classifieds section last year certainly sounded ominous, but a
Village Voice report on the study that produced the statistics found it to be a rather blatant example of trashy, agenda-driven research.
The study's hard numbers -- which showed a 20 percent increase in underage prostitution in New York, a
40 percent rise in Michigan and a stunning 65 percent jump in Minnesota -- were dutifully reported by news media around the country. But last week, the Village Voice -- and its network of alternative weeklies -- featured a front-page article by Nick
Pinto calling out the junk science that went into the study. It's now clear they used fake data to deceive the media and lie to Congress, wrote Pinto. And it was all done to score free publicity and a wealth of public funding.
According to Pinto, the researchers' methodology went something like this: they took a bunch of photos of youthful looking women whose ages were known. They showed them to a group of people and asked them whether the women in the photos looked to
be age 18 or older. From the photos, people correctly identified the under-aged girls 38 percent of the time, so the study concluded that for every 100 'young' looking girls selling sex, 38 are under 18 years of age.
Then they counted all
the photos advertising sex with young looking girls on sites like Craigslist, and voila! -- a trend was born.
10,000 mythical sex workers trafficked to the Super Bowl
See article from
Sex traffickers and their victims are to be targeted by airline crew in a campaign to stop the vice trade hijacking this weekend's Super Bowl final in Dallas.
With more than 200,000 visitors expected to arrive for Sunday night's American Football
championship game in neighbouring Arlington, Texan officials fear that 'thousands' of sex workers, many of them under-age girls, will be working the streets.
The Airlines Ambassadors International charity organised a training day for
dozens of flight attendants, pilots, boarding staff and other airline workers in conjunction with a Dallas anti-trafficking group. Among the red flags airline workers have been taught to spot include children appearing distant from travelling
companions purporting to be their parents, boarding aircraft carrying few personal items, appearing paranoid, undernourished or ill-treated or unwilling to make eye contact.
The figure of 'thousands' seems to have derived from a jokey adult bar
owner. John Walsh, who owns an adult bar inear Dallas, announced last week that the area needed an additional 10,000 strippers to meet demand.
The figure was denounced by a rival as bull . But the authorities are always keen on a bit
PC inflated trafficking propaganda. The FBI and other law enforcement authorities in Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington and surrounding cities claim to 'believe' that the threat from the sex trade warranted the creation of a task force to counter
prostitution, especially involving children.
No doubt all Texas will actually see, is bumper trade at the well regulated local strip bars featuring nothing but consenting adults.