The UK Home Affairs Parliamentary Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into prostitution. Preparing a written submission to that inquiry led me to look at the existing legislation against punters, pimps, and trafficking. The more I looked into it, the more it seemed to me that the legislation is deeply flawed, ineffective, and does not meet our binding obligations under international treaties. In this article I reflect on the legislation and how it suggests that there never was an intention to make it an effective tool for tackling these appalling crimes. As women who see prostitution as both a cause and consequence of women’s subordination, we need to work much harder.
Note: The legislation varies between the different countries in the UK. This article focuses on the English legislation.
Continue reading “UK Puntering, Pimping & Trafficking Laws”
In this essay I argue that male pattern violence, and the patriarchal system it serves to uphold, cause severe pain and suffering to vast numbers of women and children and that this takes place within plain view of the state. And I argue that therefore male pattern violence is a form of state sanctioned torture of women and children. I also critique the analysis of the Persons Against Non-State Torture organisation.
I refer to male violence against women and children as male pattern violence in an attempt to depersonalise it and sidestep all the circular objections that inevitably arise when women attempt to name male violence, such as Not All Men Are Like That and Some Women Are Violent Too.
Continue reading “On Torture and Male Pattern Violence”
It has recently been announced that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has issued new guidelines that transgender athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympics and other international sporting events in their reassigned “gender” without undergoing sex reassignment surgery.
The main physical restriction the new guidelines place on males who transgender will be that their testosterone level must be below a certain level for one year prior to the event they are competing in.
This means that transwomen who retain their male sex organs (testes and penis) but who have some hormone treatment to reduce their testosterone level for a year will be able to compete with women (by which I mean biological females who were raised as girls).
Continue reading “Sex-Segregated Sports & the New IOC Guidelines”
This article is about connections between child abuse and prostitution – about how the sex industry eats (mostly) women and children who have been damaged by child abuse and how prostitution conditions men to abuse children. I draw on personal stories that you may find upsetting. You should find them upsetting. This stuff affects real people. It is happening all around us. Today. This minute. As Rebecca Mott said in her moving speech at Feminism in London 2015, shutting your eyes doesn’t make the bad stuff disappear.
This is how Willow* told me her story.
“When I was nine, I was sexually abused by an adolescent neighbour. Let’s call him Jake. It wasn’t the first time I’d been abused. Three adults had been there before him. But what was different with Jake was that it went on for nearly two years and sometimes I initiated it. Looking back, I can see that I went to him because I was so deprived of love and healthy attention that that shameful contact seemed better than no contact, better than never being touched, never being treated with affection. From the outside, it would have looked like consent. But what does that mean? I wanted love and affection. I wanted to be held by safe arms. I had no wish for genital contact. It was several years before I even began puberty.
Continue reading “The Child Abuse – Prostitution Continuum”
Tomorrow, 23 October 2015, women from all around the world will be protesting Amnesty’s proposal for full decriminalization of the sex trade, including pimps and punters. I have written elsewhere about the shambles of how Amnesty went about developing this proposal, consulting on it and its so-called research.
I have written 120 Questions that Amnesty needs to answer before going any further with this proposal. I am still waiting for Amnesty to answer.
Women will be protesting outside Amnesty offices in the countries in purple on this map (and maybe others that we haven’t managed to get in touch with yet).
For details of the protest in London, UK, see the Amnesty Action website.
For details of the protest in Washington DC, see the End Sexual Exploitation website.
Regardless whether you can join a physical protest, please share your outrage on social media. We are using the image of the snuffed out candle shown above for the protest, to represent how the proposal is a betrayal of Amnesty’s mission to protect the human rights of the most exploited and vulnerable. Continue reading “Join the Global Amnesty Protest!”
Download PDF of this article.
On 24 August 2015, I published What Amnesty Did Wrong in which I laid out many errors that Amnesty made in developing its proposal for the full decriminalisation of all aspects of “consensual sex work”. This proposal had been passed as a resolution at a meeting of the International Council in Dublin two weeks earlier (referred to as “the resolution” in this article).
In September, members of an internal Amnesty USA discussion forum requested that Amnesty USA respond to all of the points that I raised in that article. On 22 September 2015, Terry Rockefeller replied to the forum on “behalf of the Board and the Priorities Subcommittee” declining to respond to the article because it was “filled with errors and rumors”. She failed to explain who made the errors or what she consider to be rumours. I believe Amnesty needs to clarify this. In order to make it easier for Amnesty to answer the points I raised, I have reframed them as simple questions and include additional questions that arise from Terry Rockefeller’s reply. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.
Continue reading “120 Questions for Amnesty”
At a meeting in Dublin on 11 August 2015, Amnesty International’s International Council adopted a resolution to authorise their International Board to develop and adopt a policy on “sex work”. Here is a quote from their press release:
“Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse.
The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work. The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking and violence.
“We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards. We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world,” said Salil Shetty.” [emphasis mine]
The resolution calls not only for the decriminalisation all those involved in prostitution (which all feminist groups call for) but also for the decriminalisation of pimps, punters and brothel owners who are the main perpetrators of the violence and abuse against those in prostitution. This proposal is essentially for the legalisation of prostitution and the entire sex trade. (You can quibble about semantics but when something is not criminal it becomes legal.)
How Amnesty International went about developing this proposal and consulting on it was problematical. In this article I summarise some of the issues. Many others have written eloquently on why the policy itself is misguided (for example, Chris Hedges, Michelle Kelly and Catriona Grant). In this article I focus on the duplicitous nature of Amnesty’s actions. Please use the comments to add additional relevant information.
Continue reading “What Amnesty Did Wrong”
Why do women fear rape?
Sex is great, right?
Rape is sex and sex is great. So why do women almost universally fear rape and go to lengths to avoid it?
Is it because they are prudes?
Is it because they just need a good fuck to loosen up?
Is it? Is it?
Rape is sex against a woman’s will. And there is no easier way of showing her that she is powerless. That she is dirt. That she is a member of female – the subordinate sex caste – and she should remember it. And the rapist is a man – a member of the dominant sex caste. And she shouldn’t ever forget that either.
To force sex on someone is an assault on that person’s very humanity. Because our sexuality is intrinsic to who we are as human beings. Our sexual integrity is fundamental to our sense of self.
So when our sexual integrity is violated, our whole sense of self is violated. And recovery from that is easier said than done.
That is why women fear rape. And also of course because rapists sometimes kill.
Continue reading “Prostitution – Time for a New Paradigm”
“In my thirty years as a journalist I’ve come face to face with scandals, corruption, greed and crime of all kinds. I’ve seen tragedy of monumental proportions – the desperation of famine, the ravages of war. I’ve witnessed the loss of life and hope in the Middle East and Africa – in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Iran. Yet never before have I been as struck by the senseless disregard for human dignity as I have been these last two years while researching this book [on the new global sex trade].” (Malarek 2004)
This article looks at sex trafficking. For simplicity and clarity, it mostly refers to women, although children, men and transgendered people are also trafficked. The consequences for children are invariably even more devastating. Continue reading “Sex Trafficking”
“People who have had luckier lives, as well as those who profit from the sex industry in some way, frequently refer to prostitution and pornography as ‘victimless crimes’. They point to a tiny fraction of sex workers who actually might be involved by choice. They selectively read history to find some tiny minority, somewhere, at some time, who gained something in the sex business. The very selectiveness of their attention indicates that, on some level, they know that for almost everyone, involvement in the sex industry is a terrible misfortune. As many an old cop will say, ‘Anyone who thinks prostitution is a victimless crime hasn’t seen it up close’.” (Parker, 2004)
It is sometimes claimed that prostitution is simply a service that is not that different from, for example, care work or waitressing, and as such it should be considered work like any other work. In this article I show that this is not true and that in fact prostitution is fundamentally different from all other work. Continue reading “Prostitution is Unlike Other Work”