Tag Archives: human trafficking

Rhode Island supports Terrorism!

(I quit smoking cigarettes and drinking diet coke, so forgive me if I was a little slow to make this connection and report how Rhode Island supports terrorism.  It is taking me a while to get back into reality with out nicotine and caffeine)

Don’t be so shocked!  Yes, It is a difficult thing to understand.  Rhode Island supports terrorism!  Just recently RI legalized compassion centers for medical marijuana.  I guess the State Legislature didn’t get the memo that drugs fund terrorism.  Yes, in Rhode Island we have financially supported terrorism.

So does that sound a little outrageous to you?  If it does keep reading, if it doesn’t keep drinking the kool aid that the fear mongers love to poor down your throat in buckets.

Everyday for the past week, Rhode Islanders have been inundated with reports about the loophole for both prostitution and underage stripping.  While I do not agree with underage girls dancing in strip clubs, the entire media craze is a hype to push the agenda to change the prostitution law.  How does this relate to the pot funding terrorism link?  Well, the people trying to push the prostitution law are trying to link prostitution with human trafficking and underage stripping.   They call RI’s lack of indoor prostitution law “a human rights disaster” and say things like RI supports slavery?!?

So if you are the type of person that bought into the whole hype that said if you bought a bag of weed you killed an Arab’s grandmother, you are probably the same type of person that would believe that arresting women is the best way to help them.  I hope we don’t have that many  niave people in Rhode Island.  After reading reactions to articles in the Providence Journal, I tend to think that Rhode Islanders are smarter than that.  More importantly I hope the people in the general assembly are as smart as I think they are.


Is this the ol’ bait n switch?

Today’s Providence Journal has an article on the front page about “Minors in RI can be strippers”  The article tells of how the age of concent in RI is 16, and that all a 16 year old needs is working papers and she or he can be a stripper.  But is this much to do about nothing?

I don’t think it is right for a 16 year old to strip, and I would support a law that would ban the activity, but I can’t help but wonder about this article.  First, the police have visited all of the  strip clubs in the city and found no juveniles performing.  So why this article?  Could it be some people got their panties in a bunch because the prostitution law was not passed, so they are looking for another way to pass it?

I was babysitting all day today, so I didn’t get to listen to talk radio too much, but from what I did hear, all conversations were linking back to prostitution.  From my few minutes of listening, people are going to try to use their outrage about this non-existent law for an non-existent problem to push the anti-prostitution bill farther.  If the state can’t save the women from human trafficking, they will have to save the children from the strip clubs.  It is all propaganda, and it is all sad.

The saddest part of this is that there was one girl who was 16 who was both a vicitm of human trafficking and working in a strip club.  She had used a fake id to get the job, and when the police found her beaten and incoherent outside the club they brought her to jail.  If the General Assembly didn’t waist so much time on a prostitution law, they could have passed the human trafficking law.

Is the message setting in?

Today there is letter to the editor in the Providence Journal that calls for RI to “Regulate, License, and Tax” prostitution. I have reprinted it below, but check the link to read the comments. ( I always think the comments to these letters and articles really give you the pulse of the political will of RI)

I’ve been following the controversy over Rhode Island’s indoor prostitution laws for a while now. Although I’ve seen many impassioned statements suggesting that the women involved are virtual slaves to pimps, I haven’t seen any reports of anyone being arrested for slavery or holding any of these women in servitude. I believe there are laws against slavery in these United States.

Any argument that the police are powerless to investigate and prosecute these perpetrators is nothing more than a vote of no confidence in our police forces. Police departments routinely investigate, infiltrate, make arrests and prosecute a wide variety of criminal organizations. Why haven’t we seen any arrests in these dens of iniquity?

It may be that the women working there are just trying to make a living, albeit in a profession derided by a large segment of society and known as “the world’s oldest profession.” I’m amazed that any society would believe it could eliminate any activity of such antiquity.

The laws of supply and demand would dictate the failure of most of these establishments if the demand for these services did not exist. However their proliferation indicates a good portion of our citizenry prefers their “product.”

Rhode Island enjoys streets devoid of gaudily dressed women, flagging down carloads of “johns,” creating traffic jams.

It might better serve our community to regulate, license and tax this activity.

ED FATZINGER

Here is another letter to the editor from June 24th from Donna Hughes titled “RI’s Carnival of Prostitution”.  I commented on the letter here on my blog calling Donna Hughes the sad clown at the center of the Circus, but here it is with my corrections to her letter in Red.


AFTER MY EXPERIENCE at the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, I believe Rhode Island is headed for a human rights disaster and nationwide political embarrassment. It is becoming apparent that the Senate is not going to pass a much-needed prostitution bill . Rhode Island will continue to have an expanding number of spa-brothels, prostitution of minors in clubs, and no law that will enable the police to stop it. Well, there was a bill  proposed that would have “closed the loophole” but the police, Governor and Attorney General didn’t think that it was tough enough because the women only got a $100 ticket.  I assume that using the law that would give the women a ticket would have given them the tools to stop this “human rights disaster” but it wasn’t worth it to them if the women they were trying to save didn’t get to go to prison too.

The hearing (on Senate bill 0596, to close the loophole allowing indoor prostitution) was a sordid circus, with pimps and prostitutes coming forward to oppose the legislation. Funny you use the word circus.  Circus is usually full of acts and  illusions.  For all the years I have followed this legislation all I saw was actors and illusions at all the hearings until the people who are actually going to be directly impacted by the law showed up to testify.  For years we there were people testifying about how the women were slaves, yet they never talked to ONE women in ONE spa in RI.  When we finally get to see the people are at the center of the debate you call it a circus?  I think all hearings before this one was a circus. When we actually get to hear the truth, you want to dismiss it.

Midway through the hearing, filmmaker Tara Hurley That Is Me! ushered in women and men she collected from the spa-brothels.  Men? I didn’t usher in any men.  I didn’t drive, transport, or go with any men at all, never mind men I collected from the spa-brothels. Why would I bring men with me?  When I testified I told the senate that if they were hell-bent on creating a new prostitution law why not do a prostitution law like in Sweeden where selling sex is legal but purchasing sex is illegal.  Why would I bring men to a hearing where I asked the senate to make them criminals? They settled in the back of the room. Somewhat later, the women made a dash out of the room and hid in the hallway. Hurley had to coax them back in to testify with an explanation to the committee that they are afraid of cameras.

One 53-year-old Korean woman who needed a translator to speak said she worked as a “receptionist.” She said she had never seen any women coerced into prostitution. But at the end of her testimony she revealed that she had previously been arrested for being a pimp.  Even if this is true an arrest is not a conviction, we see how police go into these places and arrest everyone on site.  The woman is a receptionist, get over it.  I think Donna Hughes just likes to throw around the word Pimp.

Then a man reeking of cigarette smoke and other odors came forward. When you can’t attack the argument attack the person. He was identified to me by Hurley as a pimp. LIAR LIAR LIAR, When did I identify anyone as a pimp? He claimed credit for the growth of the spa-brothels in Rhode Island for his now-deceased wife. Another Korean woman came forward and said she did “it” for depressed, shy guys who needed stress relief. She implicated construction workers, judges and lawyers. She proudly exclaimed that she does “it” to make money. Donna Hughes has no problem saying Pimp every other word, but can’t say sex.  I think this could be really interesting if  that was psycho analysed.

Then a tattooed woman, calling herself a “sexologist and sex educator,” spoke against the bill. She is also a reporter for a prostitutes’ magazine called $pread. (I couldn’t make this stuff up!) No, Hughes didn’t have to make up the fact there is a sex worker’s magazine.  Yes, sex workers can read.  But she makes up so much other stuff in her letter, it is great she points out the fact as the only thing she didn’t make up.

All of their testimonies were accepted by the committee without critical questions. I guess this sentence all relies on the word “critical”, because all the people I saw testify were questioned. Their outrageous appearance and statements muted the serious, precise testimonies of representatives of the Rhode Island state police, the attorney general’s office, the Providence police, and Richard Israel, a former attorney general and Rhode Island Superior Court judge Also all the people who part of their career is involved in putting people in prison, why wouldn’t they want more laws to do so?

Two senators, Charles Levesque and Rhoda Perry, who are known opponents of the prostitution bill, dominated the hearing Because they were basically the only ones left there, most of the senators left. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Michael McCaffery left and turned the hearing over to Senator Levesque, who seemed pleased and entertained by the cadre from the sex industry.

On at least two occasions, Senator Levesque has expressed his opposition to a prostitution bill to me in e-mails. During my testimony, he badgered me to make a statement I knew wasn’t true, until Sen. Leo Blais had to get out of his seat to calm his colleague down.  I think it is safe to say that Hughes will attack anyone that is not in lock step with her views.

Also during my testimony, Senator Perry challenged my report by reading to me from the work of Ron Weitzer, an academic advocate of decriminalized prostitution when it’s indoors. In a June 18 letter published in The Journal (“Some lurid prostitution myths debunked”), he called Rhode Island’s laws — and lack of laws — “a model for other states.”  Hughes was asked a question that compared both her and Weitzer’s point of view.  But I think more people should challenge her report.  She handed in a list of places that she believes are brothels and have human trafficking and she took her information from the internet. When she handed in the list she said you might have missed some because she didn’t get all the nail salons.  I guess the internet doesn’t have updated lists on nail salons.  I think Hughes might just have something against Asians.

I have testified at hearings in the State House on a number of occasions. And said the same thing over and over, propaganda to try to link prostitution with human trafficking. Never have I witnessed such a carnival. In April, I testified for the House prostitution bill (Rep. Joanne Giannini’s H-5044A) and the atmosphere was serious and respectful, even though there was opposition to the bill.

In contrast to the passive encouragement for prostitution in Rhode Island in the Senate Judiciary Committee, earlier on Thursday Governor Carcieri held a press conference calling for passage of the House bill. He was supported by state police Supt. Col. Brendan Doherty and the attorney general’s office. Freshman Rep. Robert DaSilva, a Pawtucket police officer, spoke compellingly about the problem of prostitution. He said there is more juvenile prostitution than he has ever seen before. Representative Giannini said that we do not want Rhode Island to be a safe haven for the sex industry, but then when the Senate bill passed and looked like it was going to become a law, all of them came out against the bill.  So I guess they are not “passive” in their encouragement, they are full on encouraging.  If it is not going to be a bill that throws women in prison, then they really don’t care about saving the children.

The end of the General Assembly session is near. From my observation, I believe the Senate is going to let another year go by without a prostitution law. This will be a tragedy for victims caught in the sex industry, a black eye for Rhode Island’s reputation, and a victory for the pimps. Here we go with pimps again.  Everyone hates pimps, and we already have laws against pimping in RI, so how is not putting women in prison a victory for the pimp?

Donna M. Hughes is a professor of women’s studies at the University of Rhode Island.

It is not over yet

Prison But the time is winding down.  As I have gone over, there are two bills to be voted on.  The Senate has their version by Jabour, and the House has their version by Gianinni.  They are very different bills.

The Senate bill does not call for prison time for the woman.  The House bill calls for 6 months for the first offense.

That is the big difference of the bill.  I am not for either bill.  I do think that it is better to not have prison time, so I will have to admit that the Senate bill is the lesser of two evils.

Today is supposed to be the last day of the legislation session, so really if a law on prostitution would pass, it would more likely than not pass today.  When a bill to become law, it has to be passed in both the house and the senate with the exact same language and then be signed by the Governor.  Today, the Attorney General and the State Police both came out against Senator Jabour’s bill.  (See the Projo Article) Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Rhode Island State Police cannot support civil sanctions for such reprehensible acts,” State Police Superintendent Col. Brendan P. Doherty wrote in a letter Friday to Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, where the bill awaits a hearing. “By reducing the seriousness of the enforcement of these acts,” Col. Doherty continued, “we will actually be placing the women this bill intends to protect in a dangerous environment where they will be further targeted for exploitation.”….

…In addition, Healy said, allowing for a penalty for a first offense is treating prostitutes as though they were getting a “speeding ticket.”

The house now has a reason to not vote on the Senate bill, and the Senate has their reason not to vote on the House bill.  I have been watching the House session for the last 6 hours, and the House is fighting within itself.  You should have seen the fight on the floor over a bill to allow for a New York Yankee’s charity license plate.  If the house is fighting each other over such small things like license plates, I don’t think they have the time to hash out the differences they have with the Senate over something as important sending women to prison.  The clock is ticking away, we will see what happens.

The Clown at the Center of the Circus

A Very Sad ClownDonna Hughes wrote a op-ed in today’s Providence Journal calling the hearings on the prostitution bill a Circus.  Why are these hearings a circus?  Because for the first time we heard the voices of the women that Donna Hughes was trying to “help”, (by throwing them in prison).

Now I know that Donna Hughes has never spoken to any of the women that she is trying to “help”, so it must have been a shock for her to actually see one.  To actually hear them ask not to be sent to prison.  To hear one tell of how she is a single mother supporting her two children and a sister.  Yes, Donna, if you want to help this woman, why don’t you listen to her.  She said that she can’t collect child support.  Maybe find a solution to that problem and then “Jul” might not be selling her body to support her family.

I watched Donna Hughes give her testimony.  She was up on the stand giving her credentials for over ten minutes.  The length of time it took for her to go over her credentials was more than any time she has spent actually talking to any women in any spa in Rhode Island.  But what can you expect from a woman who basically said that George Bush was the first Feminist President.    I wondered if this woman had any common sense at all.

Well, that question was answered today when an article came out today the Providence Journal on the Human Trafficking bill

One of the House bill’s vocal supporters, University of Rhode Island Prof. Donna Hughes, e-mailed a letter to senators last Monday urging them to reject the Senate bill. .

So, what Donna Hughes is saying is vote no on the human trafficking and yes on the prostitution bill?  What exactly does this woman want?  Lets arrest the women and not  the traffickers?  She may call the proceedings a circus, but she is the sad clown at its center.

The National Media

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line

When the national media hits, I hope it is more than a 20 second reference on the News.  I hope it isn’t just some broadcaster saying, in “National news, Rhode Island made prostitution illegal today.  They were the only state in the union that had decriminalized prostitution behind closed doors for the last 29 years.”  I hope they do at least a few minutes on the story.

First, lets look at the reason that prostitution became legal in RI.  In the projo article, you can read the history.  The article goes into how this “loophole” was created to clean up the streets.  The best thing about this article is the comments, majority of the people don’t want the law to change.  The results of the poll are the same, over 63% of the respondents say they do not want the law to change.  So why was it changed?

To help the victims of human trafficking you say?  The prostitution bill is not going to help any victim of trafficking, it will only hurt them.  Women who work with trafficking victims have asked that we do not pass the bill.  Women from the spas who, lets face it, are the whole reason they have been trying to change the law have also spoken out.  The National Organization of Women and Human Trafficking Experts have also spoken out against this new law.

Well, there is a bill to be voted on for human trafficking.  I supported that bill.  What I really liked in that bill was the training for the police.  I think the police need training, especially since just over 2 weeks ago Police found a 16 year old girl beaten and confused outside a strip club who had been kidnapped from Boston and sent her to the training school.  (For those of you not from RI, that is our prison for kids)  You can read that story on the projo.

Now the legislation has two separate bills before them, and a hell of a budget.  It all comes down to money, we all know that.  After throwing a 16 year old victim of trafficking into prison, I guess money training the police not to do that is too much to ask.

State Police Superintendent Col. Brendan P. Doherty said Tuesday before the Senate hearing that he was concerned that the training could be time-consuming and expensive. But the new version of the bill states that it’s up to law enforcement to determine the necessary training.

OK, you don’t want to spend your time or our money to help the victims?  But lets now change the prostitution law?!?  We have money for the additional impact on our prison, money for the impact on our legal system, and money for the “massages” undercover officers can get?  We have money to criminalize commercial sex but not to protect or help victims?  We don’t even have money for schools!!!

I heard someone at the state house said we are the laughing stock of the country.  I think it is true, but not for the same reason as he thinks.

Hoping to stall…

Today the Governor held a press conference on the bills before the Senate to basically put women in prison.  The press conference was at 1:30.  At the same time I was going from spa to spa to ask women who were working in them if they wanted to come and defend themselves to the accusations that were being thrown around in the media.

I went to four spas total, spoke to a bunch of women.  But it is difficult to get women to come forward and say they participate in this work.  It is especially difficult to talk to them when I don’t speak their native language.  But I was able to get five of the actual workers to come to the state house, and one former worker to testify too.

When we got there, a translator was provided by The Family Life Center.  Thank God for that.

Donna Hughes had some propaganda poster of women in 8 stages of their life in prostitution.  I think it sort of worked against her argument, because the women who came to testify did not look like any of the women in the poster.  The reason is because they do not use drugs.  Also because they have not been in prison.  Prison and putting these women in the legal system does not effect these women positively, if any thing it effects them negatively.  If the woman who is doing this work wants to get out and get different job, she will be less likely to be able to if she has a criminal record.

More people testified against the bill than for, The ACLU, NOW, DARE, Family Life Center, “Chris” from my film (who gave his real name and address on the stand) and some local residents all testified against the bill.

One man who shared a building with a spa, Donna Hughes, and 2 Christian women, testified for the bill.

When we got there to testify, the Providence Journal was there and wanted to take pictures of the women from the spa who were there to testify.  I asked them not to take pictures.  I understand she was there to do a job, but I asked to have some compassion for these women.  These women were really putting themselves out on a limb to testify, and exposing their names is one thing but putting their picture out in public is another.  I don’t think that their picture was taken but we will see what happens in the paper tomorrow.  Just the thought of having their picture taken scared away 2 of the women and they didn’t testify at all.

When one of the women did testify did a great job, she testified in English and when she was done many of the people in the audience applauded.

For those who are hoping that the bill doesn’t pass, the only thing to hope for now is that it doesn’t come out of committee.

Human Trafficking Bill goes to full vote!

Last week I went to testify at the hearing for the Human Trafficking bill.  See the Article in the Providence Journal.

There are two bills, one from Senator Perry that calls for police training and a 16 member oversight committee consisting of people from Day One, D.A.R.E., RI Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Polaris Project, ALCU, The Commission on Women, and possibly a human trafficking victim.

The other bill from Representative Gianinni does not call for any training or any oversight.

I testified in favor for the bill.  I hope that Senator Perry’s bill is the one that gets the support with the full house and senate vote. I think that the most important thing in the Trafficking bill is the training.  How do we expect the police to identify the victims if they have not been properly trained?  We need to set standards for how we will deal with the victims.  We need to deal with the victims as victims and not criminals.  The day before the hearing on the bill the Providence Journal released a story on a missing Boston teen found in South Providence.

In this article you can see that the teen is a victim of human trafficking, and she was not identified as such.  After being found beaten and incoherent, she was brought to the hospital by the police.  This 16 year old was then sent to the training school.  How is this helping a victim when we send this young, traumatized girl to the youth’s prison?  I hope training and oversight will help in these situations.  We need to help the victims, and not further victimize them by putting them in prison.

Human Trafficking Bill to be heard today

Today the Human Trafficking bill will have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  I will be going to show my support for the bill.

I am against Human Trafficking, and I think laws are needed to combat this horrible crime.  I hope the bill makes it through the hearing and gets on to the floor for quick passage.  I do wish they would add training for the local police into the bill.  I think that police should be trained on how to help the victims, and if they are going to go after the assets of the traffickers, it would seem to me that training is what those assets should be used for.

What is next?

I have done all I could do.  I got a bunch of publicity.  Providence Monthly wrote about the film two times in the June issue.  RI Monthly had “Happy Endings?” as one of the top events of the weekend.  If there is one thing I will say when I look back is that I could not have tried harder.

I don’t know the official numbers of people who came to the weekend showing of “Happy Endings?”.  I would guestimate that there was around 75 to 150 at each show.  We had problems with the audio in the Theatre.  It’s not easy!!! The speakers in the theatre were only working in the front, but we worked with what we had.

I had hoped that more people would show up, but the audience that was there was great.  I got to respond to questions and get audience feedback, and that is the best part of making films.  When you get to speak with the audience and see that they connect to a person in the film, or that they have had their eyes and mind opened to something, that is really the pay off.

I didn’t actually make any money, I didn’t even break even on the theatre rental, but money isn’t everything.  I hope the people who saw the film go out a talk about it.  I know the word of mouth publicity that the film will get from the showing is worth more than money.

Now we will just have to see what will happen with the law.  There is just about 3 weeks left until the deadline, and there is no date on the Senate calendar for a hearing on the bill.  What is unfortunate is that the Human Trafficking bills that are before both the Senate and House are getting completely ignored.  I am sure there isn’t much debate about passing a human trafficking law,( come on who isn’t for punishing Human Traffickers!!!), but the legislation is letting it just fall by the way side as they argue over the Prostitution bill.