Tag Archives: legal prostitution

Fiscal Responsibility?

Toilet Paper MoneyI guess I was misled.  I thought RI only had one “problem”.  The problem we in RI have been told is that we have a loophole in the prostitution law.  We have been told we need to shut down the spas, but I guess the politicians (Actually the Governor) forgot to mention that they didn’t have enough money to even keep the government open, never mind pay for the additional toll this law will have on our system.

Yesterday the Governor held a press conference to let the people of RI know that the government will be shutting down for 12 days and local cities and towns will not receive millions in promised aid, so a $70 million hole in the budget can be plugged.

I wonder if this will put the “CLOSE THE PROSTITUTION LOOPHOLE” on the back burner?  Seeing that the government doesn’t even have the money to pay it’s workers, why should it create a new class of criminals that they will be forced house, feed, and “rehabilitate”.

The Family Life Center recently released a report on the the current cost of prostitution in Rhode Island.

From the report:

Rethinking Arrest: Street Prostitution and Public Policy in Rhode Island. According to the report, street prostitution is still prevalent in Providence, Central Falls, Woonsocket, and Pawtucket, involving over 350 women in the last three years. The report analyzes public policy and concludes that the state could save at least half a million dollars by not arresting and imprisoning women for street prostitution, which resulted in at least 215 incarcerations in 2008…. Of the 215 women incarcerated, 102 were sentenced to prison for an average of 102 days. These women had on average been convicted of prostitution 6 times before and as many as 23 times. The report concludes that Rhode Island should focus on a prostitution policy that includes an expansion of the RENEW outreach model to other cities and a reduction in the use of incarceration.

The state is spending $500,000 a year on sending women to prison for outdoor prostitution, I would assume that this would minimally double when they criminalize indoor prostitution.  Is this worth it?  Should we have the state workers take another day off so we can send these women to prison?  Maybe we should cut a few more programs…


Opinions are like…

Belly ButtonI have an opinion too.  Actually I have 2 opinions. (Well I have a ton of opinions, but 2 as it relates to the situation on the prostitution law in Rhode Island)  While I am against laws that would criminalize sex between consenting adults, I fear that the over abundance of  media is forcing the General Assembly to create a law.  Since a law may be passed, I am  hoping for one that will not imprison the women who I have come to know in the process of making “Happy Endings?”  I guess you can say my second opinion is a compromise, a “plan b” as it were.

My “plan b” was printed in the Boston Globe today.  This “plan b” is known as the Sweden law.  I know that people who are in the sex industry will be upset with me for advocating for this law, but because it looks like a law is going to pass I am going to advocate for the lesser of two evils.

I’ve been had!

But so has a bunch of other people on both sides!  A spoof site called Christwire.org did a story on Rhode Island named “Foreign Sex Radicals Invade Nastiest State in the US to keep Strippers and Hookers Legal”.   The story is a spoof, but at first I couldn’t tell.  It seemed like it was just another guy writing doing little to no research, similar to Donna Hughes, and expanding on the hatred of prostitutes.

Of course none of what was written was true, but since that has never stopped Hughes I figured I wouldn’t stop anyone else, but I didn’t know that the whole site was a parody site.  I even commented a few times before I realised what I was doing.

If one lesson can be learned from this event, it is that THE INTERNET CAN NOT BE TRUSTED.  (Donna, I hope you are reading this, and I know you are.  When you base you all of your research on the chat boards of men who go to spas, what percentage of the truth do you think you are getting? These chat boards are the 21st century version of men’s bathroom walls, how can you actually present research on that and consider it valid?)

I guess the old adage is correct “Don’t argue with fools, because people from a distance can’t tell who is who.”

It is a 3 legged CAT!

Some of you who have read this blog for a while know I actually know the women in the spas.  I have actually been in a few of the spas, met the so-called “slaves”.  I remember it was almost a year ago when my cat Kolangi died and I brought his left over food to one of the spas because I knew they had a stray cat they liked to feed.

It is weird that story popped into my head when I learned today that CAT got a third member.  CAT, or Citizens Against Trafficking, is now a 3 person group that has never met any women in the spas, yet loves to talk to the press about them.  This 3 legged CAT has sent a letter to all the Senators today, responding to the 50 professors that wrote a letter against new prostitution legislation.

The letter attacks the professors who have signed, and since I know the source to be Hughes, I know not to believe 99.99% of it.   Back in May when I was on the radio a few times, Hughes and Shapiro wrote a 7 page paper on me.  Unfortunately I never got a copy of that paper, but when Dan Yorke saw it he said he would not  let Hughes or Shapiro say anything on it because it was an un sourced character assassination.  This is Hughes obvious m.o.  Attack and make up ridicules propaganda, stay away from the facts in the debate.  Hughes can not debate on facts because she doesn’t have any.

So lets look at pieces of the letter, I will disect some parts, but not link to the entire pile of shit the letter.

“Part 1 focuses on initial discoveries made by Citizens Against Trafficking researchers about some of the authors and signers of the letter. We found shocking information about what they stand for and the goals of their international campaign…The leading signers of the letter call themselves “sex radicals,” meaning they oppose any limits on any sexual behavior as long as it has the superficial appearance of being consensual.” My uncle could drink a 24 pack and not be as loaded as that sentence.  The repetition of “any” builds the sentence up and the “superficial appearance”  puts the cherry on top of that propaganda sundae!  Since I guess all is fair in a political war, I will now define Citizens Against Trafficking.  CAT is a trio of “radical feminists” some even “radical lesbian feminist” who oppose any heterosexual behavior as long as it has the superficial appearance of being a product of force, fraud, or coercion.

The sex radicals are very worried that we might achieve a “moral victory.” “Moral Victory” excellent choice of words.  CAT does not care about women who are working in the spas.  They want to impose their moral values on women who obviously have a different set of morals.  Even when you look at Hughes’ history and see her ultimate goal is to not only impose her morals but also profit once again from the criminalization of prostitution by setting up “John Schools”.  In California “Johns” are given redemption if they agree to go to “John Schools” and learn about stds and the lives of prostitutes. (Actually I might like to see a politician like Spitzer in a class led by Hughes just for shits and giggles)

I could go sentence to sentence and rip apart this pile of propaganda.  When you have no facts, when you have never talked to one women in a spa in RI, when you have no reason or logic on your side, you have to rely on emotional arguments based in morals judgments.    The tactics of CAT offend me as a woman, a feminist, and a Rhode Islander.  To use an analogy, I would say that Hughes and CAT are to Rhode Island and sex workers as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church are to homosexuals.  (Actually, Phelps is more honest with his hatred and moral judgements and doesn’t try to blanket it in an a false idea of helping homosexuals.)   I am an artist, so I believe in freedom of speech, so even though I do not agree with Hughes or CAT, I believe they have the same right to freedom of speech as everyone else.  I just hope that people don’t confuse the propaganda and fear mongering for fact.


50 Very Smart Out-Of-Staters

A letter came out in the Journal today, signed by 50 College and University professors.  I titled this 50 very smart out-of-staters because it seems that people who want to change the law are not giving this letter credit because they are not RI residents. (On a side note I think these people would dismiss the Pope if he came down Providence and asked that the women would not be thrown into prison)  Here is the letter reprinted in its entirety.

PRESS RELEASE

July 31, 2009

LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE RHODE ISLAND STATE LEGISLATURE

RE:  PROSTITUTION LAW REFORM BILLS, 2009

BY:  Professors Ronald Weitzer & Elizabeth Anne Wood, with 50 signatories (listed below) from the academic community

Rhode Island is currently the only state in the U.S. without a statute expressly prohibiting prostitution. State law bans loitering in public places, which is used to arrest street prostitutes, but does not ban solicitation itself, which leaves the indoor trade untouched because no loitering is involved.

This may change soon. The state legislature recently passed a bill criminalizing prostitution, although the House and Senate versions differ and will require changes before the bill can be forwarded to the governor.

In the past few weeks, advocates of criminalizing prostitution have lobbied Rhode Island’s legislators and made frequent appearances in the media. Many of their assertions about prostitution are myths.

Research shows that there is a world of difference between those who work the streets and those who sell sex indoors (in massage parlors, brothels, for escort agencies, or are independent workers).

Regarding street prostitution, the problems often associated with it are best understood as outcomes of poverty, addiction, homelessness, and runaway youth – suggesting that the best way to deal with street prostitution is to tackle these precursors rather than simply arresting the sellers.

Compared to street workers, women and men who work indoors generally are much safer and less at risk of being assaulted, raped, or robbed. They also have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections, enter prostitution at an older age, have more education, and are less likely to be drug-dependent or have a history of childhood abuse. Indoor workers also tend to enjoy better working conditions, although this is naturally not the case everywhere.

Despite what some activists claim, most of those working indoors in the U.S. have not been trafficked against their will. We oppose coercive trafficking whether for sexual labor, agricultural labor, or any other type of work. But when trafficking is conflated with prostitution, as is so often done now, it confounds law enforcement’s ability to target their efforts to fighting human rights abuses in the trafficking sphere.

Many indoor workers made conscious decisions to enter the trade, and several studies also find that indoor workers have moderate-to-high job satisfaction and believe they provide a valuable service. One Australian study found that half of the call girls and brothel workers interviewed felt that their work was a “major source of satisfaction” in their lives, and more than two-thirds said they would “definitely choose this work” if they had it to do over again. (This study was conducted in the state of Queensland, where indoor prostitution has been decriminalized.) In other studies, a significant percentage of escorts report an increase in self-esteem after they began selling sex.  These findings may surprise some people, because they are not the kinds of stories reported in the media, which usually focus instead on instances of abuse and exploitation.

This is not to romanticize indoor prostitution. Some indoor workers work under oppressive conditions or dislike their work for other reasons. We believe that worker safety should be a high priority in all industries. At the same time, there is plenty of evidence to challenge the myths that most prostitutes are coerced into the sex trade, experience frequent abuse, and want to be rescued. This syndrome is more characteristic of street workers, and is associated with the vulnerabilities of poverty, addiction and abuse. While these are issues that need to be addressed, it is important to point out that the vast majority of American sex providers work indoors.

Since street and indoor sex workers differ markedly in their working conditions, experiences and impact on the surrounding community, public policies should be cognizant of these differences rather than a monolithic, broad brush approach. Policy makers would also do well to listen to those doing the work; all too often, the views of the sex workers themselves are marginalized in public debates. Because street-based prostitution has negative impacts on neighbors, policies should address those impacts separately from indoor prostitution. Moreover, the opportunity to work indoors, in itself, helps to reduce the problems associated with street-based prostitution. Rhode Island’s current system of treating indoor and street prostitution differently is a step in the right direction. Criminalizing indoor sexual services is not the answer.

Signed by the following members of the academic community:

Ronald Weitzer, George Washington University

Elizabeth Wood, Nassau Community College – SUNY

Michael Goodyear, Dalhousie University, Canada

Barbara Brents, University of Nevada

Lisa Wade, Occidental College

Janet Lever, California State University, Los Angeles

Elaine Mossman, Victoria University, New Zealand

Susan Dewey, DePauw University

Christine Milrod, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sexuality

Mindy Bradley-Engen, University of Arkansas

Molly Dragiewicz, University of Ontario, Canada

Ann Lucas, San Jose State University

Frances Shaver, Concordia University

Ariel Eisenberg, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Juline Koken, National Development and Research Institutes, Public Health Solutions

Larry Ashley, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Barry Dank, California State University, Long Beach

Richard Lotspeich, Indiana State University

Tamara O’Doherty, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada

Lauren Joseph, Stony Brook University

Crystal Jackson, University of Nevada

Gayle MacDonald, St. Thomas University

Lyle Hallowell, Nassau Community College

Daniel Sander, New York University

Gert Hekma, University of Amsterdam

John Betts, New York University

Wendy Chapkis, University of Southern Maine

Suzanne Jenkins, Keele University, UK

Benjamin Reed, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Anna Kontula, University of Tampere, Finland

Janell Tryon, New York University

Mindy Chateauvert, University of Maryland

Jessie Daniels, City University of New York – Hunter College

Rachel Hsiung, New York University

Gillian Abel, University of Otago, New Zealand

Deborah Brock, York University, Toronto

Elizabeth Nanas, Wayne State University

Charles Watson, Curtin University

Ilona Margiotta, New York University

Jennifer Manion, Connecticut College

Lyle Hallowell, Nassau Community College

Emily van der Meulen, York University, Toronto

Rebecca Chalker, Pace University

Gilbert Geis, University of California, Irvine

Rachael Stern, New York University

Lynn Comella, University of Nevada

Alessandro De Giorgi, San Jose State University

Martin Schwartz, Ohio University

William Chambliss, George Washington University

Kelley Moult, American University

Why complain?

I always do searches of blogs, news, and videos with my keywords so I can see everything related to the topic of this film.  I usually post on those topics.  One of the most popular blogs I ever did  gets hits everyday.  It is very short and even though I don’t want to complain, it annoys me that every day it is the highest on my page views.

The page I am talking about is “Barney Miller and Asian Massage Parlors“.  I guess you never know why people end up on your blog, what brought them here or what they are interested in, but either way I am happy they are reading.  I hope they end up walking away with some tidbit of information that they didn’t have before that might humanize this subject matter.

It was odd yesterday when I came across another woman who had a similar complaint that I had.  This woman runs a Catholic blog, and while I was annoyed that my blog on prostitution gets hits for Barney Miller, she is annoyed her blog on Catholicism gets hits for people looking for a Prostitution Saint.  Here is an excerpt, (I don’t want to link because I can only imagine how upset she would be to think she would be getting clicks from a blog about a documentary on Asian massage parlors in a state where prostitution is legal)

Patron Saint of Prostitutes ~ The posts I wrote on that remain among my most popular. So….there are 2 Patron Saints of Prostitutes: St. Nicholas (yes, “Santa Clause”) Why? Because he saved two girls from being sold into prostitution by their father. This is also among the reason he’s also a Patron Saint of children. The OTHER Patron Saint of Prostitutes is St. Mary of Egypt, because she had been a prostitute, reformed, and, well….achieved the heights of holiness which the Church acknowledged by declaring her a Saint!
And for those who are looking for a Saint that ENDORSES prostitution: there isn’t one. Saints don’t endorse sin, and no, none of us has the authority to decide what is or isn’t a sin. Prostitution is a horrible evil in this fallen world and it CANNOT be justified. I hope that answers your question.
It is funny to think two women on such opposite ends of this issue have the same complaint when it comes to blogging!  You can never control the audience.

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.

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.

Smoke them out?

Smoke them out?Is Rhode Island becoming Iraq?  I was not kidding when I talked about this connection before.

I always thought that it was interesting that George Bush repeat 9/11 and Iraq in every speach, and years later he said there is no connection between 9/11 and Iraq.  It is pretty similar to the whole prostitution and human trafficking link that has been push and pushed over and over again.

Now, we have Senator Jabor adopting some of the speech that George Bush is famous for.  I can remember George Bush running around saying things like “wanted dead or alive” and “we’re gonna smoke them out” when he was referring to Iraq and Bin Laden.  I guess Senator Jabour is in the minority of people who thinks this was a good tactic.     In today’s projo Senator Jabour says:

Jabour had said last week that property owners are the “silent force” against his bill, adding that he wanted to “smoke out the skunks and see who’s against it.”‘

I will say it again.  I am against any bill that will go after women, and now we are using them as the bait?!?   It is incredible that other places in the world are moving forward, and Rhode Island is moving backwards.

Over 63% of people who responded to the poll on the Projo said they are not for re criminalizing.  The people who were for making prostitution illegal wanted to change the law for moral reasons.  Jabour wants to go after the landlords?  Way to miss the point Senator Jabour.

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.