Tag Archives: RI Coalition Against Human Trafficking

People Over Politics

PawnsThis morning, 30 women from spas all over Rhode Island met to discuss the upcoming prostitution legislation.  These are the women who will be effected by the change in the law, and their voices must be heard.

Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking was at the meeting, offering services to the women.  All women were given a card with a number to call if they need help, and some of the women spoke to RICAHT one on one about their personal situations.

Three legislators were also present to ask questions of the women and answer questions about the legislation.  While there will be hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday on this legislation, the new bill has not been made available to the public.

Many of the women voiced concern over how the law will be implemented and what punishments they will face.

(The Providence Journal and WRNI were present and I am sure they will have a report on what they saw.  WRNI recorded audio of the meeting)

The legislators explained to the women that this legislation is a response to the public outcry in the Providence Journal to change the law.  They see this legislation as a response that will put the needs of the community above the safety and needs of the women.

This public outcry has been led by Donna Hughes, and we all know her version of reality is not based in truth.  (A great post on Hughes and Citizens Against Trafficking most recent propaganda riddled with inaccuracies  is shown here).

While there are many reasons not the pass this bill (economic impact, civil rights, and plain old common sense) there is only one reason to pass this bill….Politics.

There is a saying that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and Hughes has been squeaking for the past 4 months.  This squeak will get her oil this week, and the women of the spas are the pawns in this whole game of politics. With a bill that will have a huge economic and human impact, it is time that we put people over politics.

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Anti-Sex Crusade

no_sexThere are radicals in every group.  Radical Republicans, Radical Liberals, Radical Feminists.  What is unfortunate is when the media decides to focus on those groups and alludes to  them representing the larger majority.   For some reason these radicals are vocal minorities, sometimes bullying people in their own group who even share some but not 100% of the same views.

Donna Hughes is the perfect example of radicalism, taking over groups and media with scare tactics and propaganda.  As the force behind the “close the prostitution loophole” drive, she bullied women out of Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking, falsely promoted the idea that the Senate  did not pass an anti prostitution law (and they did as Senator Jabour and Senator McCaffery stated), she has attacked the 50 academics that support keeping indoor prostitution decriminalized, and she even attacked the women in the massage parlors (these are the women she is trying to help).

I understand that prostitution is a heated and controversial issue, but I have always been taught that time is  better spent  promoting your own ideas rather than tearing down the people that may have different ideas, and I find it incredulous that she would spend time attacking women that share some of her ideas but are not in complete lock step with her.

Now, it seems that Hughes has gone and attacked another women, this time not for prostitution or human trafficking, but for wanting to open a Center for Sexual Pleasure and Education.  The Phoenix reports

The trouble started with an e-mail sent a couple of weeks back by University of Rhode Island professor Donna Hughes, best known for her crusade to close the state’s prostitution loophole, to members of the city council. Utilizing the suggestive power of well-placed quotation marks, the missive read, simply: “Hello, A center for ‘sexual rights’ and ‘sexual pleasure’ is opening in Pawtucket,” and included the web site for the center. Deputy City Clerk Michelle Hardy said Hughes’ e-mail was the first time any of the council members had heard of the center.

The Providence Journal reports that

She (Megan) and her husband went to City Hall. They met with Mayor James Doyle and his chief of staff Harvey Goulet. Goulet says they seem like very nice people. He just doesn’t like what they want to do.

“You have elderly living near there,” says Goulet. “And, usually, the elderly are not too much in favor of stuff like that.”

Education?  The elderly are not in favor of education?  Good thing we have Donna Hughes an educator keeping us away from education!!!  How ironic.  Also ironic is the city not supporting a center for education when the state of Rhode Island is #1 in New England for teen birth rate, with Pawtucket being the 3 in the state.  The ironies are piling up when you figure in the fact that businesses are leaving RI at a record pace, one would think a city would welcome a new business.

With this attack on a business that A) is not a brothel B) is not part of human trafficking and C) women owned, I truly believe that Donna Hughes should not be able to cast herself as anything more than an anti-sex zealot.

I am sad as a feminist that this women is able to harm so many.  I will pray for her 😉

(Also for your information all links are included to the articles so you can read user reactions, if you visit the CAT website, you will notice that articles are written anonymously, or if they are newspaper articles they are in pdf form so viewers will not get to see the readers comments, another great way of censoring the public!)

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.


It is the Fight of the Coalitions!

When I started “Happy Endings?” the National Association of Jewish Women RI Chapter decided to start the “RI COALITION AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING” or RICAHT.  I went to a bunch of their meetings.  It is obvious that I am against Human Trafficking.  I testified in favor of  the bill against Human trafficking this year.  This Coalition had a wide variety of people, men and women from various backgrounds.  Some were social workers, some from religious organizations, all were citizens of RI concerned about trafficking.  They were very adept in politics, and with-in one year they passed the first human trafficking bill in 2007.

It is unfortunate that this group had been hijacked by Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro.  People began to drop out.  Nancy Green, a nurse, Providence resident and concerned citizen was one of the first to go.  She wrote about her experiences in her blog calling the transition from their good work to a Big Anti-Trafficking Tent.

“I never wanted to be a part of a moral crusade using law as a weapon. All I cared about was legal protection for people who are trafficked, and punishment for the traffickers.

To fight immorality, I would use other weapons– reason, persuasion and example. Laws against immorality have never been very effective, and have often been cover for worse crimes. Remember the Scarlet Letter?

Morality, like patriotism, provides a convenient cover for other agendas.”

This year RICAHT decided to work for a new trafficking law.  They also maintained that they would not take any position on the two prostitution bills.  This angered Donna Hughes, and she spoke out against RICAHT bill, (yes the bill against Trafficking).  She then left RICAHT and began Citizens Against Trafficking with Melanie Shapiro.  From the CAT website:  “ This year, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking (RICAHT)  failed to advocate for the essential prostitution law needed to make sex trafficking law work.”

It is obvious that we have 2 coalitions.  One against Trafficking, and One against Prostitution.  I don’t understand why the “Citizens” group gets to use Trafficking in their title when the are actually focused on prostitution.  (And I think you should be required to have more than 2 people to have an official Coalition)   It is really unfortunate that a good group like RICAHT could be torn apart by radicals, and when the radicals couldn’t control it they could start their own off shoot with a similar name.  What is ironic is people think it is the Asian massage parlors that set up “Shell Corportation” to hide what they are doing.  It seems that this coalition is a shell corporation for Hughes xenophobia and hatred of prostitutes.

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.

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.

Medical Marijuana and today’s Dan Yorke show’s Indicators

Today Medical Marijuana centers became one step closer to being available in RI.  All that it awaits is the Governor’s signature.

The whole marijuana debate and history of marijuana has fasinated me.  Just like the “loophole” in the prostitution law.  I think that some of the propaganda used to keep marijuana criminal is similar to what has been used to keep prostitution illegal.  We are talking about adults doing what they want to do with their bodies right?

I put in the clip of “Reefer Madness” to show you how people with the best intentions use propaganda to try to move their adgenda forward.  We watch “Reefer Madness” now and laugh at how ridiculous it is, I wonder if people will look back at the situation going on with the link between prostitution and human trafficking with the same ridicule?

You can’t read any article in the paper about prostitution in Rhode Island.  It is always “Prostitution and Human Trafficking.”  It reminds me of how George Bush could not say 9/11 with out saying Iraq in the same sentence.  For years we were led to believe there was a connection, and then when none was found, we were told there was no connection.  Well, the same situation is going on here in RI.  The media and certain groups with agendas have decided to start a war on prostitution.  Since most people in the great state of Rhode Island don’t care what people do behind closed doors, going after prostitution would not get much traction.  If you talk about human trafficking, well that is a different story.  No one would support that.

For those of you who are new to this blog, let me give you a little background.  I am a grad school reject.  I was going to grad school for Gender and Ethnic studies, took one class before applying and getting denied.  I decided to make a film about the prostitution law in my home state of RI because it fascinated me.  I wanted to get all sides of the story.  When I got rejected from grad school I cried for a few days, but now I actually think it is great that I never got into grad school, if I did I would probably just be another student who recites stats and is beholden to a professors point of view.  I am completely independent.  All my opinions are my own, and formed over the four years it took to make “Happy Endings?”

There is a big difference between the Ivory Tower and Street Knowledge.  Donna Hughes is the “expert” that hails from the Ivory tower.  I guess you can say I am the “expert” that hails from the Street.

Today on the Dan Yorke show, Donna Hughes and Melanie Shapiro spoke on a film they have never seen.  I have sent over a dozen emails to Melanie trying to set up a showing to her and her Coalition Against Human Trafficking, but they never had time.  On the show, Dan said he had infront of him a seven page paper that attacked me in every way possible, “just short of breaking my legs.”  I am intrigued and honored that someone would write a paper about me.  I would love to see it.  It doesn’t hurt my feelings, I know she has to attack the messenger.  I remember writing seven page papers in college too, and I wanted to put in those papers anything that would give me a good grade and impress my professor.

What I want to put infront of the people of Rhode Island and anyone that reads this blog is this.   Look at the evidence. Here we have two women, myself and Ms. Shapiro.  Both of us are very interested in women studies.  Ms. Shapiro has a graduate degree, Ms. Hurley does not.  Ms. Shapiro is beholden to a professor, Ms. Hurley is beholden to no one.  Ms. Shapiro has never talked to any women in any Asian massage parlor in Rhode Island.  Ms. Hurley has spoken to numerous, 30 or more.  Ms. Shapiro uses terms like “there are indicators” that point to human trafficking”, Ms. Hurley has said there are facts that show the women I have spoken to have entered into this work of their own free will. Ms. Shapiro has watched spas from outside, Ms. Hurley has gone in and spoken to the women.

You can draw your own conclusions, you can point to the Ivory tower and use their propaganda to try and manufacture a link.  Or you can use commonsense and see that some people have an agenda.  Some people make more money than high priced prostitutes giving “expert” opinion on human trafficking and prostitution.  I have never made any money, I actually have spent over $30,000 making this film, bringing translators in to speak to women who were being arrested.  Even today on the Dan Yorke show a victim on Human Trafficking called in from California and disagreed with Donna Hughes and her viewpoint on the law.

I guess my point is this:  If there is Human Trafficking and all of these women need to be saved, why is there not one woman who has come forward to say she was a victim?  I am sure that she would have anonymity.  When Jerry Lewis does a telethon he puts his kids out there for all the world to see. It is a great way do a fund raiser and directly show the issue.  Jerry Lewis doesn’t go on the radio and say “We have indicators” he shows reality.  I wonder if the first thing you learn in grad school is how to skirt the issue with “indicators”?  Why have we not seen one victim?

Oh yeah, one more thing.  Today it was said that I was starting a Union for Sex Workers in RI.  I am a filmmaker.  In my opinion I think it would be good to have a union, and if anyone wants to use my film as a rallying tool that is fine with me.  When I was growing up, I lived with my va voo (portuguese for grandfather) he told me three things to live by.  1.  Always vote Democrat, they have done the most for our people (typical Rhode Islander)  2.  Always buy American (I just bought a car and it is a Nissan, but I bought it at an American dealership so I don’t feel so bad) and 3.  You gotta have a union.  I know unions are important, especially for people who can be exploited.  With that being said, I got into this because I wanted to make a film.  I still want to make films.  Documentaries are my passion.  I think bringing up unions is another way to cloud the issue, and what does a union that protects sex workers have to do with human trafficking anyway?