Tag Archives: sex work

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

Can hookers get some good press??

The answer to that is a resounding NO!

Last week, Giannini and Donna Hughes was on Channel 10.  The “Rapp Session” had one side of the story, no debate.  The reported ended the session with saying, “after talking to you I can’t understand why this hasn’t become law yet?” and asked the people of  state to send in comments to the website and vote on if the prostitution should become law and the results would be read on Fridays show.

Well, the people voted and wrote in.  Drum roll please . . . . . . .

65% of the people voted against the law, 30% voted for the law, and 5% said they didn’t know.  Some people even left comments.  Even a few intelligent comments.

Channel 10 decided to skip reporting the results and reading the comments on air.  Just another example of how all this change the prostitution loophole hysteria is being led by one woman who can’t even say loophole, another woman who has never met any Asian spa workers that she keeps saying are trafficked, and newspapers and tv stations that are just trying to make a buck.   Sad.

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.


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.

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.