Tag Archives: trafficking

Governor Signs law making prostitution illegal in Rhode Island

Governor Donald Carcieri @ Press Conference about to sign prostitution lawToday in the State Room of the Rhode Island State House, a press conference was held before Governor Donald Carcieri signed a bill that closed the nearly 30 year old loophole.  Governor Carcieri, Joanne Giannini, Senator Paul Jabour, Attorney General Patrick Lynch, and RI State Police Col. Brendan Doherty all spoke about how this law will help new law will “end a blemish” on the image that Rhode Island had over the last 29+ years.

After sitting and watching this press conference, I thought to myself, all this fan fair and the governor is just signing one bill.  The governor did not use this photo op to sign the human trafficking bill, and isn’t that what all the citizens of RI were worried about??

It is not difficult to realize that the real target, of the media, politicians, and police will be prostitution.  When the target is prostitution, the target will be the prostitute or sex worker.  The police say they will wait until they get complaints before raiding.

A few years while I was making “Happy Endings?” the police did raid the spas, and arrest the women for “massage with out a license”.

01:00 AM EST on Friday, November 4, 2005

BY ELIZABETH GUDRAIS
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE — The detective arrived, complaining of pain in his lower back and asking for a massage. He got one — but he also got an offer of sex for $200, the police said.

Detectives arrested two women yesterday at separate businesses  for permitting massages to be given without a license.

The arrested women for giving “permitting massages to be given without a license”.  Does anyone believe they received a complaint about “illegal massages” before the raids??  This was in 2005 when prostitution was legal.  If they were arresting women when they didn’t have a law, how can anyone actually believe that having a law will help these women?

But the police say they will wait until they get complaints.  I am sure some of these “complaints” will come from Donna Hughes.  Although Hughes does not live near any spas, she has registered complaints sent “information” closing another business that didn’t even do massages or employ Asians. At this point I don’t know who Hughes hates more, men or women or just heterosexuals in general.  (Living life with that much hatred can only be described as sad)

The People who Changed the "Loophole"

State Col. Brendan Doherty, Donna Hughes, Rep. JoAnne Gianinni, First Lady Carcieri, Governor Donald Carcieri

What is sad is what I saw in some spas this morning before the press conference.  Most spas have only one women left working besides the Imo who does the cooking and cleaning.  There has been a mass exodus, women are scared.  They are petrified of raids.  They are afraid a cop will be setting them up, and make an example out of them.  I saw one woman crying as I left to go and watch the signing.

Before today, I have never seen any woman in any spa that I thought was a victim of anything.  Today, they all looked liked victims.

 

 


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.”

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

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.

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.