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LONDON 2012 SEX WORK POLICING SLAMMED IN NEW REPORT

A NEW report harshly critical of the Metropolitan Police’s approaches to the capital’s sex industry in the Olympics run-up has been delivered to London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The report slams the Met’s key anti-trafficking section, SCD9, for its gung-ho approach in raiding brothels and alienating sex workers, resulting in a reluctance by them to report serious assaults and robberies.

Meanwhile, victims from a major source of sex trafficking – Nigeria – go ignored as they are to be found in closed markets known only to their traffickers and their contacts – as distinct from brothels – the report says.

In this respect it echoes comments made by police themselves following the publication of Setting the Record - SCD9’s attempt to estimate the number of sex trafficked persons in England and Wales – which found no cases of sex trafficked Africans but which explored only brothels. This suggests SCD9 failed to respond to those comments after the 2010 report.

Commenting in the Guardian, Georgina Perry, who manages the Open Doors NHS project helping sex workers in East London, said:

There has been a sharp increase in raids and brothel closures in the Olympic boroughs. As a result, women have been displaced to areas where they have no access to support and services. The police approach has been very heavy handed and mistrust and fear of them amongst sex workers is at an all time high.

Women are terrified to report violent crimes that take place against them for fear of being arrested. This situation neither helps to bring real criminals to justice nor gives intelligence that may combat trafficking.

Much like the Poppy Project’s radical feminist initiatives, SCD9’s approach in the capital could have come straight out of How to Make Enemies and Alienate People, it seems, with brothels Read more…

How not to start in sex work….

The last 72 hours has been an interesting. I’ve been following closely a fragment of the 60-hour or so long career of a young English escort.

Her name wasn’t Carrie (but very nearly was), but I’ll use that to cover her ID.

I was playing around, as is my wont occasionally, on the UK’s AdultWork site. This currently boasts some 1,600 plus profiles ostensibly of women marketing their escorting services around this sceptered isle, many of whom actually exist, and many of whom don’t, but that’s another story for another post.

Now as regular readers know I’m neither a sex buyer nor seller, but I do like excellent presentation and perhaps that’s why I have a thing about the absolutely appalling general quality of AdultWork’s photographs. I’m sure I’m not alone. Or perhaps it’s because I spent a period of my life cropping and treating photos for publication (not, I hasten to add, of the AdultWork variety).

Now AdultWork – alongside, perhaps, the Women’s Institute – is one of the last sites on the planet you’d go to for porn, innumerable examples of which of far better quality are – as we all know – freely available on tap elsewhere. You go there to see who’s on the game in your neck of the woods using its search facility, and you don’t even have to join the site to use its search.

Because I’m not a client, I very rarely contact any of the lasses whose labour is on offer, as the site is notorious for time wasters, and on the exceptional occasions when I do write I think it only fair to make it very clear up front it’s not a booking. One such exception was Carrie.

Carrie was – is, if we accept her profile – an attractive dark-haired Sagittarian lass of Read more…

He Who Would Valiant Be: Escorts & their partners

I came across a couple of escort posts this week, from two continents, which both illustrate beautifully what I imagine is a common escorting dilemma – relationships with partners.

Readers should note that I offer no silver bullet. It goes without saying that every escort, each of their partners and every relationship is unique, and all I aim to do is to flag up what I suspect are some potential common issues. I’m sure there are lots of wonderful escorts out there, many with equally wonderful partners, either or both of which can give much better advice than moi, so I shall stick to flagging up issues and making a few observations on them, and hope for some readers’ comments to latch on to.

The first post I read was Jenna’s, who is an agency escort in the southern US. Jenna has just started her Sweet Courtesan blog. Over to Jenna:

My dilemma:
shall I simply lay it out?
the bf “rescued” me from sex work
he was first a client, now a bf and somewhat provider
but, i don’t think it is ever going anywhere…and there are things i need to do to provide for myself and my children…
so, aargh! i hate the lying that comes with this whole industry!
i don’t mind so much the role playing, the acting ~ but the lying to those closest to me is so damn hard
and i’m not great at lying, or maybe it’s that i’m too good at it when i want to be that i really don’t want to be; does that even make sense?

Now Jenna, in a previous post, revealed that she has been through the wars. She got into escorting with the full backing of her then husband, but says the Read more…

HOME OFFICE PREPARES NEW GROUND OVER TRAFFICKING LAWS

The UK’s Home Office ministers have announced they aim to complete a review of the dog’s dinner they’ve made of the nation’s human trafficking laws by the end of this year.

All has seemed relatively quiet on the Home Office front since the Tories took office, with New Labour’s flow of ‘legislative diarrhoea,’ as Chris Huhne famously put it, apparently stemmed and the hopeful restoration of at least some semblance of order, if not exactly law.

The fallout, however, continues, with even venerable judges finding great difficulty in sorting out which laws are in effect and which not, as in the tragi-comical case of David Shields, a rapist released because (said the Daily Mail) “the charge brought against him was for breaching a ‘sex offender order’ under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 – a provision which was superceded by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act, which introduced Sopos.”

‘Sopos’ are ‘Sexual Offences Prevention Orders.’ As distinct from Sex Offender Orders. So Mr Shields, despite apparently being a “significant risk to female members of the public,” walks free courtesy of Home Office Rebranding Exercise Number whatever-it-was, all for the lack of a suitably timed Sexual Offences Prevention Orders Prevention Order.

I wish I was surprised. I’m not. I know no lawyers who would be in the least bit surprised. The deluge of criminal justice legislation since 1997 would be well beyond the scope of any system to cope. Speed readers lost track somewhere back in 2003 and are still catching up.

And it really has been of such appalling quality. Now I must confess that there are areas of the Judeo-Christian ethos which elude me, but the notion that new laws should be personally carved out on rocks and then hauled down from the summit of, say, Mount Snowden, by whatever Home Secretary is thinking of proposing them, seems to have a very great deal to commend it. There would be every reasonable hope that they would be as succinct as they would be rare, especially if they could be repealed with considerably greater ease.

If ten bullet points was enough for the Almighty, why can’t they suffice for the likes of Messrs Straw, Blunkett, Clarke, Reid, Smith, Johnson and May?

Turning from the Bible back to the very unholy mess that is UK human trafficking law, it would indeed begger the belief of the Almighty how the Home Office has achieved such a complete and utter mess, and it says little for our media that it has not only been so little publicised, but that the media itself has been so proactive in perpetuating the myths.

It was some time around the millennium that the global powers that be, including the UK, defined human trafficking in Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol. We did, of course, sign up to it.

Proper co-signatories with grown up legislatures then went away, cut and pasted the definition into their domestic laws, attached a nasty big penalty to anyone breaching it, and moved on, the job, insofar as the legislation’s concerned, done (enforcement, of course, is another matter). Examples include the USA, Ireland and most of Europe.

Not so in the UK, of course. The heart of the UK mistake seems to have lain in asking the Home Office to do something, instead of, well, just about any other group of people who live on this rock. Faced with the mammoth task of cutting and pasting, the Home Office freaked out. It presumably found the new legislation insufficiently diarrhetic.

For a start it decided to have two pieces of legislation – one for persons deemed to be sex trafficking and another for persons deemed trafficking people for anything else. It then twisted and utterly mangled the definition of sex trafficking until any semblance of the internationally agreed definition had truly vanished.

At the same time, the police, the media and the politicians have constantly portrayed sex trafficking by the international definition, thus we think of it as involving some form of force, coercion or fraud, pressurising young women into prostitution. And sometimes it is. But very often it is not.

For this is one of the distinctive qualities of the UK Sexual Offences Act 2003 definition - in the Home Office cock-up the volition of those involved – normally, but not always, women – is ignored. Well, they’re only women after all.

Thus if one knowingly drives a young lady to a brothel, it makes no difference whatsoever to the Home Office whether you’re holding a gun to her sobbing head as she sits petrified at the experience that lies ahead, or whether you’re going out of your way on her behalf gratis and fending off pleas from her to drive quicker because she’s running late and she might miss out on clients. You’re a sex trafficker either way, and Parliament will let you be locked up for 14 years.

If a willing sex worker, the young lady, incidentally, commits no offence even if the place is a brothel, as she of course has to play the role of victim – willing or not – and be duly deemed ‘rescued’ in order to bolster the self-images of MPs, the dinosaurs of the criminal justice system and various other do-gooders.

At the same time as imprisoning the innocent at considerable public cost, the HO manages to completely let off the hook many persons who are internationally defined sex traffickers.

It is concerned purely with those involved in arranging the transport of persons into, around and out of the country (irrespective, as we’ve seen, of whether those persons wish to be transported). Among the categories of internationally defined sex traffickers it ignores are those involved in transferring, harbouring or receiving people against their will if they are not involved in the transport process.

The peculiar and perverse nature of the Home Office ‘review’, however, is what stamps it as particularly British. According to the Guardian, we hear of a new and exciting Home Office rebranding exercise strategy:

The strategy recognises that there are some problems caused by the fact that trafficking for sexual exploitation is prosecuted under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act while labour trafficking comes under the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act which has a different standard of proof.

“While there have been successful prosecutions under both, there are some disparities which make the legislative framework less straightforward than it could be for prosecutors. In addition, the different levels of proof mean that it is more difficult to prosecute for labour exploitation,” says the new strategy.

In other words, the labour trafficking legislation has that annoying characteristic of requiring some evidence that someone has actually been, as the world understands it, trafficked, while the sexual trafficking legislation doesn’t, and it’s always easier to get convictions without that annoying and expensive chore of having to produce evidence that something of any consequence has actually occurred. So let’s muck around with the definition to get the numbers up and impress people with what a large number of ‘traffickers’ we’ve caught, rather than taking on the Herculean task of teaching first and second division civil servants how to cut and paste. My God, we’ll be requiring them to tie their own shoelaces next.

Back to the Grauniad and to its Home Affairs editor Alan Travis’s piece. It’s pretty obvious on the face of it that Alan prefers simple rewrites of Home Office press releases to a decent day’s work.

Only some 40 men have been prosecuted for the new offence of paying for sex with trafficked women since April last year, he tells us. Err, no Alan, sorry, the offence is not ‘paying for sex’ but arranging it, no money has to change hands, no sex has to take place and they do not have to be trafficked women but anyone – woman or not – who has been coerced.

But it’s the whole angle of the story that is unduly depressing: “The failure of police and prosecutors to enforce a law that criminalises men who pay for sex with trafficked women is jeopardising the attempt to tackle human trafficking into Britain.”

More spin than a centrifuge. And what a weird angle. For a start, it’s wrong to conflate all human trafficking with sex trafficking, which is what is being written about. Now these are 40 prosecutions, which is certainly not the same as 40 convictions, and the fact that only 40 cases could be found could be interpreted in other ways. A more obvious interpretation is that cases of coercion are a lot fewer and farer between than whoever took Alan to lunch would have us believe.

“..and that includes prosecutions of kerb crawlers,” says Alan. My guess is that it almost comprises prosecutions of kerb crawlers.

Here’s a different angle, which would have been at least as valid:

“The tendency of the media and the Home Office to alienate the hearts and minds of sex workers’ clients is jeopardising the attempt to tackle sex trafficking into Britain.”

Probably a lot truer. Might not get you as good a lunch, though.

Pontifications on England’s brothels

I CAME across a blog post yesterday on the subject of the brothels of Bournemouth, posted by a student named Dawn at the resort’s Uni. Update: she’s now removed it as a result of this post (see comments).

Anyway, it’s cached here.

I found it well-intentioned but depressing and above all, ill-informed and full of stereotypes. “The dark and dangerous world of prostitution on our doorsteps,” it verblessly proclaimed at the beginning. 

Now to be fair to her, she seems a sweet and well-meaning person judging from the speed with which she withdrew it, and it was apparently written for a “Writing for the Media” assignment, so it could be that she had the subject thrust upon her. Nevertheless, if this is the stuff of tomorrow’s media, I for one will cancel my copies. 

“Just Google ‘Bournemouth’s brothels’ and with the first few results it’s blatantly evident that there is a serious problem in the area,” we read. 

What the problem is, we never discovered, so presumably it’s either that they exist or that there’s a shortage. 

You would presume that if there was a brothel on your doorstep, there would be bright flashing lights, loud noise, and the stench of disgrace in the air. However this is not the case, Read more…

MSNBC to aid London’s October Films bailout by screening fraudulent documentary

AMERICA’S MSNBC network is due to air a fraudulent documentary on Monday entitled Sex Slaves UK.

This is a rehash of the notorious The Hunt for Britain’s Sex Slaves by October Films, and comprises the fraudulent nonsense a film company in London comes up with to get itself out of the shit after it’s devoted months of film crew time and footage into a police anti-trafficking operation (Pentameter 2) that got precisely nowhere.

Basically, it lies its teeth out….

Pentameter 2 famously convicted ZERO persons for human trafficking as internationally defined. But just after the start of it – and nothing whatsoever to do with Pentameter 2 – a Danish client in a brothel in Plymouth UK rescued a trafficked woman, leading to the convictions of an international gang.

The facts – that a client was necessary to achieve the escape – would, of course, ruin the pitch. After all, it’s supposed to be all the fault of clients, just like the international banking crisis would never have happened if naughty people didn’t have bank accounts.

So the documentary crew skirt the facts with a bit of careful editing, and Whoopie! – another blockbuster to befuddle Joe Public and TV executives with and keep the dollars rolling in, both for the 45 NGOs dealing with the plights of 90 confirmed sex trafficking victims a year in the UK, but above all, of course, for the film company.

MSNBC?….duh….

The Poppy Project and the empathy gap

“Our priority is to look after the needs of people and we gain nothing if we marginalise or distance ourselves from the very people we desire to serve.”

Salvation Army van ad

So spoke Major Phillip Maxwell of the Salvation Army following a short run-in with the sex workers’ organisation Scarlet Alliance. The occasion was the publication of an advertisement telling of the Sally Army’s rescuing of a boy after he left a message in one of its vans. But sex workers took offence, and the Salvation Army was savvy enough to respond.

“The potential was that [the advert] could seriously damage the relationship that we have in providing services,” Maxwell told ABC News. The ad was promptly pulled.

The incident, two years back, was not big news in Sydney, but to imagine such a speedy retraction and apology to sex workers by a ‘rescue’ organisation in the bear-pit of London’s gender politics today requires a vivid imagination indeed. The event is pertinent now as the Salvation Army takes over the UK Justice Department’s trafficking aftercare portfolio from radical feminist organisation Eaves/Poppy.

A posting last September by sex worker Jasmin, who blogs as indiandelightlondon, starts to illustrate the polarisation that exists between the ‘rescuers’ of the Poppy Project and those among the capital’s sex workers who seem highly resistant to compulsory victimhood.

Here she tells the story of her perhaps naive but nevertheless brave Read more…

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