Entries Tagged 'Uncategorized' ↓
November 27th, 2013 — Uncategorized
On December 17 sex worker communities around the world are coming together celebrate the eleventh annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This year we are thrilled to announce multiple events and opportunities to come together and share in the amazing spirit of the sex worker community
In Memory We Live On: The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
Tuesday, December 17, 7:30pm at Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan, 164 West 100th Street, New York, NY
We welcome sex work communities, allies, advocates, friends and family to celebrate the memories of those we have lost, and sharing in the strength and resilience of those involved with or impacted by the sex trade. We take this solemn day every year to come together as a singular voice, and re-commit ourselves in the struggle to fight for the rights and dignity to which all are entitled.
This year we will feature the creation of a living altar, to be created at the vigil. We encourage everyone to bring an item, picture, card, or story which represents a moment of resilience they wish to contribute to the altar or share with the community.
We are also continually compiling a list of names of those in our community we have lost in the last year to violence in all its forms. If you have the name of someone you would like included on this list, please send their name, location, and approximate date of their passing to email@example.com for inclusion on this year’s list, where they will be remembered at vigils across the globe.
For more information on the event, please check out our Facebook Page.
Building Resilience Together: A Sex Worker Self-Care Day
Sunday, December 15, 11AM – 4pm
The sex worker community experiences violence in a myriad of ways. Whether it be physical or sexual assault, discrimination, or stigma, sex workers often face the need to rebuild and regroup on a regular basis. On Sunday, December 15, Sex Workers Action New York is hosting a day of self care specifically for those impacted by the sex trade. we will be sharing strategies, learning new tools, and sharing in the strength of our community in a sex worker-only space.
11 – 12:30: Strategies for Resilience: A Facilitated Workshop on sharing and developing strategies for self-care
12:30 – 2: Lunch (Provided)
2 – 3: Telling Stories: A Writing workshop
3 – 4: Guided Mediation
To find out the location and details, RSVP here.
November 13th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Sex Workers Outreach Project New York City (SWOP-NYC) and Sex Workers Action New yorK (SWANK) are both volunteer-based, grassroots organizations and part of a national network dedicated to improving the lives of current and former sex workers and those with experience in the sex trade in the New York metro area, on and off of the job. Each month, we hold two meetings and operate listservs to connect with others in between those times. Below is some more detailed information about what we offer.
Want to get involved?
Now is the perfect time! Our next SWOP-NYC meeting (Thursday, Nov 21) is going to be about planning our projects for the next year AND WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR IDEAS!
We’ll be discussing the change we want to see and make in the next year. It’s a great moment to attend and see what we’ve been up to and contribute to where we’re going!
If you are not yet a member, please visit http://swop-nyc.org/wpress/join/
Not utilizing all you can of SWOP and SWANK?
If you would like to get more information or be added to any internal listservs (SWOP and SWANK each have individual lists) please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
! Are you interested in getting more directly involved in some of our on-going projects but can’t attend the next meeting? Email email@example.com
for more information.
meetings focus on our organizing work, planning events, and engaging in activism. Meetings are open to everyone who wants to work on the subject of sex worker rights
and are held on the third Thursday of each month from 7-9pm. The locations are confidential to screened members, so please visit http://swop-nyc.org/wpress/join/
if you would like to be screened for attendance. We discuss ongoing projects, upcoming events, and different topics impacting folks in the sex trade in NYC.
Next Meeting: Thurs, November 21, 6:30 – 7: mingling and meeting folks, 7 – 9: meeting
SWANK meetings are for current/former/transitioning workers only and focus on community building and direct peer support. They are held on the first Wednesday of each month. Typically, SWANK meetings are loose and without much structure, and the conversation really moves to where ever people want it to go! Come to talk, share, ask, or just be in the company of others who work in the sex trade.
Next Meeting: Weds, December 4, 6:30 – 9
Professional Development Workshops are for current/former/transitioning workers only, and cover topics from marketing to coming out to industry-based skill shares. To get information on attending, make sure you’re on our listserv by visiting http://swop-nyc.org/wpress/join/ . We’re covering self care in December and taxes in January!
October 4th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Off the Clock: A Workshop on Dating as a Current or Former Sex Worker
Wednesday, October 23, 7-9pm
RSVP for location information
For many, working in the sex trade means providing companionship and intimacy to others in a variety of ways. Too often, when we cross back into personal relationships, our experiences can present a set of unique challenges to our relationships and our partners. This workshop will be a facilitated discussion with strategies, tips, and resources to help navigate the challenges we face when trying to build and foster personal romantic relationships. We will be discussing strategies used by other communities who face similar challenges, reflect on our own experiences, and discuss different ways to tackle some of the most common questions.
This workshop is only open to folks who have experience in the sex trade. Do you have or are you a partner who is looking for resources or community? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Sex Workers Action New yorK (SWANK) is a community group open to current and former sex workers & those who have experience in the sex trade whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion.
October 2nd, 2013 — Uncategorized
One of the first things we learn as sociology undergraduates are the basics of research ethics. Before we know what the word ‘methodology’ means, we know the importance of informed consent, confidentiality, and accurate representation of findings. Perhaps somewhere in the process of obtaining his doctorate in the field, Sudhir Venkatesh forgot what he learned in his introductory classes. His self-aggrandizing work puts the interests of his subjects and even his institution after his own. His work on a Chicago gang is now used to teach students the problems and perils with overt participant research. Yet the self-described ‘rogue sociologist’ continues to blunder on, this time exploiting the stories of New York City sex workers in his new book, Floating City.
This book is a pop –sociology curiosity built on the shaky foundations of Venkatesh’s bizarre form of participatory research. It’s a brand of ethnography that is a holdover from a previous era. Participant observation fieldwork has long been undertaken within racist and classist frameworks that paradoxically construct the observed as the ‘other’ while asserting her experience can be approximated by an academic professional. These problematic aspects are sometimes acknowledged within the academe, especially as it evolves along with other social institutions towards greater egalitarianism. However, these concerns are subordinated to what professionals claim is the fundamental necessity of fieldwork with populations too secluded, segmented, or geographically distant to be studied any other way. (For more on the issues with participant observation, take a look at Paul Atkinson and Martyn Hammersley’s “Ethnography and Participant Observation” and Barbara Tedlock’s “From Participant Observation to the Observation of Participation: The Emergence of Narrative Ethnography”. Editor Faye V. Harrison’s introduction to Resisting Racism and Xenophobia: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Human Rights, entitled “Global Perspectives on Human Rights and Interlocking Inequalities of Race, Gender, and Related Dimensions of Power” and Mwenda Ntarangwi’s book Reversed Gaze: An African Ethnography of American Anthropology are two good places to start for those interested in examining the ways that social science research often reinforces structural inequality.) Since the dawn of the Internet era, however, this justification has begun to feel as outdated as the racism and classism that still haunts the social sciences. Now that around 98% of Americans have Internet access, now that social media and self-publishing platforms are available to all, the idea that sex workers of any sort need to be studied by embedded ethnographers who can write of the workers’ experiences for them is ignorant and condescending at best. The very existence of organizations like the Young Women’s Empowerment Project signals a new era of participatory action research and shows that good researchers within and outside of academia have taken advantage of the technological shift in ways that have resulted in more meaningful qualitative analysis.
Such ethically and methodologically sound social science research is important for the furtherance of academic knowledge. But social science, and ethnography in particular, is even more crucial as an agent of broader cultural change, helping to increase public understanding and sympathy for marginalized and oppressed communities and influencing policies and laws that impact the subjects of study. The social science researcher has a serious obligation not just to the academy, but to society as a whole and oppressed communities in particular. Researchers like Dr. Elizabeth Bernstein of Barnard College, Dr. Ronald Weitzer of George Washington University, Dr. Maggie O’Neill of Durham University, and Dr. Prabha Kotiswaran of King’s College London (to name just a few) are doing the kind of work on the sex industry and criminalized communities that deserves the attention of a media that is instead distracted with pop-sociological trash like Floating City. Their claims source-able, results replicable, and subjects of study treated with respect. Instead of giving Venkatesh the time of day, check out some of their ethnographic (and other) work instead:
Bernstein, Elizabeth. “Sex Work for the Middle Classes.” Sexualities 10, no. 4 (2007): 473- 488.
Kotiswaran, Prabha. “Born Unto Brothels—Toward a Legal Ethnography of Sex Work in an Indian Red-Light Area.” Law and Social Inquiry 33, no. 3 (2008): 579- 629.
O’Neill, Maggie. “Cultural Criminology and Sex Work: Resisting Regulation through Radical Democracy and Participatory Action Research (PAR).” Journal of Law and Society 37, no. 1 (2010): 210- 232
Weitzer, Ronald. “Negotiating Unwelcome Police Encounters: The Intergenerational Transmission of Conduct Norms.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 40, no. 4 (2011): 425- 456.
Other academics who have done excellent work on sex workers include Laura Agustín, Denise Brennan, Siobhan Brooks, Mindy Chateauvert, Kevicha Echols, Kari Lerum, Chi Mbako, Mireille Miller-Young, Penelope Saunders, Svati Shah, and Stephanie Wahab.
Thanks to everyone at SexWorkResearch.Wordpress.com for compiling an excellent collection of research on the sex industry.
- by Lori Adorable, SWOP-NYC Member
September 17th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Sudhir Venkatesh has already had more than his allotted 15 minutes, but his most recent appropriation of sex workers’ lives gives us—sex workers, people in the sex trade, and allies—a moment to reflect on unethical researchers who have not yet realized that they are as much under the microscope as we are. New media and new forms of organizing building on at least 40 years of struggle for rights, means that the studies “revealing” the “secret” lives people in the sex trade are read and critiqued by members of those very same communities. Gone are the days where sociologists can effectively pretend that they speak for “silenced” or “silent” groups of people. The people who were once described as “deviant”, the drug users, the prostitutes, the “queers”, all the people whose communities were once considered a “playground” to provide the “raw materials” for academic research—the “gift that kept on giving” according to Sudhir— are not and in fact have never been compliant and silent.
SWOP-NYC and SWANK—two organizations lead by sex workers and their allies in the NYC area—have significant questions about the “research” carried out by Sudhir Venkatesh. In January 2011 members of our organizations were shocked to read a piece by Venkatesh in Wired Magazine. Here he made many outlandish, salacious, and false claims about the experiences of sex workers in NYC including suggestions that sex workers “always” carry “extra panties” with them to sell to men as souvenirs and that escorts “keep working to pay for clothes and shoes” even though they are “beaten, twice a year on average”.
We wondered about veracity of Venkatesh “findings”—he said he had “followed” 270 sex worker subjects in NYC but none of our membership had ever been contacted by him nor knew of anyone who had been—so we carefully examined the investigations he said he had done with sex workers over a ten year period. We found that his “research history” simply did not add up. Claims in articles online, in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and on the Freakonomics blog regarding the dates, locations and numbers of people in his research were wildly inconsistent. His conclusions, for example about large numbers sex workers advertising on Facebook, were easily shown by other researchers and commentators to be incorrect. Other conclusions such as the fiction that “there’s usually a 25% surcharge” to have sex without a condom not only bore no relationship to reality but also endangered sex workers and public health programs working with them.
We were so concerned by what we uncovered that in October 2011 we wrote a letter to the Columbia IRB to the Columbia University Institutional Review Board (IRB) and to the Sociology Department asking for some clarity about Sudhir Venkatesh’s research. Specifically, we asked for the research project titles, dates of research, and IRB approval numbers for each of the years he claimed to have conducted research while at Columbia University. We also wished to make Columbia University’s IRB and the Sociology Department aware of that the research appeared to create additional harms and risks for sex workers in the New York area. Our action is an example of the degree to which communities of sex workers have organized and the degree to which we will question research that we find harmful. We are no longer a “gift that keeps on giving” for Venkatesh, we are a community that speaks for itself.
But clearly we need to educate the media more about this issue. It is not so much our worry that respected publications such as The Guardian and Mother Jones have seemingly accepted that Venkatesh’s current book has some validity—though we certainly encourage these and other media outlets to be more diligent in terms of speaking to the communities supposedly “spoken” for by Venkatesh in the future—it is that Venkatesh’s whole body of work regarding sex work and other informal economies is bankrupt. And Venkatesh is simply an extreme example of an older form of sensationalist, inaccurate “research” which is becoming less and less relevant in the world today. People in the sex trade have done their own research—excellent examples are community based research by the Young Women’s Empowerment Project and the Alliance for Safe and Diverse DC—and new relationships based on mutual respect after some soul-searching about the impact of power differentials on “the researched” are now emerging all across the United States. This is the real story we wish would be covered in the media if journalists can wean themselves off from the tantalizing (yet completely fallacious) fantasy sold by people like Venkatesh.
September 16th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Tantra 101: Holistic Heart-Centered Sexuality for Sex Workers and Their Clients
Wednesday, September 25th, 7-9pm
In this Tantra 101 class, you will be introduced to consciousness raising and heart-centered practices to enhance your and your clients experience.
This experiential class will incorporate practices before, during, and after your sessions to enjoy greater health, happiness, and gratification in your work. As a practitioner, you will explore grounding and centering exercises to create balanced energy within as well as opening to become a conduit of love and healing energy for yourself and your client. These same skills can also be used to create a more meaningful experience for you the practitioner and deepen and enhance your clients overall time with you from a goal-oriented experience into a heart centered holistic ceremony.
Isis Phoenix is Sensual Shaman facilitates ceremonies for individuals in the area of sexuality, spirituality, intimacy and relationship.
Isis facilitates individual coaching and group Shamanic Immersions and retreats.
She is also the founder of Naked Yoga NYC, a nude yoga movement that continues to gain international attention. Isis Phoenix and her work has been featured in Jane Magazine, Vogue, Elle, NY Post, BBC News and MSNBC.
For more information visit www.sensualshaman.com or email email@example.com
Sex Workers Action New yorK (SWANK) is a community group open to current and former sex workers & those who have experience in the sex trade whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion.
June 27th, 2013 — Uncategorized
Like much of the United States, the world sex worker rights has been watching the courts and legislatures closely for the last several weeks in a series of on-going battles on a wide variety of topics affecting those in the sex trade. And like much of the United States, many of the results have been complex, giving us reasons to celebrate, opportunities for more work, and moments to pause. Below are just a few of the moments and victories which should give us, if nothing else, resolve to keep up the fight.
Hundreds of individuals unconstitutionally placed on the sex offender registry will be removed. Last year the New Orleans-based organization Women with a Vision (WWAV) led the brave effort against a Crimes Against Nature Statute (CANS) requirement. Under the law, prosecutors and police had unfettered discretion as to which of two different solicitation statutes (the CANS statute or a second law which carried less severe punishments) would be applied in each individual case with no rhyme, reason or guidance on how it should be applied or to whom. The provision was struck down last April by a Judge, though it was not clear if those who had already registered would be removed. This month, a class-action suit filed by WWAV, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and co-counsel received a settlement that removed over 700 of those unconstitutionally forced to register from the sex offender registry – a huge victory for the local community and a major step forward in the fight against discrimination and criminalization. Said Deon Haywood, of WWAV, “This is truly an historic moment. Justice has prevailed and dignity has been restored to the women and men who have been denied their basic human rights for so long. We celebrate this true collaboration of community, affected individuals, and the amazing lawyers that together made a difference[.]” Read a statement from WWAV here.
No Condoms as Evidence Passes the New York Assembly! Last Friday (June 20) the No Condoms as Evidence Bill (A2736) was passed by the New York State Senate in a historic moment for the anti-trafficking movement, sex worker rights, and anti-policing groups everywhere. Earlier in the week, a City Council hearing was held discussing the importance and merits of the law, which could be a landmark in the struggle to protect the health and rights of the community. For testimony from the hearing, click here. ““Police and prosecutors’ confiscation and use of condoms as evidence is an often invisible aspect of stop and frisk, and a powerful tool of racial profiling of women of color and LGBTQ youth and people of color,” said Mitchyll Mora, a youth leader and researcher with Streetwise and Safe. The bill was introduced this year by Assemblywoman Clark, and now is moving to the NY Senate for another round of discussion.
The Supreme Court strikes down the Anti-Prostitution Pledge as Unconstitutional! After a ten-year long legal battle, the Supreme Court finally weighed in on the Anti-Prostitution Pledge, a requirement in HIV/AIDS funding that required recipients all over the world to adopt a “policy explicitly opposing prostitution.” After its introduction ten years ago, the results across the globe were often devastating – resulting in the de-funding of numerous programs from Brazil to India which had been successfully working with sex workers to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in their areas. (A great infographic from Melissa Gira Grant on the distribution of funding can be found at The Nation.)While not taking a pro-sex worker rights or public health stance, the Court, in a strong 6-2 decision (you can guess who dissented) relied on the first Amendment to note that the government could not compel recipients “to adopt a particular belief as a condition of funding.” While it’s important to celebrate this victory – which means huge possibilities for our allies and advocates abroad in the fight against HIV/AIDS – there was a notable lack of voices from the domestic sex worker rights community. Tits and Sass describes this dichotomy here.
Holding Our Breaths: Canada’s Supreme Court hears a case on decriminalizing prostitution. On June 12, the Canadian Supreme Court heard arguments on the case of decriminalizing prostitution, a continuation of the case from last year and ended in the striking down the provision on brothels/bawdy houses and amended pimping laws to only criminalize those exploiting workers, but upheld the ban on street-based prostitution. This term, the Court will revisit those provisions in the law. Activists marched in advance*, talking about the impact of further marginalizing workers, and how criminalization only increases vulnerability.
- Kate D’Adamo
Community Organizer, SWOP-NYC & SWANK
*It should be noted that I have the same striped outfit as the woman on the left in the picture. She definitely wears it better.
June 20th, 2013 — Uncategorized
In the last few weeks, the New York City area has seen a spate of arrests of clients of the sex trade under the “End Demand”-styled Operation Losing Proposition. Law enforcement has proudly announced the arrests of 260 individuals for solicitation in stings from Manhattan to Nassau County, a process which has also included releasing the names and mug shots of these individuals.** To say that this practice is misguided is an understatement. To say it is damaging to those in the sex trade by increasing fear, shame, and stigma, and making it increasingly difficult to operate safely without providing a single new options for those engaged in the sex trade to find economic security is more apt.
As we and many others have noted, “End Demand” tactics, which use criminalization and increased prosecution of both sex workers and clients under the guise of “saving victims” from the sex trade is a misguided and ill-informed effort which increases the vulnerability of an already-marginalized population. “This means that for the next few months, it’s going to be harder to screen [potential clients now fearing arrest]. I can’t stop working – I just have to work under worse conditions.” noted one online-based worker. “I don’t understand why people can’t wrap their heads around that.”
The language around these arrests being used by proponents of End Demand like Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, though, make it clear why: he considers everyone in the sex trade a “victim,” and his conceptions, opinions born out of misinformation and a deep disrespect, as the only one which matters. By seeing everyone in the sex trade as a victim, it is easy for Kelly and others to ignore the harms which this will inevitably cause to everyone in the sex trade, and ignore pleas for harm reduction principles, inquiries of what will support anti-trafficking efforts, or basic common sense and logic.
But as much as End Demand-promoters want to push this idea of across-the-board, one-size-fits-all victimization, it simply does not hold up to the experiences of those in the sex trade. And this is not to say that individuals in the sex trade are not victimized, but the perpetrators of victimization are too often those are the same individuals being given increasing power to “help” – often against the will of the “victim.” In a 2012 study from the Young Women’s Empowerment Project on Bad Encounters had by their youth membership, 30% of those were perpetrated by police, followed by Health Care settings and schools. Victimization by clients and pimps made up roughly 13% of the encounters total. Furthermore, despite the consideration of everyone in the sex trade to be a “victim” there has not been a whisper from these individuals about the importance of decriminalization, nor the damage and trauma caused by an arrest, conviction, incarceration or record.
This is also not to say that individuals are not victimized by both clients and management/pimps/third parties who see people in the sex trade as an easy target. Even when then, though, law enforcement is often a contributing problem, instead of a reasonable solution. In Connecticut, when a women called the police to say she was being assaulted by her pimp (language used in the article, it is unclear if she used this terminology), the police arrived and arrested her for prostitution. And in a staggering case in Texas, which has received barely a murmur of coverage outside of the sex worker community, a Texas court recently acquitted a man who shot and killed a woman he hired for escort services. His reasoning was that he had assumed there would be sex, and she attempted to leave without providing such services. [For a fuller discussion of this case, read How Texas Made Ezekiel Gilbert’s Acquittal Possible on Tits & Sass.]
Apparently Kelly and others missed the lesson where you ask a (self-identified) victim what happened and by whom they were victimized, and instead prefers to use biases, stereotypes and misconceptions to do the work for you. To be fair – it’s a much easier strategy than being present, accountable or respectful.
By viewing sex workers as both victims and perpetrators, End Demand promoters get to pick and choose whatever is most convenient for their arguments and ignore the demands of a community against which violence is being perpetrated. This ignores and dehumanizes those impacted by the sex trade, turning very real and complex experiences and needs into convenient tropes for third parties. So if Ray Kelly, members of law enforcement, and promoters of End Demand actually asked someone who and what is contributing to the marginalization, violence, stigma, shame, and discrimination which make the sex trade dangerous, the answer should be easy to say, but difficult to hear.
Community Organizer, SWOP-NYC & SWANK
** Despite frequent references to trafficking and exploitation, there was no indication that any of those arrested were seeking to exploit, commit acts of violence, or even solicit a minor, which only seeks to conflate the sex trade and trafficking. In Nassau County, where 104 arrests occurred, suspects were responding to the Backpage ad of a 27 year old.
June 17th, 2013 — Uncategorized
For those in the New York City area, there are a number of incredible, inspiring events happening this week! Everyone is encouraged to engage, attend, and speak up!
Tuesday, June 18:
Please join us for a hearing before the New York City Council Committee on Civil Rights THIS TUESDAY, JUNE 18 at 10AM in the 14th floor Committee Room at 250 Broadway on Res. 0710-2011 in support of the state No Condoms As Evidence legislation!
- call on your Council Member to support state legislation that would to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers, including victims of trafficking, by banning the confiscation or introduction of condoms as evidence of any prostitution-related offense across New York State;
- call on the NYPD to stop taking condoms out of the hands of New Yorkers and using them to justify arrests;
- Click here for the notice of hearing!
Wednesday, June 19:
Police Reform Outreach Project’s Mayoral Candidates Forum: Policing and Criminal Justice in New York City. Wednesday night, June 19 from 8 to 10pm Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Blvd, W. 135th St. in Harlem.
In a discussion critically important to the prospects for meaningful police reform and to the future well-being of our city, the candidates for mayor in this year’s election will debate and express their views on such relevant matters as the NYPD’s counterproductive quota system, stop and frisk, the unwarranted surveillance of Muslim communities, and police harassment of homeless people, the mentally ill, and sex workers. Co-sponsored by: the Community Service Society; Brotherhood-SisterSol; the Nation; the Ethical Culture Society; and the Schomburg Center.
***Kindly RSVP for this event here.
Thursday, June 20:
It’s time for the June meeting for the Sex Workers Outreach Project! The next meeting will be next Thursday, June 20, from 7pm – 9pm at the usual location. SWOP-NYC has open meetings once a month for current/transitioning/former workers and allies to discuss on-going projects, upcoming events, and expand our advocacy work. SWOP-NYC projects include working on policy campaigns, providing direct support to SWANK, event organizing, and other initiatives. If you would like to attend meetings, click here.
1. Retreat 2013
2. Pride 2013!
3. NationBuilder – Right for SWOP?
4. SWOP Structure
5. A Letter on End Demand
May 28th, 2013 — Uncategorized
A few weeks ago NOW-NYC hosted a mayoral debate at Pace University, asking a number of “womens’ issue”-based questions to a panel of six candidates (Christine Quinn being the only female candidate). Candidates discussed issues including “positions on pay equity, violence against women, education, and other women’s rights priorities.” Candidates were even asked if they were feminists (Joseph J. Lhota, by the way, paused and responded that he had never thought about it). Much of it was the kind of forum you would anticipate.
The most interesting question, though, was “What would you do to punish men who patronize prostitutes?”
Their answers were both interesting and somewhat predictable. The two Republican candidates quickly responded that they would, of course, favor prosecution but also cited forms of public humiliation in order to curb the behavior (publishing names and license plate numbers, for instance.) John Liu, current comptroller of NYC, also concurred with these sanctions. Christine Quinn, on the other hand, said she would not support public measures, but was instead in favor of John’s Schools, such as the program in Brooklyn, noting “That’s way worse than having it read on the radio.” Both de Blasio and Thompson concurred, saying that publishing names was no way to change behavior.
But at the crux of this question was what it was not. NOW-NYC, which posited the questions, did not ask what they would do to client who harmed or assaulted women (as they are an organization to support women) engaged in prostitution. NOW-NYC did not ask how they would fight trafficking or exploitation in the sex trade, how they would support the exit of women who no longer wished to participate in the sex trade, or how they would address what a recent YWEP study identified as the primary actors of violence against those in the sex trade: law enforcement.
NOW-NYC asked how candidates would punish clients of individuals engaged in prostitution, despite studies and first-hand accounts saying that increases in police targeting of clients increases violence and exploitation in the sex trade while not diminishing the numbers of those engaged in the sex trade. When criminalization and marginalization become short-hand for progress, we will never make any real strides for the rights of those in the sex trade (or any other marginalized group).
It would have been thrilling to ask how they would stop violence and exploitation of those in the sex trade, but it would have been a misdirected question: If you want to know how to decrease the harms perpetrated against those in the sex trade you have to start by asking those in the sex trade. If this question showed us anything, it was not the candidates’ opinions on punishment of clients, but instead that for groups like NOW-NYC support and respect are secondary.
- Kate D’Adamo
Community Organizer, SWOP-NYC & SWANK