Sex Worker (In)Justice

Two weeks ago France adopted the Nordic model of criminalizing sex work, which involves aggressively going after patrons of the workers. In countries where this model has been adopted, working conditions for sex workers have degraded significantly as the work hasbeen driven underground.

While feminist abolitionists celebrate the victory of the bill, the workers themselves are not happy.This kind of bill puts them in a more precarious and dangerous situation, both economically and physically.

Legalization of sex work, though, would allow for significant improvements in the working conditions of the world’s oldest profession.

Said Professor Pascal Vielle of the University of Louvain who also researched labour law at the ETUI (European Trade Union Institute):

“If this activity were subjected, just like any other, to the labour law, everyone would benefit. Both the worker and the employer would find themselves subjected to its rules, to the payment of social contributions, to contracts, and a whole range of rights could then be asserted.”

Human rights organizations agree. Among those organizations supporting the legalization of prostitution is Amnesty International.

What we want is a refocussing of laws to tackle acts of exploitation, abuse and trafficking – rather than catch-all offences that only criminalize and endanger sex workers. 

Other human rights organizations that support the legalization of sex work include the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, International Labour Organization, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women, the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Foundations and Anti-Slavery International.*

 

*according to Amnesty International. 

 

 

 

Green Party Labels Women “Non-men”

UK – In a stroke of irony, the far left-leaning Green Party of England  and Wales ended up bending a little too far recently when it called members of the young and feminist branches of the party “non-men,” according to this article by Breitbart.

Spokespeople for the party explained that it was an attempt to be inclusive of those who did not fit into a binary model of gender. However, as the backlash soon made clear, it was a mistake that some saw as taking the cause of feminist language back about 60 years.

“I am not non male,” Beatrix Campbell tweeted, “not cis woman, not a non lion, not a non bicycle, not a non fish and definitely non happy.”

The younger branch of the Green Party stated, “We currently use ‘non-male’ because this is inclusive other non-binary genders which have a place in our group”.

No group of people wants to be known by what they are not. I acknowledge that I’ve used the term “non-binary” as a short-hand to describe people as well as the term “gender”.  But we need better terms, UK Green Party. How ’bout we use “women” for women, whether by birth or identity? And perhaps say something like “all gender identities welcome” when recruiting at large?

[For the record, I think the term “cis” is useful as a way for allies of transgender people to denote themselves in some contexts.]

Rabbit Hole: Rape Culture – Teens

From  Bustle’s “5 Prom Traditions That Perpetuate Rape Culture“:

Bustle’s article looks primarily at prom traditions supporting the idea that young women are targets for young teenage men (who are painted as sexual predators).  Problematic are traditions like insisting that young woman dress conservatively at prom (because they are objects and therefore responsible for inviting rape if they dress provocatively); and the traditional Dad-threatening-prom-date trope that makes only males responsible for the sexual safety of teenage young women.

askingforit
Cover of “Asking For It” by Louise O’Neill. Cover design by Kate Gaughran

According to one Kaiser Family Foundation study, one-third of boys and 23 percent of girls ages 15-17 feel pressure to have sex, and prom can exacerbate this. After-prom parties are often considered an opportunity for high schoolers to reach sexual milestones. This can lead students both to feel internal pressure and to put pressure on one another.

From  Psychology Today’s “Peer Pressure and Teen Sex“:

One in three boys ages 15-17 say they feel pressure to have sex,
often from male friends. Teen girls feel less pressure–only 23 percent
said they felt such coercion. Researchers questioned 1,854 subjects
between the ages of 13 and 24 in a national survey.

The study, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, also found
that teens feel strong pressure to drink and try drugs. The study
findings show a need for sex education at a young age, say the study
authors.

From the SEICUS Fact Sheet in support of the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act:

The availability and quality of sexual health information and sexuality education varies drastically across the country. Less than half of all high schools and only 20% of middle schools in the U.S. provide all 16 of the CDC-identified topics critical to ensuring sexual health. (CDC) In addition, many young people face systemic barriers to accessing health information and services, resulting in persistent inequity and disparities. (CDC)

The data on disparities and disproportionate burden on young people continue to highlight the need for additional resources to serve young people most in need of sexual health education.

  • HIV infection rates are increasing among young people, particularly among young men who have sex with men (CDC) – young people under the age of 25 account for 1 in 5 new HIV infections. (CDC)
  • Half of the nearly 20 million estimated new STIs each year in the U.S. occur among people ages 15–24. (CDC)
  • Despite historically low unintended teen pregnancy and birth rates in the U.S., the country continues to have the highest rate of teen births among comparable countries. (UNICEF)
  • A devastating 10% of high school students report experiencing partner violence and/or sexual violence. (CDC)

Note: the CDC figure looks only at partner violence and sexual violence.  In terms of sexual assault of teens in general, the American Psychological Association reported in 2014 that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls report having been sexually assaulted by age 18. (1)

  1. “Child Sexual Abuse: What Parents Should Know,” American Psychological Association. (http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/child-sexual-abuse.aspx) (February 19, 2014)

 

 

 

 

How do you feel about your gender?

Ismael_Nery_-_Andrógino
Andrógino, Ismael Nery. Public Domain.

Please comment below.

Why Sex Worker Rights Complement LGBT Rights

I’m pretty new to being vocally sex positive.  I’ve been polyamorous all my life, so in my personal circle, I’ve been critical of dominant relationship paradigms — for me.  I’ve been bisexual all my life, so when someone has asked, I’ve said yes, I’m bisexual.  And I’ve been submissive most of my adult life.  That actually doesn’t come up in conversation much with my friends, so while I don’t hide it, I also don’t make a big deal out of it.

But through my volunteer work with the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle, and with this blog, I have become much more vocal about what I’d like to see happen beyond the personal level:  transgender people should be able to use whatever bathroom they feel is appropriate; no one should be discriminated against in employment or housing, regardless of sexual preference or gender identity (or race, age, etc.).  And this:  I believe sex work should be legal.

Why?

Because I’d like to see sex workers empowered with protections and rights.  I’d like to see the highly professional people I know who do sex work get some recognition as the hard workers they are.  I’d like the profession to be better regulated, for sex workers to be seen as separate from the current international story that human trafficking and preying on the week is what drives sex work.  I’d like the profession to be regulated, too, because that would make illegal activity around sex work more visible.  And I’d like the people who patronize sex workers to be free to do so.

I also think it’s an important human rights issue.  Currently sex workers are arrested and jailed for their motive for having sex and for whom they have sex with.  Just like at one point, gay men could be jailed, beaten, and worse for their idea of whom they found sexy.  And there is also this, from the Huffington Post:

In terms of ideology, the two movements are not so far apart. The heart of the demand for LGBT rights is the idea that all people should be granted autonomy over their lives and bodies, that anyone should be allowed to sleep with who they choose and that it only concerns the people in the relationship and not the government or bigots. The very same idea is at the core of the fight for sex workers. Why should they not be granted the same freedom? Why should they not be allowed to have sex with who they choose? — Stephanie Farnsworth

If anyone wants to be truly free on this planet, we must fight for the rights of all our people to be free.