sex work

Gregory A. Piccionelli's picture

Revolution for Community Standards

Every now and then an event occurs in the adult entertainment industry that is of critical interest to every participant in the business.

On Oct. 28, 2009, such an event occurred.

On that day the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals became the first to adopt the requirement that content distributed via the Internet that is alleged by the government to be obscene must be subject to a national standard and not a local community standard as has been the case since the inception of the commercial web.

The ruling is revolutionary for many reasons, but perhaps most importantly for the average online adult entertainment entrepreneur because the 9th Circuit has taken a giant step in leveling the playing field for adult businesses under constant threat of obscenity prosecution by the government.

Obscenity prosecution, just the thought of it scares the hell out of just about every adult entertainment entrepreneur, and with good reason. Consider the following regarding the potential result of a conviction of violating the federal obscenity laws:

  • Each distributed item found to be obscene potentially carries a penalty of five years in a federal prison, heavy fines and forfeiture of money obtained from the distribution of the items.
  • Distribution of two or more obscene items is a specified predicate act that can trigger simultaneous prosecution under the federal law known as the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, aka RICO, a heavy-hitter law enacted to destroy entire mob operations. Persons convicted of a RICO offense face an additional 10 years in jail plus the forfeiture of all property associated with the enterprise associated with the distribution of the items. Thus, for example, a webmaster running an online business from his home who has been charged with distributing as few as two obscene video clips from one of his sites could face a RICO action that might result in the forfeiture of his home.
  • Monies obtained from distribution of obscene materials are also subject to the federal money laundering statutes. These big boys can send you away for 10 years for domestic money laundering, 20 years if the money is made or is moved offshore.
  • If more than one person is involved in the distribution of allegedly obscene materials, all parties could face an additional charge of conspiracy, which can add up to another 10 years to a convicted defendant's sentence. Thus, if you and a business partner operate an adult membership site depicting two or more sexually explicit images or video clips, you could, in theory, face up to 50 years in prison. That's right 50 years for publishing a couple of photographs! That my friends, is an obscenity much greater than any two photographs could ever be, regardless of what may be depicted in them.

arvan's picture

Sex Industry Workers on BlogTalk Internet Radio

Who: Host Maxine Doogan of the Erotic Service Providers Union will be joined by Douglas Fox of the International Sex Workers Union who will be updating listeners on the Crime Bill which criminalize clients of prostitutes. Susan Davis of Canada’s West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals will be speaking about the legal challenge to over turn anti prostitution laws and Sienna Baskin, staff attorney of Sex Workers Project in New York will be updating us on a legislative effort to stop using condoms as evidence of prostitution.

What: International Checkin and Community Building by and for Sex Industry Workers on BlogTalk Internet Radio

Where

When: Sunday, January, 31st 2010 3pm PT (West Coast), 6pm ET (East Coast), 11pm-UK (Britain)

Call in and Discussion (347) 826-9733 for inside the USA and 001 347 826
9733 for outside the USA.

This internet radio show will be followed by a very special phone conference to help organize endorsements for the New York State Assembly Bill A03856 "No Condom as Evidence Bill"

arvan's picture

“Sex work organizations: Programs, advocacy, and opportunities for Chinese NGOs”.

This is a memo from Asia Catalyst based on research and outreach conducted over the past six months into international sex work organizations and their current programs and advocacy.  The aim is to share this information with Chinese sex worker groups as they develop programs and advocacy campaigns.

Sex work organizations: Programs, advocacy, and opportunities for Chinese NGOs

(h/t Asia Pacific Network of Sex Worker$)

arvan's picture

"Speak Up 2010" - Application Online Now

“Speak Up! Media Skills for the Empowered Sex Worker” is a weekend-long seminar offered by Sex Work Awareness (SWA) in New York City. 

Speak Up is taught by Audacia Ray and Eliyanna Kaiser, two former executive editors of $pread magazine who have worked with mainstream and independent media as part of the sex worker rights movement for many years.  The 2010 training will kick off with an evening seminar on Friday, April 9th and consist of two full days of workshop on April 10 & 11.  They are able to train 10 people.

They will be accepting applications until February 17, 2010.  Accepted applicants will be informed no later than March 1.

The inaugural training in 2009 yielded:

  • A video public service announcement, I Am A Sex Worker, which has been viewed 30,000 times online and has screened at events and film festivals in San Francisco, Amsterdam, and other cities;
  • Workshop participant Megan Andelloux has used her training to assist her in many media appearances debating her right to open her Center for Sexual Health and Pleasure in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Watch her on ABC News;
  • Read What Speak Up Did For Me by participant Calico Lane

arvan's picture

"My parents and neighbours are still not convinced I am no longer a prostitute"

ISIOLO, 7 January 2010 (PlusNews) - Everlyn Masha Koya, 22, is a sex worker-turned-peer educator in Isiolo town in Kenya's Eastern Province.  Now the owner of a successful small business, she told IRIN/PlusNews about the extreme poverty that drives many young women in the region into sex work.

"I still remember the release of my primary school exam results in January 2007 - it was a brief moment of joy but also marked the end of my dreams to either be a teacher or a nurse, because although I scored the highest among all the girls in my school, my parents were too poor to send me to secondary school.

"After that, my parents and brothers changed the way they treated me at home - they became harsh and hostile, accusing me of idling.  They instructed me to go out and look for work. When the situation at home became unbearable, I moved out and joined a group of girls who had hired a room in Isiolo - they introduced me to sex work.

"I still remember the first night I ventured into Isiolo town to look for a client, it was not easy... I was required to pay KSh100 [about US$1.30] to some boys who patrol the town at night.  For almost three years I served many men; my clients included the police, army, bandits and robbers, truck drivers and even men whom I suspected were mad.

arvan's picture

'Taking the Pledge' - short film about human rights and sex work

Taking the Pledge is a 13-minute film featuring sex workers from Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Mali, Thailand and more!  They describe the problems created by the 'anti-prostitution pledge' required to receive USAID and PEPFAR funds.

In English, Khmer, Thai, French, Portuguese and Bengali, with English subtitles. Watch in full-screen mode to read the subtitles.

Produced by the Network of Sex Work Projects.

Erin Siegal

shot the interviews and edited the film. 


Annabelle River's picture

The Advice Column and the Prostitute

First, thank you to LaPrincipessa for a great post on the gender double-standard in adultery.  I say thank you both because LaPrincipessa makes good points, and because she alerted me to the news that Ashley Dupre, one of the prostitutes involved in the Eliot Spitzer scandal, now has her own dating advice column with the New York Post.  I realize that the New York Post has the same owner as Fox News, and mostly offers the same grossly oversimplified right-wing propraganda and celebrity gossip, but there's an idea with serious potential.  The first step toward empowering a stigmatized group - such as sex-workers - is allowing individuals to tell their own stories to a wide audience.  Objectively, Ashley Dupre has a lot of experience with sex, and likely a different perspective from my own, and which makes me curious what she has to say.  Also, for everyone protesting that Ashley Dupre is a shameful whore, cover pages like: continue to sell newspapers. 

Serpent's picture

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - December 17

On December 17, 2009 Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago will join other sex worker rights organizations all over the world in commemorating the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.  This date was chosen by Dr. Annie Sprinkle in recognition of the conviction of Gary Ridgway, the Green River killer, a man whose reign of terror over almost twenty years resulted in the known deaths of 48 women.  These women, who also happened to be sex workers, were targeted by Ridgway because, in his own words, "I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught".

arvan's picture

Safer sex for soccer fans and sex workers

CAPE TOWN, 8 December 2009 (PlusNews) - With only six months until South Africa hosts the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the nettlesome question of how to deal with sex workers looms.

"There are actually almost no sex work programmes in place at the moment," said Marlise Richter, a sex work researcher and member of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), at a recent consultation in Cape Town on HIV, sex work and the World Cup.

"If we look at healthcare-specific programmes [for sex workers], there's very little, and this is what we should be doing in terms of the National Strategic Plan [on AIDS]."

Public health and human rights experts fear a potential disaster in the combination of a criminalized sex trade, one of the world's highest HIV infection rates, and the arrival of an expected 450,000 soccer fans.

The consultation, co-sponsored by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and SANAC, brought together civil society, government, and other key players to discuss the potential impact of the World Cup on the local population, with a particular focus on developing strategies to address HIV risk in the context of sex work.

arvan's picture

Sex workers still shun condoms in Lebanon

BEIRUT, 1 December 2009 (IRIN) - Four years ago, at 16, Rana's husband forced her into prostitution. Despite the risks of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), Rana, like many local sex workers - estimated to number at least 6,000 - often did not use condoms.

"It's up to the client," said Rana (not her real name). "I want to use condoms, but most of the clients don't." Asked why she ignores the risks of contracting HIV or STDs she simply says: "I don't want to lose the client."

Elie Aaraj, head of Lebanon's SIDC association, warns that the lack of condom use among local sex workers could soon become a public health issue.

"So far there are no recorded HIV cases among the country's surveyed sex workers," he said. "But once the virus gets into the community it could explode."

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