Prostitution - Framing the Debate for Decriminalization Part II

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Infosaturated
Prostitution - Framing the Debate for Decriminalization Part II

Hopefully balanced summation of arguments in the next post. The third post will be conflicting definitions of trafficking.

Infosaturated

Summary

The goal of the Charter challenge on prostitution is full decriminalization.

Those opposed want partial decriminalization. Prostitution and solicitation would be legal, johns, procurement, living off the avails and running a bawdy house would be illegal.

Full decriminalization means it's a business like any other.

Legalization means legal but with limitations imposed such as registration, health checks and red light districts.

The three main arguments are based on: worker safety, worker rights and personal freedom. 

1) Safety, decriminalization could result in either greater or lessor safety.

Safety, meaning physical harm, rape, assault, unsafe sexual practices, physical coercion, forced trafficking, child prostitution.

2) Individual worker rights versus the collective right of women to be protected from exploitation.

Worker rights include UIC, pensions, etc. but also the right to be protected from exploitation. "Voluntary" migrant workers fall under this category as does economic coercion and luring under false pretenses like exagerating the amount of money to be made.

3) Freedom of the individual versus community rights to control environment through barring harmful practices.

Communities can be negatively impacted by criminal elements, citizens being accosted on the street, condoms and needles strewn about and a repellant atmosphere.  Linked to this is the more ideological argument of promoting equality, respect for women and Canada's image in the world. Do we want sex tourism? Freedom of the individual is self-explanatory.

Proponents of full decriminalization believe that harmful and exploitative practices can be handled through existing laws against rape, assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, trafficking, etc. Proponents of partial decriminalization contend that despite laws the illegal components rise with legal acceptance of prostitution leading to more trafficking and child prostitution. Also the attitudes towards women that it engenders undermines the ability of women to achieve respect and equality in a broader sense.

Each argument can be supported or undermined by outcomes where decriminalization or legalization have occurred.

New Zealand is held up as the ideal model for full decriminalization. Sweden is held up as the ideal model for partial decriminalization. There are many other countries with varied forms of legalization. Each of the examples has to be viewed in the context that Canada is a different country therefore outcomes won't necessarily be exactly the same here.

New Zealand is right next to Australia where prostitution is legalized. Canada shares a border with the United States. Sweden believes strongly in affirmative action for women. It is their contention that left to the marketplace it would take another 100 years for women to achieve equality. Canada is less willing to actively pursue equality for women leaving it up to the individual.

Australia, Germany, and others went with legalization which the sex workers in Canada don't want so they consider the experiences of those countries inapplicable. There is only one example of full decriminalization, which is similar to legalization. Therefore supporters of partial decriminalization think the experiences of these other countries can't be so easily dismissed especially as Canada might choose legalization rather than complete decriminalization.

Sex workers in this context refers solely to what is commonly referred to as prostitution. Sex workers use the term to indicate that they have willingly chosen their profession even if it was to avoid poverty.

Prostitutes, in this context refers to women who do not want to be prostitutes but were forced into it through physical violence, coercion, or poverty.

Infosaturated

I re-edited my first post and edited my second post so they are both different from the first thread.  I tried very hard to offer an unbiased overview.

If anyone considers the posts unbalanced please say so.

martin dufresne

Interesting response on the PARLEUSES feminist list to a prostitution apologist supporting the decriminalization of pimps and brothel owners:

 

What are your concerns regarding third-party persons who profit from
the 'trade'?

I believe a woman's body belongs to her and her alone, as does every
aspect of her reproductive capacity or system. Are there no criminal
laws to crush the middlemen: the parasitic procurers, brokers,
traffickers and buyers, including EVERY exploitative third-party
person, agent, or organization like those who procure or arrange the
use or transfer of body parts?
I don't see the difference between those agents/agencies that procure
and traffic humans beings except that some are accepted as legal and
some not: for example, it seems to be legal for 'adoption' agencies
to procure infants for adoption for 'clients' by 'grooming' and
exploiting the most vulnerable of fertile females... which I consider
the most extreme form of sexual violence (isn't that sexual slavery?)
ever inflicted on Womankind. (Woman can mend from other forms of
sexual assault, but never that particular one.)

Why don't the laws that govern the transfer of human body parts
(donor organs) also govern the trade/sale of women's reproductive
organs, ova, and offspring (or womb rental)?

Isn't it true that organizations pushing for the decriminalization of
prostitution are those same third-parties who stand to profit? We
have laws against human slavery. Do they no longer apply to female
flesh?

~ankara

 

This seems to me an angle entitled to serious discussion.

remind remind's picture

Quote:
Do they no longer apply to female flesh?

Only female flesh of the royalty type, as always.

And damn, I hate dial up, I went to look at this link below, from the former thread, that I had not yet got to and it has mini films, that I can't watch,  or at least I think it does, as the pages took fo ever for me to just get a trailer to load. But the word trailers seemed very interesting. 

Our class consciousness is a huge barrier in understanding what it feels  like to be trafficked for sex, perhaps we have experienced "used for", and/or taken against our will, but trafficking, is really being raped several times a day, with someone profitting on your being raped, so hearing their words too, for me could grow my understanding further.

http://www.priceofsex.org/

 

Infosaturated

martin dufresne wrote:

... Are there no criminal laws to crush the middlemen: the parasitic procurers, brokers, traffickers and buyers, including EVERY exploitative third-party person, agent, or organization... ~ankara

I don't want to get into the other aspects of the argument because those comparisons end up being disputed based on whether or not they are similar situations.  The part I quoted I think is very important.

The money being made by third parties is, of course, a driving force behind prostitution.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-07-11-Dutch-human-trafficking_N.htm

Experts said the case could have an impact on Dutch policy because the crimes were committed after brothels were legalized in 2000 in the hope that legitimacy would make it easier for the police to monitor prostitution.

Five of the six convicted men were found guilty of participating in a large, well-established network that kept women in prostitution by force — and with extreme violence.

Some of the victims were compelled to have breast enlargement surgery, and one defendant was convicted of forcing at least one woman to have an abortion. Women were beaten and forced to sit in icy water to avoid bruising. They also were tattooed.

... the two leaders of the network were born in Turkey and some of the group had lived in Germany.

Prosecutors said the investigation involves roughly 50 suspects and more than 100 women.

Jan van Dijk, an organized crime and victimology expert at the University of Tilburg, said the timing of the case was significant because it came after years of debate that led to the liberalization of Dutch prostitution laws.

"It was supposed to be very visible and transparent, and yet behind the facade, horrible things were happening under the nose of the police," said van Dijk.

"The honeymoon of the new prostitution legislation is over; we are really reconsidering whether we're on the right track," he said.

http://news.iafrica.com/worldnews/1982660.htm

Dutch prosecutors sought prison sentences of up to eight years on Tuesday for 10 Nigerians accused of using voodoo curses to force about 140 Nigerian girls into prostitution in Europe.

About a dozen of the girls were traced, while the rest were thought to have been forced into prostitution in Italy, Spain and France. Most were minors at the time, their ages ranging from 16 to 23.

"The suspects used voodoo to influence the girls," said a prosecution statement. "They had to give blood, nails or a piece of clothing and make a promise to a voodoo priest to repay the 'debts' incurred for their travel to Europe" — between €30 000 and €60 000 each.

"That means that they would have had to have forced sex about 3000 times and give up the proceeds. In a foreign country, far from home, with no way out — living with the fear of going crazy or dying if they disobey their handlers," said the statement.

Lee Lakeman

Infosaturated: thanks for this work, it really is useful in thinking things thru.  In general I agree with your summaries although I might have constructed them somewhat differently, but that is not an important difference i think.  But I also think I see a couple of things that disappear or get blurred in your summary number one:

re: In the section on indivudal rights vs collective rights I think you blurred a couple of things

1. what is a right? are we talking here of Human Rights as per the International Declaration of Human Rights and what it has meant and what we want it to mean? or a 'right' the way some use the word to mean I am entitled because I am ok and I think I ouhtta hava right?

I would say that I agree abolitionists we are questioning individual "rights" of the second sense to the Human Rights in the first sense.

And there is also a  fight between those who claim a Human Right to freedom from sexism and those who want to establish a Right of BUSINESSES  to sell sex.  A battle between individuals and capitailist entities.

2. I would say we are considering the individual rights 1. to be free of government but 2. also framed as the rights of workers (which is usually fought for as a collective right so that it does not become the phoney 'right to work' used against unions 3. the individual rights are also framed as the right to sexual liberty (as though the context of economic and gender and race factors do not change or affect sexual liberty) 

Workers also have collective rights so blurring individual and worker is a disservice to both in my opinion.  It gets rid of women's collective rights not to harrassed or discriminated against on the job or in employment; the Human Rights already won by women

3 the collective right to which we refer is not just the right of women not to be exploited but rather the collective right of women to action of government to interfere with exploitation and violence and the right of women to be treated as fully human beings that is a right for full range of interlocking Human Rights so that each woman stands a better chance of accessing her individual Rights.  Since women are a declared disadvantged group ths too requires positive government action all all of womens human rights

4 But I would also say that this fight also exists outside the "Rights" discussion altogether and that Abolitionists see a court and government battle as necessarily incomplete.  It is a failure that women have been abandonned to poverty and violence and inequality and now abandonned to this venue.  This fight should have been won by the political solidarity of the progressive forces to insist men stop using prostitutes.

In your second summary I don't agree that the terms "strict" and not strict or less strict apply to Abolitionist interpretations of the the Palermo Accord.  The first rounds of that Accord spring from the work of human rights workers and peace activists after the second world war and the forced migrations and terrible treatment of women by the armies of occupation and by the terrible treatment of women and children of the "displaced peoples" in post conflict zones and migrations.  It has been weakened since in some uses but it has nver been defeated.  "Consent" was understood as irrelevant in the situation of the disposessed and it ii in  that sense that we apply it here.  I agree it is contested as is evertyhing as thr world slides to the right but I would say in the strictest sense that the Accord supports partial decriminalization even more in this world of globalized capitalism and where human rights law still requires us to "read together" both domestic and internatinal law

Infosaturated

Definitions of trafficking and determining "willingness".

Trafficking

Beginning with the most restricted interpretation:

Trafficking Protocol expressly permits states to focus only on forced prostitution and other crimes involving force or coercion and does not require governments to treat all adult participation in prostitution as trafficking.

Coercion includes debt bondage, removal of passports on arrival etc.

A less narrow interpetation includes illegal migrants who have paid a smuggler to transport them particularly if the smuggler is delivering them to a brothel particularly as they often end up in debt bondage.

The interpretation used varies by government and trafficking can also refer to people being moved within a country.

Visa workers imported specifically for sex work can be considered trafficked particularly if deception was used concerning job requirements. Some are also kept in debt bondage. A Visa worker in Canada cannot change jobs, cannot apply for citizenship, and is sent back after 2 years leaving them very vulnerable to demands.

NGOs will often use the broader interpretation as smugglers are seen as exploiting the desperation of illegal migrants particularly if they are being moved for a particular purpose, for example to stock a brothel. NGOs may consider Visa workers trafficked if once they are here job descriptions are changed because their options are severely limited.

Illegal migrants are not trafficked but as they have to live under the radar they can be trapped into various forms of exploitative work. Refugees may also be under excessive pressure.

Legal immigrants can be drawn into the trade due to lack of options then trapped due to misinformation.

In all of the cases above inability to speak English can result in workers being virtually trapped. They don't know their rights in Canada so whomever is managing them can manipulate them through lies.  For example, telling them they will get 10 years in jail if the police find out what they are doing.

With the exception of legal immigrants and refugees the other migrants are subject to deportation which they may consider worse than the conditions where ever they are from.  People back home can be depending on them to send money too.

Lastly, there are legal immigrants which may be willing to be doing the work they do as an alternative to poverty.

Willingness

Defining "willing" in this context is troublesome.  Supporters of full decriminalization such as exists in New Zealand will refer to anyone who isn't being physically forced as willing.  Some who support partial decriminalization such as exists in Sweden will define anyone who says they would do something else if they could as unwilling.

Views concerning immigration, migrant labor, racism, definition of economic coercion can all affect how someone defines "willing".

Pretty much everyone is against minors being used in prostitution. But what happens when they turn 18? Are addicted drug users really "willing"? Are they truely willing given that they have been streamed into prostitution and don't know anything else?  High numbers suffer from PTSD and have such battered self-esteem that they don't consider themselves capable of doing a different job. What if they are doing it because welfare doesn't cover food or to pay for college? Does that mean willing?

Trying to determine what percentage of women are genuinely willing sex workers is highly problamatic.

Infosaturated

Thanks for the comments Lee. It started out being an exercise in trying to clarify my own understanding of the arguments.

I edited my wording in the "trafficking" post using "restricted" which I think is a more accurate term.  Now I have to go away and think about rights because I used the word very loosely. You are correct that the issue of rights is central to the debate.

Caissa

As I have stated before I am interested in this debate to completely clarify the issues and my thoughts. So ask. is there a difference between a woman's right to control her reproductive life ie. the pro-choice position and a woman's right to willingly engage in sex work?

Michelle

Does anyone notice the lack of female sex workers' voices in this thread? 

I'm bringing this up because these threads are being dominated by men (well, one man in particular) and abolitionist feminists who do not identify as sex workers (or "prostitutes" or "prostituted women"). 

Meanwhile, we have two people on babble who have identified as sex workers, one of whom has decided to leave babble for a while, and one of whom is putting up a valiant effort to discuss the issue but is being drowned out by three or four abolitionist (or "partial decriminalization) posters who seem to have endless time to dominate these threads on this issue all day and all night.

I've had literally dozens of complaints about this, from many babblers.  Some of those babblers have attempted to join the conversation to support those sex workers' voices, and it looks like a few of them have given up, probably due to the sheer bombardment of posts that every post of theirs generates.

Is it possible for there to be a space on babble where sex workers' voices are not drowned out by people who oppose them?  Is it possible for men, for instance, to step back from dominating threads in the feminism forum, even men who are pro-feminist (something else I've had complaints about lately)?  (No, that doesn't mean not posting at all, it just means that if you're posting every second or third post in the thread, maybe you're dominating the discussion.)  Is it possible even for female feminists who notice that they're posting a huge percentage of the posts in a thread to step back a bit and not drown out every other voice in the thread?

I am pondering opening a new forum that is specifically a "safe space" for sex workers and people who support their efforts at harm reduction to discuss the issue on babble, and leave the feminism forum open to all feminist points of view on sex work, including abolitionist feminists.  Might that help with this problem?  It IS a problem, because I've had a number of e-mails from people who tell me they're leaving due to being completely drowned out by a handful of people on this issue.

thanks

i haven't read all the posts on this subject, but today as i have some time and energy, i'd put in my two cents worth.

i don't think the practice is criminal.  Criminal is for things like murder, rape, exploitation, etc.

if it's about consenting adults, it may have lots of problems but i don't think is criminal.

the problems then would be the same as any business in this country, subject to the broader exploitation of people by powerful monied interests, but at least not then under the gun of additional abuses.

that's my thinking on it now in any case.

Unionist

Michelle wrote:

I am pondering opening a new forum that is specifically a "safe space" for sex workers and people who support their efforts at harm reduction to discuss the issue on babble, and leave the feminism forum open to all feminist points of view on sex work, including abolitionist feminists.  Might that help with this problem?  It IS a problem, because I've had a number of e-mails from people who tell me they're leaving due to being completely drowned out by a handful of people on this issue.

Just do it, Michelle. I stopped posting in these threads long ago, and I've long come to the point where I can't even read them because of the overpowering repetition and "drowning". Just do it - that's my two cents - unless there's something you can do as a moderator to reverse what has unfortunately happened here.

 

 

Ghislaine

Michelle, I think your idea is a great one. It took me awhile to give up on posting in the many threads - I was mainly trying to support susan's efforts.

 

Caissa

I third, Unionist and Ghislaine.

remind remind's picture

What is "willingly" caissa?

And just plain common sense, says of course there is a difference between the 2.

People.  are  not just allowed to go out and put their lives on the line at a high risk job, just because they are "willing" to do so. There are rules and regulations, and indeed punishments, if they are not adhered to.

Let's take a look at deep sea welding, as a comparable high risk job, though really it too is not even as high risk, as what front line sex work is, where the welder is only allowed to be under water for x amount of minutes at a time, to a max amount, per day. This is done for his safety, even though he may  feel he can be down there for longer than what the law allows and would like to stay there for another minute, to just get the job done. Said welder is not allowed, but yet he retains his body's integrity.

Thus, he is not prevented bodily from doing his job, there are just severe restrictions placed upon him because of its high risk nature. He does not adhere to them, he loses his ticket.

Long distance truck drivers, even though they  may feel they could drive non-stop, are strictly restricted to the amount of time they can drive per day, and are even told how much sleep they have to have per day. Same too with pilots. If not, they lose their licenses.

The more the high risk the job is, for both personal and public safety the more rules there are.

Nurses, cleaning staff and Drs, are not allowed to go into quarantined patients rooms without proper attire, and training on how to be in there, would be another example, of where they all may believe they can "quickly" go in and out of the rooom, without harm to themselves and others, but they are not allowed. Nor are visitors, even though they all still retain every right to their personal body's integrity.

Fire fighters are not allowed on the fire lines, when the risk evaluations are too high, even though they may believe they would not be in danger. And they too retain their body's integrity, even though they are prevented from rushing in, just because they believe they can.

aaah, have another example, a few years back a fishing boat tipped over in the mouth of the Fraser. The rescue diver's could not go down and in, in a immediate way, because it was too risky for them and there were regulations against it. So they did not go down and into the boat and try to rescue those who may have been drowning below them, even though they were "willing" to do so. Thus several poeple died, who may have been rescued.

And of course, in none of the instances above, did anyone think to say; "well...it is their body, so it is up to them to do whatever they want with it, while on the job".

 

I am not sure what people are not getting about the designation of a legal  industry, that has formal job positions, when they think about this.

Caissa

From Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: will·ing Pronunciation: \ˈwi-liŋ\ Function: adjective Date: 14th century

1 : inclined or favorably disposed in mind : ready <willing and eager to help>
2 : prompt to act or respond <lending a willing hand>
3 : done, borne, or accepted by choice or without reluctance <a willing sacrifice>
4 : of or relating to the will or power of choosing : volitional synonyms see voluntary

 

- will·ing·ly \-liŋ-lē\ adverb

martin dufresne

..."safe space" for sex workers and people who support their efforts at harm reduction to discuss the issue on babble...

One-sided discussions... By Jove, of course! Now why didn't anyone think of that before?... And since we're not supposed to take arguments voiced in one thread into another, no possibility of contamination either!

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

In case you haven't noticed, martin, this conversation has become decidedly one-sided by virtue of attrition. And to think I thought it was possible skdadl and Tehanu might start posting here again!

remind remind's picture

The main reason, why I was dancing on the edge of wanting this to be a formal industry, was because of my thinking around the aforementioned hgih risk job activities and the restrictions, placed upon the workers, by society for safety reasons.

It would make sex work just as safe as any other job. And the pay for the high risk nature of it would be suitabley high.

Then I realized, whom am I trying to kid here. If it became a formal job, with suitable high pay, commensurate with the risk taken and  the attendant regulations for a high risk job,  there would be very little use of such a publically controlled service. Too costly for more than a handful of people, to access the services of those willing to be in the career field by their own choice. This would not mean the "trade" would die out. It would mean it would go back to the streets and underground markets.

Same as it is now. And there would still be no initiatives for the marginalized who are forced  into sex work.

 

 

martin dufresne

Caissa, in response to your question, the difference is that, contrary to abortion and even contraception rights, no one is challenging "a woman's right to willingly engage in sex work," despite the lobby's efforts to make it sound that way. It is the rights of johns, pimps and traditional brothel owners that abolitionists are taking on in defending those sections of the Criminal Code against full decriminalization.

 

Michelle

One-sided discussions, Martin?  How about this for a one-sided discussion?  I just counted the posts by everyone in that last thread, and four people posted vastly more than everyone else: susan davis, martin dufresne, Infosaturated, and remind.

We have one sex worker posting there, and she posted 22 times in that thread.

Infosaturated posted 23 times.

martin dufresne posted 15 times.

remind posted 12 times.

I think I'll create the new forum now.  Enough waffling on my part. :)

remind remind's picture

Caissa wrote:
From Merriam-Webster: Main Entry: will·ing

1 : inclined or favorably disposed in mind : ready <willing and eager to help>
2 : prompt to act or respond <lending a willing hand>
3 : done, borne, or accepted by choice or without reluctance <a willing sacrifice>
4 : of or relating to the will or power of choosing : volitional synonyms see voluntary

Thank you for providing this definition caissa, as it indicates quite clearly my points above, regarding the sliding scale of what society allows people to do while on the job,  willingly or not,  outside of complete personal time body integrity.

For example, teachers are not allowed to run about naked at work, even though they may be 'willing' to do so, because it  may be more comfortable for them. Bosses are not allowed to sexually harass employees at work, even though some would be very 'willing' to do so. Our body integrity means that even though we are not on personal time, we have a right to body integrity. This means our body's integrity on/in the work place, outweighs the body integrity of the boss, or the teacher.

Creating a formal job description in the framework of Industry Canada registration means something.

And contained within that meaning, is the reality that front line sex work will not remain status quo. It cannot.  New precedence's cannot be set in labour law that would role back personal safety risks for other job descriptions that are high risk in nature too.

So, rules and regulations would have to be created for a new high risk job position, just like the simple examples I made above, for other high risk jobs, or on the job, activities.

It would be an expensive leisure activity, and only a few men would be able to access those willingly in  the trade, and who thus will adhere to the rules and regulations.

Unless of course some are trying to make us believe, and believe themselves, that such a high risk job occupation should be min wage, or even labourer's wage?

Because the pay would have to be commensurate for the risk taken, just as an underwater welder's pay is commensurate with what they do, and this is all based upon what the rules and regulations make it be.

 

 

 

Michelle

Sorry, but no.  The "difficult but crucial dialogue" is happening between about four or five people with enough fortitude to stand it, while many others are being shut out, and are leaving in despair.  I'm hearing from them, and I'm going to respect their voices.

Caissa

Michelle, my concern, as someone who wants to critically think on this topic, is that often little dialogue seems to be taking place and instead at times I feel like I am reading a serious of monologues. It is possible that the participants are so far apart philosophically that they cannot find common ground upon which to have a dialogue.

martin dufresne

In the first Prostitution- Framing the Debate for Decriminalization thread, the tally was:

Six people posting critically about the prostitution industry, vs. ten people posting in favour.

Susan posted 48 screens out of the thread's 125, i.e. 38%.

No one is being "shut out" -- contrary to the one-sided "forum" you propose, where critics are already being bad-mouthed in absentia and would be told to leave if they were deemed "agressive". Sealed

 

martin dufresne

Michelle wrote:

We have one sex worker posting there, and she posted 22 times in that thread.

Infosaturated posted 23 times.

martin dufresne posted 15 times.

remind posted 12 times.

 

Here is my tally of the (sex workers voices...) thread:

Four people posted critiques of full decriminalization.

Thirteen people (including the three mods) posted in support of it. One alone posted 35 of the thread's 85 screens - 41 % - including extraordinarily misogynist insults against critics of the industry, which drew almost no public rebuke from the mods.

Still not enough one-sided for y'all?

 

We are having a difficult but crucial dialogue, one that seemed impossible here only months ago. Can we get ourselves past the uncomfort and press on, as respectfully as possible, and without validating back-channel attempts to scuttle the process?

 

Michelle

The forum isn't even created yet, Martin, so no one is being "badmouthed in absentia" in it. 

And yes, that's exactly what will happen in the new forum - you will be asked to leave and post elsewhere if you are dominating the discussion or posting aggressively against sex workers or their allies in that forum.  You will, however, be free to post whatever you like about it in the feminism forum, because I recognize that there are many, many feminist ideas about prostitution and sex work, from complete abolition to complete legalization and decriminalization. 

Marginalized voices get more protected space.  Your voice is hardly marginalized here, especially in the feminism forum.

BTW, a great number of those "screens" were because susan davis was posting full and very long articles instead of posting a bit and linking to the rest, which is something I should be keeping a better eye on.

 

Michelle

(Okay, now it's been created. :) )

Caissa

Can the high risk nature of the industry be lowered?

remind remind's picture

Quote:
Because the pay would have to be commensurate for the risk taken, just as an underwater welder's pay is commensurate with what they do, and this is all based upon what the rules and regulations make it be.

Would like to carry on with this thought.

To think that sex workers should be paid, pay, that is  not commensurate with the high risk nature of the job, is sexist thinking, as such, it cannot enter my diliberations about its legalization.

As it is clearly stating that it is "women's work"  even if it is he highest risk profession around, and therefore it is not as valuable as men's high risk work.

We cannot build institutions on that type of thinking anymore. It is building in inequities, when we know better.

susan davis

Smilesorry about posting entire articles, i will watch myself in the future....it just seems as if people don't even follow the links....and sometimes partial posts can be taken out of context, ie- the partial living in community post about the brothel and coop.....

my thinking was to not create 100 different threads, i posted some articles in the news section but they were eventually moved to the feminism forum. sorry

perhaps a seperate forum topic is a good idea. then artices could be posted seperately and different aspects could be discussed seperately in individual threads....

we may have an opportunity in vancouver to test our sex industry ethics commission? sex industry working group? i don't know what to call it....it would be great to hash out some potential terms and a mandate..... and to be able to discuss individual aspects of potential processes and policies for that group....

such as group composition, the design of a complaints process- we support an inclusive by committee process, the re design of the licensing process- we support license applications reviewed for appoval by committee, minimum code requirements, etc are defined in city by laws but there are gaps which dis empower workers so revision should take place...

have i ever posted our rpoposed by law revisions on babble?

anyway, it could be an open forum for everyone, but we could spread it out a bit and people could choose what they were interested in looking at....perhaps some policies about decrim supporters posting in abolitionist threads? and abolitionists posting in decrim threads?

we could respect each others right to fight for what we believe in and agree to not engage in disproving each other. instead we would post our opinions seperately in order both sides to be able to engage in productive converstaions without the other fighting to be heard...i mean this on both sides. i am sure people in favor of abolition are just as frustrated as i am.

i would agree to completely abstain from posting in threads opposed to decriminalization. 

maybe we could have "battle ground" thread as a sticky....lol

i am too tired to play today. i need to work and pay some bills, i hope everyone has a nice weekend. it'll be a good soggy day for rugby tomorrow at brockton oval...go rowers!!

Stargazer

remind wrote:

We would not allow sex workers to have diseased fluids and instruments put into their bodies, by the very same token.

 

 

I'm not exactly sure what this means? Who is doing the "not allowing" part? In actuality people are quite free to engage is risky sexual behaviour all the time. For example. having sex fully consentual and without a condom, with a person who is HIV positive.

remind remind's picture

Excellent question caissa, as yes it can be, and I illuminated such above, by society having to lower the risk nature of it, in order for it to comply with societal standards of acceptable risk for on the job activities.

This means heavy regulations would have to be in effect, there would be no lassiez faire conditions the way that there are to day. Which is another reason why I had been thinking, as I said before,  that it should be made into a industry.

Clients, now called johns, would have to be screened for diseases, before they engaged in the purchase, as it is they who transmit diseases to sex workers. And really that is one of  the first things that would have to be regulated in order to make the job risk acceptable and in compare with other high risk jobs.

Thus purchasing sexual access to anothers body, must become a pro-active action, and not a spontaneous one.

Proving current disease free status immediately, is going to be hard for some demanding customers to do, and thus they would be denied access ,just like ya have to wear shirts and shoes in a restauran, or ya get no service.

They do not, by our labour and health laws, have the right to knowingly infect a legal employee, or sub contractor, with a disease, when it is preventable, especially when said disease can and will be spread to the public at  large.

Hep C positive workers are not allowed to work in public food preparation areas without gloves, and if safety is breached a public warning goes out to all those who ate there.

We would not allow lab techs to use dirty needles to take our blood, as it is an invasive to the body job action, and it would spread disease to the larger population.

We would not allow sex workers to have diseased fluids and instruments put into their bodies, by that very same token.

And that is where condoms come into play too, as the next risk lessening regulation. They would be mandatory, just as hard hats, eye safety glasses, face shields, steel toed boots,  clean needles, and hand gloves are mandatory to workers in specified fields too.

And then the job safety regulations would go on from there, as to amount of jobs per day, per year, per hour, would have to be detailed for each and every  worker activity that they engage in. As of course some have higher risks than others. It would be formidable to legislate and regulate for.

 

remind remind's picture

Stargazer wrote:
remind wrote:
We would not allow sex workers to have diseased fluids and instruments put into their bodies, by the very same token.

I'm not exactly sure what this means? Who is doing the "not allowing" part? In actuality people are quite free to engage is risky sexual behaviour all the time. For example, having sex fully consentual and without a condom, with a person who is HIV positive.

Excellent question and observation, but you have to take this out of the realm of the personal choice action, and into the realm of the work day world, where work regulations must apply.

For front line sex workers to be able to collect WCB/EI and be legal, for example, they would have to adhere to WCB regulations in the areas of disease control and contamination by the spread of bodily fluids, just as hospitals, labs, etc have to.

There is bodily fluid exchanges going on, we do not use dirty needles on the next customer up, nor do we allow Hep carriers to donate blood.

Thus any industry/job action that takes part in the exchange of bodily fluids,  comes under all the same WCB, labour board, and public health regulation guidlines.

For another example,  nowadays in road accident cases, clean up firms have to be hired that are certified to handle possibly contaminated body fluids remaining around and their workers must wear gloves and safety glasses. It does not matter if they do not want to, they have to.

Surgeons are not allowed into people's bodies, without a whole sterilization procedure and gloves, as they are performing an invasive measure, and could be easily contaminated in their own right too.

Once a public  endorsed employee of some sort, personal desires do not apply in the work place. Sex in this case will be an industry, and personal desires will not, and do not, apply in the public work realm, especially in the public realm of body fluids being exchanged, or possibly being exchanged.

 

skdadl

Michelle and oldgoat, please forgive me, but I am just doubled up laughing at [URL=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KvgtEnABY]precious bodily fluids.[/URL]

 

Ok, everyone: line up in straight rows. I said straight! Rows! We are going to test your precious bodily fluids. There are unregulated exchanges of bodily fluids going on, and we cannot permit that activity to continue without public-health controls, all of which will be very expensive and will expand the size of the bureaucracy in satisfyingly bizarre ways.

 

Only when commercial, you say? Your husband just handed over his pay packet for the week? Join the queue, and make sure that he does too.

 

This is Dick Cheney's one per cent doctrine: if there is a one per cent chance that someone might be a terrist, he may be kidnapped, transported, tortured, held in limbo indefinitely, even after we've figured out that he is innocent, all because paranoia trumps liberty every time. Freedom is just so, y'know, dangerous.

Stargazer

Okay good starting points, but how are the johns going to be examined for diseases and violent tendancies? I think there should be regulations on certain things, such as having sex with someone knowing you have a disease, but I think that is fairly obvious and already in place. But how would it be possible to make johns go for tests prior to their often last minute need to pay for sex? I can't see how that would be possible. All of the harm reduction would then be on the sex workers, and not the johns.

I've been trying to figure out a solution to this but wihout putting a bunch of people's civil iberties at risk, I am not able to come up with real workable ideas.

The way I look at it is, it would be an amazing day when women did not have to sell their bodies to anyone unless they chose to do so. It would be a great society if women and their bodies were treated equally and with respect but that is not going to happen. We have been living under patriarchy since time began. So the questions and answers should be around the actual reality of the world as it is today. Not how we wish it to be (and believe me, I'd like it to be different).

I think there should be unions for sex workers, benefits for them when they cannot work, support for those who want to leave (exit strategies and job training), daycare for working mothers who chose to stay in the industry, more support those who have been vitims of past crimes etc. All these I see working hand in hand with sex workers.

I guess I don't see this as a all for or all against position, but rather as one that acknowledges that prostitution is not going anywhere, so how can we best ensure that those in the field are as safe. Both sides have a lot on common I just don't think a lot of people see that. We are all arguing for better conditions for women, some who chose to do sex work and those who are doing it against their will.

Either way though, I feel extremely uncomfortable telling anyone what they can and cannot do with their bodies in this context. Everything else is legal - stripping, massage parlours, peep booths etc. This is reality and I honestly think we need to readjust to accomadate this fact. 

Also, while the majority of sex workers may be female there is a large group of men who make their living off sex and massages or both. These men should be included in any solution as well (not to mention the young boys who patrol Boys Town looking for johns). 

I am under no illusion that everyone in this business wants to be in it, likewise I feel there are those who absolutely do chose to do this.

This post was a mash up of a few things but I thought I'd put this out there.

 

 

remind remind's picture

Skdadl, you do not think sex workers should be protected from diseases just like all other employees, who may come in contact  with bodily fluids?

As a nurse I am affronted, we have to take ever manner of precautions that are there to protect us and the public. As do paramedics, lab techs, Drs, and even lowly accident scene clean up people.

We have food safe courses and certifications for those dealing in the public realm, for a reason too.

For pete's sake, even nowadays with H1N1, people are told to wash their hands, do not touch public bathroom doors etc, etc in order to stop the spread of the disease, by body fluid exchange. Viruses are spread by droplet infection, aka  body fluids.

It is as simple as that.

They are not precious, they are, or can, be deadly. And that is why we have health regulations to protect us.

We do not want restaurant employees using the washroom without washing their hands, and coming backs to us and preparing or serving our food.

It is again bodily fluids that spread some diseases, while others take direct contact.

Thus we as a society have created rules, and regulations protecting ourselves and workers.

It is employment that has life threatening implications, and I do not believe mockery of those with concerns, and who are out lining them, is beneficial to anyone, especially not sex workers, who have the absolute right to expect full employment safety rights that other workers have, if society is going to somehow legitimize their work.

 

 

 

 

 

Stargazer

skdadl wrote:

Michelle and oldgoat, please forgive me, but I am just doubled up laughing at [URL=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KvgtEnABY]precious bodily fluids.[/URL]

 

Ok, everyone: line up in straight rows. I said straight! Rows! We are going to test your precious bodily fluids. There are unregulated exchanges of bodily fluids going on, and we cannot permit that activity to continue without public-health controls, all of which will be very expensive and will expand the size of the bureaucracy in satisfyingly bizarre ways.

 

Only when commercial, you say? Your husband just handed over his pay packet for the week? Join the queue, and make sure that he does too.

 

This is Dick Cheney's one per cent doctrine: if there is a one per cent chance that someone might be a terrist, he may be kidnapped, transported, tortured, held in limbo indefinitely, even after we've figured out that he is innocent, all because paranoia trumps liberty every time. Freedom is just so, y'know, dangerous.

 

Yep. I have to agree with the main point of skdadl's post.

Michelle

I'm not sure.

I mean, obviously personal transactions between a couple are personal, right?  If I want to take a risk with my body in my personal life, that's one thing.

But I see remind's point, about how an occupation that wants to be considered a legitimate profession and involves the potential exchange of bodily fluids, needs to have health and safety standards.  If nursing, and massage therapy, and doctoring, and dentistry, and food handling and service, have standards of practice that ensure safety for both workers and clients/consumers, then doesn't it make sense that the sex trade should as well?

remind remind's picture

Stargazer wrote:
Okay good starting points, but how are the johns going to be examined for diseases and violent tendancies?

I would say a pre-screening clinics must be set up, before access is allowed. It is the only way, that front line sex workers could be recognized officially, as sex workers equal to other workers in similar fields. Or rather = to other high risk fields. Where equal commensuration and safety regulations can take place.

I do not think this is an amusing topic at all.

The reality is, it is high risk and needs to be viewed from that position and not a romantic one, or one to be taken lightly, by stating "okay decriminalization", without understanding where that leaves front line sex workers.

They would be in limbo, no work place regulations, nor job safety regulations. Thus nothing would change for them safety wise, only legalization and full legitimate job status could do that.

Quote:
I think there should be regulations on certain things, such as having sex with someone knowing you have a disease, but I think that is fairly obvious and already in place.
How can it be in place, as there is no way for it to be in place, and I say this respectfully. thus it cannot be enforced.

You and I both know that a front line sex worker cannot go and lay charges upon a man for his giving her Hep, or HPV, or any STD.

That STD's have their own classification states everything.

Quote:
But how would it be possible to make johns go for tests prior to their often last minute need to pay for sex? I can't see how that would be possible.

It wouldn't be,  in general IMV, but if society is going to legitimize it, they have to do it in an all, or nothing way. Otherwise they are legalizing the right to exploit marginalized women, as that is what decrim alone will do.

They will not be covered by WCB, CPP, or EI.

In order to access that aspect of the social safety net, work place regulations, plus human rights, labour and other rules, like that which I have noted prior, must be adhered to.

So decrim only, would deny their right to access the social safety net, not enhance it. It would give them NO work place rights.

Legalization would enhance it, but it would place a huge burden upon society  to make sure it was enforced. And I am not opposed to that, at all,  it is their rights just like everyone else has work place rights.

Quote:
All of the harm reduction would then be on the sex workers, and not the johns.

Well no, not really, it would be placed upon society, not the sex worker, at least not anymore than any other worker must take rsponsibility for thermselves while on the job, by adherence to labour laws and work place safety laws.

John's/clients would just have to be willing to prove their state of health, both physically and mentally, upon demand to access.

Drunks are not let on buses, nor allowed to disturb the publics peace, and no one thinks their civil rights are being denied.

And people are not allowed to go into WCB offices and hold people's lives hostage and theaten their personal safety. And so it should be with front line sex workers, as their work is such a high risk to their own and the public's safety. Clients should not be allowed to threaten their well being, either ovetly, or covertly. Neither should their employers, which is what could  and would happen,  if only decriminalization occurs,

Quote:
I've been trying to figure out a solution to this but wihout putting a bunch of people's civil iberties at risk, I am not able to come up with real workable ideas.

I hear you with this, it is something I have long struggled with too.

But then I realized  it is not about civil liberaties at all, it is about worker's rights in the work place, and about public safety regulations, as an extension of that reality, if it is legitimized as "work" by society.

Sex work is not mystical, it is work. Full stop. And every consideration must flow from that realization.

Quote:
The way I look at it is, it would be an amazing day when women did not have to sell their bodies to anyone unless they chose to do so.....

Exactly my view. However one has to be pragmatic and look at every, and I mean every aspect of it.

Quote:
I think there should be unions for sex workers, benefits for them when they cannot work, support for those who want to leave (exit strategies and job training), daycare for working mothers who chose to stay in the industry, more support those who have been vitims of past crimes etc. All these I see working hand in hand with sex workers.

Me too, but I find the struggle remains, in my realization that we would be building an industry solely  to uphold men's rights to exploit people's bodies, unless we  build it to be a flat out profession, and  resist appeasing ourselves, by thinking decriminalization will do anything to help people in front line sex work.

It has to be full legalization and all  that that entails. Now and into the future.

Quote:
Either way though, I feel extremely uncomfortable telling anyone what they can and cannot do with their bodies in this context.

I do not understand this, I just can't get my mind around it, and the discontinuity of it all.

We all  are told, what we can and cannot do with our bodies in the work place.

Sex work is not some "special" trade that should be exempt. Nor can it be exempt.

As a nurse, I have to keep my nails short, my hands clean between every contact with people, even if my hands bleed from over washing,  I must wear appropriate attire when going into a quaratine situation and be trained in  the proper techniques.  I cannot wear scents in the work place, nor inappropriate to the work place clothes. This is not against my civil rights, it enhances mine and others civil rights.

Quote:
Everything else is legal - stripping, massage parlours, peep booths etc. This is reality and I honestly think we need to readjust to accomadate this fact.

Front line sex work, as I have been trying to detail, takes sex work to a whole  other level of work place regulations and safety factors. It is not like other sex work, there are serious implications. No matter the gender.

We cannot accept decriminalization under any circumstances, it creates a no where land, where there is no protections for sex workers. They have no work place labour laws, nor health safety laws that apply to them, as their field of work is not recognized in work industry standards.

While those you note are.

 

Stargazer

There are currently laws and regulations regarding the transmission of disease. There is the Criminal Code, which handles cases of intentional infections of HIV and there are current Health regulations already in place for other STDs. If you have an STD, you have to tell any previous and future partners that you have an STD. Of course in reality this doesn't happen too often, but they can be forced to do so under section 21 of the Ontario Public Health Act  (I'll need to look up the specific section as it has most likely changed). In the case of HIV or AIDS you can have someone charged under the Criminal Code. Of course that will be harder for anyone with more than 1 sexual partner as you have to prove beyond a doubt that the infection came from a specific person. But these laws apply equally to all people. So there is recourse and existing law (not to menton established case law on intentional HIV infections).

I agree there should be standards of care but we actually do have specific regulations and laws. People just need to be made aware if them.

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/pubhealth/oph_stan...

And there are newer regulations (I've been out of the loop for awhile, clearly):

http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/pubhealth/oph_stan...

Sexual Health and Sexually Transmitted Infections Prevention and Control Protocol (above)

 

 

 

remind remind's picture

Of course rational thought states it is so, Michelle.

In legitimate work, every legally recognized job, has a numerical designation within Industry Canada designations.

There are literally thousands and thousands of numerical designations for work place jobs, and they all fall into  categories of job descriptions, health safety, product manufacturing/dispensing etc...any big city library will have a computer that will alllow you to search numerical designations, plus reference books that will contain them.

When a business starts out and is registered as a business, thus coming under the full force of all societal laws, it must list what numbers the work entails within Industry Canada designations. Indeed 1 business may have to list several numerical designations for job endeavours that will occur under its auspices.

Thus, each business/org comes under the preview of those agencies/peoples that monitor those Industry Canada designations and the attendant regulations. Plus under whatever other public oversight commissions are involved. If it is a society, it comes under the societies act too for example.

Now, if front line sex work is only decriminalized, and not legalized,  it gets NO Industry Canada numerical designation, and thus it comes under no one's preview, except for that of the police, by the way of crimes being committed upon them, by their supposed customers, or employers. Thus it remains a he said, she said situation, exactly the same as now.

There is no way they can pay EI, CPP, or collect WCB if injured on the job. They will have no legitimate designation to do so.

Nor can they make labour relations complaints, as they have not been given a labour code designation number.

Decriminalized front line sex work thereby leaves front line sex workers fully exposed, just the way they are now. Legalization and legitimization is their only protection.

Decriminalization only protects the consumer,  from conducting a illegal activity, from having to pay what should be full market value for such high risk job position undertaking, and from having to conduct themselves according to other work place guidelines and standards...

And of course decriminalization alone also allows "employers" free reign, there is no job industry classifcation that controls their activities. They do not have to have a health orientated safety shop, nor follow any industry standards, as there are none. No designation has been given.

There can't be, unless legalized and then whenl all aspects have researched by Industry Canada, and a numerical designations given, so that appropriate public authorities can regulate and monitor all aspects of it.

And this is actually the simplified vesion. Very simplified.

Even social clubs/orgs that have an industrial kitchens that produce food for public consumption, have to have it registered as such, so the health inspectors  can monitor and certify it. All people who use said industrial kitchen must have food safety certification.

There is a big difference between decrim and legalization, and there is a world of hurt for sex workers between the 2.

 

 

remind remind's picture

Going to link with this thread

Infosaturated

Stargazer wrote:

There are currently laws and regulations regarding the transmission of disease. There is the Criminal Code, which handles cases of intentional infections of HIV and there are current Health regulations already in place for other STDs. If you have an STD, you have to tell any previous and future partners that you have an STD. Of course in reality this doesn't happen too often, but they can be forced to do so under section 21 of the Ontario Public Health Act  (I'll need to look up the specific section as it has most likely changed). In the case of HIV or AIDS you can have someone charged under the Criminal Code. Of course that will be harder for anyone with more than 1 sexual partner as you have to prove beyond a doubt that the infection came from a specific person. But these laws apply equally to all people. So there is recourse and existing law (not to menton established case law on intentional HIV infections).

I agree there should be standards of care but we actually do have specific regulations and laws. People just need to be made aware if them.

That is for personal relationships not business relationships. When a business by it's nature deals in the possible exchange of bodily fluids between hundreds if not thousands of men and women laws governing personal relationships are inadequate.

Take Remind's example. I "nursed" my husband until his death from cancer. I "nursed" my daughter through many illnesses. But, I did not have to meet the "standards of care" that nurses are held to. 

Sex workers, by the very nature of their job, are exposed to many men all of whom could be carrying dangerous diseases. Men pay a hundred dollars for a room and more for the service worker. Surely they can bear the expense of registration and regular testing.

Stargazer

Actually no, the law applies to equally to everyone.

Re: getting men to get tested - you know that isn't going to happen. Sex isn't usually something someone plans way ahead of time. Like hey, in a few weeks I want to see a sex worker so I better get my test and have my papers ready. Seriously, that isn't the reality a lot of the time. Cabbies for example are notorious for prowling very early morning downtown for sex. You think these guys are going in to get tested? Especially given many of them are refugees or newly landed immigrants? Not going to happen. Not to mention the men who are married. Are they going to get tested prior to having sex? Not likely that most will.

I agree men should take responsibility for getting tested themselves, freely and of their own will, but I really do not think that will happen and I'm not in favour of forcing people to undergo tests to enter into a consensual exchange. Note I said consensual. Not talking forced.

No idea what the solution is or what other options there may be in this area.

 

 

remind remind's picture

It is not a consensual exchange on an interpersonal level, if sex work is to be labelled and thought of as sex "work". Then that is what it is, work.

With all the rammifications and responsibilities of what "work" denotes.

One cannot access the social safety net as a worker, unless they adhere to the same policies and provisions that others workers have to adhere to, to access it.

You work under the table, you have no ei, no cpp, and no  wcb, for example.

Again, sex  work is not some mystical altered state of employment that should have "special" considerations from other types of 'chosen' employment.

Society controls consentual work relationships, every moiment of every working hour. It would not and should not be any different, for sex work.

susan davis

sure, certification, safe sex etc......but comparing us to nurses is a little crazy....are a nurses patients criminals? is the hospital where she works illegal?

in new zealand, condom use is law.we support the same measures here. and i might point out, we have designed health and safety training and it is ready...in partnership with vancouver coastal health authority.we could base a certification process around that ....

i am all about limiting harm from exposure to infectious disease as well but don't believe some of the ideas put forth by other posters will be possibile in reality.

if customers are frced to be checked to see legal"certified"workers, they will not see us. this will force workers to work outside of "government santioned" work spaces and we will be faced with the same problem as now.

rules yes, sex industry treated as other industries yes, but it will a system designed specifically for the sex industry as it is a unique set of circumstances. we can draw on the experiences of other industries to help design any strategies but in order to prevent gaps from forming we must accomodate the industries inner workings....ie- confidentiality and discretion 

remind remind's picture

susan davis wrote:
sure, certification, safe sex etc......but comparing us to nurses is a little crazy....are a nurses patients criminals? is the hospital where she works illegal?

No it is not, from the position of  job industry compare in the areas of public and worker safety needs compare.

Quote:
but don't believe some of the ideas put forth by other posters will be possibile in reality.

if customers are frced to be checked to see legal"certified"workers, they will not see us. this will force workers to work outside of "government santioned" work spaces and we will be faced with the same problem as now.

And decriminalization will also be the same then, at best. And it could be worse even.

 

Quote:
rules yes, sex industry treated as other industries yes, but it will a system designed specifically for the sex industry as it is a unique set of circumstances. we can draw on the experiences of other industries to help design any strategies but in order to prevent gaps from forming we must accomodate the industries inner workings....ie- confidentiality and discretion

What are you talking about unique, there is nothing unique about it. Confidentiality and privacy laws are in place for a reason, in all industries.

You can't have a industry with different rules from other industries in respect to job and public safety applications, it is just not possible. Nor should it be.

Employers can't have free reign, employees can't either and neither can consumers of services, just because they  want to. Public work is public work, and confidentiality can be kept, just like it can in every other field where it is strictly required.

Confidentiality does not mean breaking  labour and health codes. Ever. Full stop.

 

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:
if customers are frced to be checked to see legal"certified"workers, they will not see us. this will force workers to work outside of "government santioned" work spaces and we will be faced with the same problem as now.

Interesting. I read that in New Zealand customers who want to go "bareback" use minors on the street (non government sanctioned workers). Customers figure their youth makes it less likely that they are infected with anything and it's easier to pressure them.

 

martin dufresne

All better reasons for not allowing sex to be redefined by the State as "work" or "services", with consumers and profit-skimmers allowed to put women's lives at risk in the name of "spontaneity", secrecy or some women's dire circumstances. In the world I am working for, no one gets cut off from basic health & safety measures just because there is ample monies to be made from deregulation.

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