Caroline's blog

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Sex workers and the media

Here's an interesting blog I've found via Dolly. Rebecca Dakin, author of The Girlfriend Experience, is blogging about getting "back into 'normal life' after a whirlwind exciting 9 years of escorting". She wrote it, in her words, "to educate people about the infamous 'girlfriend experience' and challenge peoples views on escorting". So, what's interesting - she's been writing about how the media have portrayed her and her book. She writes,
I was trying to understand why I have been so upset about newspapers printing stuff that's in the book. The thing is I wrote the book to try and show people that there was so much more to escorting than what people think, which is that men only pay for sex. Since the press want to just discuss and print all the graphic sex making me out to be a convent girl and sex crazed loon that became a hooker, it's a little frustrating to say the least. Because the things they printed are taken out of context it doesn't really achieve what I wanted it to achieve. I'm trying my best to think that any publicity is good publicity but I'm having second thoughts (no good now I know!) now as to whether I have done the right thing by putting my face and name to it.
Check out the "I went from convent girl to to hooker" story in the News of the World and file under typical. It's a new blog, so you can catch up very quickly. Do be sure to read her posts News of the World... and More Press.

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Prostitution decriminalised in Taiwan

via Mistress Aliya - Taiwan OKs legalized prostitution zone.

Taiwan began a process of legalizing prostitution Wednesday making the island the latest place in the world to decriminalize the world's oldest profession.

In six months, authorities will stop punishing Taiwan sex workers after prostitutes successfully campaigned to be given the same protection as their clients, a government spokesman said. [Reuters]

This after much campaigning by The Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters. Why?

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Link to a guest post by Douglas Fox from the IUSW

From sex worker and human rights activist Douglas Fox of the International Union of Sex Workers:Why Sex Workers Need the IUSW.

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An absolute epic fail from Amazon

Image found at CRAIG'S POP LIFE.

 Via Audacia Ray (on Twitter): Amazon have removed the sales ranking from "adult material". Adult? Why, sexuality, lesbian, gay, transgender, feminist and, um, other smutty porn books, of course.

 The sales rank, as you can see from the picture above is under 'Product Details' at the bottom of the list. On the left is the product details of Kitchener's Last Volunteer (I picked that just because it's top of my wishlist). Below is the product details of Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, a title I got from Helen G. Note the missing "sales rank".  
  Heather Corinna (on her Amazon blog) explains:
In other words, it [her book] is no longer listed in the sales ranks with other books of its subject or genre, no matter how good my sales are, or if my sales are above others who are currently listed. As well, my book, as is the case with many others, is not currently listed anymore in the subject heading appropriate to it. That deranking can massively impact us as authors, and also can impact consumers, particularly those who are trying to seek out material on a subject broadly without knowing what books are available by title or author. And with books that serve any sort of marginalized population or subject matter, finding them offline is often tough. Deranking books like mine further marginalizes the already marginalized.
(See also this article for more information on Amazon sales ranking, thanks to Dacia for sending me the link). Here's a list of some of the books from Meta Writer and another list from Jezebel affected by this. Up there at the top, I see Brokeback Mountain, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit and The Well of Loneliness have had the treatment. Jesus. This is scary - what is happening here is actually incredibly disturbing. To be honest, I'm still absolutely stunned. So what can we do? Craig Seymour, who has been on this from the start, has a round up. Smart Bitches proposes Google Bombing - "As always, fuckwittery should not go unrewarded":

All you have to do is link to the page using these words: Amazon Rank. The more you do it, the higher up in rank the page will go, and the more successful it will be. One would hope.

The goal: that “Amazon Rank” points to the definition that underscores Amazon.com’s shortminded censorship and inconsistent policing of what ought to be accessible to the book buying public.

Also, there is an online petition you can sign, a call to boycott Amazon, fill out their customer complaint form, ring them or you could email them - here's an example of what someone wrote to them. Finally, keep an eye on what's being said on Twitter by searching for #amazonfail.

This is very reminiscent of Google's indexing, which makes it all the more disturbing. It's like the internet's being "cleaned up" by the damn Christian Right.

Edited to add: Don't you just love how Mein Kampf keeps its rank? Hell, Adolf fucking Hitler's books fine, that Winterson woman though? She dangerous.

Also, via a commenter at Jezebel's:

 

Wanna hear something that will really make your day? Now because of this who sales rank thing when you search for Homosexuality in the Amazon search engine guess what is the first book that pops up? A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality!

 

It's true, for both US and UK Amazon (click to enlarge).

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Sex Traffic at Institute of Contemporary Arts in London

via Laura Agustín.

SEX TRAFFIC at London’s ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts
http://www.ica.org.uk/Sex%20Traffic+19176.twl

11 March 2009 - 1900 / 7pm

The media and NGOs have raised awareness of sex trafficking in recent years, but does it serve the interests of migrant sex workers to suggest they have been trafficked, or does it collude in their criminalisation and deportation? Should our priority be to give migrant women in the sex industry more control over their own lives, or to stop the traffic?

Speakers: Laura María Agustín, author of Sex at the Margins and a former educator working with expatriate sex workers; Georgina Perry, service manager for Open Doors, an NHS initiative which deliver outreach and clinical support to sex workers in east London; Catherine Stephens, sex worker; Jon Birch, inspector, Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit. Chair: Libby Brooks, deputy Comment editor, The Guardian.

Nash Room.  Book here  £10 / £9 Concessions / £8 ICA Members

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Link to a guest post by Douglas Fox (IUSW)

caroline

Those who have been following the blog posts about Jacqui Smith’s plans to change the prostitution laws in the UK will surely know the name Douglas Fox, spokesperson for the IUSW. He, as well as the IUSW in general, has faced a great deal of criticism this month from the UK radical feminist bloggers who have been largely inclined not so much to show their support for Jacqui Smith but more to discredit sex worker’s unions.

Douglas has written a post at my blog about the proposals, as well as the misunderstandings, prejudices and preconceptions held by those who no doubt would see themselves as allies - government ministers and feminists. I’m hoping he’ll contribute regularly to my blog.

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SCOT-PEP's funding withdrawn

SCOT-PEP, or the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project, describes itself as "promoting health and dignity in prostitution". Want their creds? Sure you do -

Between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007 SCOT-PEP worked with 557 individuals - recording 3,977 contacts. Services and support were provided to an average of 122 sex workers each month. 367 of our service users were indoor-based sex workers and 89 were street-based sex workers. During the year contact was maintained with sex workers in 37 establishments.

The average number of individuals accessing sessions were:

* daytime service - 10.43 (189 sessions)

* establishment outreach - 6.41 (86 sessions)

* night-time services - 10.94 (97 sessions)

We provided
info and advice to 404 individuals on 2,627 occasions;
a listening ear to 318 individuals on 1,669 occasions;
referrals for 192 individuals on 1,152 occasions;
high level support to 8 individuals on 12 occasions;
and our website received 5,729 hits.

Safe Sex Supplies - SCOT-PEP distributed 91,063 condoms.

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More on how to protest against Jacqui Smith’s proposals

Further to my post yesterday, I have some more information from the IUSW on how to protest against Jacqui Smith's proposals:

The second reading of the new bill is now on MONDAY THE 12TH.

We must get as many MPs as is possible to speak out against the governments proposals.

This is a draft letter from the IUSW.

Please will everyone concerned with this industry send this to your MP. If you need help finding out who your local MP is IM me and I will give you details. [or check out this site]

Clients can of course change the begining to something appropriate such as concerned member of the public.

This is urgent please do this asap.

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Jacqui Smith and the New Prostitution Laws in the UK

carolineAs I'm sure you'll be aware, the UK's Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is proposing to change the law on prostitution. Councils would be given more power to close down brothels, clients would be "named and shamed" and  sex with someone "controlled" for another's gain would be outlawed.

It's not a good move, let's face it. Throwing women out into the street and denying workers the right to a safe environment to work in (and this is a Labour government?!), fostering a climate of fear, don't get me started on "naming and shaming..." This is bad news, quite simply. How bad? Read more.

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