Trafficking/Prostitution

Archive for the ‘Aboriginal Women’s Action Network’ Category

Bridget Perrier, Survivor of Child Trafficking and First Nations Educator & Co-Founder of Sextrade101

In Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Bridget Perrier, Ruth Jacobs, Uncategorized, Writers on 2013/01/21 at 4:56 am
bridget-perrier
 It is so great when I see a victim turn into a survivor – it is, to me, like watching my child walk for the first time. I do this for the survivors and to prevent those from having to do the unthinkable. We need to understand that this is not a ‘choice’ and that little girls don’t aspire to service a multitude of different men.

Reblogged from http://ruthjacobs.co.uk/2013/01/20/bridget-perrier-survivor-child-trafficking-first-nations-educator-co-founder-sextrade101-interview/

How did you become involved in the movement against human trafficking?

The reason why I became a part of the movement is because of my past as a child survivor and as a First Nations voice. I saw that for First Nations women there was very little representation in the movement. I also used my experience as a trafficked child.  I was exploited at a very young age and felt that all the adults, professional and family, did a lot of nothing to help me, and in some ways, they made it worse. I was tired of being looked down on and blamed by society.

In Canada, there are so many First Nations girls who get caught up in the cycle of exploitation – we are seeing them enslaved as young as eleven years of age. Also there are an extremely high number of murdered and missing First Nations women; it is estimated in the amount of 3000. It is more likely if you are First Nations to be effected by colonialism.

I was also upset with the recent charter challenge in the legalization for prostitution. I truly believe that human trafficking and prostitution go hand and hand. I believe as a First Nations woman that I need to be a strong voice and role model for my people, especially our girls.

What draws you to support and advocate for people enslaved by traffickers?

I think it is my own experiences that help me to be able to support enslaved women. I also feel that I have a much deeper understanding of the psychological and social aspect of trafficking and exploitation. I am sick of those who feel they can help a survivor but end up being contradicting and causing more damage than good. It is so great when I see a victim turn into a survivor – it is, to me, like watching my child walk for the first time. I do this for the survivors and to prevent those from having to do the unthinkable. We need to understand that this is not a ‘choice’ and that little girls don’t aspire to service a multitude of different men.

What does your work involve?

My work involves education, advocacy and bringing changes to legislation. We, at Sextrade101, are the only activism group run by experiential women in Canada. We are working alongside police and legislators so we can truly and honestly educate and dispel the myths, such as that this is a ‘choice’. We must look at what our communities’ roles are too in dealing with trafficking and traffickers.

Read the rest of this fantastic interview at http://ruthjacobs.co.uk/2013/01/20/bridget-perrier-survivor-child-trafficking-first-nations-educator-co-founder-sextrade101-interview/

Ontario’s Prostitution Ruling Misrepresented Evidence and Contravened the Charter & Case Law

In Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Bedford decision, Educating Voices, LaCLES.org, Law, Max Waltman, prostitution, SexTrade101 on 2012/07/21 at 8:12 am

Max Waltman, bedford case, terri jean bedford, misrepresented evidence

Max Waltman, a legal scholar who has been published in the New York Times, has concluded that the ruling in the Bedford case misrepresented evidence, while contravening case law and the charter.  Michelle Brock discusses his breakthrough paper at Hope for the Sold.  Here’s an excerpt:

A paper concludes thatBedford v. Canada erroneously rewrote the law against “living on the avails of prostitution” on basis of misrepresented as well as faulty evidence, and contravenes prior Supreme Court cases and the Charter by making prostituted persons more vulnerable to exploitation.

To date, living “on the avails of prostitution of another person” has been illegal in Canada. That law was challenged in the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Bedford v. Canada on March 26, 2012. The court essentially found that the law prevented prostituted persons to benefit from third parties such as brothel management, escort agencies, bodyguards, or drivers — all whom were perceived as able to enhance the safety and well-being of prostituted persons. Hence, the avails provision was rewritten by the court, stating that it “applies only to those” who live on the avails “’in circumstances of exploitation.’”

Now, a recent working paper from Stockholm University penned by Max Waltman, a PhD Candidate at their Department of Political Science, concludes that the Court of Appeal for Ontario erroneously rewrote the law against “living on the avails of prostitution” on basis of misrepresented as well as faulty evidence, and as a result made prostituted persons more vulnerable to exploitation. The paper highlights how the Bedford ruling contravenes previous Supreme Court cases on prostitution, and is inconsistent with equality guarantees under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Waltman suggests a different decision based on the notion of equality under the Charter’s case law, which would effectively endorse the Swedish prostitution law in Canada that criminalizes purchasers and pimps, and decriminalizes prostituted persons. The case will now head to the Supreme Court. (If you are new to the Bedford ruling, and want to get caught up on the basics, you can read a clear description of the decision here.)

Download Waltman’s ground-breaking paper here

Read  the rest of the article about this breakthrough legal scholarship at www.HopefortheSold.com

Part 2 – More Pimps Posing as Sexworker Activists & the Bedford Case

In Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Bedford decision, Educating Voices, LaCLES.org, sex work, SexTrade101, Stella Marr, trafficking on 2012/06/29 at 1:36 am

James Baldwin wrote “The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: she has become a threat.”

I had no idea how threatening my voice was until I started to make it heard.  None of us trafficking and prostitution survivors did, until we started to write about the brutality we’ve experienced and these big players within these pimp-dominated ‘sex worker activist’ groups started to do everything they could to silence us and deny we exist.  Survivor bloggers are cyber-stalked via Facebook, email, twitter and hateful blog comments.  Our email accounts are hacked and private information that could endanger us is tweeted or revealed elsewhere online.  Spiteful emails about us are sent to people we work with.  Supportive activists who feature our writing on their blogs are similarly swarmed with vilifying emails and comments.

I’d like to give you a glimpse of this intense cyber-bullying, using myself as an example. I’m not asking for sympathy; I want to show you what survivor activists go through when we break the silence.

I came out as a survivor online in March 2011.  Almost immediately pro-sex industry men and women affiliated with the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) USA and other pimp-led activist organizations began emailing me and posting aggressive comments on my Facebook wall.  As I got bolder I started leaving comments after articles about prostitution in major newspapers and blogs.  At this point I did not have my own blog, and we hadn’t yet formed Survivors Connect Network.  I was an obscure private person. Nonetheless, members of the “Network of Sex Work Projects” found me.  An anonymous email brought me to this creepy thread about me on admitted pimp Maggie McNeill’s blog.  Another anonymous email led me to this piece on Bound Not Gagged. Here   McNeill implies that I’m a puppet controlled by abolitionistsNorma Jean Almodovar, the executive director of COYOTE LA, suggests that I might not exist.    Billie Jackson, the founder of SWOP Colorado, criticizes my language. Maxine Doogan, the leader of the Erotic Service Providers’ Union states that I remind her of another troublemaker.  She links to a video created by Michael Whiteacre, a lawyer and filmmaker connected with the pornography industry. The video, called The Devil and Shelley Lubben, slanders Lubben, a survivor who speaks out about abuse in the porn industry.  It includes an interview with an actor who was in a pornographic movie that depicts Lubben with six men.  He discusses her sexual performance.  The message is clear:  Make waves and this could happen to you.

These invasive tactics have only amplified as time passes.  There have been numerous other creepy comment threads and blog posts which pick at me and make false statements written by people I’ve never met who are affiliated with these ‘sex worker activist’ groups.  They are a constant background noise and the volume keeps increasing.  Most survivors who write or speak about prostitution go through this.

Any examples I give are just splashes from an ocean of harassment.  Examine these droplets:

  • A few hours after the first ever video broadcast of a talk by Survivors Connect (SC) members, rich and famous Brooke Magnanti sends a tweet to her 49,900 followers, Elena Jeffreys, head of the Scarlett Alliance, an Australian sex worker group affiliated with SWOP USA, and McNeill.  The tweet states that SC members are “like Operation Rescue” an extremist group known for harassing women at abortion clinics.  Survivors Connect formed just four months ago.  Our 48 members are all crime victims and survivors of trafficking/prostitution.  McNeill blogs at Sex Workers without Borders (SWWB) with Jill McCracken, a college professor who is part of SWOP USA. No one at Survivors Connect has ever met Magnanti, McNeill or Jeffreys.
  • As I’m editing this article I get a tweet from another stranger which contains encoded language that refers to the confidential part of my life.  If I were to interpret this fully I would be revealing my location by a matter of just miles.  The message here is clear: We know where you are.

This is what it’s like for survivor activists every day.  You ignore it as much as you can, and then eventually these people get so extreme, threatening or outrageous that they draw you in.  When this happens, I sometimes fall through the floor of my life and into the past’s deep water.  I become the scared, beat up girl I used to be, locked in a room in a brothel.  Then it’s hard to find my way back to the present.  Resurfacing, I’ll stare into blankness for hours while my legs shake.  I’ll feel hollow and my husband’s voice will seem to come from far away.

Read the rest of the article at www.secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com

Nevada’s Legal Brothels Are Coercive Too

In Aboriginal Women's Action Network, prostitution, sex work, SexTrade101, Stella Marr on 2012/04/22 at 12:29 am

human trafficking, prostitution, stella marr, surviors connect, martha nussbaum, rachel lloyd, sex work, sex industry, feminism, sex positive, nevada brothel

Survivors Connect member Stella Marr participated in a  New York Times “Room for Debate” entitled “Does Legalizing Prostitution Make it Safer,”  alongside Rachel LloydChika Unigwe, Max WaltmanNorma Ramos & Martha Nussbaum.

Here’s what she said:

Well-meaning people who’ve never been commercially sexually exploited often think that legal brothels will protect the women in prostitution from pimps and violent johns. They are mistaken.

In the 10 years I worked in New York City’s sex industry, where the pimps were part of organized crime and could follow through on any threat, I met many women who’d experienced Nevada‘s legal brothels. They all preferred the New York sex industry.

Women who worked in Nevada’s legal brothels said they were like prisons where you have to turn tricks. Rimmed with high-security fencing and an electronic gate, they can look like a detention camp. The women live in lockdown conditions and can’t leave the premises unless they’re accompanied by a male pimp. Living and working in cramped, dark rooms, they’re on call 24 hours a day. This is what happens when the law protects people who profit from commercial sexual exploitation. It’s the ideal business model. It’s the best way to get a woman to turn as many tricks as possible.

Most of the women I knew in the brothels and escort services, had a history of trauma and abuse. I was homeless at the time I entered the life and, had multiple sclerosis. That vulnerability makes them even more easily victimized by pimps. And pimps don’t stop being pimps when you legalize what they do. If we legalize brothels we’ll only be giving these predators more power, while we help them protect their cash.

As the prostitution survivor and activist Natasha Falle has said, “Where there’s high-track prostitutes, escorts, strippers and masseuses; there’s pimp violence.”

Read the full debate here.

The Anti-Trafficking Movement Needs Survivor Voices: Why Are We Ignored?

In Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Educating Voices, Holly Austin Smith, LaCLES.org, SexTrade101 on 2012/04/01 at 9:26 pm

human trafficking, survivors connect, holly austin smith, prostitution, sex work, bedford case, canada, ontario, ptsd trauma, sextrade101, rachel lloyd

Sister survivor Holly Austin Smith has a great new post on her blog, titled The Importance of the Survivor Voice.  She discusses an issue that’s central to most  of us:  Why aren’t more survivors being uplifted to lead the anti-trafficking movement?  Sister  survivor Rachel Lloyd is a splendid exception to this rule, as are  Vednita Carter and Kristy Childs.  But so many of us our ignored and discarded after we’ve been used by anti-trafficking organizations once or twice to tell our story.  No one knows more about the sex industry and human trafficking than we do.  No one knows more about recovery from trafficking/prostitution than us.  The absence of  survivor leaders  in most  major anti-trafficking organizations creates a hole in the movement.   Much more would accomplished much faster if we were given the chance to lead.  Because so few of us are empowered to lead,  so much time is wasted — so much knowledge and insight lost.

What’s especially troubling is that even when survivors find ways to lead on our own we’re ignored or talked through.  Our Canadian sister survivors in the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, Educating Voices, LaCLES, and SexTrade101  have been valiantly educating the public about the harms of the Bedford ruling — which upholds the criminalization of prostitutes on the street — who are crime victims– while it empowers and legitimizes their predators, the male and female pimps and traffickers who own brothels and escort services.  While some of the major anti-trafficking organizations have commented on the ruling or written documents concerning its issues, there’s been precious little support and acknowledgement of the brave work of these Canadian survivors.

The 34 members of Survivors Connect recently voted to issue a statement of support for our Canadian sisters against the Bedford decision.  34 prostitution/trafficking survivors joining our voices  in political action is a big deal.  It was a historic moment, and marked a big change in how survivors participate in the movement.  But there was no response by the big anti-trafficking organizations.  A  few wonderful women within these large anti-trafficking organizations  have reached out to me — there are great people in these groups, of course.  But in general survivors are ignored, not uplifted.

What can survivors do about this situation?  What we’ve been through in the sex industry unites us.  We must remember our voices are powerful, form survivors groups where there are none, and join existing survivor groups.  Sometimes nonprofit organizations become competitive and don’t work together.  We can’t afford this.  It’s important that our different survivor groups work and flow together as one so that our voices aren’t fragmented.

Survivors Connect is an international online leaderless network.  We already have 34 survivor members, and we’ve only been around for two months.  We joyfully welcome new sister survivor members. Here’s how to join us.

In response to the need for survivors’ voices,  Holly Austin Smith has started a speaker’s bureau called Survivor Strong.  Here’s an excerpt from her brilliant post on the subject:

 I am in touch with survivors from around the world: new survivors, empowered survivors, educated survivors, struggling survivors, and scared survivors.  We unite under these umbrella organizations to offer each other support, guidance, and empathy and to work together on survivor-inspired projects.

There is a particular topic which has been surfacing lately on many of these forums and that is the lack of survivor invitations to participate in local and national conferences, symposiums, workshops, etc.  Often, survivors are requested to recount the details of their testimonies, and then they are excused from further participation.  This is baffling to me.  If there is to be a discussion regarding the prevention of human trafficking and the protection of survivors, shouldn’t there be a survivor’s perspective present?

Please realize I recognize that many organizations involved in such events are survivor-informed; however, I still believe that empowered survivors whom are able to attend the event should be invited to participate.  What better way to convey to new survivors that their futures hold promise but by providing a place and by lifting the voices of survivors who are ready to come forward?

Read more.

34 Trafficking/Prostitution Survivors Vote to Stand with Our Canadian Sisters Against the Bedford Prostitution Decision

In Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Bedford decision, prostitution, SexTrade101, trafficking on 2012/03/28 at 9:58 pm

survivors connect, human trafficking, sex work, prostitution, bedford case, canada, sex trade 101, aboriginal women's action network, natasha falle, bridget perrier, trisha baptie

Survivors Connect, the international online leaderless network of trafficking/prostitution survivors, has voted to stand with our Canadian sisters  in the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network , SexTrade101, and  Concertation des Luttes Contre L’Exploitation Sexuelle (CLES) AGAINST the Bedford prostitution decision.  These amazing women have selflessly and tirelessly been educating the public about  how the Bedford decision harms women in prostitution.  Here’s our statement:

We the 34 trafficking/prostitution survivor members of Survivors Connect stand with the women of  the Aboriginal Women’s Action NetworkSexTrade101 La Concertation des Luttes Contre L’Exploitation Sexuelle (CLES), and Educating Voices.  We are very sad and shocked by the Ontario Bedford case decision.  It’s especially troubling that the Bedford ruling upholds the criminalisation of  prostitutes selling sex on the street, as these women are almost always traumatized crime victims who need support not arrest.  Meanwhile the ruling empowers the people who terrorize and exploit these women by putting the law behind them.  Legalizing brothels hurts women in prostitution by legitimizing the male and female pimps who own brothels,  escort services or call themselves “drivers” or “bodyguards.”      As Natasha Falle has said, “its not the laws that prevent the prostituted from reporting to the police, its the men (and women) who buy and sell them that label them rats and snitches if they do. Violence/death the penalty.”  As Trisha Baptie and Bridget Perrier have stated, ‎”It’s not the streets that kill the women, it’s the men that kill the women.” 

Survivors Connect Network is completely autonomous.  All of our 34 members are trafficking/prostitution survivors.  We have no hierarchy or leader.  We vote on each political issue we choose to address, so we voted on whether or not to issue this statement.  Not one member voted against it.

Joining our voices makes us stronger and harder to ignore.  We are sisters and survivors.  Nothing will break the bonds between us.  We are Survivors Connect. We welcome sister survivors with joy.  All members are carefully screened via personal reference, phone calls or video chat to make sure no male or female pimps or Johns get in.

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