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“Trafficking”

I felt this story of what really happens when the Government and their Police “crack down” on “trafficking” of sexworkers was too important to not post in full (From this ECP press release.)

We really need to kill the Policing & Crime Bill, as well as the Coroners & Justice Bill. (wish I had the spoons right now. 😦 )

Michaela – convicted as a “trafficker”

I’ve been a victim of sexual abuse and domestic violence and believe every woman should be protected. I come from a poor rural area of Brazil. At age 12, I was forced to work as a domestic servant to help support my family. I was repeatedly sexually assaulted by two sons in the family.

I came to Britain to marry, after many years the relationship broke down, and I became a sex worker to get an independent life for me and my children. The wellbeing of people around me has been the focus of my life. That is why I opened a place to work indoors where it’s safer. I saved to open a health club in Manchester. I had all the health and safety checks by the council, and a receptionist to make sure women who worked there would be safe. I had a few women who came from Brazil and other countries. All were over 25 years, had been working in prostitution and were in no way forced. But because I am a woman of colour, and from another country, I was targeted.

I was arrested in October 2005, and convicted of trafficking. I pleaded guilty because the police threatened to charge my 18 year old daughter if I didn’t, and because my solicitor and barrister strongly recommended it. They told me that because the trafficking law does not require proof of force or coercion, only evidence that you helped someone from another country come into the UK who then works in the sex industry, then I was guilty.

The judge agreed I had treated the women “kindly”. He accepted “none of the women was coerced by you into acting as a prostitute . . . none was actually deceived as to the nature of the work they would be required to undertake . . .each had previously worked as a prostitute . . . You treated them in a kindly and hospitable way, inviting them to your home and social occasions. The police often frequented the premises and went out socially with women working there. The judge used this against me saying that it “undermined the public’s confidence in the police” as if I should be punished for the police’s behaviour. I was convicted because the police and CPS wanted to look like they had cracked a big criminal case — to get promotions and build careers.

For this, I was put in prison for nearly three years and separated from my children, the youngest was only six at the time. Children at that age need their mother’s protection. I was terribly distressed, and my children were deeply affected. Their behaviour changed, and they are still recovering from that separation. My ex-partner tried to deny me the right to see my youngest, and has tried to get custody. I was also prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act. We lost everything – our home, savings, even personal gifts and belongings – which I’d worked so hard for. I’m 45, a single mother with two children to support, having to start again with nothing. Me, my family and friends were vilified by sensational and false reporting in the local press before trial. Any friends who tried to help me were either charged or threatened with charges by the police. My address was put in the local paper, and my daughter had to move home and could not attend college. Now the Home Office wanted to deport me. Legal Action for Women found me a good lawyer to try and stop the deportation. My British citizenship was revoked, yet I’d never committed a crime.

All I did was run a flat where women were able to work safely – why is that a criminal offence, did I deserve to spend three years in prison for that and to have my life and my family’s life ruined

BMA attempts whitewash, fails badly

Thanks to Pink News I saw that the British Medical Association (BMA), the professional association and trade union for UK doctors, had released a “report which describes the experiences of LGBT doctors and medical students working in the NHS” to mark LGBT History Month.

I’m really not sure whether to just post the particular paragraphs from their press release or to mercilessly dissect it –

“Societal attitudes towards homosexuality have changed over the years. There was a time when homosexuals were imprisoned as criminals and treated with electroshock therapy to ‘cure them of their disease’. The 2004 Gender Recognition Act was a major step forward and at last offers legal protection to homosexuals.

“Like the UK, the NHS has come a long way in recognising sexual and gender equality since it was founded in 1948. Many of the stories in the report show that LGBT doctors are out and proud at work and this is brilliant news, however, there are still accounts of discrimination which shows we still have a long way to go.

“The doctors who have spoken out in this report have been incredibly honest and brave and I hope their accounts will inspire other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender doctors to be proud of their contributions to the NHS and to patients.”

- Dr Justin Varney, Co-chair of the BMA’s Equal Opportunities Committee (EOC) 

….

Fuck it, this one is just too failworthy to let go. 😛

  1. LGBT =/= homosexuality
  2. The whole thing seems rather …confused about itself. “Homosexual” one minute, then LGBT, then “sexual and gender equality” (i.e. Queer (+ Intersex) + Gender Variant + Kinksters + Ethical Non-Monogamy + Sexworking + ethical Sluts) and back again. Kinda different in scope, aren’t they.
  3. Sure, there was a time when we imprisoned and enforced state-organised abuse on “homosexuals” to ‘cure them of their disease’, but now we just reserve that for perverts, trannies, and whores.
  4. The 2004 Gender Recognition Act was a major step forward and at last offers legal protection to homosexuals.”
    1. ….
    2. lol!
    3. would this qualify for ‘epic’ fail?
    4. I’d also challenge that it was “a major step forward“. It might have been in 1997 or whenever, when it was first submitted to Parliament, but by the time it did get passed it was pretty much relegated to tokenism to shut up the normative fluffy tea-and-crumpets trannies.
    5. Legal protection. Only just. The tiniest ‘wafff-eh thin’ sliver of legal protection …and only for those trannies that are certified as ‘Twue Transexuals’, oh, and guess who has that job – Doctors.
  5. Completely fails to acknowledge the role of the BMA itself, and many of it’s members in either actively supporting, or at least refusing to challenge the widespread Antisexualist, Anti-trans, Anti-Intersex, and Anti-Kink prejudices and *acts* of clinical (mal)practice endemic within the UK Medical industry/community, included of course;
    1. performing major surgery without consent,
    2. refusal of life-critical treatment,
    3. false pathologisation,
    4. pressurising patients to conform to stereotypes and have surgery, and
    5. misleading patients with regard to treatments.
  6. Using a suspect term of reference favoured by attackers (“homosexual”) to reference tothe audience you are trying to schmoose.

So all in all I have just one message to the BMA and all doctors and other medics out there:

with regard to what we need and how to treat us – for fucks sake just listen to us, your patients  …ALL OF US (not just the normative types).

~jessikat

Censoring others isn’t a right …even for private companies

Stumbled onto a comments thread at New York Times about facebook censoring breastfeeding pictures. Just posting this up for reference.

Don’t like that they are banning these pictures? Don’t use Facebook! They would be completely within their rights to ban the color blue in pictures if they wanted to. Stupid, but with their rights.

— Austin

@ Austin

While in the formal wording of the law, Facebook as a service, is a private property which would infer they have the right you say they do to censor anything within their service, the fact is they are far bigger than ‘just a website’. The size, stretch, and *social impact* of Facebook today make it far more comparable to a national postal service, or telephony infrastructure. They have become a ‘public service’, whether they or anyone else likes it or not. Thusly they, ethically (although not yet in law), have responsibilities to diversity and equality, and to not excessively non-consensually impinge on individual service users’ right to live their lives as they wish. And part of those lives is their social interactions, of which Facebook and it’s sister social networks are now a key part.

Would a privately owned electricity distributor be within it’s rights to not provide energy to black people? Would a privatised national postal service be ok to destroy letters that advocated democracy? etc.

By Facebook censoring an wholly positive and unharmful aspect of human life, they aren’t using their private property, they’re unilaterally manipulating global society into their own moral image. Regardless of whether that is a set of morals akin or against your own, the level of influence that Facebook have makes such manuvers grossly unethical.

~jessikat

His comment.

My comment.

Double Action Alert: Prostitution + Kinky Porn

Eternal Draft: Evidence of ‘hidden’ Queerphobic bias in Antisexualist and Kinkphobic measures

…Or why all Queers (L, G, B, P, A, T +) should worry about and be allies in the fight against anti-sex and anti-kink laws.

[updated 07/03/09, first written 07/01/09]

The following is a collection of indicators or references to where Antisexualist and/or Kinkphobic legislation, case law, and other authority measures have had a bias against queer sex, while not specifically being declared by their enactors to have anti-queer intent. The purpose of this is to provide a succinct pool of backing evidence for the hypothesis, based on observation, that where antisexualist or anti-kink prejudices are enshrined in rules they will invariably also enshrine an amount of anti-queer bias, due to the shared root in a fear of people seeking to enjoy their own bodies’ and/or use them for pleasure.

I started putting this together ages ago following a conversation with a fellow activist where I explained I felt the constituency of a Queer conference she was heading to (and all Queer people) should care about the criminalisation of kinky porn since in the past antisexualist and anti-kink laws in the UK have always impacted harder on gay/bi/pan people and same-gender erotic materials than on comparable hetero ones, due to the common undercurrent in thinking amongst the heteronormative world that there is something inherently ‘immoral’ or ‘perverse’ in queer sex, simply due to it’s queerness.

This is an evolving document, and any other evidence (ideally as legislation/regulation/etc or comment with citation as opposed to non-citing comment or opinion pieces) would be gratefully accepted. Please send any text or pointers to corruptinginfluences@mac.com.

~ jessikat

Within UK –

  • “…Legislation in this area is likely to throw up more problems than solutions. In Canada, one of the first prosecutions under that country’s tighter anti-porn laws was a consensual lesbian SM publication. Here, in the UK, our anti-porn laws were used successfully in the 1980s to prevent explicit safer sex advice to combat HIV. …”
  • Public sex in SOA2003 – brings in aggressive laws against any sexual activity in public toilets, a.k.a “cottaging” i.e. male-on-male sex, while not doing the same for outdoors sex or “dogging” i.e. predominately heterosexual sex, thus disproportionately criminalising G&B men.
  • “Same-sex age of consent offences are treated much more seriously than equivalent heterosexual offences: “for consensual heterosexual intercourse with girls between 13 and 16 the tariff [a band, established by Appeal Court decisions, within which a sentence is supposed to fall] is [set at] a fine or a conditional discharge or imprisonment [of] up to 1 year for older offenders. In practice, the male partner is usually given a caution or, if prosecuted at all, no more than a fine. For consensual sexual activity by a man with a boy of corresponding age, however, the tariff, which in this instance the courts tend to follow, is 3 – 5 years imprisonment.”
  • “… The [anti-SM] law also appears to discriminate unfairly against gay men, compare the decisions in R v. Wilson and R v. Brown. In Brown the gay “passive” partners were prosecuted and convicted whereas in Wilson and Emmett the heterosexual “passive” partners were not prosecuted.”

Abroad, Similar ‘Western’ nations –

Solidarity should go both ways, right?

Went with Twiggydyke to a demo in solidarity with the people of Gaza, in Coventry city centre last night. Following tip off from a mutual friend of ours, Ruth.

Got there on time for the start but they seemed to have started a few minutes before hand. It was freezing, but there were roughly 100 people all huddled together on the steps of the old town hall. The speakers were all in general level headed and said little that I could disagree with. It also seemed to be a productive event in being a motivator for organising awareness of other coming up protests over the Israeli government’s actions and the uniting apathy of Western govs, and actions to directly support the people trapped in Gaza. Ruth seemed really buzzing about it in the end ….but myself and Twiggydyke felt markedly different.

Thing was, we felt decidedly unwelcome there.

Firstly, it could be the crowd composition varied, but where we were standing, at the back to one side, all of the crowd we could see was overwealming made up of males of middle-eastern descent with only a handful of m-e women, while the people of other descents we could see fitted the standard UK gender spectrum profile, i.e. ‘pretty even split right down the middle’.

Secondly, at numerous opportunities, both crowd members, and speakers inititated calls of islamic chants (which the aforementioned majority of the crowd participated in).

And thirdly, while I missed them, Twiggy thought she noticed several of the young m-e people give her looks of disgust or major disapproval. (For reference, we were visibly female, possibly ‘readable’ as trans, simply 2 girls cuddled up together very close, i.e. “lesbians”, and Twiggy is quite noticably butch in appearance, i.e. gender variant). She only told me of the looks she noticed once we were home, but the observation chimed with the hostile atmosphere I felt during it.

😦

We turned up wishing to express (as much as we can) our solidarity with a populus who are (without complicating this post with the particulars) being callously oppressed, and have been for many decades, …and we came away feeling…
….unwelcome, on edge for our safety, somewhat manipulated, and that those who are closest to the affected people are hostile to our solidarity. – We went to support the human rights of the people in Gaza, not a patriarchial fundamentalist religious rally!

Why the hostility, we can’t know for sure. But surely the males of the Coventry (and other) islamic/arab/middle-eastern community/ies can see the impediments they give to their voice by their community/ies keeping most of their female members* away from public events like this, can’t they?

As equalist queer girls, this act to support a fellow oppressed group has sadly left us with many uncomfortable questions.

~ Jessikat

* I am taking into the account the possibility that part of this is down to a skewing of their gender spectrum distribution due to selective immigration flow


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