Do Not Use the Slave Word…when referring to prostitution?

On today, 18 October 2012, it is Anti-Slavery Day in the UK and Anti-Trafficking Day in the EU yet prostitutes are often still not regarded as slaves and thus not supported in the same way governments support those ‘worthy’ to be called slaves.

Rebecca, a former slave from the UK shares her thoughts…

Today it has been decided it the Day of the Slave.

Only unless it is framed as violent external sadistic trafficking can the prostituted class be named as slaves, and even then it made that it cannot be real slavery to be inside the sex trade.

My heart is broken at this dismissal, and the choice that so many with power and privilege make to say prostitution cannot be slavery.

Even when looked at with a clear all forms of prostitution are in the conditions of slavery.

The conditions of slavery is be made nothing but goods that is used and tossed away.

All prostitutes are in that condition. All prostitutes are not viewed as humans or women/girls – they are sex goods.

To be a sex good, is to know you are nothing but holes for men to f-ck, nothing but a mouth to be stuffed or speak words for his ego, nothing but an image his has remembered from porn and now can screw into silence.

That is the condition of the slave.

Only, there are voices of denial.

Prostitutes can never be slaves – they are paid or receive gifts. It is just a business exchange of equal partners.

I feel my heart exploding with rage.

https://i2.wp.com/socialmediainfluence.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Facebook-is-being-used-to-illustrate-the-very-real-issue-of-modern-slavery.jpg

original image

Yes, prostitutes are paid – many who do indoors prostitution are paid a lot of money and given loads of valuable stuff.

But does that mean the prostitute has the basic human right to be free from violence, to have the basic human right to have freedom of movement, to have the basic human right to her own sexuality, the basic human right to freedom of expression without control or threat/reality of violence?

Slavery has always manipulated the slave-class by having many layers of what a slave – say to be closed to power or working in the cells below the power.

The mental violence of slavery is how the slave-owners use this divide and rule to control those with no power and no voices.

The divisions made between trafficking and “freely chosen” prostitution, between under-aged prostitutes and the prostitutes who is a woman, between street-based prostitutes and escorts – and the endless other divisions placed onto the prostituted class are designed to silence the prostituted.

It is used every day, to prevent a prostitute from naming that she is being raped, she is being sexually tortured, and that she is constant fear of her life.

When it is framed as her choice, as work she is doing, that she is lucky not to be doing worse aspects of prostitution – how is it possible for a prostitute to find a voice for her grief, her fear and her utter confusion.

In prostitution, the slave-owners are winning by brainwashing so many prostitutes that they are the Happy Hooker – hell, they are empowered, they choose the whore lifestyle, they are better than other women.

This mind-set is so ingrained, especially with women doing indoors prostitution – that to survive the normal violence, hate and degradation that is prostitution, it becomes important to block out reality and live in a fantasy.

This is the condition of the slave who has no access to hope, or belief that anyone cares whether she is alive or dead.

I was sexually tortured as my norm – but I made my mind block the fear, block the pain, and to block that I hated it.

No, I lived in the world of fiction. A world where I could only hear words where punters/profiteers pretended to see me as a human, only feel it was “normal” sex and forget how near I was to death, only came to believe I must want this pain why else was I there.

A slave cannot see clearly the power dynamics controlling her, when she is just keeping her head above the water.

The horror of trauma after prostitution is knowing how all prostitutes have no power or human rights – and totally controlled by punters and sex profiteers.

Trauma is impounded when seeing and knowing that to be a prostitute is be a slave – to  be goods, to be voiceless, to have no past or future just the role given to you, to be throwaway trash.

If that is not slavery, then I do not understand what slavery is?

Original articel by Rebecca  Do Not Use the Slave Word

Also in the news: Anti-Slavery Day: One victim of child sex trafficking is one too many via The Independent

Your Justifications are Killing Us

Legalisation of prostitution is not a mere structural decision, to be made as we play our political games; valuable lives are at stake – whenever the South African government gets confronted with that policy serious consideration ought to be made about the consequences of their decision.

In her words, Rebecca puts forward a plea on behalf of the prostituted:

I would consider myself as left-wing – but the Left try to make it impossible to an abolitionist and fit in.

Too much of the Left is made of male-thought, and in this thinking it not surprising that the Left has always justify the sex trade, and ignore the reality of life for the prostituted.

I am tired of everyone letting the left off the hook – I tired of waiting for the Left to get on board with abolition – I tired of men who Leftist making their porn stash and their consumption of the prostituted is somehow better than right-wing men who do exactly the same.

In this post, I will speak of the many leftist cliches that have said to me, or I have read, or had fed to me by the media.

Much of the poison-speech by the Left is the language of pimps and punters – men who are not pimps and punters parrots their words without questioning.

2010 World Cup - Prostitution

I was consumed by many Leftist punters who justify all their tortures – I had profiteers selling me who imagine they were on the Left, hell they were sexual outlaws, they were empowering women, they were model-day freedom fighters.

I write to the Left, for my heart is exploring with pain and grief – silence round the Left betraying the prostituted class is killing the prostituted every day.

We must look into the language of the Left and say why it controlled by men who want the status quo of the sex trade, we mustn’t turn away because they may be our allies in other areas.

Maybe if i go into some of the common myths that the Left spread.

The major one is that if you unionise the sex trade, then it will be fine and dandy.

I agree with unions for workers – but there we the major flaw – being embedded in the sex trade is not work, the prostituted class are not workers. They are in the conditions of slavery, of having their human rights stripped from them – they are not workers.

To frame it as work, where all that need to be done putting in basic health and safety regulations, all that need to be done is to get a shop steward who go to the sex trade profiteer and speak of working rights for the prostituted.

Think a little, and you will see this is nonsense.

When there are unions for the prostituted – they always are dominated by the profiteers, punters and those who support painting the myth that the sex trade is safe.

Unions that exist do not include the prostitute who is trapped in a brothel, do not include women in the porn that is daily torture, do not include the under-aged prostitute trapped in a room with lines of men consuming her.

No, unions are not for the ordinary and average woman or girl – for those unions have no intention to stop the routine rapes, the routine beating ups, the routine throwing away of the prostituted.

No, the purpose of these unions is to whitewash away all the normal male hate and violence that underpins all aspects of the sex trade.

These so-called unions are all about protecting punter’s “rights” – so rape is made invisible or the fault of the individual prostituted woman or girl, violence is disappeared into the language of S/M and it said she must have consented, and the ordinary murders of the prostituted are not mentioned without saying maybe she was too weak to read the body language of the murderer and run away.

Do not back any sex trade union – they do not give a damn about the prostituted, they care about pimps and punters.

It is a union run and controlled by managers, but more by managers who view the prostituted as goods and never as humans.

Your belief in unions is killing the prostituted every day.

I will speak and remember how Leftist punters spoke to me, how they justified turning me into their f*ck-toy, whilst pretending they were better than those nasty right-wing punters.

I was consumed by punters who claimed to be into human rights, punters who were vegan and said they would no living creature, those who deeply cared about politics and freedom for the oppressed.

These punters would sexually, mentally and physically torturing me, and also preach all this sh*t to me.

I would see punters who had brutalise me and other prostitutes on marches, in meetings or part of liberal religions – fighting with all the might for rights and dignity of all humans.

That when I learnt the lesson I have never lost – these men did not fight for the dignity and rights of the prostituted foe we were not and cannot be classed as humans – we were just goods for them to use to consume and throw away.

We were not given access to human rights, we were not expected to want human dignity, we were never considered worthy of the good fight for freedom.

I am crying too much – so end here.

Please question your Leftist views if they discard the prostituted class.

Original article: Your Justifications are Killing Us

Another Side of Life – documentary by Shane Vermooten

original article posted in the stir

I was privileged to attend the premiere showing of Shane Vermooten’s documentary ‘Another Side of Life’ this past weekend. Privileged in the sense that I’ve been exposed to another aspect of reality. It was not an all out feel-good watch however, as the reality which was shared is that of the human trafficking industry, specifically along the slave trade routes running between Nigeria and Europe via Spain and Italy.

I can say with certainty though that it is a story with an definite element of hope attached to it – the degree to which that hope will realise is largely up to us, in the hands of the ‘free men’.

Africa is often considered as a single entity, a type of package deal, we hear people say “In Africa people often…”, and I guess us Africans often treat ‘Europe’ in a similar way. Reality is though that Africa is a continent consisting of well over 50 countries, each different in culture, language and practise (to varying degrees of course).

As a South African, I learnt that Nigerians make up 25% of the African population with the emphasis on the fact that ‘25% of the African population does not live inside Nigeria’. No, as is the case with many other nations, there is a very active Nigerian diaspora. It is therefore that speakers at the premiere event frequently brought up the saying: “What happens in Nigeria affects all of Africa”.

Another Side of Life is said to be ‘a film about a film’ as it largely draws attention to another film called ‘Europe in my Heart‘ and the work of Anne Abok. Now Anne Abok was one of the ‘definite elements of hope’ I mentioned above and one of the speakers on the night. A woman who radiates passion, purpose and an undying will to fight the injustice of slavery – all with a broad smile on her face even though she is no way ignorant of the reality she is opposing. She is the co-founder of Media Village in Nigeria (founded 2005) and also a member of the College of Communication International Committee, a film producer, screen writer and editor.

Europe in my Heart tells the story of Charity, an African girl willing to do whatever it takes to make a life in Europe, and is a high quality educational tool used to inform the world, and especially potential victims of trafficking, of how women and children are lured by traffickers and what happens in ‘Europe’. I say ‘Europe’ seeing that the destination is often a neighbouring African state or where ever a willing slave buyer may be found – it is projected that only 5-10% of slaves ever make it to Europe. Abok have noticed that the showing of this film has typically resulted in a drop of 85-45% of people watching it still wanting to go to Europe once they become aware of the possible dangers. That once again highlights to what extent properly and consistently communicated awareness campaigns can help in preventing people from becoming victims of human trafficking. Education is key!

Vermooten himself further investigates the situation in Nigeria itself and the challenges Abok and her peers face in fighting this particular manifestation of evil. He takes the viewer to a place called Benin City, the centre of Nigeria’s rubber industry, major producer of palm oil and, of course, arguably Africa’s major producer of, or port from which, humans are to be shipped as slaves, mainly for the sex industry. Benin City has a legacy as a ‘slave city’ as it was part of the ‘Slave Coast’ where many West Africans were sold to slave traders during the 16th and 17th centuries. From the film and first hand accounts of these film makers we learn that today still, almost every person they came across while filming ‘had an affair, one way or the other, with human trafficking’, whether they talked to people along the road, their taxi driver or whoever, they were likely to have been a former victim themselves or currently have a family member or acquaintance ‘in Europe’. Conservative figures suggest 1 in 10 families have a member overseas (mostly in prostitution) but from Vermooten and the team’s personal experience it is much rather around 8 out of every 10 families.

But why is this? Why is Benin City what it is and how can things be different?

Abok mentions of how she received government opposition due to their fear that ‘foreign journalists might create a negative image of Nigeria’ (as a side note: coming from South Africa, we have a very negative image of Nigeria already, due to the prevalance of illegal activities conducted over here by many of their expats – my recent exposure to Abok and another speaker at the premiere changed my whole perspective however, which is the reason I would encourage Nigeria’s government to rather assist people doing the work she does).

Secondly, poverty is a major underlying problem as is the case all over the world where trafficking occurs. Surrounding villages even rejected the film crew due to the fact that human trafficking is one of their major sources of income. Victims of trafficking would even go to jail as illegal immigrants in other nations rather than return home, as prisons provide food for them. In Benin City human trafficking is an open secret and has literally become part of everyday life.

Thirdly, there is another sinister force at play which the broader Western culture does not understand or are simply ignorant of: African trafficking, for one, involves a very deliberate spiritual aspect. Animistic rituals and witchcraft (Juju-based practises) plays a critical role in African trafficking. This includes blood oaths, commitments and covenants which when not honoured leads to death, menstrual bleeding or other conditions. Rituals include hot concoctions containing body parts (nail clippings, pubic hair, etc.) and blood from trafficked victims which trafficker/’sponsor’ drink together with the victim to seal the oath or otherwise intercourse(rape) for the same purpose. The result is that women who are found and offered the opportunity to come home from Europe or other places reject the offer due to their fear of the curse that the breaking of an oath might bring over them or their families. Whether Westerners choose to believe the reality these people know very well, the fear is very real in these societies where the spiritual is held in high regard.

The big question asked next was ‘where is the church generally in all of this?’ seeing that the church has been known to have the tools which brings freedom from this fear and the reversal of curses. The sad reality is that large parts of the church form part of ‘prosperity’ movements and ‘fake pastors’ would start churches as profit generating organisations. This results in the fact that although churches make out a large part of the Nigerian population, very few of them are interested in getting their hands dirty in the areas where their help is desperately needed.

The challenge is massive but people like Anne Abok is making a difference and are bringing change – and I may highlight again, are the type of people Nigeria and other African nations ought to embrace if they truly care about their countries and their people.

The problem is not a simple one-dimensional one and neither is the solution. People often ask, and did so again at the film premiere, how they can play a role in fighting this issue seeing that not all of us have Liam Neeson’s skill set, necessary to take out whole trafficking syndicates. Because it is so multi-dimensional, it is good for people to realise that it is not simply about stopping traffickers themselves or going into brothels and rescuing slaves. As mentioned, preventative education can have a massive effect, taking on the demand side of the industry (issues such as pornography, issues surrounding the legalisation of prostitution, the sexualised themes in our media communication playing a role in the shaping of our society) is very important and the one thing I took from this film as well: job creation.

Poverty stands out as a major reason why people are lured into slavery and why they many times approach it in an irrational manner: they are discontent and desperate. For instance, I am currently reading a book titled Why Africa is Poor from which I learnt that approximately 10% of African wages go to women, although they work 10-15 hours more per week than men and that women own 1% of the overall African economy. So, if you’re a business owner in Nigeria for instance and can find ways to create local jobs, for women especially (considering possible cultural barriers in doing so of course), and pay a decent salary, you would be fighting human trafficking.

I would encourage every one who reads this to get hold of both these films, I couldn’t share every detail in here, especially the testimonies of victims and how they managed to re-enter society after being rescued from slavery was both heartbreaking and encouraging:

Another Side of Life, to expose yourself and others to this reality for starters, and Europe in my Heart to educate the vulnerable with.

Watch: Another Side of Life trailer

Another way of contributing to the cause is to host a film screening yourself in your town, at your school, university, church or wherever you are able to get a few people together. Both Shane Vermooten and Anne Abok are available to attend these screenings in person (around South Africa in particular) if arranged in advance, Shane could be contacted for this purpose at shanevermooten@gmail.com

Anne does travel around Europe at times speaking to parliaments and at seminars educating local groups on how these African women could be assisted out of slavery, considering the unique challenges mentioned above – Shane could also be contacted with regards to her whereabouts and availability.

A ‘behind the scenes’ photo journey through Benin City by Sergio Ramazzotti.

Servaas Hofmeyr, STOP web and social media manager

Standing up for sex workers is standing up for pimps

by Caroline Norma, 19 June 2012, for The Age

 

Prostitutes are not sex workers, they are prostituted women.

ELITE academics in Australia love to profess their support for ”sex workers”. University of New South Wales academic Catharine Lumby in ”Sex is not dirty work” on these pages pleaded for the media to treat sex workers with more respect, given that prostitution is a legal form of employment in Australia.

Lumby recalls telling her sons over the dinner table to not make jokes about women their friends call ”prosties”, and to remember that feminists and Christians could be condemned for failing to properly recognise prostitution as work.

Illustration: Matt Davidson.

Illustration by Matt Davidson

This idea of prostitution conveyed to the two Lumby juniors is unmistakably a liberal one. In this framing, prostitution is embarked upon by individual women as something akin to a small-business enterprise (women in brothels in Australia are legally recognised as sub-contractors, not employees). While ”sex workers” might be at the bottom rung of the social ladder in terms of education, prior victimisation, social networks, and personal asset bases, liberals see them as admirable for attempting to improve their circumstance, and possibly give their kids a better chance in life.

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In conveying this idea of prostitution, Lumby teaches her sons to be nice to ”sex workers”, which is indubitably a charitable thing for an elite academic to do.

However, in framing prostitution as a benign form of ”work”, Lumby also disenables her sons taking social and political measures against the sex industry and its customers as perpetrators of serious and widespread harm against women in Australia.

There now exists a mountain of empirical research, not only from feminist social scientists, but also from psychologists, clinicians, nurses, anthropologists and economists, of the harms of prostitution for women. These harms include post-traumatic stress disorder, genital and other physical injuries, pregnancy, depression and anxiety, and social isolation.

It has been known since the late 1970s that a major precursor of women’s entry into prostitution is childhood sexual abuse. There is also empirical evidence of the damage to women’s social status, and the negative impact on women’s connection to local community, of the sex industry.

Overwhelmingly, the social science and health literature condemns prostitution as a source of harm to women, as well as children.

For liberals to successfully frame prostitution as ”work”, rather than commercially mediated sexual abuse, they must close their eyes to this evidence. They must also avoid encountering most women in prostitution – even the most conservative demographic studies of this population find that half would leave the sex industry if they could. And they must overlook the good results that governments in Sweden, South Korea, Norway and Iceland have achieved in declaring prostitution a violation of gender equality, and criminalising the sex industry and its customers.

Most significantly, though, liberals must avoid mentioning pimps, traffickers, and sex industry customers in making their argument that prostitution is a legitimate form of work for poor women. Lumby doesn’t breathe a word of the profit-making activities of pimps in Australia, nor the acts perpetrated by sex industry customers who buy women in half-hour blocks. She fails to tell her sons about the strategies of violence, debt and intimidation that pimps use to keep women in prostitution, and to make sure they service customers with a smile.

She also omits to mention the kinds of sex acts customers do to women in prostitution, and the misogynistic abuse and brutality that women face when they’re dispatched to the hotel rooms and houses of prostitution buyers.

These inconvenient facts cause liberals great difficulty in selling the message that prostitution is work. In light of these facts, prostitution begins to look like a system of hush money paid to pimps to supply men with vulnerable women for sexual use and abuse.

When elite academics like Lumby publicly declare their allegiance to ”sex workers” they concurrently reveal a loyalty to pimps and sex industry customers. They do this through framing prostitution as ”work”, and therefore sending the message that no policy or community action need be taken against the sex industry as an employer of women and legitimate business sector.

In this atmosphere, pimps and their customers are able to continue their harmful activities, and the sex industry in Australia is able to profitably expand and diversify.

On the other hand, when elite academics like me declare our support for ”prostituted women”, we declare a commitment to elimination of the sex industry. We work towards public recognition of prostitution as a social harm through public awareness campaigns highlighting the effects of the sex industry on individual women, and women’s social status.

Just like the anti-smoking campaigns that began in the 1970s, we seek a reorientation of the public’s thinking about prostitution towards a critique of the ”pretty woman” and ”happy hooker” stereotype. Australian policymakers and community leaders mobilised against the tobacco industry in the past three decades, and we seek similar government action against the sex industry as a driver of social harm.

The criminalisation of pimps and sex industry customers is a necessary first step towards this goal, but we also call for public education about the reality of prostitution, as well as policy planning for programs and initiatives to assist women to leave the sex industry and build lives that reflect their worth as full citizens.

Dr Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the school of Global Studies, Social Science & Planning at RMIT University.