Quotulatiousness

July 15, 2014

Reason.tv – Maggie McNeill on Why We Should Decriminalize Prostitution

Filed under: Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:43

Published on 14 Jul 2014

“There is a very common form of rhetoric that’s used against us … that sex work isn’t work. That it’s a dodge. That it’s a scam. That it’s a form of exploitation,” says Maggie McNeill, a former sex worker turned activist who blogs at The Honest Courtesan.

“We still pretend that there’s a magical mumbo jumbo taboo energy about sex that makes it different from all other human activities.”

McNeill sat down with Reason TV‘s Thaddeus Russell for a wide-ranging interview where she responds to the feminist critique of sex work, explains why research on trafficking may not be reliable, and says why prostitution should be decriminalized.

“The problem is that there are already laws for these things,” states McNeill. “We have a name for sex being inflicted on a woman against her will. We call it rape. We have a name for taking someone and holding them prisoner somewhere. We call that abduction. … Why do we need [prostitution] to be laid on top of all these other things that already are crimes?”

June 17, 2014

Somaly Mam’s Icarus turn

Filed under: Asia, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:31

In Taki’s Magazine, Kathy Shaidle describes the rise and fall of Somaly Mam, who is the most recent fantasist to dupe Westerners about conditions in her home country:

One of the last thrills still permitted us normal folks (for now) is getting to watch one of these self-appointed activists and advocates endure an Icarian tumble. Take that recent Newsweek exposé of secular saint and “sex work” abolitionist Somaly Mam.

No, I’d never heard of her before, either. I didn’t realize how far removed I was from what the authorities have deemed reality until I read that, among other things, this woman had been feted by the White House and the State Department, appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, made the “TIME 100” list, and declared one of Glamour’s “Women of the Year.” Plus she’d been named one of the “Women Who Shake the World” by, er, Newsweek.

Cambodian-born Somaly Mam began making claims she’d been sold into sexual slavery as a youngster. After a daring escape, she dedicated her life to rescuing other girls from the same fate, leading armed raids on brothels, then providing shelter, education, and vocational training to the former captives—with the help of Western donors, many of them celebrities.

Aaaaaaannnnnddddd … ? Oh, come on. Guess.

Simon Marks has been investigating Mam for The Cambodia Daily (“All the News Without Fear or Favor”) for years. When Newsweek ran his findings in that cover story last month, the rest of the world found out what actual Cambodians and NGO-types have been trying to tell us all this time:

Mam’s “origin story” is mostly bollocks on stilts.

Her “rescues” are more like kidnappings, and her statistics about Cambodia’s trafficking rates, exaggerated. She coached non-ex-prostitutes to tell hair-raising tales of rape, torture, and even eye-gouging when pale-faced documentarians came calling. “[I]nstead of a brothel or a massage parlour,” Mam’s “rescued slaves” ended up “working for poverty-level wages in unsafe and exploitative conditions in sweatshops.”

March 28, 2014

Opinions, statistics, and sex work

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:04

Maggie McNeill explains why the “sex trafficking” meme has been so relentlessly pushed in the media for the last few years:

Imagine a study of the alcohol industry which interviewed not a single brewer, wine expert, liquor store owner or drinker, but instead relied solely on the statements of ATF agents, dry-county politicians and members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Or how about a report on restaurants which treated the opinions of failed hot dog stand operators as the basis for broad statements about every kind of food business from convenience stores to food trucks to McDonald’s to five-star restaurants?

You’d probably surmise that this sort of research would be biased and one-sided to the point of unreliable. And you’d be correct. But change the topic to sex work, and such methods are not only the norm, they’re accepted uncritically by the media and the majority of those who the resulting studies. In fact, many of those who represent themselves as sex work researchers don’t even try to get good data. They simply present their opinions as fact, occasionally bolstered by pseudo-studies designed to produce pre-determined results. Well-known and easily-contacted sex workers are rarely consulted. There’s no peer review. And when sex workers are consulted at all, they’re recruited from jails and substance abuse programs, resulting in a sample skewed heavily toward the desperate, the disadvantaged and the marginalized.

This sort of statistical malpractice has always been typical of prostitution research. But the incentive to produce it has dramatically increased in the past decade, thanks to a media-fueled moral panic over sex trafficking. Sex-work prohibitionists have long seen trafficking and sex slavery as a useful Trojan horse. In its 2010 “national action plan,” for example, the activist group Demand Abolition writes,“Framing the Campaign’s key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.”

March 4, 2014

Britain’s prostitution law reforms are driven by moral panic

Filed under: Britain, Law — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:35

An editorial from last weekend’s Independent:

What the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution broadly proposes is Nordic-style reform, which is what the European Parliament also backed last week. This would shift the burden of prosecution from mostly women sellers to mostly male buyers and pimps. MPs are right to say that one of the root problems with Britain’s laws on the sex trade is that they send conflicting messages about who is in the wrong. If trafficked women, especially, are to be helped, they must be assured that the law is on their side. It is why the MPs want the mass of current legislation consolidated into a single Act, which makes it clear that only those who purchase sex will feel the rigours of the law.

Change along these lines will bitterly disappoint libertarians who want to see the sex trade fully legalised on Dutch or German lines. There is also an argument that it is illogical – another mixed message – to penalise the purchase of sex but not the sale. But, a counter-argument, which the authorities in Sweden, Norway and Iceland deploy with some justification, is that “redistributing guilt” over the sale of sex undoubtedly benefits women who have felt trapped into prostitution and makes life much harder for pimps and traffickers.

The underlying idea is that because many people (especially politicians) dislike the idea that women sell their bodies, it should be made illegal. The troubling reality that a lot of prostitutes are voluntarily in the business requires the would-be banners to come up with a justification that somehow invalidates the individual decisions of those women. The ongoing moral panic over human trafficking is the current choice of vehicle for that. Tim Worstall:

The only possible claim that can be made in favour of the banning of prostitution, or even of the declaration that it is something wrong that we would like to minimise, is that it represents some form of slavery in which people are forced to do things they do not agree to doing voluntarily.

And that is indeed the claim that is being made, see that reference to “trafficking” in the Independent. However, the one thing that we do in fact know about the “slavery” in prostitution is that it doesn’t, in this country at least, actually exist. For we had a plan whereby every single police force in the country went out looking for people who were indeed sex slaves. People who were being forced, against their will, into prostitution (ie, repeatedly raped, a vile crime). And when they had a look through all of the brothels, working flats, saunas and street walkers they could find not one single police force was able to come up with sufficient evidence to charge anyone at all with the crime of holding someone in such sex slavery. Operation Pentameter it was called and it’s the biggest refutation of the hysterical case about trafficking that could possibly have been devised.

The vision some have of people being forced onto the game is simply untrue. What we do in fact have is consenting adults deciding to offer such services as they wish to offer for the cash being proferred to them. And this isn’t something that requires customers to be made into criminals: nor is it something that requires suppliers to be made into criminals either. It’s just not something that requires anyone at all to be made into a criminal. It’s consenting adults deciding what to do with their own bodies.

Update: The Canadian government is conducting a survey on what to do in the wake of the Supreme Court decision that struck down key parts of Canada’s prostitution laws last year. You can participate in the survey here. The public consultation period lasts until March 17.

On December 20, 2013, in the case of Bedford v. Attorney General of Canada 1, the Supreme Court of Canada found three Criminal Code prostitution offences to be unconstitutional and of no force or effect. This decision gives Parliament one year to respond before the judgment takes effect. Input received through this consultation will inform the Government’s response to the Bedford decision.

You will find some specific questions on this issue at the end of this document. To put them in context, here is a brief overview of the current criminal laws addressing prostitution, the Bedford decision, and existing international approaches to prostitution.

1. http://scc-csc.lexum.com/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/13389/index.do?r=AAAAAQAHYmVkZm9yZAAAAAAB

H/T to Maggie McNeil for the link.

February 2, 2014

Story of the day – the invasion of the Super Bowl prostitute army

Filed under: Media, Sports — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:45

You’ll undoubtedly have heard that the New York and New Jersey area has been swamped with an invasion of sex workers (many of them under-aged) who have been trafficked into the area to “service” the fans in town for the Super Bowl. You’ll probably have heard the same thing about every major sporting event over the last few years. What you won’t have heard is any actual evidence that this really happened. That might be, as Maggie McNeill says, it’s a media myth:

Major events such as World’s Fairs and the Olympics always provide an excuse for governments to “clean things up” in the host cities before the guests arrive. Police sweep people the leaders consider undesirable, embarrassing or just plain unsightly out of public view (and into jails or exile for the duration). The victims vary with the time and place: the poor, the homeless, unpopular minority groups, drug addicts and gay people have all been among them. The list always includes sex workers; even in countries where prostitution is legal (such as Greece or Brazil) the moralists feel compelled to purge the most visible manifestations of the sex trade from areas where visitors might encounter them. Xenophobia is also heightened by such events, as those so predisposed fear the prospect of strangers coming to town, bringing with them outlandish and alien forms of sin and crime. Together, these two factors may be the origin of one of the stranger (yet more persistent) myths of our time: the idea that some Lost Tribe of Gypsy Harlots, tens of thousands strong, wanders about the world from mega-event to mega-event, unimpeded by the usual logistics of transport and lodging which should make the migration of such a large group a daunting task indeed.

The legend seems to have first appeared in conjunction with the 2004 Olympics in Athens. That’s telling because, though the rebranding of sex work as “sex trafficking” was already underway in prohibitionist circles in the late 1990s, the moral panic seems to have begun in earnest in January of 2004. In the months before the Olympics Athenian officials went through the usual cleansing procedure, raiding brothels for largely bogus violations of zoning restrictions. A Greek sex workers’ union complained that by making it difficult to work in legal brothels the city would increase illegal prostitution, and this was twisted by European prohibitionists into “Athens is encouraging sex tourism.”

By the end of the year, the growing “anti-trafficking” movement was using bad stats to claim that “sex trafficking increased by 95 percent during the Olympics.” Within a few months, anti-sex worker groups made the bizarre prediction that approximately 40,000 women would be “trafficked” into Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Of course, nothing of the kind happened. Despite increased police actions (including raids on 71 brothels), the German authorities only came up with five cases of exploitation they believed to be linked to the event. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, which closely investigated the myth in its 2011 report “What’s the Cost of a Rumour?”, was unable to find a credible source for the “40,000” figure; it seems to have simply been made up. But it has doggedly persisted since then, accompanying virtually every major sporting event including the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and the 2012 Olympics in London. Despite massive police crackdowns (costing about £500,000 in London), no significant increase in prostitution (coerced or otherwise) has ever been found during these large events.

November 14, 2013

QotD: Prostitution

Filed under: Britain, Law, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas Russon @ 09:57

Society seems to have a confused and ambivalent relationship with prostitutes. On the one hand, some argue that prostitution is the last vestige of employment for women who have been entirely subjugated beneath the will of a patriarchal society. For these people, mostly contemporary feminists, prostitutes are a ‘symptom’ of some deep patriarchal disease; they’re women who have placed themselves at the mercy of the sexual marketplace because they have no other option.

On the other hand, prostitution is celebrated as a trendy new sexuality, a symbol of feminine empowerment. At a time when being intimate is variously seen as uncool, dangerous, or emotionally ‘too much’, the fact that people sell sex like they would sell a television is seen as a funky and positive approach to modern sexual interactions. The popularity of TV dramas like Secret Diary of a Call Girl, in which Billie Piper plays a high-class prostitute getting into all sorts of scrapes in the process of prostituting herself, shows that many are happy to embrace prostitution as part of a new era of contemporary sexuality.

[...]

Prostitution is not liberating, but nor is it a symbol of absolute oppression. It is definitely not a funky new form of sexuality. For those who choose to do it, it is simply a reality. By indulging mawkish fantasies about the vulnerability of prostitutes, our laws make life harder for those it purports to protect by precluding the possibility of establishing informal networks of self-regulation and protection in the world of prostitution. We should take prostitutes seriously enough to allow them to get on with it however they choose.

Luke Gittos, “Britain’s crazy prostitution laws: The UK’s array of prostitution laws only make things worse for sex workers”, Sp!ked, 2013-11-14

August 29, 2013

The new Swiss model of prostitution

Filed under: Business, Europe, Law — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:25

I think it’s impossible to stamp out prostitution, so making it legal and (hopefully) safer for the sex workers is a good idea. Switzerland seems to agree, although they’re going about it in an odd way:

Zurich’s new drive-in brothels opened earlier this week and they already raised a few eyebrows.

Across Europe there does seem to be a growing trend for sex drive-ins, however, with a widespread belief that it gets prostitution off the streets and into a safer environment, with similar schemes in Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.

One of the most unusual aspects of the Zurich brothel — which are being referred to as “sex boxes” in Swiss media — are the signs being used at the facility, which cater both to Switzerland’s multilingual society (four official languages) and perhaps an odd sense of humor.

Rather than posting verbose signs in all four official languages (French, German, Italian, and Romansh), they’re using rather amusing “international” pictograms:

We’ve done our best to translate (going right to left then working down):

  • Swiss drive-in brothel signsNo one under the age of eighteen.
  • Only cars can use the facility — no motorbikes, people on foot, or bicycles.
  • Just one client at a time.
  • Use the facilities provided, not the outdoor space.
  • Again, do not use the outdoor space.
  • Do not go off facility grounds
  • Throw away your trash.
  • No photography, filming, or recording (or singing, perhaps).

June 20, 2013

The world map of modern slavery

Filed under: China, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 14:05

In The Atlantic, Olga Khazan talks about the countries that appear on this US State Department map of human trafficking:

World Map of Slavery, 2013

China, Russia, and Uzbekistan have been named among the worst offenders when it comes to human trafficking, according to a State Department report released Wednesday, joining Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan, and Zimbabwe on the bottom “tier” of the U.S. human trafficking rank.

Their lower designation means the U.S. may sanction those countries with measures like cancelling non-humanitarian and military assistance, ending exchange visits for government officials, and voting against any IMF or World Bank loans.

China, Russia, and Uzbekistan had previously been on the “Tier 2 Watch List,” a middling designation for countries that show little progress in making strides in preventing forced labor. Because they had been on the “Watch List” for four years, the State Department was obligated to either promote or downgrade them.

In China, the one-child policy and a cultural preference for male children perpetuates the trafficking of brides and prostitutes.

“During the year, Chinese sex trafficking victims were reported on all of the inhabited continents,” the report found. “Traffickers recruited girls and young women, often from rural areas of China, using a combination of fraudulent job offers, imposition of large travel fees, and threats of physical or financial harm, to obtain and maintain their service in prostitution.”

However, the State Department also singled out the country’s epidemic of forced labor, in which both internal and external migrants are conscripted to work in coal mines or factories without pay, as well as its continued use of re-education hard labor camps for political dissidents.

However, it’s also worth keeping in mind that there are two common definitions of human trafficking in use, one of which is an outrage to common decency while the other is an attempt to conflate sex work with slavery:

1) The transport of unwilling people (usually women, but of course can at times be either men or children) into forced prostitution. This is of course illegal everywhere: it’s repeated rape just as a very start. It is also vile and we should indeed be doing everything possible to stamp it out.

2) The illegal movement of willing people across borders to enter the sex trade. Strange as it may seem there really are people who desire to be prostitutes. People would, other things being equal, similarly like to be in a country where they get a lot of money for their trade rather than very little. Given these two we wouldn’t be surprised if people from poorer countries, who wish to be in the sex trade, will move from those poorer countries to richer countries. And such is the system of immigration laws that many of them will be unable to do this legally: just as with so many who wish to enter other trades and professions in the rich world. You can make your own mind up about the morality of this but it is obviously entirely different from definition 1).

June 15, 2013

Moral panic of the month – sex trafficking

Filed under: Europe, Law — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:18

In Forbes, Tim Worstall explains why so many stories about sex workers being smuggled across borders and forced to work as prostitutes may be based on imaginary numbers:

The full paper is here. And I’m afraid that it’s a horrible mess. And not just because they rather gloss over the two meanings of “trafficking” that are used in the debate.

Those two meanings are as follows:

1) The transport of unwilling people (usually women, but of course can at times be either men or children) into forced prostitution. This is of course illegal everywhere: it’s repeated rape just as a very start. It is also vile and we should indeed be doing everything possible to stamp it out.

2) The illegal movement of willing people across borders to enter the sex trade. Strange as it may seem there really are people who desire to be prostitutes. People would, other things being equal, similarly like to be in a country where they get a lot of money for their trade rather than very little. Given these two we wouldn’t be surprised if people from poorer countries, who wish to be in the sex trade, will move from those poorer countries to richer countries. And such is the system of immigration laws that many of them will be unable to do this legally: just as with so many who wish to enter other trades and professions in the rich world. You can make your own mind up about the morality of this but it is obviously entirely different from definition 1).

There is a third possible meaning which is used by some campaigners which is any foreigner at all who is a sex worker. This is obviously a ridiculous one: especially in the EU given the free movement of labour.

We might paraphrase the two definitions as the “sex slavery” definition and the “illegal immigrant” one. I would certainly argue that the first one is a moral crime crying out to the very heavens for vengeance while the second leaves me with no more than a heartfelt “Meh”.

He also links to a Guardian story about a sex trafficking investigation in Britain from a few years ago called Operation Pentameter:

The UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids on sex workers in a six-month campaign by government departments, specialist agencies and every police force in the country.

The failure has been disclosed by a Guardian investigation which also suggests that the scale of and nature of sex trafficking into the UK has been exaggerated by politicians and media.

Current and former ministers have claimed that thousands of women have been imported into the UK and forced to work as sex slaves, but most of these statements were either based on distortions of quoted sources or fabrications without any source at all.

We could simply assume that there’s something wildly different about the UK. Something that means that there are, to a reasonable approximation, zero sex slaves in the UK while 30% or more of sex workers in Denmark, Sweden and Germany are all sex slaves. This isn’t an argument that’s likely to pass the smell test to be honest. The explanation is instead that the two different meanings of “trafficked” are being used here.

May 7, 2013

Escaped Colombian convict gets sex change to avoid recapture

Filed under: Americas, Law — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:57

You have to admire the dedication of Colombian prison inmate Giovanni Rebolledo who apparently went through a partial sex-change in an attempt to stay off the police radar:

Colombian transgender criminal

After escaping from prison where he had been sentenced to serve 60 years, Giovanni Rebolledo reportedly decided to get breast implants to help him avoid capture.

Despite his rather impressive new rack, Police were able to identify and capture Rebolledo during a routine stop and search in the Viejo Prado district of the northern coastal city of Barranquilla.

Following his extreme make-over, the suspect reportedly was involved to some degree in prostitution in the area.

Depending on where the Colombian justice system decides Rebolledo has to serve the remaining years of the original sentence, “Rosalinda” may be a very popular inmate after this.

December 21, 2012

The funny side of the sex trade

Filed under: Cancon, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:36

In the National Post, David Granirer talks about a stand-up comedy therapy program he runs to help people suffering from mental illness find ways to cope with their issues. He also ran the program for women in the sex trade and provides a few jokes from a recent performance by members of the program:

* “I’ve been in detox. While I was there I took a lifeskills course. They taught me how to shop, how to manage money, and how to pay my dealer on time so he’ll keep fronting me drugs.”

* “When you’re selling drugs on the street everyone wants to trade clothes for drugs. You can get a $200 pair of jeans for a $10 rock. Why would you go to Winners after that?”

[. . .]

* “When I first started in sex trade, a friend and I went down to the stroll and I get into a car with 2 guys. At first I thought it was kinky that they were into handcuffs, but then I found out they were cops.”

* “But the sex trade is a business like any other. If a john can’t pay I turn it over to my collection agency – 2 guys with baseball bats.”

* “As a sex trade worker you have to be a psychologist. The only difference is a psychologist’s clients don’t ask to be peed on.”

November 15, 2012

Human trafficking in the US

Filed under: Law, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:20

At the Foundation for Economic Education, Lewis Andrews explains how immigration reform will also help to combat the scourge of human trafficking:

Restrictive immigration policies have long been associated with a variety of economic problems including the diminished availability of foreign business and scientific talent, the inability to fill low-skilled agricultural and service jobs typically scorned by legal residents, and reduced access to the kind of entrepreneurial enthusiasm characteristic of those willing to risk their futures in another country.

Only recently has it become clear how restrictive immigration laws also produce harmful social consequences, particularly when it comes to the age-old scourge of human trafficking — the use of force and fraud to supply cheap labor and sexual services.

To understand these consequences, it is important to appreciate just how lucrative a branch of organized crime the modern slave trade has become. Efficient transportation, technological advances in both farming and factory work, and advances in communication have all combined to make the use of forced labor very cheap by historical measures.

Free the Slaves, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has calculated the return on the cost of an enslaved field worker in 1850s Alabama at just 5 percent, whereas today a trafficked farmhand can yield the owner anywhere from double digits to 800 percent. Similarly, an imprisoned prostitute shuttled around the boroughs of New York City in a van by a driver scheduling appointments on his cell phone can service as many as 40 customers in a single shift. As one researcher coldly but accurately put it, “People are a good commodity as they do not easily perish, but they can be transported over long distances and can be re-used and re-sold.”

The result, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is that 2.5 million victims, approximately 80 percent female and 50 percent under the age of 18, are being trafficked around the world at any given time. In 2005 the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, estimated the annual revenues from this “industry” at $32 billion, or $13,000 per victim.

June 4, 2012

The “sex traffic” meme is this decade’s version of the “Satanic panic” of the late 1980s

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:03

An interesting post at The Honest Courtesan on the strong similarities between the media freak-out about Satanic ritualists kidnapping children back in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the current media meme about sex trafficking rings:

How well do you remember the “Satanic Panic” of the ‘80s and ‘90s? Do you remember when you first heard about it, and what your reactions were? Do you remember how widespread and exaggerated the claims were, and how seriously everyone took them? The reactions from believers when skeptics pointed out the tremendous absurdities? The decline and fall of the hysteria? I sure do, and if you do as well you’ve probably noticed the strong resemblance of “trafficking” hysteria to its older sibling. Both revolve around gigantic international conspiracies which supposedly abduct children into a netherworld of sexual abuse; both are conflated with adult sex work, especially prostitution and porn; both make fantastic claims of vast numbers which are not remotely substantiated by anything like actual figures from “law enforcement” agencies or any other investigative body; both rely on circular logic, claiming the lack of evidence as “proof” of the size of the conspiracy and the lengths to which its participants will go to “hide” their nefarious doings; both encourage paranoia and foment distrust of strangers, especially male strangers; etc, etc, etc.

[. . .]

Once one is able to examine the hysteria from an historical and sociological perspective, it becomes rather fascinating (though none the less frightening for those of us whose profession is being targeted by the witch hunters). For example, one can see how events that would have been interpreted one way 15 years ago are now seen through the lens of “human trafficking”; this recent trial in which members of a Somali gang were convicted for forcing young female members into prostitution would have been reported as a “gang-related violence” story in the late ‘90s, but is now labeled a “sex trafficking case”. In the ‘80s, every city in America imagined itself overrun with Satanic cultists; now it’s “human traffickers”, and there’s a creepy competition for the title of “leading hub for sex trafficking”, generally on the basis of how many interstate highways pass through or near the city (since none of them have any actual statistics to support their claims). In the past year I’ve heard New York, Dallas, Miami, Portland, Atlanta and Sacramento vying for this dubious distinction, and now Tulsa, Oklahoma is as well.

H/T to Jesse Walker for the link.

May 3, 2012

Sarkozy’s best chance to win? The DSK effect

Filed under: Europe, Government — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:26

John Gizzi on the slim hopes Nicolas Sarkozy has to catch up to front-runner Francois Hollande in the French presidential election:

Before arriving here today to find France braced for its presidential election run-off May 6, I stopped at London’s Ladbroke’s, the world’s most storied of oddsmakers. The odds against Nicolas Sarkozy winning, the bookmaker told me, were 4-to-1, while the odds favoring Socialist challenger Francois Hollande were 1-to-7.

[. . .]

With those chunks of LePen and Bayrou voters, Sarkozy would be in a near-tie with his Socialist nemesis and would need some dramatic event or stumble by Hollande to put him over. As to what this stumble might be, one possibility could have occurred at a birthday party for Socialist politician Julian Drey last Sunday. The big news was who showed up: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, whose own presidential hopes were dashed in a sensational string of scandals beginning with his arrest in New York last May for allegedly assaulting a hotel maid. The politician known as DSK dodged that bullet, but is now facing more serious charges of his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring in France.

Upon learning that DSK was at the birthday party, 2007 Socialist nominee Segolene Royal (who is the mother of Hollande’s four children) stormed out and Hollande himself canceled an appearance at the party. Incredibly, the party was held at the site of what was once a notorious house of prostitution.

Just the appearance of Strauss-Kahn sent the Hollande camp into fervent denials that DSK would ever be considered for a position in a Socialist government.

March 26, 2012

Court rules that prostitution is still legal in Canada, strikes down other parts of law

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:32

Yes, prostitution is still legal … but some of the worst restrictions hedging it around have been declared unconstitutional:

The Court of Appeal for Ontario has swept aside some of the country’s anti-prostitution laws saying they place unconstitutional restrictions on prostitutes’ ability to protect themselves.

The landmark decision means sex workers will be able to hire drivers, bodyguards and support staff and work indoors in organized brothels or “bawdy houses,” while “exploitation” by pimps remains illegal.

However, openly soliciting customers on the street remains prohibited with the judges deeming that “a reasonable limit on the right to freedom of expression.”

The province’s highest court suspended the immediate implementation of striking the bawdy house law for a year to allow the government an opportunity to amend the Criminal Code.

[. . .]

The appeal stems from the legal oddity that while prostitution was not illegal, many activities surrounding it were, including running a brothel or bawdy house, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living on money earned by a prostitute.

That disconnect led to a constitutional challenge mounted by three sex trade workers who say the laws prevented them from taking basic safety precautions, such as hiring a bodyguard, working indoors or spending time assessing potential clients in public.

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