The government’s actual goal was “to quietly abolish prostitution under the guise of helping people in prostitution. … Whoever still believes that the Prostitutes Protection Act was intended to protect sex workers also believes that woodchucks chuck wood.”
Voice4Sexworkers, a project by and for sex workers, rubbishes recent media reports suggesting the law had failed to achieve its stated goals.
Photo by Abigail Lynn onUnsplash
ProstSchG well on its way to achieve Conservatives’ goals
A flurry of recent media reports have suggested the Prostitutes Protection Act (herafter ProstSchG) had failed to achieve its stated goals and would not sufficiently protect people engaged in prostitution.
The ProstSchG is well on its way to achieve all of the federal government’s desired goals and effects, especially those of the conservative parties [Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, together known as die Union]. It may have taken a while, but now, around two years after the ProstSchG went into effect on July 1, 2017, it has become increasingly apparent that the law’s consequences, which we expected and predicted, have materialized up and down the country.
As interior minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) aptly…
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Message by Madrid-based sex worker-supporting, feminist human rights group Colectivo Hetaira
“Hetaira was born in Madrid on March 12 1995, as a collective aim to defend the rights of prostitutes. Today, 24 years later, we collectively decide that Hetaira is coming to an end. This is, without doubt, the most difficult announcement we have had to make in all these years of walking together. (…)
Those who know us well know that those who shape Hetaira will continue to work in the defence of human rights and for a feminism that listens and is next to the needs of our beloved street girls, of whom we continue to learn and of all the workers of the sex industry. You know that the only thing that today — as we write this extremely difficult “until forever” — makes us happy is knowing; that we will always be there. With you. And, although it seems like the end of a story, it is the opposite, this fight has just begun.”
Translation and copy editing by members of SWAT (Sex Workers + Allies Translate, Edit + Design).
“The aim of SWAT is not only to provide sex workers and allies with a network to enable sex work knowledge sharing across as cultural and language barriers, but also to reward contributors for their work whenever possible.”
. Caye: My friend, who leaves because she wants to.
. Police: Excuse me?
. Caye: She leaves because she wants to, not because of anyone orders, to see her son.
. Police: Very good.
. Caye: Then nothing else.
(Princesas, by Fernando León de Aranoa).
Hetaira was born in Madrid on March 12 1995, as a collective aim to defend the rights of prostitutes. Today, 24 years later, we collectively decide that Hetaira is coming to an end. This is, without doubt, the most difficult announcement we have had to make in all these years of walking together.
Hetaira was born from the desire of a group of women (some prostitutes and others not) who, after meeting for two years before thinking about the strategies and needs of those who worked as prostitutes, and decided to take the step of renting a space…
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Сексуална работничка од Шведска го изгубила старателството над нејзиното дете поради својата работа 1
Östra Göinge, Шведска, 13 Јануари, 2018.
Мајката е уништена со судска одлука.
Една мајка која работела како сексуална работничка во Östra Göinge, едно село во Шведска го изгубила својот син поради својата професија. Таа ги нудела своите сексуални услуги преку Интернет. Почнала да работи како сексуален работник откако паднала во финансиски проблеми кога нејзиниот син имал само три месеци. Таа ги канела своите клиенти во сопствениот стан нудејќи им сексуални услуги за пари. Нејзината месечна заработка изнесувала околу 2.000-2.300 евра месечно.
“Мајката и нејзиниот син најчесто живееле изолирани од светот, освен за посетите од нејзините клиенти. Многу често се случувало клиентите да го прекинат сексот со мајката кога бебето ќе се разбудело. Неговото креветче било веднаш до креветот на мајката. Мајката се изјаснила дека детето во ниедна ситуација не изгледало исплашено, но сепак било љубопитно за тоа што се случува. Откако ќе се разбудело, мажите веднаш си заминувале од дома, особено оние кои имале деца, сфаќајки ја целосно ситуацијата,“ се вели од Управниот суд.
Сè се разоткрило откако едно засегнато лице ја пријавило мајката во социјална служба, при што синот веднаш и бил одземен. Ова се случило без никаква претходна формална проценка на ситуацијата, иако активностите на мајката беа потврдени преку нејзините онлајн реклами.
Управниот суд особено става акцент на фактот што мајката ги поканувала своите клиенти во нејзиниот дом. Според судот, постоел значителен ризик дека здравјето и развојот на детето ќе бидат оштетени од целокупната ситуација.
Откако детето и било одземено, мајката веднаш ги прекинала своите услуги. Сепак, Управниот суд сметал дека се уште постои ризик дека ќе го повтори своето однесување и затоа одлучил дека синот треба да остане под државната заштита согласно Законот за грижа на млади (LVU). Покрај тоа, судот утврдил дека мајката покажала рамнодушност во однос на безбедноста и заштитата на нејзиниот син, со тоа што ги носела непознатите мажите во својот стан.
Наместо сексуална работа, мајката сега е во потрога по друга работа, а во меѓувреме, аплицирала за социјална поддршка од владата, иако смета дека сепак нема да може да заработува толку колку што заработувала како сексуална работничка. Мајката, исто така, изјавила дека е во постојан контакт со нејзината мајка, која ветила дека ќе и помогне.
Според Управниот суд, таа е “загрижена за последиците на нејзиниот син”. Исто така, може да поднесе жалба против одлуката на судот во Административниот апелационен суд во Гетеборг во рок од три недели.
Кликнете на сликата за да ја прочитате целата статија (Англиска верзија)
“СТАР и сексуалните работници веруваат дека почитувањето на основните човекови права и слободи и правото на слободен избор на професија, се основните принципи за здраво, толерантно и слободно општество. … СТАР СТАР се залага за свет без насилство во кое сексуалните работници слободно работат, а почитувањето на основните човекови права и слободи се основни принципи за демократско и толерантно општество.”
Сексуалните работници и сојузниците преведуваат, Уредување + дизајн
“СРСП има за цел да стане мрежа на сексуални работници и нивни сојузници кои можат да преведуваат, уредуваат и дизајнираат извештаи, известувања, академски, блоговски и новинарски статии, презентации, постери, дури и описи на фотографии со цел да споделат знаење во врска со сексуалната работа и да премостат културолошки и јазични бариери.”
Ве молиме кликнете тука за информации за SWAT на 18 јазици. Те молам контактирајте го SWAT преку е-пошта ако сакате да придонесете со своите вештини. Исто така, вие сте поканети да се придружите на SWAT Фејсбук групата.
1 (Информации за лиценца на англиски јазик. Ве молиме почитувајте ја лиценцата Криејтив комонс.) The Swedish original of this article was written by Carl-Johan Liljedahl and first published as “Barn till prostituerad omhändertas” (Child of prostitute taken into care) at Kristianstadsbladet (January 13th, 2018). The terms “prostitution/prostitute” and “sex buyer” were replaced with “sex work/sex worker” and “client.” The copyright for the original article lies with Kristianstadsbladet. It is not licensed under a Creative Commons License.
The images and tweets above and below did not appear in the original article. Translations of articles do not represent endorsements of titles, images, terms used or views expressed therein, or of the authors who have written or the media outlets that published them.
Помогнете да го ширите зборот!
Torsos only for privacy reasons. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Despite a military crackdown on gay servicemen, politicians refusing to enact anti-discrimination legislation, and fundamentalist faith groups engaging in “Homosexuality Countermeasures”, South Korea has just witnessed its biggest-ever queer parade. Korean sex workers’ rights activist Yeoni Kim and others carried a message on their T-shirts that still needs plenty of amplifying, not only but especially in Korea: Queer Sex Workers’ Lives Matter! LGBT 성노동자도 함께 합니다!
Please click here to continue reading.
Film still from Grace Period (2015). Courtesy of Caroline Key and Kim KyungMook.
By YuJin, Popho E.S. Bark-Yi, and Matthias Lehmann
South Korea introduced a raft of new laws against sex work in 2004. These repressive policies are now up for constitutional review due to the intense reaction by sex workers there.
First-time visitors to South Korea may easily assume that selling sex is legal there, as major train stations are typically engulfed by an array of neon signs inviting patrons to enter massage parlors, noraebangs (lit. a ‘singing room’, essentially the same as a Japanese karaoke bar), and brothels. Media reports frequently quote statistics about the alleged net worth of the South Korean sex industry. However, laws repressing sex work are almost as ubiquitous as commercial sex venues themselves, particularly after 2004, when South Korea adopted the anti-sex trade Laws.
Between 2000 and 2002, a series of fires in Korea killed 24 sex workers, exposing the poor conditions in parts of its sex industry. In response, the government vowed to eradicate prostitution and embarked on an aggressive campaign against businesses facilitating it. Riding the wave of public outrage, women’s rights activists campaigned for a legal reform and their proposals eventually served as blueprints for the two-tiered anti-sex trade laws, which criminalise both buyers and sellers of sexual acts, except for anyone coerced into selling sex.
The new legislation reversed decades of de facto toleration of sex work by regulators and law enforcement. The anti-sex trade laws of 2004 replaced the Law Against Morally Depraved Behaviors (prostitution) of 1961, which wasn’t enforced homogeneously, and previously, even the government had actively engaged in organising commercial sex venues to cater to US military personnel stationed on the Korean peninsula.
The anti-sex trade laws have caused many negative, allegedly unintended consequences. According to a 2012 UN report, “police crackdowns from 2004-2009 resulted in [the] arrest of approximately 28,000 sex workers, 150,000 clients, and 27,000 sex business owners”, and 65,621 arrests were reported for 2009 alone. As researcher Sook Yi Oh Kim states, “the average prosecution rate of sex workers is 26.3%, higher than that of sex buyers, and none of the sex workers arrested are treated as victims”. Police crackdowns have led to an overall reduction of red-light districts. Of 69 red-light districts that existed in 2002, 44 remained by 2013. This represented a slight increase from 2007, when a government-commissioned report had located 35.
Police raids are often carried out very violently, and in November 2014, a 24-year old single mother died after jumping out of a motel room to escape arrest by an undercover police officer posing as client. In stark contrast to their usual reporting, most Korean media remained distinctively silent about the case. The continued repression has forced an increasing number of sex workers to work underground, resulting in lower incomes, poorer working conditions, and an increase in violence perpetrated against them. Sex workers worry more about police raids than about screening their clients, an essential measure, as violence or mistreatment from clients are very common. A substantial number migrates to sell sex abroad, at times under exploitative conditions, as they calculate that conditions in Korea threaten them at least to the same extent but yield considerably lower earnings.
Giant Girls and Hanteo against the law
Two organisations actively campaign for the rights of sex workers and against the laws. One is Hanteo, the National Union of Sex Workers, and the other is Giant Girls. Hanteo, which means ‘common ground’, was founded in 2004 and represents 15,000 sex workers as well as some brothel owners. Giant Girls, or GG, was founded in 2009 by a group of feminists along with a number of sex worker activists. GG aims at building a stronger sex worker movement to mobilise against the criminalisation of sex work, in part by working to remove the social stigma attached to sex work.
Yujin started selling sex online five years ago, in order to afford his tuition fees. YuJin self-identifies as a gay sex worker and is a member of GG. Prior to his entrance into the business he had never met anybody who was ‘out’ as a sex worker, and he knew nothing about how to work. Since all aspects of sex work are illegal in Korea, beginners often feel isolated and lack basic work and safety information. Yujin decided to tweet about his experience soon after he started working, which brought him into contact with other sex workers. Like him, these other sex workers did not ‘act immorally to earn easy money’, as the prejudice would have it, but worked hard, albeit without being respected as workers and citizens.
In 2005, sex workers established 29 June as the national day of solidarity with sex workers, coinciding with the date on which the laws were passed. Resistance from sex workers has taken many other forms. Protests organised by Hanteo in 2011 gained worldwide notoriety, as they culminated in dramatic scenes at the Yeondeungpo red-light district in Seoul, where some activists threatened to self-immolate as the confrontation with the police escalated. The events are well documented in the film Grace Period by Caroline Key and KyoungMook Kim.
In 2013, District Court Judge Won Chan Oh submitted a request for a constitutional review of the laws after accepting the argument made by sex worker Jeong Mi Kim that sex work fell under her right to self-determination. Therefore, in sentencing her for selling sex the state had violated article 10 of the Korean constitution, which holds that “all citizens shall be assured of their human worth and dignity and shall have the right to pursue happiness”.
This opened a window for a phase of much more intense sex worker activism. In April 2015, sex workers and activists staged a protest in front of the constitutional court where a public hearing was held as part of the review. They submitted a petition signed by nearly 900 sex workers arguing that the government had no right to “use criminal punishment to discourage voluntary sex among adults”. The following June, GG organised a forum to draw further attention to the fact that “these laws are not simply laws that aim to punish buyers and sellers of sexual services, but have far wider implications … encompass[ing] social issues including sexual morality, sexual self-determination, and the right to choose one’s vocation”.
Sex worker activist Yeoni Kim once said in an interview with Matthias (one of the present authors) that, “the Swedish model is terrible, violates sex workers’ rights, and adds to the stigmatisation of sex work. But, frankly speaking, one could almost say it would be better to have that terrible law than having to continue fearing arrests and police violence under the anti-sex trade laws.” Hearing one of the most seasoned Korean sex worker activists prefer a slightly less terrible law over another should put all talk about ‘choice’ and ‘agency’ into perspective.
In September 2015, Hanteo staged a larger protest in downtown Seoul. Around 1,500 sex workers demanded an end to the government’s repression, shouting slogans and holding up signs in Korean and English that read “Repeal the anti-sex trade laws!”, “we are workers!” or “adopt Amnesty’s declaration!”.
Last year, when the constitutional court struck down the 62-year-old adultery law, it cited “the country’s changing sexual mores and a growing emphasis on individual rights”. Similar logic should govern the decision on the anti-sex trade laws, which is still pending, however some women’s rights and social conservative groups are continuing to stage protests to prevent a decision against the laws, citing fears over human trafficking and minors engaging in sex work.
Migration from Asian countries to South Korea has increased in recent years, and nobody suggests that the country is immune to migrant smuggling or human trafficking. Marriages between comparatively affluent Korean men and poorer southeast Asian women remain common in rural areas, as do the problems arising from illegal practices by marriage brokers or from violence perpetrated by Korean men against their foreign wives, whom they sometimes appear to seek only for reproductive purposes and household or farm labour.
There have also been occurrences of migrants being trafficked into commercial sex venues, but it is crucial to separate human trafficking from consensual adult sex work. Cases of human trafficking or exploitation of migrants have been detected in numerous industries, including in the fishing, agricultural, or manufacturing industries. Migrants of all genders, as well as Korean citizens, are affected by conditions amounting to forced labour. It is therefore disingenuous to suggest that the problem is limited to women who are forced to sell sex, and to thereby disregard the experiences of trafficked persons and migrants in other industries, which include sexualised violence.
We are opposed to any form of violence. Sex and sexualised violence, however, are not the same. Consensual sadomasochistic sexual practices and actual violence are different, just as consensual sex work and being trafficked into the sex industry are different. People may choose to engage in sex work because they experience stigma as single mothers or due to their sexual orientation, or if other factors limit their options on the formal labour market.
Sex work itself is not violence and to suggest otherwise dilutes the meaning of violence. If we really want to curb human trafficking, we have to address the systemic circumstances that marginalise people and render them vulnerable. As sex workers’ rights activists, we have a stake in seeing human trafficking effectively addressed. The battle slogan ‘prostitution is violence against women’ harms both sex workers and trafficked persons as it drives the creation and perpetuation of precisely those failed laws and policies that enable traffickers to prey on vulnerable populations.
About the authors
YuJin self-identifies as a gay sex worker and is a member of Giant Girls, one of two organisations actively campaigning for the rights of sex workers in South Korea.
Popho E.S. Bark-Yi is a feminist researcher and activist in South Korea. Her work focuses on sexuality and on basic income.
Matthias Lehmann is a German researcher and activist, currently focusing on sex work regulations in Germany. His prior research dealt with human rights violations against sex workers in South Korea. He is an active member of ICRSE.
This article was first published by Open Democracy as part of the ‘Sex workers speak: who listens?’ series on Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, generously sponsored by COST Action IS1209 ‘Comparing European Prostitution Policies: Understanding Scales and Cultures of Governance’ (ProsPol). ProsPol is funded by COST. The University of Essex is its Grant Holder Institution. Please note: this article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. If you have any queries about republishing please contact Open Democracy. Please check individual images for licensing details.
While some politicians are against the forced registrations of sex workers, their statements will amount to little more than lip service if they allow the ruling coalition to push the “Prostitutes Protection Law” through parliament. As sex workers worldwide prepare for December 17th, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, those working in Germany are increasingly worried about the new law and its impact on their health and safety.
Off-limit and tolerance zone (in green) in Dortmund’s city centre (click to enlarge)
Last week, a local news outlet in Dortmund published an article that illustrated the gulf between sex workers and proponents of fully decriminalising sex work on the one hand, and even those politicians who oppose forced registrations of sex workers as part of the planned “Prostitutes Protection Law” on the other. The below is a translation of said article and a short commentary.
Prostitution Law: Discussion about Sanctions
The updated draft of a new prostitution law was the subject of a discussion between Sabine Poschmann, member of the German parliament (MdB) for the Social Democrats (SPD), and representatives of the Mitternachtsmission (Midnight Mission), a counselling centre for current and former sex workers as well as trafficked persons, which had previously strongly criticised the design of the draft bill. Where the MdB of Dortmund’s chapter of the…
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