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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Giant Girls invites you to the Asia-Pacific Sex Workers’ Rights Forum
Date: Saturday, 28th November 2015
Location: Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), 6th Fl. Kyunghyang Daily News Bldg., 22 Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea 100-702
Entrance Fee: KRW 10,000
11.00 – 12.00 Film screening of ‘Grace Period’ by Caroline Key & KIM KyungMook (see trailer below)
16.30 – 19.30 Film screening of ‘Red Maria 2’ by Kyung-soon (see interview with Kyung-soon here)
국제앰네스티 ‘성노동전면비범죄화’ 결정을 환영하며 <아시아태평양 성노동자 인권 포럼>을 마련했습니다. 이번 주 28일 토요일 오전 11시 민주노총 금속노조 사무실에서 참가비 1만원으로 진행됩니다. <유예기간>과 <레드 마리아2> 영화 상영과 함께, 스칼렛 얼라이언스(호주), 스와시(일본), 코스와스(대만), 그리고 지지(한국)에서 ‘아시아태평양 지역 성노동자의 인권과 성매매 정책’을 주제로 포럼을 열고자 하니 많은 관심 바랍니다.
There has been another unbelievable development regarding Rhoda Grant’s consultation process. Not enough that previously, submissions that opposed her bill to criminalise the purchase of sex in Scotland were omitted and that her comments on having failed to get cross-party support for the bill were removed from her website. Now all responses to the consultation process were removed, too!
Please tweet to @RhodaGrant to remind her that she is a PUBLIC SERVANT and demand that access to ALL responses be restored!
This morning, I submitted a request to the Scottish Parliament under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain all submitted responses, which was acknowledged by the Head of Information Governance. Should my request be successful, I will provide them to SCOT-PEP and the Sex Workers Open University.
*I am not suggesting any ad hominem attacks on Ms Grant. However, in my view, her ignorance of the subject matter and the contempt she has shown throughout for sex workers and others who opposed her, justify to make light of a bad situation and mock Ms Grant with the above image. Unfortunately, she well deserves it.
Photo: NeonRights by Matt Lemon Photography*
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PERMISSION TO USE WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION!
March 3rd ☂ International Sex Workers’ Rights Day
March 3rd marks the annual International Sex Workers’ Rights Day. The day was founded in 2001 by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a sex worker collective in India. Over 25,000 sex workers gathered for that inaugural festival, and since then, participation the day is observed globally by sex workers and those showing solidarity to them.
“We felt strongly that that we should have a day what need to be observed by the sex workers community globally. Keeping in view the large mobilization of all types of global sexworkers [female, male, transgender], we proposed to observe 3rd March as the Sex Workers’ Rights Day.
Knowing the usual response of international bodies and views of academicians and intellectuals of the 1st world [many of them consider that sex workers of third world are different from 1st world and can’t take their decision] a call coming from a third world country would be more appropriate at this juncture, we believe. It will be a great pleasure to us if all of you observe the day in your own countries, too. We need your inspiration and support to turn our dreams into reality.” – Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (2002)
There are several other days that aim to raise awareness for sex workers’ rights and highlight the stigma, discrimination and violence they are often faced with. Two of them are the Korean Sex Workers’ Day and the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
June 29th ☂ Korean Sex Workers’ Day
On this day, the National Solidarity of Sex Workers Day was organised, after the Special Anti-Sex Trade Law [which includes a Prevention Act and a Punishment Act] was passed in 2004. Since then, the date is commemorated as Korean Sex Workers Day to honour all sex workers who have contributed to the struggle against discrimination over the years.
“I am not a hooker. I’m a sex worker!” (left)
“Don’t stigmatise us! Don’t oppress us!” (right)
December 17th ☂ International Day To End Violence against Sex Workers
“The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers was originally developed by Dr. Annie Sprinkle and SWOP founder Robyn Few to shine a spotlight on the epidemic of violence against sex workers happening globally. SWOP-USA began commemorating the Day as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle, Washington, who murdered at least 71 women, most of whom were sex workers from 1982 to 1998.
During the week of December 17th sex worker rights organizations around the world stage actions and vigils to raise awareness about violence that is commonly committed against sex workers. These events also often address issues relating to stigma and discrimination that allows violence against sex workers to occur with impunity. We seek to raise awareness about the barriers faced when attempting to report violence, and promote empowerment and change what has become an unacceptable status quo.” – Sex Workers Outreach Project USA
Quoted/Paraphrased with kind permission by Mistress of Mattresses’ blog post Proof of Feminst Women’s Violence Against Prostitutes.
*The Red Umbrella
The Red Umbrella was first used as a symbol for sex worker solidarity at the 49th Venice Biennale of Art in Italy in 2001. Italian sex workers marched through the streets of Venice with red umbrellas as part of the “Prostitute Pavilion” and CODE:RED art installation by Slovenian artist Tadej Pogacar. The red umbrella march drew attention to the bad work conditions and human rights abuses sex workers faced. Four years later the red umbrella was adopted by the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE) where it became the emblem for resistance to discrimination. Since then the red umbrella has become the international icon for sex worker’s rights around the world. It symbolises protection from the abuse and intolerance faced by sex workers everywhere but it is also a symbol of their strength.
“The assumption that liberal prostitution laws lead to an increase in human trafficking is refuted. On the contrary: ever since the liberalisation, there has been more police activity but notwithstanding, there are significantly less suspects, convicts and victims. That’s rather an indicator that the disentanglement of prostitution from criminal environments is increasingly successful.” – Volker Beck, MP
In early February, the German Greens submitted an enquiry to the federal government, concerning the impact of the German prostitution law on the trend of human trafficking. On February 22nd, the government issued a reply. The following are translated quotes. Below, you can download the enquiry and the answer of the federal government as pdf files. All documents are available in German only.
“In the year 2000, the National Situation Report about Trafficking in Human Beings registered altogether 926 victims. In the year 2011, there were 640. This equates to a decrease of just under 31 per cent. If one compares the figures of registered victims in 2003 [a year after the prostitution law was passed] and 2011, one sees a certifiable decline of just above 48 per cent.” It should be noted that this is despite “greater activities by the police”, a fact Volker Beck referred to in the above quote. [Page 7-8]
From a quantitative viewpoint, the risk potential of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Germany is “limited”. [Page 8]
“The annually compiled National Situation Report by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) shows no significant increase of victims that would indicate an expansion of the phenomenon as a result of the prostitution law taking effect.” [Page 10]
The reply by the German government thus refutes the claim by Neumayer, Cho and Dreher that legalised prostitution increases human trafficking.
Please click here for the enquiry by Volker Beck (Cologne), Monika Lazar, Ekin Deligöz, Britta Haßelmann, Ingrid Hönlinger, Memet Kilic, Dr. Konstantin von Notz, Tabea Rößner, Arfst Wagner (Schleswig) and the faction Bündnis 90/Die Grünen.
Please click here for the reply by the federal government. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the staff at Volker Beck’s office for immediately supplying me with this document.
You can view the full text of the German prostitution law (ProstG) on the website of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
Please click on the image below to access an article about the enquiry by the Central German Newspaper (English Translation via Google Translate).
Less cases of forced prostitution registered since the liberalisation of the prostitution law in 2002
Cover Photo: Korean sex workers, wearing traditional costumes, attend a protest against the police crackdown on brothels in Chuncheon, about 100 km (62 miles) northeast of Seoul May 31, 2011. Reuters/Lee Jae Won.
Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific
The United Nations published a new report that investigates laws, HIV and human rights in the context of sex work. The report is a collaboration of UNDP and UNFPA, in partnership with UNAIDS, the Asia Pacific Network of Sex Workers (APNSW) as well as other community sex worker organizations and individuals.*
“The report is intended to provide an evidence-base for: policy makers working in government, regional and multilateral organizations; parliamentarians; members of the judiciary; civil society organizations; donor agencies; and sex workers and their organizations engaged in advocacy to improve the legal and policy enabling environment for HIV responses. The study focuses on 48 countries of the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on low and middle-income countries.” – Page 9
Sex Work and the Law in South Korea (pp. 110-112)
All forms of sex work are criminalized. Prior to 2004, the law defined sex workers as morally degenerate and imposed penalties for ‘protection of sexual morality’. However, this law was rarely enforced. In 2004, more severe penalties were introduced by the Act on the Punishment of Acts of Arranging Sexual Traffic and Enforcement Decree of the Act on the Prevention of Sexual Traffic and Protection, etc. of Victims Thereof.
The Act on the Punishment of Acts of Arranging Sexual Traffic defines sexual traffic to include sexual intercourse in exchange for money or goods (Article 2). Therefore, sex work is defined as a form of trafficking. The penalty for anyone who has been engaged in sexual traffic is imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine not exceeding 3 million won (Article 21). This provision criminalizes both sex workers and their clients. Persons who are coerced into providing sexual services are not liable to be punished (Article 6(1)).
Other offences include soliciting, arranging, enticing, recruiting and providing premises for the purposes of sex work (Articles 2 and 19). Advertising a sexual traffic business shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 3 years or by a fine not exceeding 30 million won (Articles 19(1) and 20).
The penalty for operating a sexual traffic business is imprisonment for not more than 7 years or a fine of not more than 70 million won (Article 19 (2)).
In 2006 the Constitutional Court referred to prostitution as ‘a low and mean occupation’ that is harmful to public morals. The Court upheld criminal penalties relating to recruiting people to work in the sex industry.
The Constitutional Court has also declared that the offence of providing a place for the purpose of trafficking in sex is constitutional, citing the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which the Korean government signed in 1962. The Constitutional Court in 2011 ruled that adults engaged in ‘sexual traffic’ are subject to punishment because they are able to earn a living by means of a variety of occupations except for sex work.
5.8.2 Law enforcement practices
From 1984-2004, the government tolerated the sex industry provided that sex workers registered with health authorities and operated in specific red-light areas. Sex workers were required to be tested for STIs periodically and for HIV every six months. The government authorized the Korean Tourist Association to license bars or kisaeng (professional entertainer) houses near U.S. military bases and tourist enclaves. The government provided the workers based at these licensed entertainment establishments with STI and HIV testing. After the introduction of the anti-trafficking law that criminalized sex work in 2004, this practice ended and sex workers became reluctant to register for STI testing and treatment due to fear of prosecution. Data on sex workers registered for STI examinations show a rapid decrease from 5,922 in 2003 to 2,632 in 2004. In 2006 only 1,914 sex workers were registered, a reduction of nearly 70 percent since 2003. There was also a reduction in the overall number people seeking testing and treatment for STIs. The number of people seeking STI treatment at health offices declined from 156,000 in 2003 to 117,000 in 2006.
Police crackdowns from 2004-2009 resulted in arrest of approximately 28,000 sex workers, 150,000 clients, and 27,000 sex business owners. It is estimated that 4 percent of the arrested people were sentenced to imprisonment. The Ministry of Justice operates schools for convicted male clients of sex workers who may attend seminars in lieu of punishment.
The Ministry of Justice reported that 99,958 men were sent to the ‘john school’ programme as an alternative to prosecution from 2005 to 2009. The programme aims to prevent clients from reoffending.
The Korean sex workers organization, Giant Girls**, describes the adverse effects of criminalization as follows:
Strict enforcement of regulations and severe punishment for the sexual traffic makes sex workers even more vulnerable in a relationship with business owners or clients. For instance, sex workers, in a legally disadvantageous position, can be forced to have sexual intercourse without using a condom by clients who would threaten to report to the police unless sex workers comply with their unfair request. Sex workers cannot easily report to the police if they become victims of assault or deception by clients or sex business owners. In other words, they are not under protection of the laws. Sex workers can be abused physically and verbally if they are taken to the police. Police sometimes take their naked photos or sex photos under the pretext of collecting and securing evidence.
‘Red-light districts’ (where brothels are densely concentrated) are being closed down and demolished in redevelopment areas, in the process of reinforcing elimination of the sexual traffic. In 2011, 42 brothels located in Yongdeungpo, Seoul were designated for removal, which triggered sex workers’ intense resistance.
5.8.3 Efforts to improve the legal environment
The Korean Sex Workers Network (Giant Girls) was established in 2009 by a group of sex workers who advocate for decriminalization of sex work. The group collaborates with human rights activists to campaign against the criminalization of sex work. The group also works to remove the social stigma associated with sex work through media interventions.
(End of excerpt. Please view the report for all annotations.)
“New UN report takes a stark look at links between sex work, HIV and the law in Asia and the Pacific”
— UNDP Press Release URL
* Shishuder Jonno Amra and Tree Foundation, Bangladesh; Women’s Network for Unity (WNU), Cambodia; China Sex Worker Organization Network Forum, China; Survival Advocacy Network, Fiji; Durbar Mahila Samanwya Committee (DMSC), India; Indonesian Social Changes Organization (OPSI), Indonesia; Asia-Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) Malaysia; Population Services International Targeted Outreach Program (PSI/TOP), Myanmar; Blue Diamond Society (BDS) and Jagriti Mahila Maha Sangh (JMMS), Nepal; Friends Frangipani PNG; Empower and SWING, Thailand.