Spain's prime minister pledges to criminalise prostitution
|18th October 2021
See article from bbc.co.uk
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has pledged to criminalise prostitution in the country claiming that the practice enslaves women.
Prostitution was decriminalised in Spain in 1995 and in 2016 the UN estimated the country's sex industry was worth
euro 3.7bn. A 2009 survey found that up to one in three Spanish men had paid for sex. A 2011 UN study cited Spain as the third biggest centre for prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico. It is commonly estimated that there are around
300,000 women sex workers in Spain.
Prostitution is currently unregulated in Spain, and there is no punishment for those who offer paid sexual services of their own will, as long as it does not take place in public spaces. However, pimping or
acting as a proxy between a sex worker and a potential client is illegal.
In 2019, Sánchez' PSOE party published a pledge in its election manifesto to outlaw prostitution, in what was seen as a move to attract more female voters. The manifesto
called prostitution one of the cruellest aspects of the feminisation of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women. However two years on from the election, no legislation has yet been tabled. Spanish media report that the PSOE would
need to agree on a draft with their left-wing Podemos coalition partners before presenting a bill to parliament, so there is still a long way to go.
Australian state of Victoria set to decriminalise sex work
|30th June 2021
See article from theguardian.com
The government of the Australian state of Victorian will move to decriminalise sex work and regulate the sex industry through standard business industry laws following a review that heard the current system left many unprotected.
The review was
conducted by the Reason party leader, Fiona Patten, in 2020 and is currently before the state government. The government is expected to release the report and table proposed legislation by the end of the year. The change would see Victoria join the
Northern Territory and New South Wales as jurisdictions that have decriminalised sex work. The consumer affairs minister, Melissa Horne, said decriminalisation was the best option to make sex workers safer and to reduce the stigma and fear of criminal
repercussions. She said:
Sex work is a legitimate form of work and should be regulated through standard business laws, like all other industries in the state. Decriminalising sex work in Victoria will ensure it's safe work
203 a basic human right that everyone deserves. We're working towards this as a priority and will have more to say in due course.
Victoria currently has a licensing system for sex work that is regulated by the police. It requires
service providers who operate a brothel or an escort agency and sex workers who operate independently to apply for a licence and be registered through the department of consumer affairs. Sex workers who work at a brothel do not have to register. The
move is based upon the realisation that when rules prove too restrictive, and sex workers end up working outside of the rules, then the sex workers are endangered as they are unable to call for help from the police lest they be arrested themselves.
Apple bans sexy dating apps
|11th June 2021
article from edgemedianetwork.com
Apple on Monday updated its App Store Review Guidelines to emphasise some existing policies and add new requirements for apps. One of those changes, guideline 1.1.4, bans 'hookup' apps that include pornography or are used to facilitate prostitution.
The revised guidelines, as Pink News noted, would ban overtly sexual or pornographic material, defined by Webster's Dictionary as
explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.
Apple's new rules around dating apps won't affect non-sexy platforms like Grindr and Scruff.
Amsterdam considers alternative location for sex workers evicted from the current red light area
|30th April 2021
See article from nltimes.nl
The city of Amsterdam said this week it would consider the Haven-Stad district as another possible location for a high-rise erotic center that could serve as an new location for sex work in the capital.
The council does not like the high profile red
light area in De Wallen and has previously suggested seven other locations including Amstel III (Zuidoost), Arenapoort (Zuidoost), Sloterdijk 2 Zuid (Nieuw-West), Sloterdijk Noord (Nieuw-West), Zuid / Rai (Zuid), Hamerkwartier (Noord),
In a market survey presented by the Amsterdam Mayor, it was also revealed that the erotic center should have about a hundred workplaces for sex workers, some of which would be windows similar to those in the Red Lights
district. The workers will also have access to private break rooms which only the workers can access. Several bookable hotel rooms will be considered for visitors who previously made online appointments. Additionally, two catering establishments, a
workspace for medical care providers and erotic entertainment facilities were planned. A consultancy project will be carried out over the next three months to determine how best to proceed with the project.
Canadian sex workers challenge law that endangers them via criminalising their customers
|21st April 2021
See article from avn.com
A Canadian alliance of 25 sex worker rights groups has launched a court challenge to that country's laws making sex work illegal.
The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform is challenging the sex work ban on Constititional grounds,
saying that the country's laws violate sex workers' constitutional rights to security, personal autonomy, life, liberty, free expression, free association, and equality.
The new challenge comes about a month after a petition to repeal anti-sex
work laws in Canada launched by rights activist Rysa Kronebusch appeared to gather enough signatures to force a debate on the issue in parliament. In 2014, the Canadian parliament which was then ruled by the country's Conservative Party passed a law
that made purchasing sexual services a crime, as well as outlawing several other activities surrounding sex work. When the Liberal Party, under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, won a majority later that year, it pledged to review the law, but never did.
Report reveals that 10 French sex workers were murdered after being put into danger by a new law criminalising their customers
|18th April 2021
See article from avn.com
See report [pdf] from strass-syndicat.org
In 2016, France passed a law, the Prostitution Act that made it a crime to pay for sex. Now a new study by researchers at the Center for International Studies in Paris recently released a report deeming the law a failure.
In fact, in just six months
leading up to February of 2020, 10 French sex workers were murdered, as part of an overall uptick in violence against sex workers, according to the group Decrim Now, which advocates full decriminalization. The Center for International Studies report
notes that shifting the criminal responsibility for sex work offenses from the providers to the purchasers has actually given clients more power over sex workers. The drop in client numbers has increased clients' power to negotiate acceptance of unsafe
sexual practices. In fact, sex workers pointed to client criminalization as the main factor in their loss of power due to a decrease in income, which was reported by 78% of respondents, the report states.
The law itself had not even succeeded in its
stated purpose, of deterring clients from purchasing sexual services, according to French Senator Annick Billon, president of the senate's delegation for women's rights. Billon told the German news agency DW that in the four years that the Prostitution
Act has been in effect, only 5,000 fines have been imposed on prospective customers, though France is estimated to have a sex worker population numbering 40,000.
The law is currently being challenged at the European High Court of Human Rights.
Thai former nightlife mogul estimates the extent of the country's sex trade
|16th April 2021
Chuwit Kamonwisit came to prominence as a nightclub and soapy massage parlour owner. He then became a politician and has now produced an academic paper estimating the extent of the Thai sex industry.
Chuwit pulled no punches about his assessment of
sex for sale in Thailand. He said that there were a million women in the sex trade and it was financially bigger than illegal drugs.
Sex for sale in Thailand was everywhere he said. He listed:
Pubs, bars, beer
bars, karaoke, Go-Go bars, lounges, soapy massage, traditional massage, fake spas, hotels, resorts, cafes, restaurants, barbers/salons acting as fronts for the business, girls on the end of the phone. These days there were sideline girls (those engaging
in sex to pay for their studies or lifestyle in other areas) and pretties (promotional models).
He apologized if any of these were legitimately working outside the sex industry rather than just offering sex. He listed others that keep
the nighttime entertainment business going and live from it such as waitresses and waiters, kitchen staff, salon workers, drivers, guides, cashiers, mamasans, taxi drivers, restaurants, shops, alcohol providers and the like.
He said that poor
education was no obstacle to entering the sex trade and that for a woman aged 18-25 this was their golden years with some in top end Bangkok clubs able to earn 100,000 baht a month (£2400). After 26 things started to go downhill for many women, he said.
When prostitutes were over 30 they went to sell themselves in Pattaya and Phuket or other places where there was a big sex industry.
Some went abroad to work in casinos or Thai massage in Asia, Europe or the US. In Thailand he said the sex
industry continues to grow that it was a multi 100 billion baht industry that eclipsed even the trade in illegal drugs.
Free Speech Coalition Europe petitions the EU about considering the rights of sex workers in upcoming internet censorship laws
The Free Speech Coalition Europe is a group representing the adult trade. It has organised a petition to The Members of the European Parliament of the IMCO, JURI and LIBE Committees on the subject of how new EU internet censorship laws will impact sex
workers. The petition reads:
10 Steps to a Safer Digital Space that Protects the Rights of Sexuality Professionals, Artists and Educators
"Online platforms have become integral parts of our daily
lives, economies, societies and democracies."
Not our words but those of the European Commission. And after more than a year in the grips of a global pandemic, this statement rings truer than ever before. So why are some of
society's already most marginalised people being excluded from these necessary spaces?
Sexual Expression is Being Banned Online
Sex in almost all its guises is being repressed in the public online
sphere and on social media like never before. Accounts focused on sexuality -- from sexuality professionals, adult performers and sex workers to artists, activists and LGBTIQ folks, publications and organisations -- are being deleted without warning or
explanation and with little regulation by private companies that are currently able to enforce discriminatory changes to their terms and conditions without explanation or accountability to those affected by these changes. Additionally, in many cases it
is impossible for the users to have their accounts reinstated -- accounts that are often vitally linked to the users' ability to generate income, network, organise and share information.
Digital Services Act (DSA)
At the same time as sexual expression is being erased from digital spaces, new legislation is being passed in the European Union to safeguard internet users' online rights. The European Commission's Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act encompass upgraded rules governing digital services with their focus, in part, building a safer and more open digital space. These rules will apply to online intermediary services used by millions every day, including major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Amongst other things, they advocate for greater transparency from platforms, better-protected consumers and empowered users.
With the DSA promising to "shape Europe's digital future" and "to create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected", it's time to demand that it's a
future that includes those working, creating, organising and educating in the realm of sexuality. As we consider what a safer digital space can and should look like, it's also time to challenge the pervasive and frankly puritanical notion that sexuality
-- a normal and healthy part of our lives -- is somehow harmful, shameful or hateful.
How the DSA Can Get It Right
The DSA is advocating for "effective safeguards for users, including the
possibility to challenge platforms' content moderation decisions". In addition to this, the Free Speech Coalition Europe demands the following:
Platforms need to put in place anti-discrimination policies and train their content moderators so as to avoid discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, or profession -- the same community guidelines need to
apply as much to an A-list celebrity or mainstream media outlet as they do to a stripper or queer collective;
Platforms must provide the reason to the user when a post is deleted or account is restricted or deleted.
Shadowbanning is an underhanded means for suppressing users' voices. Users should have the right to be informed when they are shadowbanned and to challenge the decision;
Platforms must allow for the user to request a revision
of a content moderation's decision, platforms must ensure moderation actions take place in the users' location, rather than arbitrary jurisdictions which may have different laws or custom; e.g., a user in Germany cannot be banned by reports &
moderation in the middle east, and must be reviewed by the European moderation team;
Decision-making on notices of reported content as specified in Article 14 of the DSA should not be handled by automated software, as these
have proven to delete content indiscriminately. A human should place final judgement.
The notice of content as described in Article 14.2 of the DSA should not immediately hold a platform liable for the content as stated in
Article 14.3, since such liability will entice platforms to delete indiscriminately after report for avoiding such liability, which enables organized hate groups to mass report and take down users;
Platforms must provide for
a department (or, at the very least, a dedicated contact person) within the company for complaints regarding discrimination or censorship;
Platforms must provide a means to indicate whether you are over the age of 18 as well
as providing a means for adults to hide their profiles and content from children (e.g. marking profiles as 18+); Platforms must give the option to mark certain content as "sensitive";
Platforms must not reduce the
features available to those who mark themselves as adult or adult-oriented (i.e. those who have marked their profiles as 18+ or content as "sensitive"). These profiles should then appear as 18+ or "sensitive" when accessed without a
login or without set age, but should not be excluded from search results or appear as "non-existing";
Platforms must set clear, consistent and transparent guidelines about what content is acceptable, however, these
guidelines cannot outright ban users focused on adult themes; e.g., you could ban highly explicit pornography (e.g., sexual intercourse videos that show penetration), but you'd still be able to post an edited video that doesn't show penetration;
Platforms cannot outright ban content intended for adult audiences, unless a platform is specifically for children, or >50% of their active users are children.