Buzzfeed put out a question on decriminalization to the 44 candidates running for the Presidential Democratic nomination right now (it's twenty-two as of writing this, but there's a lag time of a day or so between writing and posting, so I'm hedging my bets). Four said they support decrim, though that includes the clearly confused Kamala Harris. While it's important to know a thing or so about Decrim and sex work, the president can't actually decriminalize, because prostitution is regulated at the state level. A few other articles this week, though, show why it's necessary for the next administration to understand the impact of policing of the sex trade.
In Canada, which currently has an "End Demand" style of regulation, with disastrous results, a few trends are popping up which should be familiar to folks here in the states. The country has just launched a national hotline for trafficking, hosted by the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, and grassroots groups are already speaking out. Sex worker organizations like Butterfly, for migrant sex workers, and Maggie's Toronto, have pointed to the conflation and overpolicing, as well as no guarantee a call won't invite police. If that sounds familiar, it's because it echoes the problems with the National Human Trafficking Hotline here in the US, run by the Polaris Project and federally funded at over a million dollars a year.
It looks like they're also using the same tactics of asking hotels and taxi drivers to police the sex trade - meaning more calls to that new hotline. If that reminds you of any story you've heard before, look no further than Marriott, which announced this year its training of 500,000 employees to spot sex workers.
The reason the president's opinion (well, their administration's opinion) matters isn't just because it's handy, but because there are ways the Department of State (which is part of the Administrative branch) incentivizes countries to adopt American-style policies around policing of trafficking. Asking candidates about decrim is important, but it's also only a first step in what they can do and the impact they can have.
June is Pride month!
To kick off Pride month, the city of New York just announced that two revolutionaries who were not shy about being sex workers, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, are getting a monument in the city. The two were organizers and activists, and their resistance against police brutality catalyzed the Stonewall riots. Calls are also coming for Pride month to remember that honoring Stonewall doesn't mean a colorful drink at Happy Hour or a rainbow version of your logo, but demanding the queer movement center the lives and needs of trans folks, queers of color, and sex workers.
And in the evolution of what that looks like, earlier this month the National Center for Transgender Equality released a report which looked at the policies impacting trans people in a number of major cities. Included in the policies they looked into was the use of condoms as evidence for prostitution charges. In response, police departments like Miami are reacting and reviewing their policies to bring them more in line with recommendations. Makes you wonder what's possible, right?
Big Tech Is Watching You
Someone on social media is claiming to have the ability to recognize porn performers and connect their persona to their non-porn presence using facial recognition. It's scary, it's not new, and this article puts it in context.
Beyond just the random assholes, there is an entire market of data collection targeting the sex trade. This article looks into Thorn, the lauded and dubious pet project of expert and human rights leader Ashton Kutcher, which is looking into your data in the name of trafficking.
But I don't want to end on that note. Amazing things are happening, including the slow forgetting that Ashton Kutcher was even a thing once. Watch City Councilman Ron Kim uplift groups organizing AAPI sex workers in New York:
And check out these beautiful images from a Vancouver-based group, WISH, from their recent conference:
Back to the grind. And after that video, feeling really good about it.