In a move that is certain to produce some stunning and visually striking outfits, the Spanish town of Els Alamus has ordered that prostitutes working along the highway must wear bright yellow reflective vests. Mayor Josep Maria Bea has been accused of mounting a campaign to drive prostitutes out of the area, but claims that the ordinance is not targeting prostitutes because of their choice of occupation, but because their roadside presences poses a danger to drivers. Was the issue that the drivers were getting distracted by the women's outfits? Or that they were failing to notice them at all? It's a little unclear just how these vests will help, except to create an easily identifiable road-side sex-worker uniform.
Following in the footsteps of an anti-Craigslist, anti-justice dogpile of 17 US Attorneys General, three Ontario cabinet ministers signed a letter to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster asking him to remove prostitution-related ads from the website in their province. According to a report by CBC News, "The New Democrats said prostitution and human trafficking were serious problems and Craigslist should quickly remove its prostitution-related ads under its erotic services section." In the letter, ministers cited "a simple matter of fairness" for why they want to see the Craigslist section for adult ads censored.
The letter comes on the heels of a recent Ontario court ruling (criticized by anti-prostitution & pro-censorship groups) that found laws against communication for the purpose of prostitution, which Craigslist is a remarkably safe facilitator for, violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The march towards sexual freedom is laborious, slow, downright unglamorous, and fundamentally necessary. Thanks to the work of Sienna Baskin and others at the Urban Justice Center, NY County Supreme Court Justice Carol R. Edmead ordered the New York Police Department "shine a light on the hazy legal line separating bondage, domination and sadomasochism from prostitution," Mark Fass reports. The decision comes as sex workers demand "a right to know what the NYPD considers to be prostitution," a crime that has been plagued by imprecise language in legislation and arguably arbitrary enforcement for decades on end.
Enforcement of New York Penal Law 230.00 is what the Sex Workers Project wants insight into. Penal Law 230.00, enacted in 1969, is a "single-sentence statute that prohibits engaging in 'sexual conduct' for a fee, but fails to define 'sexual conduct.'" Edmead granted only partial disclosure of NYPD documents in the Freedom of Information Law case, siding with NYPD objections.
A bill amending NY State Criminal Procedure Law could let victims of sex trafficking clear their prostitution convictions. If signed into law by Gov. Paterson, the bill would be the first of its kind in the US. Although she admits it's a huge victory, Cara says, "I find the need for such legislation in the first place to be very sad. […T]he thought of women being tried in a court of law and convicted for the 'crime' of having been repeatedly raped, since that’s what non-consensual sex work is…an utterly appalling system." That's why I call it the legal system, not the justice system.
Advocates from the Sex Workers Project helped draft the bill. "[H]elping to write a piece of important and passed legislation is a major success, and one that deserves to be celebrated and applauded," Cara says. But "the Feminist Majority Foundation didn’t seem to think so." Cara outlines how a major FMF publication, Ms. Magazine, "didn’t see fit as to so much mention the Sex Workers Project’s name."
Among The Gay & Lesbian Activist Alliance (GLAA) 2010 priorities such as "keeping same-sex marriage legal, fighting HIV in D.C., and addressing the city’s response to hate crimes," is the controversial goal of legalizing prostitution. GLAA political director Rick Rosendall calls the group's position "essentially conservative", noting that criminalizing "survival sex" does little to help people in need of services like job programs, substance abuse treatment and housing. DC reporter Mike DeBonis paraphrased the argument by saying, "get rid of the street trade, and you get rid of the accompanying trash, loitering, and noise problems." Rosendall adds, "Most of the public officials we talk to agree with us privately," although to date none have said so publicly.