Saturday, January 12, 2008

How can we make sex work MORE illegal?


A new version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TPRVA 2007/11) just passed the House (as H.R. 3887) and is now on its way to the Senate. While it contains some laudable legislation combating forced labor and child soldiering, it also, once again, targets voluntary sexual labor by conflating it with forced prostitution and sex trafficking. It contains a very sweeping section outlawing "sex tourism" (the section in question can be found on pages 69–72 of the text of the bill), which it basically defines as any movement over into or out of the United States for purposes of performing or purchasing "illicit sexual acts", which includes any and all commercial sexual services. Existing legislation prohibits traveling abroad to purchase sex with minors; the new legislation expands this to include sex with consenting adults, even in countries where this is legal. (For example, an American who buys sex in an Amsterdam brothel would be subject to Federal prosecution back in the US.) Notably, it also criminalizes travel to or from the US to sell sexual services as well. (For example, a Montreal escort who travels to an American city to sell sex would be further criminalized under Federal law, in addition to existing local law.) Basically, it resurrects the Mann Act and internationalizes it.

I don't get it. What possibly justifies this invasion into people's privacy?? I mean I understand about wanting to prosecute people who go abroad to get sex from 11 year olds, but why do law makers have to be so incredibly stupid and unspecific, lumping people like that together with all the other possibilities?!


  1. ah, the eternal question...

    mostly because some folk feel they have the right to regulate morality. Which, of course, I think is asinine.

  2. The reason it targets legalized prostitution (e.g., Amsterdam) is because the sex workeres there are still FORCED to work there against their will. They are trafficked into places of legalized prostitution. As for Amsterdam, I know this first hand. I worked for 3 years in the industry, I worked with international women and travelled with them to check out the scenes firsthand. Women in Amsterdam are doing $50 (USD)for suck and fuck for 15 minutes. It is absolutely brutal. They are forced. Sex tourism is HUGE and horrible. That's why the law is written this way. To go after the big international trafficking rings, not the end users. There is not enough money to make it worth arresting end users; you need big money to go after years-long investigations on the big rings, and you can't get that money by arresting John Smiths. This industry makes more money than the drug industry, with more horrors and violence. I know a lot of sex-positive sex workers doing legal and illegal work, and I assure you we celebrate for our sisters that this bill has passed. It's not as bad as you think it is.

  3. And I have a lot of respect for working towards those goals, but, doesn't it make more sense to go after those smuggling rings? Perhaps starting in the country or origin? Or targeting countries with only illegal sex trade (like Thailand)? Wouldn't invading and dismantling the legal framework make things worse for the workers in countries like Amsterdam? :\

  4. migrant sex workerJanuary 29, 2008 12:18 AM

    Why is it that ex prostitutes, who got to make money in the sex industry, think they have the right to come out and have all this say about over currently working prostitutes’ wages and work conditions? Why don’t they support those of us who work in the sex industry in having our own voice in our own wages and work conditions?
    Ex sex workers who exercise their right to have say over our industry act like the lilly white plantation slave owners they say this bad legislation will target. H.R. 3887 is bad legislation for sex industry workers who travel for work. It promotes the prison industrial complex to whose benefit? Who’s profiting off the criminalization of prostitution? Without our permission?
    You who misrepresent our voices, that’s who!
    People like you are called poverty pimps. Your always pimping the poverty created by the criminalization of prostitution and immigration for work.
    Demanding that actual sex industry workers have voice to be at the center of this crappy legislation that would further institutionalize violence against us because it doesn’t allow any amnesty for us to come forward to report crimes against us lest we risk loosing our economic circumstances and deportation. Besides, everybody knows that the police are one’s who rip us off and have sex with us without our permission. What penalties will they suffer?
    Yeah, this legislation doesn’t look that bad for you, you don’t even work in the business any more, you won’t be suffering the affects of this legislation you say, ‘ isn’t so bad’.
    Stop democratizing me.

    Migrant Sex Worker


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