Don’t ask me where I’m from

Guest post by C.

(This article was written in response to the author’s experiences at a recent feminist gathering in Australia.)

Don’t ask me where I’m from

(or what my origins are/what my background is/where my parents are from/where my name is from/etc.)

  • Don’t use the fact that I speak a particular language/attended the launch of a book by an Indian author/mentioned a Lebanese restaurant in passing/etc., as an excuse to ask me where I am from, and don’t assume I am from these places. Just like white people, brown people can be interested in cultures other than our own; sometimes these cultures have been imposed on us.
  • Don’t make a comment about some aspect of my physical appearance or tell me I’m beautiful in conjunction with asking me where I’m from. This makes me feel exoticised and objectified.
  • Don’t invent me an accent I don’t have in order to have an excuse to ask where I’m from. This is just crazy and I will lose respect for you.
  • If for whatever reason I do tell you where I’m “from”, don’t reduce my country of origin to a tourist destination (or a war zone). While this may be the only context in which you have heard of it, for me and everyone else “from” there it is a complex place which we have a complex relationship with, and we do not like to hear it reduced to a few beaches, a resort and some of our co-nationals forced into subservience by globalised patriarchal white supremacist capitalism.
  • If for whatever reason I do tell you where I’m “from”, don’t respond with further questions that pry into my family history. This information is personal and I do not want to be pressured into telling it to you just to be polite. 

I’m a woman of colour who attended your white-dominated feminist event, an event at which I hoped to feel safe and in which I hoped to participate on an equal level to everyone else.

At this event, you may have asked me where I’m from – a lot of women did. In response, I might have answered truthfully, I might have lied, or I might have refused to answer. I might have seemed uncomfortable or I might have seemed relaxed. You probably don’t know which of these was actually the case.

In fact, every single time you ask me this question it causes me significant pain.

You probably asked out of idle curiosity. For you it was probably just a minute or two of vaguely interesting conversation. You got to find out which box to put me in so that, even if nothing about your behaviour towards me changed, in your head I am safely categorised.

For me, it was probably the fifth – or the fiftieth – time I had been asked that question that day. It is a question I am asked and have been asked almost every time I have met a new white person throughout my entire life. The cumulative effect of being constantly faced with this question has been to make me feel unwelcome in the country in which I was born, whose culture I share, with whose accent I speak. It has fundamentally undermined my sense of identity and my sense of belonging, creating deep insecurities that I struggle with every day.

Every time you ask me this question, it reminds me that I am not white. It brings with it a flood of recollections of every racist aggression I have suffered or have seen inflicted on friends, family, acquaintances, and total strangers. It reminds me of the inter-generational trauma I have spent years understanding and trying to heal from. It reminds me of everything I know about the globalised patriarchal capitalist white supremacist system of colonialism and imperialism and invasion and rape and the sheer magnitude of it all and what it has done to me and to everyone else. So, when you ask me this question, I am thrown into turmoil. I feel angry and hurt. Sometimes I also feel nauseous, enraged, or sad. Sometimes I start shaking, sometimes crying. You probably won’t see this, though, as I am practiced at hiding it.

In the few milliseconds I have to decide how to answer you, I have to weigh up how much I value our relationship and what effects my answer will have on it. I am angry and upset that you have asked me this monumentally insensitive question, but I know your intentions were probably not bad. Do I want to tell you the truth because I like and respect you? If so, how do I retain my sense of pride? Is there some way I can communicate to you that this hurt me? Does my hurt and anger mean I want to lie to you? Can I get away with lying? If so, which lie? What will you do if you happen to find out the truth later? If I tell you that I hate this question, how will you respond? Do I have the time and energy to have the discussion that you will probably want to have directly afterwards? Will you still take me seriously if I start crying, or yelling? Do I want to put myself in a situation where I might start crying, or yelling, in front of you? Do I have the strength to simply walk away if I don’t want to have this discussion? If I do choose to have it, will you be able to understand? If not, will this anger and hurt me even more? What if you respond negatively? Will you be angry at me and can I cope with this? Will you talk to other women about me behind my back? How will I be labelled, by you and by others, as a result?

You cannot fix racism. What you can do is make it possible for me to participate in your event on as equal a basis as possible. This means not reminding me that I have been made structurally inferior to you and almost everyone else present by the global system of white supremacy. Reminding me of this affects my self-confidence and makes it harder for me to contribute as I usually would. It may also mean plunging me into a state of trauma in which I cannot function normally. This does not mean denying or ignoring the existence of race and of white supremacy, but it does mean not bringing it up at times when it is not relevant.

My origins are important to me and have had a huge effect on my life. If I feel safe and comfortable enough, or if I feel it is important that you know, I will probably spontaneously tell you where I am “from” at some point during the course of our acquaintance. You will find it out exactly as you would find out any other significant piece of information about me, but without making me feel terrible and preventing me from participating.

If you do ask me this question or have done so in the past and later realise you should not have, don’t apologise to me. In fact, don’t even come talk to me about it. This puts pressure on me to forgive you, which may not be what I want to do. It also puts pressure on me to help make you feel better, when in fact it is you who have hurt me. I do not owe you my forgiveness or my emotional support. If you feel bad, go talk to a white person about it instead.

You want to ask me this question because you are and have always been immersed in white supremacist patriarchy. This makes race a crucial lens through which you understand the world and allows you to unquestioningly reproduce the male behaviour of not respecting boundaries on women of colour. This is not your fault. But, please just think for a minute about where your curiosity comes from and the effects it has on others.

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Letter to IWD rally organisers: Organised harassment of women at International Women’s Day rally

Guest post by IWD Rally Attendees

For the second year in a row a group of us were harassed at the International Women’s Day rally in Melbourne.terf n swerf harassment instructions

This year the harassment dramatically intensified as a throng of bystanders who’d been given instructional flyers joined a trans identified male and sex industry activists in relentlessly attacking us.

 

The harassment was so bad we decided to write to the organisers to be sure they know the full extend of what happened and ask them what they will do to ensure our safety next year.

This is the letter we wrote:

ATTN: Melbourne IWD March organising collective

 

Tuesday 12 March 2018

 

To the organisers of the Melbourne International Women’s Day 2018 rally,

 

In the wake of the #metoo movement, women all over the world have been rising up and speaking out against male harassment and violence. We are a group of about 15-20 radical feminists who attended the IWD rally on March 8th, 2018 in Melbourne with the aim of continuing this struggle. We are of varying ages, class backgrounds and ethnicities; some of us are currently or have formerly worked in the sex industry; some of us are lesbians; two of us were accompanied by young daughters. We had prepared a number of signs to display at the rally with slogans including:

  • Safe streets for women
  • Women’s safety before men’s feelings
  • Safety for refugee women and girls
  • Name the problem: male violence
  • Porn hurts women
  • Radical feminism is back (never went away)
  • Womb-yn unite!
  • $$$ =/= consent
  • Porn is racist
  • Lesbians exist, lesbians resist
  • Biology = biology. ⅓ women experiences physical violence (Our Watch). Trans ”women” are men.

 

We expected that our signs would meet with some disagreement from other attendees of the rally. We know that our views are controversial and that not everyone agrees with us. We expected, nonetheless, that we would be able to express our opinions in a peaceful manner in a public space, to listen to the speeches, to participate in the march, and to enjoy spending time together and meeting other women.

 

This was not what happened. Instead, before the rally had even begun a young man seized and ripped up two signs held by an older lesbian in our group. Soon afterwards, while we were standing peacefully and silently holding our signs, individuals began to encircle us, obscuring our signs with their own, yelling and screaming at us, jostling and invading our personal space, attempting to rip our signs out of our hands, repeatedly calling us “fucking bitches”, telling us that we do not know what lesbians are and that we “deserve to be degraded”. A bottle was thrown at us, and a woman who was filming had her phone knocked to the ground. One or more bystanders attempted to help and also fetched a small number of women – presumably marshals – in union t-shirts who stood between us and the main aggressor but this was not sufficient to prevent the harassment as they remained largely silent. The crowd around us quickly became very dense, making it claustrophobic and overheated. It was impossible for the women under attack and those immediately surrounding to hear the speeches and to fully participate in the rally. The women accompanied by young girls were forced to move away as the girls were scared.

 

Subsequently, a number of men from the CFMEU joined the crowd around us, waving their flags in our faces and jeering. One of the women in our group overheard them discussing the fact that they had been asked by the organisers to attend in order to get between the radical feminists and our opponents. These men were all significantly larger than average in build. When the women moved to a different spot to get away from the CFMEU men, other harassers simply surrounded them.

 

We were peacefully expressing opinions that are important to us as well as to many other women. It is unacceptable that such intimidation and harassment was allowed to take place without intervention from you, the organisers. You had a responsibility to ensure the ability of all present to express their opinions without being faced with intimidation and harassment. Why did the organisers not intervene to prevent the intimidation while it was taking place? Why have you not responded to our questions and concerns since the rally, instead deleting our comments made to your facebook posts and blocking us from posting?

 

It is highly concerning that the organisers’ solution to the possibility of conflicts arising between radical feminists and others during the rally was to ask men to attend to separate the two groups. Quite apart from the fact that the men did not actually do this, instead crowding around us and contributing to the intimidation and harassment, it is extraordinary that supposedly feminist women could think it appropriate to deal with the possibility of conflict at a women’s rally by inviting men, and in particular men who were unusually physically intimidating due to their large build. Such a “solution” suggests a complete ignorance of the nature and history of women’s struggles against male violence and a total disregard for the physical and psychological safety of the radical feminists present.

 

We believe that the organisers we encountered were trying to do as little as possible in order to maximise the intimidation and harassment we received. They were trying to appear neutral but were biased from the start against us in favour of our harassers. Some woman in our group heard a female Marshall holding a pro-trans and sex work sign tell the CFMEU men to get between the two groups. Further, we saw leaflets being circulated at the march, advising how to “stand up to” “SWERF n’ TERFs” (a copy can be found here). The existence of this leaflet suggests that the attacks on us were not simply a spontaneous response to our signs from individuals in the crowd, but were planned. The organisers owed a duty of care to all attendees, including our group of radical feminists. The decision by the event organisers to place men of larger than average build between us and other groups, directly led to women feeling unsafe, intimidated and harassed. The decision to surround us with the CFMEU men cannot, in the circumstances, be classified as a reasonable step taken to discharge your duty of care obligation to us. Thus, it is likely that the requisite standard of care owed to us was breached.

 

The attempts of the harassers to prevent us from participating in the rally succeeded: apart from being unable to hear the speeches, we felt too unsafe, afraid, exhausted and upset to participate in the march that followed the rally. This outcome was a result of the consistent infringement of our right to peaceful protest throughout the rally. You as organisers had the responsibility to protect our right to protest, and you did not. Women’s voices were silenced by male violence, facilitated by women’s complicity.

 

We expect the organisers to affirm the right of all women to feel safe and to express their opinions at future International Women’s Day marches and all other feminist events you organise, and to send a message that intimidation and harassment are not acceptable tactics in the women’s movement. More concretely, we expect organisers to ensure the safety of all participants at such future events, and we expect to be able to march safely next year. Please send, by return letter, a list of actions that the organisers will put in place for 2019 to ensure our safety and the safety of all women and girls in attendance.

 

Signed:

The women who attended (not all have signed due to fear of retaliation):

  1. J. Harbinson
  2. M. A.
  3. C. O.
  4. M. R.
  5. M. C.
  6. L. R.
  7. Rebecca Kennedy
  8. Sarah Morrigan
  9. C. E.
  10. M. Parker
  11. B. Clarke
  12. Nina V
  13. Katherine H
  14. Beth Smith
  15. Chris Wilding

 

The letter was also signed by 100+ other women who did not attend the march.

At the time of writing the organisers have not responded to our letter.

Planned Parenthood USA calls Women “Menstruators” – Women say “hell no!”

PP menstruators

*See: Non-men of the world unite to mock #GreenPartyFeminism, Feminist Current

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But Planned Parenthood USA didn’t stop at menstruators, according to PP we should also be referred to as pregnant people:

PP people pregnancy

Purvi Patel was released from an Indiana prison yesterday after her feticide conviction was overturned and a judge resentenced her to less time than she’d already served.

“In 2015, Patel was found guilty of conflicting charges feticide and child neglect and sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly self-inducing an abortion with drugs two years earlier.

“Last month a judge overturned the feticide conviction, a ruling the state did not appeal, and on Wednesday the judge sentenced her to 18 months for felony child neglect. She’s already been in prison that long and was released yesterday.

“Compare Patel’s original 20-year prison sentence for an abortion to the 6-month jail term handed to former Stanford University student Brock Allen Turner for raping an unconscious woman. Turner, by the way, was released from jail today after three months.”

Project Respect doors closing unless something miraculous happens

Project Respect is a Melbourne based support service for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women in the sex industry. On March 16, Project Respect released this statement with “a heavy heart” via email and a social media post, informing their community and supporters they will be closing their doors in a month unless “there is a miraculous response to this letter.”

“Project Respect has survived by hard work, good will and financial support by many organisations and individuals (for 17 years) however, without funding which is sustainable, we will have to close on the 15th April 2016.”

In a 2015 interview with Emma Alberici on Lateline, Kate Connett, who before becoming an outreach worker for Project Respect, was a sex worker on the streets to support her heroin habit from age 17 to 23, speaks of how vital these services are for women and why they are so desperately needed,

“I think nearly every single woman I have worked with at Project Respect has gone into the sex industry because of financial hardship. All women are there for the money, they’re not there for the sex, they’re not there because they enjoy having sex with men, they are there to get the money… Homelessness is a huge issue. We find many women that are homeless. We find a lot of women that sleep in brothels which is illegal, so I guess it’s kind of hidden homelessness in women.”

(Every month Kate visits legal brothels, offering support to women.) … and says it is “quite typical that in all Asian brothels one woman will speak for all the women and just kind of take over, and it’s very hard to kind of get in and speak to individually to women in Asian brothels. Outreach can be really difficult, actually, because sometimes you are met with really volatile people.

“We meet women constantly who have been either raped or beaten. Currently working with a woman at the moment who is pregnant due to a client raping her. I don’t think legalisation works. I don’t think decriminalisation works either. Again, it hasn’t stopped the incidence of violence.”

The Nordic model which looks at criminalising the buyers which are predominantly men and making it legal for people to sell sex which is predominantly women, I think so far that’s the best option that I’ve seen come out. What girl, what young girl goes, “I want to be a prostitute when I’m older”? What young girl ever has that aspiration? What mother ever wants their child to become a prostitute when they are older? It’s not a dream job for anybody.” (Transcript and Video here)

The work of organisations like Project Respect is vital to the Nordic Model of prostitution. Vital to supporting women in the sex industry with the availability of exit programs.

Project Respect works in three ways:

* One, we assist women one-on-one and help them access essential services – such as healthcare and legal representation. We support women in making police reports, gaining child custody, even applying for jobs in a new industry. While many community organisations become targeted, offering just one service, Project Respect remains broad. Led entirely by the needs of women, we place no limits on the length or type of support offered. At the centre of our support work is regular outreach, where we visit brothels in Victoria. We do this so women know we are available to them – without judgement – should they need us.

* We also connect women together, supporting them to support one another, in their shared experiences. Intense stigma around the sex industry means it can be isolating. Through community lunches and weekends away we nurture a safe, non-judgemental and supportive network. For many women, Project Respect is simply and powerfully about belonging. It their place to be. Outside the mainstream, in these rare spaces, women are understood, welcomed, and finally treated with respect.

* Lastly, we advocate for women’s rights against violence, trafficking and exploitation. To improve life for women in the sex industry, we must improve the status of women overall. That’s why we work directly with all levels of government, lobbying for broad policy change. We argue for better conditions for women while they are in the sex industry. We argue against the trafficking of women. We help expose violence against women, and push for solutions to eradicate it. In all of this work, we ensure women’s voices are heard. We offer women a platform to write, speak and meet directly with decision makers. We know that their voices and leadership will create the positive change we seek.

At Project Respect, we believe that all women have the right to feel safe and respected. We are fundamentally for and about women – supporting their entire life and future potential. To achieve a world free from sexual exploitation we are committed to doing what others can’t.

project respect

Ways to help:

Donate – “Just like you, we aren’t ready to give up without a fight! If you feel the same way about Project Respect, then please donate to us via our GoFundMe campaign.
Share – “Please spread the campaign as far and wide as you can, and Help Save Project Respect!” – Project Respect

 

See also:

* The Government must fund services like Project Respect for women trafficked for sexual exploitation and women inside the sex industry in Australia.

* Expunging prostitution convictions essential for those exiting the sex trade – Simone Watson, Director NORmac

#ThankaFeminist Australia 2015

thankafeminist

*BRISSC celebrated 40 years of ongoing work and support for victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and incest along with Women’s House in Brisbane in 2015, with their work extending into the community. We would also like to thank BRISSC for:

*Caroline Norma, lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. Many thanks for:

*Celeste Liddle, “Arrernte, feminist, hard left, trade unionist, with a taste for protopunk”, a big thank you for:

*Collective Shout, grassroots campaigns movement mobilising and equipping individuals and groups to target corporations, advertisers, marketers and media which objectify women and sexualise girls to sell products and services. Many thanks for:

*Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence celebrated 25 years of service in 2015, a big thank you also this year for:

*Janet Fraser, National Convenor of the Australian Homebirth Network, Joyous Birth, committed to community birth education, birth activism, supporting women and families in healing from birth trauma, blogger and feminist activist, big thanks for inspiring #ThankaFeminist 2015 and many blessings for:

  • Her social media campaigning, writing and feminist analysis
  • Her home birthing advocacy and Anti-obstetrics violence campaigning, including being a speaker at the Mother of all Mothers of Rallies in Canberra in June 2015
  • Speaker and attendee of grassroots protests for women’s liberation, including the Sydney leg of the global women-led protests against AI’s ‘sex work’ policy, October 2015.
  • Her continued support of other feminist actions to end MVAW, and liberate women, including being feminist queen of the sharpie pen.

*Laura McNally, a psychologist, researcher, author and PhD candidate, chair of the Australian branch of Endangered Bodies and provides social commentary on issues related to gender inequality, many thanks for:

*Liz Waterhouse, founder of listeningtolesbians, member and contributor of Women Shout Out Australia and Reclaim The Night Perth. A big thank you for:

*Mairi Voice, writing and sharing articles and interesting news with radical feminist analysis, a big thank you for:

  • Writing and advocacy for the Nordic model of prostitution, including: Why the Nordic Model is Safest for Women, addressing a number of issues raised in the ‘prostitution debate’.
  • Critiquing the downfalls of liberal feminism in Australia: Liberal Feminism and the Prostitution Debate, drawing from the reading of ‘Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism edited by Miranda Kiraly and Meagan Tyler (2015).
  • A supportive, informative Social media community and continued support of other feminist actions to end MVAW, and liberate women.

*Meagan Tyler, Research Fellow, RMIT University. Member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA). Many thanks for:

*Paula Orbea, founder of Questions for Us and the Wicked Campers campaign, educator, blogger, feminist activist and co-founder of Boycott Wicked Campers , A big thank you for:

*Radfem Groundhog Day, “Rather than re-invent the wheel, this passage by Mary Daly (from a talk at UCLA in 1987), pretty much says it all…” Many thanks for:

*Reclaim the Night Perth, For a world without male-pattern violence and control over women and children, a big thank you for:

*Simone Watson, director of NORmac; survivor led advocates for the Nordic model Australia, and feminist activist, many thanks for:

*Wicked Pickets, A community action to extend anti vilification law to include ‘sex’ as a ground for complaint. Race religion sexuality gender identity are already covered. Many thanks for:

thankafeminist

Women Worldwide Tell Amnesty Int: #NoAmnesty4Pimps & Johns – Women are #Not4Sale

London protest - photo by @r2Ph

London protest – photo by @r2Ph

In London, police estimated the number of women outside Amnesty International’s headquarters at 200. There were exited women there, with activists, researchers, journalists — all in sisterhood. The youngest were in their twenties, the oldest were in their eighties.

They were later joined by a few men, one of whom said he’d heard about the protest in an Italian Facebook group two hours before and apologized for not having got involved sooner.

The protesters stood alongside the busy road in London’s rush hour and chanted: “Lock up pimps and johns!” “Women’s rights are human rights!” “Women’s bodies are not for sale!” – Janie Davies, Feminist Current

No Amnesty, global day of action, London 23rd October 2015 by Pam Isherwood

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The first time zone to protest was Australia, with women gathering outside AI head offices in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

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Brisbane women protesting outside the Brisbane Amnesty Int. head office QLD

Brisbane women protesting outside the Brisbane Amnesty Int. head office QLD

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Global Protest Against Amnesty International on Prostitution Policy #NoAmnestyForPimps – Washington DC

“We are gathered here today [DC], in solidarity with groups around the world, to voice our opposition to Amnesty International’s support of full decriminalization of prostitution. Full decriminalization of prostitution in no way rectifies the conditions of inequality, abuse, violence, and dehumanization which animate all forms of prostitution—it tragically assents to them…”

“…We are assembled here today: because something effective must be done to protect and restore the lives of those destroyed by the commercial sex trade; because people deserve better than prostitution… Amnesty: it’s not too late to admit that as an institution you’ve made a mistake. It’s not too late to stand up for “The Forgotten Prisoners of Prostitution.” endsexualexploitation.org

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“We cannot and will not stand by whilst a human rights organization supports, encourages, and lobbies for the prostitution of women and by extension girls. This flies in the face of the available evidence and we call for human rights organisations to review their position in the light of emerging data from areas that have implemented the model of legalization with appalling consequences,” Lisa-Marie Taylor, chair of UK women’s rights charity Feminism in London told Feminist Current

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Meet a 21st-Century Slave

“Plenty of well-meaning people back Amnesty International’s proposal for full decriminalization of the sex trade, including of pimps and brothels, and it’s certainly true that some women (and men) work in the sex trade voluntarily. Yet in practice, approaches similar to Amnesty’s have ended up simply empowering pimps. And while under these proposals human trafficking would remain illegal, the police would no longer have a reason to raid brothels to search for girls like Poonam. Both Poonam and Koirala think that full decriminalization is a catastrophic idea; if it were in place, Poonam might still be enslaved.”

“There is no protection to the powerless,” Koirala said of full decriminalization. “All the benefits go to the perpetrators and exploiters.”

“The blunt truth is that no strategy works all that well against trafficking. But maybe the most successful has been Sweden’s, cracking down on traffickers and customers while providing social services and exit ramps for women in the sex trade.” by Nicholas Kristof, Human rights, women’s rights, health, global affairs for The New York Times, October 24, 2015. Read more Here

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Dear survivors of prostitution… “WE BELIEVE YOU” ❤️💛💚💔💙💜❤️ #ibelieveher#NoAmnesty4Pimps#ListenToSurvivors#EndDemand#YesAllWomen — WomenCanSee (@WomenCanSee) October 23, 2015

Further reading:

– Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

– #NoAmnesty4Pimps hashtag on twitter here

– More images from the protest here

 – Are we hearing ‘sex workers’ when we listen to them? Penny White – Feminist Current’

Prostitution Industry

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

Amnesty sells out women for men’s orgasms and profit

Human rights group Amnesty International’s (AI) 2015 policy on ‘sex work’ advocates for pimps and johns rights to buy and sell women for ‘sex’ by calling on countries to decriminalise all aspects of the sex industry.

This is as opposed to the Nordic model of prostitution, which implements the full decriminalisation of prostituted people hand in hand with support services and exit programs, while criminalising the pimps and johns who create the demand for, and profit from, this highly gendered and inherently violent and degrading ‘industry’.

Amnesty money does not equal consentIn 2014, an AI draft policy was leaked revealing AI’s future intentions to endorse the full decriminalisation of the sex industry, including the pimps and johns. During a Q & A that followed, the Director of AI UK said, “in an imperfect world many women end up in ‘sex work’ as an economic last resort“. As an economic last resort, there is no choice, choice implies other choices to choose from. As an economic last resort Money Does Not Equal Consent.

The most vulnerable women and girls will be the ones affected by such policies because they are the ones being funneled through the sex industry. Poor women, abused women, addicted women, homeless women, women of colour.

Why is AI endorsing vulnerable women and girls being prostituted as a means of survival, instead of the Nordic approach with support services and exit programs; rehabilitation, mental health services, housing, educational and job training, etc, to give these women real choices and a supportive environment to succeed in?

AI’s 2014 leaked draft policy gives us a bit of an idea, showing a lot of concern for the men who buy prostituted women and girls for ‘sex’ (removed from the 2015 policy): Continue reading