This is our truth, tell us yours
For a long time now those who actually know about the sex industry, sex workers, reputable researchers, health workers, have had to compete with the trafficking myths. Our voices have been drowned out by those who have seen how much money can be made by putting “trafficking” into the state sponsored ATM. A go to piece for anyone who wants to see just how much this harms some of the most vulnerable in our society is How was it for you by the former head of Open Doors. Genuine support for migrant sex workers (some of whom may have been trafficked) was cut so money could go to “anti trafficking” initiatives around the 2012 Olympics.
Trafficking is big business, not for the mythical people bringing thousands of women into the UK and forcing them to work, but for the police, charities, anti sex work orgs and others who have invented a myth, and live well of perpetuating it. It seems that the money is so easy, and the ignorance so pervasive that so long as you put trafficking in the title of your wild claims, you can get away with anything.
The latest evidence for this comes in the report that British banks are monitoring the bank accounts of “suspected trafficking victims” It seems the armed forces are joining the queue of those with their hands out for anti trafficking money in this report from the Royal United Services. Stunning ignorance is not going to stop them getting part of that juicy £6 million bonanza.
The same unnamed bank has also been looking for payments to “high end restaurants and cheap diners on the same day” in the belief that such transactions could indicate a sex worker dining with a client while her “handler” eats more frugally nearby.
Another financial institution provided 80 tip-offs to law enforcers after identifying accounts which received multiple cash deposits of under £10,000, often paid in anonymously, as well as regular payments to websites advertising “adult services” and flights to Eastern European countries known for sex trafficking.
Lets leave aside the civil liberties implications for a moment, and consider the astonishing lack of knowledge of sex work you can get away with if you simply shout trafficking loudly enough. The report, at an official government event, claims that banks can spot victims of trafficking because they pay for dates
Let me run that past you, again. Apparently when a sex worker and a client meet, they believe the sex worker pays for dinner.
Not only that, but the same card, in the same, real name, of the supposed trafficked woman, also pays for her “pimp” to go to micky dees. Presumably because trafficking is like electronic tagging or something.
So these “trafficked” women have bank accounts, bank cards, full access to them, but are somehow magically coerced?
If that wasn’t enough, they pay when they meet clients, because, presumably whichever fuckwit wrote this report didn’t believe men actually pay women for sex (and dinner, and conversation, and the glass of wine). There is a lot more I could say here, about the reality of trafficking, and how it doesnt include high end dinner dates, but I do not have the energy.
I am laughing and crying. I am tired, and I am furious
We cannot get a decent outreach programme, sex workers dare not reveal their jobs for fear of eviction, we have to lie when we go for STD testing, but complete imbeciles who think sex workers pay on dates get £6 million pounds.
Lets talk about STDs for a moment. Every single agency who works with sex workers (rather than stealing the bread from our tables and calling it anti trafficking) has unequivocally said condoms as evidence is a public health nightmare. Sex workers need to be able to feel safe carrying condoms. Now apparently if we buy them a bank might flag us up to the authorities. They are telling sex workers that buying condoms might out us.
They are making buying condoms an unsafe act, this is Orwellian, and should have every feminist screaming from the roof tops, but will not.
Talking of safety, having large sums of cash about whilst you are working is obviously dangerous. Saafe regularly has accounts of women who have been robbed, especially touring. if you are lucky you just lose your money. However, it seems that we are going to have to run the risk of being targets of violent robbery. My perfectly legal payment to Adult Work (a perfectly legal website) combined with payments of cash deposits makes banking too dangerous. Simply trying to keep myself safe from robbery, will mean I can expect a visit from the anti trafficking gestapo, social workers in tow, eviction notice to follow. Every single sex worker is put at risk by this, thousands of vulnerable women who cannot even use banks now, or buy condoms.All of us put at risk because making money matters more than peoples lives.
I would like to believe their would be a fuss about this, but there wont be. No MP will demand to know who designed the metrics which are targeting innocent women. No feminist organisation will stand up for our contraceptive and reproductive rights. We will be pushed further into the shadows, the darkness in which the rapists, thieves and serial killers lurk. In the moment of death, when we become visible people will wring their hands, and ask, “how could this happen?” Conferences like this are how it happened, initiatives designed to marginalise us is how it happened. Silence in the face of laws which kill is how it happened.