Now and then you see a documentary that stops you in your tracks. ‘Escape from ISIS. The story of the secret underground network rescuing women held captive’ which screened last week on ABC 4Corners, is one such piece of filmmaking. I’ve watched it three times now. Please watch this film – see the suffering of the women, the way they are traded by ISIS fighters – even little girls treated as the spoils of war. But see also the bravery of those who devote their every waking moment to rescuing them. Hold your breath as a large group of women and children, having walked for two days out of ISIS territory, are embraced by those who arranged their rescuer. And see their guide, deliver them safely, then walk back into ISIS controlled lands to do the same again. Click below to watch the full Four Corners episode:
I wrote earlier how the sex industry went into overdrive over some fair questioning on ABC Lateline last week. The industry’s meltdown over the program demonstrated how hostile it is to any light being shed on the realities of the business of sexploitation which profits from the bodies of women. This blog post exposes the facts about the Scarlet Alliance, which receives Federal and State Government grants to address trafficking – which is funny if it wasn’t so sad – Scarlet Alliance doesn’t even believe in trafficking. It doesn’t even think brothels who sell trafficked women should be penalised, and wants no organised exit programs for women who want to get out of the industry. So why are out taxes propping them up? The money should be diverted into services that actually help real women rather than benefitting the brothel owners, pimps profiteers and vested interests of the prostitution trade.
The Scarlet Alliance/Sex Worker Collective’s Misogyny. Why They Should Not Be funded.
March 16, 2015
I have appropriated the pimp lobby’s red umbrella to fight for the Nordic Model.
Perhaps everyone who actually cares about women in prostitution can use this as a profile pic- although, I realise my creation is not very pretty. I have no sympathy for the Scarlet Alliance and the whole red umbrella collective crying how oppressed and stigmatised they are. They never helped me, and as evidenced below, they never will help anyone trying to leave the industry. Too much money to be made trading in human beings. They are among the scum of the earth and treat prostituted women like shit. But don’t take my word for it- here are just the facts.
“Evidence of SCARLET ALLIANCE’S opposition to Federal Government Policies to stem Human Trafficking
1. Opposition to exit programs
Scarlet Alliance publicly opposes exit programs to support trafficked women wanting to leave the sex industry.[i]
2. Denies the reality of human trafficking for sexual exploitation
Scarlet Alliance refuses to acknowledge that sex slavery exists and claims that leaving prostitution is an individual decision for which there should be no government intervention.[ii]Scarlet Alliance’s policy is to have “sex work” considered equivalent to any other professional occupation.
3. Opposition to making debt bondage an offence
Scarlet Alliance is opposed to debt bondage being an offence under State Government crime legislation[iii]
4. Opposition to any controls on prostitution
Scarlet Alliance opposes all laws, regulations, rules or policies for the sex industry.Yet it asserts that the safety of “sex workers” should be prioritised over all industry or community concerns.[iv]
5. Opposed to penalties for knowingly using trafficked women:
The Scarlet Alliance is opposed to criminalisation of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly obtaining sexual services from trafficked women.[v]
6. Opposes penalties for brothel owners knowingly using trafficked women:
Scarlet Alliance has publicly declared its opposition to any form of sanction or penalty for brothel owners who knowingly engage and exploit trafficked persons.[vi]
7. Opposes police checks on brothels
Scarlet Alliance has declared its opposition to giving Police a more flexible right of entry to legal or illegal brothels.[vii]
8. Opposition to any kind of police involvement in policing of prostitution.
It believes that police should be removed from any administrative or regulatory role in the sex industry. This belief makes mockery of the fact that Scarlet Alliance also claims that people “working” in the sex industry should be afforded police protection.[viii]
9. Opposition to police giving trafficking a higher priority
Scarlet Alliance is opposed to police being trained to be more aware of the signs of human trafficking and giving it a higher priority.They are also opposed to increasing public awareness about sex trafficking and sexual slavery.[ix]
10. Claims human trafficking is a myth
Scarlet Alliance claims that trafficking is a myth produced by media hype, anti-trafficking and anti-slavery organisations[x]. It believes that anti trafficking raids have forced “sex workers” “underground”.This position makes a mockery of the fact that Scarlet Alliance contributed to the development of the Guidelines for NGOs Working with Trafficked People.[xi]
11. Opposition to provision of refuges for trafficked women
It beggars belief, but Scarlet Alliance is opposed to the establishment of appropriately funded refuges for trafficked women, and they oppose assistance and support being provided to victims of trafficking.[xii]
They oppose these services to victims lest attention be drawn to the evil of human trafficking which, in turn, would make it difficult to argue that “sex work” is the equivalent of any other professional occupation
12. Opposition to public awareness programs for clients of prostitution:
Scarlet Alliance is opposed to any advertising that alerts purchasers (johns)and prospective purchasers (johns)of sexual service to the existence of the crime of sexual trafficking.[xiii]
It wants the public to remain in denial about the existence and magnitude of sex trafficking on the grounds that this would give a bad name to “sex work” in general.
13. Opposition to anything that hinders the promotion of sex work
Anything that hinders the promotion of “sex work”.[xiv]
Wants to promote sex work and 457 visas for sex work.
Scarlet Alliance wants to promote “sex work” as a legitimate occupation; it claims that “sex workers” should become entitled to 457 Visas and that brothel owners should be eligible sponsors of “migrant sex workers” (i.e trafficked women) to give more respectability to the pursuit of professional “sex work”.[xv]
Scarlet Alliance claims that “sex work” should be considered legitimate in all its forms, including brothel, private escort and street based work. No licensing model should apply.[xvi]”
So this is for anyone still wondering why they oppose the Nordic Model, which decriminalises the prostituted and instead calls the men who buy and sell us the criminals. For anyone still wondering if they have a point and if this is all about sex being taboo and “stigma” and blah, blah, blah. For anyone wondering if you yourself should oppose a model which provides exiting strategies and funding for women trying to leave prostitution .You can have a think about their ethics, their chants of “sex worker rights!”, their actual misogyny parading as some personal, stigmatised oppression from “moralists” and “rescuers”. You can have a think about how these ‘advocates’ who claim to be “run by sex workers, for sex workers”, even if they are in management positions and don’t have to sell sex at all ! treat women such as myself and so many others who actually give a shit about women. Would you call a woman entered into prostitution as a child a “Migrant Sex Worker”? And what would you give to know back then, when you were being “liberal” and “Choosy-Choice”, what you know right now?
They are calling for more funding . The Scarlet Alliance just received an extra of $960,000,(on top of the funding they have already received, which adds up to millions), for their place on a board to fight sex-trafficking.
Yes, you read that right. A group which denies sex-trafficking exists is on an advisory panel with the Abbott Government’s National Anti-Trafficking Plan.
The male orgasm is unimaginably trivial in comparison to the human rights devastation that prostitution inflicts on whole swathes of the globe’s female population, writes Caroline Norma.
Amnesty International ran a Stop Violence Against Women campaign between 2004 and 2010 to hold governments to account “for their failure to protect women” and urge them “to live up to their duty to stop this violence”.
The organisation during this time lobbied hard for governments around the world to take a strong stand on issues like domestic violence, child marriage, reproductive rights, sexual violence in war, and the history of the Japanese military ‘comfort women’.
During the same period, though, Amnesty’s international secretariat was lobbied internally by some of its own branches to take a stand on issues of ‘men’s rights’. In particular, some of its UK members wanted the organisation to stand up for men’s right to buy women for prostitution.
News of this lobbying reached members only last year when the international secretariat released a series of ‘policy background’ documents intended to, it retrospectively explained, invite discussion among members globally on the issue of ‘prostitution and human rights’. Exactly whose human right to prostitution was at issue for the organisation was, however, made clear by the secretariat in its Decriminalization of Sex Work: Policy Background Document (2013):
Sexual desire and activity are a fundamental human need. To criminalize those who are unable or unwilling to fulfil that need through more traditionally recognized means and thus purchase sex, may amount to a violation of the right to privacy and undermine the rights to free expression and health.
The push by some Amnesty branches to recommend the organisation stand up for prostitution buyers came at a time when the ‘right’ to buy a human being for sex was being challenged worldwide. From 1999, a number of countries legislated against the buying of people for prostitution. Sweden, South Korea, Norway, and Iceland criminalised the activities of prostitution buyers, and it was looking likely that France and Ireland would similarly penalise sex industry customers. This criminalisation of sex industry customers was an historically unprecedented way of making policy on prostitution, known as the ‘Nordic’ approach. This withdrawal from men of their longstanding legal right to buy women unsurprisingly attracted resistance and criticism worldwide, including from Amnesty branches. Read more
If Tracy Connelly were alive today and living in France, it’s possible she might have found a way out of prostitution. She would have at least known that the society she lived in cared enough to want to help her out. But Tracy lived in Australia and was murdered on July 21, by a man suspected of buying her for prostitution on a street in Melbourne.
Australia, like France, has ratified Article 6 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which requires member states to take ”all appropriate legislative and other measures” to deal with the ”exploitation of the prostitution of women”.
But there is little assistance available here to help women like Tracy free themselves from that life. A small number of struggling support services get by on negligible government funding, even though there are an estimated 26,000 people involved in prostitution here.
A world without rapists would be a world in which women moved freely without fear of men. That some men rape provides a sufficient threat to keep all women in a constant state of intimidation, forever conscious of the knowledge that the biological tool must be held in awe, for it may turn to weapon with sudden swiftness born of harmful intent … Rather than society’s aberrants or ‘spoilers of purity’, men who commit rape have served in effect as front-line masculine shock troops, terrorist guerrillas in the longest battle the world has ever known.
—Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (1975, p. 15)
Living in a rape culture means adjusting to being hyper-vigilant about male violence to the point where risk management becomes second nature. It means living with the continuum of male sexual violence on a daily basis, from creepy and threatening looks and comments in the street, home and workplace, to online rape threats, attempted assault and actual assault. It means inhabiting a paradoxical space where the rape and murder of women is prohibited but everywhere eroticised and the object of laughter.
To take just one example of rape culture, the globally popular American fantasy series Game of Thronesfeatures a blond child bride being continually raped by her warlord husband. “But it’s all ok because a prostitute slave teaches the thirteen-year-old princess super sexy sex skills, and she proceeds to blow the warlord’s mind so throughly [sic] that they fall in love,” notes feminist Laurie Penny (2012)
Many men, when asked a simple question about why male domination exists, reply that it is because men are stronger than women. This answer seems innocuously simple-minded, but the explanatory statement that ‘men have power over women because they are physically stronger than women’ also means ‘men can rape and kill women if they want to’. There is no point replying that it is illegal to rape and kill women. The law does not come into it at all. It is as though the legal prohibitions against male sexual violence are little more than the sales pitch of a corporation eager to hide its criminal intent behind images of satisfied customers.
The majority of victims do not report, and the majority of rapists walk free (Miller et al., 2011; Fayard and Rocheron, 2011; Belknap, 2010). As the title of a 2013 articleby Nigel Morris in The Independent puts it: ‘100,000 assaults. 1,000 rapists sentenced. Shockingly low conviction rates revealed. Latest statistics also show difficulties in persuading victims to report attacks’. Although media attention on particular rapes occasionally stirs up public debate, these rapes are the exception to the norm simply because victims have broken their silence and the criminal justice system has been involved. One cannot but wonder how many people know of, or are friends with, men who have sexually assaulted women and children, and yet do nothing about it.
It has only been since the 1960s and 1970s that most western women have been able to work outside the home without needing permission from their husbands/owners. It is only in the last few decades that marital rape has been recognised in some nations as a human rights violation. In Australiamarital rape was outlawed as late as 1991 (Temkin, 2002). As late as 1993 the United Nations published the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In many countries young girls are still forced to marry their rapists.
Raping women and children continues to be a lethal form of oppression in advanced neo-liberal democracies. Victims of male sexual violence continue to be branded as ‘damaged goods’ and re-abused in the criminal justice system to such an extent that the majority of victims simply give up and opt out of the legal process (Fisher et al., 2000; Fisher et al., 2003). Lawyers are often reluctant to take on rape cases because they know they are difficult to win. Child victims of male sexual violence are subjected to ritualistic humiliation in courts (Taylor, 2004). Child pornography victims are subjected to malicious attacks by bourgeois academics in high-ranking American legal journals (Lollar, 2012).
Young women, who sustain the majority of sexual assaults, not only endure court-licensed abuse, but they are now also bullied online for daring to speak out. Raped girls are urged to kill themselves by pack verbal abuse that is all too often uttered as mocking jokes (Salek, 2013). Victim-blaming has become lethal.
In a novel by feminist academic Yvette Rocheron, Double Crossings (2009), a mother decides to commit suicide after she is brutally raped by a cousin, knowing that, if she lives, the crime will destroy her family and her life. “For her loved ones, a sublime act of love … She would go down knowingly … [T]he vitriolic defacement of women, the misguided abortions, the rapes. She was a thousand years old” (p. 271). There is no humour in this novel as the mother leaps to her death, merely a solemn awareness of the barbarism of a crime against women that leaves the murderous poison of social death in her body.
I have lost count of how many women—friends, students, colleagues, relatives, and acquaintances—have told me they have been raped. All of the rapists have gotten away with it while the women are burdened with years of unspeakable shame and self-hatred, or shunned by their families for daring to speak out about male relatives who raped them. The stories involve horrendous child sexual abuse, rape at knifepoint, abductions in vans, group rapes, women being drugged and raped, rapes by colleagues, partners and ex-partners. A woman who was raped by her grandfather told me recently that it took her 30 years to understand that her body belonged to her. Another woman, a feminist activist and journalist, after going public about being raped at knifepoint, was subjected to online abuse along the lines that she should be ‘raped with a box cutter’. When I read the comment about the box cutter it took a few moments to sink in that the man who had posted the comment was saying that he wanted to butcher her vagina with a knife. Not surprisingly, many women keep quiet about being sexually assaulted. And all of this occurs in a world in which women who speak out about male sexual violence, or any form of male domination, are routinely subjected to online rape threats (Lewis, 2011). Again, the majority of threats never result in prosecution and women are often told to ‘get over it’, ‘toughen up’ or ‘lighten up’ or have sex with a man. ‘She just needs a good fuck’, is how the all too familiar saying goes … Oddly, having sex with men is meant to dispel fear of being raped, as though women who have an accurate assessment of the dangers of rape culture are hysterics who just need sex. The idea that women enjoy being raped still persists (Suarez and Gadalla, 2010); and if women are assumed to enjoy being raped then their protests about being harmed by rape can easily be reduced to a farce.
More about Abigail’s book and how to order can be found here.
Sometimes you wonder if anything can change, if your small efforts can make a difference against a global onslaught of horror. Every day more bad news for women, more abuse, assaults, violence and suffering. (For example this done to a close friend of mine and then this, reported in the same week, to a woman I don’t know, but still of course so grievous).
But then, suddenly and unexpectedly, something comes along that takes your breath away and gives you renewed hope. That has happened for me in the form of a woman named Carrie. Her story is remarkable. Her suffering indescribable. Her resilience and love for life unmatchable. I’ll let her tell the story.
According to the Australian Parliamentary Library, in 1998, the year I applied for refugee status, there were 8257 protection visa applications lodged. Of that number, only 1834 were granted – 985 at the primary decision stage and 741 following review by the Refugee Review Tribunal. 108 were granted visas by ministerial discretion.
One of those was mine.
As there are hundreds of thousands of refugees worldwide each year, fleeing my home country and standing before the Tribunal in no way makes my story unique. Nor does the fact I was rejected for political reasons and later successful in joining that small group of 108 people who were chosen to be issued a visa on compassionate grounds. What I believe sets my story apart is the fact that I did not originate from a war torn or politically unstable country. I fled a country that actually takes in thousands of refugees each year. So of those 8257 applications I’m fairly confident that I was the only refugee fleeing Canada.
I had endured terrible abuse and degradation since I was 4 years old at the hand of my father. When I was 9, he sold me into a child prostitution/pedophile/pornography ring. I have spent more time than I care to remember in basements, brothels and the dim lit back rooms of shop fronts. Hell doesn’t scare me. I spent more than half my life living it, hoping one day I could rise above it.
When I was 20, I fled Canada and came to Australia for two simple reasons; it was English speaking and as far from my past as I could travel. I stepped off of that plane 16 years ago not knowing one person and began to build the life I had always dreamed about as a child. I reported the abuse I suffered in Canada to Australian authorities. Knowing my life was in danger and there was no life for me back in Canada, I went underground and spent 2 years hiding in shelters and women’s refuges. I was put in contact with Australia’s leading trauma therapist, Dr Helen Driscoll. She had a lengthy wait list and was taking no further referrals. I had no money, no entitlements, but she took me on anyway. And in doing so she changed the course of my life.
In December 1998, I was told to apply for Refugee Status because the dangers I faced were as real and the suffering comparable to many refugees seeking protection. My advisors said I was one of the “invisible refugees”.The problem with my case was it had never been tried before. There were no legislation, clauses, or regulations stipulating that human trafficking survivors were to be protected. We knew I would be rejected – – and I was. During my battle to seek asylum I became pregnant. It didn’t make any difference. I was going to be deported anyway. What was being said was “Get rid of both of them before she is 7 months pregnant and can still travel” and “Let her stay and have the baby. As the baby has an Australian father she will be able to stay but the mother has to go back to Canada.”
Dr. Driscoll never gave up. She continued to write to humanitarians, Members of Parliament and anyone having any political influence who might be interested in helping my plight. My case landed in the hands of dozens of people who could have at least tried to fight for my freedom. Sadly, most people contacted we never heard back from or if we did, the standard response was, “Although we empathize with your situation, there is nothing we can do.” It was difficult to not lose hope. There was no way I could return to Canada and spend the duration of my life in fear – or worse. But it looked as though my dream of gaining freedom in Australia would never come to be. That is, until my letter came across the desk of Melinda Tankard Reist. She was working as an advisor to Independent Senator Brian Harradine and handled refugee matters. Unlike the others we contacted, Melinda looked at my case and instead of throwing it in the too hard basket, she took it personally and cared enough to write a compelling letter on the Senator’s behalf to the Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock. I have never forgotten how the letter ended: “Minister, I ask you to act in the best interest of this young woman and her unborn baby.”
I was eight months pregnant and all other avenues had been exhausted. This was my final stop. My fate rested in the hands of one man. All we could do was wait for the Minister’s decision and hope it was favorable.
In June 2000, nine months after receiving the request to intervene, the Minister had come to a decision. After carrying my baby for nine months without any entitlements to health care, insurance or money to receive assistance in delivering my daughter, my fight to remain in Australia was over. I had been granted asylum on compassionate grounds at the Minister’s discretion and had been awarded a visa. I could finally begin my life a million miles away from where it initially began.
Fourteen years have since passed, and I never did thank Melinda for writing that letter. After being granted asylum I just wanted to leave that part of my life behind. I had two wonderful daughters, we were safe and I was content with that. I had survived and was focused on moving forward. But I realised I could do so only because of the help of others, and when so many women in situations similar to mine continued to be left behind, it was my turn to go back and offer my hand.
I decided then to tell my story of determination, hope and love in the face of extreme adversity in a way that resonated with people and inspired them, rather than just caused them to pity me. To open people’s hearts and minds, helping them realise that they have the internal resources to rise up and not be limited by past suffering. That it is possible to not only survive trauma, but to flourish and go on to live a significant life.
And then, as it has so many other times throughout my life, serendipity breezes by and the universe helps fate along. As I started sharing my story, some significant names in the social justice arena began showing interest in what I was trying to achieve. A friend introduced me to Elliot Costello, son of Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia. One Saturday morning a few months back, Elliot introduced me to his parents. We went to a cafe and they listened as I told my story. What I hadn’t expected was the twist that would surprise us all. Tim Costello seemed most interested when I started talking about never losing hope and the message I wished to convey to others about the freedom in forgiveness. When I mentioned my desire to bring awareness to the fact that human trafficking is not just a third world issue, he appeared to have had an “ah-ha” moment and told me he knew the perfect person to introduce me to – Melinda Tankard Reist, a strong advocate for women and girls and a leading voice in the anti-trafficking coalition.
As soon as he mentioned her name, my mind flashed back to the hundreds of support letters and documents I had filed away after gaining asylum. Scribbled across one document’s fax cover read, “For your records. Regards Melinda Reist.” The reason I remembered it so vividly was because after winning my freedom, I read over that support letter at least one hundred times. I quoted the closing words of the letter she drafted to anybody I told my story to. I shared it again. Elliot couldn’t believe it. Neither could Tim.
Tim looked at me with a smile and shook his head. Picking up his phone early that morning, he rang the woman who helped secure my freedom. She answered straight away. They spoke briefly and then he said, “Melinda listen, I have a young lady here with me at the moment who says you wrote a letter for her to Phillip Ruddock when you worked for Harradine that helped her get asylum.”
She then asked if I was the Canadian girl sold into the pedophile/prostitution ring. In his loud booming voice, Tim repeated her words across the table to me. I wanted the earth to swallow me whole as half the room dropped their fork and stared. Instead of nodding politely, I shot back, “Easy cowboy, I’m not printing t-shirts just yet!” Clearly she remembered me…as would the rest of that crowded cafe.
One month ago, again as luck would have it, Melinda and I were in northern Queensland at the same time. I was holidaying with my girls, and she was speaking at an international conference. We decided to catch up. I cannot begin to describe the emotions that came up for all of us. Fourteen years ago she wrote a compelling letter to help save two lives and standing before her was myself and the now teenage ‘unborn baby’ she wrote about. After spending all these years wondering how we had fared, now she could see for herself. Mother and baby were indeed very well!
My life may have been tough to begin with, but I have had more good people go out of their way to help than anybody I have ever met. The blessings in my life far outweigh the tragedies. I am loving living and very excited for the journey that lies ahead.
If the market wants young, petite, fresh Asian women for sexual use then that’s what it’ll get
Pimps won’t be surprised that bidding has reached $15,000 for a 19-year-old ‘virgin’ Chinese woman currently up for auction for four days of sex.
Pimps know what men will pay for, and they know the business of prostitution. Everyone in the sex industry knows punters will pay good money for women who are young, petite, ‘fresh’, and available for booking on a ‘no restrictions’ outcall basis, preferably away from their minders. The Australian escort agency manager who put the Chinese woman up for sale exercised good business logic in recruiting her. Her vulnerability just makes it easier. On her own, most likely with little support, in a foreign country, learning a new language, struggling with debt…And after those four days with the stranger who has purchased her, how likely is it she will speak out about her treatment?
There’s hardly any limit on the money that can be made from selling other people for sex in Australia. In most states, prostitution is a business endorsed by government just like car yards and real estate agents. Brothels and escort agencies can legally operate as legitimate businesses. Pimps might have to pay licensing fees to government, but that’s about it. Like any other business owners, they are free to go ahead and run their affairs in any way they choose. The government can’t stop pimps selling women who are on student or working holiday visas, and no-one checks to see whether their recruits speak English, or how they came to end up on the books of a brothel.
Running the business of the sex industry is left largely in the hands of pimps who do the same things other businessmen do—market research, promotions and publicity, and staff recruitment. We expect car yard salesmen to do their market research, and stock vehicles that earn them the most profit at the lowest input cost. We expect them to respond to the market and offer cars that consumers want, and will pay top dollar for. Why would we expect legal pimps to act any differently? Why wouldn’t pimps sell women that fetch a high price on the market? This is how good businesses are run. The more that pimps, like other entrepreneurs, do their homework, the more money they make.
The sex industry does its market research by keeping an eye on pornography sales. The titles that are selling well tell them the types of women, and the types of sex acts, that are likely to also sell well out of the brothel. Five minutes research on Adult Video News tells us that anal penetration of young and petite women is a consumer favourite at the moment. Another five minutes on consumer review sites for Australian brothels tells us that Asian women are hot property in the local sex trade.
We only have to think like pimps to understand why there is currently a young Chinese student up for sexual sale in Australia. Why wouldn’t she be? We’ve got a large and legal sex industry operating in the country, and plenty of men who want to spend money on it. We’ve got Sexpo, the industry’s trade expo, touring the country again this month. The Western Australian government is just about to legalise prostitution in that state now, so they can start having women up on the auction block, too.
Australia is going to have four states with legalised prostitution giving traffickers a nice open market.
We’ve almost reached national consensus among Australian governments that prostitution is a welcome business in our society. We’ve had legalised prostitution for more than twenty years now, so policymakers can’t claim ignorance of the business practices of the industry.
The industry has already given us a clear picture of how it rolls: underage girls in legal brothels, violence against women in brothels, murders of prostituted women by pimps and punters, trafficking into legal brothels, suicides of prostituted women, and a girl who died of a drug overdose in a legal brothel.
Policymakers can’t feign ignorance about all these industry conventions – they’ve been going on for a long time now.
No government official in Australia should dare express any shock that we’ve now got a Chinese woman up for sexual sale. This is exactly what they condoned when they permitted the sex industry to operate legally in this country. There are not two different sex industries—one that we might encourage as nice and respectable, and one that we might shun. There’s only one type of pimp. Like any other entrepreneur, he runs his business according to the cold, hard logic of the market. If the market wants young, petite, Asian women available for sexual use for days on end, then that’s what it’ll get.
The governments of Victoria, NSW, the ACT, and Queensland may live to regret the day they allowed an industry to develop on the basis of capital raised from the sexual trading of women and children. There are large numbers of women from South Korea and China in the Australian sex industry now, their treatment can be seen as Australian government sponsored human rights violations against women from these and other countries.
Australia has a lot to say about human rights violations in China, but while we’ve got one of their nationals up for sexual sale, are we in any position to take the moral high ground?
Caroline Norma is a lecturer in the School of Global Studies, Social Science, and Planning at RMIT University, and a member of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Australia (CATWA).
An “ironic patriotic comment on capitalist recruitment and identity” says Roger David.
In January last year I wrote about how Roger David’s menswear store was expanding from daggy men’s cardies into the violence and abuse t.shirt genre, I wanted to know why the men’s brand thought it acceptable to pimp porn-industry inspired messages about what women were good for.
This sparked a campaign by Collective Shout supporters against Roger David, which has been ongoing. Roger David has never bothered responding.
But now even the Advertising Standards Board thinks Roger David has crossed the line with this promotion for British clothing range “New Love Club”.
As you can see, the ad – which also features on New Love Club’s UK home page – depicts a teenage girl with a bar code on her shoulder which reads “slave”. She can’t speak because her mouth is stuffed with a Union Jack, rendering her gagged. She appears disheveled. The suggestion is that she is for sale. She is a slave at the “New Love Club”. Sexual slavery as new love. Trafficking as fashion chic.
The Board noted that the girl in the image was 18 but considered that she is depicted in a way that makes her appear younger than 18.
The Board considered that the overall impression of the part of the advertising material which depicted the girl was that of a girl presented as a sexual object – due to a combination of factors in particular the age of the girl, the text ‘new love club’ and the tattoo of the word ‘slave’ on her arm.
The Board also considered that the image of the girl could be seen to be suggestive of the girl being held against her will – with the ‘slave’ reference on her arm and the depiction of her with an object filling her mouth which, in the Board’s view, evoked a sense of the girl being ‘gagged’.
Roger David defended the ad as “ironic”. Don’t you just love how “ironic” is used to justify anything? Glamourising violence against women? Ironic. ‘Bitches Get Stitches’ t.shirts? Ironic. Women decapitated and blown up? Ironic. Facebook pages like “Define Statutory”, “I like my women how I like my Scotch: 10 years old and locked in my basement’ and ‘I like my women how I like my eggs: beaten’. All ironic. Perhaps New Love Club thinks its t.shirt bearing the image of a dead mostly naked Asian woman is ironic too.
This is my favourite bit, a work of comic genius by Roger David’s PR:
New Love Club’s main market in the United Kingdom is the student market. New Love Club produced the advertisement as a response to the current politic issues that affect this market, being the financial crisis which has had a direct impact on this market by raising tuition fees, ensuring that many of these young people will be crippled with debt into adult hood, and the conditioning of youth for their future roles in capitalism. New Love Club produced the image of the woman as a comment on youth and the national debt that now rests on their shoulders and as an ironic patriotic comment on capitalist recruitment and identity. Roger David believes that these same issues are relevant for young people in Australia, hence the use by Roger David of this image in its Australian marketing for the New Love Club brand of clothing.
The relevant audience for this advertisement is young men. Roger David strongly believes that young men would relate to this image, and would not see it as shocking or exploitative.
Do they even know how to spell capitalist recruitment?
I posted this comment on Mumbrella which reported the story yesterday
Melinda Tankard Reist – 17 Aug 11 – 1:21 pm
A young guy sees the “New Love Club” t.shirt with a young woman depicted as a sexual slave and thinks: “I really relate to that! I’ll wear it as an ironic patriotic comment on capitalist recruitment and identity.” Roger David must think we are all idiots. Collective Shout has been boycotting Roger David for some time now because of it flogging t.shirts for men depicting women naked, bound and gagged. We have no plans to stop.
I love Melanie’s comment:
Melanie -17 Aug 11 – 9:05 pm
The guys that wear the sexist, porno clothing churned out by Roger David wouldn’t even know how to spell ‘capitalist recruitment’ let alone ‘relate’ to it. I’d like to be a fly on the wall when these design ideas are thrown around ‘Hey Barry, we need another justification for this gagged chick on a shirt….Capitalism?…really?..can you spell that for me?…thanks…what does it mean?…actually don’t worry, i couldn’t be arsed learning a new thing.’
Belinda’s comment is also perfectly expressed:
Belinda – 17 Aug 11 – 1:30 pm
“young men would relate to this image, and would not see it as shocking or exploitative”. That’s the worst part: that our porn- and raunch-fuelled culture has created a cohort of people who find such an image acceptable. They see a gagged girl and think ‘meh’
Fortunately the Advertising Standards Board didn’t think ‘meh’. Nor do we. If you haven’t already joined our Roger David boycott, please do.
But appropriating the language of the global traffickers in the bodies of little girls in the name of a “good cause” was never going to be a good idea.
‘Innocent. Young. Available. Experience the sensation of buying a girl’. These words serve to further entrench the idea that little girls warrant sexual interest and that you can buy them.
I would go further and suggest that using the photographs of real girls under these slogans is unethical.
Leaving aside the question of whether purchasing a Hannah Montanna backback can rescue these girls from forced marriage, sexual servitude and terrorism, did these little girls and their families understand they would be used in this way?
The way the camera pans up and down the body of one of the girls is creepy.
Writing on the MS blog, Catherine A Traywick makes the case against eroticising small children in advertising even when it’s done in the name of ‘charity’.
Today in totally misguided philanthropy, we have “The Girl Store,” a presumably well-intentioned girl empowerment project that—for some utterly illogical reason—masquerades as a child pornography site.
Head on over to The Girl Store and you’ll be greeted by shaky footage of a disheveled Indian girl smiling bashfully as an unknown cameraperson pans up and down her body, lingering on her little hands, before finally settling on her face. The accompanying text reads:
100% genuine girls
Experience the sensation of buying a girl
….her life back.
…Buy a girl before someone else does.
…why does the sale of notebooks and pencils warrant the clear and deliberate eroticization of small children?
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