Ohio sex worker murdered by cops

Yet another life has been cut short by a murderous cop, anti-sex worker bias, and the ongoing criminalization of sex work.

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Donna Dalton Castleberry, a 23-year-old mother of two, was shot eight times at point-blank range on August 23 by Columbus, Ohio undercover vice cop Andrew Mitchell. Castleberry was inside an unmarked police vehicle when she was killed by Mitchell, who alleged that she attempted to stab him in the hand with a knife. Two days earlier, a judge had issued a warrant for Dalton’s arrest for failing to appear for sentencing on a misdemeanor soliciting charge.

Two days later, over 100 friends, family members, and supporters held a memorial vigil for Donna.

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“The family is crying out for justice and answers,” said the victim’s older sister, Bobbi McCalla, on her GoFundMe campaign to cover Castleberry’s final expenses. According to McCalla, enough has already been raised for the funeral, and all additional contributions will go toward a potential legal fight against the city of Columbus and its police department.

“If I were in that position, I might lunge at someone if I feared for my life,” said Castleberrry’s cousin, Mary Laile, about Donna’s last moments.

According to a police spokesperson, other cops on the scene claimed a conversation took place inside Mitchell’s car before he opened fire. While no further information is available concerning the circumstances of Castleberry’s death, we can easily imagine that she may have gotten into the unmarked vehicle believing Mitchell to be a client, then acted in self-defense when she discovered otherwise. Just such situations are all too familiar to sex workers, who face on-the-job violence every day at the hands of both cops and clients. Due to the criminalization of our profession, sex workers are denied redress for this violence. Meanwhile, recent legislation such as SESTA/FOSTA, which targets online discourse concerning sex work, has forced more sex workers on to the street and into more dangerous working conditions. While these conditions prevail, we can expect to see an increase in murders such as Castleberry’s, and other instances of violence against sex workers.

Donna Dalton Castleberry fell victim to intersecting forces of oppression: the ability of police to kill with impunity, and the stigma that says sex workers’ lives are disposable.

SWOP-Chicago stands in mourning, rage, and solidarity with the family of Donna Dalton Castleberry, and Ohio’s sex worker community.

#sexworkersrightsarehumanrights #sexworkiswork #LetUsSurvive #nokillercops

LAWMAKERS ENDANGER SEX WORKERS IN THE NAME OF RESCUE

Today’s passage of #SESTA (the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) by the US Senate spells more danger ahead for those who work in the sex industry.

Along with #FOSTA (the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), passed by the House of Representatives on February 27, this potentially disastrous bill seeks to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA, which protects Internet companies from prosecution for user-posted content) to exclude anything deemed to facilitate sex trafficking. The result could be a dramatic widening of the crackdown on sex work online that began with last year’s Federal shutdown of Backpage.

Sex workers and allies faced an uphill battle against SESTA/FOSTA, which most members of Congress viewed as an easy bipartisan win on a “no-brainer” issue. Sex work has been barely visible in the national debate around this legislation, which has focused almost entirely on Net neutrality and First Amendment issues. But even some tech giants such as Facebook and IBM reversed their positions on these bills, presumably to avoid appearing to condone sex trafficking. As usual, the most vulnerable people in the equation and those most directly affected have no voice in the passage of legislation that endangers while purporting to protect them.

Yet advocates for sex workers’ rights and anti-trafficking activists agree that SESTA/FOSTA will hurt everyone working in the sex trade, including trafficked individuals. As Freedom Network USA, “the largest network of anti-trafficking service providers and advocates in the United States,” said in a recent statement,

Reforming the CDA to include the threat of civil litigation could deter responsible website administrators from trying to identify and report trafficking. It is important to note that responsible website administration can make trafficking more visible — which can lead to increased identification. …When websites are shut down, the sex trade is pushed underground and sex trafficking victims are forced into even more dangerous circumstances. Street-based sex workers report significantly higher levels of victimization, including physical and sexual violence.

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The ability to advertise and communicate openly online constitutes a major safety net for all sex workers. Take this away and workers are driven back to the danger of the streets and increased vulnerability to predatory clients and procurers. Under SESTA/FOSTA, Internet companies could ban sex workers sharing information about dangerous clients and other harm reduction resources. Only full decriminalization can empower sex workers to control the conditions of our labor.

The struggle continues against the attitudes embodied in this legislation: that people trading in sex-whether by choice, circumstance, or coercion-need rescue; that the consensual sale and purchase of sex by adults enables, or is the same as, human trafficking; that sex workers don’t deserve the same rights and respect as other types of workers. With both government and well-intentioned rescuers failing us yet again, it will now be up to the sex-work community to devise new best practices to keep workers as safe as possible from prosecution and violence, while they continue to work for survival.

#SESTA #FOSTA #LetUsSurvive #SurvivorsAgainstSESTA

Stop SESTA!

Join SWOP-Chicago in opposing dangerous “anti-trafficking” legislation currently before the Senate. A vote is expected Monday, so there’s still time to contact your Senators and urge them to vote NO on SESTA!

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This legislation, along with the similar FOSTA that’s already passed the House, would endanger sex workers by censoring not only online advertising, but also potentially information and resource-sharing between workers and allies.

Excellent analysis here:

http://titsandsass.com/sex-workers-are-not-collateral-damage-kate-dadamo-on-fosta-and-sesta/

And a detailed call to action on the Support Ho(s)e blog:

https://supporthosechi.tumblr.com

#SurvivorsAgainstSESTA #LetUsSurive #StopSESTA #SexWorkersRightsAreHumanRights

This Saturday 2pm ~09/05! Sex Worker Solidarity Action in Boystown!

In light of the recent raid on RentBoy and in solidarity across the country, sex workers and allies here in Chicago say; ENOUGH!

We are tired of being marginalized and criminalized and having our choices taken from us. It is time to make our voices heard, and our points clear. Decriminalize sex work and sex workers. May the string of recent events (Rentboy raid, Backpage Credit Card Scandal, closure of MyRedBook) bring the community together in a supportive, cohesive way.

Join us this Saturday! We’ll be meeting at the Center on Halsted (3656 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60613) @ 2pm to make signs (in the community area right inside). We’re marching from there @ 3pm up and down the historic stretch of Halsted St in Boystown to Belmont Ave, distributing literature & info & showing our support of all sex workers.

Please share & repost & invite your friends! All workers, allies, friends, & family of all ages are most welcome.

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Facebook Link: http://on.fb.me/1LWkEeF

Avoiding Bad Management Across the Adult Entertainment Industry

The Big, Bad-Ass Guide to Spotting and Avoiding Bad-Ass Management While Working in the Adult Entertainment Industry

Compiled by SWOP members from across the U.S., this guide includes advice on:

  • questions to ask
  • bad signs to look for
  • standard business practice
  • and other resources

for the sex trade broadly, as well as for specifically for:

  • Strip Club Work
  • Web-Cam/Phone-Sex work
  • Adult Film/Pornography
  • Modeling
  • Escort Agency Work
  • Brothel Work
  • Massage Parlor Work
  • Dungeon Work
  • Street-work/Informal Management.

This hand-out is based on our  collective experiences and should help workers who choose to work for a third party avoid ending up in an exploitative or dangerous situation.

SWOP-Chicago meeting Wednesday, August 25- “Transitioning Out: Exit Strategy for Sex Workers”

Please join SWOP-Chicago this Wednesday for our bi-monthly open meeting at Howard Brown Clinic on the north side.

With the end of summer upon us, our discussion topic and skill-share will be about recognizing when to walk away from being a sex-worker, and how to successfully start over.
“Transitioning Out : Exit Strategy for Sex Workers”  will be an informal workshop for anyone who has been thinking about, or already decided to leave sex work and restart on a new career path.
Topics will be ranging from updating our resumes, forming and keeping realistic goals, proper financial savings and the importance of emotional support during this lifestyle change.
…come ready to learn or bring your knowledge to share! Open to current or former sex workers of all genders.


Date- Wednesday, August 25
Time- 7:00-9:00pm
Location- Howard Brown Health Center
4025 N. Sheridan Rd.
Chicago, IL 60613
Howard Brown is accessible off the Red line Sheridan stop and #80 Irving Park bus. Metered street parking (sometimes) available.
Any questions please email sexworkchicago@gmail.com

How To Be An Ally to Sex Workers

1) Don’t Assume. Don’t assume you know why a person is in the sex industry. We’re not all trafficked or victims of abuse. Some people make a choice to enter this industry because they enjoy it, others may be struggling for money and have less of a choice.

2) Be Discreet and Respect Personal Boundaries. If you know a sex worker, it’s OK to engage in conversation in dialogue with them in private, but respect their privacy surrounding their work in public settings.  Don’t ask personal questions such as “does your family know what you do?” If a sex worker is not “out” to their friends, family, or co-workers, it’s not your place to tell everyone what they do.

3) Don’t Judge. Know your own prejudices and realize that not everyone shares the same opinions as you. Whether you think sex work is a dangerous and exploitative profession or not is irrelevant compared to the actual experiences of the person who works in the industry. It’s not your place to pass judgment on how another person earns the money they need to survive.

4) Watch Your Language. Cracking jokes or using derogatory terms such as “hooker”, “whore”, “slut”, or “ho” is not acceptable. While some sex workers have “taken back” these words and use them among themselves, they are usually used to demean sex workers when spoken by outsiders.

5) Address Your Prejudices. If you have a deep bias or underlying fear that all sex workers are bad people and/or full of diseases, then perhaps these are issues within yourself that you need to address.  In fact, the majority of sex workers practice safer sex than their peers and get tested regularly.

6) Don’t Play Rescuer. Not all sex workers are trying to get out of the industry or in need of help. Ask them what they need, but not everyone is looking for “Captain Save-A-Ho” or the “Pretty Woman” ending.

7) If you are a client or patron of sex workers, be respectful of boundaries. You’re buying a service, not a person. Don’t ask for real names, call at all hours of the day/night, or think that your favorite sex worker is going to enter into a relationship with you off the clock.

8) Do Your Own Research. Most mainstream media is biased against sex workers and the statistics you read in the news about the sex industry are usually inaccurate. Be critical of what you read or hear and educate yourself on who exactly is transmitting diseases or being trafficked.

9) Respect that Sex Work is Real Work. There’s a set of professional skills involved and it’s not necessarily an industry that everyone can enter into. Don’t tell someone to get a “real job” when they already have one that suits them just fine.

10) Just because someone is a sex worker doesn’t mean they will have sex with you. No matter what area of the sex industry that someone works in, don’t assume that they are promiscuous and willing to have sex with anyone at any time.

11) Be Supportive and Share Resources. If you know of someone who is new to the industry or in an abusive situation with an employer, by all means offer advice and support without being condescending. Some people do enter into the sex industry without educating themselves about what they are getting into and may need help. Despite the situation, calling the police is usually never a good option. Try to find other organizations that are sensitive to the needs of sex workers.

12) As you learn the above things, stand up for sex workers when conversations happen.  Share your personal stories if you so choose.  Don’t let the stigma, bigotry and shame around sex work continue.  Remember it’s important that sex workers be allowed to speak for themselves and for allies to not speak for sex workers but to speak with sex workers.

Realize that sex work transcends ‘visible’ notions of race, gender, class, sexuality, education, and identities; sex workers are your sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, lovers, neighbors, and friends. Respect them!

Get Active! Contact your local SWOP Chapter to find out what you can do or form your own in the city you live in.

This list composed by the members and allies of Sex Workers Outreach Project-Chicago. Visit us on the web at www.swop-chicago.org

Other Resources-

www.swop-usa.org
www.desireealliance.org
www.boundnotgagged.com

CLEARLY They’re Unhappy

Thanks to Amber L. Rhea for the CNN article link. Crossposted at La Libertine’s Salon.

Wow. I just read this amazing statistic that said nearly half of all respondents in a survey would leave their industry in the next three years if they had an alternative. IF THEY HAD AN ALTERNATIVE!

What horrible industry do these poor dears want to leave? Should we assemble an extraction team? Maybe criminalize the industry so that they can leave via a jail sentence? What does this say about others who DO NOT want to leave this craphole of a job? They must be brainwashed, early childhood trauma surrounding the workings of the industry. Maybe it’s even worse: they’re propping up the status quo of the exploitation of this industry. I mean, how could they think differently if nearly HALF of their colleagues want out? Surely, they must be crazy. SURELY they must be out of their minds to want to continue work that others find less than satisfying, frustrating and dehumanizing. Their clients must be horrendous and demanding, imagine it!

Must be prostitution, right? I mean, that’s what Farley (who would convert 49% to 90% using some sort of unholy radical magic), Dines, Jensen, et. al. have people thinking.

No. It’s the medical industry:

(CNN) — Nearly half the respondents in a survey of U.S. primary care physicians said that they would seriously consider getting out of the medical business within the next three years if they had an alternative.

If you read Farley’s site and the opinions spewed by her other colleagues and by the ignorant public, you’d swear prostitutes were the only ones who ever want to leave their industry and who may, yes, be desperate to. There are a whole bunch of people who feel trapped by their legal professions. They have family or themselves to support and especially for doctors who make a helluva lot more money than most, a lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. But unlike many, especially, street prostitutes, doctors have:

1. A college education*
2. Investments, if they were smart
3. A clean arrest record (most likely)

Doctors don’t have to worry about, “what do I put on my resume to explain what I’ve been doing for the past x years” the way sex workers do. Their profession isn’t criminalized and despite the criticism of doctors, it is NOT stigmatized. And yet, half but NOT ALL doctors want out.

And the doctors who stay in, who would call them “delusional” or “brainwashed” because they find satisfaction in their jobs? Who may, yes, encourage others who have the talents to be a doctor to become one!

But it’s only those poor, poor sex workers who hate their jobs, want out or are crazy if they don’t.

*EDIT: Yes, many people, including prostitutes have college educations but most people stop at a baccalaureate. And it’s getting more expensive. Docs, on the other hand, have advanced, professional degrees. BIG difference!