Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year and Resolutions
A happy new year to all the readers of this blog. Thank you all for your encouragement and support.

My resolutions this year are to get my life into gear, to be more productive and find a more reliable income source while at the same time persevering with my first novel.

Things are hard for me at the moment. I partly have myself to blame but I am in a bit of crisis with my personal life. My partner's parents appear to think me to be the wicked witch of the North, and it has reached the point of estrangement. I will concede to PU that I may not have been the perfect guest, and the trip to the South when I was with them 24/7 did not help. I may have my faults but I like to think I am not a terrible person. But families are a minefield.......

It has naturally put a strain on our relationship, which is not without its problems anyway.

I will soon leave this city, tour the North and spend some time in Auckland. I met a few nice people at a wedding here who came down from Auckland and I'll spend some time with them.

So I'm hoping that things will sort themselves out and this year be not a bad one.
Enjoy yourselves, all xx

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Kiwi and Aussie Chavs (Bogans)....

It seems in australia and New Zealand 'chavs' are called 'bogans'. But they seem nowhere near as subject to hatred and ridicule as are their British counterparts. This site appears to be the nearest Australian equivalent of the British 'chavscum' site. It appears to be relatively benign in comparison with 'chavscum' and I do wonder if the creators were bogans themselves..
'Littledick' and the Sewer Press.......

Here is a piece of bile from the Hate Mail's Little Dick. The murder victims in Ipswich evidently asked for it, according to him. They deserved what they got, had it coming, blah blah. If anything their deaths were a good thing as there are five fewer heroin addicts and sex workers in the UK.

I hope he one day gets an obituary that is as hateful as this one. I hope whoever chooses to write of his demise in the pages of the 'Graun' points out his total failure as a human being, and what a vile and stinking specimen of a man he was. What does Littledick do for humanity? Does he do any 'missionary work' in Darfur? Has he discovered any breakthroughs in medical science? Fat chance.

He is far, far worse than any heroin addict. He makes a living out of writing hate lit for the equivalent constituency of those who brought Hitler to power - the lower middle classes, with all their projected frustrations and pent up rage. Muslims, 'white trash', economic migrants, asylum seekers - in other words all those who are more vulnerable in society than themselves. I don't absolve the Mail's readership as was there not a market for Littledick's bilge he would not write it.

But to dance on the graves of five murdered women on the grounds that they were sex workers and heroin users should even make the readers of the Mail blanch a wee bit. However, I wouldn't be in tears if Littledick popped his clogs. Therefore I wouldn't expect him to shed any crocodile tears for the vulnerable who he despises. But I'd at least have expected him to have had the decency to have respected the feelings of the relatives of the dead women and have written nothing about it. It seems there are no depths to which he will not sink. It is lower than gutter journalism - 'sewer press' would be a more apt description. To expect any shred of human kindness or decency from this piece of slime is clearly is too much. Go to hell, Richard, or more accurately to the sewers.

It is vicious and bigoted to reduce heroin users down to any one thing just as much as it is with sex workers. Some heroin users I have known have been among the most gentle and sensitive people I have met. Perhaps too nice for this world - a world that stinks because it contains people like Littledick. Not because it contains heroin addicts, sex workers, Muslims, asylum seekers. etc etc.....
This will be a fairly short post to say...I hope you all had a happy xmas and will enjoy the new year celebrations.

I'm a little out of sorts right now, I don't want to go into all of it, but...

1. The weather now is crap here.

Not a good reason to be depressed, I know, but it sure doesn't help. If you want to remove a metaphorical cloud from over your head having a real one over the hills in the distance is not of much help. And...

2. The TV is crap too!!

This is normally a political blog and I tend not to delve much into the personal zone. But I haven't been following the News as much as I usually would. I will write about it when I feel ready, and I don't care if those involved in this damned scenario read it. It is of their own making anyway.

And I project my state of mind outwards a little. I start to miss being in the UK. A winter Xmas with mulled wine and all. And good TV. And the usual parties I'd go to. Hell, I even miss the London smog, the noise, the dirt and all. I miss being anonymous. It goes without saying that my circumstances here right now are not too favourable. Just imagine being a guest somewhere where you know you are being tolerated rather than welcomed, that your hosts would rather not have you in their lives if they could help it. It sucks, and you should be getting my drift now. But still you feign goodwill out of the nice old English tradition of politeness. Xmas and all.

Thank you people who have been following my blog. It may no longer exist without your input. One moral lesson to perhaps be learnt from this post is perhaps not to say anything about anybody that you would not want repeated. It hurts, if not yourself than the other person or people involved. If you can't be direct then don't bother.

Up until now I've only spoken of things I like about NZ, yep, even the englishness of Christchurch! But as I'm in a bad mood I'll name a few things I don't...

1. Weather and TV, as stated already.

2. Small town life and what it implies generally.
Compare the population of Bournemouth (an average sized town, not a city, on the South coast of England).
(In the latest census, the town had a population of 163,441. Bournemouth is part of a built-up area known as the South East Dorset conurbation which includes Poole and Christchurch and has a combined population of 383,713, )

Now look at Wellington:

(Source: New Zealand Census, 2001)

The Wellington region (including Kapiti, Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa) has the third highest population, containing 11.3% of New Zealand's population.
Wellington City 163,824
Wellington Region 423,765

Bear in mind Bournemouth is a town, not a city. Secondly bear in mind that Wellington is the capital city of NZ. You get my drift?

If you live in Bournemouth or any similiar sized town in England you have the option of travelling to London, or the nearest big city. You don't have such an option here. Auckland is the biggest city and that is a plane ride away, a bit like, umm, having to get from Bournemouth to Paris. There are fewer roads and trains are no good for inter city travel. So you're pretty stuck if you are in a situation like mine over the holidays.

In many ways I like the place but I'm unsure that I could live here. I did live in Bournemouth for a few years but returned to London because I got a bit sick of the small town life. I missed the anonymity that London offers, the way you can simply disappear if you want to. Perhaps this may be partly the reason why many New Zealanders come to the UK.

I hope Political Umpire isn't offended by what I've just written about his home country. Perhaps he can share a few thoughts on it. I'm expecting he may tell me I'll probably like Auckland better as a place to stay for any length of time. Perhaps I will. I still have not decided my return date but when I do it will be made known on this blog.........

Friday, December 22, 2006

A very good argument here against the prohibition of drugs, in relation to the murder victims in Ipswich having been heroin addicts.

Check it out. Prohibition kills.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The British Tradition of Puritanism and Sleaze (and the Myth of Nancy)........


I came accross a copy of a John Bunyan book yesterday in the public library. 'Puritanism' the writer on the sleeve commented, 'is undoubtedly part of the English character'. I don't know if this is an aspect of my character that I am unconscious of. But while I cannot help but agree on the whole with that statement, it is not an aspect of the national character that I take pride in by any means.

But it is alive and well in the press, in Westminster, in the pressure groups, on the web and in the homes and the streets of the United Kingdom. It can exist similtaneously in the pages of the Graun and the Torygraph. It is a big part of the heritage of both English socialism and feminism (one main reason why I don't really identify myself with either of these traditions, which are essentially as middle class as George Orwell once pointed out). It is what causes the English to be more preoccupied with the sex lives of politicians than the Latin countries. It was this Anglo heritage that almost brought down Bill Clinton.

Sexuality, when it is repressed by puritanism, becomes 'dirty'. Part of the thrill of British sex is down to the belief that something wrong is being done, that a trangression is taking place.

This came to my attention after having read an Emile Zola novel (French writer of the late 19th century). it was entitled 'The Kill' and was a depiction of the decadence of the bourgeoisie of the second empire. There were some fairly graphic sex scenes. I realised that such a novel would not have even been penned, let alone published, by any respected English Victorian author.

I remembered the scenes of 'Oliver Twist' (one of my favourite Victorian novels). I recalled the way that the fact Nancy was a prostitute had to be spelled out by Dickens in the introduction as any description of her trade would have been considered indecent in the novel. Contrast this with Zola's (Zola often being described as the 'French Dickens' for his realism) 'Nana' - an entire novel being devoted to the tragic life of a Parisian courtesan from a working class background. The sexual activities of Nana were described just as graphically as was the bourgeois sex of 'The Kill'.

Let us compare the stories of Nancy and Nana (Paris and London, a Tale of Two Cities, Nana and Nancy, a tale of two.......).
Both women come from poor working class backgrounds. Nana's upbringing is documented in Zola's earlier novel 'L'assomoir', which describes the lives of her alcoholic parents in the Goutte d'Or district of Paris. Nancy's background is only referenced briefly in her discussion with the middle class virgin 'Rose' - but is taken to be not unlike that of Nana. Here, however, is where the similarities end.

Zola does not morally endorse Nana's profession. Her tragedy stems partly from her greed. But it is made clear that Nana decided herself to embark on her profession, and is relatively in control of her work. She gets involved briefly with an abusive boyfriend but it doesn't last that long. Her downfall comes more with the corruption of one of her wealthy clients with a fetish for bondage. Like Nancy Nana has to die, but she catches typhoid).

Nancy, on the other hand, is an unwitting victim. She did not embark on her profession via her own choice but was bullied into it by Fagin and her violent partner Bill Sikes. She was 'led astray', in other words. And she is full of remorse and self pity for what she is, a trait noticably absent from the unrepentant Nana.

Nana and Nancy respectively can be seen to symbolise the British and the French attitudes towards the sex industry. Nancy remains the perpetual archetype for the downtrodden English prostitute. Every woman working the street is Nancy. Every Nancy has a Bill. The shame attached to the sex industry makes it all the sleazier.

I split this into two parts as it is long and not on a straight continuum. Please read on......


The Myth of Nancy (Continued).....

We know the story of Nancy. We know that she met her death at the hands of Bill Sikes, her 'bully' (Victorian for pimp). She was a pure victim of circumstance, of poverty and of male oppression.

I'm glad in a sense that I'm not in the UK right now. The tragic murders in Ipswich will bring the puritans out with no leash, snapping their jaws and using the deaths of these poor women for their own agenda. Agenda being to attempt to prove that all sex workers are Nancy.

Despite New Zealand's law reform, this attitude has found it's way into the press here. A hack named David Harrison writes an article entitled 'Stark Truth of the Sex Trade'. He comments that the murders have shone a dismal light on the extent of prostitution in the UK. Why, I could almost be at home. I'm feeling homesick already, in fact. And guess what? The article is couresy of the good old Torygraph, given to the 'Dominion Post'. Nice one.

'Britain's dark underbelly is a seedy world of desperate, drug addicted women who sell their bodies for their, or their pimps, next fix of heroin or crack'. Harrison unquestionally cites the home office stats on the prevalence of drug addiction among the UK's streetwalkers (stats which I pointed out yesterday were unreliable).

The drugs come early, most are offered heroin by their abusers, and are forced on the streets to feed their habits and pay their pimps (bullies). Some are 'launched' as early as the ages of 12 or 13 (as was the case with Dickens's Nancy, led astray by Fagin and Sikes).

Harrison writes "The street girls (sic!!) are the most vulnerable "workers" in Britain's expanding sex trade". He puts the term workers in inverted commas.

Such an article could just as well appear today in the Graun as the language is identical, patronising while denying sex workers their rights as sex workers. I am not questioning the fact that the vulnerable women he describes exists. I am sure they do. I don't doubt that there were women like Nancy who actually existed at the time Dickens was writing either. I have no doubt that the women are predominately from poor working class backgrounds either (I don't like the term 'underclass' used on the British poor). The fact that such conditions persist is a condemnation of 21st century Britain.

But it is misleading to suggest as he does that almost all streetwalkers are as he describes. They are not. Not all of them have a pimp or bully. Not all are on drugs. Some are simply freelancers who don't want to pay a brothel keeper and do not have the means to set up themselves or work from home. But what about minders? The issue is not one of the men themselves but their behaviour, and whether or not there is coercion taking place. Buying drugs for a partner doesn't necessarily mean he is forcing you either. The options of the men are often just as limited as those of the women. It may make more sense if you are a couple of addicts for the woman to sell sex rather than for the man to do a burglary and land himself in prison. I am not condoning these conditions, simply being straight and avoiding the implication that all partners of sex workers are 'pimps'. The drugs issue will of course be partly resolved by the decriminalisation or legalisation of heroin use - but few people promote this as an option when discussing the issue of addicted sex workers.

But I'll tell you what makes me mad. It is hard for me to express how I feel about this organisation using polite language. But I'll try. Harrison quotes Diane Marshall of Britain's 'Poppy Project', the home office funded programme to provide shelter for victims of sexual trafficking. Don't get me wrong - this in itself is something I would support. I believe that women abused in such a way should be given shelter and support, and it is a good thing for the British government to provide this. But alas, they are giving the money to the wrong people for this purpose. 'Poppy' are connected to a group known as the 'Lillith Project/Eaves Housing' who have a whole other agenda.

These ladies are continuing in the notable tradition of the 'National Vigilance Association' - to stamp out vice and public immorality. They are modern Victorians. They oppose prostitution being defined as 'sex work' - insisting it should remain 'prostitution' (root - to commit an immoral act for money). Yet how do these feminists do this without condemning the fallen women they wish to save? Easy. They use the term 'prostituted women' - meaning that nobody is doing such work voluntarily. Taking their cue from the Victorian social reformers, they believe that no woman would choose to work in the sex trade, all women being forced via economic or social circumstances beyond their control.

Marshall blames the 'normalisation' of the sex trade for the murders. What utter crock. What of the women murdered by partners and men who they know, women who are not sex workers? What is to blame for that? Monogamy? Marhsall praises the 'good old days' when "it used to be taboo to go with a prostitute, something to be done furtively, something that brought shame if you were found out". Aah, the joys of English puritanism. So it is somehow not so bad if it remains a dirty secret, Ms Marshall, so as to protect the virtue of decent ladies like yourself? It is better that sex workers remain stigmatised, the lowest of the low, so as to seperate themselves from respectable women.

Please don't think that Marshall's project to rescue sex slaves is anything new or remotely radical. It isn't. Victorian groups consisting of middle class women very often indulged in such projects - providing safe houses for fallen women who wished to leave the trade. The 'female mission for the fallen' distributed tracts outside brothels protesting the exploitation of women. Dickens himself was involved in such a project.

Predictably Harrison does not interview any sex workers themselves, only police, charities, and their self appointed redeemers Ms Marshall and a group named "Women for Justice' - who claim that drug addiction, homeless rape and murder are occupational hazards of the sex trade, therefore it is hardly a career choice. Yet they don't consider the possibility that criminalisation may have something to do with this. Oh, no. If they were really worried about the safety of sex workers they would call for policy to help protect them. But they prefer they be criminalised, hence running greater risks to their safety. Nay, they and their ilk call for heavier criminalisation. Which shows their real concern is not the safety of prostitutes but rather the virtue of decent ladies like themselves.

Harrison concludes by saying that 'the world's oldest profession is really the oldest oppression'. With his social conservatism (writing for the Torygraph) and his questionable sources, along with his patronising attitude towards women and his failure to speak to any prostitutes themselves it is not surprising that he says this.

Many middle class (decent and respectable) women give sex in exchange for something, be it security ( often dressed as commitment) or status. The prostitute is a threat to the middle class lady as she direcly asks for money, hence blowing the cover and thus the facade of decency. This exposes the hypocrisy of conventional morality - and the morality of puritanical 'feminists' and their buddies on the right.

It is interesting the way the Torygraph has dropped it's rhetoric of traditional values, public morality, etc and adopted the Graun's rhetoric about the exploitation of women. I guess it puts a better and more modern sounding spin on what is ultimately conventional morality.

To conclude my heart goes out to the murder victims in Ipswich and their relatives - and I am sorry that their deaths are being exploited in this way by the usual suspects.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Prostitution and NZ Law Reform.....

I see a man is being held on suspicion over the Ipswich murders (see link). It is too early to assume him to be guilty, he could well just be a lonely man who is an easy suspect, having known the murdered women and being a client of sex workers. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I met yesterday with Catherine Healy of the New Zealand prostitute's collective. I had a very interesting discussion with her over the effects of the law reform. I also spoke with a couple of workers who were visiting the building.

Surprisingly the first one I spoke with said it had made little difference to her personally, she pretty much continued working from home as she had done prior to the reform. However, when pressed she stated that she no longer has to register with the police when advertising in a newspaper. Even prior to decriminalisation, NZ had a relaxed attitude in comparison with Britain, with the police not always enforcing the law. Juliette also told me that she could be more upfront when talking with clients on the phone. Another woman told me that the law reform felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders as the threat of being busted no longer hung over her.

Something notable about this law is that it is the result of vocal campaigning by sex workers since the late 1980s, campaigning for their right to work as sex workers. It has not been handed down from on high by some thinktank who believe they are protecting the public from a social evil or containing it. Hence the law is based upon the human rights of sex workers as sex workers. It was won in parliament by a narrow majority, and it's opponents were largely on the religious right. It has received the support of most women's groups in the country, and of the liberal left. Ambivalence was also voiced by some residents groups, who feared there would be an increase in both streetwalkers and brothels. Their fears have been unfounded as there has not been a great increase in women choosing to work in the sex industry.

One thing Catherine made clear was that we cannot expect miracles to result from a change in the law. The problems associated with the sex industry have not all dissapeared, and it is doubtful they all ever will as every profession has it's problems and hazards. But there are a few things worthy of note.

Relations between sex workers and police have improved, and violence from clients is more likely to be reported. A murderer in the Christchurch region (who killed two prostitutes) was caught quickly due to the co-operation of sex workers with the police. Being free of police harrasment provides a better environment to work from, and due to the scrap of the pimping charges some women have chosen to take their partners with them as bodyguards or minders to take the license plates of the cars they get into. As sex workers are no longer illegal there has been a slight shift in the social stigma attached to them - they are no longer criminals but are workers with rights under the law.

Something that particularly struck me was the fact that there has been a shift away from brothel work and an increase in freelancers - women working themselves from home or in collectives. Brothel keepers have in fact been complaining that they cannot find enough workers anymore as women do not want to pay the shift fees they charge - they also prefer to work their own hours and charge their own prices.

It is little wonder that the brothel keepers opposed the model of decriminalisation. They were rather in favour of the Dutch model (State licensed brothels) being imported to NZ. The self interest here is pretty obvious. Those who advocate this model for Britain would do well to bear in mind that what they are advocating is a boss's law - not one that enshrines the rights of workers. Marxists would do well to think of the struggle between capital and labour, and remember which side they are supposed to be on. In the Auckland area brothel owners with massage licenses had a rather questionable relationship with local police prior to decriminalisation - they demanded that police clamped down on unlicensed premises, which clearly was not in the interest of freelancers. As I have stated before, one should not confuse legalisation with decriminalisation. They are not the same thing. Sex worker's rights groups almost unanimously oppose the former and support the latter, as do I.

It is also a misconception that most streetwalkers are also drug addicts. Some are (as were the women murdered in Ipswich) but not all are. The stats from the British Home Office on this matter (that 90+% of streetworkers are addicted to heroin or crack) are misleading as well as self serving, as they are taken from the women who use the government's drug treatment programme. In Catherine Healy's experience with street workers some are drug users but they don't make up the majority. That tallies with my own experience with sex workers. I have known women who work on the street and not all have been drug users. It obviously depends on the area too - districts which are struck with poverty and crime in general tend to have a higher percentage of drug users. Heroin and cocaine use is not as widespread in NZ as in Britain, crystal meth seems to be more of a thing here. But there is at least a needle exchange service for intravenous drug users.

But I should also stress that I support the rights of drug users as well as sex workers. If a sex worker is also a drug user (or the other way round) she will need rights as both. Hence my support for the legalisation of all drugs, or at least their decriminalisation.

We also spoke about the misconception that most (even all) migrant sex workers are forced into the trade. This is not the case in Britain and neither is the case in NZ. The main problem facing migrant workers in the sex industry here is their illegal status (as illegal immigrants, not as sex workers). They tend to come from South East Asia rather than Eastern Europe. Some come specifically to work in the sex industry, some arrive for other reasons. But the issues are the same. While it cannot be doubted that trafficking is an issue, it is wrong to assume that all migrant sex workers are slaves. They aren't. Claiming that they are is counterproductive as inflating the numbers is not conducivr to actually formulating policy to tackle the problem. The United Nations recognises that there is no reliable data in the way of human trafficking. If there was then the problem would be closer to being tackled.

A couple more items relating to the law in NZ. A few councils have managed to create by laws restricting the sale of sexual acts from certain zones. These have been opposed by the collective as being contrary to the law, and some have been repealed. Others have remained. What complicates matters is that a brothel in this country does not have the numbers clause as with Britain. In NZ one woman working from home would be effectively keeping a brothel, whereas in Britain it must be more than one.

It is also illegal to practise unsafe sex in exchange for money in NZ. While the collective opposed this clause as it could conceivably be used against sex workers, most sex workers have reported that the law works in their favour. If a client asks for activity without protection they can simply tell him that it is illegal and he will normally drop the matter. Client insistence has usually been the reason that some sex workers admit to practising unprotected sex in many countries.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More on Pinochet...

Political Umpire sent me this link. It is by the former British ambassador to Chile and reads in my view as little but an apology for Pinny.

Skilton writes:

"Many Chileans see Pinochet as the man who saved them from the social unrest, economic chaos and anarchy of the Allende years, and prevented Chile from becoming a second Cuba. They also see him as the man who presided over Chile’s remarkable economic success, which brought jobs, homes, healthcare, etc, to vast swaths of Chile’s previously impoverished population."

These 'many Chileans' he speaks of seem to comprise mostly of the wealthy and the conservative middle classes, who clearly had reason to wish for the preservation of the status quo. A status quo which was indeed threatened by not only the Allende regime itself but the hopes it stirred in the working class and the poor. Economic chaos and anarchy was brought about largely by the deliberate sabotage of the CIA (Richard Nixon having made clear he did not want Allende in power). The human rights abuses were what Pinny and his mates saw as necessary to put the masses in line, and quench once and for all their hopes for a better future. This was the cost of 'Chile's economic success'. Torture, death, corpses. And who precisely did the economic success serve?

The novelist Isabelle Allende pointed to the fact that this 'economic success' did not benefit those at the bottom of the social ladder. It made the rich rich and the poor poorer. It may have made the middle classes better off, but not the poor. Social inequality on the whole rose during that period. Any trickle down effect was minor, and it's costs were great, rather like Thatcher's Britain. I have heard similiar arguments in fact made about Thatcher - that the British economy was in a better state after she had finished than before she was in power. They do not convince me. If such measures are indeed necessary why have the Scandinavian countries prospered and been stable during years of social democracy?

Skilton also writes:

"But it is undeniable, if uncomfortable, that by the time Pinochet left office in 1990, Chile was in a far better state than when he started."

This is a red herring as nobody knows what Chile would look like today had the coup not occurred. Allendes Chile was not to be. The great powers would not allow it to be.

On Prostitution Law........

Many well meaning folk on the blogosphere and in the UK press have been calling for a legalisation of prostitution in the form of State licensed brothels following the Ipswich murders.

They are wrong on several grounds.

To start with, legalising something does not automatically remove the stigma attached to it, at least not straight away. And in the case of prostitution it is debatable as to whether it ever can be totally removed, although society does seem to be taking a less condemnatory approach to sex workers than it has done in the past.

Legalisation of the sex industry will require more State regulation. Women will likely have to register as prostitutes with the British State, something many of them will understandably be loathe to do. This may also have the effect of institutionalising women in the sex industry.

Licensing sex establishments will not stop managers from charging extortionate 'rent' for the women to work on the premises. Compulsory medical examinations have been suggested as part of the package, a law which would in practice be discriminatory. The mentality behind the proposition is not unlike that of the 'Contagious Diseases Act' which was proposed in the Victorian era.

"The Acts made the assumption," Megara Bell points out,

that prostitution was a permanent and necessary evil. They condoned male sexual access to fallen women and were specifically directed at women in order to protect the health of men. If the priority had been to fight VD, then inspecting the prostitutes' clients would also have been required by the Acts. However, the assumption was that, while men would be offended at the intrusion, the women were already so degraded that further humiliations were of no consequence. ["The Fallen Woman in Fiction and Legislation"]"

She is right on that score. It has not been proposed that clients of sex workers be examined as they would indeed find it intrusive. The assumption is made that the women are already degraded to an extent where being 'rounded up' weekly or fortnightly by a doctor (as sex workers in Germany described it) would be of little consequence to them. The assumption is wrong as some women have, in fact, found it intrusive and discriminatory when and where it has been practised.

If prostitution were legalised a two tier system of workers would be the result. The law in Holland has not eradicated streetwalking. Women who do not register and work in licensed establishments do not benefit from the perks of being legal, but on the other hand they do not suffer the downside of having to pay brothel keepers on top of their taxes. They are hence underground, but they retain the ability to be freelancers. Neither do they have to register with the State as prostitutes.

Streetwalking will remain as many (not all) women on the streets have drug problems, and the indoor market is known to be highly intolerant of drug use. Due to the prohibtion of narcotics we can assume that State licensed brothels would be even stricter in this regard. Addicted sex workers would therefore have to find their income elsewhere and still fall victim to State persecution.

New Zealand has taken the step of decriminalisation. It is too early yet for me to say much about this, but expect this to be updated as I have arranged to meet the collective next week sometime. But from what I know so far this seems to be the most sensible route.

All laws regulating prostitution or consensual sexual activity should be scrapped, including the 'living off immoral earnings" charge. Women would then be able to work safely from home and have men on the premises for security reasons without fear of them being prosecuted. These men may or may not be their husbands or partners. Or women could work in groups of two or more for safety reasons. Sex workers should have access to services such as non discriminatory medical care.
They should be able to register as self employed with the taxman (not the same as registering as a prostitute with the Home Office or whoever the body would be) and therefore work as freelancers without having illegal status the way that their Dutch counterparts do.

The State should only intervene when it is a public order issue - hence there may be a case for limiting street prostitution to certain zones, which would be good for safety reasons too. I will have to find out more, but it appears that in NZ the level of street prostitution has dropped since decriminalisation, and more women are in fact working from home.

Watch this space.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Statement from the English Collective of Prostitutes on Ipswich Murders.........

When prostitute women are not safe, no woman is safe

Gemma Adams and a woman the police believe to be Tania Nicol, have now both been found tragically murdered in Ipswich. We pass our deepest condolences to their loved ones. A number of women also working as sex workers have gone missing in the area in recent years. In order to save lives and not to repeat the horror of the Yorkshire Ripper, who was allowed to continue killing until 13 women had been murdered, the Suffolk police must not use the criminality imposed on sex workers by the prostitution laws as an excuse to deny women the protection we are all entitled to by law.

We demand:

an immediate temporary amnesty from arrest for prostitute women and clients so that anyone can come forward to give information to this inquiry without fear of criminalisation or harassment; (Previously, women with outstanding arrest warrants either couldn’t contact the police or when they did were arrested. (See Criminalisation: the price women and children pay, English Collective of Prostitutes response to the government’s review of the prostitution laws, December 2004)

an end to street sweeps, arrests and ASBOs against prostitute women and clients which have forced women into darker, more isolated areas making them more vulnerable to rape, violence and even murder. Women working under increased pressure are less able to look out for each other, have less time to check out clients and are forced to take more risks;

a change in police priorities; money and resources being used to prosecute women and clients for consenting sex must be re-directed into vigorously pursuing violent men and protection of all women

following the example of New Zealand, decriminalisation of the prostitution laws, which by criminalising sex workers signal that women’s lives are not worth much. The police and courts don’t protect women and violent men think they can get away with attacks.

Comment: Currently being in NZ I intend to find out more about how the prostitution law reform has worked out, if possible arranging to meet and interview some sex workers via the collective or union. I can say, however, that I was very upset when hearing about the murders back in Britain. Criminalising prostitutes only endangers them further, and I feel nothing but anger, contempt and scorn for those 'feminists' who insist that these women continue to be criminalised, socially stigmatised and marginalised so as to protect the virtue of 'respectable women' like themselves. I can see through their rhetoric. But they quite happily scream 'my body, my life' when abortion is the issue at stake, not seeing the contradiction and the irony. I'm kind of glad I'm not in the UK right now.

A feminist once remarked to me that her opposition to prostition stemmed not from the effect the work has on individual prostitutes but rather from the way that the sex trade implies that ALL women's bodies are commodities. Clearly she has a lot to learn. All women, yep, respectable ladies too, have used sexuality as a bargaining chip. Respectable bourgeois women have used this bargain for marriage and security. The prostitute is a thorn in the side of the bourgeois feminist as she directly asks for money, thus exposing how fragile the mythical virginity and purity of the middle class lady actually is. All the prostitute is doing is exposing a truism about sexual relations and the organisation of society, she is not creating it.
She is simply being explicit about it, and renting her sexual services rather than selling them for life (as is the case with many bourgeois marriages). The middle class feminists who support criminalising prostitutes are in fact supporting the status quo.

I'll also add that I mean no disrespect to those sensible feminists who see through the good woman/bad woman myth and realise the harm caused by the prostitution laws, and the hypocrisy behind them. Meanwhile I hope this bastard gets caught soon so he kills no more.

Meanwhile, vulnerable women with addictions and deep emotional problems (who do make up a large number of streetwalkers) could be greatly helped by at least being given heroin on prescription (ideally an all out end to prohibition will be best but that does not seem likely in the near future). And there should be more access to psychotherapy and counselling on the NHS. The mental health system in the UK is a shambles.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Death of a Tyrant.....

Now I'm not one to gloat over anyone's death. But I couldn't help feeling a tinge of gladness and thus making an exception when hearing of the demise of Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean dictator. It is a pity he escaped justice, but having expressed no regrets I would doubt he'd have reached heaven (if such a place exists, and I believe PInny thought it did. The Christian God is said to look into the heart. For all his observances of formalities Pinny doesn't make the grade as he was an unrepentant sinner. To be forgiven requires contrition, and this characteristic was noticably lacking in le general. This is going by the teachings of Catholicism, the religion Pinochet professed belief in. He'd have been better off being a fundie prod, as that faith does not require ongoing evaluation of one's character and deeds, just initial credence. Roman Catholicism though (at least as I understand it) gives no such free ticket to heaven.

Margaret Thatcher expressed sadness at the death of her best mate Pinny. All I can say is I'm glad she's sad. But she can consle herself with the thught that she is getting on in years and before long may be joining her friend in the heat of the inferno. Not a pleasant place but at least they'll be friends reunited.

I won't upload a picture as I don't want Pinny's ugly mug tainting my blog.
Trip Update....

I arrived back in Wellington last night from the South Island trip. I have to say that I was unable to see all that I would have liked to, as we were with my partner's parents who wanted to visit relatives there. We may well do a trip there again before we leave, as well as seeing more of the North.

After leaving Xchurch I spent a few days on the Otago peninsula, close to Dunedin. Dunedin was a Scottish settlement rather than an English one like Xchurch. It was fairly quiet partly because it is a university city and it was off season, students were away. However, I noticed it had a lot of art and culture for what is essentially a small city (at least by English standards!). Paid a visit to the gallery and viewed some interesting paintings, some were local and some were imports from Europe. There were some interesting shops too. Went in a shop in the Octagon (city centre, main square) named Gloria, where the propietor sells some unusual clothes and jewellry, mst of it is handmade and some of it she makes herself in the shop. The hat I bought was made by her daughter who is a local folk singer. I must shamedly admit that I didn't visit the bird colonies, partly due to problems with transportation and partly due to poor weather.

After that we stopped at Wanaka (a very charming lake town surrounded by mountains, not so touristy as Queenstown) and then headed for Motueka. Had a look at the scenery on the west coast (including the famous pancake rocks) with it's dense vegetation, and went on a flying fox ride over a valley. Was pleasantly surprised to find the water on the beach in Motueka warm enough for a swim. Also came accross a Santa Claus with a genuine white beard!

That is another thing I find strange, Christmas in the summer and summer in December! As there are no dark nights there are noticably fewer lights in people's windows. Christmas was initially based on the Northern Winter solstice (Christ's birthday being placed a few days after, or it may well have been put on the same day as the Roman Mithras festival). Most religious festivals of light are geared to the Northern hemisphere. I imagine I might find the Southern winter hard (was I staying here that long) as there is no festival of lights to break it up. Perhaps winter solstice should be declared a public holiday down here. But in a way it is nice to have a summer solstice Xmas!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holiday Update.....

Posting has been a little sparse lately due to a lack of time. However, I'll use the time I do have by beginning with describing my visit to the city of Christchurch.

I heard it said a few times that Kiwis are 'more English than the English'. I never quite saw this, they have always struck me as being more like Aussies with manners (no doubt political umpire will have something to say on this, as well as on the rest of my post!)

However, I think this may just apply to Christchurch, which was in fact modelled on an English city, built on a river with a university in the centre. And yes, it has stone builidings and spires! And men in straw boating hats punting tourists along the river. The English class structure was also intended to be replicated. While the founder of Wellington tried this there and failed, I think the founder of Xchurch may have succeeded.

I stayed with a middle aged gay couple. Refined gentlemen, if anything classic English eccentrics in the upper class sense! They have a slight fascination with British royalty, and are converts to Roman Catholicism. I will also have the pleasure to greet them on their visit to England next year. I had their permission to write about them here. I also had the pleasure to meet a couple of their friends - a Cambridge educated Mathematician with an accent to match, a white beard and a slightly snobby wife. Could have been at home, albeit not London. I'll upload a picture later.....

Friday, December 01, 2006

I heard today that a Pakistani court has ordered Misbah Rana (aka Molly Campbell) back to Scotland while a Scottish court decides the verdict on her custody (see link)
  • .

    According to her father (who she wishes to stay with) she is so distressed she say she 'will run away again'). She surely does not like her mum.

    Meanwhile her mother states that she is looking very forward to the 'reunion'. Not much of a 'reunion' of the other person involved does not want to see you, is it? I have before on this topic, but any parent who puts their own wishes above those of the child does not really have their best interests at heart. From all empirical evidence it appears that Misbah's father is not by any means abusive, nor does he wish to 'force her into an arranged marriage' as the British press had previously assumed due to their prejudice. If this mother ever wants any respect from her daughter, respect on which any kind of relationship is conditional upon, she should respect her wishes simply by letting her be where she wants to be. Which appears to be in Pakistan with her father and sister.

    I have commented before on this issue both here
  • and here.

    This story upsets me as it is a case where a parent is failing to see a child as a person in her own right but rather as an extension of herself. This mentality remains for me a source of grievance wherever I encounter it, and it causes no end of heartache and damage among young people.

    Society rarely suggests that an adult should be forced to continue living with a spouse if they no longer wish to. Why therefore are children still treated as chattel of their parents in this way? Ms Campbell clearly does not want the voice of her daughter to be heard, and she is patronisingly silencing her when she does attempt to be heard. If the courts take into account what is best for the child it may well seem that the father is more of a responsible caretaker with a more stable life, not subjecting her to live in what she defines as a 'hellhole' (which was how Misbah described her mother's home in Scotland).