Thursday, January 18, 2018
A group of former prostitutes have taken a groundbreaking legal challenge to the high court, arguing that government policy criminalises victims of abuse and trafficking.
The women argue they have been stigmatised by the existing law, which requires people convicted of crimes to disclose their past when applying for a range of jobs or volunteering activity after DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks.
It is the first time the system of recording and disclosing convictions has been challenged on the grounds of gender discrimination, said Harriet Wistrich, the women’s solicitor.
Monday, July 17, 2017
While it is over 40 years since women won the right to be included on jury selection panels, men continue to dominate most juries in serious criminal trials.
An analysis by The Irish Times of 200 trials in the Central Criminal Court, which deals almost exclusively with rape and murder, shows that men dominated the jury in 57 per cent of cases.
Women dominated the jury in only 17 per cent of cases, while there was an even six/six split between the genders in 26 per cent of cases.
The gender imbalance was most noticeable in rape trials, where 61 of 100 juries were dominated by men compared to only 13 dominated by women. To put it another way, 723 men sat on the juries compared to 477 women.
In murder cases male jurors were in the majority in 52 cases compared to 23 with female-majority juries.
Both the reasons and consequences of the gender imbalance in Irish juries remain unclear, mainly due to the secretive nature of jury selection and jury deliberation.
Many studies suggest women are more likely to judge female rape complainants harshly and to acquit men accused of rape. In 2009, Irish academics who studied 108 rape trials found that male-dominated juries had the highest conviction rate. There was not a single conviction in the 17 cases which had female-dominated juries.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Amy Cohen & Aya Gruber, Governance Feminism in New York's Alternative "Human Trafficking Intervention Courts"
In New York’s new Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs), mostly female defendants are prosecuted for prostitution-related offenses and then offered social services in lieu of more traditional criminal justice sentences. These alternative problem-solving courts represent a reconceptualization of the status of prostitution defendants in the New York criminal court system: formerly regarded as low priority, quality-of-life offenders, they are perceived by the HTICs as presumptive victims of gender-based violence. This chapter explores the role that feminists, holding a range of views on commercial sex, played in the creation of these new courts even as it argues that virtually no feminist position — liberal, abolitionist, sex worker — should condone the arrest of women for selling sex. It explores how some feminists embraced the courts as depoliticized providers of services while others made strategic decisions to work with the new courts despite clear ideological misgivings. As such, the chapter argues, the HTICs raise questions endemic to all governance feminism projects: when and why is it worth it to compromise feminist aims?
Co-author Amy Cohen also has a second article on the history of the New York prostitution courts. Trauma and the Welfare State: A Genealogy of Prostitution Courts in New York City, Texas L. Rev. (forthcoming).
At least since the early twentieth century, informal specialized prostitution courts have tried to double as social welfare agencies. For this reason, prostitution courts illustrate in particularly explicit ways how public welfare administration and criminal court administration share similar ideas and practices and how these ideas and practices reinvent themselves over time. The article traces three moments of prostitution court reform in New York City: the New York Women’s Court that opened in Manhattan in 1910, the Midtown Community Court that opened in Manhattan in 1993, and four new prostitution courts that opened in New York City in 2013. It examines how court reformers in each moment use informal procedure to promote social welfare, social control, and individual responsibility, and it ties each approach to changing conceptions of the American welfare state. Ultimately, the article argues that the genealogy of prostitution courts illuminates for the present how court reformers are using the language of trauma to negotiate the welfare logics of today.
See also Mae Quinn, Ann Moscowitz Kross and the Home Term Part: A Second Look at the Nation's First Criminal Domestic Violence Court, 41 Akron L.Rev. 733 (2008)
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Donna Hughes & Melanie Shapiro, Bibliography of Sources on Prostitution Decriminalization in Rhode Island
A bibliography of sources on the research we did on prostitution and sex trafficking and the advocacy work we did to end decriminalized prostitution. For 29 years prostitution was decriminalized in Rhode Island (if it occurred indoors). Sexual exploitation and violence against women and girls were integrated into economic development. The number of sex businesses grew rapidly and organized crime groups operated brothels and extorted money from adult entertainment businesses. Rhode Island became a destination for pimps, sex traffickers, and other violent criminals. The lack of laws impeded police from investigating serious crimes, including sex trafficking
Friday, October 14, 2016
Andrea J. Nichols, Sex Trafficking in the United States (Columbia Press 2016)
Sex Trafficking in the United States is a unique exploration of the underlying dynamics of sex trafficking. This comprehensive volume examines the common risk factors for those who become victims, and the barriers they face when they try to leave. It also looks at how and why sex traffickers enter the industry. A chapter on buyers presents what we know about their motivations, the prevalence of bought sex, and criminal justice policies that target them. Sex Trafficking in the United States describes how the justice system, activists, and individuals can engage in advocating for victims of sex trafficking. It also offers recommendations for practice and policy and suggestions for cultural change.
Andrea J. Nichols approaches sex-trafficking-related theories, research, policies, and practice from neoliberal, abolitionist, feminist, criminological, and sociological perspectives. She confronts competing views of the relationship between pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking, as well as the contribution of weak social institutions and safety nets to the spread of sex trafficking. She also explores the link between identity-based oppression, societal marginalization, and the risk of victimization. She clearly accounts for the role of race, ethnicity, immigrant status, LGBTQ identities, age, sex, and intellectual disability in heightening the risk of trafficking and how social services and the criminal justice and healthcare systems can best respond. This textbook is essential for understanding the mechanics of a pervasive industry and curbing its spread among at-risk populations.
Please visit our supplemental materials page (https://cup.columbia.edu/extras/supplement/sex-trafficking-united-states) to find teaching aids, including PowerPoints, access to a test bank, and a sample syllabus
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Aya Gruber (Colorado), Amy Cohen (Ohio State) & Kate Mogulescu (Legal Aid), Penal Welfare and the New Human Trafficking Intervention Courts, Florida L.Rev. (forthcoming)
Abstract:In the fall of 2013, New York State’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, announced a “revolutionary” statewide initiative to create and implement Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs). The initiative occurred amidst a burgeoning consensus that prostitution is human trafficking and women who engage in prostitution are largely victims of exploitation and violence. Given the HTICs’ ambition to, in Lippman’s words, “eradicate the epidemic of human trafficking” and the convergent view of prostitution as trafficking, one might think that the HTICs are courts that prosecute traffickers, where victim-witnesses enjoy special protections. In fact, the HTICs are criminal diversion courts where mostly female defendants are prosecuted for prostitution offenses, but offered mandated services in lieu of criminal conviction and jail. The HTICs are thus a puzzle. Why have so many commentators heralded them as the model approach to prostitution/trafficking when they involve the arrest, prosecution, and even incarceration of prostitution defendants, who are presumed to be victims? A key piece of this puzzle is a phenomenon we call “penal welfare,” that is, a growing practice of using criminal courts to provision social services and benefits. In an era in which “mass incarceration” is a familiar term and tough-on-crime and broken windows ideologies are falling into disfavor, penal welfare enables entrenched institutions of criminal law to continue to function, despite a growing crisis in public confidence. Based on a qualitative empirical study of the HTICs, we argue that precisely because of their welfarist bent, the courts may sustain arrests and prosecutions of the presumptively victimized women they seek to protect, stunt the development of alternate forms of assistance and resources, and reinforce stigmatizing ideologies and discourses.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Alissa Ackerman & Rich Furman, Sex Crimes: Transnational Problems and Global Perspectives (Columbia U. Press)
- This book is the first to investigate all aspects of sexual crimes and the policy and management initiatives developed to address them from a transnational, global perspective. Introducing an array of tools for reducing the prevalence and consequences of sex crimes, this volume brings together leading scholars in criminology, criminal justice, social work, and law to discuss topics ranging from sex trafficking and sex tourism to pornography, cyberstalking, and sexual abuse in the military and the Catholic church. Case studies track the reporting of these crimes, the methods used to interview victims and perpetrators, and the policies enacted to punish those involved.
- Listen to an interview with author Alissa Ackerman on the subject: http://www.againstthegrain.org/program/1191/mon-72715-sex-crimes-and-masculiniti
Alexandra Lutnick, Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (Columbia U. Press)
- “This book is a must for anyone interested in youth involved in the sex trades or sex-trafficking issues. The research and discussions offer a glimpse into the nuanced and complicated realities that facilitate youth involvement in sex trades. Lutnick's scholarship helps us to think beyond the victim/villain binary by exposing the various ways in which family, friends, policy, and the state are accountable to their circumstances. The book offers timely and useful strength-based strategies that also attend to issues of oppression and justice.”
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Hundreds of women, some of them pregnant or domestic servants who are victims of rape, are being imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates every year under laws that outlaw consensual sex outside marriage, according to a BBC Arabic investigation.
Secret footage obtained by BBC Arabic show pregnant women shackled in chains walking into a courtrooms where laws prohibiting “Zina” – or sex outside marriage – could mean sentences of months to years in prison and flogging.
“Because the UAE authorities have not clarified what they mean by indecency, the judges can use their culture and customs and Sharia ultimately to broaden out that definition and convict people for illicit sexual relations or even acts of public affection,” said Rothna Begum, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch in London.
While both men and women could in theory be imprisoned for having sex outside marriage, the investigation – which will air at the opening of BBC Arabic festival on 31 October – found that in reality pregnancy is often used as proof of the “crime”, with domestic female migrant workers – numbering about 150,000 in the UAE – left most vulnerable.
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Cynthia Goode (Brooklyn), Punishment as Protection, Houston Law Review, forthcoming
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Amnesty International will support the decriminalization of all elements of prostitution—including paying for sex and facilitating sex-for-money transactions—after a vote of some 400 delegates at a meeting in Dublin, the New York Times reports:The proposal about prostitution provoked an aggressive lobbying campaign by international groups opposed to sparing buyers and pimps from penalties. Competing petitions were organized by women’s groups and celebrities— including former President Jimmy Carter, who issued a letter on Monday — appealing to the group to maintain penalties for buyers and to “stay true to its mission.”
Countries including Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand already have the kind of highly tolerant policies Amnesty will now advocate for, the BBC says, while the Times notes that Sweden's and Norway's laws fall somewhere between prohibition and decriminalization; in those Scandinavian countries, prostitution itself is legal but paying for sex can be punished with "heavy fines and prison terms."
The proposed language of the new Amnesty policy cautions that sex-work practices "that involve coercion, deception, threats, or violence" should continue to be considered unacceptable before asserting that "the available evidence indicates that the criminalisation of sex work is more likely than not to reinforce discrimination against those who engage in these activities, to increase the likelihood that they will be subjected to harassment and violence, including ill-treatment at the hands of police, and to lead to the denial of due process and the exclusion from public benefits such as health services, housing, education, and immigration status."
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Chinese men in rural villages are paying $3200 to families (parents, usually) to sell their daughters in rural Vietnam for marriage.
Their marriages were arranged for cash, but some of the Vietnamese women who have found unlikely Prince Charmings in remote Chinese villages say they are living happily ever after.
"Economically, life is better here in China," said Nguyen Thi Hang, one of around two dozen women from Vietnam who have married men in Linqi.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
From the CBC (Canada)..... Among the voices, one worker with victims of human trafficking said:
"I can't walk into a group home in Canada where [there aren't] children, and these are 14-, 15-, 16-year-old children, whom are being recruited out of there by low-level, small organized gangs and things like this. And in fact these girls are now going in using friending tactics. To go in and get their friends to help them know, 'oh, you can just make a little bit of extra money, you can do this, do that, it's not so bad,'" she said.
"I'm seeing younger and younger persons entering the sex trade."