Ethical Prostitution

19th Century German Sex Worker, Anna Dorthea Hansen Flickr/creative commons

19th Century German Sex Worker, Anna Dorthea Hansen
Flickr/creative commons

As a follow up to yesterday’s discussion of the decriminalization of sex work, take a look at this video of a sex worker ally drilling down to the issues. While perhaps relying too much on sensational memes based on unreliable data that says most sex workers are sex-trafficked children, she makes a durable case for the complete decriminalization and legalization of sex work.

Social acceptance and legalization of sex work is the key to ending sex-trafficking, not its cause. Sex-traffickers are involved in organized crime and should be pursued and punished vigorously; if they disappear so will their victims. But unless society can recognize a separate and growing sex work industry based on voluntary participation, we will not be able isolate and end the scourge of international sex-trafficking.

The first encounter society has with a voluntary sex worker need not be the result of police and the court system, nor their only portal to adequate support, healthcare, and other medical social services (more here) .

Sexual healing from an out-of-the-closet industry is not a bad thing, and will go a long way to ending sexual oppression.


Reminder: Win one of VenusPlusX’s prized t-shirts for making a video, writing a poem, or creating a work of art as part of our Sexual Freedom Project, on this subject or any other related to sexual freedom, contact: (More videos, here.)



Decriminalizing Sex Work: The Work Ahead

Highly-acclaimed, reader-supported news site, Truthout, has once again zeroed in on a pressing matter of social justice, the continued criminalization of sex workers. Mike Ludwig‘s news analysis, well worth a full read, weaves together several different threads of this issue in terms everyone can understand.

Ludwig points our attention to “a great leap forward” in New York’s state court system that has introduced 11 new prostitution courts called Human Trafficking Intervention Courts (HTICs). These new courts were designed to treat arrested sex workers as “trafficking victims” deserving of medical and social services instead of jails, and to focus instead on the traffickers.

Flickr/creative commons

Flickr/creative commons

Sounds good on the surface, right? Except that sex workers have been protesting this controversial new model because: a) its premise is based on unreliable and very narrow data; b) actual data collected by sex workers rights organizations, such as the Red Umbrella Project’s recent report, “Criminal, Victim or Worker?” were flatly rejected; and, most important, c) ignores completely the need to decriminalize sex work to begin with.

Balder Rosado, a member RedUP, told Ludwig that this new court model improves what it replaced but the issue remains that access to these services necessarily starts with an arrest by police.

Not every sex worker is a sex traffic victim as anti-trafficking advocates would have us believe. For many, it is a private and personal choice that should not by criminalized in the first place, and if “treatment” is required to help those who are trafficked or otherwise coerced, it should be within a non-criminal, non-police model.

Shira Hassan, a harm reduction and transformative justice specialist in Chicago, told Ludwig . . .

. . . [A]nti-trafficking advocates often push for laws and special courts that reduce the penalties prostitution defendants face, in the name of “decriminalization.” These efforts are not about decriminalization, she said. They are about “changing the process by which someone is criminalized.”

“Criminalization is about racism, it’s about your neighborhood, it’s about how you are dressed,” Hassan told Truthout. “It’s about policing.”

The needless criminalization of sex work unfairly targets poor people of color and is as unconstitutional as “stop and frisk.” As Ludwig notes, “Police can stop individuals for ‘loitering with intent’ if they are doing as little as wearing revealing clothing or hanging out in the wrong part of town.”

HTICs can only be called a diversion program, at best. They only serve a small number of those arrested, and only a small proportion of these people actually want and need medical or social services. And the HTICs to do not prevent re-arrest for simply walking in the same neighborhood where the first arrest took place thereby nullifying the HTIC’s decision. Only a minuscule number of traffickers every get arrested.

Ludwig quotes advocate Sienna Baskin from Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center in New York:

“If the emphasis is changing to be about offering services and other income options to people who are doing sex work, and intervening in violent situations, and giving people what they need without [harming them], then we need to stop criminalizing them.”

I will add another disturbing dimension, one that Ludwig overlooked or chose not to include: The retired judge, Judy Harris Kluger, who helped develop these HTICs is using the very same faulty data to promote her new business providing the services that the court recommends, reaping financial benefits from the state. Worse still, there no regulations or public standards for non-profit, short-term service providers like hers. Unfortunately, privatization schemes and conflicts of interest now pervade our justice system. Mass incarceration itself is a testimony of how special interests have managed to lobby lawmakers to privatize probation and electronic monitoring services and the prison-industrial complex itself. When will special interests like these, that thrive on increased criminality and the personal pain of others, be brought to justice?

To learn more, get involved in your community to protect sex workers rights. The decriminalization of sex work will begin the end of sexual oppression, a first step towards a world of equality and peace.


The Sexual Freedom Project: ‘Escorting’ v. ‘Prostitution’

We’re talking another look at this Sexual Freedom Project video in light of our recent post, “Voluntary sex work is destined to evolve into a legitimate Sexual Healing Industry.” Regardless of what money exchanges whose hands, sex work is a legitimate part of our culture in that it is, with the exception of forced prostitution, an expression of comfort and love however foreign that idea may sound to some people.

What do you think?

Is there a difference between between what “escorts” are paid to do, and what “prostitutes” are paid to do?

Is sex work labeled differently depending upon the socioeconomic status of the person performing it? Or the status of the person paying the sex worker?

Why do legal authorities round up prostitutes who work on the streets, while looking the other way when it comes to escorts who find their clients online and in other invisible ways? Is this a legitimate distinction or just another form of discrimination based on wealth and status?

Again, let us know what you think. Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts on this and other topics that people like you have recorded for the Sexual Freedom Project. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Click here for more videos.


Voluntary sex work is destined to evolve into a legitimate Sexual Healing Industry

Jamie Raskin, law professor and Maryland State Senator, is trying in vain to explain to the luddites in Congress why free speech shouldn’t cover things like bribery to politicians, recently okayed by the US Supreme Court in several rulings. He wisely invokes prostitution to get their attention, to show the context of free speech, but it’s just used as a expositional device.

2309188862_4769c9c6fd_bBut let’s take his point in another direction. The legalization or decriminalization of prostitution is a campaign VenusPlusX and other civil rights organizations have long-championed because it is a necessary and often vital part of life and there are many reasons why it hasn’t gone away on its own, it will not go away, and it’s ready for real reform so that it constitutionality can be protected as vigorously as any other human right.

The desire for love, for touch, for compassion, and for companionship and the improvement of physical health doesn’t have and shouldn’t have any boundaries or interference by governments or religions because our erotic senses are foundational to our connection with others and the cosmic technology around us.

Crime, sex trafficking, and financial exploitation accompany sex work only because it has always been criminalized.

If money paid to a sex worker (or a casual dinner and a movie with a new boyfriend) leads to sexual activity, why should this warrant any interference at all. The dinners, movies, jewelry, etc., accepted by girlfriends and wives is the very same thing as the commercial transaction made by a sex worker.

So, let’s consider a new model: A Sexual Healing Industry.

Note that this industry and network of professionals already exists. Highly skilled masseurs have become well known by word of mouth, as empaths who can safely shepherd you towards greater understanding of yourself and your body. They see you in well suited surroundings although right now they don’t explicitly advertise themselves as sexual healers. Why shouldn’t every sex worker who is involved in commercializing their skill on a voluntary basis be able to put out a shingle in a safe environment?

“Oh, by the way, I am going out to my yoga class and I have an appointment with my sexual healer after that so I’ll see you for dinner around 6.” Why not? This is the future, get ready for it.

Let us know what you think by commenting here or contact us at




Violence against D.C. prostitutes has gone too far


Violence against local D.C. prostitutes has become alarming. A local transgender woman, “Jane,” who wishes to remain anonymous, shared her story with me.

As she describes it,”I was beat an inch from my life.” She said she was going to work as usual,”clocking in” as it’s called — those few moments that you take to get yourself ready for the long dreadful night to come. For some girls it’s a breather, for some it’s a drink or a drug and for others it’s simply a prayer to get them through the night, but this routine is done among co-working prostitutes to kind of put some ease into what will always be a harmful night.

On this night, Jane had just parked her car in her usual spot that on the local stroll. She took a moment to apply some lipstick and perfume before clocking in. Nothing seemed abnormal, “I looked around before getting out and everything looked fine” said Jane.

“The moment I stepped out, before the door could close I felt something hit me on the side on my head. Tthe moment I turned to see what  it was, pow! another one, and before I knew it, I was down on the ground being attacked by multiple people. They beat and kicked me until I was unconscious. The blows were so severe that it was not possible for me to have been beat with only fist and feet.

“I awoke to a homeless man trying to help me. I can only assume he thought I was dead. I suffered a broken jaw, three cracked ribs, a twisted ankle, and more than anything, no understanding. They also took my keys and car. I cannot identify these people because I saw no one and of course no one on the streets will say who it was. I know that prostituting is not legal and in that sense, I’m wrong, but I like sex so I chose this profession and I don’t think it’s fair to just be attacked and robbed because I’m an easy target or easy mark. Everyone in the area knows me and for the most part everyone respects me. I give respect to everyone so this obvious set up attack on my life has wounded me deeply and I want justice,” says Jane. “I deserve it!”

So here we have it, a trans woman prostitute attacked and robbed. There has been a lot of speculation that there is a local gang that is known for committing these kinds of crimes in this part of the city. The police department knows who they are and have been frequenting the area showing pictures trying to pull this together, but it seems as if they’re getting nowhere.

I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to be in this kind of situation, that’s just me. Some people might think that because you choose to be a prostitute that you pretty much choose all that comes with it…How so? At the end of the day we are all human and we should be treated as such. I encourage those who might have witnessed this crime to come forward and help the police find who did this. This could be any one of us at any time of the day, in any part of the city, whether we are a trans person or a sex worked. This is not an isolated incident, just the beginning of me giving voice to it. This has to stop!

To all my local ‘”PROS”: Stay alert, be smart and stay safe.

Editor’s note: VenusPlusX is working with other grassroots organizations to make sex work legal in Washington, DC. We finally got rid of the unconstitutional Prostitution Free Zones (which were nothing more that police trans profiling zones). Now we have to seriously address both the abolition of laws interfering with sex work so that a much needed sexual healing industry can emerge that will foster much needed sex education and sexual healing for all who seek it. 

The Sexual Freedom Project: Prostitution in a Vacuum

(También en Español)

Is it possible for society and government to create a safe field of sex work? Are there too many complications such as child prostitution and human trafficking that make this impossible?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think or make your own video or blog to share. We will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt or slap bracelet to thank you.

Video edited by Tiye Massey.

The Sexual Freedom Project: More Ethical Prostitution

(También en Español)

How do you think prostitution can be legalized, protecting the right of individual choice, while at the same eradicating unethical sex slavery and human trafficking?

Make a video, write a poem, song, or an essay — or even create an original work of art — and express your thoughts. If we feature your contribution on the site, we will send you a free VenusPlusX t-shirt to thank you.

Video edited by Tiye Massey.

Sign Our Petition to Stop Harmful Prostitution-Free Zones

Tomorrow in DC we will be delivering testimony, reprinted below, in opposition to  Bill 19-567, a proposed new law that would allow police to designate permanent Prostitution-Free Zones (PFZs), which have been dubbed by local activists as Trans Profiling Zones.

If you cannot attend tomorrow, you can watch online.

In any case, in the coming two weeks, please join us by signing the petition. Each time someone signs, the DC Council gets email notice. We want to deluge these officials’ in boxes and make sure that this legislation is never passed, and that even our current temporary PFZs disappear in the waste bin of stupid ideas.

Prostitution is illegal, but PFZs, temporary as they are now or permanent, constitute legalized sex discrimination and a direct challenge to civil rights. Any discussion of PFZs is, therefore, part of a larger discourse on human rights.

As others will attest tomorrow, the establishment or continuation of PFZs is clearly unconstitutional, ignoring due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, so any law making them permanent will be subject to unending legal challenges costing our city hundreds of thousands of tax dollars defending a foolish law.

Putting the question of constitutionality aside for the moment, however, these PFZs are a menace to public safety by creating “papers please” profiling zones threatening people in the neighborhoods where they wish to live and work in peace. Police haven’t curbed prostitution or decreased crime that is imagined to be associated with prostitution, just relocated most of these activities to outlying neighborhoods away from downtown.

All residents and visitors to our nation’s capital have the right to be free from unwelcomed, coerced encounters with police, and the harassment that ensues during such forced encounters. Because most if not all of these coercive encounters have been shown to be biased, based entirely on the personal judgments and viewpoints of the police officer/s, rather than extant police procedures and special orders and human rights laws in the District of Columbia. Many of these unsolicited encounters with cross-purposes result in unwarranted arrests, further harassment, mistreatment by the police while incarcerated, and sometimes injury or even death.

DC government has the opportunity to step back and consider that the path of the PFZs is not only a losing proposition, it goes against the very principles of existing local laws and the very integrity of those who serve the Council. Rather then roiling ‘red meat’ for a small group of noisy busybodies in select neighborhoods, so as not to ‘appear’ as favoring prostitution, lawmakers should instead focus their attention on finding systemic and sustainable solutions that offer better employment options to this most vulnerable class of people, often forced through economic necessity to seek sex work for their very survival.

VenusPlusX’s testimony, prepared by Dan Massey, points to a future where sex workers are not victims of police overreach such as these PFZs. Here it is:

A Statement Opposing Establishment of Permanent Prostitution-Free Zones in the District of Columbia

You are today considering legislation that would create permanent “prostitution- free zones” (PPFZs) in certain areas of the city. I strongly urge that the Council table this matter for the time being and instead initiate a combined government and community-based effort, emphasizing transparency and harmony, to effectively address the real underlying problem which the PPFZ proposal fails to address.

There is little to gain in enacting laws that sound responsible to a vocal minority in the community, but which depend solely on the government to deploy violence against fellow citizens. Such laws deserve only ridicule when examined in the light of reason.

Sex workers provide an important function in society by filling a market need that cannot be eliminated, since it comes about through the choices and desires of the individual members of the population as a whole.

Criminalization of sex work simply forces sex workers to practice their profession at times and places where they can be free from police observation, while remaining accessible to their clientele.

Unfortunately, this means the solicitation and delivery of services will most often occur at times and in areas of the city where the participants will necessarily be more vulnerable to crimes of violence because of reduced police oversight.

At this time, I am not suggesting that the Council immediately de-criminalize and regulate sex work. Rather, I want each of you to honestly examine how much better it would be for the city to establish “Prostitution Zones” (PZs), under police protection. in which sex work is legal, licensed, and medically supervised.

Such zones would become havens for legal, socially beneficial sexual healing, and create opportunities for sex worker cooperatives to emerge, owning real estate and paying license fees and property taxes.

At the same time, with the establishment of such centers of expertise, open sex trade would be drawn away from unaccepting areas of the community, to everyone’s satisfaction.

At the moment, such a change in the underlying approach to prostitution in the city would be misunderstood and misinterpreted by many who hold strong opinions, simply because they have not yet actually been engaged in a rational discussion of alternatives and choices.

The Council can show it supports a rational approach by providing a public forum charged to find systemic and sustainable solutions for the District’s challenges in this area. Its current course in considering establishment of PPFZs will only complicate matters further, since court challenges based on considerable precedents in other locales are inevitable.

This forum should be established with a view towards providing the same respect, rights, and safety that all District residents desire from our society and our government, and should draw on community resources advocating every possible viewpoint and attitude, while providing full transparency in the decision-making process.

The outcome of such a discussion would be broad public education on the challenges of governing a modern city, the emergence of agreement on common goals and purposes, and anticipation of the benefits of agreed changes.

Such results would be visible through the reduction in crimes of violence, especially those motivated by racial and sexual hatred, as well as improvements in the health of all District residents.

At present, many people find themselves trapped into sex work by economic situations, many of which arise directly from social prejudice, hiring biases, and unfounded presumptions.

In this respect, I applaud the work of Project Empowement, which is demonstrating the fallacy of social prejudice. The ongoing effort to help our local LGBT youth gang find a constructive outlet for their commitment and energy also deserves recognition.

To summarize, I am advocating that the Council, working with MPD and the Mayor’s Office, begin to support and listen to an emerging discussion that would educate the entire DC community in wholesome ways to address the serious social problem created by public misunderstanding of legitimate, morally responsible services.

On a closely related subject:

Law enforcement management is maturing technically in many US cities. In 2009, the National Institute of Justice funded a Phase 1 trial of Predictive Policing in seven cities, including Washington, DC. I have seen no published report from this work; however, Shreveport and Chicago have received grants of $0.5M and $1.5M, respectively, to implement Phase 2 of their plans.

Building on earlier successes in Los Angeles, Memphis, and Richmond, Predictive Policing involves the collection and analysis of large bodies of data about crime times, locations, conditions, victims, methods, etc., as well as detailed environmental data about the organization of the city and its infrastructure.

Results help identify and pinpoint places, times, and conditions conducive to crime. Often, they identify environment, infrastructure, and organization that leads to the emergence of these “hot spots.” In Memphis, for example, the incidence of public rape, assault, and theft was significantly reduced simply by shifting the locations of public pay phones that were shown to be “hot spots” from street locations to the interiors of businesses open 24×7.

It is clear that legislation that criminalizes prostitution and then, having given up on fair enforcement of the original law, seeks to occasionally apply it more forcefully and arbitrarily in specific areas, is itself responsible for the formation of “hot spots” for serious criminal activity.

Making these zones permanent is merely another step backwards into a system of regulation that, like the proverbial ostrich, hides its head in the sand.

I urge Council members concerned about crime prevention in DC to examine some of the reference material on Preventive Policing cited in the attached References.

I firmly believe that, if the city will openly and honestly examine these issues, free from unreasoned prejudice, it will be possible to reform our practices in a way that can be a light to the entire nation.

The time has come for our city to take steps that will surely lead to the achievement of full civil liberty and freedom under a system of laws that fully represents to the nation and the world our highest ideals of excellence in law and government.

Let us again proclaim to the world that the District of Columbia aspires to be a shining example of full liberty and freedom for all, as was demonstrated in the establishment of Civil Marriage Equality in 2010 and many prior victories for human rights.


The Deparment of Pre-Crime. James Vlahos in Scientific American, Vol. 306, No. 1, pages 62-67, January 2012.

Self-Exciting Point Processes Modeling of Crime. G. O. Mohler, M. B. Short. P. J. Brantingham, F. P. Schoenberg, and G. E. Tita in Journal of the American Statistical Association, Vol. 106, No. 473, pages 100-108, 2011.

How New York Beat Crime. Franklin E. Zimring in Scientific American, Vol. 305, No. 2, pages 74-79, August 2011.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports:

Scientific American Online: