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Press Advisory Regarding “ Unearthing the Underground Sex Economy” Report
by maxine doogan
Monday Mar 17th, 2014 10:02 PM
Another media circus is being unleashed by Urban Institute of Washington D.C. on Wednesday March 19th to officially release their report titled “ Unearthing the Underground Sex Economy”. The non partisan economic and social policy research firm clearly states their conclusion on behalf of their government funders: “…law enforcement requires funding to persistently enforce laws.”
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For Immediate Release Tuesday March 18,2014 Contact: Maxine Doogan 415-265-3302



Another media circus is being unleashed by Urban Institute of Washington D.C. on Wednesday March 19th to officially release their report titled “ Unearthing the Underground Sex Economy”. The non partisan economic and social policy research firm clearly states their conclusion on behalf of their government funders: “…law enforcement requires funding to persistently enforce laws.”

“We’ve been to this movie before”, says : Maxine Doogan of the Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project, a San Francisco based sex workers led group sighting another such play on public policy. In 2010, the Schapiro Group, a private consulting firm in Georgia, and the Women’s Funding Network of California, a women’s charity, testified before congress and the media about the scope of underage sex trafficking in the U.S. A review of their findings was called ‘junk science’ by the San Francisco Weekly.

“These private firms always present salacious reports that include shocking statements using extreme examples and bad methodology to promote a national anti prostitution narrative” said Doogan.

Private firms like the Urban Institute and the Schapiro Group before them, sight fantastical numbers that only serve to misinform the public. The false data is used to prioritize funding to suppress prostitution, an adult consensual activity and while taking away resourses from services for victims of sex trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assaults.

“We’d like to see the tens of thousands of untested rape kits in California get processed and their respective victims get some justice as a priority” said Ms. R, a recent rape victims, who wait months before the police tested the evidence she provided and the perpetrator was apprehended.

A total of 36 women, who were identified as being involved in court ordered programs that diverted them from being criminally prosecuted for prostitution, where interviewed along with other incarcerated individuals. Law enforcement officials’ responses were also represented in this national study’s finding. The Urban Institute’s report will undoubtedly result in law enforcement again targeting adults who are consensually working in the sex industry, a vulnerable population that already suffers from social stigma, criminalization and unequal access to protection.

News outlets and the public ought to be weary of repeating such claims made by the Urban Institute as it only serves to perpetuate the current failed policy of disenfranchising sex industry workers, our families and larger communities.
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The Urban Institute is holding a press conference on Wednesday, March 19 at 2:00-3:30pm EST at their office in Washington, DC to “discuss (the) implications for both policymakers and practitioners” based on their new report, “Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities.” Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)-Las Vegas denounces the perspective from which the study is framed, the validity of its findings, and the policy suggestions it promotes. While the Urban Institute is an independent, nonpartisan economic and social policy think tank, this research was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice. The panelists and co-hosts consist of special interest groups that stand to gain financially from the particular framing of the research that conflates sex work with sex trafficking. We offer a reinterpretation of the study to provide policy recommendations from a rights-based perspective.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Las Vegas, NV – March 19, 2014: The Urban Institute is holding a press conference on Wednesday, March 19 at 2:00-3:30pm EST at their office in Washington, DC to “discuss (the) implications for both policymakers and practitioners” based on their new report, “Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities.” Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)-Las Vegas denounces the perspective from which the study is framed, the validity of its findings, and the policy suggestions it promotes.

While the Urban Institute is an independent, nonpartisan economic and social policy think tank, this research was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice. The panelists and co-hosts consist of special interest groups that stand to gain financially from the particular framing of the research that conflates sex work with sex trafficking. We offer a reinterpretation of the study to provide policy recommendations from a rights-based perspective.

As we recognize that public financial resources are limited and law enforcement is often reported by sex workers to be the most common perpetrators of violence against them, we recommend the following:

• Decriminalize consensual adult sexual behavior to bring the sex industry above ground as recommended by the United Nations and World Health Organizations to promote safety and health, while making it easier to identify and prosecute situations of force and/or violence

• Recognize sex industry circuits as legitimate business travel among various cities as practiced by many in other entertainment and service industries

• Fund social protection measures – ones that do not violate rights by forcing individuals to take part in particular religious activities of any kind – to prevent poverty from pushing our most vulnerable populations into participating in the sex industry for survival and due to lack of other opportunities

• Decriminalize and treat individuals who facilitate and profit from prostitution (referred to overly broadly as “pimps” in this report) as third party managers similar to other businesses who promote safety and provide valuable services, including internet platforms such as ad host websites (These provisions were struck down as unconstitutional in Canada in December 2013)

• Build bridges between the sex industry and law enforcement by targeting funding for law enforcement intervention with precision to cases of forced sexual labor and/or violence and implement citizen oversight to promote effective accountability of the police

• Reduce the cost of the prison industry by reducing incarceration for consensual, non-violent adult behavior and prevent the use of state-sponsored slave labor in prisons to benefit private for-profit companies
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The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)-Las Vegas is the Las Vegas chapter of Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP)-USA, a grassroots 501(c)3 non-profit focused on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy. SWOP-Las Vegas focuses on improving the lives of current and former sex workers by promoting safety, dignity, and diversity in sex work and fostering an environment that affirms individual choices, occupational rights, and self-esteem.

For more information and to learn more about the Sex Workers Outreach Project-Las Vegas, please visit http://www.swoplasvegas.com. You can also visit http://www.facebook.com/swoplasvegas or follow us on Twitter @SWOP_LasVegas.