In English


When England’s Home Office minister Vernon Coaker visit Sweden later this week he will meet a bunch of people who will do their best to export Sweden’s law against purchase of sexual services to England.

Unfortunately they will be dishonest and try to do this with lies and propaganda and once again I will be ashamed of being a Swede.

The original motivation for Sweden’s prostitution laws wasn’t as a measure against trafficking, but as time has gone by, so has the argument.

That’s because the radical feminist ideas that the law was based upon has often been questioned which has led to trafficking increasingly being associated with the law as a way to defend it. After all, everybody is against trafficking, which is why they try to refute criticism on that level.

In the latest official report about human trafficking for sexual purpose from the The National Criminal Investigation Department in Sweden, published in December 2007, the police do not want to estimate the numbers of victims of trafficking in Sweden.

And in a new report from The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, published in December 2007, you can read that the knowledge about prostitution is very, very low among the police and other authorities in Sweden. The police and social workers doesn’t know how many sexworkers there is in Sweden. They do not know who or where we are. And that’s only natural, sexworkers in Sweden avoid contact, we do not have any trust at all for them.

The Swedish authorities believe that the sextrade is going to stop if you make it full of shame, illegal and as inhospitable as possible.

And because of this, the laws and the policies surrounding prostitution in Sweden there is no trust at all among sexworkers for the police, social workers or other authorities. That sexworkers would need social- and legal safety doesn’t even get mentioned in the debate about prostitution in Sweden.

Despite these facts some detectives, social workers, prosecutors and politicians in Sweden very often express what they believe as facts, even though they don’t have any evidence that supports their claim whatsoever.

You could for an example take part of these believes and lies in an article in The Guardian, Saturday January 5, 2008 – How making the customers the criminals cut street prostitution. Or listen to Rachel Williams
reports from the red light district in Stockholm
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If the so called facts from the police and prosecutors in the article and in the report is true, it would be a strong evidence that our laws in Sweden is a big, big catastrophe in the fight against human trafficking.

If the statements are true we have ten times more victims of trafficking in Sweden than the police in our neighbor country Denmark estimate that they have. And in Denmark prostitution is legal.

If it is true… we have as many victims of trafficking in Sweden in this moment as they have found in the whole USA during the last seven years! Can this really be the truth? Why all these lies?

The issue of trafficking is now popular among some politicians; it is also a good springboard for a political career.

Politicians like to be seen as strongly opposed to trafficking, and it is therefore easy to argue for a criminalisation against our customers. And in Sweden there exists only one political correct opinion by the politicians, police and social workers, that the sex-purchase law is good, that it helps sexworkers and is effective against human trafficking.

This image, based upon what some people believe and not what they in fact know or the reality, is now being exported to other countries with lies and propaganda.

Sexworkers in Sweden advocate decriminalisation and better working conditions, because underground profiteers, pimps and traffickers flourish and we would rather avoid them.

It is damaging to sexworkers to be subjected to oppressive means like discrimination, violence and social stigma. Sex workers are being discriminated against, and thru that prejudice and stereotypes are preserved. The whore stigma, the social shame surrounding sexwork is very, very strong here in Sweden, stronger than I have met in other countries.

As an example of this let me tell you about a debate in our parliament the 23rd of October 2007. It was a debate about a resolution that the Council of Europe took in the beginning of October – Prostitution with stance to take?

In that debate our minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask, said (anförande 123) that the problem with the resolution is that there is a policy in it that says that they the Council of Europe states should respect peoples free choice to work as sexworkers and that the state should listen to sexworkers in questions concerning us.
She thinks that’s wrong!

Swedens minister of Justice says open in our parliament that the government in Sweden should not listen to sexworkers in questions concerning us!!!

I sincerely hope that knowledge, facts, common sense and a pragmatic and humane policy triumphs over ignorance, prejudice, racism, moral hysteria and career driven politician’s springboards.

Because countries which adopt the Swedish laws about prostitution can calculate on that robbery, ill treatment and rape of sexworkers will grow, that the policy that comes along with such laws will imply more discrimination towards sexworkers and that sexworkers will be to afraid to go to the police if they need help. Communication between sexworkers and authorities will collapse, collaboration will become aggravated and sexual trafficking will be hard to detect.

We have already seen this happen in Sweden. Don’t make the same mistake!

Isabella Lund
Sexworker in Sweden
January 07, 2008

More…
You can read more about the situation in Sweden at SANS web page. A report that is very useful to get information about Sweden and our laws is a Norwegian report from 2004. Here at my blog you can read in English, Lies about sexwork in Sweden and How abolitionists spend their time!!!

Ps…
Those who say men are buying our bodies are guilty of preserving an unequal view of women; we are being objectified as a commodity. Our protests that claim a difference of opinion are ignored or made an exception.

Our customers do not oppress us; we are being oppressed by this point of view! How will we ever achieve equality if such a prejudice and stereotypes are allowed to persist?

It is contra feministic to say that men should take responsibility for my decision as a woman and as a sexworker. Why should men take responsibility for my choice to work with sex, because I am a woman who likes sex?

Pss…
In the spring of 2007 the Swedish newspapers Aftonbladet and Expressen carried out a reader’s opinion poll that showed that the support for the sex-purchase law in Sweden is only 36 percent. Most Swedes wants to decriminalise prostitution.

Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?.” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?.” But, conscience asks the question, “Is it right?.” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

No man treats a car as foolishly as he treats another human being. When the car will not go, he does not attribute its annoying behaviour to sin; he does not say ‘you are a wicked motorcar and I shall not give you any more petroleum until you go. He attempts to find out what is wrong and to set it right.

Bertrand Russell

 

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enrak1.jpgEn kund till mina kollegor i Australien beskriver vad prostitution handlar om i en artikel i Sydney Morning Herald – Let’s get a full head around paying for it . Kunden ifråga, Sam de Brito, är författare och hans enormt populära blogg All Men Are Liars utsågs till Australiens och Nya Zeelands bästa blogg 2006.

Sam menar, precis som jag och många med mig i sexbranschen, att en överenkommelse mellan mig och en kund är skönt ärlig i jämförelse med vad som händer på den riktiga köttmarkanden på krogen och på Internet communitys för att ”hitta den rätte”.

Earlier this year I visited a prostitute for one obvious, practical reason and another less so: I’m sick of lying to women. Being single and in my 30s, I find it increasingly difficult to justify the lies and manipulation involved in having a sexual relationship with women who I’m not in love with. …

Political correctness tells me I should be ashamed of visiting a sex-worker but I’m not. Despite what some people would have you believe, men do not control the sexual spigot at my local pub. Women are the guardians of that flow and while they may torture and bankrupt themselves with dieting, beauty regimes and cosmetic surgery to maintain that influence, men exhaust themselves accruing wealth and power with which to purchase their attraction in the marketplace known as matrimony.

enrak2.jpgProstitution pares this transaction back to its base elements. An estimated one in six Australian men have at some point in their life visited a sex worker, according to the Australian Study of Health and Relationships conducted by La Trobe University.

But it is something blokes will rarely admit to and this stigma radiates directly from the prostitute, a woman whose career choice is sneered at by most and condescended to by the rest.

Critics of the sex industry, such as the US conservative Hadley Arkes, say that prostitution ”inescapably implies that the intimacy of sexual intercourse need not be connected to any authentic sentiment of love and that it need not take place in a setting marked by the presence of commitment.

”In that sense it might be said that prostitution patronises the corruption of physical love: it reduces physical love to the kind of hydraulic action that animals may share, and as it does that it detaches the act of intercourse from the kind of love that is distinctly human.”

The obvious reply to this is why does sex have to be so damn serious and why do I have to be in love to indulge in it? That’s the rub, I guess, because though meaningless sex can be good fun, it’s transcendent when you’re in love.

enrak3.jpgLäs hela artikeln här…

På sin blogg All Men Are Liars har Sam fått 533 kommentarer till sitt inlägg om den här artikeln – Sex, lies and prostitution redux. I sitt inlägg skriver Sam bla:

The reaction was not surprising and I received a tonne of emails from critics and supporters, including two offers from high-class call girls to do the job properly (thinking, thinking) and a mighty spray from Herald cartoonist Cathy Wilcox.

The reason I wrote the piece seemed lost on some readers so to clarify, it was thus: if you’re honest in the dating game, i.e. you say to women, ”I’m just interested in a sexual relationship”, you will have a lot less success than if you lie, or omit the truth, i.e. intimate you may be interested in a relationship.

To my thinking, visiting a sex worker is a lot more honest than pretending you’re in to someone so you can lure them to bed.

I’m not ashamed of visiting a prostitute and many of the people who tut-tut about the sex industry are still happy to get their thrills reading about it as evidenced by my piece being the the most-read article on the entire SMH site, Monday.

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mererokon3.jpgIs it harmful to have sex with strangers? Is it harmful to make money?
No, to sell your time, your company or sexual services is not in itself harmful. But it is damaging to sex workers to be subjected to oppressive conditions like discrimination and social stigma. Swedish prostitution law contributes to such oppression. Sex workers are being discriminated against, and thus prejudice and stereotypes are preserved. Even though the law supposedly aims at protecting sex workers, it is evident that the main purpose of the law is to protect society from a perceived social ill.

It is legal to sell sexual services in Sweden, however it is illegal to buy. According to a ruling some time ago in an administrative court of appeal (kammarrätt), sex workers must pay taxes for their incomes from prostitution, although nobody knows how. Sex workers have duties but no rights? Sex workers in Sweden are at risk being evicted if they are found selling sexual services; they are also at risk losing their regular jobs, and losing custody of their children.

mererokon2.jpgWhat other groups in Sweden are denied their rights to work in cooperation with others or alone, in safety of their own premises?

Would it be possible to treat other groups of workers, or religious or ethnic minorities like this, without them crying out about discrimination or human right violations?

Every person saying that men ‘buy our bodies’’ is guilty of preserving inequality between the sexes. Even though we ourselves and our customers maintain otherwise, they continue to objectify us, and regard us a commodity.

Furthermore, they say that such an attitude cannot be acceptable in a gender-equal society; although they do everything they can to preserve it themselves! How will we ever achieve equality if such prejudice and stereotypes are allowed to persist?

Swedish politicians and feminists are proud of the state’’s prostitution policy. They insist that it has positive effects and are constantly bragging and telling lies about the situation in Sweden for sexworkers.

mererokon9.jpgIn Sweden you can only find ONE politically accurate opinion about prostitution and it is expressed by most of the politicians, the police and social workers. What they say is founded on what they believe and not on facts or scientifically research and sadly this believing is exported as facts to other countries. Another opinion among politicians would be the same as a political suicide.

People with another opinion are afraid to speak, because if they do they will be subjected to harassment and oppression or even loose their jobs.

Yesterday I read an article at ANSA.it – – Minister targets prostitute clients:

Interior Minister Giuliano Amato wants Italy to follow Sweden’s lead in the battle against prostitution by making buying sex a crime. Advocates say that, by targeting demand rather than supply, this approach has slashed the street sex trade without hitting its main victims – the prostitutes themselves – since being adopted in Sweden in 1999.

mererokon10.jpg”In this way it is possible to pursue both the ‘managers’ and the clients and not just with fines for blocking the flow of traffic,” Amato said. ”Prostitution has been reduced in Sweden and almost all of its effects in terms of public security have been wiped out,” he told Italian news weekly L’Espresso.

I wonder who in Sweden has been telling lies this time?

And has Amato asked the sexworkers in Sweden what we think about the laws in Sweden? Properly NOT, cause sexworkers in Sweden strongly discourage other countries from adopting similar legislation.

Sexworkers in Sweden want to have the same human rights as the rest of society.

We want a more sensible policy and legislation concerning the selling and buying of sexual services, a decriminalisation that means that the legislation prohibiting sex for pay between consenting adults is removed. As a result of a policy change, sexworkers could then start to be protected for real by the existing laws, for example rape, sexual abuse, trafficking.

The law against procurement of sexual services (promotion or deriving profit from prostitution) and the law prohibiting the purchase of sexual services introduced in 1999 are the two main ways the Swedish state sees itself as ’’combating’’ prostitution.

mererokon11.jpgAs a summary, I can tell you that the law against purchasing sexual services have increased the risks and the violence against sexworkers and the law against procurement make it impossible for us to work safely.

Let us look at some facts instead of listening to what some feminist and politicians in Sweden want to believe. Petra Ostergren, a social anthropologist from Stockholm, has since 1996 written articles and done research about feminism, equal politics and prostitution. Last year here new book ’’Porr, horor och feminister’’ (Pornography, whores and feminist’s) got a lot of attention in media.

Petra Ostergren has written an article in English about Sexworkers Critique of Swedish Prostitution Policy. Here are some quotes from that article:

The law against procurement
The law against procurement renders it illegal to work indoors, work with others, to profit from the sexual labour of others, and advertise. Due to the law against procurement, sexworkers are forced to lie in order to rent premises, or alternatively they have to pay exorbitant rent. Either way, they constantly worry about being discovered. They also report often having to move (when discovered) and being treated badly by landlords and ’’rent pimps’’. Some women prefer to make contact with their customers on the street. Other sexworkers find this too humiliating.

mererokon12.jpgMost of the women I have spoken to wish to be able to work together with others. This is to ensure safety and to support each other. They find it unfair that they cannot do this and feel scared when they have to work alone.

This law also makes it difficult for sexworkers to cohabit with a partner since it is illegal to receive any of a sexworker’s income. It is hard for a sexworker to have a family at all since sexworkers are considered to be unfit parents and therefore can lose custody of their children if it emerges that they sell sex.
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The law against purchasing sexual services
As a result of the new legislation, the sexworkers say it is now harder for them to assess the clients. The clients are more stressed and scared and negotiation outdoors must be done in a more rapid manner. The likelihood of ending up with a dangerous client is thereby greater.

mererokon5.jpgDue to the law, sexworkers feel hunted by the police, social workers, media and sometimes even anti-prostitution activists on the streets.

The more vulnerable sexworkers seem to be the ones most negatively affected by the law. Women working on the streets in some bigger cities claim that there is now a greater percentage of ‘perverted’ customers and that the ’’nice and kind’’ customers have disappeared. A ‘perverted’ customer is someone who demands more violent forms of sex, sex with feces and urine and who is more prone to humiliate, degrade and violate the sexworker. He also more often refuses to use condoms.
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Official reports
All of these reports find that street prostitution dropped immediately after the introduction of the law. They also suggest that recruitment was lower, although the National Council for Crime Prevention means that the exact number of prostitutes in for example Stockholm was hard to estimate because street prostitution had moved to other streets and took place in a larger area than before. All of the authorities say that there is no evidence that prostitution was lower overall. Instead hidden prostitution had probably increased.

mererokon8.jpgAll of the reports address the problems emerging after the new law was introduced. The National Police Board writes that the sexworkers that are still in street prostitution have a tough time.

The respondents in the National Board of Health and Welfare’s study (of which none are sexworkers themselves) believe female sexworkers now experience more difficulties and are more exposed then before.

The buyers are ‘worse’ and more dangerous, and the women who cannot stop or move their business are dependent on these more dangerous men, since they cannot afford to turn them down as before. Even the buyers that were interviewed believe that the law mostly affected the already socially marginalised women.

The National Police Board has also found the law an obstacle to prosecuting profiteers who exploit the sexual labour of others. Earlier legal cases against such men could sometimes be supported by the testimonies of sex-buyers. But these men are no longer willing to assist, since they themselves are now guilty of committing a crime.
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Some pictures from a story sent in Norwegian TV the 28th of April this year about prostitution in Sweden Sexkjøp i det skjulte.

detfinpol1.jpg

The police in Sweden are going to arrest a customer of a sexworker, literally with his underwear down, and they barge in to the hotel room.

detfinpol2.jpg

The sexworker sees that they are filming and tries to cover her head with a towel to protect her own integrity.

detfinpol3.jpg

The police shout very aggressively: – What are you doing? And then he rips off the towel and says: – This is the police!

swepol.jpgThe pictures change and now you see a policeman in a car. He works with prostitution and says:

– It’s not ok to buy another human, that’s slavery according to me, prostitution is awful and inhuman.

But he is not talking about prostitution; he is talking about trafficking for sexual purpose. And unfortunately people very often think that selling and buying sexual services is the same as sexual trafficking. But it’s NOT.

Prostitution is voluntary sexual service carried between consenting adults. If there is no agreement it is not about prostitution, then it’s about enforced sex and sexual violence, for instance sexual slavery and victims of trafficking.
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swelies3.jpgMany politicians says that the Swedish law against purchasing sexual services is an effective weapon against trafficking. But there are no facts at all that can show that our laws about prostitution in Sweden have been effective against trafficking. And there is no logical argument that are suspense and strong to claim this opinion. In Sweden the cases of trafficking for sexual purpose is increasing for every year.

Trafficking is modern among politicians these days and of course they want to show action against trafficking and they use this issue to gain votes and to make a political career. But to fight trafficking you need to inform people about how to discover trafficking, you need creative and focused resources and not laws that forces prostitution underground.

A new report, from organisation for migration research IOM, exposing that within trafficking 75 % is about slavery work in other areas than the sex industry. Do the politicians in the future also want to outlaw all who employ help to agriculture because people are forced to do slavery work at farms? Or shall we become criminals if we buy diamonds in a jewelery store, diamonds that can have been found by child labour under slavery in Africa?

swelies4.jpgVery often politicians also claim that all foreign sexworkers are victims of trafficking. In Denmark the police says that a maximum of one percent of the foreign sexworkers are victims of trafficking.

And if you are a victim of trafficking the only help you can expect from the Danish or Swedish governments is to be locked up in a closed institution for refugees for some months BUT only if you help the police and expose yourself, for the threat against your family can be executed by criminal organisations.

And when the police no longer need you, you are deported back to your home country directly in to the arms of criminal organisations.

Countries which adopt the Swedish laws about prostitution can calculate on that robbery, ill treatment and rape of sexworkers will grow, that the policy that comes along with such laws will imply more discrimination towards sexworkers and that sexworkers will be to afraid to go to the police if they need help.

Communication between sexworkers and authorities will collapse, collaboration will become aggravated and sexual trafficking will be hard to detect. We have already seen this happen in Sweden.


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Isabella Lund (trying her best to write in English)
Sexworker in Sweden

Member of SANS – Sexworkers and allies network in Sweden.
Isabellas blogg in Swedish: ”Att arbeta som eskort
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If you want to learn more about how the laws in Sweden has affect us, please read Petra Östergren’s whole article Sexworkers Critique of Swedish Prostitution Policy. I also recommended:

  • A Norwegian report from 2003: Purchasing Sexual Services in Sweden and The Netherlands (pdf). It is written by a working group whose task was to collect experiences, which argued for and against the criminalisation of the purchase of sexual services. The working group was appointed by on the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Police Affairs. They gathered experiences from both Sweden and The Netherlands and it is very interesting to read their report.
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  • An assessment of Gunilla Ekberg’s account of Swedish prostitution policy (pdf) by: Vincent Clausen. Gunilla Ekberg’s account of Swedish prostitution policy is frequently referred to in debates worldwide, and it is thus forming part of the basis of knowledge upon which strategies and approaches are discussed and constructed. Ekberg frequently draws conclusions that are directly contradicting or otherwise in conflict with the evidence in the sources used. Ekberg’’s article should be seen as a political manifesto, rather than an attempt at accounting for the effects of the prohibition of the purchase of sexual services.
    Download the French translation

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ni1.jpgI’m happy to introduce the French sexworker Nikita. Nikita writes today about French abolitionists and Kajsa Ekis Ekman’s attack towards French sexworkers and herself in the Swedish feminist magazine Bang #1/2007.

At the end, after my comment, you can take part of the English translation of the article i Bang.

Thank you so much for your contribution to this blogg Nikita! 😀

Here is Nikita’s own words…

They really seem to have nothing interesting to do these French abolitionists! Loose one’s time to spy on us with that kind of method…
what a waste.

One thing this lady doesn’t seem to have understood is that we are holding a weekly permanence to help our sisters and it’s not a weekly union meeting. It’s then obvious that we don’t need to be 40 at these permanence’s, but only 2 or 3.

Yes, I, Nikita, am a transvestite sexworker, I’m 47, and I’ve been working for 32 years as a prostitute. Maybe I know what prostitution is, am I not?

I’d love this lady to tell me what is the difference between a vagina penetration and an anal one…Oh yes, there is one: we need really to use lubricant for our asses…Or maybe she’s just simply transphobic? Let’s not forget that, in France, 30% of prostitutes are trans and men…

nik2.jpg She seems not to have understood that Les putes is an activist group. We’re not saying that we represent all the whores in France, but our claims are shared amongst all whores in France. If she had been present at the Assises of prostitution and at the march for our rights, i.e. the Pute pride, in March 2007, she would have seen that all associations of French sexworkers, as well as some allies, where there.

We all ask for the same thing: mainly rights and the abolition of the Sarkozy’s law. We are saying that penalization of our clients would be the worst thing to do. As in Sweden, it would be the most discriminatory and racist law.

Yes we are a non-mixed group, meaning composed only of prostitutes; we are women, trans, gays or lesbians. Yes we fight for our rights. Yes we want our work to be recognized as such. Yes we think abolitionists and prohibitionists have the same objective: fight against us.

  • Abolitionists lie when they talk about prostitution.
  • Abolitionists are racists.
  • Abolitionists do the worst things in under-developed countries, kidnapping women to put them in re-insertion centres.
  • Abolitionists are accomplice of violence against prostitutes.

ni5.jpg So, please, lady, open your mind and think. Don’t just defend your own business.

Nikita

Ps : I almost forgot…it’s obvious that I talked about calling the mafia…for sure I’m one of them, it’s so clear seeing how I fight against all exploitation of our work…she should have asked herself who runs the brothel ferryboats leaving Sweden for sex tours…
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Isabella Lund’s comment
(Excuse me for my poor skills in the English language)

Kajsa Ekis Ekman’s manipulation in the part of her article that was published on Internet stayed not unrequited. The French sexworker Thierry Schaffauser wrote: We don’t want the Swedish model! I was quiet upset already then but when I read the rest of the article and saw how deeply her contempt was in the rest of the 5 pages long article… then dropped even this tanner sexworker activists chin to the ground. This was among the worst I read about prostitution.

ni4.jpgIn the article writes Ekis Ekman about a book, that Nikita gave her a hint about, a book about how to work safely as a sexworker. Ekis Ekman writes about this: Thus you should every day when you go to work imagine your own dead in as many ways as you can!
The whole article is like a gooey, nasty contempt to all of us who works with sex. How is she like a person when she acts like this? Why is so many of our opponents lying about our work? It makes me feel sick sometimes…

Ekis Ekman didn’t tell Nikita that she was a journalist. And she has broken all media ethic rules that we have in Sweden. For one example read this part of the article:

ni3.jpg”This was, thus, the famous ”Whores” who fills debaters and politicians with fear: Three persons, of which two are men, in a country with over 20 000 prostitutes.

-Many of those organisations are founded by pimps in disguise, Malka Marcovich says. It is no social movement. It is a hoax. Sure there are women who feel connected with others in the sex workers groups, but they represent such a small minority. And even if it was a social movement… I have never heard about a sex workers organisation who turns against pimps and johns, which would be the normal if it was a workers union. There isn’t one of the sex workers organisations that have had any other demand than ”exploit us more.”

The magazine that published the article says that they are a feminist magazine. How can they publish an article where a contemptuous and derisive tone is pronounced against sexworkers? Feminism shouldn’t represents oppression, hate against men or other women and contempt against minorities and weak groups in the society!

Who will be the first to report the article and the magazine to the Swedish office of the Press Ombudsman and The Swedish Press Council?
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ni8.jpg Here you can first read the first part of Kajsa Ekis Ekman’s article in Bang translated to English by Josh.

This part has the French sexworker Thierry Schaffauser written about: We don’t want the Swedish model! Scroll down a bit to see the answer in English.

Then follows the second part of Ekis Ekman’s article translated from Swedish to English by Louise Persson and that is the part wish Nikita writes about today.

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The images are my own choice and shows how sexworkers i France fights for human rights. The article in Bang was illustrated with pictures of sexworkers in the streets.
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Translation from Swedish to English part1

Words from the translator
I would like to take this opportunity to shed some light on my translation and the original writing by Kajsa Ekis Ekman. First of all you should know that I am not a professional translator. This is a totally non-profital work on my behalf. I apologize in advance for any error in translation and hope that any errors on my part will not alter the meaning of Ekmans writing.

fra19.jpg I would, in my defence, like to state that Ekmans original text was not easy to understand. Appearently Ekman don’t believe in paragraphs, which makes it hard to understand what is a question to the interviewee and where the answer actually ends and Ekmans own words take over. See for yourselves.

I had to make a decision as translator wether to keep the original texts poor readability or try to improve it. My sense of correctness decided for the latter. This in itself opens for a certain risk of error, since I have taken liberty to interpret Ekmans lack of disposition, and might have done so wrongly. I have, however, tried my best to
remain objective when it comes to the content.

Now that you know what I think of Ekman as i writer, I would also like to state that I would never have undertaken translating such a bad writing (in my opinion) if not for Isabellas persistant and quite lonely struggle for the sex-workers rights in Sweden. Providing this translation for her is my way of making a small contribution to the cause.

(And Sweden HAS hade a colony. One. Saint-Barthélemy, now ruled by France, was i Swedish colony 1784 and 1878. Both Florence Montreynaud and Kajsa Ekis Ekman could check their facts.)

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fra6.jpgThe myth about the colony whore

Who hasn’t heard of the legendary french prostitution? Paris’ reputation as the Capitol of sex tourism has travelled the world and served as background for several authors’ erotic stories.

The bordellos are gone, but whoremongers eagerly inform each other over the Internet, saying ”there are so many whores in Paris that you stumble over them anywhere you go”. Whoever; the French prostitution is no different than in the rest of Europe: an industri with 63% women from poor countries, often ex-colonies, and where 95% is controlled by pimps.

But the debate about the whoremongers responsibility has reached to here and if Ségolène Royal wins the presidential election this spring, France can have their first female president and be the second country in Europe to prohibit sex-purchase.
– I hope it can happen, Florence Montreynaud – french historian and feminist since 38 years – says. When I’m out speaking I always say: the light comes from the north! Sweden is a precursor in the struggle against prostitution. There are some difficulties implementing the law here, because of the cultural differences and the historical background – Sweden hasn’t had any colonies for example – but Sweden has developed a model and it is important to keep as a reference.

fra7.jpg Fifteen women and three men sit in a bar-basement in northern Paris. The Feministgroup La Meute, founded by Florence Montreynaud, is holding a meeting to elect the most sexist and the most equal commercial of the year. I tell them I’m here to learn more about french feminists view on the swedish law on sex-purchase. During a break, while we mingle around a table covered with pictures of women as ingredients i recipes and as decoration in car-commercials, a loud discussion about Sweden.
– Why don’t you promote the law? You should arrange conferencies! We hope it can be the same in France.
– We don’t have enough women in power, another says. Over here, many think the law has become reality because of the socialdemocrates but that is not the reason. It’s because you have women in government.

Montreynaud has founded several feminist-groups in France and has written alot about prostitution from different views, among other the book Amours à vendre. When the meeting is over we sneak off to a hotel-lobby for a chat.

You wrote an article in Le Monde 2002 where you claimed that it would be wrong to introduce a law like the one in Sweden, because ”to punish them, here in France, would be to radical a change”.

fra8.jpg – I have changed my opinion since then. Back then I ment that the law in Sweden hade been preceded by alot of sexual education in schools and a long struggle for equality, wich wasn’t the case in France. Today, whoever, I think we are ready.

We’ve seen ten years of enlightenment about the reality of prostitution, there are books, witness, documentaries about trafficking – now is the time for repression. I consider myself speaking for the majority of french feminists when I say this.

How does todays law work?
– Not good. The law on interior safety, introduced by Sarkozy in 2003, mainly punish the women. Recently a kosovo-albanian girl got two months in prison för racolage, picking up costumers on the street. I’m embarressed to be french when I here of such. The law is mainly for inhabitants wanting prostitution out of their neighbourhood, which then is used by pimps in order to create opinion for bordellos.

What is your perspective on the sexworker-movement?
– It’s kidnapping and twisting of feminist arguments from 1968. The pimps tog the argument ”my body belongs to me” and used it to say to the woman ”you have the right to sell it and do that as a proof of your independence”. Earlier prostitution was defended by saying men needed sex, that it would decrease rapes of ”others” and so on, now it is freedom and independence – this is in. My responsibility as a feminist is to point to reality, the violence and poverty.

fra15.jpg Do you believe in a society without prostitution?
– I dream of it. What we fight for now is the official and global revulsion. Just as with slavery, wich admittedly continues world wide but it is officially condemned, and this is the point we need to reach when it comes to prostitution too.

There are whoever already an international condemnation on prostitution. In 1949 the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others was written. Sweden has never signed it, but 73 other nations have, among others France and Finland.

The convention states that prostitution is incompatible with human dignity. He who leads someone into prostitution or holds a bordello shall be punished, regardless of wether the prostitute is considered to have given consent or not. Neither are nations alowed to regulate, nor hold records of women in, prostitution. They must however protect the victims of trafficking and provide for their temporary stay until they are able to return home.

This convention was a result of two extensive studies made in the twenties and thirties that both found that occurence of bordellos and regulation of prostitution increased trafficking, since not enough women applied to the bordellos. (This is to say the same as investigations today discover. The dutch argument ”legalize prostitution and we’ll have more resources to fight trafficking” was already shown to be untrue in 1927.) A convention began to be written, the world war came between, but the new born UN reassumed the work and the convention was finnished december 2, 1949.

fra14.jpg – France violates the UN-convention through the Sarkozy-law, Malka Marcowich – Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Europe – says.

– The convention clearly states that the victims cannot be punished. It doesnt say that the customers are to be punished either, but in order for an effective follow-up, the Swedish way of prohibiting sex-purchase is a good solution. There are also tendences that the world is moving in the other direction.

In the Palermo protocol from 2000 it was decided that countries would countervail demand, wich is to focus on customers. Since some time back a there is a movement to make the demand visible. Even if not prohibited there are other ways. I Madrid there was a big campaign under the name ”why you pay – does prostitution exist” showing pictures of men in all ages.

What is your view on Europes future? Where are the nations laws on prostitution heading?
– I think that we’ll see a battle between the Dutch and the Swedish model in the next few years, Marcovich says. It is pity that Sweden don’t promote the law on sex-purchase internationally. On an institutional level Sweden is rather reserved, for cultural reasons. Sweden never was a great diplomacy. Holland does way more to export there model. They get people in the right places to countervail Europe from taking a collective stand on this issue.
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fra17.jpgTranslation from Swedish to English part 2

Translation, part of article ”Den koloniala myten” [The colonial myth] by Kajsa Ekis Ekman, published in Bang Magazine, #1/2007.

(Louise Persson)

[Interview with amongst others Marie-Victorie Louis, ends with the line:]

The struggle for abolishing this system–politically, economically, culturally and symbolically–must be as broad as the abolishment of slavery.

[and after that starts interview with and description of representatives of ”Les Putes”]

One of those organisations that uses Sweden as an example of horror is Les Putes, ”The Whores”, who claims to represent the prostitutes and strives to give prostitution status as a profession. They write on their website that ”they are not unhappy, are not drug addicts, have not been raped”, and regards to pimps that ”some of us choose to work för a boss, and some not.” An anonymous text is titled ”The swedish hell”, which describes how the number of swedish young prostitutes have increased since the law [the law against sex purchase] was implemented. The Les Putes organizes demonstrations, writes appells, travels to international gatherings and authors sharp articles against leading feminists, where for example Marie-Victoire Louis is called a criminal whore-fobic.

fra12.jpg They have meetings once every month on a café in Paris, so I go there. I have earlier tried to meet organisations for sex workers in Spain, who themselves says they consist of both prostititutes and supporters but for some reason or another it is always only the supporters that show up for meetings, or the mandatory mouthpiece ”the happy whore” who is already quoted in several papers in the recent month.

The Les Putes call themselves a ”a non-mixed” group och claims to some sort of working union.

I send them a mail and after a few days a reply comes: Come to the meeting./Nikita.

When I arrive to the café, no one is there. I talk to the bartender, ”Isn’t there supposed to be a meeting?”
– With who?
– Eeeeh…Les Putes.
– Usually they arrive late, do sit down.
I wait and read a glossy gay magazine, and after five minutes the bartender exclaims:
”There he comes!” A well dressed man in his forties walks through the door.
– Nikita.
– It was me who sent the mail, I tell him.

fra5.jpg We take our seat farthest back in the café. Nikita tells me he’s been since the last 20 years a whore. I ask him for help with a question: what can one do if pictures of oneself is published on the Internet against ones will. He says he can help me make the page owners take down the pictures, it usually is enough for him to make a call, when they hear a mans voice they get scared and many knows who he is, Maitresse Nikita.

– I thought you would be a woman, I tell him.
– Many belives that, he he.

Nikita tells me that if nothing works he can always talk to the mafia. Then he starts talking about Les Putes and their struggle of making prostitution a profession.

fra4.jpg – We went to a conference a year ago. It was fantastic! One had the feeling of being an utterly lonely whore, but there one got to meet others who shared the same view.

We talk about this and that. It is a little strange that ”The Whores” is this 40 year old man. It is he who runs the website and he tells me it is he who authors most of the discussion contributions, but usually more turns up at the meetings.

And after a while two more actually turns up: one younger transvestite and a woman, also in the forties.

We introduce ourselves with fake names for each other. All three immediately engage in trying to enroll me in their struggle to achieve professional status. We don’t know each others real names, but evidently we are supposed to want to register us officially.

– So, you’re some sort of workers union? I tell them.
– No, that isn’t possible, Nikita says, we can hardly be a workers union when we’re not even workers.
– What do you do when you meet then?
– We plan demonstrations, we write lists of journalists which we want to talk to, and so on.

A discussion breaks out between Nikita and the woman, about which politicians and journalists who have answered their mail. The woman complains that ”girls” are so poor in organizing themselves, she’s tired of nagging them to turn up för meetings, they say they’ll come, but then nothing happens.

fra3.jpg– I would like help with what one can do against a customer who treats one badly, I tell them.

Nikita starts reasoning about the obvious: money first, keep the word of what you earlier have stated, demand condom, don’t turn your back, hold the cock so that it is you who’s in charge where it is to enter. They tell me about a book that is on line on the Internet. ”Sure, it is good to play the sweet girl, but not all the time”, Nikita states and adds: ”All concidered and done, the customers are people just like you and me.” I think, more like you.

They proceed to discuss legislation and Nikita tells me that the Sarkozy-law has been an utter catastrophe, it has led to an enormous increase of harassments, threats and rapings from the police force; of course it is the street prostitutes who are the most vulnerable.

– But if Ségolène wins, it will be worse, it will be like it is in Sweden.
– What? the woman exclaims, is she going to implement swedish law?
– Yes, I heard it yesterday on the radio. Did you know, Nikita informs me, that in Sweden it is an hellish state, all the whores have fled to neighbouring countries.

I bid farewell, and excuse me with ”a meeting.” Nikita smiles a conspiring smile. This was, thus, the famous ”Whores” who fills debaters and politicians with fear: Three persons, of which two are men, in a country with over 20 000 prostitutes.

niki2.jpg– Many of those organisations are founded by pimps in disguise, Malka Marcovich says. It is no social movement. It is a hoax. Sure there are women who feels connected with others in the sex workers groups, but they represent such a small minority. And even if it was a social movement….I have never heard about a sex workers organisation who turns against pimps and johns, which would be the normal if it was a workers union. There isn’t one of the sex workers organisations who have had any other demand than ”exploit us more.”

[The article ends with the dubious statement that whores can not want to organize unions, and refers to the special report in Germany recently that present the figure that only four percent of the sex sellers registered officially in a union]

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