Sunday, 22 February 2015

New site and new blog !

Those of you who have this here blog bookmarked will need to know, I have a new website and my blog is now built in. My webmaster has only been asking me to do it for the last four years. Sorry Richard. Massive thanks to 69Design who have been my webmasters since 2006, crumbs.

My new web address is - laura-lee.com, with new pics for you to perve, sorry peruse.

See you there !

LL xx

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Church leaders call for the Nordic model in Scotland. I think not.


Last week saw a calling for the implementation of the so called Nordic model by none other than church leaders.

As the sex workers' rights movement grows stronger across the UK, sex workers become incensed when others speak over our heads. It is condescending in the extreme to have so called "experts" tell us what is best for us. After all, we are experts on our own lives and industry, so we know that actually, decriminalisation of the archaic laws currently in existence would be ideal. This would allow us to work together for safety and reduce any harms associated, which should surely be the aim in dealing with any minority group under threat from would be attackers.

Whatever about the emergence of various "rescue" agencies purporting to be available to assist women in exiting (when actually, it's funding rather than exiting which lights their fires), what's more maddening is when the church becomes involved.

I'll say it boldly, when two consenting adults have sex behind closed doors, then whether any money changes hands or not, that is none of anyone else's business, least of all, the Church of Scotland. It would appear that the various church leaders have been hoodwinked by abolitionist groups with their hands out for government coffers, an all too common occurrence.

As a result, they have been led to believe that trafficking for the sex trade in Scotland is rife, out of control even. It isn't. Seventy per cent of sex workers in the UK at present are mothers, just feeding their children in a recession, and to take the very last hope those women have of survival away from them is just unforgivable.

Trafficking does not exist because of the sex industry, it is a separate entity and also serves the childcare, domestic servitude, restaurant and agricultural sectors to name but a few. It's worth noting that trafficking is already an offence, so shouldn't we be looking at our enforcement structures rather than further legislation? The World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, The Lancet and HIV Scotland have all come out in favour of decriminalisation as an effective method of harm reduction. Jean Urquhart MSP added her voice to the support for decriminalisation too, saying -

"Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes there is, and eradicating it will take a serious response, drawing on the best evidence. This effort to piggyback a knee-jerk, moralising reaction onto vital human trafficking legislation is deeply unhelpful.

"The ‘Swedish model’ that the churches call for in their letter cannot demonstrate any success at all in reducing trafficking. What it does do is put sex workers at greater risk of violence and sexually transmitted infections, which is why sex workers and international health organisations alike oppose it.

"What would absolutely help protect both sex workers and migrant workers from coercion and mistreatment would be measures to guarantee their labour rights. The better supported and organised both groups are, the safer they will be and the easier it will be to detect and prosecute crimes like trafficking."

In the end, all good laws must be based on evidence, evidence which is in abundance here. The ideological and misguided (to put it kindly) stance of the church leaders must be ignored.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland - Paper launch

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland invites you to:

The launch of, ‘Realising Sex Workers’ Rights in Ireland’, a briefing paper exploring a human rights based approach to supporting people engaged in sex work.

When: 1PM – 2PM, Wednesday 4th February 2015

Where: The Pressroom, Buswells Hotel, 27 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2

Speakers - Kate McGrew - Sex Worker and Activist

Wendy Lyon - Solicitor and Blogger (feministire.com)

Billie - Community Support Project Worker GOSHH (Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV) Limerick

For more information please contact swaiireland@yahoo.com

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday.

Warm Regards,

SWAI Team

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Farewell, my feline friend.


This week's blog was intended to be a less than gentle poke at Turn Off the Red Light, or Turn Off the Altar Light as they've become known in better circles. Unfortunately, circumstances have dictated otherwise.

My regular readers will know of my love for Boy Cat, who chose me at the cat rescue centre. For those who didn't read back that far, he was the runt of a litter comprised of himself and three big ginger bruisers, and he chose me, there's no doubt about that. When the centre manager opened the door he came straight to me and I knew he was my boy. We bonded from the offset and I cheered him on as the underdog.

It's safe to say we had our trials and tribulations over the years, I had him for eight years and we went through three house moves, his being locked in a church for five days and then getting a belt of a car/ned and under going emergency surgery to repair a ruptured bladder. I hit the knees that night, and no mistake. I prayed, and he came home, skinny and weak, but home.

Thereafter, he developed a habit of doing a disappearing act, from my new property. In the beginning, it was for two days max, and he would stroll in, so I was of the opinion that he had a second home where he was meowing loudly at the back door, not unusual for Tom cats. In the run up to Christmas, he did a bunk again, but this was long term. I knew something was wrong, but I really didn't know what to do. I spoke to all of my neighbours and asked people to keep an eye out for him. He had gone missing with a beautiful black sparkly collar and spotted bow tie, so I felt that at least he would be instantly recognisable.

Come the new year, there was still no sign of him and I knew something was badly amiss. I contacted a local cat rescue project to find that a black and white cat had indeed been found in an awful state and brought in by the SSPCA, to an emergency vets. I'm going to spare you a lot of the gory details, he suffered a terrible death. What I can tell you, is that he got his front paw stuck underneath his collar and as a result basically starved. The SSPCA battled through the night to save him, but he was so badly injured that it was decided it was better to put him to sleep.

I went to identify him on Friday, an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. It was very difficult, he had horrific injuries. But at least he looked at peace and I got to say goodbye. I will always miss him, he was my friend and comfort, and I know he loved me with ferocity too. I'm okay that he died, he's at peace. I can't bear that he suffered, he must have been so frightened.

The reason I shared this is not to evoke sympathy, it's to implore you - if you have a cat and they go outdoors, please DO NOT put a collar on them. Even the collars with a so called emergency release, useless. By all means, microchip them but collars? NEVER.

A very heartbroken,

LL xx

P.S : Note to abolitionists - please do not take a period of grieving as an opportunity to try it on, I'll still nail you to the wall. Twice.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sex work and solidarity - Part Two.


If you follow me on Twitter or read this here blog from time to time, you'll know, the one thing I cannot abide is bad data. Sometimes it's down to sheer laziness, but in the majority of cases, it's a very deliberate misrepresentation by those who would further demonise the industry I know so well, usually for profit/funding. From the sublime to the ridiculous, one of my recent favourites was that there are at any given time, over 80 victims of trafficking in Galway. Not only that, but there are 20 men per day queuing up to have sex with women who are of course, chained to radiators. I can find many reasons to hold the Irish Alpha male in utter contempt, but actively pursuing victims of trafficking and in those numbers ? Not buying it. Antis can demonise the average client all they wish, but I'm certain that out of 20, several would have blown the whistle.

For a shining example of dodgy statistics, allow me to introduce Object. On their website they cite the The End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW), as saying "the sexualisation of women in the media ... is a 'conducive context' for violence against women" which they want to see an end to. I can't quite marry that statement with the recent demonstrations Object have had outside strip clubs, during which they are alleged to have spat on the strippers entering the premises. Yes, I said they were spitting on them, apparently this is how we end violence against women. Further, here is a video taken at such a recent demonstration, in which Object and their supporters call the men entering strip clubs scum, losers, wankers and rapists. At the end of the video is Roz Hardie, CEO of Object.

I had the good fortune to meet Roz at a recent speaking event in Carlisle and she sat and watched me take Object's statistics apart. I have one of their "fact" sheets from that event (pictured) which contains some statistical beauties -

- "75% of women became involved when they were children." That has been debunked so many times it's laughable. It is a statistic based on a study of street based sex workers, ALL of whom were underage on entering. Aside from that, street sex work represents about 12% of the overall industry so that statistic is, I'm afraid, hogwash. See also, this resource.

- "9 out of 10 women would exit if they could." Funnily enough, if you interview women for your "study" ALL of whom are already part of an exit program, that's not quite so compelling.

- "In Sweden there has been a significant reduction in prostitution." Huh ? There was an initial fall in on street prostitution but the number of massage parlours in Stockholm doubled.

- "The law in Sweden is working." Now you're just being silly. Have a read of this account straight from a Swedish sex worker.

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. No-one denies that abuses happen in the industry, as they do in every industry, but it's really not helpful to finding a real solution (psssst....decriminalisation) to grossly misrepresent such important data for your own agenda. As sex workers and also as campaigners, we get very frustrated, and understandably so. I get emails all the time from sex workers saying - "What they're saying is rubbish ! I've been doing this for years, I wish I could come out and speak with you." I wish you could too, but wouldn't ask that of anyone, there is a very high price to be paid when you tackle NGO's where it hurts, their pockets.

As a big fan of Twitter, and on a day when I really needed a good laugh, (I had just finished reading a press release from Doras Luimní) a hashtag #sexworkstats started. Sex workers around the world used the opportunity to poke fun at the abolitionist method of scare mongering with stats. Below I have listed some of my favourites, the sense of solidarity was badly needed and the sense of humour in our community was never more apparent. Enjoy.

97% of statistics used against sex work are ficticious. The other 3% are privileged and unrepresentative. #sexworkstats

100% of pro-dommes report that "I want to do whatever you want to do, mistress" doesn't mean what you think it means.

100% of sex workers failed to realise they'd sold their bodies & continued to use them afterwards. #sexworkstats

76% of escorts state their favoured position as doggy style, so they can pretend it's George Clooney. #sexworkstats

97% of escorts try to make the other escort laugh during threesomes. #sexworkstats

84% of sex workers have at least one cat. 5% of the cats reported being awake when a client was present. #sexworkstats

5% of sex workers do not own a cat, we dont talk about them #sexworkstats

Only 17% of girls growing up with a pony became sexworkers. As opposed to 78% of girls growing up owning cats. #sexworkstats

Study proves that a history of engaging in prostitution leads most women to later having a sandwich for lunch. #sexworkstats

99% of men think they'd be great at sex work. They'd be wrong. #sexworkstats

73% of #sexworkstats are made up. The other 38% are impossible.

#sexworkstats Jenga 54% is the most popular game among sex workers followed by twister 17%

87% of 2028's sex workers will enter sex work because their parents let them stay up and watch Game of Thrones. #sexworkstats

LL xx


Friday, 2 January 2015

Choice or not ? Academic request for input from sex workers.


In the debate about sex work, people constantly bring up the question whether or not someone can ‘choose’ to do sex work. Radical feminists and other abolitionists argue that no one would ever choose to sell sexual services; and that people (or rather: women, as abolitionists tend to ignore male and transgender sex workers) are ‘forced’ to sell sex because of whatever their life circumstances are. The opposing view would be to say that it is (usually) sex workers’ ‘free/rational choice’ to engage in sex work.

I would like to pose the following question to escorts/sex workers:

Do you feel that becoming an escort was a ‘choice’ you made? Why/why not? Were there alternatives, and if so, what kinds of alternatives? If you feel that it was a choice, what led you to make this decision? If you felt that it wasn’t really a choice, what was it that led you to sell sex in the first place?

And I would also like to ask: do you feel that other people (family members etc.) who are not sex workers had more (or less) of a choice regarding how to make a living and feel less ‘forced’ (or more forced!) to do what they are doing?

A bit about me: I am a researcher and supporter of sex worker rights (and opponent of the criminalisation of clients). You may have read about the piece of research we did in 2014 – the study on sex work funded by the Northern Irish Department of Justice (which, by the way, is available here.

I am currently writing a critical academic article about the idea of ‘choice’ in relation to sex work and would like to include the views of sex workers (and clients, if they want to comment) in the article. As always, I will not use people’s names or aliases nor will I include any information that allows readers to identify the people cited. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions: susann.huschke@gmail.com

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Sex work and solidarity (part 1)


It may surprise you to learn that the sex industry is a remarkably bitchy environment. Have women competing against each other on the basis of looks and personality, I mean, what could possibly go wrong ? Happily though, there are times when as a community we bond together in an unbreakable circle, regardless of dress size or number of reviews. The most obvious example is the recent murder of Petite Jasmine. As a community we mourned, and demonstrated around the world for the repeal of the Swedish model. I have never been so proud, or moved as I was that day.

To further illustrate my point, I'm going to take you back to 2008, right around the time I was outed in the highlands. There was a forum then which was women only and even at that, it was dedicated to the curvier of us, those who don't pass up a slice of cheesecake. It was a very small community with say, 20 posters or so, but only ten of us used it regularly, on a daily basis, and it became a haven from life. Indeed, it was that very forum which saw my shriek for help one Sunday morning because I had just been door stepped by a local provincial newspaper, I was terrified. How times change. These days they would be told to bog off, or wait for the press complaints commission or my lawyer, or both. But I digress.

One particular lovely lady logged in excitedly one evening with great news. A man had accidentally sent her a text, believing her to be someone else entirely. She replied saying - "wrong number, I'm an escort", and having expressed his shock at his faux pas, they began to chat. As it turned out, they had a lot in common and they chatted for many an evening. Then came the clincher from him - "Look this is mad, but what if we meet up ? I'd love to know who I'm talking to." So, she dolled herself up to the nines and went to meet him. What followed was an intense, and highly charged affair. It was at this point that she finished her story on the forum. My spidey sense was bubbling over, and sadly when I really didn't want to be right, I was.

Later that evening another lady logged in and having read her gushing tale said, "Um, does his number end in 067 ?" Yes, it turned out that our witless Lothario was actually rather clever, in that he had done the very same thing to several escorts. Not so clever though, as to use a different number. I felt SO sorry for his original victim, she was crushed.

As a community, there are several things which will always bind us together and one of them is abusive men. Oh, HELL no. So we sat, all of us, through the night, texting and calling this gentleman to see if he could remember "our" particular encounter. He was demented. By the end of the evening one or two of our members had resorted to more forthright approaches and quite frankly, he was terrified. Quite frankly, we didn't care.

It is alleged that in the aftermath of that episode, someone put his number up on Glasgow Gumtree as -

"SLIM SUBMISSIVE TWINK SEEKS HAIRY BEAR FOR NSA MEETS. NO LIMITS."

I can't imagine who would do such a dreadful thing. Escorts - 1 Idiot - 0.

LL xx