News Update – July 2017

One of the things we’ll be posting regularly is a roundup of news stories about sex work from Massachusetts and the greater Boston area. If you see any stories we missed, let us know!

This article doesn’t quite tie these disparate pieces together: State Senator Mark Montigny’s body work bill, human trafficking, and the need to vacate sex work convictions.

“Human trafficking is a horrific crime that has ruined the lives of countless innocent people,” Montigny (D-New Bedford) said in a statement to the Herald. “We cannot afford to delay providing greater resources for survivors so that they can begin to reclaim their lives.”

That nice…but wasn’t Montigny’s 2011 legislation supposed to do the same thing? And provide a slush fund for victims? Montigny is trying to lump human trafficking, sex trafficking, and bodywork establishments under the same umbrella but once again, the victims and sex workers get the short end of the stick.

A Springfield, MA couple have been charged with running a prostitution business.

The article doesn’t give specifics on the charges against each individual, but without knowing any of the details of this case, I find it interesting that the female half of this couple charged with ‘inducing travel to engage in prostitution,’ ‘transporting an individual to engage in prostitution,’ and four counts of extortion is pleading to six years of time in prison, half of what her (male) partner is pleading to. It may not be true in this instance, but it speaks to gendered bias in sentencing in which women are perceived to be less capable of violence (and less intrinsically violent) than men are.

UMass Amherst’s College of Nursing is offering an online course in ‘how to spot trafficking’ this fall.

“The idea for the class is to help people recognize what human trafficking is. According to the class description, “human trafficking is a global problem, but it may hit closer to home than you might think.” Sabella said trafficking is considered a public health issue. Yet people might not recognize it or know what it is, she said. That’s where the class will help. Trafficking involves force, fraud or coercion, and can involve sex, labor or organ trafficking. The latter, she said, is more prevalent in other countries.”

Glad to see that different types of trafficking will be differentiated in this course. It’s probably too much to hope that they’ll be using Laura Maria Agustin’s work, or that they’d distinguish between trafficking and sex work, or that there’d be a healthy discussion of how sex workers are charged under trafficking laws, sometimes with self-trafficking? It’d be really great to see a class that explored the grey areas of sex work, consent, trafficking, and the law, especially one directed at service providers. Folks need help regardless of whether or not they fit within a neat profile of ‘victim.’

The MA State Senate has passed a bill to promote teaching sex education in schools. It’s going to the House, where Republicans are expected to push for a parental opt-in clause.

It’s pretty standard stuff…but I wanna know who was in charge of creating that link…it reads ‘anal-sex-ed-bill-passes-massachusetts-senate.’ Did the conservative folks over at the New Boston Post think that one through?

3 MA residents charged in Atlantic City with promoting prostitution and trafficking.

3 MA Jane Does are suing Backpage, alleging they were trafficked on the site, and additionally accusing Backpage of benefiting from and participating in child sex trafficking.

Bristol County jail is banning in-person visits and replacing them with the “cruel and counterproductive” system of video calls, and our boy Montigny has filed a bill to prevent it – still in committee.