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Salamon Alapitvany (
Thu, 21 May 1998 16:19:51 -0700

For everyone who has requested our list of materials please bear with us
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With apologies

John Davies

Salamon Alapitvany and IldikoK Memorial Civil Rights Institute
Working for Peace and Equitable Justice for all Marginalised People
Seeking to include Sex Workers within Civil Society without descrimination
Believing in Change through Consensus not Repression.
From Thu May 21 12:25:26 1998
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Subject: RE: Another opinion about Polish La Strada materials
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 17:31:56 +0100
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From: (Heidi Doezema)

-----Original Message-----
From: Giedre Purvaneckiene []
Sent: 20 May 1998 15:09
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: Another opinion about Polish La Strada materials

Dear all,

I would like to respond to some of the points made by Gierdre and John
about the la Strada video.

Gierdre wrote:I think that Polish La Strada prepared the mentioned material
for Polish (or for other CEE countries) audience. The problem of
trafficking-in is quite new in our countries. If one starts to speak on
very strong feminist basis, he or she is not heard at all or cause quite an
opposite reaction.

I can understand your concern that police and public officials would not
react to a 'strong feminist' agenda, though I am not sure what you mean by
this. For many, the 'strong feminist' position is one of regarding all sex
workers as victims, and all sex work as a violation of human rights,
regardless of issues of coercion. If you mean by this a position that
advocates sex workers rights, than it is true that very few governments
tend to respond to this type of argument. However, I feel that refusing to
deal with sex workers rights in the context of trafficking is a both a
missed opportunity to get issues that are important to sex workers into the
political arena and is potentially damaging to those very interests.

Gierdre wrote: First of all, there is quite a big difference in public
opinion towards prostitution in the CEE and Western countries. Officials
are also affected by public opinion, and that is the basis for doing
nothing with a problem of trafficking-in. The prevailing opinion is that
prostitutes deserve punishment. The police usually use measures against
prostitutes themselves and sometimes against local "pimps", not reaching
those who organize this "international business".

Unfortunatly, removing sex workers from the catagory 'bad woman' and
turning them into 'victims' has not proven to be a very effective strategy
for increasing sex workers' well being. You state that there is quite a
difference in opinion between CEE and Western countries regarding
prostitution. Many people in the West, and many government policies, are
still heavily influenced by the idea that prostitutes should be controlled
and punished. It is exactly this undercurrent of punishing and controlling
sex workers that means that legislation obstensibly adopted to 'protect'
sex workers invariably is used as an exused to arrest them.
One strategy often adopted to get around this mind-set is to emphasise the
'goodness' of the women, as I explained in my last letter. This strategy
backfires when only 'innocent' women are accorded protection under the law,
and does nothing to counter the public predudice against prostitutes.

 Geirdre wrote: Secondly, I think that prostitutes from our countries are
victimized much more than from Western countries. That does not depend on
if they are working in their native countries or abroad. They are treated
not like human beings.

 I find it dangerous to argue that the issues for non-western sex workers
are different from those of other sex workers.A picture is given, falsely,
of 'western' sex workers who 'choose' sex work (and thus who don't really
have serious problems), and 'non western' women who are 'forced' or
'victims' (and thus not concerned with sex worker rights). This stereotype
is wrong on both counts. Many 'western' sex workers have to contend with a
huge array of human and civil rights abuses related to their profession,
including wrongful arrest and imprisonment, police harassment, and unlawful
working conditions. Sex workers outside 'the west' may indeed face worse
persecution and more difficult working conditions (like many other
workers), but this is not true of all sex workers outside the west at all
times and all places.

The argument that sex worker demands for rights is a 'western' position is
wrong. It has been used to silence both sex workers from the west who
attempt to speak about 'trafficking' and 'forced prostitution' and
'non-western' sex workers who attempt to present a view of reality
different from that of anti-trafficking activists. While I would not
presume to be able to act as a 'spokesperson' for sex workers in the
'non-western' world, I often wonder if the mere fact that anti-trafficking
activists may happen to share the same nationality as a sex worker gives
them the legimitacy to tell us about the reality of sex worker's lives, and
what their issues should be. If there is one thing that my years of
activism together with sex workers from around the globe has taught me, it
is that sex workers all over the world are concerned about and organising
for their rights. I don't mean to suggest that there are no differences
amoung sex workers: analyses, priorities, and strategies vary in different
regions and within the same region. But there is no great divide between
'the west' and 'the rest'.

 Giedre writes: Thirdly, there are quite many cases of forced prostitution.
In 1997, more than two hundred women were deported to Lithuania from
Western countries for illegal work or false documents or visas. Out of
them, 28 reported that they were forced to work as prostitutes. It is clear
that those who were deported comprises the top of iceberg only.

It isn't clear to me what 'forced to work as prostitutes' means in this
case. Of course, most people will assume that this refers to non-prostitute
women. It could just as well refer to sex workers who end up in situations
like those descibed in John's latest posting- forced to work by third
parties. John writes:"We also asked 12 local pimps who control
approximately 50 sex working women, if they would forcibly or deceitfully
traffic a woman for sex work in a foreign country, all of them said that
they would want to make sure
the woman had experience of sex work before she left Hungary and that if
she did not willingly participate in sex work in Hungary they would not
force her to migrate for sex work. However if the woman was a consenting
and experienced sex worker they would consider putting the pressure on if a
considerable sum of money was involved."

 This is one of my big problems with the term 'forced prostitution'- at the
risk of being repetitive, it perpetuates the myth that 'trafficking' is a
problem of unknowing women being forced to be prostitutes, rather than what
it actually is- a problem of sex workers' human rights. (Thanks to Marjan
Weijers of GAATW for that phrase)

 Gierdre writes: Another feature of deported women was that they were not
from the big cities only, many of them were from countryside, who are much
more naive and easy to cheat.

To refer again to John's posting:
"However our survey of seventy young Hungarian non-sex work women 16-24,
we asked to consider adverts for overseas work and assess the same as
potential sex work opportunities, showed that overwhelmingly that young
women in our area knew exactly what positions might involve sex work, and
the majority were quite explicit about taking precautions to prevent being
drawn into coerced sex work if they went abroad for work, such as taking up
references on an employer or asking consular staff about the status of a
certain business and if they were not satisfied about the bon-fides of an
employer the vast majority said they would refuse the employment."

I realise that I shouldn't generalise on the basis of the above. However,
it does give support to my feeling that the supposed 'naivete' of
trafficked women is part and parcel of the 'myth of innocence' , and is
based more on perceptions than on reality.

Finally, I would like to ask John and Gierdre's permission to send their
postings to the sex workers e-mail list of which I am a member.

Jo Doezema
From Thu May 21 15:23:12 1998
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From: "Salamon Alapitvany" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: English as a second language posts
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 21:17:47 -0700
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Dear List,

I just want to take a few lines to encourage and thank Giedre Purvaneckiene
for her post. I know some lists that are really hard for contributors to
take part in because English is not their first language.

I think is vitally important that this list encourages participation from
contributors for whom English is a second language, but I really know the
frustration of not been able to express myself as well as I would like in a
foreign language, both my Hungarian and Romanian is limited.

As such if anyone wants help with preparing a post, we have other staff and
volunteers who can offer unbiased and non-judgemental help with translation
from Romanian, Hungarian, or Albanian into English. This would be a
confidential service that sometimes might not be available because of other

Anyway if someone feels they would like help preparing a post in English
from any of those languages please contact us and we will try and help as
best we can.

Best regards to all

John Davies
From Fri May 22 10:02:18 1998
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From: GBCaldwell <>
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Date: Fri, 22 May 1998 10:06:48 EDT
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Subject: Slavery vs Prostitution
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Dear all --

John Davies just posted the remarks (see below) regarding prostitution vs
slavery and I wanted to respond to say I strongly agree. I hope the scarlet
alliance will allow him to post their briefing to the list.

While I understand and agree that it is important to acknowledge that "anti-
trafficking" work can and does have a negative impact on women working
consensually in the sex industry, I think it benefits advocates on both sides
-- and those of us who believe you can try to be both at once -- to be clear
about the difference between prostitution and forced prostitution which is a
form of slavery.
Those distinctions will be made clear at our forthcoming Transnational
Training on Trafficking in Budapest (June 20-24), which will focus centrally
on trafficking for forced prostitution. We look forward to seeing some of you

Gillian Caldwell
Global Survival Network

John Davies/Salamon Foundation wrote:

I think it is legitimate to argue that sexual servitude does not make a
person a prostitute but such a person is held in a form of slavery as a
slave, not as a prostitute.

The scarlet alliance has just issued an exellent briefing around this issue
and I have asked them to either to subscribe to the list or to allow me to
make the briefing available to the list.
From Thu May 21 10:21:32 1998
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From: "Salamon Alapitvany" <>
To: "stop-traffic" <>,
Subject: No press please
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 16:18:24 -0700
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Dear Nattaya,

Thank you for your explanation, we were grateful to receive such

We would like to maintain the list as a professional forum for open and
candid debate regarding "trafficking". We know from experience that
off-list postings to the media are the fastest way to kill the professional
value of a list and stifle the free exchange of ideas and comment.

Once the media have access, the dumbing down begins and then the public
spin must be maintained etc. etc.

The following message was posted to the list on the 13th April, please keep
a copy for your records.

Dear List members,

Please note we retain copyright on Reports and papers issued by our
organisation, we do not intend such material to be distributed beyond
professionals with a direct interest in our work, unless we ask otherwise.

We certainly do not welcome enquiries from any type of media agency, and we
would be very grateful if people didn't pass our material to journalists of
any type without asking us first.

We have begun to receive enquiries from the media for our reports, but we
will not supply them to the media. We would be very grateful if others
refrained from doing so as well.

We will make a decision on their wider publication at a later date.

Many thanks

John Davies
Project Director.

Salamon Alapitvany and IldikoK Memorial Civil Rights Institute
Working for Peace and Equitable Justice for all Marginalised People
Seeking to include Sex Workers within Civil Society without descrimination
Believing in Change through Consensus not Repression.

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