Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

NOW-NYC on opera, fine dining, and massage parlors

Filed By Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore | May 25, 2007 5:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: exploiting tragedy, immigration, New York City, NOW, Opera, sex trafficking, sex work

Yesterday on Free Speech Radio News, I heard that the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW-NYC) is pressuring newspaper, magazine and phone book publishers to turn down ads from "illegal" massage parlors (as opposed to all those legal ones), as part of NOW-NYC's campaign against sex trafficking. Apparently, the Village Voice makes $80,000 a month from "adult" advertising, and the phone book makes many times that. Here's a quote from NOW-NYC president Sonia Ossorio:

How many of us have a subscription to New York Magazine? Isn't it supremely ironic that in this magazine the front pages have opera listings and reviews for the latest fine dining and on the back pages, "Hot Asian Honeys"?

I'm not quite sure of the contradiction here -- opera, fine dining, and massage parlors are all leisure activities for the wealthy, last time I checked.

I also don't know what pulling advertising will do about sex trafficking, other than make it go further underground. Furthermore, as part of anti-trafficking legislation, NOW supports felony enhancement for those convicted of trafficking, and stiffer penalties on those who "patronize illegal commercial sex" (that means people who hire hookers).

This is a short-sighted law-and-order approach that makes all sex workers, including victims of sex trafficking schemes, more vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. What we need is decriminalization of sex work, which would remove the necessity of secrecy and lessen the potential for violence. And we need an end to draconian immigration requirements that force people trying desperately to make a living or to escape dangerous circumstances in their home countries so anxious to get into the United States, so desperate that even if they escape direct harm by US law enforcement officials, they often end up the victims of other types of criminals.


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