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Sunday, July 26, 2015

AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT vs. ALLIANCE FOR OPEN SOCIETY


June 23, 2015



Dear Supreme Court Justices:


My name is Jody Williams. I'm the founder of the 12 step program “Prostitutes Anonymous” which I created in 1987. We later renamed ourselves “Sex Workers Anonymous” in 1995 for two main reasons. The first being the invention of the internet. This created members coming to us for help who were working in the sex industry – while not being prostitutes having intercourse for money. Also, because many of the male and transgender members, as well as our pimps and madams who belonged to our program felt the title “Prostitutes Anonymous” was too restrictive.

The reality of the sex industry is that it has many forms. Many of which do not require physical intercourse for cash in order to be defined as being jobs within the “sex industry”. Take pornography for example. There are performers in the front of the camera – but there's also the camera person, the script writer, the sound person, editor, director, the marketing people who sell the films which are in packages created by graphic designers and then retailed in adult stores or websites online.

Within the strip club industry you have the owners, managers, bartenders, DJ's, waitresses, and then the dancers themselves who are just one part of the whole strip club industry. An industry that is intertwined with the food and beverage industry as clubs serve food and alcohol along with the entertainment, the music the girls dance to and even the lighting systems.


The legal brothel industry has the prostitutes – but they also employ managers or madams, along with security, maids, cooks, even the health care workers who run their health checks are in jobs that are connected directly to the sex industry.

The webcam and phone sex industry also employs many different types of people besides the performers. You have the owners, managers, and the IT people who keep the technology running. The website designers, the traffic generators, even the credit card companies who charge the customers for these types of sessions have to be a specialized type of billing because most customers don't want their wives, or employers, to know what they're spending their money on openly. This is why we now have things like “Bitcoin” for example.


So my position is that the sex industry, of which prostitution is but one component, is just that – an industry. One of the biggest mistakes I see people who focus strictly upon the tiny segment of the sex industry that are females who sell physical intercourse for an hourly rate in regions where it's illegal to do so is to consider that one can do something having only an impact upon the sex industry as a whole while only focusing upon that tiny segment of it. That would be as effective as saying that I'm going to wipe out the whole jewelry industry by only shutting down jewelry stores at malls. We all know that the jewelry industry is connected to the mining field, as well as those who design the jewelry, and even those industries that buy poor quality diamonds to make drills with. In other words, one can not address an whole industry while only focusing on one tiny little segment within it.


I honestly think I'm in a position to call that opinion an “expert” opinion also. For one thing, I worked in every area of the sex industry while I was within it during the years 1979 to 1985. The best count I could give as to the number of actual “tricks” I've turned during those years was over 10,000 – both male and female I'd like to point out. Within this industry I saw both male and females pimps, as well as male and female traffickers, male and female providers, as well as male and female clients.


I opened the first ever hotline for adults in the USA to have anyone, male or female, call for help to leave any part of the sex industry, whether they felt they were “trafficked” or not in 1987. The Polaris National Trafficking Hotline was not launched until the year 2002. The last report I read stated they'd answered 100,000 phone calls whereas my estimates in going over my phone records show I've personally answered over 500,000 phone calls to our hotline since our launch.


I run the oldest and largest program for adults, again male and female, who are leaving the sex industry in any form for any reason. Whether that person feels they're leaving because they were “forced” to be in the industry, or whether they don't – we have been a part in some way of the largest number of people exiting the sex industry within this country.


Larger and older than the groups listed in the brief of “Agency for International Development, Inc. vs. Alliance for Open Society International, et al.” certainly. While groups like “Breaking Free” and “Courtney's House” certainly are fine programs from what I've heard who help female prostitutes to exit a life of street prostitution through a residential system – I would be willing to bet that overall our program has worked with more men and women (as well as transgenders), leaving more areas of the sex industry than they have in these programs, and in more numbers certainly.


Over a broader geographic, cultural, and religious span I'd like to add. I say that because the people we work with come from any, and no, religions. We have worked with Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Pagans, atheists and even members of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” who signify their membership by wearing a coriander on their heads when taking their DMV photos. The members we have worked with have been convicted of felonies – which I understand some of the programs listed in this brief refuse to work with. Some of our members have severe mental illnesses, as well as very serious health issues such as being HIV positive for example.


Again, something I understand some of the programs listed in this brief do not work with – however we do. We currently have chapters, and members, of our program all across this country from coast to coast, border to border, and into Canada, as well as five other countries. Our members are not only employed within the legal and illegal job duties within the sex industry – but we also work with “legal” and “illegal” citizens of the USA, as well as within other countries such as Australia where they also have “illegal aliens” in this country who may be employed within the kega or illegal sex industry in some fashion.

Why do I think this is important? Since I've seen groups arise in this country focusing solely upon the female who sells intercourse for an hourly rate working in illegal regions to do so – I've seen trafficking victims within the legal sex industries grow at an alarming rate. I have literally seen women in shelters that they were put in for “safety” as a “trafficking victim” have the same shelter workers be told they can't stop them from going to work at a strip club as a dancer because “that's not trafficking”. I have seen whole programs at schools directed to getting help to female trafficking victims call for the girls to come up to speak to counselors for help – while leaving the boys sitting there completely ignored.


So not only do I think I'm in the running for being a survivor of the sex industry, and sex trafficking, myself who has been in this field the longest over anyone else who is a part of the writing of this brief, witnessed more kinds of sex work and trafficking, and have talked to more people from a much broader geographical, religious, cultural, and political base than those attached to this brief – but I also think I've heard the stories behind more different types of situations that those in the sex industry have found themselves in when trying to leave than probably if you combined all of these groups together.

I also think I'm probably one person also who actually has more EFFECTIVE experience when it comes to dealing with the sex industry and HIV than the others connected to this brief. I'll explain why by starting with how our society was viewing HIV back in the 1980's as the “gay plague”. In 1986, the year before I started our hotline, and program, there was a proposition being worked on that called to put junkies, gays and prostitutes on an island to “quarantine” them. That was their “solution” to the HIV epidemic that was being viewed back then as an almost entirely gay male problem.


However, I knew from the men that I'd see sleep with these male teen prostitutes during their lunch breaks – only to go home to their wives that it was just a matter of time before this virus jumped over into the heterosexual community. Which is why when I started knocking on the CDC and UCLA doors in 1987 – I was saying we were facing a serious crisis that was only going to get worse if the current HIV system did not change dramatically the way they were treating sex workers, and trafficking victims. They also were only focusing on the concept of a female selling illegal sex in their attempts to try and address an HIV epidemic. This left way too many loopholes. To see if I was right – a test was done showing an almost 80 percent infection rate among the broad range of sex workers I got them to test.

Tom Bradley was the mayor then. Cutting all red tape, and seeing how urgent this situation was – he created a special board for me to be on as well as someone from each department. The health, probation, social services, housing, police, DA's office, etc. all came together with me figuring out how we could work together on a project that would not only help sex workers, but also trafficking victims, and addicts, to not be treated like criminals – but instead to get the services they needed, along with the help to get free to accept these services, by coordinating all of the agencies involved in such a complex issue as this. What he did that was innovative was to treat the sex workers just like any other industry – suspending all efforts to “incriminate” sex workers for prostitution during this crisis. He also allowed us to focus on the sex industry as a whole, including the trafficking issue, which allowed us to design a system that would effectively reach out to all who needed help, whether they were in legal or “illegal” parts of the sex industry. The test was done again after only one year showing our rate of infection had now dropped to 6 percent. A number lower than that of “non” sex workers and that proved our approach had been effective.


Which means I do consider myself quite an opinion to offer on this issue and why I'm writing you. First of all to state the position that the sex industry is like any other industry whether that be farming, mining, manufacturing, food, hospitality, or the service industry. Because any industry has it's “legal” and “illegal” aspects of it. Take the alcohol industry as one example. You have legal breweries, wineries, and distillers – and you have illegal moonshiners up in the hills of Kentucky. You have people selling legal bottles of alcohol in “dry” counties on “dry” days like a Sunday. So the sex industry has it's “legal” and “illegal” aspects of the same act that change from region to region without changing themselves. One can legally shoot a porn in California – but can't in Arizona from what I understand to illustrate my point. While again means if you want to address the industry as a whole – you have to look at it this way.


Does this mean we “approve” of this industry? While abortion is legal – I am willing to venture that there are many who do not “approve” of this industry. In fact, some people find it downright horrific. The same for the executioner who executes the ceasing of life in the inmate who has just received the death sentence. He has to flip that switch, or push that button, in a profession where many people have strong opposition in fact to the death penalty. Some even call it downright murder. But whether we “approve” of this or not – it's still an industry. The fact we don't approve of it doesn't change that it is in fact a job for someone.

Is it dangerous? Of course it is – just as men who do window cleaning on high rises have a dangerous job. Just as New York Police officers have a dangerous job. So dangerous one gets a high rate of PTSD? Look at the rates of our military coming back from the war as to how many of them are coming back missing a body part and also suffering from PTSD. However, we call them “serving our country” when they return back to the states minus some body parts after violent attacks and trying to sleep while having horrible night terrors. We don't consider what they're doing an “abuse”.

Does it have trafficking victims? Of course it does – again just like many other industries. Leona Helmsley was locked up for having maids she was forcing to work within her hotel in the 1990's. We've read stories recently of iPhone's being manufactured by slave labor, and cotton being picked for Target by trafficking victims. While trafficking victims can be found in strip clubs – they can also be found on farms or even restaurant kitchens.


The sex industry is just like any industry. Which means yes trafficking exists within it when the demand exceeds the supply and people looking to make a buck will break the law by forcing someone to perform that job. Is it a dangerous job? Again, just like many dangerous jobs. I understand that we lost many a man who was building Hoover Dam. Stressful? Just like jobs that police officers and our soldiers experience. Short-lived? Just like the careers of child actors, dancers, athletes, or even politicians who are limited to serving only two terms in a lifetime.

What is different about the sex industry than any other industry is this however – it refuses to acknowledge within itself that trafficking exists, that it is often a short-lived career, that it is highly dangerous, workers are just as prone to abuse as any industry that works with children, and that all workers need to have an exit plan made available to them. It further is one that says sex is different when given for free vs. purchased – however it still doesn't address issues within it of just that difference.

What I mean by that is rape and sexual harassment within the industry. For example, within the legal brothels of Nevada I know of no prostitute who has ever sued their employer for sexual harassment, nor of filing a rape case against a client. Now I know it's happened – frequently. But I know that if a legal prostitute in a Nevada brothel had the grounds to file charges against a customer for rape, or against an owner for sexual harassment, or even tried to file sex trafficking charges against their pimp for forcing them to work in that brothel – it's not going to even get filed.

Why? Because it's the only industry I'm aware of that has briefs like this one trying to ask the Supreme Court to call it an “abuse” on it's face. I can point to more NFL football players with severe brain injuries from playing football than I can point to prostitutes with those same severe brain injuries that these football players suffered while “on the job” - yet I don't see anyone filing a brief with the Supreme Court trying to have professional football labeled as an “abuse”. Facts like this are what is unique about the sex industry over others.

This brief is full of assumptions and opinions and beliefs about not only the sex industry, but also the people within that industry that is judgmental, biased, condescending, sexist, anti-LGBT, and downright hateful. If I'm wrong that this brief doesn't reflect the writers' sexism, as well as anti-LGBT views – then please point out to me where it's addressing the male and transgender members of the sex industry? Also, where does it address those working within the sex industry who are not performing intercourse? I worked on a case for over a year where the trafficking victims were locked up in a house with a webcam on them 24/7. They were not having intercourse – yet they were victims. Yet within the scope of what the writers of this brief are asking you to consider as “victims” - no help would have been sent to them.


As for the “judgmentalness” - I'd like to know where the mention is of the madams and pimps who are also trafficking victims. Yes it happens. I've got at least two interviews up on our radio show at www.blogtalkradio.com/stopsextrafficktalk where the victim reports they were forced to go out and recruit, train and “manage” another prostitute or they, and others, would be harmed. This includes the pimping of one's own children. I know of many cases for example where the pimp will then turn around and use the mother to pimp their own child within the trafficking world. So here I'm speaking about a female madam who is also a trafficking victim. A concept that I don't see even addressed within this brief because the writers have their own personal “judgments” that these can't be victims also.

Yet they are real and they need help also in leaving the sex industry – and finding recovery after what they've been through so that they don't return. Providing recovery isn't “optional”. It's important because if the person stays damaged then they are very likely going to wind up returning to the sex industry, in some form, in order to pay their bills. Not just as a victim – but also as someone who is actively harming another. Which means if you want them to be able to leave that world entirely you must provide all those exiting with recovery and rehabilitation.

As for the “hatefulness” - let me point out something in this brief that might not be apparent to the naked eye. I'm the writer of the “Recovery Guide” that is quoted in this brief. It was my story that was quoted in fact where I spoke about “pinching myself” because I didn't feel real. However, that quote was taken out of context. I had started to experience dissociative identity disorder when I was very young. After having been sexually abused by my father, physically abused by my mother, and then raped multiple times – I had already started developing a “disconnect” between my mind and my body before I ever went into the sex industry.


The period of time I was experiencing this very “pinching” incidence was when I was not out turning actual “tricks” but instead isolating in my house. In other words, it was not the sex industry that was responsible for my feeling like I wasn't “real” during that point in my life. It was however caused by surrounding myself with people who weren't listening to me. People who were self-absorbed and self-obsessed with their own addiction – such as sex addicts and drug addicts are. People who tend to populate the world – not just the sex industry.

In my recovery, I identified this fact. That I had those periods of time where I felt “invisible” because I had chosen to fill my life with people who were not looking at me because they were consumed with their own addictions, their own obsessions, and could care less about me in the process. Surrounding oneself with these types of people, and feeling you are “invisible”, will make anyone depressed and also “invisible”. The numbness then creates the need to seek out excitement to “feel” something. All things I had to reverse in order to find “recovery” from the life I'd fallen into.


Which is why I broke off my ties with some of the very people who are involved in the writing of this brief just as I broke off with those people who were making me feel invisible while I was in the sex industry. I found the “abolitionists” were just as likely as the “johns” or other prostitutes to not be truly listening to me, could care less about me, and in fact would lie, cheat, steal, do anything to get their “fix”, and I was an object to them to be used to get what they wanted.


Just as the writers of this brief have taken a quote from my story, from my book, without giving me the respect of asking me first if they could do so, without buying the book from me even that was quoted, without acknowledging the program that this book is connected to (the AA “Big Book” for example is a part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program yet I don't see any mention made here of my book being a part of Sex Workers Anonymous nor is SWA listed in their list of groups that work with domestic sex trafficking victims), taking what I said completely out of the context I meant it in to try and support their agenda without any concern whatsoever for the damaging consequences said quote is going to have upon myself personally nor our program.

I say that because ours is a 12 step program. As such, we are not to have “any opinion on an outside issue” such as what the sex industry is or is not. Yet here these people are using our book to support “their” opinion on this “outside issue” where they are asking you to call prostitution a “system of abuse” without even asking me if it's okay to quote the book I wrote, and my story. If you ask me THAT'S abuse of me.

Well guess what? This is not the first time they have used my name, our programs' name, our literature, etc. in order to express their condemnation and judgment upon the sex industry as a “system of abuse” in and of itself – opinions that have destroyed the once excellent working relationships I had within the sex industry that I depended upon in order to find not only our members being those who were in sex work but now wanted help to exit, but also the very trafficking victims who needed our help also. Because I rely upon the people in the active sex industry to call me when they see trafficking which means when these people who wrote this brief do things to destroy my relationships within the sex industry by doing things like including my book in their efforts - making the sex industry think I'm on board with them on things like this. In other words, THEY are actively working against me from being able to help the very victims they say they're trying to help when talking to people like you.

Because these people within the active sex industry reads these statements and make the assumption that I'm a part of this. They see my book and my name in this brief – and think that I'm in support of the statements within said brief. Guess what that does? It makes them angry and they lash out at me feeling betrayed because when I talk to them directly I tell them I do not have anything against the industry itself. Since day one when I started this program I have not made such judgments about the industry itself as “abuse”. I will however seek to block any abuse from any angle whether that abuse is coming from a pimp, or a client, or even a abolitionist who is trying to act like they know more than we do about our lives.

Let me put it this way – more women are killed by their husbands than by any other type of man. More women are physically assaulted, beaten, and even raped, by their husbands, than by strangers. More women lose their pregnancies behind an assault they will suffer more by their husbands than by men who are not their husbands. Domestic violence occurs more within a marriage than it does outside of a marital situation. Now that said – am I going to say that “marriage is abuse” simply because a high number of women who are married are victims? No I'm not because it's not the marriage that's causing the abuse – it's the abusers. Just the same as the people who are abusing farm workers and sex workers are the ones responsible for the abuse upon these men, women and transgenders who are employed within this field. Abuse is not only inherent in sex work – it's everywhere. It's even in the abolitionist groups. This very brief in my opinion is a form of abuse against us in fact. The groups writing this brief have excluded our groups' members, and they try and speak for us about our lives. They care not about the damage they cause us and like they did with a quote from a book I wrote – they even use our words against us without our consent.


But until we treat the sex industry the same as any other – without all these judgments, biases, sexist views, etc. the abuse is going to continue to be bad and I'll tell you why. Because of the label this brief wants to put on people as “prostitutes”. That's an objectification they want to put on us. An objectification they want to label us with. Just as they want to label people as “pimps” and “madams” and “victims”. I say that because I've seen the way they treat me. Despite the fact that I left the sex industry in 1985, and have been clean since – the people within these groups listed as bringing this brief treat me like I'm “less than” one of them. They do this because bottom line they view me not as a human being who once worked in the industry - but as a “prostitute”, an “addict”, a “pimp”, a “madam”, and as “crazy” are but only some of the words I've heard people within their groups call me online excusing their treatment of me with disrespect, and of excluding me from their activities.


Take the Survivors Connect Network was one example. That group at one time had set up a forum where they were telling members that I was ACTIVELY working as a “pimp” a few years ago. Anyone who defended me was excluded from the group and shunned. When I served them with a “cease and desist” letter threatening them with a defamation case – they tore the whole forum down but never issued an apology.

The Trafficking in America Task Force has excluded me from their groups online, as well as their events they hold. They have excluded me from speaking at their events, our members have been expelled from their groups, and anyone who defends us has also been shunned and blocked from their activities. This brief included as we were not asked to weigh in on this brief despite the fact the issue involves the same community we work with.

Melissa Farley, who runs the Prostitution Research & Education Center also excludes me from any of her activities. Anyone who even speaks to her about me will start hearing a barrage of lies about me which all serve to let the caller know if they are supporters of us in any way they will be shunned also. We can't even get on her mailing list to stay involved in any of her research projects in any way.


The group “Sextrade 101” has a listing up on their website for years now that they are holding “Prostitutes Anonymous” meetings they refuse to remove. When I have contacted them about registering the meeting, using our current name, and obtaining our current literature to use during these meetings, as well as connecting the members to the fellowship at large – I'm lied to and told “we don't hold meetings any longer”. However, they continue to keep this listing up, they use it in their grant applications, and people within their program tell me they attend these meetings. So they lie to me, use my intellectual trademarked property, exploit my work, and then shun the rest of our members.


When I've reached out to try and connect our members up to any of the other groups listed in this brief – I'm just ignored. However, not a month goes by when someone doesn't tell me about some insult, some attack, or some snark made about me personally, as well as our program, and even attacks upon the very name of our program, are issued out of the mouths of the people who run these programs.

That type of viewpoint that they feel they can treat any human being the way they treat me they base upon something to do with my past within the sex industry. In other words, they don't consider me as “one of their victims”. This is how they have justified the harms they've done to me over the years, the harms to our program, the harm to my relationships, and even their outright exploitation of a book that took me years of hard work, and a lot of money and sacrifice to get written. A book they feel they can just go in and take out a line they want to take out, not even show me the courtesy of speaking to me about it, nor even buying the book they quoted from me, without giving me any respect whatsoever, not even respecting our group by even listing our name – and just use my writing however they feel to support their agenda simply because they think my feelings, my work, my views, don't matter.


If I'm wrong about this – then please explain to me why at the bottom of this very brief all these other groups are listed yet I fail to see our group, Sex Workers Anonymous, that wrote that book, listed. Do you know why I believe they didn't list our program? Because the day Melissa Farley came to me in 2007 and asked me if I would state that “all prostitution was abuse” as a public statement right as we were getting ready to do a press conference together that she had lied to me about why I was even there in the first place in order to get me in front of that camera – and I said “no”. That is the day the campaign has started from her that has spread into the very movement I CREATED where now groups like hers, Prostitution Research Project, and others connected to hers such as the others listed in this brief, all act like I, and our 1,000's of members, just don't exist anymore in their world.


They are the ones disrespecting us, abusing us, exploiting us, no different than a trafficker in my opinion. This brief is evidence of that accusation. They have taken again a piece of literature I spent years of my life writing, $1,000's of my own dollars putting together the research to create a “Recovery Guide” for our 12 step program, and then took a quote out of context out of it they felt suited their purpose, and they presented it to you as something “we” agree with acting like they're speaking for “us” while in reality they're denying “us” and our views. They're doing this to get money, to advance their own personal careers, their own political agendas – and they show absolutely no concern for any damages they're causing me, or our program, in the process as long as they get what they want.


They are doing this because in their mind I'm just a “prostitute” and a “pimp” as they have called me online to slander and degrade me. While quoting our book when it suits them – they have never invited me to one of their events to speak or educate despite the fact I do represent the largest and oldest group of survivors, and the fact I started the domestic trafficking movement. When I said an opinion they disagreed with – they set about a campaign to try and run me right out of this field. It's a long story – but they have told people their careers would be “over” if they even so much as speak to me or acknowledge we exist since I told them I do not agree that “prostitution” is a system of abuse.

Sex work, even prostitution, is a job title. It is not the title of a person. My name is Jody Williams. While I have worked as a graphic designer, paralegal, writer, and even as a prostitute – that has been my career and not my identity. The people who have abused me have been pimps, madams, prostitutes, and even professors who are a part of the writing of this brief. Therefore, I am writing you to let you know that I strongly object to the fact they used my writing to support their brief and why.


I also do not agree that HIV will be “easier” to treat if prostitution is recognized as a “system of abuse”. That is absolutely not true. Again, they are making a separate class of person than a person. Even the very term they're proposing here suggests that of a female engaging in direct intercourse for money is the only one who can be a “victim of abuse”. However, those who are risk for HIV may also be male, transgender, lesbian, or bisexual. They might be a street walker, or a porn performer, a stripper, a madam, a pimp, or even a webcam cam performer who might be pulling gang bangs without condoms. To limit the risk the way they are is what is going to cause the virus to spread even further in my opinion through their ignorance of how this industry works. An ignorance of how it works because they shun anyone who disagrees with them, who has the broad range of knowledge and experience of this industry that I can provide to those trying to do something about this HIV epidemic I'm seeing spread across this country as we speak, and can offer those who want to do something to truly address this crisis.

The people associated with this brief ran people like myself, and others like Dr. Sharon Mitchell, another ex-porn performer who became a doctor and opened the AIM Clinic that used to test sex workers exclusively, right out of this field when we wouldn't agree with their views. They have acted like we don't exist, not invited us to speak at their events, and threatened anyone who even wanted to speak to us with tanking their careers, let alone wanting to involve us in the HIV issue, as it connects to the sex industry and sex trafficking. As a result of this – I've personally witnessed it leading to another HIV outreach in this country unparalleled since the original 1980's epidemic when we were last not a part of this field either.

So I'm writing to all of you on the Supreme Court who heard this brief I found out about accidentally online while trying to find out why so many within the sex industry are convinced that I'm speaking out against them suddenly. Let me say this – if the writers of this brief knew anything about how this industry truly operates, let alone cared about us, then I wouldn't have had to find out about this brief quoting my own book on an accidental google search. The fact this was how I found out is a sign of the type of disrespect they show all of us, and the presumption they can ignore out voices and speak for us the very way they're doing in this same brief.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime at the above information. Thank you for listening to my feelings and opinions on this matter.

Sincerely,

Jody Williams

(for more on my background go to www.hightechmadam.com)

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