With apologies to Amy Tan.
I’ve never read her book, but I remember the title catching my eye a bookstore. It sums up sex trafficking hysteria perfectly. Amy says the title is derived from the practice of Myanmar fishermen who “scoop up the fish and bring them to shore. They say they are saving the fish from drowning. Unfortunately… the fish do not recover. This kind of magical thinking or hypocrisy or mystical attitude or sheer stupidity is a fair metaphor for the entire book.”
Or it could be a metaphor for a highly-funded rescue industry hellbent on saving someone, damnit!
saving molli from tweeting
The independent London escort Molli Devadasi has been around for a while. She hit Twitter gold by co-starting a hashtag campaign questioning the rescue industry by questioning their assumptions about sex work and sex workers, you may have seen it appear in my Twitter stream: #NotYourRescueProject.
While sex workers with blogs and Twitter are considered “privileged” and not worth listening to, apparently Molli was too successful. She was dragged from her London home, held, and questioned for two days by police before finally being released. They thought she was being trafficked because she was questioning trafficking hysteria, promoting sex worker rights, and discussing her personal choices. That makes sense. They were going to save a fish from drowning and they had a nice, shiny fish with Molli. (Let’s nevermind the time and money spent tracking her down and interrogating her when real victims of actual crimes might have needed police help.)
Molli has been terrorized for no reason other than expressing her opinions and experiences as a sex worker in a country where she was legally working. They took her money, laptop and phone so they can search for her “pimp.”
Need I point out that taking a sex worker’s money means she is going to have to earn more, very quickly? If you’re in an abolitionist frame of mind, this is the opposite of the correct move to make.
twitter safety for working activists
If you’re a sex worker and you know you’re going to Tweet as an activist, consider making a separate activist account and link it to something other than your sex work site (or blog). I have no idea what Molli’s security was like but they tracked her down either via her Twitter account or via her escort domain registration info (or maybe her escort phone number if it was public and registered in her name). Those are some determined rescuers.
Molli’s unfortunate case shows it’s vital to keep the activism and sex work apart. She got a modified version of what sex workers in the US could expect. Since we’re considered criminals before we’re considered victims, Molli in the US would have had her house stormed in the middle of the night, she would have been arrested, searched, interrogated even more harshly/detained even longer, and likely have lost any money in bank accounts and many of her possessions (like a car or house). She might still be in jail. If she had a pet, it might have been shot. If you think this scenario is far-fetched, this has happened many times to innocent people incorrectly suspected of being involved with drugs. A suspected prostitute involved in sex trafficking wouldn’t fare much better.
Congress has made it clear it’s about to go after Twitter and the sex workers on Twitter. Keep your business Twitter account tied to your business, your activist persona on its own. Speaking of which, if you’re truly concerned, use proxies to sign into Twitter. Or buy a “burner” phone and just use that to access your Twitter accounts. Even better if you can Tweet via a Google Voice number that’s tied to a burner phone (I have no idea if you can — feel free to enlighten me). Just like dressing up when it’s cold, it’s all about layers.