Harvey Weinstein Charged with Rape

Got him!

Shortly after the first day of Harvey Weinstein’s New York sex crimes trial concluded, the disgraced movie mogul was indicted in Los Angeles on similar charges. 

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced Monday that Weinstein has been charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents over a two-day period in 2013. 

Weinstein was charged with one felony count each of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual penetration by use of force and sexual battery by restraint.

An arraignment will be scheduled for a later date.

“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” Lacey said in a statement. “I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.”

On Feb. 18, 2013, Weinstein allegedly went to a hotel and raped a woman after pushing his way inside her room.

The next evening, the defendant is accused of sexually assaulting a woman at a hotel suite in Beverly Hills.

Prosecutors are recommending bail be set at $5 million. If convicted, Weinstein faces up to 28 years in state prison.

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, which has been reviewing allegations presented against Weinstein by local police agencies for nearly two years, said ahead of Christmas it had eight such cases pending before its task force of specially trained deputy district attorneys.

Weinstein, who was indicted in May 2018 in Manhattan, has been charged with five sex crimes, including rape and predatory assault, involving two women in encounters dating to 2006 and 2013. His New York trial began Monday. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Harvey Weinstein charged with rape, sexual battery in Los Angeles over 2013 allegations.

 

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January is unofficially considered ‘divorce month’ in legal circles due to a peak in filings. Here’s a divorce lawyer’s advice on how to survive your own separation.

Matrimonial attorneys across the nation have prepared for this January, when divorce filings peak. Unofficially dubbed “divorce month” in legal circles nationwide, there’s a variety of reasons why couples have historically chosen to separate after the holidays — and a number of ways for clients to cope.

The phrase “divorce month” became so prevalent in matrimonial law that, in 2016, a study from the University of Washington was conducted to see if there was any statistical evidence to back up the anecdotes. Researchers examined divorce filings from 2001 to 2015 in the state of Washington and determined that filings did indeed increase in January, compared to December.

Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona were also found to exhibit similar patterns; according to Google Trends, the topic of “divorce” peaked the week of January 6 through 12. But while divorce filings spike in January, couples begin their search for legal resources during the holidays when many attorneys are out of office.

On Pinterest, searches for “divorce party” rose an average of 21% from December to January in 2019. This interest is confirmed in matrimonial law offices, where the last two weeks of December are often the busiest of the year as attorneys prepare for the influx of filings.

But why the increase in the first place? For many, the new year often reminds us that we need a fresh start. This is particularly common in unhealthy relationships and dead-end marriages, where couples may decide the best resolution is to part ways. It’s also important to remember that winter and summer holidays are culturally important times for families with children, and filing for divorce during them may be seen as inappropriate.

Other troubled marriages may see the holidays as a time to patch things up, with hopes that things will improve. People often raise their expectations during the holidays, despite past troubles in their relationship. Coupled with an expectation for positive change at the new year, many couples attempt to stick it out through the holidays.

But for others, the University of Washington study found the holidays to be exhausting and emotionally demanding, exposing cracks in their marriages. According to the report, “the consistent pattern in filings, the researchers believe, reflects the disillusionment unhappy spouses feel when the holidays don’t live up to expectations.”

But anyone considering divorce should always remember that fear of separation and holiday tunnel vision are never rational reasons to stay in toxic relationships. While most clients fear divorce, very few ever regret going through with it. In the end, all parties end up happier and better off, and the experience becomes liberating.

Sometimes couples are advised by tax professionals to delay filing until the new year. In most instances, filing jointly as married can help couples take advantage of tax breaks before separation. Attorneys may also advise clients to wait until the new year to take advantage of or avoid new legislation, such as The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which enacted new tax rules regarding alimony payments.

In divorces finalized after January 1, 2019, spousal support can no longer be deducted from taxes. And for those receiving alimony, spousal support is no longer considered taxable income. This significantly increases the burden on the individual paying alimony and ultimately means more money for the government.

So before making an appointment with an attorney in January, there are a few things couples should consider. First of all, it’s not uncommon for couples considering separation to simply be victims of holiday stress. Take some time to reflect upon your relationship and determine if it is really worth salvaging. If both partners agree it’s time to move on, it’s typically in everyone’s best interest to proceed with commencing the divorce process.

If you do decide to proceed with divorce, don’t be afraid to ask your therapist, attorney, or a support group for help, and be sure to make time for self-care and positive thoughts. The holidays are a stressful time, and the New Year can bring much needed clarity, regardless of your ultimate decision.

During the separation process, your attorney will help you decide how to best reach your financial and parenting goals. As previously noted, they will consider, among other things, the tax implications of your decision and potential new legislation that may take effect in the new year.

When clients decide to begin the divorce process, we advise that they should explore therapy as early as possible. There is no longer a stigma attached, and you cannot afford to neglect your feelings — negative emotions and hurt feelings can cloud judgment. Therapy can help you prioritize your thoughts, providing you with a trustworthy third party while separating knee-jerk emotional reactions from what’s best for you, your children, and your future.

Clients should also reach out to their attorneys for as much information on the process as possible. The more they know about the legal process, the less stressful it’s likely to be. Lawyers can also give advice on how to reach support communities, as well as ways to best proceed emotionally.

We recommend staying off social media, and urge clients not to use it to air grievances. Avoid following your spouse’s feeds too closely so that you can stay focused on ending your marriage as quickly and equitably as possible.

Practice self-care instead. Make sure you’re eating right, exercising, and taking time for your own recreation. Twenty minutes of exercise a day goes a long way in helping clients cope by lowering anxiety and stress and helps to deter depression and negative emotions.

A healthy social life is another excellent way to maintain positive thoughts. Focus on staying out of the tunnel vision divorce can cause and remember that life will go on. Many clients fear the end of the process the most, but, once it’s over, the vast majority of them experience instant relief and go on to happier relationships.

If your marriage is putting pressure on you this holiday season, just know you’re not alone should you make the decision to file for divorce. The holidays can be a stressful time, but remember that in addition to your attorney, therapists and other wellness providers can be great resources.

Overall, take your time and do what’s right for you. And, once you make your final call, don’t look back.

 

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Transgender Women Challenge Pennsylvania Law That Doesn’t Allow Name Change

Three trans women have filed a lawsuit that challenges a provision of Pennsylvania’s name change law that doesn’t allow people convicted of some felonies, such as aggravated assault, to change their names.

Alonda Talley, Chauntey Mo’Nique Porter, and Priscylla Renee Von Noaker are working with the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and the law firm Reed Smith, which is working on the case pro bono, to build a constitutional challenge. They filed a lawsuit Wednesday to have the court declare this provision of the law unconstitutional and to enjoin the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from enforcing it.

The amendment to the law on name changes went into effect in 1998 and was designed to prevent fraud, such as to circumvent financial obligations, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The women’s complaint argues that under the Pennsylvania constitution, it is a fundamental right to control your name.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution does not allow for a system under which a person has no opportunity to show that they are seeking a name change for a non-fraudulent purpose (such as to reflect a gender transition), and a court has no opportunity to decide whether the petitioner is seeking a name change for a non-fraudulent purpose,” the complainants argue.

As a result of not being able to change their names, the women say they suffer harassment and are prevented from getting the health care they need.

Porter was convicted of aggravated assault in 2008. As a result of her not being able to change her name, she said she has experienced abuse, harassment, and humiliation from police, employers, coworkers, and service providers such as bank employees, the lawsuit explains. She said in 2017, doctors told her she didn’t qualify for a transition-related surgery because her current legal name is evidence of her not “living as a woman.”

The women also described incidents such as being forced to go into offices in person for finances and other tasks people can usually do over the phone due to the lack of name change.

It’s already fairly difficult for transgender people to change their names and gender markers regardless of whether they been convicted of a crime or face other challenges, such as immigration status. For gender markers, some states require a surgical procedure of some kind but don’t state what that procedure must be. Many transgender people can’t afford surgeries or don’t want surgeries. In this respect, many of the policies around name and gender marker changes assume that all trans people have exactly the same experiences and paths toward transitioning. Filing fees for name changes can also be expensive. In some states, transgender people have to print a notification of a name change in a local newspaper, which also costs money. These challenges also affect transgender people’s voting rights. Alonda Talley, one of the women involved in the Pennsylvania lawsuit, said her identity has been questioned when she went to exercise her voting rights.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), only 11% of trans people have their name and gender that corresponds with their gender on all identity documents and records. The survey also showed that 32% of trans people who did not have IDs matching their gender presentation said they had experiences being attacked, harassed, or denied services.

Many trans people face financial barriers and some of the most marginalized transgender people are involved in the criminal justice system. The USTS survey shows 29% of respondents said they were living in poverty, which was even higher for respondents of color, and 12% of undocumented respondents had been incarcerated in the past year. Nine percent of black trans women and 7% of homeless trans people were incarcerated in the past year, respectively.

States have considerable variations in their policies on whether people convicted of crimes can change their names, according to a guide by Trans Lifeline Microgrants which was last updated in the fall of 2017. Some states don’t have any limitations at all and others target sex offenders specifically. In some cases, people convicted of crimes have to wait a decade to change their names. In Alabama, people can’t change their names if they’ve been convicted of a felony, sex offense, or a “crime of moral turpitude,” a broad term that can apply to almost any crime. In Texas, when people try to change their name, they fill out a petition and list all convictions above Class C misdemeanors. If someone has a felony, it can be pardoned or they must wait until two years after release from parole or probation, or two years after receiving a certificate of discharge from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

 

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Prince Andrew is a Fucking Liar

The Duke of York claimed on Saturday night that he could not have had sex with a teenage girl in the London home of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell because he was at home after attending a children’s party at Pizza Express in Woking.

Prince Andrew gave the startling explanation in a bombshell interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight in which he was grilled about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has been exposed as a pedophile.

In a sometimes rambling and contradictory account of their friendship, the prince insisted he had not had sex with any women trafficked by Epstein in any of his properties. He confirmed that he had flown on Epstein’s now notorious jet, nicknamed the Lolita Express, and stayed on his private island and at his home in Palm Beach, as well as at his New York mansion.

“If you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody,” the prince explained. “You have to …. take some sort of positive action and so therefore if you try to forget it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action and I do not remember anything.”

Of the allegations that he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, when she was 17, the prince categorically denied it ever happened.

Roberts has said that they partied at Tramp nightclub in London on 10 March 2001, before going back to Maxwell’s Belgravia mews house where she claims she had sex with Andrew.

The prince said: “I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose four or five in the afternoon. And then because the duchess [Sarah Ferguson] was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other is there.”

A photograph of the prince with his arm around Roberts’s waist has been widely circulated, but the prince repeatedly said in his Newsnight interview he had “no recollection of that photograph ever being taken”. He said the picture appeared to have been taken upstairs in Maxwell’s house, somewhere “I don’t think I ever went”.

Yesterday Giuffre retweeted several disparaging tweets about the prince including one that read: “Prince Andrew’s shocking interview was an attempt to save his reputation – but it just raised more questions.”

In the interview the prince said he last saw Maxwell earlier this year. He defended his relationship with Epstein, who was found dead earlier this year in prison while being held on sex trafficking charges, saying it had opened up opportunities for him as he transitioned out of the navy: “In the navy it’s a pretty isolated business because you’re out at sea the whole time and I was going to become the special representative for international trade and development. The opportunities I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

He confirmed that Epstein had been a guest at Windsor and Sandringham and that he attended a dinner celebrating the financier’s release from prison. An arrest warrant was issued for Epstein in May 2006, for sexual assault of a minor. The prince confirmed that he invited Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday the following July and was unaware that the warrant had been issued.

In 2010, the prince was photographed walking with Epstein in New York’s Central Park – two years after Epstein’s first conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution. When it was pointed out during the interview that he was staying at the house of a “convicted sex offender”, he said: “It was a convenient place to stay… At the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time, I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do. And I admit fully that my judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that is just the way it is.”

The prince said he went to the US to tell Epstein they could no longer see each other, as “doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way”. Of claims that witnesses saw young girls entering Epstein’s mansion, the prince said: “you have to understand that his house, I described it … almost as a railway station … there were people coming in and out… all the time.”

He appeared to be open to giving a statement under oath, something Epstein’s victims have been demanding: “If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.” Before the broadcast, Gloria Allred, a lawyer acting for a number of Epstein’s victims, said: “Rather than just going on television he, I think, would be well served to just say I’m willing to take the oath and appear at a deposition.”

The prince said that his association with the financier had been “a constant sore in the family”.

The Duke of York claimed on Saturday night that he could not have had sex with a teenage girl in the London home of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell because he was at home after attending a children’s party at Pizza Express in Woking.

Prince Andrew gave the startling explanation in a bombshell interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight in which he was grilled about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has been exposed as a pedophile.

In a sometimes rambling and contradictory account of their friendship, the prince insisted he had not had sex with any women trafficked by Epstein in any of his properties. He confirmed that he had flown on Epstein’s now notorious jet, nicknamed the Lolita Express, and stayed on his private island and at his home in Palm Beach, as well as at his New York mansion.

“If you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody,” the prince explained. “You have to …. take some sort of positive action and so therefore if you try to forget it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action and I do not remember anything.”

Of the allegations that he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, when she was 17, the prince categorically denied it ever happened.

Roberts has said that they partied at Tramp nightclub in London on 10 March 2001, before going back to Maxwell’s Belgravia mews house where she claims she had sex with Andrew.

The prince said: “I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose four or five in the afternoon. And then because the duchess [Sarah Ferguson] was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other is there.”

A photograph of the prince with his arm around Roberts’s waist has been widely circulated, but the prince repeatedly said in his Newsnight interview he had “no recollection of that photograph ever being taken”. He said the picture appeared to have been taken upstairs in Maxwell’s house, somewhere “I don’t think I ever went”.

Yesterday Giuffre retweeted several disparaging tweets about the prince including one that read: “Prince Andrew’s shocking interview was an attempt to save his reputation – but it just raised more questions.”

In the interview the prince said he last saw Maxwell earlier this year. He defended his relationship with Epstein, who was found dead earlier this year in prison while being held on sex trafficking charges, saying it had opened up opportunities for him as he transitioned out of the navy: “In the navy it’s a pretty isolated business because you’re out at sea the whole time and I was going to become the special representative for international trade and development. The opportunities I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

He confirmed that Epstein had been a guest at Windsor and Sandringham and that he attended a dinner celebrating the financier’s release from prison. An arrest warrant was issued for Epstein in May 2006, for sexual assault of a minor. The prince confirmed that he invited Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday the following July and was unaware that the warrant had been issued.

In 2010, the prince was photographed walking with Epstein in New York’s Central Park – two years after Epstein’s first conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution. When it was pointed out during the interview that he was staying at the house of a “convicted sex offender”, he said: “It was a convenient place to stay… At the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. But at the time, I felt it was the honorable and right thing to do. And I admit fully that my judgment was probably colored by my tendency to be too honorable but that is just the way it is.”

The prince said he went to the US to tell Epstein they could no longer see each other, as “doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way”. Of claims that witnesses saw young girls entering Epstein’s mansion, the prince said: “you have to understand that his house, I described it … almost as a railway station … there were people coming in and out… all the time.”

He appeared to be open to giving a statement under oath, something Epstein’s victims have been demanding: “If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.” Before the broadcast, Gloria Allred, a lawyer acting for a number of Epstein’s victims, said: “Rather than just going on television he, I think, would be well served to just say I’m willing to take the oath and appear at a deposition.”

The prince said that his association with the financier had been “a constant sore in the family”.

 

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‘Who’s buying sex in Center City on lunch break?’ Bill takes aim at sex trafficking at massage parlors

Behind darkened doors, barred windows, or surveilled entrances, thousands of massage parlors hiding exploited sex workers are operating across the country. But lately, in some cities, more of the visitors knocking on their doors are inspectors.

In San Francisco, 150 illicit massage businesses have been shut down since 2015 largely thanks to enforcement of a new municipal code. A toughened ordinance led to the shutdown of 38 businesses in Houston within a year.

And nationwide, at least 13 cities have proposed new ordinances since a report in January documented the operation of more than 9,000 illicit massage businesses in the U.S. — establishments that are commonly used as fronts for sex trafficking of vulnerable women.

 

Philadelphia could be next to join; on Thursday, Councilman William K. Greenlee introduced a bill to add regulations aimed at making a dent in the number of such businesses here.

In several cities, recently enacted measures have successfully shut down illicit businesses without penalizing the workers, who are often victims of trafficking. The approach is a far cry from the traditional police busts that result in prostitution arrests for the workers but do little to stop the owners from reopening a week later with a new name or new employees.

 

“We want to make sure that these places aren’t just fronts for human trafficking,” said Greenlee, who plans to talk with stakeholders about the proposal over the summer. “Human trafficking is clearly a problem and it’s happening, at least to some [extent], in our city. … We need to try to address it.”

The bill would create licensing and registration requirements that would put burdens on owners opening illegitimate shops.  Violations could shut down businesses and discourage new ones from opening.

 

“We need to make it harder for these businesses to just pop up and go down and pop up,” said Shea Rhodes, director of the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, whom Greenlee’s office consulted.

Since January, 46 illicit massage businesses have been shut down across the country in part or completely because of code enforcement, according to Polaris, an advocacy group that runs the national human-trafficking hotline and that released the January report.

About 260 illicit massage businesses are in Pennsylvania and 370 in New Jersey. They operate in the city and neighboring counties, the Inquirer and Daily News has reported.

The businesses are most commonly staffed by female immigrants from Asian countries who come here under false promises of visas, good pay, or a new life, according to Polaris. They are then forced into sex work by massage-business owners, who add on debt after debt to keep the women in servitude.

 

Greenlee’s bill would require every massage establishment to be licensed with the city in addition to the state, display certificates and prices publicly, keep detailed records of services, and not operate outside the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Under the bill, violations found during inspections could result in fines of $200 to $2,000, which can add up daily, and possible license suspension or revocation. It also includes a proposed  $500 annual license fee.

 

Code enforcement can cause businesses to shut down through several paths: The owner’s license is revoked, the number of violations add up and the operation can successfully be closed down as a nuisance, or the violations are used as evidence in a criminal case. Plus, the owner may decide to close up shop when facing fines.

 

“The owners just say, ‘This isn’t worth it,’ ” said Meghan Carton, strategic initiatives specialist with Polaris. “In Philadelphia, where they haven’t had a civil enforcement tool, this will be a shock to [owners].”

 

The bill would hold owners accountable for any violations by the business, thus protecting the workers from fines. It also requires workers to be fully clothed.

Greenlee’s draft bill could change after conversations with experts and other stakeholders, his office said. Key provisions in other cities have included a regulation against anyone living or sleeping on business premises, which can prevent workers from being held captive inside, and against internal locks, so that workers cannot be confined in rooms with clients and inspectors can open the door unannounced.

Other ordinances have aimed to keep the businesses from cropping up after being shut down by prohibiting another massage business from opening in the same location or by barring an owner from opening another business. Those provisions aren’t yet in Philadelphia’s bill.

 

Villanova’s Rhodes said there also needs to be more awareness that paying for sex is a crime.

 

“Who’s buying sex in Center City on their lunch break?” she asked. “What businesses do they work for? And how are they finding the locations to go and buy sex? Are they using their desk phones and desk computers to search for it?”

 

As part of its strategic plan against human trafficking, Houston in 2016 strengthened its massage-business ordinance, created a municipal court diversion program to connect potential victims with legal services, and set up a program to find them care and temporary shelter.

 

And in San Francisco, health department officials have used a mix of citations, penalties, permit suspensions and revocations, local zoning regulations, and discerning review of new permit applications to reduce the number of permitted massage establishments in the city from 350 to 193.

 

“The employees are generally viewed as the victims, so the fines and penalties are largely directed toward the owners,” said Patrick Fosdahl, an assistant director in the city’s Department of Public Health.

Officials and experts have one other group in mind when crafting these laws: real massage therapists. The bill is crafted to put a minimal burden on aboveboard businesses.

 

“We’re not trying to hurt the legitimate massage therapists,” Greenlee said. “We have a problem here in Philadelphia and we need to try to address it the best we can.”

 

 

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Meet The Tinder Prostitutes

Guess what these women on Tinder really mean when they say ‘80 roses an hour’? Hint: it’s got nothing to do with flowers

Sarah went on Tinder for the same reason lots of women our age do – to find out how many single guys there were in her local area and to have an easy, safe way to get in contact with them. But, unlike lots of girls, Sarah doesn’t want to find single men because she looking for a boyfriend. She doesn’t even want a no-strings hookup – at least not in the way you’d think. Unlike you’re average user, when Sarah sleeps with a guy she meets on Tinder she leaves with much more than new number in her a phone and a funny sex story to tell her mates – she leaves with a pocketful of cash. Because unlike most 24-year-old girls using Tinder, Sarah’s a prostitute and she’s using the hookup app to lure in clients.

 

‘It made so much sense – where else do you basically have a database of all the down to fuck men in your area?’

‘Tinder has at least doubled my business,’ Sarah, who had a job in a strip bar before becoming a prostitute four years ago, explains to The Debrief. ‘In the last week alone, I’ve seen 12 clients all from Tinder and have earned over £1,000. I got the idea from a friend of mine who’s also on the game. I think she actually joined Tinder to find a boyfriend or whatever, but was sent dozens of messages from guys asking for no-strings sex, threesomes or naked pictures – there was basically no romance there at all. She just thought to herself “I’m not getting anywhere using Tinder to find a bloke, why don’t I just use it to boost business?” It made so much sense – where else do you basically have a database of all the down to fuck men in your area? – and she found it so easy I thought I might as well give it a go. I just made a profile, wrote caption that made it kind of obvious what I do for a living, matched everyone who I was OK sleeping with and then waited for matches to get in contact with me. I know more and more prostitutes are cottoning on as well – it’s made my job insanely easy.’

There have been reports for some time that Tinder has been being used this way over the globe. New Mexico State Senator Jacob Candelaria specifically blasted the app in his attempt to ‘clean up’ dating websites which allow the soliciting of sex. He told KOB Eyewitness News 4, ‘Our laws can’t and don’t keep pace with technological advancement and there will always be people looking to exploit those loopholes. We’re weak. Our courts have said our pimping laws are not applicable to the internet.’

And it looks like the same thing’s happening here, but should we be surprised? The dating app’s anonymity and pure reach make it a natural fit for sex workers. If you’ve ever borrowed your male mate’s phone to ‘play’ Tinder from the other side of the fence, you’ve no doubt come across a few of the profiles yourself. In between the ordinary profiles, you’ll find one or two pictures of lingerie-clad women provactively posing for selfies. That in itself isn’t exactly unusual, but what sets these profiles apart is what the women are offering in their ‘about’ section.

I was blown away by how quick, easy and transparent it could be to buy sex over Tinder

The ‘kind of obvious’ messages that prostitutes use to distinguish themselves from other girls’ profiles are easy to spot once you know the (admittedly, not hugely subtle) code. In London, at least, they’re easily identifiable by a proclivity for using rose emojis. Descriptions I have come across when I was researching this feature include ‘[rose emoji] 80 roses for the best night of your life’, ‘90 [rose emoji] for BBBJ’ [meaning bare back blowjob – blowjobs without a condom – according to Sarah] and ‘80 roses for an hour, GFE [Sarah says this is for a girlfriend experience] [rose emoji].’ In case you still haven’t figured it out – ‘roses’ mean ‘pounds sterling’.

Using my male housemate’s Tinder account, I was able to chat to three prostitues in one day and was blown away by how quick, easy and transparent it could be to buy sex over Tinder. On all three occasions, the process was the same – match with the girl, chat to them over Tinder about what I wanted and how much they would charge and then they’d send me a mobile number to ring and an address to go to. The price ranged from £70 for an hour with, extras such as blowjobs or anal increasing the price to over £100, to £300 for the entire evening and a full ‘girlfriend experience’. I was able to negotiate these prices without leaving my sofa or even speaking to the girl and that seems to be the point – it’s remarkable how easy Tinder makes it for users to skip the chit-chat and just pay a stranger for sex – all without deviating away from their iPhone.

For Sarah, the appeal seems to be that Tinder allows her to sell sex for cash while remaining anonymous and slipping past any interference from the police. ‘I had always worked at brothels or kerb-crawled before I started using Tinder, which was a nightmare, because you’d have to deal with hassle from the police. I’ve been in a brothel once when it was raided and it’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. And being shooed away by police on street corners is fucking boring. I’ve tried Gumtree and other websites, but they’re now really hot on closing down profiles that are soliciting sex. Tinder lets me get on with it completely privately – they message me, we chat, they come round, I shag them – or sometimes even just chat because it’s not always about the sex – and then they leave. It’s not traceable.’

When anyone reports Sarah’s profile and Tinder shuts it down, all she does is make another Facebook profile and get right back on.

The laws around prostitution in England and Wales are far from simple. The act of prostitution is not in itself illegal – but there are certain laws that criminalise activities around it. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, it is an offence to cause or incite prostitution or control it for personal gain, and the 1956 Sexual Offences Act prohibits running a brothel and it’s against the law to loiter or solicit sex on the street. So selling sex on Tinder is not only completely within the parameters of the law, it allows these women to bypass any legal issues they might have selling sex through ‘traditional means’. No wonder Sarah finds it so appealing. For their part, Tinder is clear that such activities are against the app’s terms of service, which forbids commercial solicitation of any kind including ‘advertising or soliciting any user to buy or sell any products or services not offered by the Company’. Not that that’s had any affect on Sarah – when anyone reports her profile and Tinder shuts it down, all she does is make another Facebook profile and get right back on. It’s difficult to see how Tinder can keep on top of policing it.

So it certainly seems to be functional for Sarah, but what affect is it having on her emotionally? Using Tinder to solicit clients strips away what little face-to-face communication Sarah had with the people she’s about to have sex with so it becomes completely transactional – almost like doing a supermarket shop. Is she worried about what emotional damage she might be doing to herself? ‘Sometimes I think they forget that there’s an actual human behind the profile and there are times when it hasn’t been ideal,’ she admits. ‘People troll you a bit, but it comes with the territory and I just block them, because it’s a waste of my time. But even in person, people aren’t always very nice. When you meet with clients in the brothel or on the street, they obviously know what you look like in “real life”, but I admit that the pictures I used on my Tinder profile show me looking at my absolute best and, sometimes, the guys are disappointed with what they see when they arrive. Mainly all that people do is make a unkind joke about my appearance – which I can handle – but on one occasion someone actually left, which was obviously a bit shitty. And I do worry about my safety, but if I’m concerned, my male neighbor – who is a good mate – has a key to my house and I just text him if I feel intimidated and he gets rid of them.’

Interestingly, Sarah says that the sex she has through Tinder tends to be more ‘vanilla’ than some of the requests she had when she was working in a brothel. ‘I used to get people asking for weird stuff – one guy wanted me to wank him off into his own mouth– when I was in a brothel, but because the users on Tinder tend to be predominantly men in their twenties and thirties, they usually don’t want anything that niche. The most bizarre request I’ve had from Tinder was from a banker in his late twenties who wanted a classic sub-dom scenario and for me to urinate on him, but that’s not really a big deal to me. I got into this because I love sex and I have a really high sex drive. I get to have sex for a living and I absolutely love my job. Anyway, most of my friends on Tinder have sex with guys who then disappear off the face of the planet. The only difference between me and them is that I’m charging.’

 

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One in seven young Australians say rape justified if women change their mind, study finds

Appalling!

Almost one in seven young Australians believe a man would be justified in raping a woman if she initiated sex but changed her mind, while almost one-quarter of young men think women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they are not interested.

The findings from the National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women Survey (NCAS) youth report released on Wednesday reveal that while young people increasingly believe in equality in the workplace and in leadership, they are less likely to recognise sexism, coercion or other problematic behaviours in their own relationships.

Of 1,761 people aged between 16 and 24 surveyed, 43% supported the statement: “I think it’s natural for a man to want to appear in control of his partner in front of his male friends.”

The survey, commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women and Safety (Anrows) and VicHealth, is conducted every four years. The latest analysis comes from data collected in 2017.

While the proportion of young people agreeing that men make better political leaders than women declined from 24% in 2013 to 13% in 2017, almost one in three young people still believe that women prefer a man to be in charge of a relationship. Young men (36%) were more likely to support this statement than young women (26%).

More than one in five young people (22%) believe there is no harm in making sexist jokes about women when among their male friends, and young men (30%) are more than two times as likely than young women to agree with this statement (14%). While attitudes towards women in leadership had improved, young men (17%) were more likely than young women (8%) to say men make more capable bosses than women.

“A large proportion of young people support attitudes that deny gender inequality is a problem,” the report found. “Young men are substantially more likely to express these attitudes than young women across all questions in this theme.” For example, 45% of young people believe that many women exaggerate gender inequality in Australia, with young men (52%) more likely to hold this belief than young women (37%).

Nearly three in five young men believe that many women mistakenly interpret innocent remarks or acts as being sexist. Meanwhile, 37% agreed that women make up or exaggerate claims of violence to secure advantage in custody battles. The same proportion agreed with the statement “It is common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men”, with young men (45%) more likely to agree than young women (29%).

Lead researcher Dr Anastasia Powell from RMIT University said the good news was that young people’s understanding of the nature of violence against women had improved over time, and so had their support for gender equality.

But an area where understanding has backtracked was around the unequal nature of domestic and family violence, she said.

“A lot of young people believe it’s a gender-neutral issue where men and women are equally using violence, but we know from police statistics and surveys this is largely a problem of men’s violence against women.”

Also concerning was that 20% of young men did not understand that repeatedly keeping track of a partner’s location was a form of violence against women, she said, while 11% did not think stalking is a form of violence.

“We must continue to invest in prevention strategies to continue to make ground on these attitudes and to make this the generation that ends violence against women,” Powell said.

The principal program officer for mental wellbeing at VicHealth, Renee Imbesi, said: “We can’t sit back just because women’s role in public life has improved.

“Many people still hold outdated views of women in the home, and it is clear that many young men and women are going into relationships with different expectations around things like gender roles and consent.

“We need to get the message out there that control in relationships can be a precursor to violence. The other aspect is if young people see more respect and equality in their own families and workplaces, then they will start to see that as the norm.

“If we don’t change our world to make it more gender equal, we can’t expect young people to be on board with equality.”

 

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