Sunday, April 27, 2014

Claims Become Convictions in the Moral Panic that is "End Demand."

This is Professor Ronald Weitzer's presentation at the QUB School of Law's conference, New Frontiers of the Dark Figure: Measuring Hidden Crimes (below). Here you can listen to his talk, and also read along using a transcript published by Wendy Lyon, a Dublin-based researcher and blogger with the Feminist Ire collective, on Sex Work Research. Almost everything Weitzer is saying, these words you hear coming from him, sex workers and their advocates have been saying from at least the Bush administration to the present. They've learned from one another through sharing their varied experiences, networking, staying abreast of online research, all while becoming familiar with the tactics of their powerful opponents. On the streets around the world in protests, and online, they've been decrying harmful legislation. They've endured being silenced, as they saw huge funding streams, year after year, go toward research and and outreach. These grants specifically stated they were not available to those holding the decrim position, and many contained the Anti Prostitution Pledge. These government funding streams have propped up most everything Weitzer is describing. Popular Claims vs. Evidence-Based Conclusions in Human Trafficking', by Professor Ron Weitzer - YouTube.


From the above video description: RON WEITZER is Professor of Sociology at George Washington University in Washington, DC. He has published extensively in the area of sex work, including his edited book Sex For Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry (Routledge, 2000 and 2010) and his new book Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business (New York University Press, 2012). He has written several articles that examine the American campaign against human trafficking (beginning in the late 1990s) and its institutionalization in official state discourse, policymaking, and enforcement practices. He is currently co-editing a special issue on human trafficking for The Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science. Of note, in the audience at this talk was Professor of Sociology Kevin Bales.  It validates sex workers mistrust of UN and government reports.
Chair: Let’s just remind us of Claim 3 again?

Kevin: This is the one about this is the third largest or second largest of all organised crime. I know exactly where that came from and exactly how it happened, because I said it. In a meeting, at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, I was the consultant on human trafficking for the establishment of the “trafficking” part of ODC in the year 2000. It was a closed meeting and someone said “so where do you think this lands in terms of other types of organised crime that we’re working on here at the Office on Drugs and Crime, drugs and arms, like that?” And they turned to me because I was the data guy and I said, “Listen, no one knows the answer to that question, it’s impossible to answer that question. If I had to guess I would say it was third, but no one could answer that question.” And it was a closed meeting – we were just having a discussion. But there was an internal reporter, who wrote it down and then about nine months later it came out as a report in which it said “Trafficking expert consultant explained to group that…”

Male voice: Unnamed?

Kevin: Unnamed. And then – and I never admitted it. I said “I’m going to keep shtum on this.”

Male voice: We’re recording you now [audience laughs]

Kevin: [indecipherable] and it was almost like I had to watch this falsified, false claim but it was UN and I couldn't do anything to blow the cover. So, everyone said it’s the third largest. And I thought this is nuts, everyone in the meeting involved, we all understood that you couldn't do this. What was then very fascinating to me was, over the next three or four years, watching it climb up as the groups that you were talking about decided to inflate the claim that was previously falsely stated anyway. And it began to be pushed up to number two. And there are actually, and I actually tried to document this by searching the web to see how many groups had been bumping it up, because they wanted it to bump up, and then we began to see just in the last two years, people trying to bump it up to number one. So it was falsehood based upon falsehood based upon another falsehood, it was translated to another falsehood.

RW: A case study on how a claim becomes a conviction.

Kevin: Precisely. In fact, it wasn't those on the left side of the battlefield, it was the ones on this other side that [indecipherable]. I know it’s an anecdotal, but that’s precisely where that came from and precisely how it all imploded.

RW: Are you willing to go public with that?

Kevin: Yeah. Now I am.
Kevin Bales has admitted his remarks were the source used to perpetuate one of the myths speaking to the scope of organized forced sex trafficking. But what of the misconception resulting from the misuse of his remarks? Will anyone set the record straight?

Does anyone but this author perceive the violation that this and these types of misrepresentations are to real victims of all forms of human trafficking and slave labor? We might explore some of the ways this hurts victims, but it stands to reason that one of the results of a moral panic would be the misappropriation of funding, and certainly effort.

Will there be further funding to researchers who are this willing to make unsupported claims and publish them as if fact? People like Chrissae, who left her comments under the Weitzer transcript, or our friend aymi, have been part of the population of exploited teens living on our own North American streets.  How are these populations neglected as we carry out deceptions, and mobilize misdirected faith based efforts and task forces? The real victims wanted food, clothing, shelter, education, health care and comfort just like anyone else. It often seems we're doing everything but combating the things that are coercive and might cause people who would be otherwise unwilling to sell sexual services.    

I originally put this article up on July 21, 2013 on my Wordpress blog. --xxxild

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