Monday, 17 December 2012

Surveillance – Who Can ‘Surveil’ the ‘Surveilors’?

Yes dear reader(s?) it has been a small while since my writings were consistent and while I promised I had been working on a few articles - that is true – they remain works in progress for your dear blogger has been a magnus ignavus solum. Yes I can roll out the upper class fancities when needs must. So today I am going to write a little about a few different interests of mine all nicely intermingled into the one blog: history, criminology and politics. The history is brief – a quick synopsis of the report released recently about Pat Finucane. The criminology is investigative of the state.  The politics will aim to show how if we sociologically and politically wished to learn from history and criminology, we can quite easily do that and the tools are there for us now.

A report was recently released detailing how British intelligence colluded with the RUC and the UDA, or to be PC about it, they ‘facilitated’ the murder of a Human Rights lawyer, Mr. Pat Finucane. To be un-PC about it, the report merely stated in cold truth the unspoken words of the years of ‘the Troubles’ – that the agents of the British government, in the name of law and order conspired with the loyalist militias to kill (as they saw it) Republican sympathizers. If they were willing to do this to get a human rights lawyer, then you cannot be in any doubt it was done to get Republican Paramilitaries as well. The report of Sir Desmond de Silva implied that ignorance among politicians about what was happening on the ground in Belfast was almost intentional. On BBC Radio 4 Wednesday, Lord King (who was Thatcher’s Northern Ireland Secretary) feigned total shock at the findings of the De Silva Report and of course defended the RUC. As an agent of the state, the RUC were answerable to government so this defense by King is wrong.  Indeed De Silva said his report, which was mainly a review of the paperwork relating to the case, "left me in no doubt that agents of the state were involved in carrying out serious violations of human rights up to and including murder". He went on: "However, despite the different strands of involvement by elements of the state, I am satisfied that they were not linked to an over-arching state conspiracy to murder Patrick Finucane."

If he merely reviewed the paperwork relating to the case, the Northern Ireland Secretary would have seen this paperwork at the time. The other side to this is the side of the Finucane family. Mr. Finucane’s widow spoke after the release of the statement and after watching the debate about the report in the House of Commons. She said that it was “a report into which we have had no input. The British government has engineered a suppression of the truth behind the murder of my husband." She went on to say that dead witnesses and now-defunct military organisations had been given the main share of the blame

On the side of the government, that is not too shabby a hand to try and play. But as Michael Finucane, one of Pat Finucane's sons, said: "This is another piece of the jigsaw. The report needs to be read and the documents studied.
"They are bare and cold, containing more shocking facts. That can be used to further our case for a public inquiry."

It has taken over twenty years for the family to get this far and they are not finished their journey yet. Twenty three years to squeeze a little more information from the government archives in their search for the truth. Now I realise this is a sensitive subject and I apologise if anyone reads this that thinks I’m attempting to exploit this case for my argument. I’m not. I’m arguing for an immense power that we the people have in our midst and we’ve allowed ourselves be blinded by lies as to how helpful it can be for us.

(A quick aside to the Finucane news, Robert Fisk pointed out that “our protectors” released some more damning news on the same day that the Finucane Report came out. Amazing the stories that our governments slip out on the quiet.)

As a society, we have in our midst today an organisation that has been pilloried, attacked and in effect, criminalised by some of the most criminal governments around. An organisation that in the last number of years, has had more journalistic scoops than ‘esteemed’ journalistic empires like the BBC or the New York Times.

This organisation is of course, Wikileaks.

The anger is still obvious today. Here is an interview conducted by the BBC with the leader of the organisation, Julian Assnage. Invited on to discuss his new book, Cypherpunks (which I highly recommend), it didn’t take the ‘journalist’ 10 seconds to forget her Journalism for Dummies handbook and accuse Mr. Assange of the falsities that the mainstream media are still perpetrating. I emailed the BBC World Service and complained about her personal attack on him and her false accusations and was told that

“We regret that you were unhappy with the Zeinab Badawi interview with Julian Assange. We would like to assure you that we always strive to report in an unbiased, responsible, factual and sensitive manner.

The relevant department have given us the following statement, regarding this interview:

"It was a robust interview where Mr Assange put his points and the BBC asked challenging questions - as we do of all guests."

Robust interview my arse! The mainstream are fighting governments’ battles so they can maintain their access and this shows.

Wikileaks have uncovered and shared with the world massively important issues that prove beyond doubt governments lie, they cover up murder, they tolerate abuse.  Think Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. They’ve released diplomatic communications detailing what diplomats think of their host nations and government ministers. With relevance to Ireland, Wikileaks detailed what government ministers thought of their own legal system and it’s people. All this information obtained and released within a few years of their happenings.

When awarded their Walkley prize for journalism in Australia (the comparison would be the American Pulitzers), the panel noted the group’s “courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency,” and hailed it for having “applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.” In summation, they said “by designing and constructing a means to encourage whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange took a brave, determined and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency that has empowered people all over the world.” Some commendation.

In tackling State Crimes, I don’t believe there is any organisation more valuable to society than Wikileaks. Don’t believe me? Look at how the attitudes changed within the mainstream media after the US government started going after them. The New York Times, The Guardian, all dropped Wikileaks like a hot stone. If you are in the media and the government love you, then there is something wrong. "A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know." -- Judge Murray Gurfein, Pentagon Papers case, June 17, 1971

The problem today is access. The press wants it and the government gives it to the good news clubs. Wikileaks threatened these news corporations access by revealing government lies and the access was revoked. That caused anger on behalf of the news organisations. Hatred and jealousy festered and those that were associated with Wikileaks also bore the brunt of the mainstream media’s petty jealousy. Read the following article from the ‘liberal’ Guardian newspaper on the winner of their Person of the Year 2012 Award

Bradley Manning has been held for 934 days at the time of writing without trial.  He was accused of releasing state secrets to Wikileaks. State secrets that Robert Gates, then defense secretary of the US, later stated “has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by the disclosure.”

Yet there he is. 934 days without being charged of any crime. Do the mainstream media cover his case? No. The media complicity and submissiveness of the last few years has been criminal.

Likewise without any criminal prosecutions, US ‘lawmakers’ got companies like Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Amazon to all cut support for Wikileaks and their work. Corrupt, inept politicians. Who has stood by it? The People. People are financing it, keeping it going. Paypal, Visa and Mastercard stopped allowing payments to be made despite Wikileaks breaking no laws. Anywhere.

Thankfully our European Parliament has some balls. 

But did Wikileaks die? No. People are still finding ways of supporting it. 
Like this way.
Or this.
Or this.

Besides my hinting at ways to support this organisation, my main point with this argument is that organisations like Wikileaks can ensure that if States commit or collude in crimes, that swifter justice for victims could ensue. It could mean less chance that dead witnesses and now-defunct military organisations could be saddled with the main share of the blame in cases like Mr. Finnucane’s. Think of the Hillsborough tragedy and the time taken to get the government to acknowledge the wrong that happened. Think of the struggles that families have had while the police, the government and the media created a false shitstorm around the 96 victims. Thankfully in the US, there is a fight back taking place.  The newly formed Press Freedom Foundation is taking the lead to try and ensure that Wikileaks can get the funds needed to operate successfully. I would urge you if you can spare a few of whatever currency you use to spare it on these guys. Their battle for transparency affects us all. Whatever one government gets away with, others will only follow.

We need whistleblowers and we need organisations like Wikileaks. Ironically, Hilary Clinton has spoken about the need for whistleblowers while her President has used the Espionage Act more times to prosecute whistleblowers than any preceding administration combined.  This clip really says it all and this article is worth a read

Remember that in 2008 Candidate Obama saidGovernment whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal."

934 days. Without trial.

Most mainstream media do not even bother covering Bradley Manning’s case. Al Jazeera’s programme, The Listening Post, covered investigated this in their most recent show. 
It is thanks to Twitter and being able to follow dedicated professional caring human beings that I have been able to. These people, alongside Bradley Manning, are heroes. They refuse to let Bradley’s story die. They cover it, tweet about it, write about it, go on independent media with his story.

So for Christmas this year, consider supporting Bradley Manning, 

Even if it is to be supportive and write him a letter to know that his cause is being followed.  Small acts can be the biggest boost when you learn others around the world believe your cause to be just. Don’t let the military machine of the US beat this man.

Consider supporting Wikileaks using the links above.

Remember: The truth is not treason unless we allow it to become treason by not standing up for the truth tellers.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

An Open Letter to Rhoda Grant MSP

Dear Ms. Grant MSP,

I am writing to you today regarding your proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex in Scotland. I hope this email can help you to open your eyes, change your heart, your mind and your proposal. I have highlighted below the questions I felt were properly answerable. 

I am a private individual. I recently obtained my Criminology Masters from University College Cork and one of the areas that I studied was Prostitution. I wrote about and analysed whether or not it should be legalised. I honestly approached this topic weighing more on the ‘no’ side as I was under the impression from certain groups here in Ireland, that prostitution itself was wrong, the people involved were in it as a last resort and were being abused and trafficked. In researching this topic with an open mind, every view I held was challenged and overcome. I am now firmly in favour of legalising sex work and using all available resources to tackle the scourge that is illegal human trafficking. The two areas unfortunately are currently interlinked, but not as much as some NGO’s would like you to believe. I believe that with proper regulation, supervision and employment services, sex workers can openly contribute to society and the scourge of human trafficking can be tackled. I will attempt to answer some of the questions in your proposal while providing you with evidence from my research that shows the Swedish model of criminalising the buyer does not work.

.     Q1:  Do you support the general aim of the proposed Bill? Please indicate “yes/no/undecided” and explain the reasons for your response.
I do not support the aim of the proposed Bill. Criminalising the purchaser of sex services only makes the provision of these services more difficult. This Bill will not make sex workers disappear, the provision of sex services will not go away. All that will happen is that those who are involved in sex work will be made more vulnerable and will be forced to accept unsafe working conditions and sexual practices due to the very nature of Police evidence compilation. Condoms, lubes etc. are used as evidence in cases of sex purchasing in Sweden and Norway. The sex workers who I write about in this email will have the recognisable faces of the people we know. “Their circumstances may be different from our own but they are ordinary people living ordinary lives – the fact of their buying or selling sex is part of those lives rather than the defining characteristic of them.” (McKeganey et al. 1996: 1-2) Is prostitution actually a crime Ms. Grant? What harm do sex workers do to society? If it is your morals motivating you to propose this Bill – I will point out that it is not a crime to be unchaste Ms. Grant. I ask why is it a crime when two consenting adults conduct a business transaction for sex? In a sample of interviews with men in Glasgow, the overriding reason for buying sex was one of ease: “The attractions of prostitutes are that it’s easy. We both know what we want, there’s no charade. If I go to a club or something I have to work for it but with a prostitute it’s pure sex, no one’s kidding the other.” (McKeganey et al., 1996: 52) It is not a crime to go on a night out, spend money on a woman with the intention of sleeping with her. If two consenting adults conduct a business transaction for the purpose of a sexual act, why do you wish to criminalise the buyer?

It seems that two major groups have been established. On one side, ‘sex work’ liberals want to normalise prostitution and see it as just another form of employment which, however demeaning, is seen as being no better or worse than many other forms of service work which disadvantaged women engage in. The abolitionists and radical feminists, on the other side, claim that prostitution is a distinctively different form of activity than other types of service work and has damaging personal and social consequences.” (Matthews 2008: 136) What I am attempting to show is that the people who sell sex, their views and attitudes differ from the radical feminists and that people do decide to sell their bodies for sex – of their own free will. Prostitution like sex in general, is surrounded by myths, one of which is the belief that it always involves someone else; the woman who sells sex is never our mother, our daughter, or our sister but some anonymous other who is infinitely more desperate than those we love. Similarly the man who buys sex is never our father, brother, husband or boyfriend, but another whom we do not know and may not even wish to know.” (McKeganey et al. 1996: 1)

Sex work has a human face to it. Criminalising the buyers pushes sex work further into the underworld and makes everyone more vulnerable to the criminals you claim to be stopping.

.     Q2:  What do you believe would be the effects of legislating to criminalise the purchase of sex (as outlined above)? Please provide evidence to support your answer.
I believe the effects would be entirely negative. Sweden to the best of my knowledge, has not released a proper report into their criminalisation legislation. You have to go to Norway to get reports on the Swedish model. In 2004, a report by the Norwegian justice ministry “cited evidence of an ‘increased fear of attack’ among Swedish prostitutes, who found it harder to assess their clients because transactions had to be agreed hastily or on the telephone.” (The Economist, 2008)  Skeptics have argued, indeed it has been widely reported in Sweden, that by “driving prostitution away from Sweden the authorities have simply exported it, sending sex-hungry Swedes to nearby countries or else to Thailand.” There was a report late last year in the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, that investigated the number of Swedes availing of cheap flights to places like Thailand to avail of sex. (; The Economist, 2008) Even in 2001, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) expressed concern that “the Swedish legislation may have rendered prostitutes more vulnerable, and asked the Swedish Government to evaluate the effects of the law. (CEDAW 2001:79; cited from Bryngemark) The Swedish Parliament recently voted in favour of a proposal to undertake such an evaluation, but to my knowledge no investigation into the matter has been initiated as yet.” (Bryngemark, 2005: 50)
Following another investigation into the matter in 2010, Norway presented a Progress Report to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.  It noted the following:
“Experience shows that it has become more difficult to have a good overview of and gain admittance to prostitution circles. In addition, it is reported that individual sex workers no longer want to carry condoms and lubricants out of fear that they will be used by the police as indicators of sale of sexual services. The support and health services for sex workers in Norway, describe increased vulnerability for sex workers. They argue that due to increased competition and greater stress on the market, sex workers are forced to offer clients e.g. unprotected sex. In addition, sex workers in escort services are forced to sell sex at the customer’s arena, which makes them more vulnerable to violence and abuse.” (Norwegian Ministry of Health cited through
NGOs like Ruhama in Ireland who want the Swedish model implemented – (Ruhama are the main opposition to sex worker rights being established in Ireland and are also a powerful religious anti-sex work organisation. Ruhama is a joint initiative of the Good Shepherd Sisters and Our Lady of Charity Sisters, who have been ‘caring’ for Ireland’s ‘fallen women’ since 1848 and 1853 respectively. Please Google ‘Magdalene Laundries’ to see for yourself, the shining example of the care they provided Irish women) – they argue that another deterrent of this style of anti-prostitution law is that it would curtail the trafficking of women. On their website they say that prostitutes tend to be women who “were trafficked into prostitution in Ireland but a significant number were trafficked or prostituted into other countries but escaped to Ireland. Now while living here, they have sourced Ruhama for help” ( ‘In Whose Name?’ – the largest study of migrant sex workers in the UK to date raised a few issues. It argued that there is a climate of fear being created amongst sex workers due to increasing police activity that is driven by “hype and misinformation promoted by NGOs who are ideologically opposed to commercial sex.” (; 2011) This claim is backed by the rare voices of sex workers against the same campaign in Ireland. The Metro focused on the same study and reported “the majority of sex workers who were asked in a study say they prefer working in the sex industry to menial jobs where they are less likely to achieve such a good standard of living.” (The Metro, 2011)
Jesper Bryngemark is a lecturer in Law in Malmo. He argues that “one reason this law (criminalising the purchaser) became a
reality in Sweden in the first place
was that so few sex workers were
ready to go public. Prostitution
traditionally has been invisible in
Sweden. Connected to this invisibility is the fact that the sex workers’ movement in Sweden is very, very weak. And feminism is very, very strong.” (Bryngemark, 2005: 49) Regarding the law, “a few reports have been written, although none of them meet acceptable scientific standards for methodology. Two Swedish official reports in 2000 and 2003, state that street prostitution appears to have decreased, but that no causal link can be drawn between this decrease and the law. The question, “What happened to the sex sellers who stopped working from the street?” is raised in both reports, but is left unanswered. According to the same reports, clandestine prostitution has increased since the law entered into force.” (Bryngemark, 2005: 50)
.     Q3:  Are you aware of any unintended consequences or loopholes caused by the offence? Please provide evidence to support your answer.
.     Q4:  What are the advantages or disadvantages in using the definitions outlined above?
.     Q5:  What do you think the appropriate penalty should be for the offence? Please provide reasons for your answer.
It should not be an offence. Prostitution and sex work should be legalised.
.     Q6:  How should a new offence provision be enforced? Are there any techniques which might be used or obstacles which might need to be overcome?
.     Q7:  What is your assessment of the likely financial implications of the proposed Bill to you or your organisation; if possible please provide evidence to support your view? What (if any) other significant financial implications are likely to arise?
Legalise sex work and the economic implications are entirely positive.
.     Q8:  Is the proposed Bill likely to have any substantial positive or negative implications for equality? If it is likely to have a substantial negative implication, how might this be minimised or avoided?
It creates massive inequality by not providing a safe work environment for sex workers. They will not stop working. They will only become inaccessible and invisible as Norway reported to the UN.

There are very few sex workers voices being heard in any argument regarding the criminalisation of the purchase of sex in Ireland, Northern Ireland or Scotland. Why not? You realise that sex workers are people? With their own reasons for doing what they do? They can be people who have suffered either physical or sexual abuse at home, run away and had to live a life on the streets that has led them into prostitution. They are also young people who simply happen to be in debt. When looking at Sweden previously, feminists argued that no woman would willingly choose to sell herself.  However in studies where the sex workers have been interviewed, it has been shown that “prostitution offers a means of earning a good income where otherwise employment opportunities might be considered limited and low wages the norm.” (McKeganey et al., 1996: 26) More recently, a letter was published that was sent to the Irish Justice Committee who are debating prostitution laws in Ireland. The sex worker said the following:
There is no NGO currently speaking for sex workers in any real sense. All NGOs ruthlessly exclude them from decision making as if they were stray animals, or some kind of substandard, feral people in need of guidance and control from their “betters”. They even go so far as to abuse invalid statistics and distort facts to cultivate this as an image of sex workers in the public eye. The truth is, most sex workers are of above average intelligence, many of them are remarkably well read and/or well educated. They are intelligent people who can do their own thinking and speak for themselves far better than the NGOs who try to insist on being funded to do it for them against their will and sex workers are likely to base that thinking and self-representation on reality rather than the usual NGO basis of pursuit of agenda and funding that is mostly deployed on huge and superfluous salaries and expenses.” (

I urge you to read the rest of that sex workers letter.

Any interviews conducted with the actual workers produce very similar stories. For example, women interviewed in Ann Marie O’Connor’s study in 1996, said that “the bad thing is having to hide, the good thing is that it keeps you independent. I have been able to provide for my children without being dependent on any man.” (O’Connor; 1996: 12) On the streets, the dangers are greater as the author noted that “a number of women had experienced problems with clients; making them leave, being beaten up, being forced to have sex.” (O’Connor; 1996: 13)  In comparison, lets look at a sex worker from the last decade: Belle de Jour. Belle de Jour on the other hand, she was part of an agency. She was secure in the knowledge that if anything went wrong and she failed to text or ring her agency after meeting a client, “the manager will ring the client, then the hotel, her own security if they’re nearby, then the police. She knows. She’s been in your shoes too.” (Jour 2005: 11) What other profession would you have to deal with this disparity? What is amazing is that despite everything these people have to go through, “in virtually all countries, sex workers are strong, courageous women, attempting in any way possible to establish control over their work and their lives.” (McKeganey et al., 1996: 2) Why should there be differences especially when it affects the most vulnerable of the sex workers. The answer lies in the legal aspect. That is where politicians can actually help society. Not by moralising, not by attempting to pass laws criminalising adult behaviour, but by legislating to ensure workers can work in safety.

Can I just finish my email to you with the following? A report released in 2004 by the Association of Chief Police Officers notes that ‘Police Forces in England and Wales are currently operating in a policy vacuum: the law regarding prostitution is clear, but the application of the law – in order to best serve the public and protect the vulnerable – is not.” (Brain in Matthews 2008: 126) The law surrounding prostitution is fair to no one, whether it is the police or the women involved. But the question must be asked - is prostitution actually a crime? Who in society says yes? Politicians? They will say yes when it is deemed to be a public menace and laws will be drafted. But policy vacuums emerge due to inadequate legislation. When society demands action against prostitution, it is generally because they’ve read that trafficking or drugs or pimping is out of control. “People are not disturbed by things, they are disturbed by the view they take of them” (Epictetus) and this is proven in the fact that “policing prostitution has generally been seen as a low priority in police work and the police response has largely been a function of community and political pressure.” (Matthews 2008: 125) Very few people in reality experience problems with prostitution. Their problems arise from what they read is ‘happening’. Operating in a policy vacuum is not fair on the police. In a study conducted in Ireland in 1996, only one Garda (police officer) gave an interview for the research and while the views expressed do not represent those of the Garda force, it is very interesting to note that “in his view legalisation of prostitution would be the best option, from a control, security and health point of view.” (O’Connor; 1996: 17) Legalising it would stop any ambiguities arising, that is, on the one hand stressing that “the law must be enforced” (O’Connor; 1996: 17), while similarly “he agreed that relationships have to be built between the women and the Gardai: “if anything goes wrong they must feel they can come to us”, saying that women would certainly “not be charged if they reported an attack”” (O’Connor; 1996: 16) Removing the criminal label is a first step to “giving women the power and authority to report abuse and coercion and to believe that such reports will be taken seriously and acted upon.” (Matthews 2008: 124) Research has shown that “where a woman had been forced to have sex with a client the woman in question worked on the streets and would not tend to report the attack to the Gardai.” (O’Connor; 1996: 12) This is not right. The law should be there to protect everyone. Policy makers need to be encouraged “to introduce some more radical and far reaching reforms” (Matthews 2008: 138) and religious organisations who argue that prostitution is wrong and lobby governments to make it illegal should be ignored. Previously, courts that tended to be led by a moralistic view were “excessively punitive towards women who deviate from the norm by not conforming to acceptable standards of femininity, heterosexuality and monogamy.” (Heidensohn in Sanders, 2005: 95) It is hard to argue that “if forms of welfare intervention are developed which can reduce women’s motivation to engage in prostitution, address their personal social and economic needs, the need for criminal sanctions should be removed.” (Matthews 2008: 125) The multiplicity of legislation directed at prostitution has not succeeded in eradicating it. We have a simple choice. We either decide “whether we want to essentially increase the welfare response or extend the criminal justice response.” (Matthews 2008: 124)

When the Irish government first looked into prostitution, little changed. After a government paper was released entitled ‘Girls on the Street: The Need for a Welcome’, Jim Finucane, who in the late 1970’s was the researcher and secretary to Fine Gael’s spokesman for Justice Michael Keating TD, “was appalled to discover the full implications of prostitution in Dublin: ‘the slavery, the brutality and the way the system works against the girls on the street” (Levine et al., 1987: 35). “The findings of the paper recommended the establishment of ‘Welcome Centers’ and law reform. The center would be run by ex-prostitutes to provide a homely atmosphere for women who needed help. They would also try to develop any talents that would encourage an alternative way of life, offer professional help when required and provide protection and relaxation.” (Levine et al., 1987: 35) Mr. Keating raised this matter in the Dail but nothing ever came out of this work and the number of women involved in prostitution only increased. Today, we are again looking at prostitution but from your current perspective: criminalising the buyer.

Lastly, can I ask you to look at a hypothetical: Brothel keepers like Tom McDonnell earned millions from running their brothels in Dublin in the 1990’s – “McDonnell was earning around £1,000 a day from the brothels at Grattan Street and South William Street.” (Reynolds, 2003: 24) Yes he exploited the women working for him. But in a legitimate environment, a safe house, that is regulated by government and run by sex workers, for sex workers, why can they not avail of this demand when it is evidently there? Money earned goes back into the economy. Why can’t the government use this revenue potential?  Profits could be used to increase the police force to fight the real crime: trafficking. Money can be used to pay for health care and education centers for the sex workers. Good would come from it.

In regard to prostitution and trafficking, ensure trafficking is the focus of criminal law. They are linked, but they are not hand in glove like some NGOs portray it. No system is ever going to be perfect. You need to try and help the greatest number. Legalising prostitution could help lower the number of trafficked people. By regulating it, governments, councils and the police will know who is involved. Keep a register. New person comes in? Find out where from? If you regulate properly then problems as reported by The Economist, need not happen. The Economist noted that while the level of sex trafficking into the UK appears to have significantly increased over the last decade, the level of regulation of prostitution in general and brothels in particular has declined. (The Economist, 2 September 2004) Proper regulation and laws would negate this. While you keep the sex workers illegal and criminalise their buyers, the likelihood is that the only relationships sex workers will be able to maintain will be with those see them as an easy source of money. (Davis et al., 1994) That is what we should be tackling.
I thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope you read this with the open mind I did when researching my topic.

Yours sincerely,


BBC News; (2011) Most Sex Workers ‘Not Trafficked’, says study.

Belle de Jour; (2005) The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl. Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Bryngemark, Jesper; (2005) Sex Workers Rights.

Davis, S & Shaffer, M; (1994) Prostitution in Canada: The Invisible Menace or the Menace of Invisibility?

Mai, Dr. Nick; (2011) In Whose Name? Migration and Trafficking in the UK Sex Industry: Delivering Social Interventions Between Myths and Reality. London Metropolitan University

Matthews, Roger; (2008) Prostitution, Politics and Policy. Routledge-Cavandish

McKeganey, Neil & Barnard, Marina; (1996) Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients. Open University Press

Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services; (2009) UNGASS Country Progress Report, Norway. Online @

O’Connor, Ann Marie; (1996) Women Working in Prostitution: Towards a Healthier Future. University College Dublin

Reynolds, Paul; (2003) Sex in the City – The Prostitution Racket in Ireland. Pan Macmillan Ltd.

Sanders, Teela; (2005) Sex Work: A Risky Business. Willan Publishing

The Economist; (2004) ‘It’s a Foreigners Game’, Volume 372, Issue 8391, September 4th

The Economist; (2008) Policing Prostitution, The Oldest Conundrum. Available online @ October 30th

The Metro; (2011) Prostitutes Believe Selling Sex ‘Beats Doing a Menial Job’ – Study.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

An open letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Dear Mr Kenny,
You stated in a recent interview that you are personally against abortion and you said the following: “I think that this issue [abortion] is not of priority for government now.” Well Mr Kenny – you were not elected for your personally held beliefs or opinions. You were elected to govern this country for the benefit of all citizens. That involves doing what is best for the people in this country whether your opinion deems it moral or not.
And let me tell you something about opinion. I was once of the opinion that abortion was inherently wrong. Due in no small part to what I heard from the Catholic Church I thought anyone that even thought of doing it, was in a way evil. For me to remember that now, to think that I even thought that makes me ashamed. Why? It wasn’t until someone close to me had to make that choice. Then it hit me: who the hell am I to even attempt to force my opinion on someone regarding a choice they have made in regard to their own body?
You know what I decided to be angry about from that day on? Firstly I was angry at myself for allowing myself believe that. Then I became angry about men in a corrupt institution and the fact they had made me even think that. I was angry at those who like telling others what to do with their own bodies. I became angry at the fact that Irish women have to leave their own country, they have to leave supportive families, friends and services behind to go abroad to have abortions. I am angry that women are not free to choose what it is they wish to do with their bodies.
What century are we living in Mr Kenny? You know what also angers me? That the organisation behind this ‘moral’ crusade is the institution of the Catholic Church and their ideological ‘supporters’. You know – that’s the institution who for years covered up the rape and abuse of children.
You know – children. The beings who in the Church’s warped opinion have a right to life in the womb, but once born the very same beings were the ones that priests could rape, molest and abuse for decades and their superiors excused them for doing it. They moved them and shielded them from the law of the State. Some morals to live by! But then – nothing surprises me about the backwardness, immorality and evil of the Catholic Church.
I believe regarding the abused children, the Church and the State of Ireland, you once said: “But thankfully for them [the children], and for us [the people], this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world. This is the 'Republic' of Ireland 2011. A Republic of laws.....of rights and responsibilities....of proper civic order..... where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version..... of a particular kind of 'morality'..... will no longer be tolerated or ignored.”
Why are you still allowing this criminal institution and its arrogance dictate what choices you make? Why are you are still tolerating “a particular kind of morality” when it comes to women and their choices regarding their bodies? Why Mr Kenny?
I do not call into question your own personally held beliefs Mr Kenny, but you are the Taoiseach of this country. You govern a people with many, many differently held beliefs. You govern many, many different cultures and you were elected to make decisions based on the legal constitution of this country. As you said yourself – this is a Republic of laws. I remind you that since 1992 a woman has had the right to an abortion in this country, yet successive governments, including yours, have refused to legislate.
“What”? I hear you ask.
I know Taoiseach. This is a country of “rights and responsibilities, of proper civic order” and yet 31-year-old Savita Praveen Halappanavar died in Galway because “a particular kind of ‘morality’” still runs through our political discourse and culture.
Shame on you and your government for allowing this to continue and shame on you for not having the decency and courage to sort out this shambolic mess that the women of this country find themselves in when it comes to decisions about their bodies. It took the rape of a fourteen year old in 1992 to get the Supreme Court to act. A woman has now needlessly died. What will make legislating for the X case a priority for your government Taoiseach? Another rape? Another death?
Or will it take a particular type of ‘moral guidance’ about women and their bodies from a man in a hat and a frock to make you legislate?
The eyes of the world are currently on us as a nation in regard to Savita’s tragic death. The ball is in your court Taoiseach. Be a leader. Legislate for the X case and move us beyond a particularly twisted form of morality.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Historical Musical Mutterings

Today’s musical mutterings is a little different – it’s a musical history muttering! Enjoy!

One of my more ridiculous musical obsessions is the creation of music playlists for my listening pleasure. The fascination began with my first MP3 player the mighty Samsung Yepp player.

It had a mahoosive 32 megabytes of memory! Yup! That’s right! 32 megabytes! I have single songs with more megabytes than that these days! Oh the memories! I won’t go into the how and the why I bought it or how it was mis-sold to the eager youngster standing there with hi entire weekly pay packet…… ugh. The memories.

Keeping 'it' Fresh YO

Needless to say I had to create many a ‘6 song’ playlist to fit the 32 mb limit so that my bus ride to work and back from work was kept fresh yo.

I hasten to add here that my music collection at that stage was approximately 23 cds and I had only just discovered Napster so my ability to mix it up and keep the music fresh was….. somewhat limited. So after a few months of having to change the playlist every night, I got my hands on some dosh that enabled me to buy a Sony Minidisc player.
It was the happiest day of my musical existence! I now had a device that I could make proper playlists for and I could bring minidiscs with me on my journeys to school, work and friends houses so I could have a choice of playlist! Also I had always been a Sony head. My first Walkman had been a Sony, the blank tapes I bought were Sony, my first stereo system was a Sony and I was a PlayStation fiend! To return ‘home’ to Sony felt good after a treacherous stepover to Samsung. “Yuck” I said as I brushed my shoulder and sanitised my hands. MPFREEEE was how I liked it and MiniDO was the future.

As I was now working a bit more frequently after school and at weekends, I had a bit of spare money to buy more music. My CD collection exploded. Online sites allowed me check out songs from bands I had never heard of. The internet allowed me talk to music heads from around the world and swap songs by email. It was sheer bliss. I discovered original music sites like ‘cdwow’ and amazon and discovered I could get cds for less than half the price I was currently paying HMV. If angels existed, their ‘hallelujah’ moment for me was then. My minidisc collection was small because I didn’t want to copy over albums for the sake of it. My intention was that my minidisc collection would be my personal DJ collection. Mixes and playlists that I created. They were creatively entitled ‘Minidisc 1’ and ‘Minidisc 2’ and….. I think you get the picture! But not only could you have an assortment of discs, but

they were different colours 

What happened TDK?

they were different….. names

Em..... what he said

So in my years of ownership I created in the region of 15 playlists which let me tell you, received the highest amount of detailed listening to ensure one song followed the other perfectly. I tried to mix it nicely with some light rock to start; that would lead you into heavier rock, then to some metal, before ending on a chilled out note.

My Second Minidisc Player
For some reason then in 2004, the unthinkable happended: I fell out of love with the Minidisc player. It was one of those relationships that ended, not due to falling out of love with it, but the love had changed. We were going in different directions. My second minidisc ended up being sold to a Cash Generators store and for Crimboxmas 2004, I requested and received the following:

 Yes. I had gone a full 360 from being MPFREE to being back at MPTOTALLY. Memory size had rocked in the 4 years since I last owned an MP3 player and I felt it was the right time to go back and of course, Sony were my guys to turn to. I still kept my minidiscs as my HiFi system was a Minidisc one so I still had my playlists and strangely, I never remade them for my MP3. They felt sacred to the old Minidisc life and I left them be.

Things went along ok for about nine months. This was a time when no matter what MP3 player you bought, your manufacturer had their own software they wanted you to use and use it you had to. I liked the emerging iTunes, but Sony demanded that I use SonicStage. All my MP3’s had to be converted into WMA’s or something else in order to work. I pined for the days of hassle free music listening and I wanted the ability to choose what software I wanted to use no matter what MP3 I bought. But of course, things would never be that easy. I ended up having two separate but duplicate music libraries on my laptop. I loved iTunes, hated SonicStage but couldn’t bring myself to sell the MP3 that I had received for Crimboxmas previous.

Then in October 2005, my old Dell laptop died. It was no longer fit for anything besides solitaire. My music was thankfully backed up on a hard drive so it was not lost. I wondered what next. My decision was to change my musical and technology based life for ever. I bought an Apple iBook G4 laptop (which to this day is still working!) and that purchase signaled the end for my Sony MP3. It was not Apple compatible and rather strangely I lost all interest in having a personal music player. I sold the MP3 on eBay and didn’t bother with anything for months.

I started working full time in September 2006 in sales and my first months incentive payment was used to move back into the personal music sphere. I bought an iPod Nano! It was 8 GB, the same size as my old Sony so this was perfect for the time. Then I decided I’d be sacreldiscus. I made playlists on my iTunes of all my old Minidisc playlists and in memory of them, kept the creative titling. Indeed, I was so happy to have digitally reconnected with those playlists that on my iPod today I am currently beginning ‘Minidisc 31’! The main changes today are that my Nano was exchanged for a 160GB Classic iPod as my music collection now verges on the insane. I have in excess of 24,000 songs and over 177GB of music. And crazily, all my ‘Minidisc’ playlists are now joined by 11 ‘Chillout’ playlists, 3 Classical playlists and numerous Setlist playlists of bands that I’ve seen live. I have only a few rules when making my playlists. No more than 20 songs and artist duplication is nearly always forbidden. Some playlists I have allowed exceptions! But I try my best to keep the artists as mixed and as separated as possible. Some playlists need exceptions because the genre of music can be so unique, see my example below.

But do I think I have a problem?!

Simple answer is ‘no’! I find it very challenging and thoroughly enjoyable to sit down and try and thrash out a new playlist. I have a ‘list’ that I throw songs I’ve heard and liked into, then I start from there. It can be a great way to hear different genres together and appreciate many different types of music. One of my two most recent playlists is a most interesting listen. I’ve gone for a real up/down tempo mixing rock with some post rock. It’s quite the ride!

Thus far the list is:
Auto Rock – Mogwai
Little By Little – Oasis
Moya – Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Come on Home – Franz Ferdinand
Blaise Bailey Finnegan III - Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Pardon Me – Incubus
Retreat! Retreat! – 65daysofstatic
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough – Manic Street Preachers
Oroborus – Ulfomammut
Pick A Part That’s New – Stereophonics
State of Non-Return – Om
The Day That Never Comes - Metallica

I’m aiming for 17 or 18 songs on this list I think.

So that’s my musical history muttering! Let me tell you, remembering my old Minidisc’s and MP3 players was awesome! Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing this!