South African sex workers call for decriminalization during World Cup

As South Africa gears up for the 2010 World Cup, the country’s sex workers are starting a campaign to have prostitution decriminalized.

The drive is being spearheaded by the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), an organization that strives to protect the health and human rights of sex workers. SWEAT’s website documents numerous cases of harassment by police and the public. SWEAT fears that this harassment will only increase during the World Cup. The organization wants to have sex work permanently decriminalized, or at the very least for the duration of the World Cup.

The globe’s biggest football (soccer) event is expected to draw 450,000 visitors, some of whom will want to pay for sex. This has raised the concern not only of sex workers, but health workers as well. With South Africa being the source of an estimated 17 percent of global HIV infections, the potential for a major spread of HIV is very real. The South Africa National AIDS Council has stated that if prostitution were legal then it would be easier for the sex worker to demand safe sex. It would also make it easier for sex workers to get abusive clients arrested.

At the moment the government is not considering a change of policy. South Africa, despite its large sex trade, is socially conservative and there is resistance to even talking about these issues. And if even free-loving Amsterdam is clamping down on its red light district, sex workers in South Africa have a long fight ahead of them.

Travel-themed Halloween costume idea #2: Sex tourist and prostitute

Got the travel bug and want to express it this Halloween? Following is the second of several travel stereotypes you can use for costumes.

Sex tourist and prostitute: It ain’t politically correct, but if you’ve spent any time in Thailand you know it’s something you just can’t avoid seeing. This costume really works best for couples; guys should go as a stereotypical tourist (read my tips for a “cruiser” costume). A sunburned face also adds authenticity. For maximum creepiness, dye your hair white, slather on some fake tanning lotion, and throw a gold chain around your neck. The older the male, the younger the prostitute should look.

Ladies, general “hooker” attire is all that’s needed, plus a long black wig. Make sure to cling to you man. Two prostitutes, one on either side, and a dazed goofy grin on the guy is another take on this politically-incorrect costume.

Unsurprising news of the day: Berlusconi in yet another scandal

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been taking a lot of flack lately, what with allegations of corruption and dictatorial leanings, his divorce, and his penchant for hiring attractive women for important positions. Now he’s got to deal with charges that he’s covering up archaeological remains on one of his many properties.

The accusations stem from secret tapes made by call girl Patrizia D’Addario, in which the Italian leader can be heard boasting that he covered up the existence of thirty Phoenician tombs on the property of his villa in Sardinia. Italy has strict antiquities laws and the tombs should have been reported to the authorities. Covering them up would have stopped any delays in constructing the villa, but is illegal, not to mention politically damaging.

Berlusconi’s lawyer claims the Prime Minister doesn’t have any tombs on his property and that he did not know Ms. D’Addario was a call girl. He also denies that any money changed hands.

If there are tombs on Berlusconi’s property they could be a significant find and help Italy’s beleaguered tourist industry. The Phoenicians were a civilization of sea traders centered in what is now Lebanon from about 1550 to 300 BC. They set up trading posts all around the Mediterranean and even circumnavigated Africa. Several Phoenician sites are already tourist destinations in Italy, such as the city if Tharros in Sardinia, shown here.

Angry hookers protest ad costs

Prostitutes in New South Wales are mad. Escalating advertising costs in local papers have prompted these street-walkers to take to the … um … streets. The Scarlet Alliance thus protested outside the NSW Parliament House, fighting for anti-discrimination laws to protect their rights. In addition to advertising, they want better treatment from banks, lenders and local councils.

Sex work is legal in this part of Australia, but local businesses don’t seem to be terribly interested in fairness. Remarks Ivy McIntosh, a local in the biz, “I’m paying much for a measly two inches.” There’s no indication of whether she considered her own rates for the same length.

It’s no coincidence that they chose International Whores Day to make their stand. In honor of this holiday, which began in France in 1975, the Aussie sex workers dressed in red and carried red umbrellas.

“Rule of 3” suffering in Thailand’s red light districts

The bar girls in Patpong, a destination for so-called “sex travelers,” have a basic rule: three inches (duh), three minutes (duh), 3,000 baht (that’s around $87).This year, they can add another “3” to it, one third. That’s roughly how far tourism revenues are expected to fall in Thailand this year. A projected 35 percent drop means less business and less income in what is largely recognized as one of the most disreputable parts of the world.

Recessions are felt at every level. One local bar girl took a pay cut from $232 a month to $174. She had little choice, as customers are scarce. Regular customers are trimming back on their carnal habits, and foreign guests have fallen by around 20 percent.

And, it’s not just Thailand.

The Czech Republic, which has a fairly accepting attitude toward prostitution – 14 percent of check men have admitted to this sort of frolic – has seen up to half of the brothels outside Prague close in the past year. There have been layoffs, as well … even in Nevada. The famous Mustang Ranch in Reno has had to lay of 30 percent (another “3”!) of its workforce, thanks to high-rollers who aren’t spending as liberally.

As with more traditional destinations, travel deals are emerging, such as $111 for as much as you can consume in an hour at one location in Hanover, Germany. A club in Berlin is a bit more generous, with $98 for six hours – in addition to access to the sauna, solarium and a (food) buffet.

I’ll pass on the “stimulus package” joke. Too easy.