Understanding Commercial Sex Policy: A Global and US Perspective
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
72 East Concord Street
The form of commercial sex that some people call prostitution and others call sex work is presently illegal to sell and to buy in the United States, with the exception of 11 counties in Nevada where it is legalized. The public health community is not unified in its perspective on policy options. The purpose of this symposium is to use a public health framework to consider the potential advantages and disadvantages of legalizing or decriminalizing commercial sex in the United States. Speakers will address the harms of criminalizing the buying and selling of sex as well as the need to reduce human trafficking. Lessons learned in the global context will be considered. The objective of the symposium is to equip attendees with a richer understanding of the issue and the likely implications of supporting the legislative options under consideration.
8:30 a.m. – 8:50 a.m.
Breakfast and Informal Greetings
8:50 a.m. – 9 a.m.
WELCOME AND OPENING REMARKS
Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, Boston University School of Public Health
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health
9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
SEXUAL COMMERCE IN NEOLIBERAL TIMES: POLICY, POLITICS AND NEVADA’S LEGAL BROTHELS
Barbara G. Brents
Professor, Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Barbara G. Brents is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Brents researches sex and gender in market culture. She is a co-author, with Crystal Jackson and Kathryn Hausbeck Korgan, of The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland (Routledge Press, 2010), a comprehensive study of Nevada’s legal brothels—the only legal US brothel industry. Her work on prostitution regulation; political debates around prostitution; the relationship between tourism, consumption, and sexuality; and the emotional and bodily labor of selling sex has been published in numerous scholarly publications. Brents’ work has been featured in a wide variety of media, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Wall Street Journal. Her current research focuses on the consumption of sexual services. She is heading a research team analyzing data on the attitudes and behaviors of prostitution clients and pornography consumers. Brents teaches courses in gender, sexuality, and politics. She received the Nevada Regents Outstanding Graduate Advisor Award, the UNLV Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award, the UNLV Alumni Faculty Award for Academic Excellence and Student Focus, the UNLV College of Liberal Arts Award, and the Donald Schmiedel Lifetime Service Award. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, which recently presented her with the Noel P. Gist Distinguished Alumni Award. The Southern Nevada Women’s Political Caucus awarded her the Good Gal Award. Brents was named one of 256 women who have made a difference in 100 years of Las Vegas history. She has served on the council for the political sociology section of the American Sociological Association, on the national board of the American Civil Liberties Union, and as the Nevada State ACLU president.
9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
GENDER EQUALITY AND COMMERCIAL SEX IN THE GLOBAL CONTEXT
Saniye Gülser Corat
Director, Division for Gender Equality, Office of the Director-General, UNESCO
Saniye Gülser Corat is the director of the Division for Gender Equality in the Office of the Director-General at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. She was the pioneer in making gender equality a priority at UNESCO and has been with the organization since September 2004. Corat has a wealth of experience in academia, international development, and the private sector and is also a TEDx speaker. Before taking up her position at UNESCO, Corat pursued a dual career as an academic at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa and as an accomplished expert in international development working for the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Canadian International Development Agency, International Development Research Centre, and Status of Women Canada. She lived, worked, and managed projects in more than 30 countries in Asia-Pacific, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, Europe, and North America. She was also the chief executive officer of an international development consulting company in Canada for 10 years. Corat holds postgraduate degrees from Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School. She has a BA honors degree from Boğaziçi University (Istanbul), MA degrees from the College of Europe (Bruges, Belgium) and the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University (Ottawa, Canada), and pursued doctoral studies in the political science department at Carleton University.
10:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
10:45 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
CHILD TRAFFICKING AS A HUMAN RIGHTS AND RACIAL JUSTICE ISSUE
Malika Saada Saar
Senior Counsel on Civil and Human Rights, Google
Malika Saada Saar is Google’s senior counsel on civil and human rights. Before joining Google, Saada Saar was founder and executive director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), a human rights organization focused on gender-based violence against young women and girls in the United States. She also served as special counsel on human rights at The Raben Group. As a human rights lawyer and advocate, Saada Saar led the effort to shut down Craigslist sex ads that served as the leading site for the trafficking of children for sex, ended the federal practice of shackling pregnant mothers behind bars in US prisons, and successfully advocated for millions in federal funding for treatment services for at-risk families. Newsweek and Daily Beast have named Saada Saar as one of “150 Women Who Shake the World.” The Obama White House selected Saada Saar to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights and the Essie Justice Group. Saada Saar has been featured in Daily Beast, Huffington Post, O: The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Politico, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Elle, Redbook Magazine, Essence, the Tavis Smiley Show, BBC, ABC News, Good Morning America, CNN, and National Public Radio. She has also been honored with Brown University’s highest alumni award, the William Rogers Award, and by Georgetown Law Center’s esteemed Robert F. Drinan Award for Public Service. Saada Saar holds a BA from Brown University, an MA in education from Stanford University, and a JD from Georgetown University Law Center.
11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
SEXUAL LABOR AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Emily A. Owens
Assistant Professor, History, Brown University
Emily A. Owens is an assistant professor of history at Brown University and works on the history of sexuality and slavery. Her current book project, Fantasies of Consent: Sex, Affect, and Commerce in 19th Century New Orleans, is a cultural and legal history of the sex trade in antebellum New Orleans. This project explores the lives of women of color who sold (or were sold for) sex in that market, as well as the legal, economic, and affective structures that determined much of their existence. Owens has received support from the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Charles Warren Center for American History, and the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF). In addition to her appointment in History, Owens also acts as a faculty fellow at the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (2016–2019).
12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.
THE REALITY OF THE SEX INDUSTRY FROM A SURVIVOR’S PERSPECTIVE
Associate Director, My Life My Choice, Justice Resource Institute
Audrey Morrissey is the associate director of My Life My Choice, where she has been an integral part of the organization since 2003, and was the first survivor in Massachusetts to mentor commercially sexually exploited girls. Drawing from her personal experience, Morrissey has helped develop and lead survivor-led programs that aim to prevent the exploitation or re-victimization of vulnerable girls aged 12 to 18, reaching more than 200 girls annually. Her expertise has also informed My Life My Choice’s nationally recognized exploitation prevention curriculum, which she co-authored and which is currently used in 27 states. Morrissey currently leads educational, training, and public awareness initiatives at My Life My Choice. She has served as a consultant to the administrative office of the Trial Court’s “Redesigning the Court’s Response to Prostitution” project, as well as the vice chair of the Survivor Services Task Force, part the Massachusetts Human Trafficking Task Force chaired by former Attorney General Martha Coakley. Morrissey is a 2008 recipient of the prestigious Petra Foundation Fellowship and a 2012 Boston Neighborhood Fellow.
12:30 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.
Pick up boxed lunch.
12:45 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
VARIOUS POLICIES, DIVERGENT HEALTH OUTCOMES: UNRESOLVED TENSIONS IN THE FIELD OF COMMERCIAL SEX
Sharon S. Oselin
Associate Director, Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies and Associate Professor, Sociology, University of California, Riverside
Sharon S. Oselin is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Riverside, and the associate director of the Presley Center for Crime and Justice Studies. Much of her work focuses on crime and gender, with a particular emphasis on sex work. In addition to a number of journal articles, she is the author of Leaving Prostitution: Getting Out and Staying Out of Sex Work (2014, NYU Press). She is currently working on a project that examines the ways in which gentrification impacts those engaged in the illicit shadow economy by drawing on the case of street-based sex workers in Washington, DC.
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
LOST IN TRAFFIC: SEX WORK, TRAFFICKING, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Chair, Steering Committee, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
As Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Mx Taylor serves as a trans rights activist and public educator. Mx Taylor is also a member of the Massachusetts State Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth, the Fenway Board of Visitors, and the Massachusetts Sex Worker Ally Network. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Master’s degree in social work, Mx Taylor has also served with such organizations as the Northwest AIDS Foundation, the Seattle Crisis Clinic, and the Boston Bisexual Resource Center. As a parent, partner, and community member, Mx Taylor shares in the work of advancing policies and practices that embrace social justice, racial awareness, intersectionality, and feminist values.
2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
DECRIMINALIZING PROSTITUTION TO IMPROVE PUBLIC HEALTH AND ADVANCE HUMAN RIGHTS: AN EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY?
Senior Associate, Abt Associates
Michael Shively is a senior associate at Abt Associates, a US-based public policy research firm. His work on human trafficking includes directing studies of victimization, perpetration, and system responses for the US Department of Justice, US Department of State, and private foundations. He is currently directing the development of a methodology for producing valid county-level estimates of human trafficking victim prevalence, and is a task leader on a study of federal processing of human trafficking cases from investigation and prosecution, through sentencing, incarceration, and community reentry. He recently completed a study of human traffickers, organizations, and facilitators that examined the structure and operations of criminal enterprises, and the motivations and risk mitigation strategies of individual traffickers. His prior research includes examining interventions designed to prevent and respond to commercial sex and sex trafficking in the United States and the Republic of Korea. He currently operates the DemandForum website, which documents prostitution and sex trafficking prevention interventions in more than 1,200 communities throughout the United States. Prior to his position at Abt, he served as deputy director of research for the Massachusetts Department of Correction; was on the faculty of the College of Criminal Justice at Northeastern University; and served on the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Regional Human Trafficking Workgroup at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: HELPING ADOLESCENTS SITUATE THEMSELVES IN RELATION TO COMMERCIAL SEX
Jeff R. Temple
Professor and Director, Behavioral Health and Research, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch
Jeff R. Temple is a professor, licensed psychologist, and director of behavioral health and research in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch. His research focuses on interpersonal relationships, with a particular focus on adolescent relationship abuse. Temple has been awarded multiple research grants from the National Institute of Justice, National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He has more than 125 scholarly publications in a variety of high-impact journals, including JAMA, JAMA Pediatrics, Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Pediatrics, and the Journal of Adolescent Health. He is an associate editor for the Journal of Primary Prevention, is a senior consulting editor for the Psychology of Violence, and is on the editorial boards of five other scientific journals. Temple recently co-chaired the Texas Task Force on Domestic Violence and is now on the Board of Directors of the Texas Psychological Association. Locally, he is vice president of the Galveston Independent School District Board of Trustees.