Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

In a centuries deep sea of clichés despairing that ‘prostitution will always be with us’, one country’s success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared.

In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that’s negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland. No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden’s promising results.

Sweden’s Groundbreaking 1999 Legislation

In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government’s literature on the law:

“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”

In the state of Victoria, Australia, where a system of legalized, regulated brothels was established, there was such an explosion in the number of brothels that it immediately overwhelmed the system’s ability to regulate them, and just as quickly these brothels became a mire of organized crime, corruption, and related crimes. In addition, surveys of the prostitutes working under systems of legalization and regulation find that the prostitutes themselves continue to feel coerced, forced, and unsafe in the business.


How Women Got Crowded Out of the Computing Revolution

In fact, at the dawn of the computing revolution women, not men, dominated software programming. The story of how software became reconstructed as a guy’s job makes clear that the scarcity of female programmers today has nothing at all to do with biology.

Who wrote the first bit of computer code? That honor arguably belongs to Ada Lovelace, the controversial daughter of the poet Lord Byron. When the English mathematician Charles Babbage designed a forerunner of the modern computer that he dubbed an “Analytical Engine,” Lovelace recognized that the all-powerful machine could do more than calculate; it could be programmed to run a self-contained series of actions, with the results of each step determining the next step. Her notes on this are widely considered to be the first computer program. . . .

While companies seeking programmers had previously sought out women as well as men, by the late 1960s the pitch to potential employees had changed. Pretty typical was an advertisement that IBM ran in 1969. It asked potential programmers whether they had the qualities to cut it as a programmer. But what really stood out was the question emblazoned at the top of the advertisement: “Are YOU the man to command electronic giants?”

This bias remains alive and well. What’s ironic, though, is that it flies in the face of the history of computing. Women dominated programming at one time, but got pushed aside once men discovered the field’s importance. That messy history, not simple biology, accounts for the gender imbalance bedeviling Silicon Valley.


What killjoys complaining about women-only spaces in the name of ‘equality’ don’t get

It seems absurd that anyone would need to have the purpose of a women-only swimming session explained to them, but the world is full of obstinate, selfish people who refuse to think of anyone’s needs beyond their own. Indeed, there’s a popular online saying that goes a little something like this: “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

Such is the backlash against equality movements of all stripes now that complaints like the one made in Gloucestershire are becoming more common. It isn’t because the people making these complaints are experiencing oppression themselves – it’s because they perceive the granting of assistance to people less privileged than themselves to be an unfair advantage they’re being denied.

The opening of a cafe in Melbourne recently elicited a similar response. Handsome Her quickly gained notoriety for its display of a sign detailing an 18 per cent surcharge issued to male customers to cover the gender pay gap.

Equality is only of interest to these people when it’s about ensuring women aren’t being given the kind of special treatment men have accepted as a rule throughout most of history.


Women say they quit Google because of racial discrimination: ‘I was invisible’

Concerns about discrimination at Google have escalated this year following the US Department of Labor’s allegations that women across the company are paid less than men for similar work, in violation of federal law. Google has vehemently denied that it underpays women.

At Google, men occupy 80% of tech jobs and 75% of leadership roles, according to the company’s own figures. Overall, only 2% of employees are black, 4% are Hispanic, 35% Asian and 56% white. The company has touted its recent 1% increases in a number of underrepresented groups.


Now a crime in ACT to share an intimate photo without consent

People who publish, or threaten to publish, “revenge porn” now face up to three years in jail or a $45,000 fine, after the ACT’s parliament moved to bring the territory’s laws up-to-date with technology.

The penalties are bumped up to five years in jail or a fine of up to $75,000 if the victim is aged under 16. The laws would not capture teenagers consensually “sexting”.

Courts can now order people to take down or delete the intimate image. Those who fail to comply can face up to two years’ jail or a $30,000 fine.

The laws come close to a year after five ACT schools were caught in a pornography ring where teenage boys and young men are secretly exchanging graphic sexual images of female students.


Tanya Plibersek Just Declared That “For Labor To Be Pro-Women It Must Be Pro-Choice”

For the Labor party to be pro-women it must be pro-choice, the party’s deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said on Wednesday night in a passionate speech about how far Australia still has to come to ensure women have reproductive freedoms.

“We need to make sure that women have autonomy over their bodies,” Plibersek told those gathered at a Canberra event organised by Emily’s List, a financial and support network for progressive Labor women candidates.

“Reproductive freedom is intimately tied to gender equality. For Labor to be pro-women, we must be pro-choice.

“Australia still has unfinished business on reproductive health.”


There’s Nothing ‘Feminist’ About Defending Pornography | HuffPost UK

Back in the 1970s and 80s, second-wave feminists clearly identified pornography as the objectification and sexual subordination of women, rallying against pimps and pornographers. Only decades later, liberal feminists promote porn as progressive, liberating and a woman’s choice.

What is notably absent, however, is any meaningful analysis of the impacts of pornography on women as a whole and how women are harmed in both the production and consumption of pornography – like what it means for women collectively in terms of intimate relationships, opportunities for women and achieving gender equality, when the dominant form of sexual education portrays us as a mere set of holes for men to use?

Defenders of pornography assert that women choose to participate in the filmed sexual abuse that is pornography, and therefore, if women consent to sexual violence, or are paid for it, it can no longer be acknowledged as sexual violence. On these terms, men can continue to profit from or find sexual excitement in the sexualised abuse and humiliation of women without having to feel icky about it.

The deliberate conflation of pornography with sexual liberation allows those who use or profit from pornography to silence dissenting voices.

In any other medium, violent, sexist and racist content that is typical of mainstream pornography would warrant outrage, but in pornography, such content gets a free pass because any examination or analysis of sexual practices is equated with repression. Women who do speak about the realities of pornography are openly mocked and derided by liberal feminists who are unwittingly doing the work of pornographers for them.


An Australian Woman Has Been Convicted After Taking Abortion Drugs

The mother-of-five was 28-years-old when she fell pregnant in September 2015.

Nineteen weeks into the pregnancy the woman was told by her partner that he didn’t want to have the child, Blacktown Local Court in NSW heard in May.

“At about 26 weeks into the pregnancy her boyfriend again urged her to terminate the pregnancy,” a judgement handed down by Magistrate Geoff Hiatt in July, but made public on Monday, read.

The woman then contacted a number of clinics in NSW and interstate, but was told they would not terminate the pregnancy as it was past 20 weeks.

Abortion is a crime in NSW where a pregnancy can only be terminated if a doctor believes it is necessary to prevent serious risk to the life or health of a woman.

Most abortions in NSW happen at private clinics but terminations in the second trimester due to serious foetal anomalies might happen at a hospital.

“The accused eventually found someone she believed was in Darwin, known as ‘Patrick’, who was prepared to facilitate a termination,” Hiatt said in his judgement.

“Patrick told her a termination was possible up to 30 weeks and he would send her pills for the payment of $2,000.


AirDropping penis pics is the latest horrifying subway trend

New York women have discovered that creepy men are using the iPhone AirDrop app to send them photos of their privates while on the same train. . . .

Serial exhibitionists are likely attracted to using AirDrop to trap victims because of the anonymity.

“In the past, flashers would have to go out in public in a trench coat and risk getting arrested,” said Brad Salzman, a sex-addiction therapist. “Now . . . their minds can run wild.”


Speaking the unspeakable: Australia’s rape problem

Australian women are sexually assaulted at twice the rate of women worldwide. More than one in five — or 2.3 million — Australian women aged over 15 are survivors of rape. But only 17% of sexual assaults are reported to police and many do not tell anyone when they are sexually assaulted.

A report released by the Crime Statistics Agency in February revealed that only 3% of rapes reported to Victoria Police from 2009 to 2010 ended in a court conviction. Of 41 allegations made against perpetrators who already had at least six prior sexual offences recorded, almost half went nowhere at all. . . .

Violent, sexual imagery dominates the media and public space. By the age of 12, 70% of boys and more than half of girls have been exposed to mainstream pornography. More than 85% of scenes of mainsteam pornography contain some sort of physical or verbal aggression. Significantly, 94% of that aggression is directed towards women (Source: Aggression and Sexual Behavior in Best-selling Pornography Videos, University of Arkansas.) and the most popular pornography category is “Teen”.

n 2006, VicHealth conducted a meta-study on the effects of violent sexual imagery. It found: “Exposure to sexually violent material increases male viewers’ acceptance of rape myths, desensitises them to sexual violence, erodes their empathy for victims of violence, and informs more callous attitudes towards female victims.”

By the age of 15, one in three girls and one in six boys will have been sexually assaulted.


Funding boost to help resolve family law disputes

Mr Brandis said $6.2 million of this funding will be allocated to a new family dispute resolution service being piloted at eight locations around the country.

The trial locations are Tamworth and Bankstown in NSW, Sunshine and Broadmeadows in Victoria, Toowoomba and Upper Mt Gravatt in Queensland, Perth and Darwin.

The services are intended to help couples affected by separation agree on arrangements for their children without going to court.

A statement from the Attorney-General’s Department said the program will offer tailored services to complement mediation with legal and culturally appropriate support. This will include partnerships between family relationship centres and specialists such as legal, migrant and Indigenous-specific service providers, as well as interpreters.

Bond University recently launched its own family dispute resolution clinic through a partnership between its Faculty of Law and its Psychology Clinic.


We’ve studied gender and STEM for 25 years. The science doesn’t support the Google memo.

A Google engineer who was fired for posting an online claim that women’s biology makes them less able than men to work in technology jobs has charged that he is being smeared and is a victim of political correctness. . . .

The widely held belief that boys are naturally better than girls at math and science is unraveling among serious scientists. Evidence is mounting that girls are every bit as competent as boys in these areas.

Also, several large-scale international testing programs find girls closing the gender gap in math, and in some cases outscoring the boys. Clearly, this huge improvement over a fairly short time period argues against biological explanations.


Why are there so few women in tech? The truth behind the Google memo

Prof Dame Wendy Hall, a director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton, points to the wide variation in gender ratios in computing internationally, which she argues would not be seen if there were a universal biological difference in ability between the sexes. While only 16% of computer science undergraduates in the UK – and a similar proportion in the US – are female, the balance is different in India, Malaysia and Nigeria.

“I walk into a classroom in India and it’s more than 50% girls, the same in Malaysia,” says Hall. “They are so passionate about coding, Lots of women love coding. There just aren’t these gender differences there.”

In fact, in the west, female participation in computer science has plunged since the mid-80s, while female participation in medicine and other scientific fields has increased steadily. . . .

“Women were turned off computing in the 80s,” she says. “Computers were sold as toys for the boys. Somehow that cultural stigma has stuck in the west in a way that we can’t get rid of and it’s just getting worse. The skills gap is going to get huge.”

Addressing the gender gap isn’t only an issue of perception. Companies with homogenous workforces make worse products and earn less money, argues Guha. “We know large numbers of women are struggling to get funding. A female founder is 86% less likely to be funded than a man,” she says. “That’s crazy when we know the return on investment is higher; it is about 34% higher for companies with a gender diverse leadership. It’s not about ‘corporate social responsibility’: a diverse range of thinking will bring better value for the company.”

Hall invokes her late mentor Karen Spärck Jones, a pioneering British computer scientist who campaigned hard to encourage more women into the field. As she used to say: “Computing is too important to be left to men.”


The AI platform creating a safe space for DV victims to get help

Help is at hand for people who may be victim to domestic violence with a few simple clicks, thanks to a new artificially intelligent chatbot named Deevi.

Users are able to converse with Deevi anonymously by providing information to the chatbot through their mobile device or computer. . . .

The chatbot does have some limitations however. For example, once a particular line of inquiry is pursued, the AI app will not engage conversationally by answering questions in the same way that a real person on the other end of a tele-helpline might.


Melbourne cafe Handsome Her cops backlash after introducing optional 18% tax for male customers to reflect pay inequality – SmartCompany

A Melbourne cafe that only launched last week has already copped significant backlash online after introducing an optional 18% “tax” for male customers.

The cafe, called Handsome Her, is located in Brunswick and offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian options to customers. The business opened on August 4, staffed by a team of women, and with a chalkboard out the front which quickly stoked the fire of outrage.

“Handsome Her is a safe space for women. House rules: 1. Women have priority seating,” the sign read.

“2. Men will be charged an 18% premium to reflect the gender pay gap (2016) which is donated to a women’s service. 3. Respect goes both ways.”

“I do want people to think about it, because we’ve had this (pay discrepancy) for decades and decades and we’re bringing it to the forefront of people’s minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit,” O’Brien said.


Some Gen Y mothers feel forgotten but we have more power than we think

Kate describes the ‘forgotten women’ as part of the great middle class of Australia. They are not poor, but not rich. Once told they could do anything with their careers, they have gotten themselves educated and started climbing the ladder in professional careers. If they go on to have children, however, they find the system is seriously rigged against them. From unaffordable childcare, to inflexible work practices, continued social norms regarding who does what at home, and school hours that simply don’t match an office career. . . .

“What they are finding is that they can get an education, get a profession, but still once they have children – and the second child seems to be the tipping factor – the way the childcare system is arranged can be a disincentive for me to keep working, particularly working full-time.” . . .

Kate adds that a Productivity Commission would be able to take a helicopter view by taking submissions across the board regarding what’s getting in the way of women’s workforce participation. “It would also look at women who are retiring into poverty because of the superannuation gap and also the gender pay gap.”


Including Women in Digital Economy

More than a billion women lack access to formal financial services, limiting their access to loans, savings and bank accounts. By decreasing the gender divide in technology, women’s economic opportunities can be expanded, benefiting the global economy.

But, financial inclusion requires innovative solutions with an energetic and supportive ecosystem. Blockchain lowers costs, shortens settlement times, and can provide a user-friendly experience for internal and cross-border payments. In addition, its youthful and motivated online creation community is talented and diverse.

Blockchain technology can improve the financial inclusion of women in the economy. Blockchain is still at an early stage, to be certain, and disparate regulatory approaches will complicate blockchain adoption. Understanding the technology, its risks, benefits and the surrounding ecosystem, will be key to helping shape the innovation’s future.


Airline Vistara Won’t Give Solo Women The Middle Seat

[W]hen you’re a woman traveling solo, sitting in the middle seat can be more than just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. That’s why the New Delhi-based airline Vistara began the Woman Flyer service. . . .

And the problem might be much bigger than anyone can say, thanks to convoluted data. According to an FBI spokesperson, 57 in-flight sexual assault cases were investigated in 2016, up from 40 cases in 2016.

But it’s important to keep in mind that there could be a number of unreported incidents; the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 68 percent of victims do not report the crime.


‘I call him my rapist’: Women accusing men of rape take justice into their own hands

Despite police warnings that public shaming could backfire, women across Australia are joining private Facebook groups that share stories about which men to avoid.

“I’m a part of the secret underground feminist mafia that tells all of my friends, and even just women I meet … about who the bad guys are, who the rapists are,” said Anna, a member of one group like this.

“The system isn’t set up to help me. It’s set up to help him. This is our own system.”

Anna said she could think of five men she regularly told her friends to avoid. Even within the last month, she said, she’d cut a man out of her social circle after hearing about his ugly history.


Men still prefer mothers to stay at home: 12 charts on attitudes to work and family

The Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey is Australia’s only nationally representative household longitudinal study, following the same individuals and households since 2001.

The good news is that despite the fact men still prefer women not to work, we are progressing: across the board there have been positive shifts in the way we view working women.

Despite educating women better than 143 other countries, women in Australia struggle to effectively participate in the workforce, which means they struggle to attain economic independence. In 2016 Australia ranked 55th for women’s workforce participation, a figure that has also steadily slid back throughout the past decade.

The price too many women are paying for caring, for being directly and indirectly discriminated against, for being unable to work as much as they would like, or bearing the cost of raising their family, is poverty.


Photo shoot captures historic rise of women in law – Lawyers Weekly

LIV CEO Nerida Wallace described the photograph of the state’s top women in the legal profession as historic. She said that the photo signified the contribution and advancement of Australian women in law, 112 years since Australia’s first woman lawyer was admitted to practise in Victoria.

A the time of Flos Greig’s admission to the legal profession in 1905, then Chief Justice John Madden described the occasion as “the graceful incoming of a revolution”.

“We took the photograph to acknowledge and celebrate how far women have come since Flos Greig, but it is also recognition of the number of women who have risen to the top in the most demanding of professions,” Ms Wallace said.


ALHR – Australia should heed UK Supreme Court decision on access to justice

Leading Australian human rights lawyers have welcomed a landmark UK Supreme Court judgement handed down last Wednesday, arguing the decision sets an important precedent for Australian courts in relation to the need to ensure access to justice and equality before the law.

“Women, in particular, are systemically disadvantaged within Australia’s legal system. For example, in NSW the majority of legal aid goes to assisting men, with only 26% of legal aid clients being women. This is despite the fact that women are more likely to be living in poverty than men.”

Kerr noted that “fees in Australia’s courts must be affordable so that people involved in complex or intractable matters are not denied access to the court because of their financial vulnerability. Reductions in legal aid funding by governments over recent years are having a very real human rights impact on vulnerable members of our community accessing justice. Despite the recent restoration of some funding, Australia’s legal assistance sector remains chronically underfunded.”


Campus shame: One in five students sexually harassed at universities last year

Today, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its long-awaited report of 30,000 students at 39 Australian universities on the issue, revealing assault and harassment is occurring at disturbingly high rates.

One in five students were sexually harassed at an Australian university last year. 1.6% of students were sexually assaulted at an Australian university setting in the past two years.

Colleges are particular areas of concern – with women four times as likely as men to be sexually assaulted in these settings.


Women still under-represented in judiciary says study

Research by the Law Society in England & Wales shows that there is some way to go before women are properly represented in the judiciary.

Data from the courts and tribunals show that just 28% of court judges and 45% of tribunal judges are female. Women make up just 22% of high court judges and deputy judges and only 24% in the court of appeal.


And in other UK news:

The Government is to take immediate steps to stop charging employment tribunal fees and refund those who have paid following a “landmark” Supreme Court ruling.

The Ministry of Justice said it accepted a Supreme Court judgment in favour of public sector union Unison which has fought a four-year battle against controversial fees of up to £1,200 for taking a case to a tribunal.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favour of the union, which had argued that the fees discriminated against women and other groups of workers.


Monopoly was invented to demonstrate the evils of capitalism

The game’s little-known inventor, Elizabeth Magie, would no doubt have made herself go directly to jail if she’d lived to know just how influential today’s twisted version of her game has turned out to be. Why? Because it encourages its players to celebrate exactly the opposite values to those she intended to champion. . . .

In addition to confronting gender politics, Magie decided to take on the capitalist system of property ownership – this time not through a publicity stunt but in the form of a board game. . . .

Magie invented and in 1904 patented what she called the Landlord’s Game. Laid out on the board as a circuit (which was a novelty at the time), it was populated with streets and landmarks for sale. The key innovation of her game, however, lay in the two sets of rules that she wrote for playing it. . . .

The purpose of the dual sets of rules, said Magie, was for players to experience a ‘practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences’ and hence to understand how different approaches to property ownership can lead to vastly different social outcomes.

Among the players of this Quaker adaptation was an unemployed man called Charles Darrow, who later sold such a modified version to the games company Parker Brothers as his own. . . .

Once the game’s true origins came to light, Parker Brothers bought up Magie’s patent, but then re-launched the board game simply as Monopoly, and provided the eager public with just one set of rules: those that celebrate the triumph of one over all.


Migrant women forced to stay in abusive relationships, refuges warn

According to Anna Kerr, co-chair of the Women and Girl’s Rights Subcommittee of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights advocacy group, “women’s refuges are frequently unable or unwilling to accept women who do not have a visa status that qualifies them for Centrelink payments”.

A 2016 survey conducted by the Coalition for Women’s Refuges found only 61 per cent reported being always able to take women without residency, with one in five reporting they had no ability to take women in such circumstances.

Julie Stewart, a member of the coalition, has been working in the domestic violence sector for more than 30 years. As CEO of Manly-Warringah Women’s Resource Centre, a service where she has worked since 2011 and which is listed as a specialist homelessness service on the FACS website, she says general homelessness shelters are often “inappropriate” for women fleeing abusive situations.

Stewart has observed a clear difference between the services her centre was able to offer before and after the 2014 reforms, which saw the shelter’s annual funding decrease by $500,000.

In Stewart’s experience, whether migrant women end up receiving any support varies greatly depending on the type of visa they hold, and whether they have children born in Australia.

“We believe that a woman who has arrived in Australia on a spousal visa, mostly on the promise of a better life, and has subsequently been abused, beaten, deprived, kept as a slave, exploited, discarded should be supported by the Commonwealth government who enabled their entry into Australia in the first instance.”


Australia’s female composers are having a moment. We need to harness that energy

Today women make up 26% of Australian composers, sound artists and improvising performers. It’s not close to gender parity but the figures do stack up well internationally – the only country to fare better is Estonia with 30%. Women make up about 20% of American and Polish composers but, for most countries, the average is a woeful 15%.

Sadly, however, the majority of women still struggle with visibility. According to musicologist Sally Macarthur, women’s music represented only 11% of the works performed at new music concerts in 2013. In the concert halls where the more conservative orchestras reside, it is far rarer to hear a work by a female composer – dead or alive.


It’s not just the BBC that must come clean about underpaying women

Here is the real hard fact: women are paid less because we are considered to be worth less. The gender pay gap is a symptom of the structural barriers that women face, which can be seen at every level of working life and across every industry. It thrives on the unconscious bias that goes unchallenged by the surplus of white men in decision-making roles, and is magnified by occupational segregation, unequal caring responsibilities and pervasive stereotypes that intersect with class, race, age, sexuality and disability.

But there is hope, in the awareness raised by the report and the sisterhood of the BBC’s top women, acting in concert, as seen by today’s joint protest letter. Because information is power. And that is why the Women’s Equality party is calling on other public service broadcasters to follow the BBC’s lead in exposing and tackling their pay gaps.


It’s time for Australia’s Forgotten Women to rise

They are our qualified women. Engineers, lawyers, nurses, teachers, economists, accountants, architects, analysts and a wide array of other professionals who we, as a nation, have heavily subsidised so that they can receive a higher education and make a valued contribution to our society.

We have invested a fortune in them. We have told them since they were little girls that they can achieve anything in life. But after they become mothers, they discover the cruel truth: the system is rigged against them.

According to the Grattan Institute, if Australia had the same level of working mothers as Canada, an increase of just 6%, there’d be a $20 billion boost to our economy. We’d dramatically lift the nation’s productivity (without a shred of industrial unrest) and significantly increase the amount of HECS debt that is repaid to the government. Rivers of revenue gold! And we’d be harnessing a massive cohort of educated women, whose contributions to innovation, research, healthcare, education, management, leadership and myriad fields of endeavour would benefit the entire nation.

The solution is surprisingly simple: if childcare was tax deductible for working parents – sensibly capped and coupled with subsidies for low-income earners – childcare would be more affordable and more educated mothers would work, and for longer hours.