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1. AFRO Broadcasting Station

1.1 Avoid Being an Easy Target

You won't recognise them. They're just faces in the crowd.  
You never know when they will strike. 
In crowded places, they always look for easy targets. 
They won't steal from people who safeguard their belongings.
But, when opportunity knocks, an easy target is just too good to pass up. 
I used to be a pickpocket…
So let me tell you, don't give pickpockets a chance.
When I go out, I always keep my belongings in a safe place. 
Shouldn't you?

 
The above is from one of the TV commercials of the government (or it is known as API, Announcements in Public Interest, in the government). "Watch your belongings. Beware of pickpockets." Apparently we all have been well warned about pickpockets and thieves. But then why do we still hear often from fellow sisters about theft in the workplace?
 
"It's just a matter of bad luck."
"This phone is not worth much. If it's stolen, I’ll just get a new one. "
"This place is so small. There's no way to hide valuables."
"The thief can always get you if he really means to target you."

 
Fellow sisters' workplaces are usually busy, with many people coming and going, and they are thus more prone to thefts. However, it is still possible to avoid being an easy target. Remember, it is not a matter of luck or bad luck. With the right theft prevention measures, you can reduce losses and prevent theft from occurring in your workplaces.

  1. Make sure that all locks are secure.
  2. Lock all your valuables and keep the key always with you. You can easily  "wear" your key by looping a hair tie through the key hole and put it around your wrist.
  3. Don't leave all your valuables and cash in the same place. Put small amount of cash in a separate place for change to customers.
  4. When receiving payment, stay somewhere with a good light source to check the dollar bill's authenticity.
  5. Never use the toilet or go for a shower before the customer leaves. Remember, opportunity makes the thief. 
In case of theft, try to recall, in as much detail as possible, the thief's physical characteristics, as well as value, quantity and any important details of the lost items, and report the case to the police. Some fellow sisters may think that it's a waste of time and choose not to report the case. In that case, you will be like giving the thief a chance and there may soon be another victim.
 
If you have any question or doubt, feel free to contact us at 27701002.
2. AFRO's Work

2.1 Visiting Mock Trial Room 

AFRO, together with other sex workers' support groups, visited the Mock Trial Room at Police Training School in Wong Chuk Hang on 15 August 2018. Staff from Criminal Investigation Department of the Police Force gave a briefing on trial procedures and protection measures for victim of crime. Some fellow sisters and volunteers also joined this event. We hope that it will help disseminate the important information.
3. Upcoming Event

3.1 Sweet Mid-Autumn

Activities: Enjoy Mid-Autumn festive treats, games and etc.
Date: 21 Sep 2018 (Friday)
Time: 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Venue: AFRO's centre
Fee: $20
 
Enquiry and reservation:
27701002 or 96698108 (Whatsapp)
4. AFRO News Reading

The Web-Hosting Service for Sex Workers, by Sex Workers, Against SESTA/FOSTA
(The Nation, 2018.08.22)

At first glance, Red Umbrella Hosting looks like any other web-hosting company. It offers a variety of plans, from basic WordPress installations to fully customized sites with back-end access. Sure, it accepts cryptocurrency, but at this point, who doesn't?

It's only when reading the finer print that the political context of Red Umbrella Hosting becomes apparent. Amid the bullet points of its value proposition—"Anonymous," "Offshore," "Dedicated Server"—there is one that decidedly stands out: "Sex Worker Friendly."

Red Umbrella Hosting is a new web host for sex workers, by sex workers. It was launched just this year by Melissa Mariposa, a sex worker who, in her own words, "was tired of the [hosting] options available." "I saw the need for a more private, offshore hosting service," she writes in Red Umbrella Hosting's company bio.

That need took on sudden urgency in 2018 when the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act came into effect. Alternately referred to as SESTA, FOSTA, or both (SESTA/FOSTA), these laws empower federal and state law-enforcement agencies to target websites that supposedly facilitate sex trafficking. But the legislation's definition of trafficking is so broad that it has also ensnared sex workers who rely on digital platforms for their safety and livelihood. Sites that had previously been used by sex workers to vet clients, such as Backpage, were seized by the federal government; others, like Craigslist's "Personals" sections, voluntarily shuttered; and now all kinds of online service providers, from social networks to blogging platforms, are booting users suspected of engaging in sex work.

According to sex workers, the ham-handed crackdown on digital platforms could force many of them back onto the streets, into the hands of violent customers, pimps, and police. Red Umbrella Hosting hopes to keep that from happening.

"Why should people lose their years of hard work, years of brand building, marketing?" Mariposa asks in reference to SESTA/FOSTA's deplatforming sex workers. "Why should people lose the ability to open and run a business with a minimal start-up cost and truly live the American dream—something most people think is dead? I entered this industry on welfare. I completely turned my life around. That is not an atypical experience. Why should other people be denied the opportunities I had?”

In order to preserve those opportunities, Red Umbrella Hosting offers sex workers website hosting under extremely liberal terms of service that only restrict content like child pornography, sex slavery, and beastiality. All of the requirements for set up can be anonymous: alias, e-mail address, and payment in either physical gift cards or cryptocurrency. Should anything happen to Mariposa, who single-handedly manages Red Umbrella Hosting, her users would be safe, as she has no real information about them to divulge. And her server, located in Iceland, is protected by some of the strongest privacy laws in the world—perhaps the best bulwark available against SESTA/FOSTA. Mariposa even assists users with things like data migration, theme design, and contact-form building.

Mariposa began working as a sex worker in western Canada in December of 2008, but has been involved in tech for much longer. “I've been building websites since you were getting AOL installers in the mail," she says. Her work and her hobby met when she started designing, by hand in HTML and CSS, her first website advertising her services. After a stint on WordPress, she decided to collaborate with a developer friend to build her current site in 2017, a process which reignited her interest in technology. It couldn't have been more prescient.

SESTA/FOSTA was introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2017. The day it passed in the House of Representatives, on February 27, 2018, Mariposa leased Red Umbrella Hosting's server in Iceland. By the time SESTA/FOSTA was signed into law, on April 11, she already had customers up and running.

While Mariposa declines to go into the specifics of how many customers she's currently hosting, she does explain that they are diverse. Besides sex workers, models and writers of erotica have also sought her out, as the vagaries of SESTA/FOSTA and service providers’ extreme reactions to it have threatened many different users.

Still, Red Umbrella Hosting is not a cure-all. "There's a lot of misunderstanding that I'm essentially a hooker GoDaddy when that's not the case," says Mariposa, explaining that Red Umbrella Hosting does not provide domain registration or e-mail service.

And in a broader sense, there are other issues that Red Umbrella Hosting cannot solve. "Like with most of the things we have seen post SESTA/FOSTA, the aftermath hits lower-income workers who relied on those free and cheap services, which have disappeared from the web, the hardest," says Danielle Blunt, a New York City–based dominatrix and sex-worker-rights activist who studies technology. Blunt also points out that the reach of SESTA/FOSTA in targeting sites hosted in Iceland has yet to be tried. Plus, even in the best-case scenario, sex workers are still being forced to abandon their established social-media platforms and websites in the hopes that their customers will follow, and new clients will find, them on their new online homes.

Yet despite the difficulty of this transition, Mariposa sees no alternative.

"If you're still on WordPress.com or WIX," she says, addressing other sex workers, "It's on borrowed time."


AFRO's Comment:
 
It is thrilling to hear that the new online platform, which is designed and hosted by the sex worker herself, provides a relatively safe and hassle free channel for sex workers to look for customers.
 
Sex workers, no different from other workers, should be entitled to safe and fair working environment. They should have the right to access digital platforms, on fair and reasonable terms, that they can rely their safety and livings on.

News Reading

Copyright © 2018 ACTION FOR REACH OUT, All rights reserved.

TEL: (852) 27701065
EMAIL: contact@afro.org.hk

CONTACT ADDRESS:PO Box 98108, TST Post Office.

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