The Evidence About Prostitution That the New York Times Ignored
By Rachel Moran
On May 5, Emily Bazelon, staff writer for The New York Times, published an article—“Should Prostitution be a Crime”—that had been months in the making. I know this because Bazelon interviewed me for it during an hour-long phone call and an exchange of more than 30 emails.
What strikes me now is her reaction when I mentioned that the women in my movement often have to deal with journalists who come to the issue of prostitution with their biases intact and their objectivity fragmented.
“I am not biased,” she snapped.
“I am not suggesting you are,” I replied. It occurred to me, however, that she probably had a reason for being defensive, and, sure as night follows day, it turned out she did.
Bazelon’s mischaracterization of the issue of prostitution, in my opinion, was confirmed and reaffirmed in her article in ways too numerous to document here. Her piece has had to be corrected three times (including her contention that Dutch prostitution is confined to Amsterdam, when it is, as any European could tell you, countrywide.) U.S. psychologist and academic Melissa Farley, who was quoted in Bazelon’s article, has filed a demand for correction of Bazelon’s misquote of Farley; as of this writing (June 1, 2016), the New York Times has refused to correct it.
Bazelon also stated that there had been no reported cases of trafficking in New Zealand, somehow managing to miss that on April 14, 2015, Naengnoi Sriphet was sentenced to 27 months in prison by Auckland District Court for recruiting women from Thailand to work in a “massage parlour” in Auckland.
Bazelon’s fact-checker contacted me to ask whether it would be fair to say that I believed Amnesty International had taken its pro-decriminalization stance from pimps and sex-traffickers. I responded that it would not be fair to say so without qualifying that statement, and I reminded her of what I’d told Bazelon several times already: that Amnesty International had taken their cues from the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, then co-chaired by Alejandra Gil, who has since been convicted and is serving a 15-year sentence in a Mexican prison for sex trafficking.
Bazelon ignored my conversation with her fact-checker and attributed to me a one-line fragment of what I’d said, making no mention of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, Gil or her sex-trafficking conviction.
Bazelon then invited Amnesty to respond to me without ever fully disclosing what it was in fact responding to.