An Extra Day to #GiveBig & #EndDemand

So, apparently the generosity of Seattle (and other cities also using the same system to donate BIG today) has created technical difficulties so big we have another day to donate to our favorite charities and have our donations met.

From Seattle FoundationsGive Big Website:

Our web site is experiencing BIG volume today! Donation pages may be slow to load. We appreciate your patience as you wait to GiveBIG! Please refresh your browser. Given this delay, Seattle Foundation is extending GiveBIG through midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, May 4.

While I managed to make my donation to the Organization for Prostitution Survivors this morning (which did take a long time to go through), it gives me extra time to mention this great opportunity. First, there are a lot of great organizations you can donate to and be matched on May 3 (and now May 4), and I encourage you to check out the list at As you know from this blog, however, #EndDemand and the issue of helping women and girls (and men and boys in some cases) escape prostitution has been on my mind a lot lately.

Seattle, fortunately, has been getting the issue right, and the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) has been at the forefront in helping women exit (including support groups, art therapy and most recently a jobs program in conjunction with Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking – BEST), getting local law enforcement and prosecutors to embrace the Nordic Model (offering those prostituted services and creating a “Buyer Beware” program where the men buying attend a 10 week Stopping Sexual Exploitation program OPS created. According to a recent e-mail, after completing the program”95% of men said that they do not think they will buy sex again.”

What convicted sex buyers had to say after completing Stopping Sexual Exploitation

“Keep this program going to educate the community & spread the word.”

“It is just as much our fault as the pimp who forces her on the street.”

“I learned about how prostitution isn’t really a choice and that even if I did treat her nice it won’t stop the pain that she might receive from others.”

“The arrest stopped me. I would have never bought sex again, but the program taught me why I should never buy sex again.”

“I’m going to raise my son differently. I don’t want him to be so angry and depressed all the time like me.”

Definitely a lot of good work being done, and a lot that remains to be done that would be helped by more funds. I encourage you to check them out and #GiveBIG, by midnight May 4, now:
Oh, and the amounts already given aren’t showing, not for OPS or most of the other organizations at this point thanks to the computer problem (which really wouldn’t be an issue if everyone really had given $0 to all these organizations). Will be interesting to see how generous Seattle is once they get that straightened out!

Northwest Love for Bernie

So after a night of Springsteen, a couple days off. Time for some quiet. Get away from the maddening crowds. . . Oh wait, Bernie Sanders is coming to town, finally on a day I have off!  Then the next day is caucusing, and I switched days off so I can come in person.

Spoiler alert. . .Seattle loves Bernie, really loves Bernie. . .and the rest of Washington State. . . loves him more. . .

First, though he got some Portland, Oregon love. . .They put a bird on it . . .A real bird on it. . .

We didn’t have a bird. We had a long and winding line. . . and a guy with a goat. . .a guy with a goat named Deer. . .who can’t vote. . .Not sure if he made it past the Secret Service check point. . .

It took awhile to get us all in. Bernie did not disappoint. . .healthcare, jobs,  income inequality, racial injustice, getting money out of politics . . . for starters. . .and without taking money from big donors or forming PACs. . .from we the people, averaging $27 donations.

Funny, some people were claiming it was all over before this.

Caucus lines were long too the next morning, too. . .looping around the neighborhood of the middle school where mine and a lot of other caucuses voted.

Almost in! Beautiful old school. Caucusing for Bernie '16

A photo posted by Colleen Roman (@java_colleen) on

Total chaos, started over an hour late with everyone coming in, and how were all the precincts assigned to the gym going to caucus in such a small space?

The scene at this point. Line still not in yet! Go Bernie! Caucus '16. . .

A video posted by Colleen Roman (@java_colleen) on

Actually, my precinct went out to form a circle on the basketball court. All five of our delegates went to Bernie! Even counting the absentee ballots (allowed for those working, having religious services, military duty or ill), Hillary had only 6 votes, less than 1% with 15% needed for even a single delegate. Bernie had, I think, 75. We voted for 5 delegates and 5 alternates (who have to show up for the next two meetings of Legislative District and King County so we don’t lose our delegates).

Washington went overwhelmingly for Bernie – 72.7% to 27.1% Hillary. What I found interesting was the margin was even higher in the rest of the state, in rural areas, than in King County (where Seattle is located).

Is it a crazy way to pick candidates instead of elections? YES. Is it unfair, leaving a lot of people out? OH, HELL YES. Crazy and crowded as it was, as Danny Westneat pointed out in his column, only about 5.8% of registered voters show up. Do I think the WA State Democrats should get rid of it and go to primary elections, by mail, like everything else? YES. It seems to me ironic they tell us we’re packed in such small places and need money from us to pay for the rather expensive rent as there still are a lot of buildings that needed to be rented and they’re not cheap, when the party could save the money buy just letting the ballot we’re still going to get by mail actually count.

Don’t get me started on superdelegates.  Although I’m sure I will later. So far all our elected officials who are superdelegates are going for Hillary.

The River Revival

So, an exciting end to last week, starting last Thursday with the epic Bruce Springsteen concert that almost didn’t happen (for me). Tickets for the cheap seats gone even though I got online minutes after the show went on sale weeks earlier and sticker shock! On my budget (and my hours were just getting back to normal after some short shifts). . . Oh, man, I wanted to, but the seat that was something like $125 that was the cheapest they had at the time all the way across Key Arena. . .I’m someone who barely has anything after rent (which is way below market) and other bills.

So I thought I’d see if anyone had an extra cheap seat on Backstreets. No luck. Then for some reason I had the thought to go back and check on Ticketmaster and. . .a cheap seat had reappeared. $65 before fees raised it to $88.75, in behind the stage (which for a Springsteen concert is a good seat, he doesn’t block the view back there). Not only that, I got a slightly better paying job with steadier hours and a shorter commute shortly after. After so many runs of bad luck, it’s kind of eerie. . .

View from my cheap seat before the Springsteen concert!

A photo posted by Colleen Roman (@java_colleen) on

The River, which he played straight through, is also one of my favorite albums. One of the songs I especially waited for was Independence Day. Many of Springsteen’s songs about his dad remind me of mine. Independence Day especially gets to me though, and even before my father’s death and burial just before the Fourth of July (after a year of care and sometimes neglect from the VA starting just before the Fourth the previous year).

So say goodbye it’s Independence Day
Papa now I know the things you wanted that you could not say

Springsteen’s lines have a way of bringing back clear memories and the one this brings back was when my mother was sick a few years before she died and my shock when we went to the mall and he walked into one of the expensive stores, something he’d never do, and looked at a fancy nightgown and said he wished he could afford to buy it for her.

Hungry Heart is a great song to dry your tears by. . .and especially when Bruce is surfing the crowd!

The River, of course, one of his most haunting songs. . .”Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?”

I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company
But lately there ain’t been much work on account of the economy

Bruce, of course, has never forgotten there are a lot of people not doing well, and that has both continued to reflect in his songs and his raising money for food banks, in our case, the West Seattle Food Bank.  I dropped $5 in one of their buckets on the way in. There didn’t seem to be too many people paying attention to them. Until. . .Springsteen spoke about them on stage and announced our hometown boy Eddie Vedder would be matching our donations, just before Eddie joined him on stage to sing Bobby Jean.

People were filling the buckets on the way out (and I dropped in $15 more).  $24,000 according to the West Seattle Food Bank (before Eddie’s match!):

Of course, this being a Springsteen concert, people walking out was still a long time away. Meanwhile, Bruce pulled someone out of the crowd to dance with him for Dancing in the Dark . . .

Did I mention Springsteen doesn’t play encores any more? No, because he just plays 3 1/2 hours straight through and never leaves the stage. So, about a half hour before the show wrapped up at nearly midnight with an epic version of Shout (part of it below), I started seeing all these people in hard hats on both sides of the stage. . . the crew to take everything down . . . waiting. . . and waiting. . .

I’ve been lucky enough to see Bruce Springsteen and even luckier when it’s with the E Street Band, for over 30 years, and he (and they) still bring it!

Support Anti-Trafficking Legislation

Take action to End Demand in Washington state! From Washington Engage’s Facebook page this morning:

Please support two more key bills in the fight against human trafficking! Both bills are scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Law and Justice, Thursday January 28 at 8AM. Let’s make sure these critical bills pass in 2016!
SB 5880 would require human trafficking training for all workers in the service industry. WA Engage is partnering with Senator Padden, introducing this legislation for the second year.
SB 5277 would increase the criminal penalties for sex buyers – again being introduced for the second year.
Thank you for your support!

More information, including links to the bills’ legislative page where you can make a public comment at:

Brothels in Bellevue Busted

So, yesterday 12 brothels operated out of high end apartments were shut down in Bellevue, 12 men and 1 woman arrested for promoting prostitution according to the Seattle Times and 12 trafficked women from Korea freed, with two related websites also shut down.

“Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said King County is the first jurisdiction in the country to charge ‘an organized group of sex buyers’ with promoting the prostitution of women from South Korea, who are brought to the U.S. to work as prostitutes and are shuttled between major cities.”

About the websites KING 5 reports:

Sheriff John Urquhart says two websites — and — were seized and shut down. The “K” in stands for Korean. Police say the websites were used to rate, discuss, and promote the prostitution of women.

“Information shared on the site was used to exploit the foreign-born women, mostly from Korea, who were also being shuttled from one city to the next on a monthly basis. Organizers of the network encouraged sex buyers to consistently visit the most desired prostituted persons advertised so that they would be kept in the Seattle area longer,” said the sheriff’s office in a statement.

Ironically, kgirldelights was set up by  owner of and 50 0f his most prolific posters who formed an invitation only group called “The League” to avoid police notice, according to the Seattle Times. Most of those arrested were members of “The League”.

KING 5 says:

Urquhart said was run by “The League,” made up of a group of businessmen. The women were forced into prostitution to pay debts, often being held against their will. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said some of the women were forced to work every day, up to 14 hours, servicing up to 10 Johns per day.

As the Seattle Times notes: “‘Many of the members made comments that indicated they were aware these girls were more than likely trafficked and had little choice in choosing to work as prostitutes,’ say the charges.” Indeed, the KING 5 story includes a link to some of their comments and posts to

An example:

Since it was her first day I asked if she was nervous. She didn’t understand. I tried, “scared?” Out came the phone as I spelled it, s…c…a…r…e…d. Suddenly a pained look came over her face. I actually thought she was going to cry. “Yes! I scared!” and she buried her head on my chest and embraced me tightly for a moment. Oops maybe not a good question to ask. But soon she looked up at me and said “thank you.” I’m not sure what for but breathed a sigh of relief.

Of course, if you’re to believe SWOP, echoed these days by Amnesty International, the johns and pimps/madams/brothel owners, as well as “sex workers” themselves are supposed to rescued those trafficked. Hmm, that didn’t seem to happen, and there were 22,000 members/johns on board who would have seen these kind of reviews. The reviews of obviously trafficked women should been noticed by the “sex workers” in SWOP themselves as they shared the website.

Wait, SWOP is upset about this. Upset that the review websites have been shut down.  KING 5 says:

In a bizarre twist, prostitutes held a protest in the lobby of the sheriff’s office while he and other law enforcement officials were briefing news reporters at a press conference.

The prostitutes showed up to protest the closing of the website,, which they claim allowed them to assess clients and determine who is safe and who is not.

“Sites like this allow us to screen clients and advertise without standing on the street corner,” said Maggie McNeill, who says she is a prostitute.

“’It (the shutdown) increases the odds a sex worker needing to make rent will take an unverified client,’ Savannah Sly, president of the Sex Worker Outreach Project, wrote in an email.”

Of course, these websites weren’t at all safe for the Korean women being trafficking. It’s not clear to me at all from the documents what kind of screening is done of the men (other than in the KING 5 video, it says they were screened to make sure they weren’t cops), although some of the advertisements for the women mention “standard screening” or requiring references. Mostly these sites seem to be for screening the women being sold. I doubt they get to rate the customers.

In fact, as the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS) says that: “Contrary to misinformed perceptions, review boards such as these are NOT a safety net for women in prostitution. Rather, these boards simply promote the market for commercial sex to a point where women are considered chattel and violence against women is encouraged and promoted.”

As survivor leader Alisa Bernard points out in another KING 5 story “the fact that one of the more prominent sites is gone provides some sign of progress.

‘That means there are 18-to-20,000 men who are not buying sex on that site,’ she said. ‘They have officially lost their victim population.'”

Oh, wait, I almost missed the spin on the local SWOP Seattle site. In addition to stating their concern “about collateral damage the website’s closure will have on adult workers in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest”, they suggest that:

“Migrant sex workers, especially Asian migrant workers, are often inaccurately labeled as trafficking victims,” Savannah Sly, SWOP-USA Board President and former Seattle-based sex worker, said. “I don’t doubt that King County prosecutors will wave this is a victory against human trafficking, highlighting the presence of migrant Korean sex workers on TRB to indicate abuse. Just because a women came to the U.S. and works as an escort does not mean she did so involuntarily. These assumptions are blatantly racist and xenophobic. Many migrant workers in the sex trade, domestic work and agriculture emigrate and work voluntarily. It’s criminalization and stigma of sex work and immigration status that makes these workers so vulnerable, not the work itself.”

Sure. We’re all xenophobic if we’re concerned about trafficking. Women are just migrating because they want to see the inside of a brothel and strange naked men in a foreign country.


New Year’s Day Walk

It was a sunny New Year’s Day in Seattle, so I got inspired to go out and take some pictures, something I haven’t done in awhile. Initially I was thinking of heading over to UW, but I got to thinking of finding the 52nd St. (NE) stairs I had read about in Jake & Cathy Jaramillo‘s book Seattle Stairway Walks I had gotten out from the library awhile back. I was well familiar with the Ravenna Park part of that walk, but have kept meaning to find the 52nd St. stairs which I knew must be just a block from my normal walk to University Village.

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Actually a series of stairs, from 20th Ave NE to 21st, 21st to 22nd, and 22nd to Ravenna (where there’s a P-Patch, a little lonely in the frost this time of year).

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Back up the stairs to 2oth Ave. . .

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I decided to head over to the 20th Ave NE Bridge over Ravenna Park, and found a Little Free Library on Ravenna & 20th on the way there.

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The 20th Ave Bridge has long been closed to traffic. . .

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. . . and you can view the Ravenna Park trails below. . .

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I ended up at Third Place Books, where I browsed and had a cup of coffee and a cookie.

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I am planning on getting my own copy of Seattle Stairway Walks and exploring other stairways in Seattle. I’ve always loved exploring stairways when I visit San Francisco, but really have neglected the ones here at home.

In addition to the book, Jake & Cathy Jaramillo also have a website, Seattle Stairway Walks. There is also a walking advocacy group, Feet First, which advocates for more walkable neighborhoods, has more maps and information, including walking groups. There’s also a similar site for folks in Bellevue, called Walk On in Bell WA.

Happy New Year!


Abandoning Native & First Nations’ Women

Amnesty International’s lack of concern for the fact the poor and minorities are targeted for prostitution has been particularly disturbing. Especially disturbing regarding Native American and  Canadian First Nations’ women, whose rights were focused on during AI’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

In her Aug. 12, 2015 blog post, An Open Letter to Amnesty InternationalThe Tuff Muff, an Assiniboine woman, points out the contradiction of AI Canada’s 2004 No More Stolen Sisters report and their subsequent campaign for the Canadian government to take action on the (as of 2012, according to their current online petition) 1,017 missing Indigenous women in Canada and their new policy decriminalizing johns and pimps:

You see, I admire the commitment Amnesty International once had for fighting against oppression towards my indigenous sisters. You fought hard for a national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women of Canada. You brought this issue to the attention of people around the world. Though your efforts have been largely ignored by the Canadian federal government, they have not gone unnoticed by indigenous women, such as myself, in Canada. However, I am shocked at your recent policy calling for the decriminalization of johns and pimps. I feel dismayed at your willingness to promote men’s right to buy, sell and profit from women’s exploitation. Prostitution in Canada largely affects indigenous women; a reality you so readily acknowledged in your report, Stolen Sisters. Poverty, addiction, homelessness, inter-generational violence and mental illness leave women exceptionally vulnerable to pimps and johns but you knew this already, didn’t you?  Why, I ask, promote an industry that exists off the backs of the most impoverished women? Why choose to stand behind those who profit from the human rights violations that occur in prostitution?

She goes on to point out the racism, classism and sexism of the policy and  the intersectionality (something AI claims to value these days) between those oppressions:

In Stolen Sisters, you pointed out that previous physical or sexual trauma pushes young indigenous people into prostitution. As a front-line anti-violence worker, I am well aware of the profound harm incest and childhood sexual abuse can have on women in prostitution. When the statistics tell us that 84% of prostituted women in Canada have experienced incest or childhood sexual abuse, the connection between the two is crystal clear. Why are you so blind to this reality?

Prostitution is classist, racist and sexist. You’re familiar with those concepts, right? When an institution such as prostitution disproportionally targets poor women of colour, the intersectionality between these oppressions is obvious. With your new policy, however, you’ve decided to side with the rich, mostly white, men of the world who buy and sell women.

In her article in January 14, 2015 The Globe and MailReal change for aboriginal women begins with the end of prostitutionCherry Smiley, from the Native Women’s Association of Canada praises their Canada’s new prostitution law for the decision to “to criminalize johns, pimps, and third-party advertising for sexual services, and to decriminalize prostituted women in most circumstances,” also  providing some “investments in support and exiting services.”

She goes on to point out that:

Some opponents have claimed this new legislation reproduces colonial state violence against aboriginal women and girls by increasing police power. What this analysis fails to recognize is that prostitution is not a traditional activity for aboriginal women and, in fact, is “the world’s oldest oppression.” It is a system, like Canada’s residential school system, that has been imposed on our aboriginal communities. Prostitution is part of the continuum of colonial male violence against aboriginal women and girls, telling us incorrectly that we are disposable in life and that predators can harm us without recourse. The end point of that continuum is the thousands of missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls, an ongoing massacre that continues to tell us that we are disposable, even in death, with no official inquiry or accountability.

Smiley further points out how indigenous women are especially funneled into prostitution by inequalities and notes that: “In the same ways that those who came before us were funnelled into the residential school system ‘for our own good,’ the attempts to now funnel us into the system of prostitution, and to support the rights of pimps and johns, is also being incorrectly portrayed as being for our own benefit and protection.”

Ironically, AIUSA made those connections between racism and colonialism regarding Native American women in prostitution in a November 2, 2011 blog post New Report on Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota, in the aftermath of their 2007  Maze of Injustice report on sexual violence against Native American women, making the same kind of points that fall on deaf ears now with AIUSA leadership.

Citing The Garden of Truth, by the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition and Prostitution Research & Education“the first study detailing the personal experiences of Native women who have been prostituted and trafficked in Minnesota:

The research team interviewed 105 women to assess the life circumstances that led them to prostitution. The study found about half of the women met a conservative legal definition of sex trafficking which involves third-party control over the prostituting person by pimps or traffickers.

Chronic poverty, rape, homelessness, childhood abuse, and racism – elements of the trafficking of women – were clear themes in respondents’ answers. Among the report’s findings:

62% saw a connection between prostitution and colonization, and explained that the devaluation of women in prostitution was identical to the colonizing devaluation of Native people.

One woman stated, “When a man looks at a prostitute and a Native woman, he looks at them the same: ‘dirty’.”

52% had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time of interview, a rate that is in the range of PTSD among combat veterans. Moreover, 71% presented symptoms of dissociation.

92% wanted to escape prostitution.

How did Amnesty International get from their previous Stop Violence Against Women campaign to their current decision decriminalizing pimps and johns?

While AI will deny it (even while AIUSA Board members lunched with SWOP at the Western Regional, and posted a picture on Twitter), it’s hard not to wonder about the memo from British Escort Agency owner Douglas Fox talking about going against AI’s SVAW team in the UK and urging sex worker allies to lobby AI.

Further reading:

Letters from survivors to Amnesty International have just been published in CANCER inCYTES, “a public health e-magazine that discusses the healthcare needs of disadvantaged populations. We educate the public about the link between childhood trauma, cancer, and social injustice.”!v4-iss2moore/cun6