VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN / October 2004
rarely admit it publicly. For example, an organization in South Africa that advocates decriminalization of prostitution, Sex Work- ers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), addressed the dangers of escort prostitution by distributing a list of safety tips for women. These included the recommendation that while undressing, the prostitute should accidentally kick a shoe under the bed, and while retrieving it, should check for knives, hand- cuffs, or rope. The SWEAT flyer also noted that fluffing up the pil- low on the bed would permit searching there for weapons.
A brothel owner in the Netherlands complained about an ordi- nance requiring that brothels have pillows in the rooms: “You don’t want a pillow in the [brothel’s] room. It’s a murder weapon” (Daley, 2001, p. 1). Familiar with how customers treated women in prostitution, this Dutch pimp understood that johns are regu- larly murderous toward women.
People often assume that prostitution does not occur in strip clubs. Yet the lines between prostitution and other sexually exploitive activities such as stripping have become increasingly blurred. The amount of physical contact between customers and women who strip has escalated since 1980, along with an increase in sexual harassment and physical assault. Touching, grabbing, pinching, and fingering of dancers removes any boundaries between dancing, stripping, and prostitution (Lewis, 1998). Holsopple (1998) documented the verbal, physical, and sexual abuse experienced by women in strip club prostitution, which included being grabbed on the breasts, buttocks, and genitals, as well as being kicked, bitten, slapped, spit on, and penetrated vagi- nally and anally during lap dancing. In most clubs, customers can buy either a table dance or a lap dance where the dancer sits on the customer’s lap while she wears few or no clothes and grinds her genitals against his. Although he is clothed, he usually expects ejaculation. The lap dance may take place on the main floor of the club or in a private room. The more private the sexual perfor- mance, the more it costs, and the more likely that violent sexual harassment or rape will occur. At one strip club, a woman reported, “We know when [prostitution] happens [during private lap dances]. Then four songs are played instead of two” (Son, 2003, n.p.).
Coney (2003) described the NZ Department of Occupational Safety and Health measures as a “farce” with respect to protecting