|THE GLOBAL TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG GIRLS IN THE SEX TRADE IS TO PROSTITUTION WHAT CHILD BRIDES AND SPOUSAL ABUSE ARE TO MARRIAGE.....
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO ABOUT PROSTITUTION?
To hear Donna Hughes and company tell it, there is no such thing as a happy hooker.... prostitution is the worst thing that happened to women since Eve got blamed for biting into the apple, and international trafficking in children and young girls to the sex trade is the only aspect of prostitution you need to know about because in their minds the rest of us don’t exist.
The truth is that there certainly are horrendous abuses around the world regarding trafficked persons- but these chronicled abuses include the trafficking in persons for labor other than prostitution. Sweatshops which manufacture garments are the recipients of many trafficked individuals, and many young girls are often sold into a lifetime of sexual slavery as child brides.
Shall we, as a concerned people who despise this unconscionable treatment of our fellow human being, insist upon outlawing marriage to prevent some young girl from being turned into a wife/ sex slave of some lecherous man who orders up his teenage bride over the internet?
Is there anyone who would deny that spousal abuse and domestic violence are serious problem in the US and around the world? So prevalent and widespread is abuse that cop cars sport bumper stickers reading “There is no excuse for domestic violence.” Battered women’s shelters are opening in record numbers and many more are needed because there are record numbers of domestic violence incidents and women needing shelter. But would anyone argue that an epidemic in domestic violence justifies prohibiting marriage to protect women from potential abuse? At the very least maybe we should mandate warning labels on wedding gowns? “Caution- connubial alliances may lead to serious bodily and emotional harm.” Heck, for that matter, so might any interpersonal relationship between any combination of genders! So what should we do? Ban all relationships to protect everyone from potential harm?
According to the September 2003 issue of the National Geographic Magazine, 27 million people world wide are bought and sold into slavery. Some are sold to businesses that make bracelets, others are sold for their physical strength to haul bricks and other heavy material on construction sites. Still others are forced into household servitude, or to pick corn and other farm crops.
Is the logical solution to end these horrible abuses a demand for an outright ban on any type of labor which could result in someone, somewhere being captured, enslaved and trafficked to a country where they will be forced to labor without compensation and where they will live in the direst of circumstances? Would it help one single trafficked person anywhere in the world if we arrest and incarcerate all household servants who have made a career out of cooking and cleaning for others, who willingly - in anticipation of being paid- apply for a job working as a servant in the home of someone who could afford their services? Could we save any of the children or young people or adults who are trafficked into the sweatshops of third world countries (and even in the US) by criminalizing commercial garment manufacturing and demand that from now on, every individual or household must make all their own clothing? And if you want a house, must you build it yourself to prevent the possibility of anyone being forced to haul bricks to build it?
Shall we criminalize and eliminate all jobs which may be considered by someone to be demeaning or degrading, whether or not the persons so employed believe they are degraded by their work? If taken to its logical conclusion, such a mandate might require that elderly persons in nursing homes who mess their pants will need to change their own diapers and clean themselves because to pay someone to do such degrading work would be illegal. The same for cleaning toilets and other janitorial labor. After all, would you want your son or daughter to clean toilets and scrub filthy floors for a living?
What if that’s the only type of work they can find? Would you prefer that your children be arrested and go to jail to prevent them from being ‘exploited’ by those who would employ them in this type of degrading profession? But what if, while they were incarcerated, they are forced to clean the toilets and scrub the floors of the bathrooms of the prison guards? And if this is the case, has their arrest and incarceration achieved the goal of protecting them from the exploitation of being employed to do the very same thing?
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand that these suggestions are no solutions at all. They are neither logical or practical. And yet, the continued criminalization of all prostitution- whether or not forced- is the only solution offered by our government administration and radical leftist feminists, who insist that arresting and incarcerating grown women who have chosen to do this work will eliminate trafficking in children, young girls and adult women in the sex trade. It has not and will not eliminate it, and in the meantime, those who are arrested and incarcerated “for their own good” are put at risk of serious physical harm from law enforcement officers who are supposed to “protect them.” Time and time again, police officers have been caught raping prostitutes and also offering to trade sexual favors which would allow the prostitute to avoid arrest. Prostitutes comprise the majority of police informants- why? because the cops can and do threaten to arrest the prostitute if the prostitute doesn’t cooperate. How does this protect those children and young girls that the feminists believe they are saving?
In 1995, I was one of five current and retired prostitutes who attended the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing, China as NGO’s to speak on behalf of ourselves and other prostitutes with whom we work and with whom we engage in activism in the world wide prostitutes rights movement.
Then, as now, our voices were disallowed by the radical feminists who adamantly proclaimed that there was no possibility of a woman freely choosing to engage in prostitution, and therefore the Platform for Action Document must call for the elimination of all forms of prostitution and pornography as being “incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person.” (may I ask how being arrested and going to jail is compatible with my dignity and worth as a human person?)
Even though we were badly outnumbered and extraordinarily underfunded, the five of us tenaciously and successfully lobbied the government delegates to change by one word the paragraph dealing with this issue- and that word was “Forced.” Sex worker activists fully and totally agree that when someone- of any age and gender is truly forced to enter prostitution or any other type of labor - there must be laws which are strongly and strictly enforced to stop this coercion.
To arrest those who voluntarily engage in prostitution- whether it is because they enjoy their work or because it is the only work they can get- will not solve the problem of children or young girls or adult women who are being trafficked into the sex trade, nor the ‘victimization and exploitation’ of women.
If you can’t go to the police to report a crime against you because the police consider you the outlaw, how does a law prohibiting ALL prostitution prevent exploitation and victimization of women in prostitution?
When scarce and valuable police resources are squandered by the use of undercover cops2 to engage in sting operations of escort services and call girl rings, it doesn’t leave time or money to pursue those who are truly violating the rights of individuals who have no desire to be in sex work- or any other type of involuntary labor. The prostitutes are told that if they don’t testify against those who give them their jobs, the prostitutes themselves will go to jail. Clients are seldom arrested - and those who are arrested are usually the ones who are soliciting street prostitutes and are very easy for the cops to catch.
So what shall we do about prostitution? The rational answer is to decriminalize all consenting adult commercial sex. Those who hire underage people and those who force anyone into this work against their will, or who takes money from a sex worker without the consent of that sex worker should face severe penalties. There are already numerous existing laws which focus on these issues and these are the laws which should be enforced.
Street prostitution could be regulated to remain in certain areas and away from residential zones, just as other public businesses. Criminal activities often associated with street prostitution such as robbery, littering, loitering, trespassing- could be enforced with increased penalties for violations of the rights of prostitutes and any others who are robbed or raped, and for violations of private property rights.
In California, the prostitution laws were revised recently and now allow the police to arrest a person if the police determine (or allege) that the person “possesses the intent to commit prostitution.” The person who possesses this intent can be in their car, whether moving or not, and the police can pull them over and charge them with the intent to commit prostitution. The cops can also confiscate the car that was being driven by the possessor of this alleged intent and a person does not have to be convicted of the crime for the government to keep this person’s vehicle.
If this doesn’t scare you that big brother government has WAY overstepped its boundaries, what will? What if it was your daughter, wife, husband, son who was in the wrong place at the wrong time? It happens more often than you think!
Whether or not you believe prostitution is a good thing, and whether or not you think women are exploited by engaging in sex work- allow consenting adult men and women to engage in whatever type of relationship they want. It is not and should not be the concern of our government what goes on in our bedrooms if we have consented to be there.
Won’t you help us fight to change the laws? Contact your local politician and tell them that it is time to decriminalize consenting adult commercial sex. Vote for politicians who are willing to buck the trend in government to make more laws to “protect us for our own good.”
And support organizations like ISWFACE which are actively engaged in fighting for the right to autonomy and self-ownership. ISWFACE is a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization and your donation of any size is tax deductible. We need your help. The other side is well funded- they have the support of liberal democrats, the religious right AND the US Government behind them! We need the support of freedom loving people who know that government “solutions” are more often the problem and usually more harmful than no solution at all.