I’m against prostitution, whether illegal or legal ‘sex work‘.
There is too much emphasis on the idea of ‘enjoying it‘ like the pretentious and nonsensical generic differencing when trying to promote burlesque over stripping. Prostitution and ‘exotic dancing‘ & escorting where the line is blurred when it comes to customer ‘benefits‘ are for the vast majority about exploitation of poverty and perceived sex/gender inferiority which is ultimately rape. Whether raped at ‘home‘ or in the local community by people known to the victim or in a bigger industry setting the practice is not mostly a glamorous scene of flamboyant, superficial courtesans who can name their price, pick their clientele, enjoy the ‘high life‘ and have an amount of respect from those who know what they do. Even those ones have stories of abuse, perhaps meager beginnings and not necessarily recommending it to youngsters looking to get in on the ‘game‘.
The word and acting like a ‘pimp‘ has become popular and common slang (like ‘nigger‘ though that isn’t in acceptable use by anybody of any colour) and though it has been extended to use for any subject/object it’s glamourised and normalized the idea of ‘pimps and ho’s‘ with people liking to dress up and party but they wouldn’t really want to be the whore. This, burlesque, pole dancing, pornography, ‘massage parlours‘ (of the likes where all the ‘staff‘ line up and you choose the one you like the look of) etc have just added to the demand and hence abuse and trafficking. There’s been too much emphasis on the individual consumer/client and individual enjoyment over realizing that individuals add up and so do their ‘needs‘/wants and there’s always plenty willing to supply whether those being supplied want it or not and without asking if those who have gotten used to the lifestyle would choose it if they could have had better or an equal/fair playing field in education and work opportunity before they became prostitutes. Customers cum rapists – that’s what they are if they buy another person who is available when they don’t want to be whether the customer knows it or not e.g. underage, trafficked, coerced (from general force to having to pay the rent/dependents/debts), blackmailed, tricked etc – want others to be available to ‘service‘ their needs and to vent their frustrations but why should they be, why should a supply spring up. There are those who think the customers are being exploited because for some reason they can’t satisfy or prevent their ‘needs‘ themselves and so it’s exploiting them.
Those who supply people to be purchased can pat each other on the back and be respected/envied/admired in society from photographers/filmmakers to the owners of ‘adult‘ magazines and clubs, customers have ‘right to privacy‘/’right to choose‘ and not be discriminated against but for those who are bought it’s more usually about shame and trying to hide a ‘dirty past‘ that can mean losing children, home, jobs. On another though related area, ironically the last past of that sentence is usually used as a counter argument against or to downplay rape and sexual abuse in general by those who want to focus on males who’ve been falsely accused but they don’t like to acknowledge it for exploited/prostituted people.
Others like to solely concentrate or use the minorities as a way of degrading the significance of prostituted women e.g. seem to think a counter argument is “well women abuse others too“. That shows a sad lack of priorities. I don’t ignore anyone i.e. prostituted boys, violence against men, transsexuals of any age and female predators (remember that it is not generally seen as predatory for males to have a ‘normal, natural need‘ to fulfill and hence buy/abuse others but when females do it they’re definitely exploiters and victimisers). Female predators like male predators exist on a personal/home level though tend to be more on the enabling/ignoring/voyeur side or in the unable-to-do-anything and also abused side or doesn’t-do-much-lest-it-happens-to-them side. On an industry level they tend to be higher paid women who like the male peers they worked so hard to get to the same level as think of others as ‘things‘ and ‘commodities‘. To me no one group of the prostituted is more important than the other (except for that tiny minority that do do it out of mutually informed and well ‘compensated‘ choice) but obviously when talking about the situation as a whole women and children make up most of the abused.
Women, children and children who grow into women are the ones most exploited and in some countries it is not uncommon for prostituted prepubescent children to be given hormonal drugs. Too many people think of children and women as separate and women as not as important but many were harmed from an early age and just because they’ve managed to survive, get older and in many cases had the abuse continue and add up doesn’t mean they’re less important or deserve less sympathy/compassion/consideration. They’ve lived with the horrors and scars much longer and many have even ‘gotten used to it‘ aka desensitized, resigned or dis-associative but that is no excuse for others to be desensitized to them.
It’s more than dehumanizing and problematic enough that we live in a world that’s all about money/currency to be able to survive and class systems, looking at people as walking body parts and sex toys adds to that and inevitably causes harm and then leads to arguing about ‘levels of harm‘. No one/’thing‘ should be be ‘livestock‘/’assets‘ at all.
The documents below are relatively old now but they still represent my thoughts on the ‘subject‘ (that word makes it sounds too academic and detached but that’s how it is to many, many don’t even give it that credence and others aren’t interested in ‘emotion‘/passion/sentimentality, unless of course it’s them or those they care about in the situation.)
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, Vol. 10 No. 10, October 2004 1083-1086
© 2004 Janice G. Raymond
Guest Editor’s Introduction
This special issue of the journal presents “The Case Against the Legalization of Prostitution.” Especially during the past 15 years, the debate about how legally to address prostitution has taken hold. Some countries, mainly in western Europe such as the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, have established various forms of legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries. Other governments, such as Thailand, prohibit prostitution activities and enterprises but, in reality, tolerate brothels and the buying of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. Sweden has taken a different legal approach—penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution—as part of a comprehensive Violence Against Women Bill that locates prostitution within the framework of gender inequality and male violence against women.
A search of the scholarly literature on prostitution reveals that the common academic viewpoint has been to regard prostitution as legally inevitable, that is, to accept the fact that prostitution should be normalized and regularized as “sex work.” Most of these articles use the language of sex work as if prostitution has already been accepted as just another job. This is not the case, however. The debate about the legal status of prostitution is, in many ways, just beginning.
Arguments promoting legal normalization of prostitution are that it will reduce trafficking; bring the sex industry under control; regulate prostitution activities, venues, and third parties; remove prostitution from the streets and public places; end child prostitution; protect the women in the sex industry from abuse and violence; promote women’s health; enhance women’s choices; and offer women in prostitution the opportunity to be self-employed. The articles in this issue examine many of these claims, particularly in countries that have already legalized or decriminalized the sex industry, or that are considering legalization. Each of these articles has been written by scholar-activists who at the same time that they are academically and professionally credentialed experts on prostitution have worked in the field as activists, psychologists, service providers, and governmental coordinators of programs on prostitution and trafficking.
Melissa Farley, who has written on prostitution for many years and documented its physical and psychological health effects from interviews with hundreds of women in prostitution worldwide, discusses evidence demonstrating that the harms of prostitution do not disappear simply because prostitution is legalized or decriminalized. Farley was active in the 2003 debate leading up to the legalization of prostitution in New Zealand by a mere one vote majority. She uses the New Zealand context as a case study to examine nonprofit organizations and nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs) that, under the guise of promoting condoms and safe sex, actually advocate for legalization of prostitution; the pervasiveness of violence in legal as well as illegal prostitution industries; the health effects of violence to women in prostitution; toxic verbal abuse; post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of prostitution; and HIV education and promotion of prostitution.
Italy is now considering various proposals to legalize, regulate, and decriminalize prostitution as a reaction to the influx of foreign women in street prostitution there. Esohe Aghatise, who founded the IROKO association that assists women trafficked especially from Nigeria but also from countries in Eastern Europe, examines the Italian legal framework on trafficking and recent government proposals to bring back the casa chiuse or “houses of pleasure.” In describing the situation of women trafficked to Italy, Aghatise examines the plight of Nigerian women and girls who line the Italian roadsides and questions whether their situation would be different if legalization of prostitution were put in place.
Esohe Aghatise shows how one current government proposal (Proposal 3826) violates the 1949 Convention on trafficking and prostitution, which Italy has signed, and the ways in which it will sanction “private” prostitution venues, a double standard for women and the men who solicit them for sex, and an indirect obligatory requirement for women in prostitution to undergo frequent medical checkups else they risk being convicted of culpable homicide or culpable personal injury to a buyer. Aghatise argues that advocates, programs, and governments who claim to fight trafficking yet support the legalization of prostitution are contradictory and incoherent.
Janice Raymond, the guest editor of this issue, looks at how legalization promotes the demand for prostitution. Arguing that demand is gendered—that is, male, as in male behavior, not biology—Raymond spotlights what she calls the invisible man. Under state-sponsored prostitution regimes, he is absolved from any moral and political responsibility for the sexual abuse of women and children in prostitution. In fact, normalization of prostitution as work gives men more moral and social permission to buy women and children in prostitution.
Raymond’s article looks at the myths that rationalize why men buy women in prostitution, summarizes information on male buyers fromtwo studies conducted by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), which she codirects, and presents best practices that address the gender of demand. She also targets the way in which condom promotion and safe sex programs validate pimps and buyers when conducted within the orbit of the sex industry.
Gunilla Ekberg, who is a special advisor at the Division of Gender Equality in the government of Sweden and coordinator of the Nordic-Baltic Campaign on trafficking, addresses the Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services as an alternative to legalization and normalization of prostitution as work. The Swedish model of prostitution legislation, originally launched by the women’s movement and female politicians in Sweden, has become a cornerstone of feminist political advocacy against the sex industry. Ekberg lays out the principles behind Swedish prostitution policies and makes clear that prostitution is officially acknowledged as a form of male violence against women, a harmful practice and a serious threat to gender equality, and a tangible expression of the belief that in one country, at least, women and children are not for sale.
A fundamental part of the Swedish strategy is not only penalizing the buyers but also decriminalizing the women in prostitution and providing them with resources to choose alternatives. The law that penalizes the buyers is part of a more comprehensive Act on Violence Against Women (Kvinnofrid). Ekberg’s article addresses the effects of the law on trafficking into Sweden, on reduction of prostitution, on public opinion, and on women seeking help to exit prostitution. This is the first extended examination of how the law is working, the criticisms that have been made of the law, responses to those criticisms, and the law’s effects on the public debate about the legal status of prostitution in other countries.
These articles also represent an effort to equalize the debate about legalization of prostitution that has been dominated by the pro–sex work advocates. There is no evidence that legalization of prostitution makes things better for women in prostitution. As these articles indicate, there is a lot of evidence that legalization makes things worse for women in prostitution.
There are alternatives to legalization of prostitution. Rather than validating pimps, brothels, and buyers, governments could address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women and children in prostitution industries and implement prevention programs that target men and boys. This special issue of the journal presents some legislative and best practice models that can be used to address the demand.
“Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart” Prostitution Harms Women Even if Legalized or Decriminalized
Prostitution Research & Education
With examples from a 2003 New Zealand prostitution law, this article discusses the logical inconsistencies in laws sponsoring prostitution and includes evidence for the physical, emotional, and social harms of prostitution. These harms are not decreased by legalization or decriminalization. The article addresses the confusion caused by organizations that oppose trafficking but at the same time promote prostitution as a justifiable form of labor for poor women. The failure of condom distribution/harm reduction programs to protect women in prostitution from rape, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and HIV is discussed. The success of such programs in obtaining funding and in promoting prostitution as sex work is also discussed.
This next one:
This article was written in response to Debbie Nathan’s ‘Oversexed’ (Nation, August 29, 2005). Nathan sympathizes with those on the Left who consider prostitution to be a form of labor rather than violence against women. Nathan criticizes abolitionist feminists who think that women in prostitution deserve more in life than a condom and a cup of coffee. In fact, we feminists think that women in prostitution deserve the right NOT to prostitute. That’s what almost all women in prostitution tell us they want: to get out. ‘Unequal’ criticizes the use of HIV prevention funds as a means to promote legalized prostitution.
Trafficking for Prostitution in Italy
Possible Effects of Government Proposals for Legalization of Brothels
Associazione IROKO Onlus
This article gives an overview of the problem of trafficking for prostitution in Italy and notes different trafficking dynamics according to countries of origin of the victims. It examines changes in trafficking patterns, various activities carried out by the Italian government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to assist victims, the Italian legal framework used to combat trafficking, and the recent government proposal to legalize brothels. In conclusion, the article suggests strategies to combat prostitution and trafficking. The main emphasis is on the trafficking of Nigerian women and girls to Italy.
For further reading this site has a lot of information and reports on sex slavery in and from Nigeria to Europe including religious, magical/witchcraft/voodoo prostitution.
I can add to that by saying that I know/have known women from India both from relatively ‘safe’ and even ‘happy’ lives there or the opposite who were brought to the UK as children-teens and young adults just married by relatives, so-called relatives and ‘friends of the family’ who were then raped, abused and prostituted by their real or unreal parents/guardians and part of that was ritualistic. These practices are not uncommon at all in older generations than myself but I’ve known people my age as well who came with their aunts/uncles and then pretty much used as domestic servants or worse than the real children/their cousins and/or had some kind of ‘magical‘/trauma based grooming/conditioning.
The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services
Best Practices for Prevention of Prostitution
and Trafficking in Human Beings
Ministry of Industry, Employment, and Communications
After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This groundbreaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.
Prostitution on Demand
Legalizing the Buyers as Sexual Consumers
JANICE G. RAYMOND
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
Research, programs, and legislation related to sex trafficking are often premised on the invisibility of the male buyer and the failure to address men’s role in buying and abusing women in prostitution. Governments, UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and others act as if the male demand for sexual exploitation is insignificant, or that prostitution is so entrenched because, after all, “men will be men.” Little research on trafficking has focused on the so-called customer as a root cause of trafficking and sexual exploitation. And even less legislation has penalized the male customer whose right to buy women and children for prostitution activities remains unquestioned. This article looks at the demand—its meaning, the myths that rationalize why men buy women in prostitution, qualitative information on the buyers in two studies conducted by the Coalition Against Trafficking inWomen (CATW)—as well as best practices that address the gender of demand.
In Asia, a study of Thailand conducted by the U.S. Agency for International Development reported that 75% of Thai men were prostitution buyers and that almost 50% had their first sexual intercourse with women in prostitution (Brown, 2000). In Vietnam, 70% of those caught in brothels are reported to be state officials (“Officials Make Up 70%,” 2000). Brown (2000) also cited studies that indicate that 60% to 70% of men in Cambodia have purchased women for sexual activities.
In Europe, 1 of 8 (or 12.5%) men in Sweden uses women and children in prostitution (Ministry of Industry, 2003). At a recent conference in Alba, Italy, on the subject of legalization of prostitution, it was reported that 1 of 6 (or almost 17%) Italian men uses women in prostitution. Differently stated, this means that in Italy, 9 million men use an estimated 50,000 women in prostitution (International Conference, 2004). According to German criminal psychologist, Adolf Gallwitz, 18% of German men regularly pay for sex (“Stolen Youth,” 2003). A German doctoral thesis in process finds that one million prostitute-users buy women daily in Germany for sexual activities (Herz, 2003).
A 1997 study in the United Kingdom estimated that 10% of London’s male population buys women for the sex of prostitution (Brown, 2000). In the United States, as early as 1948, it was estimated that one half of the adult male population was frequent prostitute-users, and that 69% of the same population had purchased women for sexual activities at least once (Brown, 2000).
Numbers, of course, can always be debated. Yet these various statistics, ranging from lower to higher, indicate that large-enough numbers of men buy women and children to satisfy their sexual demands.
Bear in mind that it is still a common to blame females for pregnancy and for sabotaging condoms (without taking into consideration who is more likely to buy/have them and in places where contraception is even allowed – yet obviously they still have prostitution). Studies in the above documents clearly show what many have already known that the likelihood of females sabotaging contraception is an extreme and exceptional argument used as a norm to ignore the issues and add importance to the un-likelihoods. It is common for prostituted people to be demanded or asked and even paid extra (to them or the pimps) to not use condoms. I’m know that there are females who pressure males into having children (some are pitiful in feeling a need to have children to fulfill some part of themselves and whilst their situation is more sympathetic I do think it best not to go along with anyone who is willing to risk having children to ‘make things better‘ let alone ignoring the likelihood of children not having a choice to be born in the first place and assuming they will be grateful for it/life) and those who would/do covertly manipulate a situation to have children to benefit their own position. I call those in the former group who successfully pressure men into having unwanted children rapists just as I would the other way round and obviously that goes for the latter group as well. I don’t find it acceptable to also take the risk that the person not wanting the child will later change their mind, make the best of it and even call them a blessing. Just because they may love and would not of their own choice lose the child doesn’t mean it was ok to force/manipulate/deceive them into it.
The information also illustrates the use of prostitution on plantations/farms which is a massive area of supply to consumer food/products and one many don’t really comprehend just how much land, people, animals it takes to make a single ingredient on an ingredient list in products bought in bulk every day. It highlights how prostituted people are abused en masse by workers and there’s mutual silence by so-called health professionals who deem the prostituted fit and healthy (standards of passable health are much lower because it’s acceptable for poor people let alone the prostituted to be more disposable.)
Dorchen A. Leidholdt, Co-Executive Director
The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (Oct 2003)
An exceptional speech against the belief that prostitution and pornography are jobs just like any other job and should be treated as such.
I had never heard of a single instance in which a secretary or college professor had been flung out of a window of her workplace to her death on the streets below. And while married women were leaving abusive homes in droves, their prostituted sisters often didn’t have homes to leave. It would be six years before I would encounter the Canadian Report on Prostitution and Pornography with its finding that prostituted women in Canada suffer a mortality rate 40 times the national average. But it was no secret that prostituted women were the special targets of serial killers. How many jobs had murder as a frequent workplace safety hazard?
Although many of us believed that we were protesting images of violence, in reality we were protesting violence documented. The rape was not only on paper. The images were mostly photographs of actual women, with histories of horrific abuse, whose bodies were bought, sold and violated for the benefit of sex industry profiteers. I learned this when, as a spokesperson for Women Against Pornography, I responded to media requests for debates. Usually it wasn’t the pornographers we were asked to debate but the women who fronted for them. The media preferred “cat fights,” and the pornographers were happy to accommodate them.
In the December 1984 issue of Film Comment, I wrote about three of these women: a former “porn star” and so-called producer of a pornography magazine who struggled to support her daughter and confided in me that her career in the sex industry had been precipitated by a brutal gang rape; a 23-year-old centerfold model with a shattered nose (shattered by a baseball bat), married to a pornographic film director who always kept her in his sites; another “porn star” who deviated from her script on the air to mention that her husband beat her. I later leaned he also pimped her. It was a sobering revelation: the sex industry defenders we were pitted against on TV talk shows were the most brutalized sex industry victims.
Linda Marchiano, pimped, threatened, and beaten by the vicious Chuck Traynor, who in classic pimp fashion renamed her Linda Lovelace, was handed a script by her captor: “Q: Does it bother you to suck cock in front of so many people.” “A: Oh no, I love it. I guess I’m what you call an exhibitionist.” Anneka DiLorenzo, a Penthouse Pet, was sent out on the road by Guccione as a “Woman for Pornography.” She later successfully sued Guccione for sexual harassment after she proved that he pimped her to a business associate.
But for me the most profound revelation came not from our opponents but from one of the women in our group. She was a bundle of contradictions: a brilliant feminist theorist and a working class housewife from Queens, trying without success to have a baby. She rose to a leadership position in WAP, and we became close friends. Then I leaned why she couldn’t have a baby. She had been in prostitution from the time she had run away from her sexually abusive stepfather at age 14 until, her body ravaged by heroin, she was no longer a marketable commodity. Repeated bouts of venereal disease had destroyed her reproductive system. She had scars on her thighs from the time one of her pimps beat her with a coat hanger. She had teeth knocked out from another beating. I had taught Sarah about feminist theory; now she taught me about the lives of women and girls in prostitution. They were lessons that changed my life.
I began to understand, through my work with Sarah, that prostitution was not a job at all. The money it generated rarely ended up in the pocket of the prostituted girl or woman. It usually was confiscated by one of a series of men who pulled her into prostitution and kept her there, often at first through coercion but later by the creation of an environment that made the batterer’s dominion of power and control look like child’s play. Worn down by abuse and degradation, she finally submitted to her fate—and that submission was called consent or choice.
Sarah called prostitution “bought and sold rape.” But in reality it was gang rape, and not just a single gang rape, but gang rape carried out day after day, for years.
A decade after the conference the Dutch government fully implemented its agenda by legalizing and licensing 2,000 brothels and registering as prostitutes the women and girls in them. Once prostitution was legal in the Netherlands, brothel owners began to recruit women into prostitution through government-sponsored job centers for unemployed workers.
Why not take a look at the figures of missing persons in your country year by year, and think about where many of them have ended up; many will have died homeless, many will have been trafficked for ‘sex work‘, others for domestic and farm labour and out of the last group the women and children will also likely/have suffered sexual abuse as well. Also bear in mind that globalised prostitution is exactly that – there are many places that are racial specific particularly ethnic minorities who want ‘their own‘ and then there are those who like variety who tend to be the racial majority so people have to be taken from everywhere to everywhere and in huge numbers to satisfy demand.
Exploitation of the poor includes surrogacy which is a type of ‘sex work‘ rampant in countries such as India and Nepal. I’m not going to go into surrogacy vs fostering or adoption but as a ‘viable form of work‘ and a ‘justifiable form of travel for available resources‘. Those who stand up for and praise it and especially going abroad for surrogacy – well, if it’s allowed in one’s own country why do people go abroad? Because there’s more availability and it’s cheaper. Then for some those rent-a-wombs are forgettable. It’s so much easier getting poor females, and moreso foreign poor females to be a surrogate and even act like she has no problem with it and be all warm and nice to potential clients to better their chances of a sale (if it’s one of those routes where the sides meet). Can you imagine more women in Western countries agreeing to do it, if it’s so legit and wonderful why don’t more close friends and even family members (where it’s ‘legal‘ and not considered extended incest) offer to be the host? Just like the military has taken advantage of recruiting the lower classes into the main bulk of the lower ranks and nowadays by promising all sorts of benefits (just sell your life away) and when nudity became legal on stage and stripping started and then on to pornography – whilst all classes are involved and buy into it, most of those doing the direct service are of the poor. ‘Ten a penny‘ and ‘dime a dozen‘? Ha, nowadays that’s not a bargain.