Prostitution (In Depth) The RINJ Foundation
Legislating what women can do with their bodies is the folly of a patriarchal governance that has run amok in misogyny.
There are many arguments used to defend criminalizing prostitution but none of them make much sense.
Some feminists suggest that many prostitutes don’t have a significant range of career choices because of poverty and lack of education and training for other options. Well, don’t remove that choice too. Sex workers who adhere to safe practices serve a useful function. We will talk more about that in a moment.
Some opponents of sex work suggest that many women are forced into prostitution by men who are pimps, who then take their money and coerce them to continue earning. In that case the crime is not being committed by the woman, and the crime is not prostitution. To suggest that prostitution should be criminalized because men will exploit prostitutes is the ultimate in misogyny if not just plain dumb logic. Prosecute the men who imprison, extort, or assault women.
Not all so-called “pimps” are doing crime. Some are defacto “bodyguards” and collect a fee for their work. That’s not such a bad thing but pushing sex work into the shadows has also pushed the support workers into the dark.
Decriminalizing prostitution opens the door to allowing sex workers to hire professional, licenced security persons. It also helps legitimize a realm of employment that otherwise was living in the shadows under no scrutiny.
Do you really know what a sex worker does?
Howard’s wife died a few years ago and since that time he has lived alone. Gina, a sex worker who sees Howard once a week in his flat, charges him the equivalent of $100.00 USD. Gina has strict rules for herself as well as clients about hygene, medical support, and protection for both. Howard is compliant but according to Gina, they seldom have sexual contact, mostly Howard likes to talk. Because of this, Gina sought out some training and took a day course in social work. She is a sex worker but she says that Howard was once suicidal and she beieves she has saved Howard’s life. They continue to see each other. Whatever of Howard’s needs are being fullfilled, he may some day be able to transfer from a surrogate to a real partner. He said he never would do that out of respect for his deceased wife but maybe he will give himself permission to do that. In the meantime, is Howard committing a crime? Where is the mens rea (criminal intent)? Is he doing something immoral?
Gina says she has many clients exactly like Howard. She also says that she has many experiences over the years with “bad dates”, violent men who cause trouble.
Gina pools her financial resources with two other women to hire a driver/bodyguard who takes her to her appointments and remains on call in the event of trouble. She says she also has police acquaintances she can call. It’s a quid pro quo wherein the police officer gains information about violent sex offenders or predators in his jurisdiction and Gina has a ‘goto person’ when trouble strikes.
Sex Work Should Not Be Done in the Shadows
In some countries, lawmakers have decided to not charge the women sex workers but instead charge men who use the services of the prostitute. That has led to harassment of the women sex workers by police and driven the tradecraft further underground. Moreover, the male clients are the least likely criminals.
“Many are just homely guys why didn’t meet a girl, yet.
“For some men it takes longer than for other men to find the right partner. They still have needs,” says our source, Gina.
Decriminalizing prostitution completely is the only way ahead.
Not Just Women Are Prostitutes
Many members of the straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (S+LBGT2) communities choose to become sex workers. When will men learn that legislating adults to compell who has sex with who is just not practical law making? Already there are sex worker unions and associations all over the world. These groups have a good understanding of the health and safety issues of both workers and clients. Where they don’t there are many Civil Society organizations willing to share their knowlege base and know-how. Perhaps these groups could form an alliance with government for the purpose of standards implementation and licensing.
Men trying to legislate what women do with their bodies will fail. Men and women working together to bring sex work into a safe, healthy, legitimate service sector will triumph over the spread of disease and reduce rape and other sex crime significantly.
Sex work (prostitution) is here to stay. It needs to be decriminalized, come out of the shadows, and be a legitimate part of the public health and safety regulatory regimes.
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