Prostitution: To Legalize Or Not

Posted by Mark Lagon
November 17, 2008
Prostitutes in Rome

About the Author: Ambassador Mark P. Lagon is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and Director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

This week I participated in a conference "Overlaps of Prostitution, Migration, and Human Trafficking" in Berne, Switzerland which brought together European government experts from Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain to discuss a very hot topic: the relationship between prostitution and human trafficking.

The United States Government believes that prostitution fuels sex trafficking based on solid empirical evidence. It estimates that approximately 800,000 men, women, and children are trafficked each year across international borders. (This is not to mention millions more who are trafficking victims who never cross borders.) Two-thirds of these victims are trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation, making trafficking for prostitution the single biggest category of transnational human trafficking.

So, following a December 2002 policy decision, the U.S. Government opposes prostitution and any related activities, as contributing to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons. U.S. policy is that these activities are inherently harmful and dehumanizing and should not be regulated as a legitimate form of work for any human being. This view enjoys broad support from a range of those concerned about human trafficking policy.

Sweden also considers prostitution to be harmful. In 1999, Sweden passed a law to criminalize sex buying and pimping (mainly involving men), while decriminalizing the act of prostitution (where women and girls are found).

At about the same time, between 1999 and 2002, several European countries came to the opposite conclusion: Germany and the Netherlands legalized prostitution within a government regulated sector. Other countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland, also regulate prostitution. They argued that regulation could provide prostituted people protection from disease and violence, prevent the involvement of organized crime, and help reduce sex trafficking.

But there was evidence at the Berne conference that more and more people -- and countries -- recognize that where there is legal prostitution, sex trafficking continues to flourish. Conversely, in Sweden, since it made sex buying illegal, there has been a decrease in known human trafficking cases and shrinkage of the commercial sex industry.

The Norwegian National Coordinator for Trafficking Issues, Jan Austad, announced in Berne that later this month, the Norwegian Parliament is set to approve a new law to make it illegal to buy sex or sell people for sex.

After much study, Norway has decided to adopt the Swedish model that emphasizes the harmful impact of prostitution.

Mr. Austad explained that his country was particularly shocked to witness the plight of hundreds of Nigerian women, trafficked into prostitution in Norway under tourist visas.

Eva Biaudet, Special Representative on Combating Human Trafficking for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, gave a keynote address in which she observed: "We have let ourselves off too easy. Prostitution is extremely harmful. People really get traumatized in this…. We are not identifying enough sex trafficking victims within prostitution although there are unacceptable levels of exploitation in prostitution."

It was a dramatic personal statement from this former Minister and Member of Parliament from Finland. Asked how she had come to this conclusion, she explained: "Since I came to the OSCE two years ago, I have been shocked at how big this is, the exploitation of vulnerable migrant women and girls in prostitution, and how no one cares."

Even the representative from the Netherlands said that the legalization of prostitution had not accomplished what it was supposed to. Corinne Dettmeijer-Vermeulen, her country's National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings, said in candor that: "One of the goals was to get crime out. Did we succeed? I don't think so."

In a worthy step to the Netherlands' credit, earlier this year, the city of Amsterdam closed about one-third of the city's infamous red-light district because legalization and regulation have not dried up sex trafficking, which has continued apace.

It was gratifying to know that as we learn more about the vicious exploitation that occurs in prostitution, and the link between prostitution and sex trafficking, countries are willing to reexamine their legal regimes.

This new information will also impact U.S. approaches, as we work to confront the voracious demand which fuels this dark trade in human beings.

In my concluding remarks, I explained to my European colleagues that the U.S. has developed a strong, bipartisan policy including the following precepts:

-- We need a more victim-centered approach.
-- We need to look for sex trafficking victims among vulnerable populations in prostitution and migrant workers being considered for deportation.
-- We need to realize that prostitution is not victimless.
-- Open prostitution is not a solution to sex trafficking, but provides a guise behind which traffickers can hide.
-- Where prostitution is criminalized, victims must not be blamed or punished; those who traffic or buy them must be.

It was striking that fully four of the six main speakers shared this perspective at a conference hosted by a country -- Switzerland -- whose officials say itself is looking at its legal prostitution regime. Based on experience and prudence, a wave of opinion on behalf of women's welfare, and against violence and victimization, appears to be developing.

Comments

Comments

John
|
Greece
November 17, 2008

John in Greece writes:

I suggest all DipNoters to... hit: http://www.gtipphotos.state.gov/

before we comment on this

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

News Item: Female Chimpanzees 'Sell' Sex For Fruit
Telegraph.co.uk ^ | 11/09/2007 | Auslan Cramb

Female chimpanzees 'sell' sex for fruit

By Auslan Cramb, Scottish Correspondent

Last Updated: 4:01pm BST 11/09/2007

Female chimpanzees are "selling" sex to the males that gather the most fruit, according to new research.

Behavioural psychologists found that female chimps mate with the males that give them the most fruit, while male chimps steal "desirable" fruits such as papaya from farms and orchards in a bid to woo potential mates.

Oranges, pineapples and maize are among the most sought after crops, with bananas proving far less popular.

The scientists also discovered that the chimp that gathered the most fruit in the "food-for-sex" trade received more grooming from females than the group's alpha male.

Researchers from Stirling University released their findings after studying the behaviour of chimps in the West African village of Bossou in the Republic of Guinea.

Dr Kimberley Hockings said the findings provided the first evidence of large-scale plant food sharing among chimpanzees with a sexual motive.

Male chimps were also said to be most likely to give food to a female that took part in the most "consortships", where an adult female and male move to the edge of the community where the male enjoys exclusive mating access.

Dr Hockings added: "It is unusual behaviour as even though the major part of chimpanzees' diets consists of plant foods, wild plant food sharing occurs infrequently.

advertisement"The male who shared the most food engaged in more consortships and received more grooming than the other males, even the alpha male.

"Therefore the male chimpanzees appear to be 'showing off' and trading their forbidden fruit for other currencies, for example 'food-for-sex' and 'food-for-grooming'.

"In humans, the pursuit of certain foods is also strongly sex-biased. For example, it has been proposed that men in hunter-gatherer societies acquire large and risky-to-obtain food packages to garner attention.

"This research shows that chimpanzees at Bossou use crop-raiding as an opportunity to obtain and share desirable foods, providing further insights into the evolutionary basis of human food sharing."

The wild chimpanzee population has declined by more than two-thirds over the last 30 years, with around 200,000 left in the wild.

Chimpanzee habitats have suffered from deforestation, while poaching, disease and capture for the pet trade have also contributed to a drop in numbers.

The group's findings, following research by scientists from Stirling and from universities in England, Portugal, the USA and Japan, are published in the online jounral PLoS One from the Public Library of Science.

----end---

Well, that's humanity for ya!

And a profession older than humanity itself.

Is the trade "dehumanizing" or is it the lack of worker's rights and civil liberties that makes it so?

Apparently we haven't evolved as much as we pretend.

-- from the Literary Disaster Master's Free Press--

"Going Bannanas"

Poetry in motion,

Simmian diplomats

Smile without teeth.

A Planet of the Apes

Same as we ever were,

Talking monkeys, whores and thieves.

We may create reality

Yet to escape ourselves.

The sands of time

Speak to the nature of things.

No strangers to duality

Seeking sanctuary at a price.

The oneness of being at the going rate

Cheapens the experience.

Knuckles dragging, he pondered his lot

She would take no bannanas today.

- Forrest Chump

Jonathan
|
Texas, USA
November 18, 2008

Jonathan in Texas writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- Nice post.

My stance is I feel prostitution between two people of age is victimless. There is an exchange like buying something at a store it just so happens that people feel it is wrong. There is no wrong here only morally wrong for people. So what is morally wrong in the U.S.? People want to argue about morals but you know our morals are so funny. The U.S. wants to argue about prostitution being morally wrong but they also feel that it is "unfortunate" that civilians get killed when we attack a village overseas while going after a single terrorist. 1 terrorist to 40 civilians? What kind of morals does the U.S. have? I can already hear people staying..."Oh wait, we're protecting the country from terrorists and protecting our morals from sexual exploitation." Those people are full of....

I feel exploiting a child is wrong and there should be severe penalties against that. I cannot make the same argument for exploiting a child because that has always been morally wrong in anyone's eyes.

John
|
Greece
November 18, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Jonathan in Texas -- I felt a bit dizzy after reading your post! Maybe I should also use "both hands" in my keyboard.

What prostitution has to do with the "1 terrorist to 40 civilians"? and the "village overseas"?

Dear Jonathan,

If you knew the "overseas", you would easily see that sometimes a "village" is a "city", cause this one guy is "both" the city and the village and it goes. After the village, he can easily buy the "city". And then he can make a Capital that will be used to keep on buying other villages!

All of which is MAFIA! At any form?

I am not so sure about what Eric says, because it's among one best of his best "crypto" posts, but I think that he is attempting to tell us something like this:

This is real life, unfortunately!
You got the fruit, I got the honey.

Best regards Jonathan. It's wonderful to have you in the Blog. Keep on posting...

Syrian P.
|
Syria
November 19, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

DIPNOTE, where are the other dozen, well informative missing posts, got to call you DIPCENSOR.

Legal prostitution, they already have it in Islamic Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. They call it Muttah Marriage for cover. Would this being legal qualify it for tax write-off as business expense, client entertainment perhaps, like luncheon bill? Just imagine if it can pass how booming this business will be. Abduls will give up the gas station and convenient store business and start new cartel with Ehud and Emanuel the common business partners. Here is your peace treaty. LOVE and FLOWER POWER does it again for peace.

DipNote Bloggers write:

@ SNP in Syria -- This is a moderated blog. Here is DipNote's comment policy.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
November 19, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Ah yes, prostitution, the worlds oldest profession and women's first renewable resource. I was initially reluctant to comment on this article because of the general inanity of putting any stock behind the pendulum of social causes which will only swing back the other way in 5, 10, or 15 years. The opposition is always more organized than the established.

This article details what is very much a populist stance, irking those of a more liberal nature and satisfying those of a more conservative, and usually, religious stripe. Despite the general loss of power, the Christian establishment and mind set still holds enough sway to dictate social mores and norms. Even without the establisment, social values have a long half-life. In most Islamic countries, and Israel, the established religious tradition still dominates the minds of the people and sculpts their laws. In Saudi Arabia you can't even look at another woman with out the moral police taking notice. What ever prostitution goes on there is deep underground, so maybe we should adopt those standards?

The important thing is to divide the act of prostitution from the act of human trafficking. Though they are causal, they are two different animals. To say "prostitution fuels sex trafficking based on solid empirical evidence" is akin to saying good jobs in the U.S. fuels illegal immigration from Mexico based on solid empirical evidence. When ever you open up a market and profits soar people are going to move their business to that area.

It is the inability of governments to regulate the market and their borders that causes human trafficking, not prostitution. It is what happened when the sub-prime loan market went bust and tanked the world economy. Now we are going to see lots of legislation aimed at re-establishing strict regulation- but criminalizing the sale of one paper good for another has never crossed the minds of the public, mainly because it lacks the stigma. Though the original "sin" lies with those who specialize in the vile act of human trafficking, the ultimate responsibility and fault rests on the shoulders of the governments. Who let's "hundreds of Nigerian women" through their borders on guest visas with out enough investigation to ascertain what they are really visiting for? Dipnote just had a post about consular agents visiting the homes of applicants; is Norway being as thorough? For those who say that keeping track of the thousands of people streaming in and out of their country is too difficult, I say, you're probably right. If a government can't regulate the back-lash of illegal activities that comes from economic opportunity, then perhaps prostitution should be criminalized, but let's remember why that is instead of blanketing it in moral dogma.

Look at the inherent sexism in the statement that pimps and johns will be charged but prostitutes will not. Why not? They are participating in a crime as well. Unless there is concrete evidence that shows this woman has been kidnapped and forced into the trade, she is acting upon her own free will and motivated by the same goal as the pimp: monetary desire. And to think that women engage in prostitution only because they are poor and driven to it is antiquated and naive. I've known plenty of women (though I haven't "known" them in the, uh, biblical sense) who would prefer to lay on their back for an hour and make $150 than stand on their feet in a factory for 9. And some women enjoy not only the act but also being the object of sexual desire. In social sciences, women who are more sexually aggressive (and enjoy the benefits thereof) are viewed with disdain by those who are not, just as the alpha male is viewed through envious eyes by the men less fortunate. As the pyramid of social order has only room for a few at the top, those beneath organize their collective power to hinder the actions of the elite, or in this case, more sexually un-inhibited. In the book Freakonomics, the author breaks down the ratio of income of prostitutes and lawyers in one city and discovered that, by ratio, prostitutes make more money. Which is no wonder, and bit amusing, that some lawyers visit prostitutes and then pass laws against them.

Those who state that prostitution is dehumanizing are expressing an opinion, not a fact. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. Now, being tricked, beaten, and terrorized into a sexual act IS, and those who perpetrate those crimes are the worst sort of villain. That is what we should focus our energy on. But the exchange of goods for physical pleasure is built into our very fabric and transcends humans, mammals, and into the larger sphere of life. Humans have never been a strictly monogamous creature and never will be.

Criminalizing and ruthlessly punishing human traffickers makes sense and creates a safer world. Prohibiting what two consenting adults do behind closed doors is absurd.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 20, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece, Jonathan in Texas, Aside from the occasional street level epiphany..(chuckle), I'm not one to judge where the fine line of mating ritual ends and prostitution begins.

Here, you can try this at home....greet your better half with a pound of chocolate when you come home from work today and see what happens.

Let's just call it a social experiment....shall we?

John
|
Greece
November 21, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

"When it comes to love, I want a "RICH" hand...) Unfortunately, you're right Eric! But, I will personally stick by the Pointer Sisters... dreaming the "Slow Hand".

OK! No more poetry -- for now. You have a fair and strong point, concerning the social-human component of the issue: relationships between men and women, which is great though! (this real life!)

Nevertheless, there is also the "political" and I fear the "intel" parameter of the story, which is not so romantic.

You know better than me that illegal, black money (sexual "contacts" too) can easily become "intel" and then "power"... and "politics".

That's why I am against prostitution. Especially, in our days, when trafficking and its "next step" (prostitution) has an ex-KGB "tattoo" in the girl or the boy that she/he sells his/her soul to Devil without a "will".

I live in a country where prostitution is legal. But is it really "legal"? as long as there is ALSO prostitution that it's NOT LEGAL?

So, why to have this "trade" legal, if many "guys" here in Greece, everywhere, (Russian mafia, Albanian mafia, Romanian mafia etc.) exercise it illegal within a "legal platform" that the Law offers? (a bit of crazy... and dizzy point?)

I will try to explain my thoughts in a few more words, although the issue is complicated.

I try to respect that everyone has the right to administrate his/her body the way he chooses -- and I am not so sure about this either -- but can we respect this "sort of right", when it creates victims, trafficking and sends "souls to Hell", even if legal -- or illegal- prostitutes do not know or understand what their initially trade stance produces?

And! can we let this "trade""create" power for people that will make it politics?

Russian ex-KGB mafia (ex-communistic countries' mafia as well) does not care whether prostitution is legal or not, because they practice it anyway... in an illegal way. Even where the law platform permits the legalization of prostitution.

And then, it becomes very difficult to trace the "black" in the "white" velvet, or the "white" in the "black" one. You see guys, according to my opinion, it's easier to detect black or white when you have to deal with only one color background, rather than two "law speeds" of NO enforcement at all.

Also, please, think of something else DipNoters: Why the only country that cares and runs programs concerning "trafficking in persons" (which regularly becomes prostitution) is the U.S.A.? Why all the other countries (Russia, China, ex-soviet Democracies etc.) do NOTHING AT ALL concerning the issue?

Anna
|
District Of Columbia, USA
November 20, 2008

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

I don't know where to begin. Sometimes society can determine that something is "wrong." It is okay to say prostitution is wrong.

Think about it this way, who would want to live next door to a brothel? Or who would want his daughter to grow up to become a prostitute?

Why legitimize an industry that is demeaning to women (it is), presents public health issues (regulating it will solve this, really?), and is linked to criminal enterprise? Legalizing prostitution will not solve these issues. Legitimizing the sex industry is a slippery slope, a path society should not be encouraged to follow.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
November 21, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

With the exception of Anna in D.C., what incredibly callous and inane comments on such a serious and sad subject. Some thoughts... we are NOT chimps chasing fruit (chuckle,chuckle), anyone who sells themselves for any reason has reached the bottom -- their nihilistic view of life is beyond sad, the degradation of another human being is "our" problem -- no man, or woman or child, is an island. What happens to one, happens to us all.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
November 22, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

PART 2. (See Part 1 above).

Now imagined if you opened the paper tomorrow and the headlines read that fifty percent of the population decided that cooking for others was dehumanizing and they were going to shut down all the restaurants in the city. When it comes to an industry that services your needs, you may end up with a different perspective. Now, I'm not trying to equate cooking some one some food with having sex. But, I am trying to highlight the fact that a lot of men feel the need to mate as tangibly as the need to eat a hearty meal.

Women often pair the act of sex with things like safety, intimacy, security, and love, and men do, too, especially in the ideal situation of two people who love each other. But, as men were designed to have as much sex with as many women as possible, there is also very much a mechanical element and emotional distance in the act.

Which is why, on one hand, it is so easy to trick a man into doing things for the sake of sex, and the other, why some men commit such atrocities to satisfy their lusts. Now, there is the power complex that factors into such things, but that is only a minor physical drive and more of a character weakness. These are not excuses for the male behavior, but they are reasons. Life is competition, not every one can be a winner, and not every boy gets the girl. As long as there are wants in the world there will be some one who will profit off those wants. In a idealized and romantic world every person would find that special some one and they'd live happily ever after. But this is the real world where people pay for their pleasures. Thus the age old profession of prostitution and all the good and ill that comes with it.

On the other side of gender issue, women use their sexual lures all the time to get what they want, it's built into the very essence of the mating process. It may not be for cold hard cash, but a women uses her sexuality to bag the man who will be the bring the most to the table. Whether he's got a nice car, a good job, or just knows how to make her laugh, the woman puts her assets to work to get what she wants. Now I applaud a woman standing up for her sisters, to challenge others to treat women well and to champion the cause of the down trodden. But when it comes to legal prostitution, I sometimes wonder if there isn't smidgen of tactical craftiness underlying their motives. Women who are willing to accept money for sexual services are a threat to the average woman who will not and so must jealously guard the available stock of men. Perhaps so, maybe not.

On one last note. Despite the stigma and distaste this profession has been given, many women have risen to power through that avenue. In a strict male-dominated society, the courtesan Ninon De Laclos maintained her independence and garnered much wealth and power. At her height of fame, mothers from all over the land sent their boys to her to be instructed in the ways of the female persuasion. The Chinese Empress Hu was first a royal concubine. There are countless examples of women succeeding by using their talents in a role that most find demeaning. I'm not glorifying the profession but there is definitely a symbiotic relations for both genders regarding prostitution.

It would disingenuous to paint such a rosy picture without addressing the original cause of this article. Which is the effect that legalized prostitution has had on trafficking persons. As much as I think it is a viable occupation and if it's not respected, then at least accepted, there is no denying the data we have before us.

Just like alcohol, smoking, and gambling and other "vices", if the infrastructure is not strengthened to handle the ensuing criminal activities that crop up around it, something must be done. Whether that's really the case here, or this is just a manipulation of data to support a moral stance, I don't know. But one thing is for sure, even for the access to all the earthly delights that can be found between a man and a woman (even if you have to pay for it), if it costs one innocent their dignity and wholeness, it is a cost we cannot afford.

Ladies, I probably haven't changed your mind on the issue any but I do hope I managed to bring a little perspective to the table. I'm looking forward to your future contributions.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
November 22, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

PART 1. (Part 2 below)

@ Susan in Florida
&
@ Anna in Washington

Ladies, thanks for providing your insight and perspective on this topic. Sometimes we need voices like yours to "re-humanize" a subject that is often dehumanized. As is plain from the comments, men and women approach this topic in very different fashions.

I would like to make a few rebuttals to some of your statements, but first I'll say this: on this stance, at least, I think we stand together. When ever people of the world are repressed, when ever they are exploited like commodities and stripped of their humanity, it is our duty to reach out our hands the help them up. As citizens of the free world it is incumbent upon us to be Champions for those who cry out for salvation. To treat others with respect and dignity, to assist them to find a measure of happiness in life and protect them from predators of any stripe, that is the first order of business. We need to protect the innocent until they can protect themselves. Those in the slave industry who traffic unwilling participants are the vilest of scum and we should never cease in our efforts to hunt them down like dogs until they've nowhere else on the planet to run. To that end, I wholly support the initiatives of our Department of State, and others, to combat the trafficking of persons.

Ok, that said, now I'm going to make some statements that you may not agree with or like, but perhaps you may benefit from seeing things from a masculine perspective as much as men can benefit from seeing things from a feminine perspective.

First of all, we need to divide those who engage in prostitution into two camps, those who are forced into it or feel they have no other alternative and would rather do something else, and those who find it acceptable work. And make no mistake, though the first camp is much much larger, there are plenty of women who fall into the second camp as well. If you think that it is due to some sort of self-esteem issue or child-hood abuse or cultural weakness, I suggest you find a lady or two who likes her job as provider of forbidden desires and have along chat, you may be surprised.

The selling of sex is a service industry. Like most other service industries it is made up by a select few who do the work that most would prefer not to.

"anyone who sells themselves for any reason has reached the bottom-"

Is that so? Would you say the same thing about the sanitary worker that takes your garbage to the dump? What about the plumber that comes to our houses to unclog our toilets? What about the coroners and morticians that scoop up our dead, clean them, and put them back together for us? What about the things we pay for that make us feel good? The professional masseuse or masseur? The hair stylist and nail tech? Do they not also sell their services, time, and labor to do something that you or I would prefer not to dirty our hands with? Do you think they feel exploited? Probably not with money they're making. Now what about Ashley Dupre, the middle-class call girl who serviced New York Governor Spitzer? Is that the same or different? At $1,000 an hour, who was exploiting who? Or was it an acceptable arrangement? Maybe you find it demeaning, but did she?

Again, let me make the distinction between those who enter the trade willingly and those who are pressed into it. One is a shrug-of-the-shoulders life choice, the other is tantamount to rape. There is also the concept of choice to consider. It is always unfortunate when young women, and men, for what ever reason, be it drug addiction, or emotional damage, prostitute themselves in desperation because there are always other ways to survive. I do think that we should be ready to help them if they ask for it, BUT, it was also their decision to make and if they bring that misery upon themselves, so be it.

Now lets take a quick look the differences between men and women and understand why there is even prostitution to begin with. 3rd in line of man's drives, behind shelter and then food, is the need to mate. There is no mating cycle in the human life span so that means from the entire time between ages of 16 to 60 is the ever present need to copulate. It fills man's waking life constantly. Besides the psychological and cultural make up there is a precise biological difference between men and women. Testosterone is hormone that regulates the sex drive. Men have, on average, 80x the level of testosterone than women. Think about that. That means that what ever urges a woman feels to mate, men have 80x that desire. Let's do an experiment, tomorrow morning when you wake up in bed and you're hungry for breakfast, try to imagine what it would be like if you were 80x as hungry as you will be then. It's almost impossible to conceptualize the difference.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 22, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

If these problems are to be solved, defining the parameters of prostitution is important to that.

But I didn't expect everyone to identify with the love-sick "john"'s street perspective I brought to the table in "Going Bannanas".

Not autobiographical I'll have folks know...(chuckle).

An attempt to look at things wholisticly from all sides is not always appreciated.

..."we are NOT chimps chasing fruit (chuckle,chuckle), anyone who sells themselves for any reason has reached the bottom -- their nihilistic view of life is beyond sad, the degradation of another human being is "our" problem -- no man, or woman or child, is an island."

Mmmm well Susan,

The big house, the flashy car and the SUV, platinum credit cards, what's that all about?

The American dream or the mating rituals of the rich and brain dead?

Who's selling what and who's doing the buying?

Who is more worthy of respect , the "two dollar whore" or the woman that steals a man's life's work through divorce?

The point of illegality is reached when choice is no longer an option.

For it becomes the responsibility of nations to protect populations from becoming so desperate that women sell themselves to feed their family, or parents sell a child so the rest may eat.

However the method or manner of coercion, so long as the choice to walk away from such employment is denied, it becomes a form of slavery, economic or otherwise.

This is the basic core issue wherein government responsibility begins with legal enforcement of the rule of law.

In other respects, what is socially acceptable and what is not rests on how we define prostitution.

And that is attitudinal in nature, as well as a facet of cultural norm.

A fine example may be the day my client's friend and neighbor drove up in a perfectly restored Porche 911-T and when I said, "Nice car, you just get it?" and she replied with a smile, "No, it came with the husband."

No we are not chimps. Chimps don't contemplate nuclear war.

Now we have to define what is human and what is inhumane.

John
|
Greece
November 22, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico -- "love-sick street perspective" with political & intel parameters? If I created this perspective, then I'm the perfect "lover". (LOL)

However, I just honestly attempted to emphasize on the "field" parameter of this "story" (prostitution) that has a strong dose of Russia mafia&KGB, as well as intel&global politics! I think that this describes even better the "street" part of my view.

Concerning the "love-sick" perspective let me clarify my views in a few words co-bloggers:

1. I am against prostitution
2. Maybe Eric is right -- I feel a bit of a romantic guy, but I don't care if the others do not accept it
3. I never used this "shop of love", as long as I can be sure (chuckle), because I wouldn"t like to pay in order to get something I do not deserve, or "buy" it from a girl that otherwise would not like to offer it to me in a "2 way partnership", during normal non-prostitution circumstances.

I do not know about the bananas and the chimps. And I think that it became a little bit complicated... However, according to my opinion, Eric underlined in his very last post the most important concerning prostitution: "Who's selling what and who's doing the buying?"

IF WE BUY, WE HELP "THEM" SELL!

And I think that this is something that the Secretary of State Mrs Condoleezza Rice had also wisely stated during a "welcome" speech presentation of a recent annual Report on Human Trafficking.

This phrase means a lot!

Susan
|
Florida, USA
November 23, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Sorry, Kirk, your comments come across as a rationale for prostitution. A plumber, a hair stylist, a sanitation worker, are all doing honest work. Prostitution is not just another "service" job. It is the degradation of oneself, or someone else, period. You will never convince me differently. I watched the Diane Sawyer/Ashley Dupre interview, also. When she started in the "escort" business she was 19 -- confused, immature, alone, using drugs, in debt, and, yes, naive. Predators will always find the weak and desperate. I have worked with children all of my life, ages 18 months to 18 years old. Not one of the children ever told me that they wanted to grow up to be a prostitute. What a big surprise!! We all can make choices, even MEN. One can choose not to demean another human being. It is called moral courage. Let me end with a comment that you made...'IF IT COSTS ONE INNOCENT THEIR DIGNITY AND WHOLENESS, IT IS A COST WE CAN NOT AFFORD."

John
|
Greece
November 23, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in FL, Eric in NM , Kirk in KY and Anna in DC -- I think that Susan wrote the "best of the best" in this post.

"Not one of the children ever told me that they wanted to grow up to be a prostitute"!

That's a REAL point! Susan has a POINT!

(note: I really love to be part of this Blog guys. It really has a "DipNote" and it make us... think!)

Best regards to all of you.

Donald
|
Virginia, USA
November 24, 2008

Donald in Virginia writes:

23 Nov 08

I TOTALLY DISAGREE TO LEGALIZE PROSITUTION FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:

1. SECURITY ISSUES that surround women who do this kind of work for a living. Plus how many hookers have like (PIMPS) OR (PIMP DADDIES)?

2. DISEASES which continue being passed from one mate to another with no responsibilities or accountabilities associated with the (STD'S) Sexual Transmitted Diseases.

3. ILLEGAL DRUGS also come to into this hooking business. Hookers get hooked on drugs.

4. We already know that Prositution is probably the oldest profession in the world, but is it morally right?

5. I think women should have a higher self esteem and find better jobs using their intelligence, skills and work ethics than to just have sex to make money! Hard work for males or females usually makes for someone that can appreciate what they have more in life.

6. PAST 50 YEARS women have proved time and time again they have what it takes to manage businesses, or run companies today, or work construction, drive tractor trailers. They have competed very well in the market place for jobs.

SUMMARY: Women should be happy having a Job or raising a family and being a woman! It gives women a purpose and takes away the idle time. An idle mind is the devils workshop!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
November 24, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Part 2.

Laura Marí¡ Agustí® is a sociologist who studies migrant sex workers. In her writings, she is critical of the conflation of the terms "human trafficking" with "prostitution" and "migration", arguing that what she calls the "rescue industry" often ascribes victim status to and thereby objectifies women who have made conscious and rational decisions to migrate. She advocates for a more nuanced study of migrant sex workers without pre-conceived notions.

You mentioned:
"I have worked with children all of my life, ages 18 months to 18 years old. Not one of the children ever told me that they wanted to grow up to be a prostitute."

If everyone grew up to be what they wanted at the ages of 18 months to 18 years, the world would be filled with cowboys and princesses. I've never known a child to say they wanted to become a factory worker or dishwasher, but there are many adults content with that occupation. The decision to enter into the sex trade is usually beyond the scope of the youth.

Though there are exceptions:

Tracy Quan read Xaviera Hollander's book The Happy Hooker when she was 10 years old and decided to be a prostitute. At age 19 she did.

Valerie Scott: "I knew [I wanted to be a prostitute] when I was about four and a half, I'd watch TV -- they'd show old western movies, and I thought the part about the cowboys running around killing each other was boring, but every now and again, they showed these saloon girls ? Oh, I wanted to be a saloon girl. They lived in the centre of town, they were beautifully dressed, they had their own money and no cowboy could pull the wool over their eyes.""You will never convince me differently"

No matter how logically presented, well argued, rational, or supported by research something may be, it will never deeply impact the opinion of some one else who experiences a strong emotional response to the subject presented, especially when that emotion is propelled by the cultural conditioning related to the proscription of what is right or wrong. Change of opinion only comes when the observer can hold two set of data in front of them for consideration without dismissing the newer set out of hand simply because it conflicts with the older.

Scarlet Alliance's Principles for Model Sex Industry Legislation
http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/pub/model_principles00/document_view

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
November 24, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ Susan in Florida -- Thanks for your reply; it was thought provoking.

Part 1.

"Sorry, Kirk, your comments come across as a rationale for prostitution."

There's never any need to rationalize an act that has been engaged by willing participants (of both genders) and has provided pleasure and profit for hundreds of centuries. By virtue of its very existence marks it as a viable source of enjoyment, employment, and sexual expression (again, by both genders).

"Prostitution is not just another "service" job.""[2] Principle 2: SEX WORK IS LEGITIMATE EMPLOYMENT
Sex industry laws must acknowledge employment in the sex industry as legitimate work...""Sex industry legislation must acknowledge that prostitution is work and that the workers who work in that industry are entitled to the same industrial rights and protections as other workers."

~ From Principles for Model Sex Industry Legislation:

Many sex workers feel that it is just a job. And at the end of the day, they go home and return to their lives as mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, ect.

"It is the degradation of oneself, or someone else, period."

What can you point to, in particular, that can be defined as degrading between two consenting adults? Or is what you said a socially conditioned response disconnected from the opinion of many of the people actually in the sex industry?

Again, From Principles for Model Sex Industry Legislation:

"If the 'sex work as sexual exploitation' view is analysed and explored, it follows that at the base of its assumptions is that women are incapable of having and enjoying sex outside of the context of an emotionally committed relationship. Why does sex become 'exploitative' simply because money is exchanged for a negotiated service? It can be argued that since the sex that occurs within the context of sex work is so well negotiated that it is the most consensual kind of sex."

From Anastasia Kuzyk: "I'm okay with what I do. The problem is, people aren't okay with what I do. I'm comfortable in my own skin. And for people to tell me I'm not, and for people to tell me what's happening to me is abuse -- no."

There would be many professionals who would take your assertion that sex workers do not perform honest work as offensive and promoting a stereotype. Namely, almost any legitimate sex worker. What is it that divides one set of skills and labor into the honest camp and the other set of skills and labor into some other camp? Your opinion that prostitution is inherently immoral or demeaning is one not shared by a large portion of people, including these sex worker right activists who most have worked at one time or another in the pornography or sex industry:

Wendy Babcock, Nina Hartley, Carol Leigh, Dr. Tuppy Owens, Tracy Quan, Valerie Scott, Robyn Few, Anastasia Kuzyk, Dr. Annie Sprinkle, Margo St. James

(all of them are women, all of them support the legalization of prostitution, and as you can see, some hold PhDs).

Plus, you have a whole assortment of political associations that stretch across the globe:

Canadian Guild for Erotic Labour, COYOTE - Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics, Sexual Freedom Coalition, Sex Professionals of Canada, International Committee for Prostitutes' Rights, The International Union of Sex Workers, Scarlet Alliance - Australian Sex Workers Association, Sex Workers Outreach Project - NSW , SWAN (Sex Workers' Rights Advocacy Network), The Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective...

and that just barely scratches the surface.

The existence of laws that criminalise sex work maintains and promotes false stereotypes about sex workers in the public consciousness. This leads to the stigmatisation of sex workers as deviant and immoral people who represent a health risk to the general community. They are also conceptualised as victims without the skills necessary to obtain other employment. This stigmatisation and criminalisation has profound impacts on a group of people based purely on an occupational choice.

The right to freely choose employment is a fundamental human right.

Everyone has rights, regardless of what they do for a living. When prostitution is made a crime, sex workers are prevented from organizing to improve working conditions, working together for greater security, getting health and dental plans, and sharing and investing earnings. Laws prohibiting sex work force sex workers into an environment of crime where their rights are not protected. They cannot sue for breach of contract nor prosecute abuses for fear of being indicted on charges themselves.

Robyn Few: "Until prostitutes have equal protection under the law and equal rights as human beings, there is no justice."

John
|
Greece
November 25, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Kirk in KY -- 101: don't continue something when you are wrong. You make it worst! It's the second time I post this movie suggestion, but you "made" me do it.

Dear Kirk: Human Trafficking (The movie)
Then, post on this?

Susan in FL and Donald in VA are RIGHT!

Susan
|
Florida, USA
November 25, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Okay, Kirk, you have convinced me of one thing, you really have researched the sex trade. I could probably come back with as many individuals who choose to get out of prostitution, and were glad they did, but enough said. I will never agree with you on this subject. I have seen too many heartbreaking cases involving children to ever think that the sex industry, in any form, is okay. A clarification... children dream of having a life of meaning, a life that has dignity. No one is braver than a child, from my experience, when faced with a terrible situation. Many adults could learn from them. Having a parent who is a prostitute is a terrible situation, a very hard burden to carry. Another thought... PHD's who are prostitutes -- just proves that a high IQ doesn't necessarily make you smart. So, now that we have beaten this subject to death, and know that we will never agree on it, I guess it is time to move on to the next topic. We'll agree to disagree.

Zharkov
|
United States
November 25, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The question was not whether prostitution is wrong -- and perhaps diplomats must fail the McNaughten Test to qualify for appointment -- but whether prostitution should become legal employment as it already is legal de facto in Washington, DC. Our government may look the other way while Senators and Representatives engage in the purchase of sex that they would otherwise condemn, hence prosecutions of federal officials for such crimes are rare while rumors tell us that perhaps indictments could be a daily event.

Fundamental or Natural rights, now called "human rights", would mean little unless the law also recognizes fundamental wrongs. A "fundamental wrong" is not only a crime or civil wrong, but also an act or failure to act for which the consequence is so evil as to shock the conscience of a reasonable person. Mass murder of unwanted children by hundreds of millions of abortions, is one consequence of prostitution and would qualify as a fundamental wrong and evil consequence of sex for sale, regardless of legality.

Now there are many government acts that are legal but still wrong. Laws legalizing murder of unwanted babies or which take tax money away by threat of force from wage earners merely to hand it over to troubled corporations may be legal if the Congress and courts say so, but such acts are fundamentally evil and wrong.

There are some things that are so inherently evil, by definition so "wrong", that it harms entire nations, not merely individuals who engage in such evils.

Prostitution is one of those things that degrade entire countries to the point that nobody, not even their own citizens, can point to the nation with pride.

Nations which legalize prostitution humiliate all of their women by innuendo. They disgrace their own population. Their leaders are ridiculed -- they become Pimp in Chief leading a nation of whores. They deserve no respect and they receive none from decent people.

The question of whether prostitution should be legal is no question at all, but an admission that the interrogator suffers a damaged soul, a lost conscience, an inability to discern right from wrong, and a lack of foresight for the consequences of the obviously wrong answer that they seek.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
November 25, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

@ John in Greece -- Thank you for your kind coomments. Children dream big dreams, they touch one's heart. Prostitution is not a victimless crime. Sometimes the victim is the most vulnerable of all, a child.

John
|
Greece
November 25, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Great post Z! I agree with you! You are right...

Everything is about Right & Wrong!

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
November 25, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

Everybody, it's been a great debate. I've read lots of thought provoking arguments. I knew from the beginning that it would be difficult to defend an unpopular stance, or be the "devil's advocate" as they say, but to do so is a good test for one's rhetorical abilities.

Since I've spent the last few days researching this subject from both sides, I've discovered that there is ample evidence to support either side of the legalization/criminalization debate. In fact, there were just as many websites for as against.

Here are some simple viewpoints discovered:

Legalizing prostitution increases the quantity of trade in that area and all the ills that come with it. It legally justifies sex as a commodity and objectifies peoples bodies.

Prohibiting prostitution pushes the people in the trade closer to criminal domains increasing the chances of violence, exploitation, drug abuse, and alienates them from legal recourse and health resources.

Sex workers say they want worker's rights.

Abolitionists say the practice is demeaning and cause society and the practitioners harm.

So there you have it. Like most great debates there is no clear cut division of right or wrong except within the minds of the proponents.

@ Susan in Florida -- I admire your commitment towards the welfare of others. I can tell from your impassioned writing that you are a positive impact on the people around you.

@ John in Greece -- I did follow the link you provided, it was very informative and touching. Now if you do me the same favor and follow this link: http://sexworkerspresent.blip.tv/#959861

Some say the USAID's anti-prostitution requirement has caused a decrease in funding for HIV/AIDS prevention programs all across the world. It could be argued that this requirement is hurting the very people it is designed to help.

In conclusion, as the impromptu defender of this unpopular stance, I'll leave off this thread with one last zinger:

"There is no tyranny so despotic as that of public opinion among a free people." -- Donn Piatt

John
|
Greece
November 25, 2008

John in Greece writes:

"So, now that we have beaten this subject to death, and know that we will never agree on it, I guess it is time to move on to the next topic."

We'll agree to disagree.

(don't make it worst Kirk...)

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"There is no tyranny so despotic as that of public opinion among a free people." -- Donn Piatt

Well Kirk, there's a reason the President of these United States does not make decisions based upon opinon polls...(chuckle).

I think when it comes to a question of legality, one has first to determine the crime committed, who is the perpetrator and who is the victim, and then you have the question of enforcability.

In other words, can enforcement actually make an impact on the obvious criminal activity that surrounds prostitution...human trafficing, child prostitution and porn, and outright slavery in some cases?.

Well yes it can, otherwise this blog topic would not be up for discussion...but it has yet to, that's why we're facing a conundrum.

I appreciate Susan's comments very much, especially being father to two college age young women that stop traffic unintentionally...

As an educator she should understand that parents are part of the problem, and the solution.

Society offers many traps and pitfalls for the inexperienced, and as a parent it's my job to make sure that their self awareness is up to meeting the challenge of life, and that they have the confidence in themselves not to compromise their inherant right to live life on their own terms, and not subject to someone else's...whether that be their boyfriend's...or future husbands....or even their dad's at this point in their young adult lives.

I believe the real solution to this lies in family values, and a carefully targeted enforcement program that does not prosecute those most often considered the "victim".

Counseling, and outreach programs through community services directly targeting the prostitutes to help them transition to a different occupation would be more effective and a wiser use of tax dollars.

Then law enforcement can concentrate on the predators that feed off their victims...the pimps, the gangs, the drug runners...

Hey and if it's a funding issue...get the fashion industry and the add council to pay pay for it.

Sex sells...and they do as much as they can to market sex everywhere you look.

Maybe its time they help mitigate the unintended concequences of what they've helped create.

So I think we've got a ways to go on improving methods to address the issue of criminality..

I have no illusions as to what is and what isn't acceptable...speaking as a parent and a private citizen that went up against a gang of dealers into using little kids to push their dope (as young as 11), child porn and statutory rape..

Aduts will do what adults do...but I do believe in giving folks a choice.

So they were told to "Get out of town, get busted or get buried."

In no uncertain terms.

Parents will do what they must...call it a "dad thing" even though they weren't mine.

I guess when it's in your face you find out what pricipals you live by as it determines your actions in the moment.

Talking is one thing, doing is a completely different animal.

Now I know I don't know much abut constituancies, or the inherent danger of idiots gathered in large numbers, but I would humbly suggest that if the Pissed off Parents of the World unite, and hunting licences were issued....

Governments could get the job done for free as we'd do it for sport on an otherwise dull day.

That's my final and considered opinion on the matter.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
November 28, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well Zharkov, welcome back to the playground of the criminally insane...(chuckle).

Look, it's not nuts to ask the question.

It would be criminally insane not to examine the issue from its root. Thus I'm sure the good Ambassador need not bother with your testing requirements..(sic).

But when you're 85 and have only one tooth left and need a little lovin' you'll be kicking yourself for such zealotry...I have no doubt.

"So there you have it. Like most great debates there is no clear cut division of right or wrong except within the minds of the proponents."

We live in an insane world.....and you were expecting....???

Go ask God to take the freekin' test. Please let us know the results.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
November 28, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

@ Kirk in Kentucky -- Kirk, thank you for your gracious comment. I am passionate about human rights. When we are inhumane to others it diminishes us. We become less capable of caring and it makes it easier to ignore and to rationalize the wrong around us. I do think that Zharkov said it best...that somethings are just evil and decent people know it.

John
|
Greece
November 28, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Susan in FL & Eric in NM -- "Like most great debates there is no clear cut division of right or wrong except within the minds of the proponents." Eric offered us a thinking perspective again, while Susan and Z wrote something extremely important too! (all the other contributors too): "I do think that Zharkov said it best... that somethings are just evil and decent people know it".

I would like to contribute my last comment on this issue guys:

I will keep on believing (like Susan, I think) that everything is about RIGHT versus WRONG! What I mean is this special intellectual humanitarian brain application that can separate and make clear to ourselves even what LEGAL versus MORAL is sometimes.

Because, something characterized as LEGAL (thank God for our western organized societies, this happens rarely in our law system), sometimes is NOT MORAL at all! (Ex.: A sheikh can legally have -- let's say -- 10 wives. However, is this ethical (moral) for these women because it is characterized as "so-called" legal by the "system values" that create the rules there?)

That's what prostitution is all about: NOT MORAL whether legalized or not!

.

Latest Stories

September 11, 2009

Remembering September 11

Writing for the U.S. Department of State DipNote blog, DipNote Bloggers highlight President Obama's remarks at the Pentagon Memorial during… more

Pages