I’ve been doing some research and meeting some very interesting and thoughtful people who are engaging with the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking. I come from a socially conservative Christian perspective and the position on prostitution is quite uniformly held. As I engage with those who approach the world from a progressive point of view and even from a feminist point of view I find vastly different conclusions on the approach to prostitution.
Some wish to promote prostitution as an ordinary occupation that represents a women’s right to choose to use her body as she sees fit – if she wishes to be entrepreneurial with her sexuality then so be it. The response is to legalise and regulate. Others see prostitution as inherently abusive, an act of male violence, where involvement in the industry is not a matter of free choice but involves to at least some degree a situation of compulsion and coercion. The response is to criminalise that violent act and so prosecute the purchasers of sexual services, not the prostitutes themselves – the so-called “Swedish Model.”
I sympathise with the latter view of course. It’s a view that considers the sex industry to be inherently dangerous for all concerned and looks for an approach that has, at the very least, the broad aim of reducing the size (eliminating even) prostitution altogether. I have drawn analogies to the tobacco industry – recognised as inherently dangerous.
Others have gone a step further however and have drawn analogies between the sex industry and the slave industry. The newly released film Nefarious: Merchant of Souls takes this approach from a Christian point of view. From the other direction there are a number of organisations, particularly in Europe, that are using the language of abolition, with an unashamed correlation to the abolition of slavery movement of Wilberforce’s day, as the approach that should be taken.
The following are a list of resources that I will continue to update as I come across them that takes this line and promote the abolition of prostitution.
- [added 11/5/12] http://www.object.org.uk/
- [added 23/5/12] Interesting debate in Ireland: http://debates.oireachtas.ie/seanad/2011/10/12/00008.asp
- [added 23/5/12] Significant paper from Max Waltman:
Thus, if purchasers can buy persons and pimps can sell them for sex, but the persons themselves want to escape and cannot, (as explicitly reported by eighty-nine percent of 785 persons in nine countries) then according to the Slavery Convention, these persons appear to be in a “status or condition . . . over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.”
- [added 30/5/12] STOP Australia: http://sextradeoppositionprojectaustralia.wordpress.com/about/