Sunday, December 27, 2009

Debating Prostitution: in India and in the U.S., men want women and girls for rent or for sale

Illustration by Sorit
[image above and most of what follows is from here]
A brown hand offering up a white woman to black hands?
As if most women in South Asia are white. And as if men in India,
and the international purchasers, traffickers, and procurers are Black.

[Part of what follows the editorial in the comments section:]

[M]aking a choice between prostitution and death is not a choice. However let's take the United States as an example where the average person never makes choices between death and one alternative. We know that women (including Indian women) are trafficked to the United States. Lesser known, however, is that 90% of prostituted women in the United States are sold by a pimp. (This includes women sold within legal brothels in the state of Nevada.) The average age for a woman to first be prostituted in the United States is 13 while the age that she can legally consent to sex is 16-18 depending on the state. The entrepreneur woman who freely chooses prostitution from a range of options and who sells herself without being sold by a pimp or trafficker is exceptionally rare in the world if she exists at all. Trafficking exists because prostitution does and we seem to be clinging to prostitution without realizing what it is like. I agree with the author that eliminating prostitution by criminalizing the demand would be a small price to pay for a world where women and girls do not have to fear being trafficked.
Whitney.LRuss@gmail.com

New Delhi, India

To Let / For Sale?
Legalising prostitution is not the answer. Nab the traffickers. 

by Ruchira Gupta

When a problem is big and tends to profit a powerful group, there’s a time-honoured temptation to sweep it under the rug by assuming it’s natural and inevitable. This was true of slavery until the abolitionist movement of the 19th century, and of colonialism until the contagion of independence movements in the 20th century. Now these same forces are at work in attitudes toward the global and national realities of sex slavery. The biggest normaliser of profiteering from the rental, sale and invasion of human bodies is the idea that it is too big to fight, that it has always existed, and that it can be swept under the rug by legalising and just accepting it. Those who profit—in this case, the global network of sex traffickers, sex tourism operators and brothel owners—are the major force behind the argument to legalise and increase profits that already rival those from the global arms and drug trade.

What will diminish and end this injustice? Exposing its reality: the lack of alternatives for those who are prostituted; the addiction and inability to empathise among those who create the demand, and the disastrous results wherever the selling or renting of human beings for sexual purposes has been legalised and normalised.
In Australia and the Netherlands where prostitution has been legalised, for instance, trafficking and the harms that come with it have only increased. In Victoria, Australia, it not only allowed legal brothels to proliferate, but illegal brothels increased by 300 per cent in a year. A hospitable environment for sex tourists and other buyers drove up demand local women and girls had too many alternatives to becoming the supply, they had to be trafficked from Southeast Asia.

The same is true of Amsterdam where trafficked East European and North African girls outnumber Dutch citizens in brothels. The mayor of Amsterdam reports that the red-light district has become a centre for illegal immigration and money laundering. In Germany and in an area near Las Vegas where prostitution has been legalised, government agencies tried to make applicants for unemployment benefits show they had attempted to find ‘work’ in the so-called ‘hospitality industry’ of prostitution in order to become eligible for such benefits. This was only defeated by massive organising by women’s movements.

In the few countries that have legalised prostitution—with the idea that it would reduce harm to prostituted women, as is now being argued by some in India—rates of assault and rape against the prostituted have not dropped.  There is also no corroborated evidence that legalisation increases the use of condoms or women’s power to demand such use. On the contrary, an official emphasis on condoms has often made it possible for brothels to demand more money for unprotected sex, while also causing them to conceal the number of prostituted women and children who have lost their lives to AIDS.

In Calcutta, a group of women who had asked for the unionisation of prostitution to guarantee workers’ rights  admitted to facing violence when they’re alone with the client. “They paid for it, we cannot stop it.” A doctor working for this group said he left after having to stitch up the vagina of a fifteen-year-old Nepali girl—for the third time. 

But there is some good news. It comes from countries where traffickers have been pursued, and prostituted women and children have been given services and alternatives. Sweden has gone after traffickers and pimps, confiscated their illegal assets, and made them compensate for damages while also decriminalising and offering services to prostituted women and children. By imposing penalties on those who create the demand and providing ‘John schools’ that address their addiction to dominance, they diminish the problem itself.

The result has been a significant decrease in sex trafficking and the commodification of sex. In ’99, it was estimated that 1,25,000 Swedish men bought about 2,500 prostituted women one or more times per year, before the law came into force. By ’02, this figure had fallen to no more than 1,500 women. The only truly effective way to curb trafficking is to see it for what it is, an outrage to human rights; one that can diminish, just as labour slavery and colonialism have come to do. Prostitution has not existed in all societies: it is a function of the inequality of women and the equation of masculinity with domination. All men in the present are not dependent on prostitution.

Commodification of human beings creates a separate class  of people whose bodies can be rented or sold—the very opposite of the universal protection of human dignity enshrined in the body of the Indian constitution.

(The author is the founder and president of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an anti-trafficking organisation.)
___________________

The comments, many by heterosexual men, are pro-prostitution because it serves misogynist men's sexual appetites to be for it, even while they complain endlessly about how much it costs. As if they are forced to pay.

One reply to the comments:
In reading these comments I see several themes emerging that do not make sense to me.

1) "A poor country like India will always have lots of poor women flooding the brothels and the demand for prostituted sex cannot meet this supply." If this were true, there would be no trafficking industry. There would be no mafia-like structure making crores from the kidnapping, trafficking, and selling of young girls into brothels to meet the demand. The very existence of international trafficking suggests that no where in the world does the supply excede the demand, India included.

2) "Erradicating prostitution forces religious morality on women." Prostituted women are beaten, raped, kidnapped, coerced, infected, and killed as a regular part of the job. I reaquainted myself with atheism, humanism, and even satanism for the purpose of this post and found all would agree that such treatment of people is wrong (even in the absence of God's opinion). These are the wrongs the author refers to and I see no connection to whether or not God wants humans to have sex with each other.

3) "Trafficking is wrong but prostitution is not." This idea must come from the notion that there are women prostituted freely and of their own volition. First, making a choice between prostitution and death is not a choice. However let's take the United States as an example where the average person never makes choices between death and one alternative. We know that women (including Indian women) are trafficked to the United States. Lesser known, however, is that 90% of prostituted women in the United States are sold by a pimp. (This includes women sold within legal brothels in the state of Nevada.) The average age for a woman to first be prostituted in the United States is 13 while the age that she can legally consent to sex is 16-18 depending on the state. The entrepreneur woman who freely chooses prostitution from a range of options and who sells herself without being sold by a pimp or trafficker is exceptionally rare in the world if she exists at all. Trafficking exists because prostitution does and we seem to be clinging to prostitution without realizing what it is like. I agree with the author that eliminating prostitution by criminalizing the demad would be a small price to pay for a world where women and girls do not have to fear being trafficked.
Whitney.LRuss@gmail.com
New Delhi, India
___________________
Typical misogynist man's response:

Women organisations are ALWAYS looking to increase the PRICE payable for SEX.

While males are starved for sex, except through the HIGHLY EXPENSIVE form of marriage, they have no option as of today, but to pay through their noses, indeed, through their lives! This is because, in our society, the male is by default, the buyer, and the female, the seller of sex. Whether in prostitution or marriage, the male is always the BUYER!

Anti male and anti-gay laws - authored by the British - have been buried at last by a bold Indian High Court. Now, when will TWO other, anti-male laws - also made by the same ancient Church - now be given a burial too?

1.) PORNOGRAPHY : though internet is full of pornography, our convent-school- brainwashed-moral police, punishes pornography! Indian women critics of pornography, still consider it demeaning to their sacred bodies! Will the media support the struggle for better sexual avenues, especially for males, in the 21st century?

2.) ALIMONY : alimony originated in England, because the divorced husband continued to remain the property owner even if divorced, and the wife depended upon him for her sustenance under this ridiculous churchian rule, Therefore, a law for support from the husband arose. In 1867, in the first recorded case of alimony, a Nevada court expanded the concept of alimony pendente lite to assist the wife with travel expenses of witnesses.

Prostitution, like pornography, is cheaper sex for the average male. And therefore, anti-male forces have always found a way to bad mouth it through a friendly media and to ban it.

WAKE UP, MALES! SPEAK UP!
Partha persistent spammer
chennai, India
_________________
My response to Partha persistent spammer follows:

Why do men have to rent human beings in order to have sex? Ever hear of "going solo"? The assumption that women and girls have to be used for men to have "sex" is ridiculous. Males take care of themselves without paying for it when they are adolescents, right? So adult men won't die without prostitution. But a lot less women will suffer. This assumes people care about women suffering more than men having access to girls and women.

All pimping and procuring and trafficking should be criminalised, and boys, girls, and women who are being trafficked, pimped, and procured should not be criminalised, which is a very different approach than legalising prostition. Sweden did this and prostitution went down by 75%. Do you really think Swedish men are "suffering" because of this? No, they are not. They simply aren't using women as things to ejaculate into and on. This is a human rights issue, not a moral one.

Any man--especially you, [Partha persistent spammer]--above who has stated that prostitution should be legal: you get paid to have yourself be ejaculated on and in for one month, daily, by many men each day--men who think of you as a thing to be used and abused, and then tell me you want that to be legal.

Finally, anti-Black racism of the image used to introduce this piece is ridiculous. Black hands coming at a white woman? Most violence in the West is done by white men against women of all colors, when you combine interpersonal and institutional violence. Are most of the women and girls being trafficked in prostitution in India, white? I doubt it.
Julian


2 comments:

JENNIFER DREW said...

I've yet to hear or even read of a case wherein a male died due to lack of sexual access to a woman or girl and yet pro-prostitution apologists and their cohorts claim prostitution is a 'choice' and one furthermore wherein women and girls who enter prostitution are supposedly 'empowered.'

Fact is innumerable women and girls involved in prostitution die much earlier deaths than women and girls who are not involved in prostitution and the reason is because women's and girls' physical and mental health are utterly depleted and they contract STI's, HIV/Aids from the Johns - far more commonly than the reverse as is often claimed by those who wish to regulate but not eliminate prostitution and criminalise the male buyers.

Nor must we ignore the immense suffering women involved in prostitution experience due to having to daily disassociate themselves from the realities of having to endure innumerable male strangers masturbating into/on their bodies whilst simultaneously pretending to enjoy such male sexual violence. All because men as a group claim it is their inalienable right to buy women and girls for the purpose of 'pseudo sex' - as though men cannot exist unless there is a regular supply of disposable women and girls.

Demanding male buyers be criminalised but women and girls involved in prostitution be decriminalised and given access to support and ways of exiting prostitution is seen as tantamount to claiming 'all men are rapists' rather than demanding all women and girls are human beings not dehumanised sexual slaves, to be used, abused and then discarded by cynical male buyers.

Julian Real said...

Thank you, Jennifer.

Yes, prostitution globally is a form of gynocide.

Any privileged group promoting the legalisation of something that destroys women and girls... that's not a profeminist action, last time I checked. And the destruction of women and girls, spiritually, emotionally, or physically, is only empowering patriarchal forces to be more misogynistic.

The way men go on... as if sexually abusing coerced and enslaved women and girls is "natural". As if having such access ought to remain normal, and, somehow, is also natural.

Slavery isn't natural, boys. And it ought not be normalised either. The same holds true for misogyny, rape, racism, and poverty.