Morality of Prostitution: Analytical Essay
Prostitution when examined falls under the morality code and can be argued to be morally acceptable. Most prostitutes that partake or solicit this activity do so for monetary payment. A payment earned is then used for survival in the world or to help maintain a standard of living for themselves and/or loved ones.
Prostitution is the business or practice of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment. Prostitution is sometimes described as sexual services, commercial sex or, colloquially, hooking. It is sometimes referred to euphemistically as ‘the world’s oldest profession’ in the English-speaking world. A person who works in this field is called a prostitute and is a type of sex worker.
Prostitution occurs in a variety of forms, and its legal status varies from country to country (sometimes from region to region within a given country), ranging from being an enforced or unenforced crime to an unregulated, to a regulated profession. It is one branch of the sex industry, along with pornography, stripping, and erotic dancing. Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution. In escort prostitution, the act may take place at the client’s residence or hotel room (referred to as out-call), or at the escort’s residence or a hotel room rented for the occasion by the escort (in-call). Another form is street prostitution.
The position of prostitution and the law varies widely worldwide, reflecting differing opinions. Some view prostitution as a form of exploitation of or violence against women, and children, that helps to create a supply of victims for human trafficking. Some critics of prostitution as an institution are supporters of the ‘Nordic model’, which decriminalizes the act of selling sex, but makes the purchase of sex illegal.
In the modern scenario, prostitution is often considered to be violence against women and can take many different forms- physical, digital, etc. For example; pornographic acts, Human trafficking, rape, and other such instances. Whether prostitution should be legalized or not is an important and controversial question in many of developing nations today.
Prostitution can necessarily be the cause and the effect of human trafficking and sex slavery, and therefore it is also a really serious issue that we shall necessarily look into. Now, this essay will be all about the disadvantages of prostitution in our society, regions in our country and/or regions and countries around the world.
Firstly; the Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.
What does the legalization of prostitution or decriminalization of the sex industry mean? In the Netherlands, legalization amounts to sanctioning all aspects of the sex industry: the women themselves, the buyers, and the pimps who, under the regime of legalization, are transformed into third-party businessmen and legitimate sexual entrepreneurs. Legalization/decriminalization of the sex industry also converts brothels, sex clubs, massage parlors and other sites of prostitution activities into legitimate venues where commercial sexual acts are allowed to flourish legally with few restraints. Some people believe that, in calling for the legalization or decriminalization of prostitution, they dignify and professionalize the women in prostitution. But dignifying prostitution as work doesn’t dignify the women, it simply dignifies the sex industry.
People often don’t realize that decriminalization means decriminalization of the whole sex industry, not just the women in it. And they haven’t thought through the consequences of legalizing pimps as legitimate sex entrepreneurs or third-party businessmen, or the fact that men who buy women for sexual activity are now accepted as legitimate consumers of sex. In countries where women are criminalized for prostitution activities, it is crucial to advocate for the decriminalization of the women in prostitution. No woman should be punished for her own exploitation. But States should never decriminalize pimps, buyers, procurers, brothels or other sex establishments.
Secondly; the Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.
Legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. One argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that legalization would help to end the exploitation of desperate immigrant women who had been trafficked there for prostitution. However, one report found that 80% of women in the brothels of the Netherlands were trafficked from other countries (Budapest Group, 1999)(1). In 1994, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated that in the Netherlands alone, “nearly 70 % of trafficked women were from CEEC [Central and Eastern European Countries]” (IOM, 1995, p. 4). The government of the Netherlands presents itself as a champion of anti-trafficking policies and programs, yet it has removed every legal impediment to pimping, procuring and brothels. In the year 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Justice argued in favor of a legal quota of foreign “sex workers,” because the Dutch prostitution market demanded a variety of “bodies” (Getting, 2001, p. 16). Also in 2000, the Dutch government sought and received a judgment from the European Court recognizing prostitution as an economic activity, thereby enabling women from the European Union and former Soviet bloc countries to obtain working permits as “sex workers” in the Dutch sex industry if they could prove that they are self-employed. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Europe report that traffickers use the work permits to bring foreign women into the Dutch prostitution industry, masking the fact that women have been trafficked, by coaching them to describe themselves as independent “migrant sex workers” (Personal Communication, Representative of the International Human Rights Network, 1999). In the year since lifting the ban on brothels in the Netherlands, eight Dutch victim support organizations reported an increase in the number of victims of trafficking, and twelve victim support organizations reported that the number of victims from other countries has not diminished (Bureau NRM, 2002, p. 75). Forty-three of the 348 municipalities (12%) in the Netherlands choose to follow a no-brothel policy, but the Minister of Justice has indicated that the complete banning of prostitution within any municipality could conflict with the federally guaranteed “right to free choice of work” (Bureau NRM, 2002, p.19). The first steps toward the legalization of prostitution in Germany occurred in the 1980s. By 1993, it was widely recognized that 75% of the women in Germany’s prostitution industry were foreigners from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and other countries in South America (Altink, 1993, p. 33). After the fall of the Berlin wall, 80% of 3 3 the estimated 10,000 women trafficked into Germany were from Central and Eastern Europe and CIS countries (IOM. 1998a, p. 17). In 2002, prostitution in Germany was established as a legitimate job after years of being legalized in tolerance zones. Promotion of prostitution, pimping, and brothels are now legal in Germany. The sheer volume of foreign women in the German prostitution industry suggests that these women were trafficked into Germany, a process euphemistically described as facilitated migration. It is almost impossible for poor women to facilitate their own migration, underwrite the costs of travel and travel documents, and set themselves up in “business” without intervention. In 1984, a Labor government in the Australian State of Victoria introduced legislation to legalize prostitution in brothels. Subsequent Australian governments expanded legalization culminating in the Prostitution Control Act of 1994. Noting the link between the legalization of prostitution and trafficking in Australia, the US Department of State observed: “Trafficking in East Asian women for the sex trade is a growing problem…lax laws – including legalized prostitution in parts of the country – make [anti-trafficking] enforcement difficult at the working level” (U.S. Department of State, 2000, p. 6F).
Thirdly; the Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases clandestine, illegal and street prostitution.
One goal of legalized prostitution was to move prostituted women indoors into brothels and clubs where they would be allegedly less vulnerable than in street prostitution. However, many women are in street prostitution because they want to avoid being controlled and exploited by pimps (transformed in legalized systems into sex businessmen). Other women do not want to register or submit to health checks, as required by law in some countries where prostitution is legalized (Schelzig, 2002). Thus, legalization may actually drive some women into street prostitution. Arguing against an Italian proposal for legalized prostitution, Esohe Aghatise has suggested that brothels actually deprive women of what little protection they may have on the street, confining women to closed spaces where they have little chance of meeting outreach workers or others who might help them exit prostitution (Aghatise, in press). In the Netherlands, women in prostitution point out that legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry does not erase the stigma of prostitution. Because they must register and lose their anonymity, women are more vulnerable to being stigmatized as “whores,” and this identity follows them everyplace. Thus, the majority of women in prostitution still operate illegally and underground. Some members of Parliament who originally supported the legalization of brothels on the grounds that this 5 5 would liberate women are now seeing that legalization actually reinforces the oppression of women (Daley, 2001, p. A1). Chief Inspector Nancy Pollock, one of Scotland’s highest-ranking female police officers, established Glasgow’s street liaison team for women in prostitution in 1998. Pollock stated that legalization or decriminalization of prostitution is “…simply to abandon women to what has to be the most demeaning job in the world” (Martin, 2002, p. A5). Countering the argument that legalized prostitution provides safer venues for women, Pollock noted that women in sauna prostitution, for example, “have even less control over what services they will perform. On the street, very few women will do anal sex and few do sex without a condom. But in the saunas, the owners, who obviously don’t want their punters going away disappointed, decide what the women will do, and very often that is anal sex and sex – oral and vaginal – without a condom” (Martin, 2002, p. A5). The argument that legalization was supposed to take the criminal elements out of sex businesses by strict regulation of the industry has failed. The real growth in prostitution in Australia since legalization took effect has been in the illegal sector. Over a period of 12 months from 1998-1999, unlicensed brothels in Victoria tripled in number and still operate with impunity (Sullivan & Jeffreys, 2001). In New South Wales where brothels were decriminalized in 1995, the number of brothels in Sydney had tripled to 400-500 by 1999, with the vast majority having no license to advertise or operate. In response to widespread police corruption, control of illegal prostitution was removed from police jurisdiction and placed under the control of local councils and planning regulators. However, the local councils do not have the resources to investigate illegal brothel operators (Sullivan & Jeffreys, 2001).
Fourthly; the Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.
In two studies in which 186 victims of commercial sexual exploitation were interviewed, women consistently indicated that prostitution establishments did little to protect them, regardless of whether the establishments were legal or illegal. One woman said, “The only time they protect anyone is to protect the customers” (Raymond, Hughes & Gomez, 2001; Raymond, da Cunha, Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, Hynes & Santos, 2002). One of these studies interviewed 146 victims of trafficking in 5 countries. Eighty percent of the women interviewed had suffered physical violence from pimps and buyers and endured similar and multiple health effects from the violence and sexual exploitation, regardless of whether the women were trafficked internationally or were in local prostitution (Raymond et al, 2002, p. 62). A second study of women trafficked for prostitution in the United States yielded the following statements. Women who reported that sex businesses gave them some protection qualified it by pointing out that no “protector” was ever in the room with them. One woman who was in out-call prostitution stated: “The driver functioned as a bodyguard. You’re supposed to call when you get in, to ascertain that everything was OK. But they are not standing outside the door while you’re in there, so anything could happen” (Raymond et al, 2001, p. 74). In brothels that have surveillance cameras, the function of cameras was to protect the buyer and the brothel rather than the women, with one brothel putting in cameras after a buyer died (Raymond et al, 2001, p. 74). Protection of women from abuse was of secondary or no importance.
Finally; Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women’s health
A legalized system of prostitution often mandates health checks and certification, but only for women and not for male buyers. Health examinations or tests for women but not men make no public health sense because monitoring prostituted women does not protect them from HIV/AIDS or STDs. This is not to advocate that both women in prostitution and male buyers should be checked. It is simply to point out the duplicity of a policy that implies, “We’ll have safer sex and HIV/AIDS control if we examine the women under a regulated or decriminalized system of prostitution.” Male buyers can and do originally transmit disease to the women they purchase. It has been argued that legalized brothels or other “controlled” prostitution establishments protect women through enforceable condom policies. In one study, 47% of women in U.S. prostitution stated that men expected sex without a condom; 73% reported that men offered to pay more for sex without a condom; and 45% of women said that men became abusive if they insisted that men use condoms (Raymond et al, 2001, p. 72). Although certain sex businesses had rules that required men to wear condoms, men nonetheless attempted to have sex without condoms. One woman stated: “It’s ”regulation‟ to wear a condom at the sauna, but negotiable between parties on the side. Most guys expected blow jobs without a condom (Raymond et al, 2001, p. 72).” In reality, the enforcement of condom policy was left to the individual women in prostitution, and the offer of extra money was insistent pressure. One woman stated: “I’d be one of those liars if I said, „Oh I always used a condom.‟ If there was extra money coming in, then the condom would be out the window. I was looking for the extra money (Raymond et al., 2001, p. 73).” Many factors militate against condom use: the need of women to make money; older women’s decline in attractiveness to men; competition from places that do not require condoms; pimp pressure on women to have sex with no condom for more money; money needed for a drug habit or to pay off the pimp; and the general lack of control that prostituted women have over their bodies in prostitution venues. ‘Safety policies’ in brothels did not protect women from harm. Where brothels allegedly monitored the buyers and employed ‘bouncers,’ women stated that they were injured by buyers and, at times, by brothel owners and their friends. Even when someone intervened to momentarily control buyers’ abuse, women lived in a climate of fear. Although 60% of women reported that buyers had sometimes been prevented from abusing them, half of those same women answered that, nonetheless, they thought that they might be killed by one of their buyers (Raymond et al., 2002).
To conclude; prostitution is a very commonplace act and I personally believe that a lot of problems relating to it can be solved if proper recognition can be given to both the act and the people who engage in it.
Therefore, a proper sensitization program is required in order to stabilize the situation regarding prostitution, especially in our very own village, our region, our country and the rest of the world. The rate of violence is also a serious issue and can be probably curbed perhaps only through appropriate legislation and police actions, as sexual violence is an alarming criminal act in today’s world.
However, since prostitution can also be one’s free choice, we need to stop seeing it in a negative light all the time and try to first see some advantages or benefits of it and also weigh the circumstances before we talk about prostitution.
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