One clear question about prostitution
Finn Mackay closed a clear and exhaustive look at the issues relating to the pros and cons of legalising prostitution with some so far unanswered questions.
The real question about prostitution is the question of men’s rights, Mackay wrote, and whether we as a society believe that men have a right to buy and sell women’s bodies or whether they do not.
We know that people will do what they have to do to survive and to make money, and people make desperate choices to provide for their children, to keep a roof over their heads, to feed their families or just to make an income – and they should not be criminalised for doing so when their situation and/or vulnerability is exploited within prostitution.
But why, she asked, do men choose to buy women’s bodies, men who are often in full time employment, in relationships and in a position of relative privilege?
‘And why do we as a nation protect and condone that choice as if it cannot be helped, as if it is a feature of our human biology that some of us are born with a price on our head and others with a birthright to buy us?’ Mackay continued.
Imagine, she wrote, if our country stood up and said that this is not acceptable, as Sweden has done.
Stood up and said that every woman is worth more than what some man will pay for her and that we will criminalise rather than condone men who assume a right to buy the body of another human being.
For despite the changes in the Policing and Crime Act 2009 under the last government, which were indeed a step forward, for the first time directing the eyes of the law onto those who fuel prostitution – punters – our laws are clearly lacking on this issue.
The victory this far – as far as it goes – was a result of tireless campaigning by women’s groups, led by the feminist, abolitionist ‘Demand Change’ campaign.
But these changes do not go far enough and those exploited in the ‘sex-industry’ are still being branded as, and treated as, criminals, Mackay points out, with all the increased vulnerability that engenders.
In her paper’s conclusion, Mackay wrote that rather than simply throw our hands in the air and legalise the whole of the ‘sex-industry’, some genuine vision and ambition was needed.
And it is, as Mackay said, time to choose which side we are on; the multibillion dollar ‘sex-industry’ is doing fine and well. It does not need our support, it certainly does not need our protection.
But around the world, exploited in prostitution, there are women, children and men who do need our protection.
Many of them can see no end to their situation; so we must make that end happen.
We must end one of the oldest human rights violations our world has known and relegate this blot on our humanity to history.
And for those of you who are flummoxed by the excuse question ‘Isn’t prostitution the oldest profession?’
The answer is no.
Apparently agriculture is actually the oldest profession.
Abolitionists view prostitution as one of the oldest oppressions.
And the length of time an oppression has been in existence is not grounds for its continuation; it is even more reason to try to overcome it.