Prostitution-Don’t Legalize it! Criminalize the Buyer!

I’m going to veer away from my usual posts about Sexual Addiction and get on my soapbox about another subject that just rips my heart out, the exploitation and trafficking of women (and, on a lesser scale, men) and young children for prostitution.

Yes, I have heard, and sadly have previously agreed with, the idea that prostitution always has and always will be around, so why not just legalize it? But there was always that nagging hurt inside of me for these women. Something just isn’t right about legalizing, or allowing by turning one’s head the other way, an industry that exploits women. An industry that caters to the base instincts of men who think that money can buy another human being and allow them to use and abuse that human being in any way they choose. An industry where men–the johns and the pimps, benefit at the expense of the objectified and abused women. No woman is safe in a society that allows or ignores the exploitation of women.

America pitted brother against brother to fight for the abolition of slavery, yet today millions of women are enslaved on a daily basis in this country and the righteous turn their backs on the pain and suffering that these women endure. These women have fewer rights than the slaves we fought to free.

I just want to puke when I read, see on TV or hear about all the ‘glamorized’ stories of prostitution. Hookers are depicted as leisurely ladies of the night, spending their days fixing their nails, trying on all of their sexy lingerie, having sex with each other because they are so horny and anxiously awaiting the evening so they can jump in the sack with dozens of johns who will satisfy their insatiable sexual needs.

Women who have endured the pain of living with and loving a Sex Addict can certainly identify with the fact that our society objectifies all women, and a Sex Addict’s behaviors with porn, prostitutes, massage parlors, strippers and exotic dancers are somehow given a nod of approval by our society that allows and even glorifies the humiliation of women. Putting the blame right where it belongs and making the purchase of sex a crime could be the first step in making our society a healthier and safer place for everyone.

I realize that many women on this site, myself included, have been harmed by prostitution, and our tendency is to blame the prostitute. But, if we open our hearts to our sister’s pain we can gain an understanding that these women are victims of the industry and of our society. And maybe, just maybe, if we speak out loud enough against this ongoing crime against humanity, we can make a change.

Don’t legalize prostitution. Punish the real criminal–the buyer. Make buying sex a crime and enforce the law.
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Responses

  1. Allow me a libertarian response to your post. It’s true that there are a lot of human rights violations in the current world of prostitution. However I could concede that this is a consequence of having pushed the industry into a black market, where no contracts or rights of individual parties can be enforced by law. A comparative study to this sentiment could be made to the drug world — another high-demand good that has been pushed into the black market and is often intertwined with prostitution. In this world, no agreements can be formalized or enforced, and therefore the illegal use of force is the only resort. Another important feature is that legitimate competition also cannot take place when efficient firms will not engage in an activity that’s been deemed illegal — the risk is too high. Mind you, this is not the risk of failure of the enterprise, but of judicial reprisal. So here, there’s no incentive to do anything ‘legitimately’. This is the same story regardless of whether it’s the drug trade, prostitution, or prohibition of alcohol — pushing a market underground always the illegal use of force a necessary tool of advancing their enterprise (in this case it’s the virtual enslavement of women who’s legal status in a country is borderline).

    Tom

  2. Powerful. It’s especially disturbing that the flight attendant at the unemployment office in the Netherlands was advised by a government employee to seek employment as a prostitute.

  3. The above comment is from my youngest son, Thomas, who is presently working in Switzerland as a neuroscientist. We love social debate, and usually agree on just about everything. But, in this case I must disagree.

    Interesting point of view, and certainly one that I have ruminated over many times. I certainly agree with you in theory, but in this case we are talking about human lives not drugs or alcohol. Abolishing slavery did not push that into the black market. Legalizing prostitution in other countries has done nothing to protect the women, it only legitimizes the pimps. The atrocities endured by the women continue, and, with legitimization, the demand increases, causing illegal trafficking to increase. The stigma attached to prostitutes does not go away, and these ‘working girls’ are never elevated to an acceptable social status.

    I guess my activist tendencies are still alive and kicking. If nothing else it’s a fun debate, but, at my age, I have come to the realization that I cannot change the world, but I still enjoy speaking and writing my thoughts.

  4. But also keep in mind that countries that have severe restrictions and penalties on prostitution have also not eliminated it, nor is the status of women much better. Fundamentalist countries often restrict the status of women in the name of ‘protecting’ them. So then exactly how liberating is it to be a woman when they have no choice to do what they wish with their own bodies? And remember, in these societies such laws affect all women, when clearly not all women are potential prostitutes. There will always be people with troubled lives from troubled backgrounds, and restricting the liberty of all consenting adults is really throwing the baby out with the bath water. These people need help, not a police state.

  5. Here are some statistics on prostitutes which were posted on the blog of a woman whose SA husband is successfully recovering from an addiction to prostitutes. As much as I’d like to credit her, I won’t post her information here to protect her privacy:

    WHO PROSTITUTES ARE

    More than 90% of prostitutes suffered childhood sexual abuse, often incest

    70% believed that being sexually abused as children influenced their decisions to become prostitutes

    Two-thirds began working in prostitution before they turned 16

    Average length of career is 4 years

    96% who began committing prostitution as juveniles were runaways.

    75% attempted suicide

    15% of all suicide victims are prostitutes

    (source for stats above: Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault)

    2/3 of prostitutes were sexually abused from the ages of 3-16. (The average age of victimization was 10).

    2/3 of prostitutes abused in childhood were molested by natural, step-, or foster fathers. 10% were sexually abused by strangers.

    More than 90% of prostitutes lost their virginity through sexual assault.

    70% of prostitutes believed that being sexually abused as children influenced their decisions to become prostitutes.

    91% of prostitutes sexually abused as children told no one. Only 1% received counseling for the effects of the abuse.

    Because many prostitutes have been sexually assaulted, they suffer from psychological effects of rape and child sexual abuse. These include rape trauma syndrome, low self-esteem, guilt, and self-destructiveness. Prostitutes often will not seek counseling for their problems because they are suspicious of outsiders and authorities, fear rejection, and fear change. Prostitutes often fear admitting they have been harmed. They may have difficulty establishing enough control over their own lives to seek counseling, and they may fear that health care and other services will not help them because they are prostitutes. Mimi Silbert, a counselor, states that many prostitutes have a “psychological paralysis” that involves wanting help, but rejecting it. However, it has been found that if 24-hour hotlines, counseling, advocacy and shelter care are made specifically available to prostitutes, these services will be used. Counseling has been found to help prostitutes recover from sexual trauma and improve their self-esteem.

  6. Yes Caroline, there is no doubt of the harm prostitution does to women. And, legalizing it will never take away the personal tragedy that each of these human beings endure. Here’s just a glimpse of what one young prostitute feels:

    [In prostitution] I would just go someplace else mentally as well as
    emotionally. Soon I just lost track of days at a time. When I was
    awake, I started feeling “invisible.” When I would come back
    home from a call, I used to stand in front of a mirror and pinch
    myself just to see if I was real. Spending months with people just
    looking at your body can make you wonder if “you” exist at all.

    Regardless of the variations in the type of prostitution, women feel that they have to rent out the most intimate parts of their body to anonymous strangers to use as a hole to jerk off in. The women try to keep themselves as unharmed as possible from this massive invasion by maintaining a distance from the customer.

    There is no doubt that these women are in a constant state of trauma, and the emotional toll is unimaginable and PTSD is inevitable. Laws that justify legalization or decriminalization of prostitution to safeguard women’s health fail to address the psychological harm of prostitution. Although the traumatic effects of rape and other violence to women who are not in prostitution are well established, the same trauma is not well understood among women in prostitution.

  7. I agree. The prostitution can’t be legalized. The prostitutes should be helped and the buyers must be criminalized. We are not objects. A human is not for sale.

  8. However, some prositutes are also predators. They recognize when they have a SA as a regular client and urge them to repeat as customers. The “girlfriend” game is used for more visits, greater tips, etc. Since Dday, I have also learned a lot about prostitution. The pros my SAH connected with did not have the “heart of gold” as some stories protray them to have. One ended up with most of our life savings…and my SAH’s heart.

  9. Lou,

    You are absolutely correct. While prostitution does exploit a lot of women, I agree that many of them are Sex Addicts and predators. Living that sort of lifestyle will corrupt anyone and many prostitutes steal from or otherwise victimize their clients either alone or with the help of their pimps. It’s a nasty, illegal business and these women are breaking the law just as much as the Johns are. Many prostitutes are drug addicts or have found the call of easy, albeit illegal, money to be more desirable than working long and hard as most of us do.

    The entire issue of bodies for sale is abhorrent to me. But, a small part of me does feel pain for our sisters out there.

    Thanks for the great, thought provoking comment.