Monday, 3 October 2011

Social issues. A lot on the agenda (1) Prostitution

I think many of our 'progressive' MPs are rather good. One of these is Stephanie Key. She continues to plug away at the issue of 'proper' laws for prostitution.
It is quite a complex issue
And although on one level the moral issues  seem clear, it is of course (as always) more complex.
The chief problem with illegality as my good friend DB has always been key to point out. The 'practitioners' are often the weakest link in the chain. 
Weak for all sorts of reasons.
They are often powerless. Women driven to sex works by financial desperation and life's awful necessity. They are most often the ones who are criminalised by its exposure.
Why should prostitutes be arrested and clients let off?
The simple argument goes:
--if we decriminalise prostitution then at least we give to the prostitutes an element of freedom  that they may not otherwise have. Freedom from blackmail. Freedom from being unable to address workplace issue because they would have admit to being involved in illegality
--Prostitution is a 'victimless crime'. A consenting sex worker offers a service to a customer who is prepared to remunerate them. The worker agrees; the 'client' agrees; so why does there need to be third party (ie. legal) intervention.
It is an important question.
A lot of resources go into marshalling the policing, and to what avail.
I have some sympathy with the steps that Ms Key and others are taking to remove the gross legal abuses that are involved in  this issue.
there are other questions that are not being addressed.
As a feminist (a male feminist albeit) I am conscious of the fact that the purest tenets of feminism suggest that female prostitution is one of the grossest abuses of the female person that out human society perpetuates.
It is wrong to use people as though they are commodities. It is wrong to see sex as a saleable commodity.
I think that this problem could largely be addressed if the law was framed to convict the 'client' rather than the prostitute.
Once we start convicting the (largely) men who solicit others for sex as though they were simply tradeable commodities we will actually be focussing on the 'bad guys'...rather than the victims.

There is often the spurious argument that prostitution is a 'victimless' crime. But I fail to be convinced by this.
Even when a person is a happy to accept an (exorbitant) amount of money to have sex with another; something has happened which has not been acknowledged. And that is that 'sex' has been allowed to be commodified. 
A person has been bought and sold!
There are deep philosophical questions about this.
Although the subject may feel this is OK as long as they are given $1000. In reality there has been a huge diminution of that person's humanity. They have sold their freedom for a pathetic price.
And the other victim is society itself.
When we start saying it is OK to buy and sell our relationships, then it is is not just the individual but also the whole of society that is diminished

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