Presentation on theme: "ISWFACE Presents.... because our lives matter....."— Presentation transcript:
1ISWFACE Presents.... because our lives matter..... International Sex Worker Foundationfor Art, Culture and Educationa non-profit 501 (c)3 organization
2Why Do You Want To Put a Nice Girl Like Me In Jail For My Own Good? “Thank God I’ve been rescued!”The Absurdity of American Prostitution Laws in 2005
3Text, graphics and narration by Norma Jean Almodovar edited by McKenzie Zeissplease give author and our organization source creditif you use any material from this presentation.thank you.
4the more you will support Decriminalization The more you know...the more you will support DecriminalizationBecause the right to “choose” means the rightto choose something for oneself that others disagree with or that they find morally objectionable...Warning: contains some graphic images which may not be appropriate for all people. Please do not continue if you are easily offended by sexually explicit images or are under the age of 18.
5What is prostitution anyway? California defines it as a “lewd act for money or other consideration”What is prostitution anyway?Other states vary on the specific language,but essentially it is the same everywhere but Nevada, where it is legal in some counties but not others.
6What is a “lewd act”?The touching of breasts, buttocks or genitals for the purpose of sexual gratification OR arousal
7What is “other consideration”? The California State Supreme Court ruled that “other consideration” can be something as innocuous as someone mowing your lawn..... and then coming inside and touching your breasts buttocks or genitals and becoming aroused - but not necessarily having sex......
8and then there is: Going out to dinner Or just having drinks Buying you a presentHelping you pay the rent... Remember- you don’t have toactually have SEX for you to break the law!
9But should you go to jail if you do get “caught”? So, are you a prostitute????Most likely the cops won’t come after you if you don’t earn a living this way, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t one according to the law, anyway.....But should you go to jail if you do get “caught”?
10Why is prostitution against the law, anyway? Here are some of the reasons the politicians give:Selling one’s body is immoralIt exploits women and childrenIt’s degrading to sell one’s bodyProstitutes spreads sexually transmitted diseasesProstitution lowers the quality of lifeIt disrespects society
11Prostitutes have low self-esteem Most prostitutes are run- aways and drug addictsThe mob is involved in prostitutionProstitutes don’t pay taxesProstitutes are beaten by their pimps and clientsProstitution hurts marriagesProstitution can only be a short term careerNot all prostitutes can earn the big bucks
12What is the purpose of a law? To protect life and propertyTo punish those who violate other people’s rights through the use of force, the threat of force, fraud or coercionPunishment usually includes the restriction of movement (through incarceration) and the loss of one’s civil rights for the duration of the punishment
13what is the purpose of a law? continued.... to prohibit certain actions which harm others and to which those others have not consented to have said harm inflicted upon themto coerce individuals or groups to engage in or not to engage in particular behavior or actions, as decided by other groups or individuals who are able to persuade law makers to pass legislation which reflects the wishes of the groups or individuals who have the power to impose their will on others
14Remember: no matter what the stated purpose of a law may be, enforcement of the law is always ultimately done at the point of a gun... for if the person who is “violating” the law (even if that person is the“victim”) does not voluntarily agree to go with the police officers who are thereto apprehend the person who is breakingthe law, the police can use LETHAL forceor the threat of lethal force to subduethe suspect and gain his or hercooperation... and while this mayappropriate for apprehending someonewho has committed one of the followingcrimes, is this appropriate for assistingsomeone whom we claim is a “victim of exploitation”?
15Actions which violate the life and property of others (and for which laws prohibiting these actions are appropriate):*Robbery, burglary, auto theft, petty theft (or the taking of ANYTHING- without permission of the owner- that isn’t yours)*Homicide, assault, battery, torture, using force or threatening to use force against another for any reason*Kidnapping, child molesting, child abandonment*Rape or sexual assault- statutory rape, domestic violence*Obtaining something from another using fraudulent or deceitful methods (scams, identity theft, computer fraud)
16“Selling one’s body is immoral”: Let’s carefully examine each of the justifications given for the continued prohibition of prostitution:“Selling one’s body is immoral”:First of all, “morality” is an individual value system based on one’s belief in a supreme being. In a free society, people have the right NOT to share or live by the same “moral values” as the “majority” in a community, without forfeiting their freedom.It is not an infringement upon anyone else’s “life or property” rights for someone to fail to act or behave according to the “moral values” of the majority.
17Many people in our society believe that homosexuality and abortion are immoral- still others believe that any sexual relationship outside of marriage is immoral. And there are people who believe that interracial marriages are immoral. People who believe these behaviors areimmoral have a right to their belief.....they just don’t have a right to imposetheir moral values on others.When we impose our personal values orbeliefs on others- at the point of a gun (which ishow laws are ultimately enforced)- we ceasebeing a free society and become no better than atheocracy or dictatorship. “Choice” meanschoice, doesn’t it, even if others don’t approve?
18That’s what freedom is about. People who believe they have a right to impose their moral values on others through laws certainly have a contemptuous disregard of other people’s freedom! Not to mention, a cavalier attitude toward other people’s money, too, because enforcement of those moral values costs money- billions of dollars as a matter of fact.Do-gooders may truly believe they are acting in society’s best interest when they insist that their own personal moral values be given the weight of the law.But every adult has a right to choose to engage in private behavior that others might find morally reprehensible, as long as no force, threat of force, fraud or coercion is involved in one’s interactions with others.That’s what freedom is about.Carrie Nation believed she was doing God’s work …
19Another problem with the argument for prohibiting prostitution on the grounds that “selling of one’s body” is immoral is that anyone who uses their body to earn a living is also “selling their body.” That includes athletes, who sell their bodies by engaging in sports activity for money; construction workers, dancers, actors, models- all these workers are “selling their body.” So should we arrest all the people who “sell their body” or just prostitutes?
20Okay, so what about the argument that prostitution “exploits women and children...” First, it is illegal to have sex with children and underage people under any circumstances. So laws which prohibit sex with minors should continue to be enforced -whether or not money is involved.When applied to adult women, “exploitation” is a subjective argument. The dictionary defines exploitation as “an act of employing to the greatest possible advantage” or “the utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes,” and according to somepolitical philosophies, the entire capitalistic system “exploits the workers.” So should we outlaw labor altogether to prevent anyone from being “exploited” by another? How would we get anything produced? Or is it only the poor who can be exploited? And why would we make such assumptions unless we believed that the poor are inherently stupid and incapable of self- determination... which is an extremely bigoted point of view, isn’t it?
21What do I mean by ‘subjective’ What do I mean by ‘subjective’? When someone other than the individual(s) involved in a particular activity projects his or her own unsolicited opinion onto the actions or behaviors of another, and there are no rational or objective reasons that a behavior or action is prevented- that is, reasons which are uninfluenced by personal prejudices- then the argument is subjective. Laws which are based on subjective premises will inevitably cause serious problems in law enforcement- especially for the “victims” who “violate” the law. Words like “exploitation” and “degradation” are used by those who wish to evoke an emotionalresponse in their audience, without regard tothe actual experience of those who are saidto be “exploited” or “degraded.”It is an elitist philosophy indeed whichpostulates that any group of people (in this caseprostitutes) is incapable of speaking on their own behalf!
22Sex worker activists do not claim that there are NO women and girls who are forced into prostitution. Indeed, forced labor, sexual slavery and domestic violence are serious problems which need to be addressed by the global community. Forced labor includes garment manufacturing and other factory work, domestic service, picking crops and construction work, to name a few. There are young girls who are forced into arranged marriages and become the sexual slaves of their husbands. There are wives who are beaten and even murdered by theirhusbands. These are terrible situations and arerightfully prohibited. However, not a singlesex slave child bride will be saved or helped byprohibiting adult women from marrying, or byarresting those who marry regardless of the risk.And not a single victim of sex trafficking will behelped by arresting any consenting adultswho engage in commercial sex.
23For almost any type oflabor, it is possible for someone to force children and adults to perform the labor- against their will or without compensation, or forinsufficient wages, in substandard working conditions, or when they aren’t physically capable of performing such labor. Such coerced situations are very wrong andperpetrators ought to be punished.... but would anyone suggest that the victims be arrested.... to protect them “for their own good”? So why do we arrest prostitutes if they are VICTIMS?
24BY SANDRA BLACKMER, news editor for the Adventist Review, 2004 “According to government reports, many victims of human trafficking are forced to work in prostitution or the sex entertainment industry. But trafficking also involves labor exploitation, such as domestic, restaurant, janitorial, sweatshop factory, and migrant agricultural work. Some traffickers keep victims locked up; other traffickers instill fear in victims using methods such as debt bondage, threats of violence, confiscation of passports or other identification documents, isolation from family and friends, and telling victims they will be imprisoned or deported for immigration violations if they contact authorities. Trafficking of humans is estimated to be the second-largest criminal industry in the world after drug dealing, and the fastest growing. The U.S. State Department estimates human trafficking to be a $13 billion-per-year global industry.”BY SANDRA BLACKMER, news editor for the Adventist Review, 2004
25February 12, 2004, US Embassy in Thailand “What is the United States doing for trafficked persons in the U.S.? It is estimated that between ,000 people (mostly women and children) are trafficked to the U.S. each year.”February 12, 2004, US Embassy in Thailand“Trafficking in persons is a modern-day form of slavery, involving victims who are typically forced, defrauded or coerced into sexual or labor exploitation. It is among the fastest growing criminal activities, occurring both worldwide and in individual countries. Annually, at least 600, ,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked across borders worldwide, including 14, ,500 persons into the United States.” U.S. Department of State 2004We won’t get into the conflicting numbers that are given by various government agencies- although we wonder where they get these figures… But does anyone suggest we outlaw ALL work in the domestic, restaurant, janitorial, garment factory, and migrant agricultural labor fields to “protect” these trafficked persons from exploitation?
26Condom buyers line up to get free demonstration Who is being protected when a prostitute is arrested for selling something she can legally give away.... to as many men as she wants to have sex with, as long as it is for free? If she has sex with hundreds of men but it is for free, is she being exploited?Condom buyers line up to get free demonstrationSome may believe that she is being exploited (and others think she is a slut) but she won’t be arrested or face jail time as long as she doesn’t accept money or gifts for her sexual favors.... why do we want to rescue her against her will?
27“Maggies” as they were called- whose The “rescue and reformation” of prostitutes has always been a big business. In the late 19th century, “fallen women” (prostitutes) had literally hundreds of Rescue Organizations vying for their souls and the money that went with their “salvation.” Most of those prostitutes unlucky enough to be so rescued could count on a life of slavery as inmates in the laundries, asylums and penitentiaries built by “faith based” organizations who raised thousands of dollars from the church-going public, horrified by the stories of the “poor, betrayed and fallen women” of the streets. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s when an inadvertent act of greed* uncovered the scandal in Ireland of the Magdalen laundresses -“Maggies” as they were called- whoseslave labor in the laundries had enrichedthe coffers of the local Catholic Churchesthere for well over 100 years.*In 1993 when property held by the Sisters of Charity in Dublin was to be sold, unmarked graves of 133 women were discovered. The shameful history of the Magdalene Laundries can be found on the web at:
28In the later part of the twentieth century, a curious phenomenon occurred: the far left radical feminists, who had been for many years preaching the gospel of prostitution as a violation of human rights and sexual exploitation- got in bed with religious conservatives who were all too happy to accept the new wording for their age-old moral crusade against prostitution. The religious conservatives had, for the most part, lost the public’s sympathy with their crusade against personal moral choices such as homosexuality and abortion, and needed a new holy war to inspire their congregations. But to reach the general populace, the wording needed to be altered so as not to be perceived as just another “moral” campaign. The radical feminists had the jargon already constructed- based on the century old crusade against “sexual trafficking.” With the feminists involved, this was a fightParents were warned not to let their daughters go to ice cream parlors where they would meet up with evil foreignersagainst the sexual degradation of women and children- not a fight against immoral behavior, and thus could the public be persuaded it was imperative to pass new laws and spend of millions of dollars to “rescue” the “sexually exploited.” Whose heart strings aren’t stirred at the thought of young children and women forced to perform sex acts upon evil, lust-filled men? Who wouldn’t be justifiably disturbed at the thought of greedy pimps making billions of dollars off the sale of those poor, exploited persons? Don’t these people worry about the exploitation of poor, young athletes of color whose white agents are making a fortune off them?
29Radical feminists and religious conservatives insist that no distinction be made between consenting adult commercial sex and true sexual slavery. Using skewed law enforcement statistics- which also do not differentiate between consenting adult prostitutes and those persons of any age who are coerced into sex slavery- the global community is duped into believing that there are possibly millions of trafficked victims worldwide who are nothing short of “modern day slaves.” Without clarification, these statistics are truly alarming and shocking- and certainly when there is force, fraud and underage persons involved, it is without a doubt a very serious problem. But isn’t it also a serious problem for those who are forced into sweat shops and mail order marriages?
30In their “anti-trafficking” literature, these feminists accuse those of us in the sex industry who make a distinction between “forced vs. free choice” sex work, of supporting slavery and sexual exploitation- and yet it is the very lack of distinction between the two that causes women the greatest harm. What we want to know is, how would it possible to help those who are victims of rape if ALL consenting adult sex acts were considered rape? Wouldn’t it diminish the victimization of women who have been raped if those who vehemently assert that they are NOT victims were told that in fact, they really are victims?Why is a woman believed by these radical feminists if she claims to be a victim but not believed if she insists she isn’t?The (irrational) rationale behind this policy [to include those who freely choose to engage in sex work] is the illogical assertion that no one would willingly agree to be exploited and to engage in prostitution- therefore there is no difference between “forced” and “free choice” nor is there a difference between adult and child prostitution! These astonishing claims, made by these radical leftist feminists and religious conservatives, have persuaded our legislators, top law enforcement officials and the media that there is no difference, even as sex worker activists around the world desperately try to assert our voices to be heard. No one, it seems, want to hear from US!
31Local governments spend much time and money investigating and setting up sting operations on individuals and small businesses which may or may not be involved in prostitution activities. The justification for the use of scarce and valuable resources is the “need to stop” the “trafficking in women.” The problem is that to law enforcement agents, “trafficking in women” is not limited in its scope to those young girls and women who are kidnapped and forced into prostitution against their will, but includes any and all adult women who have made an adult choice to engage in sex work as a way to (a) earn a living on their own, (b) earn a living working for someone else or (c) work to repay the fee for being transported into this country because they cannot get into the country any other way [the fear of the “white slave trade” caused the US to implement immigration and even visitation policies which make it almost impossible for young, single, attractive females to enter the country alone].These self- published books of 1910 have led to almost one hundred years of a most hideous policy to lock women up “for their own good.”
32Radical feminists offer a “solution” of decriminalizing the work of sex workers but then demand strong enforcement of laws which make the clients of prostitutes criminals.We don’t want you girls to go to jail, just the bad men who give you money to pay your rent!How brilliant is that? The cops now demand sex, money and information from prostitutes or threaten them with arrest... under such a system where the client is the criminal, the cops simply threaten to arrest the prostitute’s customers if she/ he doesn’t comply with the officer’s demands for sex, money or information... what has been accomplished? Absolutely nothing!Not to mention the fact that the client isn’t a criminal unless he pays (or offers to pay) the prostitute for her services... so if he demands those services for free, will the police still arrest him?
33Let’s move on to the next “argument” against prostitution- that it should be prohibited because “prostitution spreads diseases.” To determine the validity of this argument, there are some questions which need answering:First, while health issues are definitely of concern to any society, should it be the duty of the police to enforce laws which rightfully fall within the purview of the Health Department?Do police departments have the resources to deal with health issues- such as testing prostitutes to see if they in fact have an STDs?Second, does it help the problem or make it worse to deny access for those who are supposedly infected with diseases and make it so that prostitutes are unable to seek medical care because they are outside the law?
34Then, we need to examine the incidence of STDs among prostitutes as compared to other sexually active groups....and if we are going to prohibit commercial sexual encounters because of the possibility of the spread of STDs, shouldn’t we also prohibit sexual encounters which are the primary vectors ofdiseases? In the US, many health studies have been conducted on prostitutes- by the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, as well as local health departments and research organizations...Would it surprise you to learn that according to this research, the number one source of STDs in the US comes from high school and college age people who are not practicing safe sex, and that prostitutes are the least significant source of sexually transmitted diseases? To stop the spread of diseases, shall we arrest all studentswho have sex?
35Prostitutes (commercial) The Center for Disease Control studies found that the greatest source of STDs is from non- commercial encounters in the high school and college age group- not from prostitutes......One night stands(non commercial)Prostitutes (commercial)So should we outlaw all non commercial sexual encounters outside of marriage, instead of just prostitution?High school and college age people(also non commercial)
36The reason for the low rate of STD transmission among prostitutes is not only because they use condoms- but also the way they actually do their job.....Hand-jobs.....are very “safe sex”Fantasy sex- such as foot fetishes, cross dressing, and bondage do not spread diseases
37Even street workers practice safe sex- at least much of the time- because the major complaint that residents have who live in areas where street prostitutes work, is that the prostitutes litter the ground with condoms....So if the spread of STDs cannot be pinnedprimarily on prostitutes, why should that usedas an argument against decriminalization?Well, doesn’t litter impact the quality of lifefor everyone? That is our next argument toexamine.It should be noted that it is already against the law to litter- no matter what the discarded items (including beer cans and religious literature)- and we agree that it would be much better for everyone if those who litter would be a little more considerate. But is discarded litter a legitimate complaint against ALL prostitutes, for which society should prohibit our work altogether and put us in jail?
38Full body massage workers Street prostitutes are the most visible, so the media likes to portray all prostitution as street prostitution... yet the reality is that street workers represent a small portion of the sex industry. Estimates from many sources indicate that street prostitution comprises about 10% of all prostitution, meaning thatabout 90% of prostitutes work off the streets where they cannot be seen by the public and therefore do not interfere with anyone’s “quality of life.” As for street prostitution, there are more effective ways of resolving problems with residential street activity than a blanket prohibition against all prostitution. In countries where prostitution is not illegal, there are special areas- red light districts- where street prostitution is permitted. The women are safer (because they are not outlaws) and customers know where to go to find a sexual companion.Street workersEscortsBar girlsCall GirlsFull body massage workersBrothel workers
39But we must ask, should the standard for the “quality of life” of some citizens in the community be at the expense- and liberty- of others? How should the police determine whose “quality of life” matters more? Can there be a single standard for “quality of life” in a community? And which part of the community sets the standard? In Beverly Hills, California, the “quality of life” standard for citizens who live there is probably far higher than it is for its neighbors living in South Central Los Angeles, and the“quality of life” standard for residents ofSouth Central Los Angeles is nodoubt far higher than it is for citizens of,say, Calcutta India. Thereare the rich, the middleclass, the poor and thedesperately poor. So whodecides what counts as“quality of life” for suchdisparate lifestyles? Who decides how to allocatescarce police resources to enforce these standards?
40In some neighborhoods, it may be illegal to hold garage sales- while in other neighborhoods garage sales not only thrive, but the remnants of such weekly events remain on the lawns for months afterward... no one taking the time or trouble to clean up the trash left by bargain hunters....On any given day in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, one can drive up and down the streets and find enough discarded furniture on the sidewalks to completely furnish a huge apartment complex... while junk strewn everywhere certainly diminishes thequality of life for most residents, there are no cops out setting up sting operations to catch the litterers in the act...
41however, is a conservative one that substantially understates If we cannot agree which standards of “quality” should be imposed, how can we expect law enforcement officers to enforce such laws with any propriety? Such arbitrary rules can only be enforced arbitrarily and thus unfairly (and unconstitutionally). At the same time, we have laws that are supposed to prevent serious and real crimes against person and property which are not enforced because we don’t have sufficient police resources to do so! What should their priority be? Do you suppose the cops are able to pursue the perpetrators of every single act of domestic violence (surely a serious crime)? [Studies reveal that family violence occurs in two million families in the U.S. This figure,however, is a conservative one that substantially understates(because battering is usually not reported until it reacheslife-threatening proportions) the actual number of familiesaffected by domestic violence. In fact, some researchesestimate that one of every two women will be batteredat some time in their life.]Even though it is not politically correct to acknowledgeit, men are also victims of domestic violence … sincewomen are quite capable of fighting and men are oftenafraid to defend themselves against a smaller person.It is as though feminists want to portray all women(other than themselves) as incompetent, weak, lowly creatures who are as ignorant, innocent and incapable of violence as a lamb… which is totally at odds with their insistence that women be allowed to engage in battle combat in wars, and work out on patrol in police departments…
42Do you think that the police follow up on every petty theft report Do you think that the police follow up on every petty theft report? What percentage of stolen automobiles do you suppose the cops recover every month? All of them? Half of them? And how about purse snatching, pick-pockets, identity theft and other “minor” offenses? These are truly “crimes” and have “victims” and yet the police are told (by the city council and mayor whose financial backers insist on priority enforcement of such laws) that it is more important for them to pursue adult “victims of exploitation” because someone other than the “victim” believes that it is necessary for the “victim” to be “rescued” by being arrested and incarcerated!If you have ever been the victim of one of those “minor offenses,” you might be comforted to know that the police are too busy protecting women who do not wish to be protected to search for your criminal … And perhaps you might believe that you are much safer in your homes because of it!
43Punishing someone by putting them in jail because they violate our sense of “quality of life” or because they “disrespect society” is not a legitimate use of the justice system, particularly not in a “free” country. It is not yet illegal to disrespect society nor to have low self-esteem.So then how can we justify punishing someone because we think they have low self- esteem? Shall we arrest everyone who suffers from low self-esteem? And how do we know that ALL prostitutes suffer low self- esteem? You might argue that you only want to keep prostitution illegal because some prostitutes might suffer low self- esteem, but does being arrested increase ANYONE’s self- esteem?Have you ever been arrested and spent time in jail? If so, you would KNOW for a fact that being arrested and sent to jail does NOT improve your sense of self- worth!
44What about the argument that most prostitutes are run-aways and drug addicts? First, let’s examine the argument of the run-away prostitute... a “run-away” would be someone who is underage, as in a teenager or child who ran away from home. Remember, it is illegal to have sex with a minor- regardless- so keeping ADULT prostitution illegal does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to protect children or run-aways, and in fact reduces the available resources that could be used to assist run-aways and victims of child sexualabuse. Considering how many adult women areactually arrested for prostitution, itis preposterous to suggest that MOST prostitutesare run-aways! Clearly they are NOT!Okay, but what about the drugs? Don’t womenprostitute themselves to support their drug habit?
45Yes, some women do. But not all prostitutes use drugs Yes, some women do. But not all prostitutes use drugs. Furthermore, although we could argue that keeping some drugs illegal while others are cheaply, freelyand legally available (cigarettes and alcohol)is a bit hypocritical and that if you make foolish choices and drink or smoke,your body doesn’t know the difference whether it is a legal drug or not, and that dead is dead, whether from a drug overdose or lung cancer- we must point out theobvious and that is that there is rampant (illegal) drug use among athletes, actors, musicians, writers, lawyers, even cops- AND MANY OTHERS! Yet no one suggests that we criminalize those professions to stop drug use by those persons, nor do we require cops to arrest persons in those professions JUST IN CASE THEY MIGHT use drugs... for everyone except prostitutes, we wait until a person actually gets caught using drugs before we arrest them... and even then, if they are famous, rich or important, they often get to go to rehab and not to jail....
46has been involved in the Well then, what about the argument that the mob is involved in running prostitution? Surely if there is any logical argument to keeping prostitution a crime, this would be it, wouldn’t it? I mean, we don’t want organized crime to control women, and after all,prohibition was so successful in eliminating unwanted alcohol consumption, wasn’t it? And of course, just because there is evidence to show that the mob (organized crime) is andhas been involved in themusic industry, construction, the garment industry and about every other area where there is money to be made, is no reason to criminalize those professions to keep out the mob... we should only be concernedabout their possible involvement in prostitution....
47Interestingly enough, there were government studies which stated that while organized crime may have some involvement in running strip clubs and other legal forms of sex work, prostitutes tended to be too independent for the mob to control. That’s not to say that there isn’t organized crime involved in prostitution activities, but if prostitution weren’t illegal in the first place, prostitutes could go to the police if anyone tried to coerce them into working for them, or if someone tried to make them pay for “protection”- which also wouldn’t be necessary if the prostitute wasn’t an outlaw!Keeping prostitution outside the law only protects those who can afford to pay off the police and who in turn offer protection services to those who wish to engage in commercial sexual activities. It is the illegal status of prostitution that allows the prostitute to be pressured into “cooperation” - whether that cooperation is with the mob or with a vice cop who offers the prostitute the opportunity to continue to work as long as she provides the cop with sex, money and information. This is discussed at length in the presentation entitled “ The Reality of Prostitution Law Enforcement- or Bad Laws Make Bad Cops.”
48Okay, what about the argument that we ought to keep prostitution illegal because prostitutes don’t pay taxes? Even though many prostitutes do, in fact, pay taxes, let’s examine the logic of this argument. People believe that because prostitution is a cash business, prostitutes won’t pay taxes on this income. However, there are a number of other cash businesses which are not illegal and those who engage in these businesses do pay their taxes. Being outside the law is more of an incentive NOT to pay taxes than being paid in cash is!And because many women who work in prostitution earn a higher than average income, they want to be able to buy property such as cars and houses with their money. If they don’t have a tax base (provable income on which they pay taxes) they cannot do so. The IRS does NOT care how someone earns ones’ money, only that they pay taxes on their income. If you are concerned that someone is cheating on their taxes, it should be a matter for the IRS to investigate, not the police.
49No, no, you might argue- that’s not necessary because Well, you might say, then what about all that violence that occurs in prostitution? Don’t prostitutes get beaten up by their pimps and clients? And wouldn’t that be a legitimate reason to prohibit prostitution- to protect women from being the victims of violence?Okay, if prohibiting prostitution to protect women from violence is a viable solution, shouldn’t this solution also work for other relationships in which there is violence? Perhaps we ought to consider outlawing marriage to prevent spousal abuse and domestic violence?No, no, you might argue- that’s not necessary becausedomestic violence is not inherent in marriage- and not all marriages suffer from such abuse! But exactly how prevalent is domestic violence in the United States? According to victim's services: 6 million women are the victims of violence by a husband or live-in partner1.8 million women are severely attacked in a yearAn act of domestic violence occurs every 15 seconds
50That’s a fairly significant number of cases of violence That’s a fairly significant number of cases of violence... so how shall we protect spouses and children from domestic violence if we don’t outlaw marriage? Should we arrest spouses and children when they are the victims of violence, or should we arrest the person who commits the violence against them? Should we arrest someone just in case they might commit violence against their partner, even if no threat has ever been made and they have never exhibited any violent tendencies?Why do we consider these the appropriate actions to take when prostitutes are the victims of violence?What if I told you that not all nor even most prostitutes are victims of violence at the hands of their clients or pimps (or that most prostitutes do not have pimps in the first place), and that when a prostitute IS the victim of violence, she cannot go to the police to file a complaint because the PROSTITUTE is an OUTLAW? How does prohibiting prostitution protect prostitutes from violence? The answer is that it does not protect them at all. Even in the worst case scenario where the prostitute is being forced to engage in prostitution against her will, she is still considered the outlaw and is arrested and goes to jail. And if this isn’t a solution to protecting women in marriage, it isn’t a solution to protect prostitutes either.
51Should only married men enjoy the benefits of a good sex life? What about the argument that prostitution is harmful to marriage? This is a very interesting but illogical argument because adultery is not illegal anymore and “love affairs” are far more detrimental to marriage than commercial sexual relationships have ever been, primarily because a prostitute does not want the husband (her client) to leave his wife while a mistress or lover usually does.But more importantly, such an argument ignores the fact that not all or even most clients of prostitutes are married men... rather many clients are men who are widowed, divorced, physically disabled or socially inept - all these men without a primary partner still have sexual and emotional needs which can be met by hiring a sex care provider (a prostitute). Studies have shown that an active sex life even late in life can not only prolong life, but reduces harmful stress.Should only married men enjoy the benefits of a good sex life?
52What about married men whose wives have given up on sex- wives who figure that their husbands can’t afford to divorce them and they simply have no interest in performing their “wifely duties” any longer... are such unfortunate husbands simply to “do without” for the rest of their lives? They can’t force their wives to have sex- that would constitute rape... so why shouldn’t they hire a professional to provide them with healthful, emotionally beneficial, stress reducing SEX?On a scale of one to ten, if murder is the worst thing one can do to ones fellow man, isn’t giving someone an orgasm one of the nicest things one can do? Why is it such a big deal if someone is willing to paysomeone else to provide pleasure and if someoneelse is willing to provide pleasure-for a fee? Whydo we get all uptight about such a simple, basicand wonderful experience that our bodies craveand that is also GOOD for us? Unlike drugs,booze or food, no one has ever died from anorgasm OVERDOSE!
53they be able to do so? Why should someone Most people don’t think about those who have no partners... it doesn’t occur to most people that not everyone has an opportunity to find someone to love (and who will love them in return), or that disabled people have sexual needs as do the elderly and widowed persons. And what about the recently divorced? After a devastating break-up, it is difficult to get emotionally involved with someone right away, and studies have shown that divorced men face twice as high a risk of suicide as their married counterparts.If it is possible for such individuals to hire someone to bridge the gap between committed relationships- hire someone who is able to offer all the TLC without the demands for a permanent relationship- why shouldn’tthey be able to do so? Why should someonewho cannot otherwise find a companion, live without the pleasure that having a regular sexual companion can bring? Because hiring someone to provide PLEASURE goes against someone else’ morality?
54As unbelievable as it may sound, a number of people have suggested that because prostitution is a short term career, it should remain illegal. Maintaining the current prohibition against prostitution on the grounds that it is a short term career makes as much sense as prohibiting sports for the same reason. After all, men can’t continue to earn a living as professional football or baseball players into their 50s and 60s, so what are they supposed to do when they are too old to play ball? Go on the public dole?Even though I know of some women who continue to work as prostitutes into their 60’s, prostitution usually is a short term profession because many prostitutes use their earnings to finance their college education or work until they can earn a decent living doing what they really want to do, such as being an actress, writer or an artist.
55I did a talkshow once where a police officer insisted that prostitution should not be decriminalized because as prostitutes got older, the amount of money they could earn decreased and this was emotionally devastating to them. Rather than be able to earn $500 an hour, older whores could only earn $100 an hour... therefore it seemed to him that this was a rational justification for taking away the prostitutes’ freedom and putting them behind bars! I can just imagine what the emotional impact is for individuals who earn only minimum wage- or less- and wonder if this cop believed that those poor folks ought to go to jail to protect them from the emotional harm that they must suffer knowing that their services are so under-appreciated? Was the police officer paid $100 an hour? I doubt it! I don’t know about you, but I think most people would consider $100 an hour a fairly decent amount to earn! It certainly isn’t something for which we ought to send people to jail because that’s all they can earn!
56available to do so. And imagine how much money Perhaps at this point you may agree that even though you don’t think much of prostitution, there really are no valid reasons at all why consenting adult prostitution should remain a crime. We have laws to protect children from being forced into prostitution- and sufficient other laws which prohibit all the other unwanted activities which are perceived to be connected to prostitution- laws which could be enforced (instead of ignored) because there would be police resourcesavailable to do so. And imagine how much moneywould be saved if we stopped insisting that policeofficers be the adjudicators of personal moral values?
57How should society respond to these problems? So what should we do about prostitution? If society continues to endorse the current policy which criminalizes consenting adult commercial sex, thousands of young women and girls are truly at risk for serious harm. Women who work together, voluntarily, are treated as severely by the law as those who are trafficking in young girls. Penalties for forcing young girls and women into prostitution are NO more severe than for hiring adult women who choose to engage in commercial sex. Prostitutes cannot file complaints against those who harm them, because they are the outlaws. Police officers are not allowed to make a distinction in enforcement of the law- prostitutes are as guilty as panderers, and anyone who takes money from a prostitute can be threatened with arrest and incarceration, even if the prostitute gives the person money because he or she owes it to them.How should society respond to these problems?Is legalization the answer?Sex worker activists around the world believe that decriminalization, rather than legalization of prostitution, is the right solution.
58Sex workers- part of the solution World AIDS Conference in Geneva Sex workers believe that they should be part of whatever “solution” governments offer, because no one knows more about their needs than they do. Working with health care professionals and law enforcement, sex workers can offer insights into these issues thatSex workers- part of the solution World AIDS Conference in Genevaonly they can know. Health issues, violence perpetrated against them (whether by clients, pimps or police officers), the needs of migrant workers- it is those who are involved in commercial sex who really have an understanding of what the day to day problems are and how these problems need to be addressed. Repealing the prohibition against all consenting ADULT commercial sex is the first step to addressing those problems. Sex workers must be assured that they will not face prosecution if they report abuses done to them. Decriminalization will allow the repeal of the prostitution laws without the enactment of new and special laws which specifically regulate prostitutes.
59It is time to decriminalize all consenting adult prostitution. Prostitution is not going away. There are far too many people willing to provide sexual services for money and too many men who want those services. If we truly want to protect those who engage in sex work, we must repeal laws which prohibit their work.There simply are no compelling arguments to keep consenting adult prostitution a crime, and many, many compelling arguments to repeal the laws. It is time to stop treating adult women like children, and using the law to “protect them for their own good.” Going to jail for engaging in sex for money when one can legally engage in sex with many strangers FOR FREE- is not in anyone’s best interest! The only ones who benefit from these laws are vice cops and criminal attorneys!It is time to decriminalize all consenting adult prostitution.
60More information on the difference between legalization and decriminalization can be found on our website.Thank you.