steve simmons photoPeople used to ask me whether or not by reaching out and helping prostituted women – women still in “the life” – I was actually enabling and facilitating them to remain in that life. Fortunately I don’t hear that question any more – but I’m sure it still comes up. No, we need to continue to break through to the person on the inside. The person who is prostituted is not defined by what she (or he!) does no more than we are. True, it is not always easy for someone to leave the life, even if they desperately want to and by meeting them where they are, we can give them a hand up and out of it. We are starting to care more for minors who have been caught in prostitution. That is a step in the right direction.

We can hype and talk about being anti-slavery and anti-sex-trafficking all we want, but we still can’t talk about being anti-prostitution. Human trafficking, particularly sexual exploitation and prostitution are not exactly the same thing but they are inextricably linked.

No matter what the pro-sex work contingent tells you, prostitution is NOT safe and will NEVER be safe. Vice will not be regulated. It will squeeze out of the grip of social and legal parameters to take its own insidious path of destruction.

The links are clear and I’m just going to post a lot of links for you to click, read, and learn. I don’t have to do a lot of writing here.

Recently I re-blogged a post by “Surviving Prostitution”, a powerful perspective on the reality of life for women who sell sex and what we can do about it. It’s well worth your time to read it. In this post, I’ll briefly develop the link between prostitution and trafficking.

Incredible Stat When people think of human trafficking, it is often of the exploitation of virginal tribal girls in SE Asia. This is stereotypical, but there is of course some truth to that. According to the International Labor Organization, the sex industry represents up to 14% of Thailand’s GDP. Two points here: 1) the number of “willing” Thai girls cannot fuel this demand; and 2) the demand that fuels this enormous trade cannot possibly be primarily from foreign men.

Melissa Farley of Prostitution Research has done much to dispel the myth that regulated prostitution actually protects women from being trafficked.

“Men’s demand for trafficked women cannot be distinguished from the demand for prostitution. The same qualities in women that are sought by men who buy sex are also risk factors for trafficking, for example, young age, low price, foreigner or “exotic,” and inability to speak the local language.”

Back Alley (an excerpt from this BBC report)

In the Latvian capital Riga, brothels are illegal, so the sex industry is more discreet with back street brothels and street workers. One British man told me about a “back alley basement place” his group had visited. Like almost all the Brits I met, he did not want to tell me his name or be identified, admitting they were doing things they would not dream of doing at home. But he said they had been shown a group of girls and he thought they were probably trafficked.

“They stood against the wall with a lack of soul, a dead look on their faces, which suggested that they weren’t necessarily there out of their own free will.

“My initial feeling was they had just been brought out of the cupboard and they’ve just been released from the shackles and marched out to then have an hour with someone.”

He told me half the group had seen enough at that point and left. The other half stayed.

Read about the paradigm shift emerging in law enforcement’s approach to prostitution. We have a long way to go in this regard, even in the United States, but it is a start.

PornAnother “P” word. Donna Hughes explains in this “Porn Harms” briefing how pornography is linked to prostitution, which is linked to slavery of women.

The issue of demand and men and the flesh trade is for another post, but if there any doubt that prostitution and slavery are linked you can read this article on the pimp subculture. One can find hundreds of books on Amazon on “pimpology” and “pimphood” Warning: you might want to temporarily adjust the filter controls on your computer and don’t do this search on a computer shared by your children. Let’s stop glorifying pimphood – you can start by watching your language: you do not “pimp your ride”.

When the link between prostitution and human trafficking is more firmly established in our society’s understanding of the issue, then more progress can be made to address the problem of slavery today. When we can put the light into the dark underground of prostitution then we can see it as one of the roots feeding human trafficking. When we can expose these roots, then we can work to effectively chop them to destruction.