Friday, February 24, 2006

My manifesto

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(This has been written a long time ago and what I believe now is, that prostitution can never be regulated and that it is better for people not to visit prostitutes altogether.)

I believe I have a very simple solution to stop the problem of human trafficking:

Men (and women) who visit prostitutes should stop visiting victims of human trafficking. When this happens, the human traffickers will not make money anymore, and then there will be no forced prostitution. Supply and demand. When human traffickers don't make money from forcing women into prostitution, there is no financial motivation to continue with what they are doing.

And, clients should be able to know where to go if they don't want to encounter victims of human trafficking. And that can be done by legalising prostitution and making sure that the legal brothels are free of human trafficking. And then the clients should be encouraged to visit legal brothels.

(Well, the problem I had as a client was that I couldn't figure out who the real prostitutes were and who were the victims of human trafficking. You know, prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, but the legal regulated brothels are still polluted by human trafficking, and the brothel owners and the government know about this. I hoped for the existence of 'fair-trade' brothels, but unfortunately........)

I believe the cause why so many prostitutes are or have been a victim of human trafficking is because the demand for prostitutes (from the clients) is high while only a few women want to work in prostitution (in rich countries). That’s why many prostitutes have a relatively high income, because the demand heavily outweighs the supply. But this high income also attracts criminals who want to profit from the exploitation of prostitutes. (Actually, nowadays I believe this is not a sufficient explanation, see my overhaul - part 2, I actually believe that many prostitutes don't make that much money at all. The profits in the sex industry are exaggerated. Probably, only a small percentage of the prostitutes make a lot of money.) These criminals we call pimps. The pimps follow the most easiest road to achieve their goals. They go for the most vulnerable women who they can force or manipulate into prostitution. Often these women are poor, illegal immigrants or have a low self esteem.

Many people believe that when the problem of world poverty is solved and people can migrate freely, there will be no more human trafficking. Obviously I believe poverty should be reduced and that people should be able to migrate freely. But I believe that when the poverty problem is solved and when immigration becomes legal there still will be a lot of human trafficking. That’s because it will still be lucrative for criminals to exploit women in prostitution, because there will always be a shortage of voluntary prostitutes. The human traffickers will simply shift from vulnerable poor and illegal women to other vulnerable women. In the Netherlands for instance the notorious ‘loverboys’ go to the suburbs to recruit Dutch white girls often from middleclass families. These young women usually have a low self esteem. (Nononono, I doubt that now. Actually, it would indeed be a VERY good thing if world poverty was solved and people SHOULD be able to freely migrate. I belief that prostitutes who are forced into prostitution by poverty should be helped out. That would be a good thing.)

I’ve read many books and articles supporting prostitution. What you’ll read is that prostitutes are not necessarily victims and that many prostitutes work for themselves. Women should have the right to do with their body whenever and wherever they like. Many who advocate for prostitution look from the vantage point of the prostitutes themselves. Often they are or have been prostitutes (I especially refer to three books: “Sex Work-writings by women in the sex industry”, “Whores and other feminists”, and “tricks and treats”). Obviously prostitutes want to ply their trade unhindered. They don’t want government interference when they walk the streets or work from their homes.

But they forget one thing. The shocking reality is that many women who work in prostitution are forced into it by a third person in the background. From the vantage point of the client every prostitute he (or she) visits could be a victim of human trafficking. In the case he accidentally visits a victim of human trafficking he violates a person’s physical integrity. In all the pro-prostitution propaganda I’ve read I haven’t seen any sort of empathy with what clients are feeling and how they are thinking. For instance, when a man visits street-prostitutes, he knows there is a big chance he’ll pick a child-prostitute. Especially if he likes young women. Through all those thick layers of makeup, a 15 year old girl could look like a 19 year old woman. And it is also a known fact that many street-pros work for a pimp (that's probably also true for those who work indoors). Essentially these women are slaves. They have no power over their bodies, no sexual self-determination. If you have had sex with one of them, you factually have raped somebody. But yet, you’ll read many arguments in support of street-prostitution: namely that women and should be allowed to work on the streets, and that it’s okay to use the services of street-prostitutes.

But street-prostitution can never be regulated. In theory it should be possible to regulate licensed indoor-prostitution, and to make sure that there’s no human trafficking in the brothels. Then a client could have the guarantee that when he visits a certain brothel, he will not visit a victim of human trafficking. I support the idea of legalizing prostitution. Unfortunately, despite that fact that prostitution in the Netherlands is legal, you see a lot of human trafficking in government-regulated brothels. In fact, the legalisation of prostitution in the Netherlands just means an easy way for the government to expel illegal immigrants, and they haven’t been successful in doing this either!!! I have to admit that currently the situation in the Netherlands is that it doesn't really matter if you visit a legal brothel. The police only checks documents. If the prostitute turns out to be illegal or minor, she will be taken into custody.

Sorry, sorry, I'm victim-blaming now. For the prostitutes who are reading this, no offence. Actually I now (at the moment of writing) believe that it's better for clients if they avoid organized prostitution ALTOGETHER!!! How much freedom do prostitutes have in brothels or in escort-agencies?

I believe customers should be very careful about the prostitutes they visit and that they really should try to avoid forced prostitutes. Well, then you could say: the clients isn’t responsible in the first place, look at all the products you buy in the store, for instance the clothes you are wearing, aren’t these manufactured by Chinese slaves in the garment industry?

I don’t agree with that position. If you say that, you are saying that a woman is just something you can use and throw away. It also means that it's okay to sexually abuse children (many products are made by child laborers in third world countries anyway).

All regulated brothels should be free of human trafficking. All other forms of prostitution outside the legal brothels should be discouraged. But then you might think, what if a woman decides she wants to work on street or in her home. Isn’t that her right to do that? It’s consensual anyway. I don’t agree. Think about selling alcohol. Nobody can just sell alcohol. You need a license. And not without a reason. So even when selling alcohol from one person to another may be consensual, you still need government interference.

Clients must have the duty to do everything possible to prevent he will not visit a victim of human trafficking. He should be encouraged to visit the regulated brothels.

But I’m pessimistic. In reality, many clients are not interested at all in the women they visit. Early 2006 a campaign was launched in the Netherlands to make clients aware about the problem of human trafficking (see www.totaleovergave.nl). They were encouraged to call to a special phone number if they suspected that a particular prostitute they visited was trafficked. Leo de Klein is the chairman of a lobby for Dutch brothel owners. His response to this campaign is very clear: The clients are not interested, the only thing they want is cheap sex, the cheapest way possible.

I’m against the idea of ‘harm-reduction’ in the sense that also child-prostitutes and victims of human trafficking should be allowed to work in legal brothels and on government designated tolerance zones, like so many social workers and human-rights activist want it to be. The idea behind this is that the victims can be more easily accessible to aid workers, else they will move “underground”. I believe this approach is totally counterproductive. This whole idea will provoke men to deliberately abuse the victims. When you say that the victims should be allowed to work in legal brothels, you also signal to the clients that it is okay to have sex with a person who is forced, that is to rape a person.

If all my plans would materialize, human trafficking will disappear. The clients will only visit the real prostitutes, and the human trafficking won’t make money anymore, then human trafficking will stop automatically because the profit motive is gone.

I hope my ideas will give people a different point of view in tackling this horrible phenomenon. Also keep in mind that men who visit prostitutes are human being too who should be held accountable for their acts. Many men visit prostitutes. We are not invisible seedy looking sexual perverts, but normal men. We could be your brothers, fathers, uncles, sons…….(have I forgotten anything?)

Hmmmmm, I have a list of bottlenecks on this page:
About bottlenecks

Well, a person can change of opinion. After thinking long and hard:

Does a brothel-owner have the right to ask a person about his/her private live?

And by the way, aside from human trafficking, are the circumstances for prostitutes in the brothels that good? What is the influence of the brothels owners and escort operators? Do prostitutes have much to say about working hours and which clients they can choose? I'm trying to figure that out. Also THAT is forced prositution.

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2 comments:

Brad said...

From what you're saying, I gather that you're not proposing that "indoor" prostitution (consisting of women who have voluntarily chosen prostitution) be outlawed, but that more be done to discourage the unregulated street prostitution that is more likely to involve women who are there against their will. I agree with this viewpoint, and I hope you are successful in spreading your message.

Donkey said...

W..w..welll....

Actually that's not what I mean. I mean that when legal brothels are garuanteed to be free of human trafficking, the clients will know where to go and then can make a contribution to stopping human trafficking. But such a garuantee is not possible for street-prostitution. But then again, this is only a draft..... I have to tinker on this.