Friday, July 16, 2010

Column 2


Anonymous has written a comment which I found so well-written that I decided to post it here, so everybody will read it who visits my site. I don't know if she (he?) is the same anonymous as here. Now her comment:
I agree. I do not believe human trafficking to be a myth, however fashionable this view seems to be becoming. Trafficking exists and pimping and coercion exist, but equally migrant (and domestic) sex workers are not essentially and universally victims in themselves. Some are and will suffer horror; some are not.
That all prostitutes are victims by definition, I believe is not correct.

I have not read anything by Jo Doezema, but Laura Agustín’s assertion that trafficking and pimping are so rare as to be of no significance, is wrong.
Agustín writes with a clarity and lucidity rare in this field, and much of what she says is believable and resonant. Her insistence that the sex industry is highly diverse, and that its entrants whether migrant or local bring their own goals and desires rather than simply being passive, is important. Her assertion that some women choose to sell sex and choose to remain in prostitution as the best option open to them, I find persuasive.
It is not an easy choice for most women to enter sex work, but an individual woman might consider it the best option as a solution to her problems. Undoubtedly, more money can be earned selling sex than most jobs open to a migrant, many of which are very low paid and also (but differently) exploitative.

Further, Agustín raises important issues and conflicts of interest in what she terms the “rescue industry”. Some organisations exploit “sex trafficking” and its impact in the media for their own abolitionist ends. This inbuilt distortion has manifested itself in a number of unbalanced reports, and in the claim that sex trafficking is a universal experience for all sex workers.
Counterbalancing these are the academic reports prepared by pro-legalisation activists, which dismiss trafficking and coercion. These reports too are often little more than tools of political lobbying. There is much conflicting evidence…

Agustín seems to see attempts to control prostitution as the repression of individualism. But individualism is a harsh process, with winners and losers. Her “caveat emptor” approach to migration seems hard indeed.

In seeking to dispel the myth of prostitute women as universal victims of circumstance and far worse, she creates her own myth of universality: that of happy, empowered self-actualising individuals who have taken control of their lives and benefited, where pimping is a thing of the past and trafficking unreal and imagined. She seems content to ignore suffering which is incompatible with this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Indeed, in the natural course of human relations women often feel tentative about having sex for the first time with someone, even if they want to do it. It's such an intimate experience that generally most women, at most time, need to feel a sense of trust before they take that step. The practice of prostitution is so contrary to the behaviour I have just described: the mixed feeling of excitement and shyness. It's as if the prostitutes feel that they have lost something which they feel won't come back. Perhaps that's why some continue, even when they could stop. Perhaps that's why the ones who have been abused at home seem to find it easier to begin.
The ones that chose to do this may have had enormous pressures through economic or other reasons, but whether they "choose" to prostitute themselves or not, I feel sure that it's a damaging process.