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The need for a change in countries' sex work laws

Scott75

Registered Member
Well, this may well be my most controversial subject yet. Constructive opinions welcome...

Sex work is a very controversial subject. Many people think that the current laws against it are justified. Many others (including myself) feel that the current laws are detrimental to everyone. Some may be aware of the current legal challenge in Canada made by sex workers against the current sex work/prostitution laws. While the prostitution laws were allegedly struck down:
Prostitution laws struck down

The truth of the matter is that nothing has really changed yet, as the judge's decision was appealed and is currently awaiting a new judgement:
Ontario court won't change prostitution laws yet

I also just found this article in the Globe and Mail that agrees with my stance that sex work/prostitution should be decriminalized:
Why the courts must decriminalize prostitution

Here's some excerpts I found to be interesting (on Page 3):
Most countries that have decriminalized sex work did so after deciding that, since it will never disappear, it only makes sense to take a pragmatic leap to tolerant regulation. In the past decade, Australia, New Zealand and Germany have all embraced decriminalization, acknowledging that their own versions of the it's-legal-but-you-can't-do-it game were not working...

Judge Himel concluded that the communication law compels sex workers to operate in dark corners at great risk to their safety; that outlawing brothels forces prostitutes to work in solitude; and that the pimping law precludes them from hiring drivers or bodyguards to enhance their safety, as well as making it legally dicey to live with boyfriends or family members.

The reaction from sex workers was all over the map. Some cherish their anonymity and independence from state scrutiny, red tape and taxation. Legal reform would cost them at least some of that.

But there would be many payoffs. For example, labour protections would allow sex workers to participate in employment insurance and have recourse against brothel owners who force them to work unpaid overtime or unsafely. As in Germany, they might even form unions.

“Right now, some escort services … expect you to be on call 24/7, and you are fined if you miss a call,” says Susan Davis, a Vancouver prostitute-activist. “We have booking girls who work totally on commission, so they will send you anywhere. We really need to be covered by labour law.”

As for the canard that decriminalization will lead to neighbourhoods being overrun with leering prostitutes and unruly johns? As Judge Himel took pains to point out, police have ample charges at their disposal to deter public nuisances.

What's more, many politicians seem unaware that the Internet has profoundly changed the nature of sex work, reducing the need for prostitutes to troll for business in public. Studies have shown that the bulk of them now work in massage parlours or with escort agencies or communicate by phone or online with clients.

Only the most desperate remain on the streets. But there will always be some. “For as long as there is extreme marginalization, poverty, drug addiction and untreated mental health, there is going to be street-level sex work,” Ms. Pacey says.
I also read an interesting research article on the subject of sex work involving 50 sex worker clients, which can be seen here:
http://myweb.dal.ca/mgoodyea/Docume...l sex Sanders Sociology 2008 42(3) 400-17.pdf
**
It brings up various aspects of it. I found that some of its points regarding emotional intimacy, as many people seem to think that emotional intimacy can't be involved in sex work. I understand that some sex workers do indeed like to distance themselves emotionally from their clients and that some clients also want to distance themselves emotionally from the sex workers they frequent, and that some may see this as a good thing, just as some believe that there should be a certain distance between other professionals and their clients, such as doctors, dentists, etc. This being said, the study makes it clear that not everyone feels this way. In its conclusion, it brings up how the current laws are detrimental to society as a whole.

The study was done and is specifically geared for the United Kingdom, but I think that many of the points raised are universal. Here are some excerpts that I thought were particularly interesting:
Page 406:
It has been identified that some men are attracted to the temporal relationship available through commercial sex because of the lack of emotional attachment, the ability to suspend ‘normal’ expectations of the male sex role and the type of relationship that is free from societal norms and rituals (Atchison et al., 1998).
However, regulars were less inclined to be motivated by these features of commercial sex, but instead sought out sex workers with whom they could develop a more in-depth and holistic type of relationship
**
Page 407:
The ‘girlfriend experience’, which usually involves kissing, caressing and other sensual acts (rather than brief sex acts), is sought by many men,
and is met with triumph and congratulations on message boards when a clien reveals he experienced the ‘GFE’. Contrasts were made between the commercial sexual experience where men experience sex workers as emotionally distant during the sex acts, to other experiences of ‘natural’ chemistry and sensual curiosity:
If it’s a situation where it develops quite sexually naturally, then you sort of explore each other’s bodies. But if it’s where for obvious reasons the girl is just doing a job and isn’t sort of connected, it is cold … If you’re not getting much of a response from the girl then you feel bad. (Craig, 38, sales, singles)
Page 414 (Conclusion):
Commerce is but a manifestation of the more general exchanges that occur
within human sexual and intimate relationships. Some systems refuse to endorse sex and commerce as a legitimate relationship that should be facilitated, protected or even acknowledged. Other systems take a serious position on the social role of commercial sex and the ordinary characteristics of the relationships, preferring to provide an avenue where these relationships can be established with minimal harm and destruction. The relationships between sex workers and clients can be nurturing, respectful and mutual. This experience of the commercial relationship can
enhance the quality of life of men who buy sex (see Sanders, 2007b) whilst at the same time provide sex workers with safe customers who will not breach the contract through sexual misconduct, financial exploitation (e.g. not paying), abusive language, or aggressive behaviour. A system that recognizes the emotional consumption that is integral to some forms of commercial sex and the possibilities for emotional mutuality between sex worker and client could be a framework that distils negative images of women as disposable victims and clients as unruly sexual beasts to be controlled. The current climate of criminalizing men who buy sex
(Brooks Gordon, 2005) and the impetus to block a regulated indoor market
(Sanders, 2007a) prevent policy intervening to reinforce the male client role as an accountable active participant who has responsibilities to himself, the sex worker, other sexual partners and a wider responsibility to respect women in all areas of society. Policy designed to manage sex work markets should be informed by evidence that understands the micro-relationships that form commercial sex alongside the fluidity of male and female sexualities.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
Some decriminalization of it actually seems to make it worse for everyone. Countries that allow prostitution to be pretty much uninhibited actually tend to have worse slave trafficking. Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about it.
 

Scott75

Registered Member
Some decriminalization of it actually seems to make it worse for everyone. Countries that allow prostitution to be pretty much uninhibited actually tend to have worse slave trafficking. Personally, I'm not sure how I feel about it.
Where did you get this notion? Everything I've read refutes that notion. Legalizing prostitution means that people don't have to deal in things that are illegal; they can deal with legitimate businesses then instead of the black market. Slave trafficking is definitely illegal everywhere. Well, unless you count countries that have arranged marriages and make it practically impossible to leave said marriages.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
Where did you get this notion? Everything I've read refutes that notion. Legalizing prostitution means that people don't have to deal in things that are illegal; they can deal with legitimate businesses then instead of the black market. Slave trafficking is definitely illegal everywhere. Well, unless you count countries that have arranged marriages and make it practically impossible to leave said marriages.
This paper investigates the impact of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows. According to economic theory, there are two opposing effects of unknown magnitude. The scale effect of legalizing prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking, while the substitution effect reduces demand for trafficked women as legal prostitutes are favored over trafficked ones. Our empirical analysis for a cross-section of up to 150 countries shows that the scale effect dominates the substitution effect. On average, the legalization of prostitution increases human trafficking inflows.

Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking? (from at the Abstract)
 

Scott75

Registered Member
This paper investigates the impact of legalized prostitution on human trafficking inflows. According to economic theory, there are two opposing effects of unknown magnitude. The scale effect of legalizing prostitution leads to an expansion of the prostitution market, increasing human trafficking, while the substitution effect reduces demand for trafficked women as legal prostitutes are favored over trafficked ones. Our empirical analysis for a cross-section of up to 150 countries shows that the scale effect dominates the substitution effect. On average, the legalization of prostitution increases human trafficking inflows.

Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking? (from at the Abstract)
I see. Did you read the conclusion though? Here it is:
The likely negative consequences of legalized prostitution on a country's inflows of human trafficking might be seen to support those who argue in favour of bnning prostitution, thereby reducing the flows of trafficking (e.g., Outshoorn 2005). However, such line of argumentation overlooks potential benefits that the legalization of prostitution might have on those employed in the industry. Working conditions could be substantially improved for prostitutes - at least those legally employed - if prostition is legalized. Prohibiting prostitution also raises tricky "freedom of choice" issues concerning both the potential suppliers and clients of prostitution serves. A full evaluation of the costs and benefits, as well as the broader merits of prohibiting prostitution, is beyond the scope of the present article.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
That's why I said I'm undecided. There are advantages and disadvantages, and it's important for people to be aware of them.
 

Scott75

Registered Member
That's why I said I'm undecided. There are advantages and disadvantages, and it's important for people to be aware of them.
I think the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, but I admit that I don't yet have the documentation to make a really compelling case on this. I found a web page that includes both points of view on the human trafficking angle:
Does legal prostitution lead to human trafficking and slavery?

Here's a few of my favourite arguments on the pro side:

David A. Feingold, PhD, Coordinator of Trafficking-HIV/AIDS Programs, Culture Unit, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bangkok, in the article "Think Again: Human Trafficking" of the Sep.-Oct. 2005 Foreign Policy, wrote:
"The intersection of the highly emotive issues of sex work and human trafficking generates a lot more heat than light. Some antitrafficking activists equate 'prostitution' with trafficking and vice versa, despite evidence to the contrary. The U.S. government leaves no doubt as to where it stands: According to the State Department Web site, 'Where prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery.' By this logic, the state of Nevada should be awash in foreign sex slaves, leading one to wonder what steps the Justice Department is taking to free them. Oddly, the Netherlands, Australia, and Germany--all of whom have legalized prostitution--received top marks from the Bush administration in the most recent Trafficking in Persons Report.

Moreover, some efforts to prohibit prostitution have increased sex workers' risk to the dangers of trafficking, though largely because lawmakers neglected to consult the people the laws were designed to protect. Sweden, for example, is much praised by antiprostitution activists for a 1998 law that aimed to protect sex workers by criminalizing their customers. But several independent studies, including one conducted by the Swedish police, showed that it exposed prostitutes to more dangerous clients and less safe-sex practices."

Sep.-Oct. 2005 - David A. Feingold, PhD
And:
Rita Nakashima Brock, PhD, Founding Co-Director of Faith Voices for the Common Good, is quoted in a Jan. 25, 2004 Sex Workers Outreach Project press release as having said:
"Prohibition gives cover to traffickers. It allows them to use the laws against prostitution to intimidate, especially when it comes to children. Women and girls being held against their will are afraid to go to police because they will be treated as criminals."

Jan. 25, 2004 - Rita Nakashima Brock, PhD
 
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