Any discussion of economic relationships and the character of society needs to fully consider the reality of prostitution or it remains incomplete. Initially, this can be a fraught undertaking but the honest citizen observing social difficulty with a conscience is obliged to make an effort given the implications of prostitution and human trafficking for women, youth and children within what is a very large, global business.
The essence of prostitution is the purchase of temporary access to the body of another, mostly by a man, for the purposes of penetration and gratification. While such a transaction seems simple enough it is usually accompanied by a societal smokescreen of ignorance, opinion, financial interest and emotionalism such that the reality remains obscure with a subsequently frustrating effect on creating a general perspective, let alone helpful social policy.
With this difficulty in mind we are lucky to have a generation of individuals giving us their efforts and words. Some of their urgency about prostitution is a response to recent legalization efforts in a number of countries. While considered sensible and well-intentioned at first these legalization efforts appear to be resulting in more harm than good. Prostitution seems to become industrialized where it is legalized.
Simple legalization ignores the direct reality of selling one’s body and little accounts for the behaviour of the male buyer. This blog recently came across the work of three women activists that offer a high-level starting point for considering this topic. Their Twitter accounts are a quick way to find and learn from their articles, websites, activism and books. Natashe Falle is in Toronto (see also her site Sex Trade 101). Rachel Moran and Julie Bindel are in Ireland and the UK respectively with Caitlin Roper Australia-based.
Through varied paths these women seem to have arrived at a common appreciation for what needs to come after legalization of the kind seen in New Zealand and Germany as well as other countries.
Here is a recent item from the website of UK magazine The Spectator by Julie Bindel with a podcast and other links.
Over sixty percent of Canada’s reported human trafficking activity takes place in the Greater Toronto Area. This CBC piece describes a recent case in Mississauga. The dull image of a row of motels on Dundas Street, a major artery used daily by a huge number of motor vehicles, gives no indication of the human risk encountered by trafficked women and youth in such places. While most of North America’s sprawl does not have ‘traditional’ red light districts like those of Amsterdam, for example, these communities are still home to sexual exploitation, pimping and prostitution.
Recent attention to the so-called Nordic Model in which the criminalizing of paid sexual activity is transferred to the male buyer has generated enthusiasm and backlash. Canada is considered a Nordic Model country but it would seem there is still plenty of work to do on all of this.