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Sex for sale, legally
The Economist ^
Posted on 07/14/2003 1:12:06 AM PDT by optik_b
Sex for sale, legally
Jul 11th 2003
From The Economist Global Agenda
Though some governments are still trying to crack down on prostitution, others are realising that it is better to legalise and license it than to suffer the ill effects of driving it underground. New Zealand has just done so; Belgium looks set to be next
An honest Dutch taxpayer at work
THE selling of sex has been widely practised, and roundly condemned, throughout history. The Bible constantly rails against whores and whoremongers, from Genesis through to Revelation, and the book of Leviticus gives the stern injunction: “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.” But these days, many in the world’s more liberal countries doubt if the exchange of sex for money between consenting adults really does threaten the fabric of society, and ask if the state really has any right to stop them doing so. Even some who still disapprove of prostitution wonder, given the authorities’ constant failure to curb it, whether it might be less bad to legalise and license the profession. This would help to get it off the streets, take it out of the hands of organised crime, control the spread of disease and curb sex slavery and underage prostitution.
Such reasons were given by parliamentarians from Belgium’s new Socialist-Liberal coalition when, on Thursday July 10th, they promised a bill to legalise brothels. At the moment, self-employed prostitutes are legal in Belgium but brothels are not. By proposing to legalise and regulate them, the country is following its neighbour, the Netherlands, which did so three years ago. Since Dutch brothel girls are now legitimate workers, they have had to start paying income tax, boosting the government’s coffers. Patsy Sorensen, a Belgian member of the European Parliament, who founded a shelter for prostitutes, reckons her country’s legalisation of brothels could raise more than euro50m ($57m) a year in revenues. The wages of sin is tax, not death, it seems.
Romania’s parliament is already debating similar legislation, while New Zealand passed a law to legalise brothels last month. After years of heated debate, its parliament approved the measure by just one vote. As a result, the illicit “massage parlours” that are said to employ around 7,000 prostitutes will now become legal businesses but, as in other liberalising countries, will have to obey strict health, safety and employment-rights regulations. In neighbouring Australia, the situation is more confused: Sydney has legalised brothels and Tasmania is planning to follow suit; but this month the state government of Western Australia abandoned its plans for liberalisation after concluding they would not pass in the state assembly.
Worried about the rising numbers of foreign prostitutes on the streets, Italy’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, last year raised the possibility of bringing back licensed brothels, which were common in Italy until they were banned in 1958. Some of the country’s recent efforts to repress street prostitution have had absurd consequences: when Milan banned “kerb-crawling” (ie, motorists stopping to pick up prostitutes) in 1998, the prostitutes responded by putting on running shoes and jogging alongside prospective punters’ cars, negotiating their prices. Britain recently brought in tougher laws against street prostitution but many cities and their local police forces have bowed to the inevitable and introduced zones of tolerance, where the authorities turn a blind eye to soliciting. The London-based International Union of Sex Workers, which recently affiliated to the GMB, one of Britain’s largest trade unions, is campaigning for changes in the law, arguing that the prohibition of soliciting increases the risk of violence, forcing prostitutes to rely on pimps for protection.
Though the case for liberalisation seems to be making headway in most liberal democracies, there are still many who oppose, on moral grounds, anything that smacks of official sanctioning of sex for money. Of course, the Catholic church immediately condemned Mr Berlusconi’s talk of liberalisation. And one of the New Zealand parliamentarians who voted against legalisation last month, Nick Smith of the conservative National Party, said: “Sex should not be for sale. Prostitution is nothing more than paid rape.”
Church leaders and other opponents of legalisation point to Sweden—which, despite its reputation for being sexually liberated, tightened its laws against prostitution in 1999, to make it illegal to try to buy sex (though not to sell it). Men caught soliciting prostitutes now face up to six months’ jail. The Swedish government claims its measure has been a success and is urging other countries to follow suit. The Russian parliament is expected soon to debate a proposal to do just that.
Whatever the Swedish government claims, social workers who deal with prostitutes say the law has simply driven the sex trade underground, thereby making it harder to clamp down on trafficking in foreign women, one of the law’s main aims. A survey, after the law changed, by the National Board of Health and Welfare, seemed to contradict the government’s claims of success: most police districts surveyed found either that levels of street prostitution had not changed, or had only fallen temporarily. Nevertheless, the government continues its crusade: earlier this month it wrote to the Greek authorities expressing outrage at their plans to increase the number of licensed brothels in Athens while the city is hosting next year’s Olympics.
Sex has always been a big business, but usually a shady one
Sex has always been a big business, but usually a shady one, dominated by criminal gangs. But in a few liberated places, such as the American state of Nevada, professionally run brothels have made great strides in ensuring their working girls are safe from violence and disease. British television viewers have recently been seeing this for themselves in “Love for Sale”, a BBC documentary series about two Nevadan brothels whose owner is seeking to bring his trade into the mainstream consumer market. In May, Daily Planet, a bordello in the Australian city of Melbourne, was floated on the stockmarket. “Everyone knows sex is a smart investment,” said Heidi Fleiss, a legendary Hollywood madam, who was brought over to publicise the launch. The firm now plans a sexual leisure park in Sydney and branches in America, Brazil and Colombia.
Few cities have gone quite so far as Cape Town in South Africa, which decided in 1999 to publicise its brothels as a tourist attraction. But many parts of the world are taking a more relaxed attitude and either liberalising for the first time or returning to the tradition of allowing a limited number of what the French call maisons closes: officially sanctioned but discreet brothels. Increasingly, governments are realising that paid sex is impossible to eradicate, and that it is better to concentrate on keeping the business clean, safe and inconspicuous.
TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: aids; childsex; culturewar; drugaddicts; hedonists; homosexualagenda; itsjustsex; libertines; modernslavery; prostitution; prostitutionlaws; sex; sexindustry; sexlaws; sexslavery; sexslaves; sextrade; sexworkers; teenageprostitutes; teensex; underageprostitutes
Interesting development. Anyone who has travelled much would notice that the government policies toward prostituion are very different than in the USA.
posted on 07/14/2003 1:12:06 AM PDT
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posted on 07/14/2003 1:13:24 AM PDT
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Sodom and Gomorrah Rediscovered
"Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah --from the LORD out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities --and also the vegetation in the land." Genesis 19:24, 25 NIV)
posted on 07/14/2003 1:51:24 AM PDT
("Nothing recedes like success. ")
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.
posted on 07/14/2003 1:59:38 AM PDT
This is nothing compared with the iniquity that finally brought the fire and brimstone down on their heads (i.e. a municipal homo gang rape).
posted on 07/14/2003 2:24:26 AM PDT
I noticed the keywords obviously written by people with nothing better to do than equate voluntary prostitution with the darker aspects of that industry.
It ain't going away folks, EVER. Has it gone away in thousands of years? No.
It is not slavery. Legalizing it is not 'libertine' unless by libertine you mean that a person's moral choices will not be darkened by the shadow of government intervention in the form of incarceration or fines.
posted on 07/14/2003 2:34:56 AM PDT
Actually, I think a more literal description is "It's not ALWAYS slavery."
Personally I come down on the side of the libertarians on this issue. I think I should be allowed to do what I have the faculty and skills for and I should be allowed to charge for that service if I can find people willing to pay. I don't see any specific reason to prevent women from doing the same. In theory, it all looks fine. Unfortunately in practice, prostitution is one of those things that is often chosen instead of death by starvation or at the hands of a facilitator.
I've spent a great deal of time in southeast asia, and I'm telling you, not one of the girls who engage in this trade would be doing what they are doing if they had any choice. The girls I've seen range in age from their 30's down to as young as 11, and none of them have made what we would call a choice. For them, and many others in the third world, it is a great deal more like slavery than anything else.
I can't really say that I find a 28 year old Dutch girl reprehensible for making a decision about her work that I disagree with. I don't respect her, but I don't think she's responsible for the downfall of western civilization. But when minors are involved (and they too often are) then we should find a way to stop it.
I don't think anyone debates whether or not it is morally wrong. It is. The question is whether we should use the power of the state to prevent it. In the case of women of majority (and men for that matter if they can get someone to pay) I think there are more practical means to deal with the issue than criminalizing it. But for those who push minors into this, I think our legal system lacks a punishment severe enough.
Public execution of the facilitators (slavers) would probably be a good start, but we should consider more severe punishment as well.
posted on 07/14/2003 4:50:17 AM PDT
about CATW library what's new calendar factbook
The Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
About the factbook
Central America and the Caribbean
Category II Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council
In 1993, 40 per cent of the trafficked women assisted in Belgium by an NGO were from Central and Eastern European Countries, most from Poland and Hungary. (STV and Payoke, "Trafficking and Prostitution: The Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe," IOM, May 1995)
In most of the 100 known cases of trafficking, the victims said they knew of at least 2 or 3 other women whose cases were not known. There are 28,000 prostitutes in Belgium, about half come from abroad, mainly Western Europe. There are 2,000 foreign prostitutes in Belgium from developing coutries and the Central and Eastern European Countries. (Belgium police estimates, "Trafficking and Prostitution: The Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe," IOM, May 1995)
Policy and Law
Although trafficking in women to the Netherlands and Belgium has risen, police and immigrant authorities do not consider it a large problem. ("Trafficking and Prostitution: The Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe," IOM, May 1995)
The maximum penalty for alien smuggling in Belgium is one year. The penalty for forcing someone into prostitution is up to ten years. This crime is difficult to prove, and few victims are able or willing to testify. (Tass, 1995, "Trafficking and Prostitution: The Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe," IOM, May 1995)
There are 28,000 prostitutes in Belgium, about half come from abroad, mainly Western Europe. There are 2,000 foreign prostitutes in Belgium from developing coutries and the Central and Eastern European Countries. (Belgium police estimates, "Trafficking and Prostitution: The Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe," IOM, May 1995)
Rue d'Aarschot, in Brussels' red light district has hundreds of women from Eastern Europe, Albania, Thailand and Zaire. (Roland-Pierre Paringaux, "Prostitution Takes a Turn for the West," Le Monde, 24 May 1998)
Official Response and Action
Leaflets warning against sex tourism were handed out in airports in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands in July 1998, officials at the World Tourism Fair taking place in France said. ("Campaign against sex tourism launched at Paris travel trade fair," Agence France Presse, 26 March 1998)
Belgium passed a new extra-territorial sexual abuse law in 1995 that makes it possible to prosecute the alleged offender even without a complaint from the destination country. ("Child sexploitation within the law's reach," The Nation, 2 Jul 1997)
Albanian boys were used in the making of pornography films by a Belgium child pornography network on the island of Corfu. The videos were sold internationally. ("Child porn video," KNegovani@AOL.COM,
7 February 1998)
20,000 people marched through Bruessels on 14 February 1998, to express anger at Belgiums lack of policy reform in the wake of a child molestation case. In April 1997 the Parliment found the deaths of four girls, held and abused by Marc Dutroux, on police blunders and inaction. 250,000 Belgians marched in Brussels on 20 October 1996 in acts of grief and anger over the deaths of the girls and in demand for a better government. (Robert Wielaard, "20,000 Rally Against Belgian Govt," Associated Press, 15 February 1998)
ORGANIZED AND INSTITUTIONALIZED
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND VIOLENCE
A Nigerian women seeking asylum in Belgium for gender-related violence died while gendarmes (police) escorted her during her deportation. The 20-year-old woman was trying to escape a forced marriage to a polygamous 65-year-old man with a history of abusing his other wives. The gendarmes used an approved technique to subdue the woman who had been shouting. The men pressed a small pillow to her mouth. The woman suffered a meningeal hemorrhage and brain death. Her deportation was filmed since she had resisted four earlier attempts to deport her. Her request for asylum was denied as her claims were considered "unfounded." Hundreds of people protested the treatment of the women at a hospital and at the home of the Belgian Interior Minister Louis Tobback, calling for his resignation. (Bert Lauwers, "Anger in Belgium after young Nigerian woman dies," Reuters, 23 September 1998)
Interior Minister Louis Tobback took responsibility for the Nigerian womans death following the storming of the Senate building by anti-government protestors. Tobback said the womans deportation was justified and her case had not met the requirements for political asylum as set forth in the Geneva Convention and under humanitarian grounds. He also stated that only highly qualified gendarmes had been chosen to escort her. The woman, handcuffed and in leg irons, was subdued after she began screaming as other passengers boarded the aircraft. (Leslie Adler, "Belgian minister takes blame in death of refugee," Reuters, 23 September 1998)
Interior Minister Louis Tobback offered his resignation over the death of the Nigerian woman. He admitted that the woman died because of mistakes made by police during her deportation. His resignation came after international outrage, including protests in Paris and a letter of concern signed by 100 worldwide legislators. One of the police officers being investigated in the death previously faced an investigation in similar case. The woman arrived in Belgium in March, 1998; she was then held in a detention center for refugees. ("Belgian minister offers resignation over refugee," Reuters, 24 September 1998)
posted on 07/14/2003 4:58:14 AM PDT
Illegal prostitution only benefits the cops, lawyers, and the pimps who all live off the girls...
posted on 07/14/2003 8:16:56 AM PDT
You could justify removing all laws using that argument.
posted on 07/14/2003 8:20:26 AM PDT
(If You're Not A Part Of The Solution, There's Good Money To Be Made In Prolonging The Problem.)
"You could justify removing all laws using that argument."
posted on 07/14/2003 8:26:43 AM PDT
posted on 07/14/2003 8:38:33 AM PDT
"But these days, many in the world's more liberal countries doubt if the exchange of sex for money between consenting adults really does threaten the fabric of society"
Yeah, who needs marriage and children? </sarcasm>
posted on 07/14/2003 9:33:23 AM PDT
And yet Silicon Valley (Gomorrah) and San Fransicko (Sodom) still stand, untouched by the wrath of "God". Maybe He doesn't care about selfishness and sodomy like He used to?
posted on 07/14/2003 9:38:33 AM PDT
("He who will not reason is a bigot;He who cannot is a fool;He who dares not is a slave." W. Drummond)
"Yeah, who needs marriage and children? </sarcasm> "
I think that many of the person's who see prostitutes are married men with children. They are probably more common than the lonely men who see them.
posted on 07/14/2003 3:18:32 PM PDT
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