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I'll go off on a tangent on the further evolution of legislation on sexual behaviour with self-determination as a principle.

In the olden days, prostitution was criminalised, which mainly meant that prostitutes were criminalised. This was quite perverse considering that most prostitutes ended up as prostitutes against their will, as victims of human trafficking over ever longer distances: this means being kidnapped or tricked by pimps or brothel owners, then raped and then coerced with taken-away papers and money, physical violence, threats of telling the family at home or harming the family at home, or drug addiction.

Going beyond decriminalisation, there is the concept of turning prostitutes into "sex workers", practitioners of just another job paying taxes and falling under regular state control, giving prostitutes legal protections and healthcare. In Germany, a legal reform in this sense was enacted a decade ago. The concept hit some limits in popular  when it came to jobless people and their treatment: can jobless people be recommended for such jobs and penalised for not taking them, and is that worse than when done for any other job?

However, the bigger issue is how this influences the human trafficking part. Which, in much of Europe, goes east to west in the last two decades. (For me this means that is I live in a "source country" for Western Europe and an "export market" for countries further east and south, thus both ends of the trafficking.) My arguments (based on the stories of escaped girls and op-eds by some sociologists I read) that the full legalisation of prostitution does nothing against the trafficking weren't exactly popular in the past, but again:

  • Prostitution exists to serve a demand, a demand for sex any way the 'customer' likes, at 'affordable' prices. That means that sex workers who only do what they are willing to do and what's safe for them and ask for a decent sum won't ever cover the demand.
  • Controllers going into a brothel to ask the girls about their condition won't do anything about the extortion part: the same methods of blackmail and dependency used to keep them 'working' will also work to get them to lie to the controllers.
  • With the above, for pimps and brothel owners, fully legalised prostitution means that they can expand unbothered and take even more off the girls while the state finances their healthcare costs: in effect, a subsidy.

Over a week ago Spiegel had an article bolstering all of these points (was in the Newsroom):

Human Trafficking Persists Despite Legality of Prostitution in Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE

When Germany legalized prostitution just over a decade ago, politicians hoped that it would create better conditions and more autonomy for sex workers. It hasn't worked out that way, though. Exploitation and human trafficking remain significant problems.

...The police can do little for women like Alina. The pimps were prepared for raids, says Alina, and they used to boast that they knew police officers. "They knew when a raid was about to happen," says Alina, which is why she never dared to confide in a police officer.

The pimps told the girls exactly what to tell the police. They should say that they were surfing the web back home in Bulgaria or Romania and discovered that it was possible to make good money by working in a German brothel. Then, they had simply bought themselves a bus ticket and turned up at the club one day, entirely on their own.

Web of Lies

It seems likely that every law enforcement officer who works in a red-light environment hears this same web of lies over and over again. The purpose of the fiction is to cover up all indications of human trafficking, in which women are brought to Germany and exploited there. It becomes a statement that transforms women like Alina into autonomous prostitutes, businesswomen who have chosen their profession freely and to whom Germany now wishes to offer good working conditions in the sex sector of the service industry.

Another concept has been attempted in Sweden: decriminalising prostitutes but criminalising their clients. For me bizarrely, this method has been blamed for human trafficking by proponents of full legalisation, as if it didn't happen elsewhere. But the method may be failing for other reasons: lack of application.

No jail time for Sweden's sex buyers: report - The Local

Despite Sweden's much-debated and soon 15-year-old law that bans buying sex, rather than selling it, the statute has not resulted in any convicted sex buyers spending time behind bars.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 12:31:00 PM EST

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