Okay, so, here we are. Decriminalization. That is what I support. Not full out legalization (at this point), and certainly not keeping any form of sex work illegal. This is also probably the one of the things I feel most strongly about, and yep, I will tell you why.
Sex workers who are involved in illegal aspects of the business get treated like utter shit by law enforcement and the court system, and actually fear what will happen to them with law enforcement should they be victimized. They get raped, beaten, robbed, stabbed, sodomized, so on, and because they are involved in an illegal industry, very rarely do they get the justice they deserve…if they even bother to report it out of fear for what they might be charged with. Women workers get told they deserved it (Theft of Services, anyone?), Men workers get told they should have defended themselves or they should just “take it like a man”. Transworkers get told both. A person can take someone to court and get justice if another person kicks their dog these days, but if you sell sex illegally, you get less consideration. After all, the dog wasn’t fucking for money!
So long as certain areas of sex work are illegal, those in those aspects of the sex industry, willingly or not, have very little legal recourse at all. They do not have the same avenues via the law that every other person out there has. And guess what? That pisses me off. When I hear about a worker who got knifed in the face and the police laughed at her? Yeah, that shit makes me real angry. When I hear that she got beat down & robbed some weeks later and did not even bother because she figured she’d just get laughed at and brushed off again? It pisses me right the fuck off.
And just setting aside this absolute attrocity with the legal system for a moment, there are other reasons I fully support decriminalization, and here they are…
If one leaves an illegal aspect of the sex industry and goes to get a straight job, having a prostitution bust on your record makes that a hell of a lot harder. And having to explain why you have no work history or references can also be a real field day.
If one leaves an illegal aspect of the sex industry, or while even still working in it, and attempts to get into an educational institution or job training program, having a prostitution bust on your record makes that a hell of a lot harder.
If one involved in an illegal aspect of the sex industry wishes to rent or buy a place to live, or a car, or get a credit card, well, that can be a real goat rodeo. After all, people will look at you oddly and decline your applications if you write “Hooker” on the line designated “Occupation”.
Being a sex worker of any type comes with a whole lot of social stigma. Being a sex worker who is also considered a low-life criminal by a great section of society comes with even more.
Most sex workers involved in illegal aspects of the industry are generally considered to be unfit parents, and surprise surprise, many of them do have children.
And once again, do I think decrim would solve every problem there is with the business? No. And it does lead to questions of then how then would one regulate the industry? Would all work have to be done in brothels? Would health checks for the workers be required? Would any of these potential requirements actually discourage illegal activity at all? Those are questions I don’t have answers to. I don’t like the idea of all work having to be done in brothels. I don’t like the idea of required health inspections. I don’t know if it would discourage illegal activity…I don’t even think that it would, in the minds of many, give sex workers any sort of “real human” status.
But I do think it would go a long way in forcing law enforcement and the courts to treat sex workers currently involved in illegal aspects of the industry like people with, oh, legal rights and recourses, and that’s a damn sight better than the way things are now.
And because I know someone will bring up trafficking… yes, trafficking is a very real and horrific problem. Germany will be mentioned, and countered with New Zealand (which I think has the right idea). Stats and studies may very well be thrown around. I suspect the Swedish Model might be mentioned (Sweden will probably get it’s own post at some point), and yep, everything will refute or counter everything else.
My theory is really rather simple, actually. If prostitution is fully decriminalized, well, then how much more time, money, and effort could law enforcement then allot for going after traffickers? How much easier will it be for people to help sex workers/prostituted people in the ways that they need? Vice stings on the local stroll or busting brothels does very little to stop traffickers or help sex workers…so which would be far better time and money spent?
Well, you can probably guess where I stand on that one.
Feel free to discuss, of course.
- Sex Work Activism- Three: The Problem with Creating a Monolith by Ren August 22, 2008
- The Sex Workers Rights Thing: An Overview by Ren August 18, 2008
- Sex Work Activism: Topic One, Harm Reduction. by Ren August 19, 2008
- Sex Work and Marriage by Ren July 28, 2009
- They don’t really like you, you know… by Ren August 6, 2009