May 16, 2023
One of the phrases often heard, or debated, at the United Nations is “sex work,” a.k.a. prostitution. What is the impact of normalizing and legalizing prostitution? Is this really just another potential career path for women?
In this week’s Issue Update, Cristina Cevallos shares stories, studies, and background to deepen our understanding of the effort to promote prostitution as simply “sex work.” She leaves us with things each of us can do to combat prostitution and its far-reaching consequences – while truly empowering women. Don’t miss this opportunity to become better informed.
Lastly, a college student who attended the UN with United Families heard the rhetoric of “sex work is a great way for women to support themselves” and found these women had even convinced themselves they were happy with their chosen profession. This student wasn’t fooled. Watch this short video and hear him make the case for the importance of family.
Empowering women and families,
Wendy Wixom, President
United Families International
According to Prestigious International Organizations,
Prostitution Could be Your Next Career Move
By Cristina Cevallos
- A study that analyzed this issue in 150 countries came to the conclusion that legalized prostitution leads to an expansion of the market, increasing human trafficking. When demand exceeds the supply of “willing” people in the sex industry, traffickers start to force people into the market.
- With prostitution, there is no morality, no connection, no intimacy, no valuing of the other person, no expression of love, only immediate physical satisfaction. This produces a distorted view of the human being.
- If paying for sex is normalized, then every child will learn that people and their bodies are commodities to be bought and sold.
- Although it is difficult to confront a sexualized society, it is important for the government to help strengthen families so that they set an example of healthy, respectful, and moral relationships.
What do the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the European Commission, the Ford Foundation and the Gates Foundation have in common? They all fund International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and IPPF publishes a ‘Deliver + Enable Toolkit which includes a paragraph about “different types of relationships,” listing prostitution as ‘commercial sex work.’ It also affirmed that everyone, even kids, have the right to seek pleasure. Children as young as five years old are receiving this information; they will grow up believing that prostitution is normal, when in reality, it is not just another career path.
Prostitution is a form of slavery
To judge whether a job is worthy or not, we must not determine if the wage is fair but also what the person does to obtain it. “Sex work” involves selling oneself to perform everything from erotic dances or massages, to sending sexual content, to having sex with a person for money.
In these acts, there is no morality, no connection, no intimacy, no valuing of the other person, no expression of love, only immediate physical satisfaction. This produces a distorted view of the human being. Unlike animals, human sexuality is not reduced to the satisfaction of an instinct, but is the highest expression of corporal and affective donation. In prostitution, one person buys another to satisfy his or her instincts. Clients dehumanize prostitutes because they see them as sexual objects who must do whatever they please. They nullify their dignity by treating them as a means to an end.
You have the power, you can demand unquestionable obedience. Doesn’t that sound like slavery? Well yes, and many have already realized that. In fact, the European Union has stated that prostitution is a form of slavery incompatible with human dignity and fundamental human rights.
Should the law recognize it as part of the right to work?
There is no right that allows us to treat people as things. On the contrary, prostitution violates the right to physical and moral integrity since the person is reduced to a commodity who has to accept acts of power and violence over his/her body. Prostitution is not about women enjoying rights over their own bodies, it is an expression of men’s control over women’s sexuality.
If the Law is based on human dignity, it cannot promote activities in which people are reduced to objects with no margin of personal intimacy, even when they have voluntarily given their consent. The fact that an action is done freely with consent does not mean that it is right or that it benefits society and should therefore be protected by the Law. Hired killers and drug dealers can also say “nobody forces me, I do it because it makes me a lot of money”, and we are not giving them labor rights.
Nowadays, governments regulate this activity in different ways. In the United States, Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal, but not without detractors. In fact, three victims of this market have sued the state on the grounds of the 13th Amendment’s absolute prohibition of all forms of slavery.
In 1998, Sweden enacted the “Prohibition of the Purchase of Sexual Services Act” and became the first country to criminalize sex buyers, as lawmakers considered prostitution a form of violence and oppression. And while human trafficking declined in this country, it increased in the Netherlands, Australia and Germany, following the legalization of prostitution. In these latter, demand has spread, very few prostitutes have registered for social security and convictions of pimps have dropped.
It is worth noticing that legalizing prostitution means that the government must ensure safe working conditions and access to public benefits for prostitutes (with our taxes). But these goals are very difficult to comply with, starting from the fact that it’s impossible to have “safe sex” in these conditions. For example, in some countries, prostitutes are required to have a health card to prove they are disease-free, but this provision is useless because buyers are never required to do so.
What is behind the normalization of prostitution?
We can identify the following promoters. First, money. The moment you make prostitution open, you are allowing pimps to become businessmen. Second, hookup culture and current ideologies, which share that practicing sexuality without limits is empowerment, that consent is enough and that sex does not always have to derive from an emotional connection. Third, organizations with a liberal and progressive approach such as the United Nations, Open society, Amnesty International and The American Civil Liberties Union. These, and others, issue pronouncements and finance projects in favor of the recognition of “sex workers”.
Fourth, porn industry. Both feed off each other and impair the ability to sustain relationships. Porn presents unrealistic scenes that cause the consumer to distort the value of people. Typically, they must seek out increasingly stimulating and violent content. This makes them more likely to pay for sex in order to imitate what they saw because, while prostitutes can’t say no, their girlfriends might. Also, pornography is used to train sex trafficking victims and some of them are also filmed while “working”. Actually, you can never know if you are actually watching a “worker” or a victim.
Prostitution and sex traffic
When demand exceeds the supply of “willing” people in the sex industry, traffickers start to force people into the market. In reality, it is very difficult to distinguish between women who are forced into prostitution due to coercion from those who truly choose to engage in it freely.
The use of subtle forms of psychological tricks, veiled threats, misleading promises, partial deceptions and signed agreements are tactics that traffickers use to manipulate their victims, maintaining an illusion of freedom.
Let’s take Andrea’s story as an example. While attending school in Massachusetts, she became pregnant at the age of 15 by her first love. Without realizing that his boyfriend was a pimp, she used to accompany him to leave and pick up his cousins and friends from a strip club area. One day he took her to a corner and made her get into a car. It belonged to an undercover cop who told Andrea that if she didn’t perform a sex act on him he would arrest her. Her boyfriend seduced her to continue “helping him” only for “a while”. He said to prove his love by keeping an eye on her when she was in the “work corner”. Andrea stated that the thought of losing his boyfriend was more terrifying than what she was doing to keep him.
There are plenty of stories of sex trafficking survivors like this, and many are written with violence and trauma. Traffickers and buyers routinely beat, rape, starve, confine, torture, psychologically and emotionally abuse the victims (sometimes kids) and force them to engage in degrading sexual acts, for years. When people are turned into objects they become a perfect commodity: the sexual services can be sold again and again.
A study that analyzed this issue in 150 countries came to the conclusion that legalized prostitution leads to an expansion of the market, increasing human trafficking. Likewise, the The U.S. State Department affirmed that legalization makes it more difficult to identify and punish those who are trafficking people. Furthermore, Resolution 1983 adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly requested states to consider criminalizing the purchase of sex as “the most effective tool” to address trafficking.
What can we do?
Governments should not protect a market that has negative effects on society. If we do not want to promote prostitution, we should not facilitate its practice, but rather develop public policies that reduce the actors involved. We must put obstacles to prostitution instead of creating highways that attract more clients and prostitutes. This is being done in France, Norway and Iceland, which impose an awareness course and fines on clients. On the contrary, Spain, which allows hotels to apply for licenses to host prostitution, has become the easiest EU country to practice prostitution.
Understanding the motivations, characteristics, and behaviors of consumers is fundamental too. Although it is difficult to confront a sexualized society, it is important for the government to help strengthen families so that they set an example of healthy, respectful, and moral relationships.
It is also necessary to understand where the victims come from. Most of them deal with poverty, dysfunctional families and have lived in a context of abuse and addictions. We must strive to eliminate the causes that expose people to this situation, rescue those who live in sex slavery and give job opportunities and social reintegration to those who have left the market.
If paying for sex is normalized, then every child will learn that people are commodities to be bought and sold. We need everyone to recognize what they are worth and make others understand that it is a price that no one can pay.
Cristina Cevallos is a Peruvian Law professional. She is passionate about issues related to cultural heritage and the defense of traditional values, especially the sanctity of life and religious freedom. She has been part of different volunteer and entrepreneurship programs internationally and loves doing projects with children, going to the beach, and learning about art history. Her goal is to travel the world helping people to find true happiness.