Anti-prostitution campaigners declare that their aim is to stop exploitation of women, meaning that prostitution IS exploitation of women.
A woman working in building construction in Cambodia earns about $3 per day. The same woman is paid about $20 per two hours with a client as a prostitute, half of which she gives to her pimp because prostitution in Cambodia is illegal and mafia runs it. She keeps $10, which is her three days wages as a building construction worker. Most of her clients are locals who pay her two hour fee with the money that takes for them days of hard labor to earn. The question is, who is being exploited here? Obviously, both, prostitutes and their clients are being exploited. Prostitutes – via extortion, clients – via increased prices. But, anti-prostitution campaigners clearly don't mean this exploitation because it is illegalizing prostitution that makes it possible.
Some feminists argue that prostitution is exploitive because prostitutes do not enjoy sex, which is coerced. But, sex is a form of work in this case. Do we want to outlaw every kind of work where the worker does not enjoy it? Any work can be exploitive or not, depending on how adequate the compensation is. In the case of Cambodian prostitutes, they earn much more than they would in other professions. It is men who are being exploited here, because of their biological need for sex. Outlawing prostitution drives prices up and makes this exploitation even worse.
What exploitation do prostitution opponents mean then, if their efforts only increase exploitation of women, as well as men?
As it is not unusual in sex related matters, this question does not have a rational, worldly answer. However, it has a very simple answer if we remember that our morality has roots in religion. The woman commits a serious sin, sells her priceless soul for very cheap, and this indeed is exploitation. This is why our morality places prostitutes very low, perhaps just above pedophiles.
The irrational hatred of many women towards prostitutes may also have biological, instinctive roots. If it is true that for our prehistoric ancestors sex was a resource that was used to make men support women and their children, then easy women were making life of other women much harder because they were making sex cheap. Even if this is true and this hatred was justified in prehistoric times, is it fair to unleash this hatred on sex workers in our days and make their lives hell using every excuse?
There are a couple of rational reasons why prostitution could be exploitation: health risk and crime risk.
Many people are getting killed or injured at work in countries like Cambodia, especially in high risk environments, such as building construction. Earning money as a prostitute is no riskier than this, from the health point of view, if she practices safe sex.
As for the crime risk, it is a known fact that when prostitution goes underground, the mafia runs it and there is no way for women to report a crime or get any legal protection if they need it. Their chances of practicing safe sex and getting health checked regularly also go down. Professional anti-prostitution campaigners know this, but turn a blind eye on it. They are either religious bigots or playing idiots. Why would they play idiots?
Let's consider the sex market and all the parties involved. As on any market, there is supply and demand. The suppliers are mostly women, the consumers are mostly men. There are different types of suppliers: prostitutes, long term partners, casual sex partners. As on any market, there is competition. Let's figure out who is to gain if the prostitutes are removed from the market.
Casual sex partners would hardly care. Long term partners remain. Of these women, should those that offer to their partners genuine support, friendship, soul mateship, be worried about prostitutes as their competitors? Obviously, no. Because prostitutes don't offer these benefits.
The other group of long term partners, those that don't offer much more than sex – they do have a reason to be worried. Because they are nothing more than just long term prostitutes, and short term prostitutes are their serious competitors.
So, the anti-prostitution campaign is NOT a fight against exploitation of women. Illegalizing prostitution only makes life of these women worse because it makes their life a lot more dangerous and subjects them to mafia racket. This campaign is a fight for the source of income for the mafia and for long term prostitutes' monopoly on the legal sex market and their monopolist exploitation of men. It is time it is recognized and exposed as such.Tags: feminism, human rights, prostitution, religious bigotry, sex, sexual exploitation, women's rights