Legalizing prostitution is not the answer

Fr. Shay Cullen

There are some deadly aspects of prostitution where women are victims of different forms of bondage; situations where they suffer and are abused but cant escape from. Sex workers are victims of exploitation, coercion and violence. That is the norm and practice of prostitution and it works against sex workers and is a terrible violation of their civil and human rights.

“Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty in a statement. “Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape Amnesty International’s future work on this important issue.”

In so far as protecting and saving women from stigma and violence and discrimination in the prostitution business, yes Salil Shetty is correct we must stop it and free the women from all blame and truly victims, exploited and abused people.

Many are working for those same goals. I have been at it for 43 years and have seen nothing but sex slavery and exploitation by the pimps, bar and brothel operators. So to give a free pass to the buyers of sex, the pimps and procurers and exploiters of women is not right. The AI declaration wants to make legal the sex for sale business as a whole.

According to a report in TIME magazine;  ” The resolution recommends a policy that would decriminalize all aspects of adult, consensual sex work, while still classifying coercion into sex work or having sex with a minor as a major human rights violation. The resolution is intended to protect adult sex workers from stigma and abuse by decriminalizing aspects of sex work including buying sex, pimping and operating a brothel”.

However while prostitution is technically illegal in the Philippines that is only on paper.  It is openly practiced and even encouraged by the local government leaders who issue permits and licenses to the bars and brothels and the criminal aspect of abuse and exploitation is totally ignored.  It is in practice decriminalized.

What have we got as a result of ignoring the woman abuse and not enforcing   the law?  We have one whopping big sex tourist industry all over the country where thousands of young girls are forever made sex-slaves in bars and brothels on street corners and in houses of prostitution. They are doomed to a life of being less than human.

They are controlled, used and abused for the sexual gratification of the rich and well off. They are treated like sex machine for the pimps, brothel operators and their foreign and local customers. The Philippines authorities, especially the church going ones and long silent church leaders, have the reputation of being the white painted sepulchers of society. The policy declaration of Amnesty International will play directly in their hands.

To declare that the whole criminal business of prostitution be decriminalized so as to protect the human rights of the sex workers opens the way for greater exploitation by traffickers, pimps and brothel owners and managers recruiters and sex tourists. The law in Sweden is more balanced, the women are treated with respect and are not charged with any crime but the pimps, recruiters and customers are penalized with violations of the law.

The whole business practice of making women dependent on a pimp or employer who sells them to sex customers is repugnant and is unworthy of the status and dignity of women and as a trade in human persons is intrinsically evil and criminal in nature. The notion of prostitution as a clean orderly legal business where no one is harmed or hurt, where all can be free from debts and threats and make free choices is at odds with reality. Eighty percent perhaps of prostituted women in the world are forced into it or held there by force.

Sex workers are the prisoners of a criminal gangs and sex bar syndicates that are highly organized, they trade women like cattle and are bent on enslaving and controlling as many women as possible in dehumanizing conditions for as long as possible. Declaring that this can be legal is not going to help the sex slaves and protect their human rights. They will be enslaved all the more.

In Europe many countries have already passed laws decriminalizing prostitution and we see now many more mega brothels around Europe with very young girls from the Eastern countries and from Asia working there without passports or the freedom to leave.  Many who escape tell horrifying stories of abuse and enslavement. The rights of sex workers who are EU citizens may be protected but not the girls from outside Europe. The young girls in the sex bars of  the Philippines are frequently found to be underage with fake papers.

Whoever came up with that policy in Amnesty International is not being true to   the great and noble reputation and tradition of AI one of the world’s leading human rights organizations with wise and sensible policies and practices. It has been spot on in all it’s great campaigns its present leaders have gone beyond commonsense and are ideologically convinced and motivated but unaware of the   the reality of the cruel human condition of sex workers in dire circumstances.

We need more action to rescue and give a life of dignity and sustainable employment and education to the women trapped in prostitution not legalize it.