“To want to abolish prostitution seems to me as dumb as wanting to abolish rain.”

Today’s Daily Telegraph carries an article entitled “343 French Sign Don’t Touch My Whore Petition”. The petition was prompted by a proposal, due to be debated by the French parliament which, if passed would impose heavy fines on those who pay for sex. Opposition to the proposal is summed up by one signatory of the petition who said

“To want to abolish prostitution seems to me as dumb as wanting to abolish rain.”

French feminists are strong supporters of the proposal to criminalise those who pay for sex and have expressed their outrage at the petition. According to some (but not all feminists) prostitution always constitutes the exploitation of women by men. Men have no right to “purchase” ladies and those who do so ought to be criminalised in order to deter others from exploiting women. This perspective underpins the Swedish Law on Prostitution which imposes a fine and/or imprisonment on those who pay for sex in Sweden. Sex workers are not criminalised on the basis that they are the exploited party and one assumes that proponents of the French legislation wish to criminalise clients rather than sex workers.

Opponents of the Swedish legislation and similar laws contend that consenting adults ought not to be criminalised merely because two or more adults decide to enter into a voluntary arrangement for the provision of sexual services. Prostitution is, according to this view a free choice for many adults who enter into the profession. It may not constitute most women’s first choice of career. It is for all that a choice freely entered into by the majority of adults engaged in the sex industry. Proponents of this view argue that the state should concentrate it’s resources on tackling forced prostitution rather than interfering in the lives of consenting adults.

To supporters of the criminalisation of those who pay for sex there is no such thing as choice in prostitution. People enter prostitution out of desperation (frequently after having suffered sexual abuse as children). Consequently those who pay for sex are perpetuating that abuse and should be fined or imprisoned for exploiting vunnerable individuals.

In my story, The First Time we meet Becky, a young graduate who enters the world of prostitution as a professional escort in order to clear her debts and avoid the threat of homelessness. There is no brutal pimp compelling Becky to enter prostitution so on one level it can be argued that she becomes a sex worker of her own free will. On the other hand the fear of losing the roof over her head acts as a powerful incentive for Becky to become a prostitute so although she is not subject to physical or verbal compulsion Becky is, it might be argued compelled by the dire financial situation in which she finds herself to enter the sex industry. She is, in effect left with Hobsons Choice which is, in reality no choice at all. Against this it can be contended that many people faced with severe financial difficulties do not go down the route taken by Becky. Therefore Becky does, in the final analysis still make a choice, she is not a mere victim of economic circumstance. For the Telegraph’s article please visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10415267/343-French-sign-Dont-Touch-My-Whore-petition.html. For my Amazon author page please visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/K.-Morris/e/B00CEECWHY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

“To want to abolish prostitution seems to me as dumb as wanting to abolish rain.”

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