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6. Prostitution as a systemic Issue
6. Prostitution as a systemic issue
Prostitution as a system
A complex web of interconnected factors supports prostitution as a phenomenon. Some factors e.g. gender or social inequality will almost always be involved and others e.g. racism will feature more prominently according to location and social and cultural circumstances. Racism is evident for example in sex tourism where it ‘plays a vital role in helping the buyer to imagine the prostitutes he uses as Other, as outside, or beyond the rules which protect ‘good’ women and children. Structural powerlessness will also be evident.
The sex industry and globalisation
The sex industry is an international and expanding multibillion-dollar business operation. It can be understood as ‘the collection of legal and illegal businesses and single and multi-party operations that profit from the sexual exploitation of women, children and sometimes men….’.
Sexual exploitation moves freely across locations and national borders in the same circulation patterns as drugs, weapons, finance, information, goods and services, and labour. The globalisation of the world economy has been accompanied by the globalisation of the sex industry. This expansion is supported by the use of sophisticated new communications technologies by pimps and predators.
Foundations for the global sex industry
The transnational sex trade is upheld by many factors. Key foundations are the cultural and societal structures of gendered violence; unequal gender and power relations; economic pull factors.
There is also the increasingly vocal so-called ‘liberal view’ that redefines certain forms of sexual exploitation such as prostitution as work. Proponents of this view seek to legitimate the selling of sexual “services” as commerce and reconstruct the female body as a commodity. (see paper 5 on human rights)
The commercial sex market actively sets out to create new consumption habits. Prostitution and pornography work as part of this eroticised consumption culture with the aim of normalising the use of and demand for commercialised sex through marketing. There is ample evidence around us on a daily basis of the use of sexuality, and in particular female sexuality, as a marketing strategy. The uncomfortable, disturbing reality is that the effect of the sex industry is the increasing normalization of domination, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
The global perspective
It is estimated that the number of human beings working in prostitution all over the world is ten million and growing. This is happening on every continent. The disappearance of traditional social structures and the spread of the market economy have led to an explosion in the figures. Great disparities in income, anarchic economic development and social injustice are all factors in this expansion.
Globalisation has heightened disparities between men and women and between world regions. New regions enter the sex trade as their economic situation wax or wane. Trafficking and the prostitution of women and girls are the fastest growing global businesses after drugs and arms trafficking. (see Ruhama’s forthcoming paper on trafficking)
As Julie O’Connell Davidson describes it,
She points out that so long as we accept this situation, out of indifference or resignation, we all carry a degree of moral culpability for the institution and the damage of prostitution.
Ultimately the struggle to eliminate prostitution must engage with the broader political struggles to rid the world of poverty, racism, homophobia and sexism. Governments need to recognize and acknowledge and do something about the direct relationship between their own social economic, educational and welfare policies and prostitution. Governments must resist calls to legalise prostitution and refuse to collude with the pimping and procuring of women and girls.
At a global level, world financial institutions will have to acknowledge the relationship between the structural readjustment programmes and tourist development policies foisted on poor countries and the growth of prostitution. Taking steps to formulate less destructive ‘developmental policies is more than simply an urgent political priority… it is a moral imperative.
Sources and further reading:
Barry, K,. 1995, The Prostitution of Sexuality: The Global Exploitation of Women,. New York: New York University Press.
Ehrenreich, B, and Russell Hochschild, A, (2003), Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy, London: Granta Books
Jeffreys, S., & Sullivan, M., ‘Legalising Prostitution is not the Answer: The Example of Victoria, Australia’ www.catwinternational.org
Jeffreys, S., (2003) ‘The legalisation of prostitution: a failed social experiment’. Paper given at Swedish Mission side event at the Commission on the Status of Women, United Nations, New York 5/03/03. see www.sisyphe.org
Hughes, D., ‘Pimps and Predators on the Internet:Globalising the Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children’., CATW online resource library, http://action.web.ca/home/catw/readingroom
Hynes, P., & Raymond, J., (2002) ‘Put in Harm’s Way: The Neglected Consequences of Sex Trafficking in the United States’ in Silliman, J., & Bhattacharjee, A., (eds) Policing the National Body: Sex, Race and Criminalisation. Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press
Le Mouvement Du Nid (French NGO) booklet ‘Exploitation’ www.mouvementdunid.org
McGee et al., (2002) SAVI Report: Sexual Abuse and Violence in Ireland. Dublin: Liffey Press
O’Connell Davidson, Julie, ‘Punter Fiction – Stories Clients tell about Their Prostitute Use’, in Minors in the Sex Trade, Marjut Jyrkinen and Leena Karjalainen eds. Report of the European commission STOP project pp.35-46
Raymond, J., ’10 Reasons for not legalising prostitution’ www.prostitutionresearch.com
Seager, Joni. (2003), The Atlas of Women: An Economic, Political and Social Survey (new revised third edition). Brighton: The Women’s Press. at 56-57
 Le Mouvement du Nid booklet ‘Exploitation’
 Julie O’Connell Davidson (STOP Report) p.42
 McGee H. et al (2002) p.227 International research reports that women working in prostitution have a higher incidence of child sexual abuse than women in general -. The most frequent contributory factor identified was child abuse or incest. Financial reasons were a close second. Also see Swedish Government Publication ‘Prostitution and Trafficking in Human Beings’ N5029 www.sweden.gov.se.
 www.prostitutionresearch.com and McGee, H., et al (2002).
 McGee, H., et al (2002), drug addiction is often implicated but it is unclear whether this is a causal factor or whether, in fact, women working in prostitution become addicts because of their lifestyle.
 www.prostitutionresearch.com for statistics
 Barry, K. (1995), p.21
 Hughes, D., CATW online resource library, http://action.web.ca/home/catw/readingroom
 Hynes, P & Raymond, J., (2002)
 Hynes and Raymond (2002) p.197. see www.bayswan.org and www.NSWP.org/nswp for proprostitution positions
 From the Finnish governmental programme for the Prevention of Prostitution & Violence against Women (1998 – 2002)
 Le Mouvement du Nid booklet, Exploitation
 Le Mouvement Du Nid booklet ‘Exploitation’ also Barry, K., (1995) Chapter 4 ‘The Industrialisation of Sex’ p122f.
 O’Connell Davidson, J., (1998) p207f
 O’Connell Davidson, J., (1998) p.189.
 Raymond, J., ’10 Reasons for not legalising prostitution’ www.prostitutionresearch.com, also Jeffreys, S., and Sullivan, M., (www.catwinternational.org) and Jeffreys, S., (2003).
 O’Connell Davidson, J., (1998) p.208
QUE VIVAN LAS PUTAS ! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS ! : D
Great post Maria, sorry I missed it earlier!
we need more hookers thats the answer !!!!!!!
A girls got to do... what a girls got to do. I don't condone it but I understand why it happens. Desparate times lead to desparate measures when it comes to survival. It is what it is and a sign of the times.
Prostitution has been around since the dawn of man, go figure.
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