Prostitution: Violating the Rights of Poor Women

by Shelagh Day, 2008, © Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes

Summary: This paper evaluates the claims made for decriminalization or legalization and measures them against the human rights of women that Canada has underwritten politically and legally. The paper asks: what human rights entitlements do women have? What human rights do poor and racialized women have? Are prostitution, and decriminalization or legalization of prostitution, consistent with these rights? How should we understand the pro-prostitution lobby in light of the human rights of poor women? The paper concludes that decriminalization or legalization of prostitution will not advance the human rights of poor women.

Men Who Buy Sex: Who They Buy and What They Know

by Melissa Farley, Julie Bindel and Jacqueline M. Golding, published 2009 by Eaves, London and Prostitution Research & Education, San Francisco.

Summary: A sample of 103 men in London, England, who used trafficked and non-trafficked women in prostitution were asked about their experiences and awareness of the sex industry. Almost all (96%) bought sex indoors. Many reported that they were aware of pimping, trafficking and other coercive control over those in massage parlour, brothel, and escort prostitution. These men were frequently aware of the vulnerability and risk factors for entry into prostitution including childhood abuse, lack of alternative job choices, coercive control and homelessness. The men listed effective deterrents to buying sex which included time in prison, public exposure and being issued an ASBO. They described their ambivalence about buying sex and their ambivalence about the nature of their relationships with women. Some of the attitudes expressed by the interviewees in this study have been associated with violence against women in other research.

Abolishing Prostitution through Economic, Physical and Political Security for Women

by Lee Lakeman

Summary: In the view of The Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers (CASAC), prostitution is a globalized abuse of women (and a few men) best viewed as a form of violence against women laced with economic exploitation. Prostitution in Canada feeds on women's relative poverty and economic insecurity, and on women's physical and social vulnerability to men, and as well as on men's sense of entitlement. This chapter will explain how current social forces emboldening the global sex industry result from governments' laissez faire economic and social policies. Prostitution within Canada is racialized, simultaneously exploiting and creating a demand for transnational trafficking of women and children from Asia and the global south as well as from the impoverished Aboriginal communities of the north. Prostitution of adult women relies on, exploits and creates, the demand for the sexual exploitation and commercialized rape of children.

Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution and a Legal Response to the Demand for Prostitution

by Janice G. Raymond, published in Journal of Trauma Practice, 2003, vol. 2, pp. 315-332 and in Prostitution, Trafficking and Traumatic Stress, Melissa Farley (Ed.), Binghamton: Haworth Press, 2003.

Summary: This article offers ten arguments for not legalizing prostitution. These arguments apply to all state-sponsored forms of prostitution, including but not limited to full-scale legalization of brothels and pimping, decriminalization of the sex industry, regulating prostitution by laws such as registering or mandating health checks for women in prostitution, or any system in which prostitution is recognized as "sex work" or advocated as an employment choice. This essay reviews the ways in which legitimating prostitution as work makes the harm of prostitution to women invisible, expands the sex industry, and does not empower the women in prostitution.

Prostitution and Trafficking in Women

by Ministry of Industry, Employment and Communications, Government of Sweden, 2004.

Summary: In Sweden, prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem, which is harmful not only to the individual prostituted woman or child, but also to society at large. The Swedish Government has long given priority to combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes. This objective is central to strengthening women's and girl's position in society and an important part of Sweden's goal of achieving equality between women and men, at the national level as well as internationally. Gender equality will remain unattainable as long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.

Address to the People's Tribunal on Commercial Sexual Exploitation

by Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN), March 18-20, 2011, Mohawk Territories (Montreal, QC)

Summary: AWAN was established in 1995 in response to a pressing need for an Aboriginal women's group to provide a much needed voice for Aboriginal women's concerns regarding governance, policy making, women's rights, employment rights, violence against women, Indian Act membership and status, and many other issues affecting Aboriginal women today. It is an all-volunteer, unfunded, independent feminist group of Aboriginal women from many nations that share common experiences as native women, and that share an analysis of prostitution as inherently racist, a tool of colonization, and a form of violence against women. Most recently, it has taken a stand against the total decriminalization and/or legalization of prostitution.

Next Section: Books