Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Legalization of Prostitution is not Acceptable Policy

Legalization of Prostitution is not Acceptable Policy
Tomislav Domes
06 December 2005

Last Thursday, December 1, the ROSA centre for victims of war and Zenska Soba association held a seminar on the topic “Women Trafficking and Prostitution – Who is Responsible?” The seminar had the goal to promote political debate on causes of prostitution and trafficking of women for the purpose of sexual exploitation, especially in the context of the coming public debate on the legalization of prostitution in Croatia.

Prominent European experts and activists participated in the seminar and attempted to present diverse arguments against the legalization of prostitution, as well as the manner in which this issue, and the problem of women trafficking, is regulated in a number of European countries.

Colette de Troy, Coordinator of the Action Centre of Policies against Gender Violence with the European Women Lobby (EWL) from Brussels, briefly presented three basic models for regulation of prostitution in European countries.

The first model is full legalization, existing in Germany and the Netherlands, where prostitution is established as legitimate profession. At the other end of the spectrum is full prohibition of prostitution, for instance, in Sweden. Somewhere in between we have the abolitionist model (France), which prohibits organization of prostitution as a commercial (for-profit) activity, while the prostitution per se is not prohibited. To be able to understand why legalization is not acceptable as a policy, we should view prostitution together with the problem of trafficking in women.

The chief cause of women trafficking, according to de Troy, is not poverty of lack of resources (although these are definitely favourable circumstances) but the very existence of a market created by the sexual industry, including both prostitution and pornography. It has been demonstrated that the legalization of prostitution, as a general rule, leads to rise in organized crime, trafficking in human beings, even, in a number of cases, a rise in the illegal prostitution. Therefore, a policy that fights trafficking in human beings and approves of prostitution at the same time can't be judged as rational.

Nonetheless, the unacceptability of legalization of prostitution is deeply rooted. Namely, the prostitution is not and cannot be a profession. The prostitution is exploitation and violence over women.

Lilian Halls, member of the European Feminist Initiative for a Different Europe from Paris, pointed out at the chief contradictions of the abolitionist policies, existing in France. There, the state instituted the obligation to report in the income generated through prostitution, which is then taxed at a flat rate. However, since prostitution can’t be registered as a profession, the income is reported under the title of "non-commercial activities”.

“Such unclear labelling”, says Halls, “demonstrates the hypocrisy of the state which wouldn’t openly admit that it makes money from the prostitution. Furthermore, the fact that the non-commercial activities income is taxes at a flat rate creates the paradox that it makes it more difficult to leave the world of prostitution, having in mind that women have to prove themselves that they are not involved in prostitution anymore.

Boriana Jönnson, member of Stockholm-based Kvinna til Kvinna, presented the Swedish model of regulation of prostitution. Sweden introduced a total ban on prostitution in 1999.

“The ban”, believes Jönnson, “demonstrates the ethical and political attitude of the state towards prostitution and gender equality in general. From the viewpoint of human rights, there can’t be such a relationship in which a man would purchase and own the body of a woman as a commodity. No civilized society, regardless of the possible fiscal or other benefits, should not allow for that. Furthermore, prostitution is treated in Sweden as a crime of violence and sexual exploitation in which the women are the victims. Therefore, the penal policy is directed primarily at the clients and the women involved in prostitution.

Nermina Komaric, from Zenska Soba, briefly presented the proposed changes in the Criminal Code which demand, in opposition to the ideas for legalization, that a new offence of procurement of sexual services is introduced, as well as abolition of penalties for women involved in prostitution.

The Seminar is a part of the wider project "Promotion of Preventive Measures for Fight against Trafficking of Human Being for Purpose of Sexual Exploitation”, which is implemented in 13 countries and unites a number of women NGOs. The project is designed and coordinated by the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women (CATW) and the European Women Lobby.


Blogger david said...

I am a college student doing a research paper on legalizing prostitution. My current view is as follows but I would love for you to contact me with sources or opinions that agree or disagree with my position. Please email me at cooldwh@aol.com (sorry for the silly email address).
Legalization of prostitution would secure the rights, legally, of all of those in this business. Through medical regulation the safety of both the these workers as well as those who use their services will be insured not to mention the safety for both parties from the current facilitators of these services, or “pimps.” I also feel that the government would stand to make a lot of money through regulation of this business as it is, as of now, illegal and therefore isn’t taxed. I would however agree that the creation of so-called “red light districts” could be a good compromise between complete legalization and the current situation.

7:28 PM  

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