Friday, May 19, 2006

Prostitution: one solution = decriminalisation!

I have been reading various pieces on feminist blogs about prostitution. Blogs usually that I have the utmost respect for but when it comes to debating prostitution their arguments astound me.

How do radical feminists envisage making prostitution go away? I read in their arguments more laws in the aim of criminalising men but this will in turn have a negative impact on the women they are trying to “protect”. There is also a depiction of women who work as prostitutes as “eternal victims” who are one dimensional crack addicts. But what is also missing from this analysis is whether the depiction is true and what of sex workers themselves.

The International Union of Sex Workers campaign for the decriminalisation of all aspects of sex work involving consenting adults.

They believe they have the right to join unions and did so by merging with the GMB London region in 2002. They see sex work as the same as other forms of employment. But is that true?

Under capitalism and patriarchy, sexual relationships like everything else are a commodity. Alexandra Kollontai saw the hypocrisy and the contradictions in capitalism when she wrote that bourgeois society actively encourages prostitution with an exploitative economy while at the same time condemning the woman who enters the profession. Therefore criminalising sex workers only exacerbates their working conditions.

Frankly, socialists and feminists should be fighting to overturn the archaic laws on prostitution and to end the stigmatisation of sex workers instead of creating an image of sex workers as passive victims who need “protection”.

The government’s latest review of the prostitution laws chose to ignore the calls for decriminalisation and self regulation instead they continue to stereotype, criminalise and stigmatise sex workers.

As one sex worker argues, we are all working women who need money and are exploited like millions of women are everyday and that as women we can organise together. So, instead of picketing Spearmint Rhino shouldn’t we be working in solidarity with sex workers and not alienating and isolating them?

Surely sex workers, whether people who have chosen their work in as free a way as any worker chooses their work, or whether as sex slaves, need to be listened to. What is it that they want to fight for? What form of solidarity do they think they need? As Angela Davis maintains, prostitution along with the drug industry should be decriminalised.

Capitalism sucks! It screws us all around. Aren’t we all on our backs?