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Society and lifestyle

Seriously, should sex workers be respected? (Opinion)

31 October 2021, D. Borillo
Seriously, should sex workers be respected? (Opinion)

To put in place a public policy on prostitution, we must first take into account the complexity of the phenomenon. We must therefore stop talking about “The” prostitution but “Of” prostitution. Indeed, traditional prostitution has nothing to do with the exploitation of the prostitution of others. They do not deserve the same treatment.

Prostitution also has a historical depth which must be taken into account otherwise you will fall into “Angelism.” Prostitution is closely linked to male domination and the sexual reification of women. The work of feminists has made it possible to understand the phenomenon of prostitution from a new angle. Until then we approached prostitution as a freedom, since feminist analyzes it under the angle of constraint. In this sense, prostitution and marriage constitute the two patriarchal institutions that limit the spaces in which women can express themselves sexually. Female sexuality is defined through male desire. The whore and the mother are the two paradigmatic figures of this desire.

Forced prostitution is closely linked to human trafficking. It is favored by migratory flows. 15 to 30% of illegal immigrants use the services of traffickers. The United Nations Population Fund UNFPA estimates that each year “four million women and girls are sold to their husbands or to slave traders.” Trafficking in women is one aspect of modern slavery. This gave rise to the first conventions: “The International Arrangement” 1904; “International Convention on the Traffic in White Women” 1910; “Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children” 1921; “Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others” 1949; Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery and Practical Institutions Similar to Slavery of 1956 as well as a series of conventions on forced labor developed by the ILO (International Labor Organization).

Out of 30,000 prostitutes, 70% are foreigners, under the control of the mafias. While we should not deny this reality, we should not fall into the opposite situation of considering all forms of prostitution as synonymous with slavery. Only forced prostitution, closely linked to illegal immigration, should be considered as a form of slavery of a sexual nature among other forms of slavery in areas such as child labor, forced marriage, enslavement for debts in domestic service, catering, clothing or construction or even appalling phenomena such as trafficking in human organs and tissues or the practices of certain sects (sequestration), organized begging. Forced prostitution is only one aspect of contemporary slavery and must be tackled in this context

In the penal code, there is no specific incrimination against slavery. Only pimping is repressed. From this point of view, sexual slavery is better punished than other forms of slavery.

Consent prostitution is not penalized either, but solicitation (even passive) constitutes an obstacle to the exercise of this freedom to dispose of oneself and one's body.

From my point of view, the only way to put an end to the conditions of exploitation in which most prostitution is currently exercised is to civilize it, that is to say to bring it into common law, more precisely, in labor law.

Other activities, also crossed by male domination such as for example domestic work, could effectively come out of the exploitation system when the state recognized it as a profession. The end of the criminalization of soliciting and the recognition of the status of sex workers, women and men, constitute the necessary premises for a just policy on sexualities.
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