Poll: Sex Trafficking and the Legitimization of Prostitution

Posted: June 9, 2009 in forced prostitution, human trafficking, sex trafficking

For one viewpoint with some helpful resources, read about the prostitution controversy on Amanda Kloer’s outstanding blog in 5 Major Human Trafficking Controversies.  In Ms. Kloer’s discussion on the controversy of legalizing prostitution, she references an article by Jane Raymond of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) that you may find thought provoking.

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Comments
  1. bigbabykennethng says:

    I don’t think many of you understand that this type of behavior is part of the culture itself.

    • Carl says:

      So let’s say that we are now educated based on your comment. Let’s say we now understand that “this type of behavior is part of the culture itself.” And let’s say we understand what you are referring to by “this type of behavior.” Whether you are referring to prostitution in general, or illegal sex trafficking, it’s a little hard to say from your comment. But let’s say we assume you’re talking about illegal sex trafficking, since that’s the subject of the poll and the blog.

      So what? Ok, so it’s part of the culture to exploit vulnerable adults and children and use them to make money because some people think they can do it without consequences, are you saying that we should turn a blind eye and ignore it?

      Or maybe what you’re really saying is that being a sex tourist is part of the western culture itself, and people who spend their time and money traveling to Cambodia to have sex with imprisoned sex workers who might be less than 15 years old should be allowed to do so and should not be prosecuted for illegal sex tourism and should not have their names and pictures published in newspapers, TV, and the internet?

  2. Black Market says:

    More and more data is coming out that makes it seem like there is a direct link between the two. Look at Nicholas Kristof’s editorial in the NY Times this past weekend. He said that countries that are legalizing prostitution create a market in human trafficking to provide workers.

    • Carl says:

      Thanks for your comment Black Market, and thanks for the mention of the NY Times editorial. If people can provide respectable data that supports or refutes the link, it will help people decide, and then hopefully act.

  3. penston says:

    The answer may depend on what definition for trafficking is used. For example, if we’re using very broad terms which include people who freely choose to become sex workers in the knowledge that they will assume a debt which they must work off, then I think prostitution would increase. If local supply doesn’t adequately cater for demand, then prostitutes would probably be recruited from elsewhere.

    • Carl says:

      Penston… I agree that your definition of trafficking will determine your answer to the poll. I personally tend to use “sex trafficking” in a fairly narrow sense, usually in line with how the applicable national and regional laws would define it. For instance, if I asked the question related to California, where I live, I would ask “Would the legalization of adult and consenting prostitution in California result in an increase in illegal sex trafficking in California as defined by California and U.S. laws?” In California, any prostitution involving minors is included in trafficking definitions. In other words, if you are a pimp for a 16 year old prostitute, you can be prosecuted under sex trafficking laws. By contrast in California, for adults, the definition of sex trafficking requires that there be some sort of coercion, force, or deception involved. If you thought you were freely assuming a debt to pay off and became a prostitute on that basis, but then were not free to come and go, or were paid less than agreed, or you were threatened with violence if you attempt to escape, then it would be considered sex trafficking.

      So how would you answer the question if it were posed that way? If adult consenting prostitution (assuming there is such a thing) is legalized where you live, in your opinion, would that cause an increase in illegal sex trafficking as defined by the local and national laws where you live? Or do you think as a result that illegal sex trafficking would decrease?

      • Carl, I accept the definitions you mentioned – CSEC is automatically trafficking, as is coercion, force, or deception which is used to control prostitutes.

        I live in Japan and prostitution for non-coital sex is legal here. If prostitution were fully legalised, it may make a difference in terms of sex workers maintaining a legal status for their visa or subtract one method of coercion (“if you go to the police, they’ll arrest you”), but I can’t say for sure if the number of prostitutes would increase or decrease.

        A large percentage of the prostitutes in Japan come from other Asian countries and are often kept in place by using debt bondage. Throughout Asia, once the debt has almost been cleared, it’s not unusual for prostitutes to be sold to a new pimp without their consent; thus they assume a new debt which must be repaid. I don’t see this practice changing if prostitution is legalised.

      • Carl says:

        Hi Damian, thanks again for your comments and thoughtful reply. I appreciate your perspective from Japan and welcome your continued contributions. It sounds as if you are well educated on the issues around human trafficking, especially sex trafficking. Have you found any particular books or movies or websites that have been informative on the subject?

      • penston says:

        I started a blog earlier this year which is a record of my research. I wrote it for myself rather than for other people to read, so it may ramble of a bit at times.

        http://freeofguilt.wordpress.com/

        The trigger was chocolate. What can I say?

      • Carl says:

        Thanks for the link to your blog, Damian. I checked it out and saw some good info on different companies and other topics you’ve researched. I added a link on my sidebar to your blog, and I used it as an excuse to review and update all my links. I hope some of the small number of visitors to my blog will check yours out too!

  4. Carl says:

    Thanks for your comment Lexi. I completely agree that the poll is based on opinion, and it’s actually what I intended.

    I’m not trying to capture data to use for any external purpose of convincing someone whether prostitution should or shouldn’t be legalized. Instead, I’m hoping that for each person who reads the poll, especially if they respond, they will decide in their mind whether they currently believe prostitution has any increase / decrease effect on HT. I’m guessing that many people aren’t even conscious of the possibility that there could be a connection. And eventually, I would like the argument around the legalization of prostitution to be largely framed by collateral issues such as effects on HT, women’s health, and drug addiction, rather than on abstract arguments about adult consent. If the legalization of prostitution is decided on those issues, then expert evidence like you suggest will be more influential in the decision.

    My goal is merely to try to raise people’s consciousness of the fact that there is probably a connection. Hopefully they’ll take one small step further and start to get educated and form a more developed opinion.

  5. Lexi says:

    The problem with this poll is that it is based on opinion, when this is something that can be measured to some degree. The information I’ve heard from experts indicates that legalizing prostitution increases sex trafficking

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