Prostitution is often spoken about as if it were the first, actual profession. Something that was formed in ancient societies, perhaps on the streets of Mesopotamia. It is portrayed as a quick and easy exchange of money, the natural interplay between demand and supply. For what seems more natural than to sell what one already has? We are constantly exposed to the image of the so called happy hooker – the woman who independently and confidently has sex in return for money. We question laws that criminalize the act of buying sex, and we chose to ignore the effect of patriarchy. We forget that the victims are in most cases young women and girls who are both exposed to poverty and violence. This has gone so far as to Amnesty International in 2015 being in favor for a global decriminalization of trafficking. We find this very unfortunate, as a decriminalization in reality only simplifies for the men involved sex trade, and worse conditions for those already exposed. For what does reality look like today?
In Sweden, the statistics regarding trafficking are relatively low. An estimated 8% of all men have bought sex – this equals every 12th man. The comparatively low number are though to be due to current legislations in the country. However, the statistics in the rest of Europe are unfortunately higher. In France, the estimated number is every 6th man, and in Germany every 4th. In Spain the numbers are so high as to 33 per cent. This sky high numbers are due to many factors. As previously mentioned, there is a serious misconception of the reality for women involved, and in addition to that, the risk of getting caught is at estimated 0.0001 per cent.
The truth regarding prostitution is, however, that 92 per cent of women involved have fallen victim for sexual assault such as rape, and that 84 per cent have been subjected to physical violence. At the infamous Red Light District in the Netherlands, an estimated 70 to 80 per cent of women have been forced into the business. So when we act towards a legalization of prostitution, who’s situation are we trying to improve? Will the underaged girl forced into trafficking benefit from a decriminalization – something originally created to protect her? It is sometimes important to remind oneself that prostitution is not equal to sex but to a non consensual exercise of power, and more than that violence of a sexual nature. Acting towards decriminalization does not correspond to having a liberal approach to ones body, nor being for the right to decide over your own body. Because sex in exchange for money does not equal sex.