A human right’s issue of the highest importance

Read the RealStar’s volunteer Cecilia Samuelssons thoughts about rights and prostitution. 

The issue of buying sex, the situation for people in prostitution and the development in countries such as Germany and The Netherlands since they legalized buying sex is a human right’s issue of highest importance. It is an issue of crimes against human’s rights, of the vulnerability of a large group of people, and of a destructive development which we are all responsible for dealing with. It is an issue of human value, of what it must entail to stand up for equality and the liberation of women, and an issue of what we can allow from and of men as a dominating class with a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

Read about the situation in Germany. Read about the situation in the large brothels, the brothels charging a flat rate and then allowing men to have as much “sex” as they like with as many women as they like. The brothels which offer menus with men’s favourite things to subject women to: unprotected sex, anal sex, gang rapes, sex with heavily pregnant women. Degrading and dangerous acts, which cannot be based in anything but misogyny, objectification and a porn culture which links sexual pleasure with violence and the degradation of women. Read, here and here.

Read about those who are subjected to this, about those who end up here. Read about the poor, traumatized, marginalized women who are the greatest victims of the sex buyers and the sex trade. Read in the first article above about the Nigerian woman that EU:s anti trafficking coordinator Myria Vassiliadou met in London, the woman who was subjected to trafficking and forced to meet up to twenty men per day. Men to which she told of not wanting to be there, of being forced, of being threatened with death if she didn’t do as the traffickers said. What the men replied? That they didn’t care. They had paid for this.

When it comes to the issue of buying sex, prostitution and sex trafficking there exists a deep rift between two opposing sides moving in two opposing directions. On one hand, countries like Ireland adopt the Nordic model, in which buying sex becomes illegal but selling sex legal, to create a greater safety and possibility to get help and support for those selling sex, and to punish those exploiting and using others. On the other hand, countries like Germany and The Netherlands have become paradises for brothels and pimps, where men’s wish to buy sex is prioritized over women’s safety, where politicians claim that men who can’t “get” sex in any other way must have a right to buy it, and where the “freedom of the individual” is represented as the most important thing, despite the fact that this freedom in reality is the freedom of men to buy sex – not the freedom of women to choose what will happen to their bodies. That freedom is not very big for an economically and socially marginalized woman who is forced to see customers in large brothels until she faints or her body shuts off. At the same time as men can post about going on “sex tours” to Asian countries on Facebook, and travel to exploit vulnerable women and children, the sex trafficking increases in Europe – and studies show a strong link between the legalization of buying sex and an increased trafficking. Obviously, only one stigma is eradicated when buying sex becomes legal, and it is the stigma surrounding buying sex. Women in prostitution and women subjected to trafficking are still seen as less, ignored and exploited just as much, if not more.

We have to ask who we should prioritize. Which group should we guarantee rights and protect? In a world where women are forced both directly and indirectly, by pimps and traffickers, by economic and social vulnerability, by previous experiences of abuse and trauma, and where the whole industry is influenced by men’s objectification of women, by men’s wish to exploit, hurt and degrade, and where ideas about men having a right to sexual gratification at the expense of others permeates much of the general view of sex – what should we be working for, if we want to work for the liberation of women, for equality, for a world where all sex is consensual, for a world without power imbalances that are used for the benefit of the dominant group? Can we really afford to deny all the links between buying sex being legal and trafficking, between the social vulnerability of women and prostitution, between the power imbalance of patriarchy and men’s view of sex as something that can be bought? Can we really afford not to view this issue as a human right’s issue of highest importance? Men who buy sex are a threat, and their imagined right to sexual gratification at the expense of others is what makes the exploitation and violence that affect above all women and children to a nightmarish extent possible. We cannot afford not to hold them accountable and raise this as the human right’s issue it is.