We have to talk about those who buy other people’s bodies

Read the RealStar’s volunteer Cecilia Samuelssons thoughts about sexbuyers. 

In conversations about prostitution we often talk about those selling sex, about the act of selling sex, and sometimes about efforts to deal with prostitution; about the work of the police, and what they see in their work. Most people have their own image of women (and others) in prostitution, and it seems easy for many to explain the existence of prostitution with “they want it” or “it has always existed”.

At the same time, the men who buy sex are rarely, too rarely, talked about. We seldom mention the men who find it appropriate to exploit young women held captive in apartments, forced to have sex with ten, twenty men a day, moved between cities because the men want new women all the time. We seldom talk about the men who use unaccompanied, homeless refugee boys who are desperate for some money. The men who think it’s just a “fun thing to do”, to buy another human being’s body. The men who put their own sexual pleasure and satisfaction above the safety, worth and lives of others. In Sweden their actions are illegal, but it’s still a fact: they do it. And they do it, outside of Sweden’s boarders as well, because they can, because they feel they are allowed to – because they choose to. They have a view of other human beings which makes it possible for them to buy the bodies of others, and to keep a blind eye to what they subject others to. To the violence that is upheld by their choices. These men exist.

The police estimates that nine in ten women in prostitution in Sweden are subjected to organized crime. Those who advocate for a legalization of buying sex should not come here and talk about the “happy whore” as a default image of all those who sell sex and that we must adjust the laws to those who “want it”. The freedom to choose is a freedom few people live with. For those in economic and social exposure, for vulnerable people, for refugees or people who have lost everything, for marginalized people, for ill people, this freedom to choose does not always exist, and it is these people we must protect. It is on their side we must stand. Always. The talk of the ”free choice” being more important than anything else benefits no one but those exploiting and using women and men – who don’t really want it.

To be forced because of socioeconomic vulnerability is not to choose.

To be kidnapped and subjected to trafficking is not to choose.

To be broken down or use sex as self-harm is not to choose.

To be moved around like a good to fill men’s demand of “new bodies” is not to choose.

To be sold by other people online is not to choose.

The only ones with a truly free choice are those who buy other people’s bodies – they can choose not to.
We have to talk more about those making this nightmare possible. Those who make it possible for young women to be forced to meet ten, twenty men buying their bodies every day. Those who make it possible that a woman is shipped between Stockholm, Gothenburg, Copenhagen (and much greater, global distances) to be subjected by new men. Those who make it ”worth it” to steal the lives and bodies of human beings. Those who make these activities inimical to human rights possible. The buyers. The people who see a vulnerable person as someone they can use. The people who think their own pleasure and satisfaction is more important than this other person’s freedom, safety and life. The people who force other’s into slavery. The people who have such an objectifying and dehumanizing view of other people that they can treat them as commodities, as tools to gain satisfaction. How can these men believe it is acceptable that they use their economical privilege to force another person who doesn’t want it to have sex with them? We must ask these questions. We must put focus on the behaviour and crimes of these men. Men must become better at taking a stand against other men, because buying sex isn’t funny, it’s nothing to brag about, it’s a crime, it is to exploit another human being. We must see to it that the legal crime is seen as an unforgivable violation of human worth and everyone’s right to respect. To defend men’s right to commercialize and objectify women’ bodies for their own pleasure is to betray those who do not have a choice, to let the most vulnerable down. We have to protect those exploited and expose those doing the exploiting and talk about them, and never lose them from our sight, to place the responsibility where it belongs. The choice and the responsibility and the blame lie with those buying other people’s bodies – with those who with their demand make the exploitation and violence and vulnerability possible.