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sex trafficking
August 3, 2006 11:06 AM   Subscribe

The demand side of sex trafficking In international policy circles, it is increasingly common to hear talk of the need to address “the demand-side of trafficking”, and a number of research studies on this phenomenon have recently been commissioned. Though the idea that “sex trafficking” is stimulated by the demand for commercial sexual services has a certain commonsense appeal, this paper argues that questions about the relationship between exploitative and abusive labour practices in the sex sector and the demand for commercial sexual services are rather more complicated than is allowed in dominant anti-trafficking discourse.
posted by halekon (30 comments total)

 
So, we should go after Rush Limbaugh?

“...or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs....”
Y’know, I’m into some kinky stuff, but the removal of organs, um...

“But to insist, as many liberal and libertarian thinkers do, that we should therefore draw a sharp policy distinction between forced and child prostitution on the one hand, and voluntary prostitution by adults on the other, outlawing the former and regulating or tolerating the latter, does not entirely resolve this problem, for the precise point between these two extremes at which prostitution becomes a "free choice" is not easily identified.”

Interesting statement given the ultimate conclusion. I don’t know that a worldwide age for sex has to be sex, but one could easily see the difference in a guy going to the Bunny ranch in Nevada and getting a 30 year old prostitute and a guy going to Thailand and getting a 12 year old. But I do agree with the conclusion, tackling poverty and migration issues would be closer to the head of the line than consumer demand. Not that it wouldn’t be ok to give the sex tourist types a little grief....or a lot of grief.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:35 AM on August 3, 2006


Typical western response to the actual ones doing the demanding, is to fill up prisons with them, and pay for their cost of living in these prisons with tax money.

What I am saying is that there would be less demand for actual trafficking, if the ones supplying the demand (haha) could locally, and legally, get their jollies.

This assumes that the majority of the demand is not for extremely exotic services... and I don't think it is. There will always be some people that want something beyond what even a reasonable country can allow and regulate. (you can call this the "Michael Jackson" factor)

The only sure thing is that with a 100% abolishonist standpoint (like most of the US), everyone gets the shaft.

A little regulation can be good sometimes.
posted by LoopSouth at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2006


Swedish Ombudsman for gender equality

whatta sentence.
posted by jonmc at 11:44 AM on August 3, 2006


Easiest way to improve the lives of sex workers is unionization. Prostitution is a service industry like any other, and unionization demonstrably improves wages and benefits in service industries.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:47 AM on August 3, 2006


unionization demonstrably improves wages and benefits in service industries.

I've heard that unionized maintenance workers get paid little bonuses to mop up puke in Vegas.

I'd speculate further on how this model could be used in this particular industry but I'm at work right now.
posted by jason's_planet at 11:51 AM on August 3, 2006


the precise point between these two extremes at which prostitution becomes a "free choice" is not easily identified.

That's true of any job though, isn't it? The difference is these anti-prostitution people somehow view sex as special and magical and to be protected, somehow intrinsically different from any other physical activity.

It's classical Puritanism wrapped up in modern feminism.

Slavery is bad no matter what it is you have the person doing, and can best be fixed by removing the extreme economic disparity that causes it. Forced sexual slavery of native-born Americans is very rare, and in the cases it does exist it comes from the very lowest levels of the economic ladder. I doubt you would find something similar in a nation like the Netherlands or France with a coherent social welfare system

Society is wealthy enough now to provide everyone with the basic necessities of life. If people never have to worry about losing those things, they'll never do things they find personally reprehensible.

That's what we need to focus on. Removing the need for people to do things that they personally find reprehensible in order to survive, rather then moralizing for everyone in the world and projecting your personal disgust onto everyone else.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 AM on August 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


Easiest way to improve the lives of sex workers is unionization.

Carnal Engineers Local 69?
posted by jonmc at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2006


Every demands unionization for sex workers at the non-unionized lefty newspaper I work for.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:01 PM on August 3, 2006


So, we should go after Rush Limbaugh?

I think it's worthy of a little investigation.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2006


United Association of Pipe-Fitters
posted by Bearman at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2006


delmoi, in the US people often get into the sex trades to pay for drug habits. How does this fit in with your economic model?

I think legalization and regulation are key. Even if we set aside child molestation trafficking (I'm not going to call it sex, I think that implies consent by both parties), there are public health issues that need to be monitored and regulated.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:15 PM on August 3, 2006


Every demands unionization for sex workers at the non-unionized lefty newspaper I work for.

I see a couple possible sentences in there, but as it stands I'm not sure exactly what you're saying.
posted by GuyZero at 12:16 PM on August 3, 2006


the precise point [...] at which prostitution becomes a "free choice" is not easily identified. Whether we are talking about sex work or any other form of labour, the line between coercion and consent is not and never has been clear-cut. In the absence of alternative opportunities, or where the inducements are great enough, people can and do volunteer to enter contracts that may harm them or that they would not otherwise choose to enter. - the article

Yes. When impoverished, I may be more inclined to agree to sell sex than I would otherwise. But there's still people that are voluntarily involved in some segment of the industry even when they are well off and have other options. So it's not like all of sex workers are forced there by circumstance, either.

in the US people often get into the sex trades to pay for drug habits. How does this fit in with your economic model?
- BrotherCaine

I think that's a bit of a chicken/egg question.
posted by raedyn at 12:25 PM on August 3, 2006


Even if legalized and regulated, the 'off-the-books' market will thrive.
posted by mischief at 1:10 PM on August 3, 2006




Hey, yah! Reduce the demand for sex...why didn't I think of that?

In international policy circles

In international policy circle jerks.
posted by telstar at 2:25 PM on August 3, 2006


So there will be research and studies on how to reduce the demand for sex? I'll be waiting for some interesting, erm... proposals.
posted by longsleeves at 2:25 PM on August 3, 2006


Well, when I was selling it on Santa Monica Blvd at least I didn't have to wear brown polyester and spend all day soaking up airborne vegetable oil mixed with beef tallow.

And I didn't have to smile and say "Have a nice day."

(okay, it was only that one night and I ended up giving it away for a meal at the French Marketplace and a pack of Benson and Hedges Menthol Ultra-Light 100's, but the point stands.)

I agree with Delmoi.

What makes sex-work ("consenting" adults, not kids, not "sex-slaves") more demeaning, physically dangerous, soul-killing, immoral, bad for society (what about the children?!) or abusive than the vast majority of soul-killing, awful jobs out there?

Why is having sex for a living SO HORRIBLE?

And those arguments about drug abuse are ridiculous.
Name a single profession that hasn't been used to support a drug habit.

It's about coercion, but everone who works at a job that forces them to leave their humanity at home is being coerced.
I'm pretty sure capitalism would collapse if it weren't for coercion.
posted by mer2113 at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2006


And those arguments about drug abuse are ridiculous.
Name a single profession that hasn't been used to support a drug habit.


Excellent point. I wonder what portion of funds earned by sitting in "intenational policy circles" are used to buy drugs?
posted by telstar at 2:56 PM on August 3, 2006


"Name a single profession that hasn't been used to support a drug habit."

Hell, name a profession that hasn't driven someone to a drug habit, even as "benign" as caffeine, nicotine or alcohol.


posted by mischief at 3:19 PM on August 3, 2006


sex is legal. selling is legal. selling sex should be legal.
posted by shmegegge at 3:25 PM on August 3, 2006


Legalize the Oldest Profession?
posted by telstar at 3:42 PM on August 3, 2006


Mischief: You know what's funny? (I'll tell you)

First time I looked at that pic, I laughed alot because I thought it was the p.o.v. of a teacher watching one of the kids.

Kid: Th, the ca...cat in the ha...

Teacher: Fuck this, I'll be a stripper.
posted by mer2113 at 4:33 PM on August 3, 2006


delmoi, in the US people often get into the sex trades to pay for drug habits. How does this fit in with your economic model?

Well, if they had the money for drugs, they wouldn't need to become prostitutes. How is that not economic?
posted by delmoi at 5:31 PM on August 3, 2006


Sorry delmoi, I can't support the idea of public funding of people's drug habits to limit prostitution. I think the cure would be worse than the disease at that point.

I fully support a Nevada style regulated legal prostitution system.

I'm not sure I want to see people forced into prostitution by the threat of being cut from the welfare rolls, as may happen in Germany.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:39 PM on August 3, 2006


mer2113, having sex for a living in a situation where the prostitute can have some control over the situation may not have to be so horrible. Although I suspect it frequently is.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:41 PM on August 3, 2006


Thanks for this, it was an interesting paper. The rhetoric used in anti-trafficking NGOs is often overblown - eg figures on the number of women trafficked into the UK for prostitution are often stated as fact in press releases when the truth is, by the nature of trafficking, nobody has a clue. Yes, they're probably big numbers, but I wonder if they are as large as all that. Similarly all the trafficking scare stories in the wake of the tsunami, which turned out to be not much at all. None of which is to demean the importance of the issue or the horrific experience those trafficked go through, simply to say that the position of many in the lobby group is not as fact-based as they would like us to believe.
posted by greycap at 11:01 PM on August 3, 2006


I love some of the dry, over-educated and over analyzed descriptions of why there is a demand side for sex.

"Socialized to want sex", "Not born wanting sex/lapdances anymore then born wanting Coke (softdrink)."

Human males are born wanting sex, and are not hardwired for monogamy. All humans are born hardwired to want sugar due to evolutionary drives. demand for sex and sexual services do indeed pre-date advertising.

"Legal prostitution", yeah I guess that's ok if it keep people from getting hurt or abused or what have you.

"Total abolition" via criminalization and"education?" What the hell planet do those folks live on? Have they not seen the resounding success of our "War on Drugs?"
posted by BeerGrin at 5:43 AM on August 4, 2006


So there will be research and studies on how to reduce the demand for sex? I'll be waiting for some interesting, erm... proposals.

I think universal castration might be a good start.

Of course, we'd need to carefully collect some semen before this, but I'm sure we have plenty of cold storage available.

Just think of the reduction in rapes! I think we can all agree that reduction of rape is a good thing, yes?
posted by beth at 6:57 AM on August 4, 2006


halekon ... is your nick in re: to Kandahari halekon?
posted by Azaadistani at 1:28 PM on August 4, 2006


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