Monday, April 10, 2006

The Link Between Prostitution & Sex Trafficking

In an opinion piece posted today on the International Herald Tribune's website, feminist writer and president of Equality Now Jessica Neuwirth asks a crucial, and often ignored question:
Why the reluctance to acknowledge the link between prostitution and sex trafficking?
Within the context of the hotly discussed upcoming World Cup in Germany and the purported increase in demand for sexual services it will bring with it, Neuwirth demands that prostitution, especially legal prostitution, be understood as a verifiable link to sex trafficking if sex trafficking is to be successfully combatted:
Opposition to prostitution is sometimes misconstrued as opposition to sexual rights and freedoms, a perspective warmly embraced and actively promoted by the commercial sex industry.

Misconceived efforts to distinguish the women forced into prostitution from those who consent to their sexual exploitation fail to recognize the spectrum of coercion that draws on the force of poverty as much as the force of violence to bring women into the trade.

Those who consider prostitution to be an expression of sexual rights fail to recognize the distinction between sex and commercial sexual exploitation, positioning the discourse as if one cannot be for sex and at the same time against exploitation.

What about the right of women and girls not to be prostituted - the right to education, employment and real choices they do not currently have?

It is time to shift the focus from those who are prostituted to the traffickers, pimps and johns who comprise the chain of exploitation in the commercial sex industry.

The invisibility of the john is matched only by the invisibility of the harm done to the trafficked and prostituted women he buys.

If 40,000 women will be sold for sex during the World Cup, how many johns will buy them?

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