Last week we highlighted 5 myths about prostitution, the first installment in a 10-myth list compiled by the insightful Exodus Cry podcasters, who have traveled the world to better understand and end modern day slavery.
In this post, we finish exploring the top 10 prostitution myths—how they harm women and the fight to abolish sex trafficking.
6. Prostitution is different than sex trafficking: The effort to legitimize prostitution as a choice and career attempts to distance it from universally-condemned sex trafficking. The reality? Sex trafficking is often how individuals are brought into the system of sexual exploitation, with prostitution the method by which men buy trafficked women and children for sex. This interdependency led Melissa Farley, PhD, to state in the documentary Nefarious, “If you want to stop sex trafficking, you must stop prostitution.”
7. Legalization provides women with safer, healthier conditions: Prostitution, legal and illegal, harms women. Providing condoms and health checks cannot prevent rape, PTSD, disease, or murder, which prostitutes experience at unparalleled rates. Further, it doesn’t address the cause of this oppressive system: violence towards women. A multi-billion dollar industry built on oppression won’t disappear with legalization, and “health” improvements are simply fake fixes. In countries where it has been legalized, they have found that it has actually made conditions far worse as competition and demands increase.
8. If prostitution is made illegal, it will go underground. The criminal nature of prostitution doesn’t change with its location. Prostitution is a dangerous, violent enterprise above-ground, it won’t suddenly become so once illegal. Rather, criminalizing prostitution actually gives authorities a method by which to tackle prostitution and sex trafficking. Prostitution declined—both underground and above-ground—when Norway made it illegal.
9. Illegal prostitution will prevent women from accessing help and services. While complete criminalization can make it more difficult for women to leave prostitution, there’s a middle ground: punishing solicitors of prostitution and helping victims. According to the Nordic or “equality model” of prostitution, women are not criminalized, and instead offered support.
10. Pornography and stripping are not prostitution. Calling pornography and stripping “adult entertainment” or protecting it as “free speech” doesn’t diminish the horrific, increasingly violent culture of the sex industry. It is coerced sexual acts for compensation—the definition of prostitution. Simply adding a camera cannot justify the horrors these women experience, or the sex trafficking origins of these industries.
As these myths proliferate and encourage harmful policies, it’s increasingly important to understand trafficking, empathize with the victims, and speak up on their behalf.
The first step to prevention is education, awareness, and understanding. Greenlight Operation offers age appropriate education and trainings at schools, churches, clubs, events, or other community gatherings. If you would like to schedule a speaking engagement or training event please go to https://www.greenlightoperation.org/schedule-a-training/.
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