A Better Way on Prostitution

Julia Beazley, of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, writes on a recent report that analyzes Sweden’s ten-year-old campaign to reduce prostitution by prosecuting pimps and johns. It seems to be a dramatic success, not only in reducing crime and exploitation, but also in encouraging proper attitudes toward both sex and women. At a time when some of our Canadian and American politicians talk about decriminalizing prostitution–and a lunatic fringe defends it as empowering for women–this is refreshing news.

0 Responses to “A Better Way on Prostitution”

  1. Dan

    I’ve been saying this for years: the only sensible and just way to deal with the criminal activity that occurs around prostitution is by going after the johns and the suppliers (not the prostitutes themselves).

    This tends to work better than decriminalizing prostitution because, when that occurs, it makes it more difficult to go after cases of human trafficking and people forced/held in prostitution against their will. Decriminalization serves the interests of ‘high track’ independent sex workers and the interests of pimps and traffickers, but not the interests of ‘low track’ or trafficked women and children.

    Also, to nuance the discussion, engaging in high-track independent sex work can very easily be experienced as empowering. You don’t need to be a member of a lunatic fringe to realize this. The problem is that those who operate within that sphere — and wish to expand their profits — want to impose their experiences and their understanding of empowerment into the low-track or trafficked realms of women, boys and girls whose experiences are radically different.

    Basically, a wealthy, independent, middle-class woman who can rent a hotel room and make $1000 in an hour, before returning to her nice condo, in her nice car, and nice clothes, might very well feel empowered by the suckers who are willing to pay through the nose to have her tie them up so they can masturbate while she kisses another woman (true story). However, a thirteen year old foster kid who is being forced into sex by a pimp who seduced her and then got her addicted to meth is not going to be feel empowered by the old guys who beat her when they fuck her… nor will she feel empowered when her pimp cuts her toes off when she tries to run away (another true story).

  2. Bene D

    Victor Malarek (CBC) wrote a book “The Johns, Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It”

    One of his interviews is on YouTube.

  3. Rob

    Prof Stackhouse (or anyone else),
    Could someone please lay out for me an objective argument for why prostitution is wrong without using the word adultery? In other words, can someone please debunk the “victimless crime” conventional wisdom? I’m talking about cases where the prostitute chooses their profession, and not, of course, when they are sold in to it.
    Certainly I could appeal to a biblical ethic for the sanctity of the marriage bed, but without that appeal is it possible to defend the criminality of prostitution? I’m sure there is, but it’s escaping me at the moment.



  4. Dan

    Malarek’s other book on human trafficking, The Natashas, is also very good.

    Also, I forgot to say this in my prior comment: one of the reasons why we’re not likely to see higher charges for johns is because those who create, maintain, and patrol the law (politicians, judges, cops, etc.) are often johns.

    Not only johns but assailants. I’ve known several underage sex workers who were picked-up by police officers and threatened with charges… or given the option of just giving the cop a blow-job and being released with no charges. That, I think, would be called rape in a court of law… but the point is that most people associated with the law have a vested interest in maintaining the criminal focus upon the sex workers and not on any other party involved.

  5. Meera

    Hey John,

    Interesting post. I fully agree that prosecuting the johns and the pimps needs to be done better. Right now, sentences are so low they’re a joke. However, I also disagree with some of what you said (shocking, I know). I was actually really surprised when you implied you support the criminalization of prostitution.

    I do think that selling sex can empower women because they get money for the power they have over men – which, let’s face it, is a big turn of the tables because often men just take what they want. So in that comparison, there is more power and agency for the woman who can charge for what she does. Obviously there are levels of value – a woman who has never been abused but chooses to sell her body is devaluing herself by taking her body from being priceless to a dollar amount. However, a girl who has had her body used by her family or people around her, is giving herself value by setting a price – she is in essence saying that her body IS worth something, and it can’t just be taken for free.

    Acknowledging that sometimes prostitution can be empowering doesn’t make it right. It’s one gender manipulating another one. If what we are seeking is equality, then prostitution can’t work because sex is vulnerable for both people. The idealist in me can’t condone prostitution because bodies are sacred – doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or not, your first time having sex stands out. Something deep within us knows that sex is different from other interactions. By mere placement of parts, sex involves intimacy. Selling it is selling out.

    Criminalizing prostitution doesn’t recognize the nuance between high-track and low-track. It takes addicts and abuse victims who are trying to survive and further shoves them into the margins. I support decriminalization of prostitution (as we have in Canada) because it allows prostitutes who come off the street to go into safe houses instead of jails. Better we focus our energy going after pimps and johns.

    • Bob

      How can we go after pimps and johns when prostitution is legal? I am familiar with the arguments along the lines that it allows us to better care for the women. And I don’t disagree. But I am not sure that we are left with a platform on which we can stand against the pimps and the johns. How can we prosecute men for buying sex from women when the selling of sex has been decriminalized?


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