Equality Now has a new action aimed at the trafficking and prostitution of women in India. The action is aimed at the passage of legal amendments that would decriminalize prostitution but penalize buyers. Some people support the former, but not the latter, arguing that legalization and regulation of prostitution would increase the use of condoms and lessen the abuse of women. Equality Now argues:
In fact what happens in countries where prostitution has been legalized is that the illegal sex industry has blossomed in parallel and trafficking of women increases to meet the demand for prostitution. It would be more effective to address the HIV/AIDS crisis, as well as the life crises of girls and women ...Making it illegal to buy sex may be the only way to wake up a lot of men, who do not want to “get” that the women they’re buying may be enslaved or abused. In talking to male friends who’ve used prostitutes, some times I’m astounded by their ignorance. I’ve come to think that it’s important for them to ignore facts to avoid feeling guilty.
I’m thinking of the men who told me that the women really liked them, really found them attractive, and really wanted to have sex with them. I ask, “Did she still charge you?” I’m thinking of the men who say they really treated the women well, which means they didn’t physically force them or call them names or fail to pay. It never occurred to these guys that there was any chance these women might have been trafficked from their hometowns or that the women had not freely chosen this work.
I’m also thinking of a friend who attended the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture and Society in Amsterdam. She was eager to check out the women in the Red Light District. She lost her desire when she saw bruises on a woman’s wrists.
A travel site promotes the district, “where women, of all nationalities, parade their wares.” A site on trafficking notes working conditions.
I understand that prostitution is a hotly contested topic among feminists, many of whom consider it no more demeaning than other work. People can debate that in good faith. But if you call me an uptight prude, you’ll just make my friends laugh.