Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Two's company, three's still illegal

Cunst Art on Prostitution

When, last week, our government saw fit to pronounce once again on matters relating to prostitution, I resisted comment. Not because it is a contentious subject nor even because it is hypocritical (are not they themselves "prostituting" themselves in satisfying the lusts of commerce and industry?) but rather that it is an issue that touches on so many other areas that an immediate response is near impossible. Matters of human trafficing, sexual slavery, exploitation of and violence against women, drug dependency and public nuisance invoke one response. Matters of individual freedom, the (particularly women's) right to choose and the profession's historical legacy as an avenue of both sexual education for the uninitiated and as a source of comfort for those who cannot find it elsewhere raise a different response entirely.

In many respects it needs a womens' take (for women are the majority of those involved) to tackle the questions and the link above by Caroline Coon and Amber Marks goes some way to addressing them.

It is often said that prostitution is the world's oldest profession. As such, whatever the official decree of religious and political "overlords", it can hardly be considered illegal. It services basic human needs and has of times even provided a social and economic infrastructure for those who chose to live outside the norm and confines of conventional marriage. Arguments that prostitutes are "exploited" (which of course sometimes they are) are generally counterbalanced in circumstances where the prostitutes themselves admit that they "exploit" their clients. There is no easy absolute. Nor is it confined to women - there are plenty of men who services the needs of both women and other men. Witness the fate of Liberal Democrat contender Mark Oaten last week.

In the 21st century, prostitution is booming. The manic rush of modern society means that more and more people have less and less time to spend away from the endless quest for power, money and consumer trinkets. It is hardly surprising that they seek quick solutions for sex and companionship - they do so for virtually everything else. Government and its corporate paymasters are wholly complicit in this - their own desire for the totalitarianism of social engineering and the clinical manipulation of the population is a boon for anything offered quick escape from the daily grind. There is little difference of purpose between those who seek out prostitutes and those who seek out the tribal companionship of regressive religions or the false reality of the televisual propaganda machine.

In an odd, half-arsed attempt to look accomodating on the inevitable, the government has decreed that two prostitutes and a receptionist can work in premises without being defined as a "brothel". Big deal - no business model could accept such restrictions on expansion. Better they legalised all "brothels" and legislated for health and safety measures instead. So ingrained is the legacy of prostitution that I suspect the majority of people realise it will always be with us. What Preacher Blair and his cronies seek to mobilise is that old "not on my doorstep" mindset of the suburban isolationist voter. It is like trying to swat a fly by stomping on it with heavy boots. Futile - and another waste of public money.

My only real concern is for those who are driven to prostitution unwillingly. The worst case is those women who smuggled into this country on false pretenses and then enslaved in the trade. Then there are those for whom it is the only economy in which they can survive given the absence other work and of anything more than basic subsistance income from the state. On top of this is the final tragedy of those who seek to numb the reality of their fate by using the kind of drugs on which they become ever more dependent - the cost of which forces them lose the majority of an income, which if saved, might just have allowed them to to one day escape their plight. If our government were at all concerned by this, they would be tackling the underlying social issues rather than pursuing the all-too-easy headline news with procrastination and empty doctrine.


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