As has been pointed out

Maybe. If criminalisation drives prostitution back into the shadows, and leaves workers more exposed to harm than they were, then there might indeed be an argument to find a different battleground for the moral fight, and concentrate instead on minimising the harm suffered by the women who, for whatever reason, are offering sex for money.

The great difficulty, however, is that it leaves the sex industry intact. And in all paid-for sex there is, arguably, an inherently exploitative dimension. Even if there is nominally consent, in most cases, if not all, this will be a choice that women make out of desperation, rather than anything positive. The social and economic circumstances in which a woman sees sex work as the best available option represents, in itself, an environment of coercion. Criminalising not the women involved but their clients – particularly when, as in the French proposal, it is accompanied by a properly funded programme to help sex workers into more secure jobs – may be the least-bad answer, in both moral and practical terms.

We must not criminalise abortion because that would make it more dangerous by driving it into the shadows. We must criminalise prostitution because that won’t make it more dangerous by driving it into the shadows.

30 thoughts on “As has been pointed out”

  1. The Groan has closed comments on this before someone (me!) joined the dots. It is really running scared of its readers now.

    The Groan is always complaining about rape conviction statistics, sometimes saying that 98% of rapes go unpunished.

    This ‘article’ says that a man paying for sex should be criminalised.

    Clearly, all heterosexual sex (indeed, all sex involving penetration) is rape. Therefore, paying for sex should be a crime, and all rape allegations should intermediately be believed.

    The logical conclusion to this line of thinking for this ‘liberal’ newspaper is to make sex illegal, unless exclusively involving women.

    This solves the sex work problem (all blame is clearly on the man, even if only men are involved, an idea which doesn’t occur as a possibility to the Groan writer), rape convictions are easy to achieve (only penetration needs to be proven, so a swab will suffice in most cases) and the pope will declare Angela Dworkin a saint.

  2. Only women can be sex workers then?
    Yet more paying lip service to equality of choice whilst taking away anyone’s right to do what they wish with their own body and skill set.
    The vast majority choose sex work because it offers a secure financial future, they control the hours they work and heaven for fend, might actually enjoy the work!
    What is more secure than working for yourself and making £150 per hour doing work you control and enjoy. Something these new puritans will always refuse to acknowledge.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    JuliaM – “Such as..?”

    Don’t give them ideas:

    The hammer banged reveille on the rail outside camp HQ at five o’clock as always. Time to get up. The ragged noise was muffled by ice two fingers thick on the windows and soon died away. Too cold for the warder to go on hammering.

  4. The Progressive Mind: believing that innate human behaviours can be abolished simply because they decree them to be.

    Their ego and delusion is colossal.

  5. And in all paid-for sex there is, arguably, an inherently exploitative dimension.

    Quite right, although the direction in which the exploitation runs is not always clear.

  6. To my mind making things illegal because they are morally repugnant to us gives rise to even greater evils. I am not suggesting that we decriminalise theft and violence against persons and property but to prohibit those things that only the indignant righteous think we should is dangerously wrong.

    All prohibition does is give opportunity for the nasties in society to make themselves rich whilst at the same time escalate criminal activity often that is brutal and vicious. It does nothing to curb consumption either.

  7. We must not criminalise abortion because that would make it more dangerous by driving it into the shadows. We must criminalise prostitution because that won’t make it more dangerous by driving it into the shadows.

    Indeed, that is remarkably inconsistent. But there are some who would argue that prostitution should be legal to keep it out of the shadows but abortion should be illegal, which is equally inconsistent.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    Antisthenes – “To my mind making things illegal because they are morally repugnant to us gives rise to even greater evils.”

    Damn that Wilberforce!

    “I am not suggesting that we decriminalise theft and violence against persons and property but to prohibit those things that only the indignant rightous think we should is dangerously wrong.”

    So it is a popularity contest? The cool and hip get to ban what they like but the middle aged, middle class Mary Whitehouse types don’t? Some things make people righteously indignant. Rightly so.

    “All prohibition does is give opportunity for the nasties in society to make themselves rich whilst at the same time escalate criminal activity often that is brutal and vicious. It does nothing to curb consumption either.”

    As Wilberforce and Lincoln showed.

    Tim Newman – “But there are some who would argue that prostitution should be legal to keep it out of the shadows but abortion should be illegal, which is equally inconsistent.”

    Well that was probably Saint Thomas of Aquinas’ position. I don’t think it is inconsistent. He thought abortion was murder, or probably did. He thought that banning all prostitution gave rise to even greater evils. It is perfectly consistent from where I stand. It is not as if he approved of either.

  9. I think I read that 83% of prostitutes in France had been ‘trafficked’. That seems like a highly suspect statistic. Or a highly suspect definition of trafficked.

  10. I think I read that 83% of prostitutes in France had been ‘trafficked’.

    I can believe that: it can get really snarled up on the Autoroutes during school holidays, particularly around Paris.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “Said every Guardianista, ever.”

    I don’t think the Guardian often agrees with a Father of the Church. They certainly don’t in this case. In fact they seem to believe the exact opposite. But they probably all agree that gravity exists.

    Whatever their position is, and I am not sure it is inconsistent either, his position is not. The question is whether you accept their fundamental premises.

  12. “Indeed, that is remarkably inconsistent. But there are some who would argue that prostitution should be legal to keep it out of the shadows but abortion should be illegal, which is equally inconsistent.”

    Sorry, but does prostitution per se result in killing a person, or did I miss that part of it somewhere?

  13. This is why the “trafficking” bullshit has been worked for a decade or more by the media on behalf of middle-class marxism. To try and con everyone that all prossies are forced to it –rather than the truth that most are well-paid.

    After doing the groundwork now comes the Swedish model ban on paying. To attack heterosexual men. Which is the real purpose of it.

  14. So Much For Subtlety:- I am not sure what you are saying here. Are you castigating me or praising me. The names you mention I know of course and some of the things they are famous for. How that applies to my comments I do not have the intellectual capacity to fathom. Perhaps I should rethink how I express myself as maybe what I write does not correspond with what I intended. Perhaps I over generalised as I tried to say in as few words as possible what I mean and at the same time achieve a considerable impact.

  15. I think I read that 83% of prostitutes in France had been ‘trafficked’. That seems like a highly suspect statistic. Or a highly suspect definition of trafficked.

    Quell Surprise.

    Quite a lot of the legal prostitutes in places like Holland, Germany, France and Spain are from places like Romania and Bulgaria.

    One aspect is the price differential, a Romanian whore will earn less whoring in Romania than in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, etc.

    Secondly, women going on the game tend to go to where the folks from their home town won’t know she’s a whore. This is especially true of places like Romania which still have a very strong culture of morality and would treat a known whore as a social pariah.

    So our lady just pretends she earns her money in Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam doing something socially and morally acceptable back home.

  16. As the Soldier who was up before the beak in a Yorkshire town for having sex in a shop doorway said: ” You’ll never stop fookin’ in Bradford.”

  17. ‘It is perfectly consistent from where I stand.

    Said every Guardianista, ever.’

    I don’t think that accusation has ever been levelled at SMFS before……..

  18. Freedom of association is one of those fundamental rights the EU bangs on about. But only to be applied selectively.

  19. Tim Newman,

    Almost no-one is exploited. It’s one of the best trades around. You read reviews on Punternet of men with very specific needs who have paid £300 for a punt because the girl does premium services and they’re over the moon about what they got.

    id say 95% of the reviews on that site are positive. I doubt that lawyers, estate agents or package holiday companies can boast those numbers.

  20. Almost no-one is exploited.

    I dunno. I have spent an awful long time propped up against bars in Thailand, and I beg to differ: the men get absolutely fucking shafted 9 times out of 10.

  21. Tim N I have spent an awful long time propped up against bars in Thailand, and I beg to differ: the men get absolutely fucking shafted 9 times out of 10.

    Always difficult to tell the ladyboys apart from the ladies. So I am told.

  22. “And in all paid-for sex there is, arguably, an inherently exploitative dimension. ”

    Yes, women exploiting men’s need for sex.

    When a drug dealer sells crack cocaine we’re told that addicted buyers are the victims, yet when women sell their own cracks to men – whose desires are as strong as any addict’s – suddenly it’s the sellers who are the victims.

    The one good think Helen Clark did as Prime Minister of New Zealand was to get prostitution legalised. And since she may well be the next head of the UN, her fellow leftists will have a struggle getting the UN to adopt Swedish and French-style criminalisation of men.

  23. One of these days someone is going to do a proper quantitive survey of the UK sex industry and we are going to find out just which side has been telling the most porkies. Until then those of us of a liberal and libertarian disposition will just have to deal with the puritanical social justice warriors as best we can.

  24. “Sorry, but does prostitution per se result in killing a person, or did I miss that part of it somewhere?”

    Prostitution generally involves contraception, which is condemned by the same Catholic morality in the same terms, so yes.

    As is Onanism. All together now – “Every sperm is sacred. Every sperm is great. If a sperm is wasted God gets quite irate….”

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