19 August, 2009

Sad day for women around the world...

So it's time to talk about two of my favorite topics - sex and the Congo. But where to begin?

Back in November there was a measure on the ballot that would have legalized prostitution in San Francisco. No joke. Proponents of the bill (people I would say manage or frequent brothels) said the measure, by legitimizing prostitution, would help the women being sold to organize into unions, demand health care, and better working conditions! They toted that old BS line about prostitution being nothing more than sex between two consenting adults. For the sake of time I won't go into all the reasons that is a load of bollocks! But it doesn't pass the laughing test once you pull your head of out your ignorance long enough to reasonably think about it.

The measure was defeated (thankfully!).

So, with that in mind, let us consider one country where prostitution has been legalized: Australia. And as Amanda at Change.org points out in her opening paragraph - things have been less than what was hoped for.

Ten years ago, Australia made a risky policy move it thought would help protect women and children: it legalized prostitution. Today, only 10% of the prostitution industry operates in Australia's legal brothels. The other 90% takes place in underground, illegal sex markets thick with forced prostitution and human trafficking victims. (1)

So all that ranting about how legalizing prostitution helping to end trafficking: Not true. All legalizing it does is making it harder to get people out of it. If you are in a brothel and only 10% of the women want to be there - how are you going to identify those 10%? Because the look happy? The sex trade is built on the lie of fulfilling a man's fantasies, she is going to look like she wants it even if just wants to punch the buyer in the nose. Are you going to ask? Most trafficking victims, depending on the age they started being abused, don't realize they have a choice. They don't realize it's not their fault they're being raped repeatedly every night. And if the man who beats you, has raped you and instills fear in you is standing behind the person asking the question are you really going to give an honest answer?

Back to the article, I love the first line:

...The hope was that women with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for commercial sex would set up their own businesses, and make everything safe, legal, and regulated. That hasn't happened.

What has happened, instead, is entrepreneurial pimps have lured and trafficked Asian women to Australia and set up illegal brothels with lower prices. Trafficking is "booming" in Queensland, and there are few laws to help protect women who are lured or coerced into prostitution against their will. And as legal brothels try and compete with the trafficking boom, they cut costs, which often involves cutting freedom and benefits for women. Even in the legal, liscenced brothels of Queensland, women have reported being coerced into working under unfair conditions or against their will. (1)

I'm sorry but you will never ever get me to believe that a grown, educated, free from abuse woman will sit down and say, "I know what I want to do - sell myself to 10+ men a night to be used and discarded like tissue paper. And, hey, I have four friends we can go into it together! Let me go down to the bank and get a microloan to start Betty's Brothel and Bakery - then they can have their cake and eat it too!" (Sorry.)

But that's the lie we are spoon fed. We are told prostituted women are Pretty Women - we don't hear that most of them have been sexually abused since they were pre-teen, are forcibly addicted to drugs so they stay with their pimp, are so beat down and defeated they actually believe what is happening around and to them is their fault. Sorry Lifetime, but no college girl chooses to be an escort to earn some extra money. It just doesn't happen!

So what should Australia do? I don't know, um, reverse the law? Or, how about going after the purchaser? How about making it a very serious crime to buy a woman! Stop looking at this from the supply side and hit it from demand. So we can't make porn illegal because that somehow violates free speech - but what about taxing it like we do tobacco or creating a law that says women are not allowed to be shown nude in public? Or women cannot be seen performing sexual acts? I know that would cut out 20 minutes of every Hollywood movie, but would that be bad?

Or time, lots of it, if you purchase a woman, and more if you sell one. And what if people took sexual abuse seriously? What if we cared and fought against pedophilia instead of covering it up because the person sold a lot of records?

Legalizing prostitution will do nothing but further harm the woman and children enslaved in it. And if you don't believe me look at Australia, because we have the ideal failed case study staring us in the face.

And speaking of giant failures - Secretary of State Clinton was in DRC last week! The humanitarian world waited and watched as... nothing new happened! Essentially Clinton went to the Congo, took a bunch of posed pictures, met with people and then disregarded all of it and let a bunch of stupid Americans write the proposal, instead of investing time into Congolese experts who could have helped actually dictate change, or helping to empower local NGOs in the area with funds. Instead, USAID is going to sweep in, build a new hospital where there already is one, and give most of the money to an organization most Congolese don't trust.

Way to go Clinton!

Texas in Africa sums it up well:

This plan looks for all the world like something that was conceived in Washington, not the Kivus. It represents some of the worst habits of Africa-related policy making in American foreign aid and could not be further from representing real change.

Don't you love all of this amazing change?

And, lastly, this broke my heart. Remember that vile law in Afghanistan that made marital rape ok? It looked, for a moment, that it was going to be revoked. But according to Vital Voices - that was a lie:

However, newly rewritten provisions of the law, approved by President Karzai on July 27, continue to deny Shia women basic human rights. One of the most controversial additions is an article that gives a husband the right to deny his wife “maintenance” if she refuses his sexual demands. This translation is widely understood to legalize martial rape and deny a woman food if she does not “perform her conjugal duties”.
The worse part of this is the world's silence. It's bad enough our President won't speak out against it. But the fact that there isn't a public outcry makes me mad! This should make you angry. It's bad enough women are seen as property in most of the Middle East and treated as little more than baby makes (for sons, daughter are so not cool!). The conditions most of these women face is subhuman. They are not human, cattle are treated better! But now there is a law that makes it okay to rape your wife!?!? I can't articulate a response - I am too angry, too stunned, too shocked believe it or not.

Call me crazy, but I believe that women were made with an inherient value and worth - and that is way more that being sold, denied justice in times of war, or raped by their husbands. It's time our earth groans for the injustice against women. It's time our laws, our actions, our culture demanded more for women. It's time we said enough to little girls being raped, mothers being humailated and defiled, women forced to live being treated a little bit better than dirt.

Does this make you mad? Does this invoke in you any kind of emotion? If so, do something. I'm not talking about something drastic, but something.

Pray and ask how God would have you move.

Talk to the girls in your life about their value - that they are worth so much, more than sex, more than marriage, more than being skinny.

Talk about what's happening. Share it with your friends, your family, your co-workers, your blog network.

Get your friends together and read A Thousand Splendid Suns, Sold, or watch a Lisa Ling video.

Research organizations that are doing things correctly to end violence against women. If not handled corretly aftercare can be very damaging to the women, having a "heart" for them is not enough. So research organizations that have trained staff working for them - start with WHI, Panzi and IJM.

Or, as I've said before:
Then you say, well attend a training on aftercare, read books, start volunteering in a batter women’s shelter, a children’s juvenile facility, a rape crisis center and see what sexual abuse does to people. Get your MA in social work, psychology, nursing, etc. and volunteer to go with an organization even if that means stuffing envelopes and making copies! Realize that there are so many facets and there is a need for doctors, lawyers, police, law makers, etc. etc. who will fight alongside the women caught in sexual abuse. Become educated, dive into this and if, a year or two from now when you know more God is still calling you to ____ then let’s talk.