29 February, 2012

Prostitution Incompatible with Gender Equality

Maybe something good can come out of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) stupidity. France has apparently passed new laws that target demand - the pimps and the purchasers. From Truth-Out.org (emphasis added):

French women have made their voices heard, especially rejecting DSK's predatory behavior as simply the flirtatiousness of a man who defends his conduct with the feeble claim, "I love women, et alors." Most notably, Christine Lagarde, the woman who replaced DSK as the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), bluntly stated that DSK's defenders were in denial when they named DSK the victim, "... while ignoring the real victim and it led to unacceptable and disgusting comments by some of his friends. Male friends, of course."

In the midst of these sordid disclosures, a major political milestone took place in the French Parliament on December 6, 2011. All political parties in the National Assembly signed a resolution that "Reaffirms the abolitionist position of France, the objective of which is ultimately a society without prostitution." Significantly, this means that France does not recognize prostitution as "sex work," nor does it support legislation legalizing brothels and pimping. Legislators resolved that legal acceptance of prostitution is incompatible with French policies that promote gender equality and human rights. (!!!) In supporting the resolution, legislators spoke about the failure of legalized prostitution systems in other European countries, which have become magnets for organized crime, and encourage violence against women.

The Nordic model does not penalize the persons in prostitution, but makes resources available to them. Instead, it targets and exposes the anonymous perpetrators - the buyers, mostly men, who purchase mainly women and children for sexual services. The key to the law's effectiveness lies not so much in penalizing the men, but in removing the invisibility of the buyers and making their crimes public. Men fear being outed as prostitution users.

Criminalizing demand works. Police report that it becomes less profitable for pimps and traffickers to set up shop in countries where their customers fear the loss of their anonymity. Less profit means less prostitution and less violence against women.

If this law holding prostitution users accountable for their commercial sexual exploitation passes, France will be the first country on the Continent to penalize the demand for prostitution. Parliament has set the groundwork for a future vote on the proposal after the French elections.

What this means is that 13 year olds are not the ones charged with the crime of prostitution. Instead the system looks at the people putting her there - the men selling her and the men buying her. It breaks down the likes of "sex work" and realizes that modern day slavery is a) in France, and b) affecting the women powerful men like DSK thought they could buy, abuse and discard like rubbish. It turns the spotlight where it should be on the system (demand) that keeps the whole operation running.

Could we get something like this in the US?