Transnational Feminists Ask Instead to Criminalize Prostitution Businesses
Decriminalizing the johns and pimps and regulating the business of prostitution do not provide those who are prostituted “more decision-making power.” It puts the entire industry in the hands of the oppressors to own. The john is thepower; the pimp is the power; the brothel owner is the power – and this has been so, from the beginning of patriarchy. Prostitution is not about sex. It is about power and profit – by and large male power and to male benefit.
New York City — The transnational feminist organization AF3IRM rejects Amnesty International’s position to enshrine the business of prostitution as a “right”.
In a recent press release, the US-based women’s group expressed outrage with AI, which was founded on human rights, as it has ignored “the human damage that the privilege of sexual access for the dominant, the powerful and the wealthy over the bodies of the oppressed, the vulnerable and the poor, has done to generations upon generations of women, children and marginalized genders.”
Under the guise of “empowering” and “protecting” women, the AI draft policy, said AF3IRM, would institutionalize the business of prostitution.
It further noted that, “Women have been thrust deeper into commodification as “harm reduction” strategies seek only to reform prostitution, through such mechanisms as unionization or occupational health and safety guidelines. These serve to increase and legitimize the demand and fail to address systemic change and abolishment.
AF3IRM argued to criminalize the business of prostitution, decriminalize the practice of prostitution.
In an elaborate explanation, the feminist group said:
“Prostitution is a system of exploitation. It is not a “transaction between individuals,” as the AI policy paper would have us believe. As a system, it has managed to intertwine itself with and survive within various modes of production, attesting to the masculinist foundation of class and property. It thrives on a multi-layer ladder of oppression wherein the sold are the most powerless and unjustly criminalized. The phrase “sex work” creates a deceptive illusion of neutrality. It hides the imbalance of power in this system of intersectional exploitation that sees women of color, especially those who are poor, transnational, immigrant, as commodities.
Indeed, arguing that all those who are prostituted have personal agency masks the absence of choice experienced by a majority. Because of houselessness, lack of job opportunities, the need to feed their families and other material needs, women may decide to enter the sex trade precisely for lack of option. Having a choice of no other choices is not freedom. Compelled sex, whether by physical intimidation or economic necessity, is in fact sexual violence and rape. The reduction of women’s liberation to the false model of women’s sexual empowerment, coupled with the minimizing of prostitution’s system of violence and coercion, is the insidious work of patriarchy. It is patriarchy that defines women’s bodies as objects for male gratification, subjugation and profiteering. As transnational feminists, our vision of true and genuine women’s liberation rejects these ideas.
Decriminalizing the johns and pimps and regulating the business of prostitution do not provide those who are prostituted “more decision-making power;” rather, it puts the entire industry in the hands of the oppressors to own. The john is the power; the pimp is the power; the brothel owner is the power – and this has been so, from the beginning of patriarchy.
Prostitution is not about sex; it is about power and profit – by and large male power and to male benefit.”
A Manila-based writer, leader, and feminist Anna Leah Sarabia adds her voice in: “Prostitution is a violation of human rights. It cannot be a human right. Amnesty International wants pimps to have the right to sell human bodies for the buyer’s sexual pleasure. AI is out to promote human trafficking and should be stopped.”
Ivy Quicho, AF3IRM National Organizing Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbra Ramos, AF3IRM National Communications Director, email@example.com, 323-813-4272
Ninotchka Rosca, AF3IRM New York, firstname.lastname@example.org