Patronizing Sex Workers

Dec 22 2012 @ 9:34pm

Laurie Penny criticizes the current campaign to regulate sex trafficking, despite the crusaders' "good intentions":

Laws regulating sex work are written, in most cases, by people who have never done sex work and who have no sustained contact with those who do. The most well-meaning legislation, designed to prevent the trafficking of vulnerable women and girls (vulnerable men and boys are expected to fend for themselves), often backfires, pushing the sex trade further underground and giving the police licence to punish and victimise women walking the streets or working together for safety. In the UK earlier this year, a cancer patient, Sheila Farmer, overturned a conviction for "brothel-keeping" – she was selling sex in a flat shared with a friend for their mutual protection.

In California, the controversial Proposition 35 has just passed, with the aim, again, of stamping out sex trafficking. As a result, women who are found to be selling sex may have to register as sex offenders and submit to internet monitoring for the rest of their lives, as may anyone receiving financial support from them, including their children.

She concludes, "In reality, sex work isn’t stigmatised because it is dangerous. Sex work is dangerous because it is stigmatised."