New research shows violence decreases under Nordic model: Why the radio silence?

You probably haven’t heard about the newest prostitution research from Norway. It has been available in Norwegian since last summer when a tiny handful of pro-prostitution peeps wrote about it, but almost no one has noted the report’s English release. Now that I’ve read it I understand the silence from pro-sex work lobbyists and the liberal media that usually loves press releases that hate on anti-pornstitution activists.

“Dangerous Liaisons: A report on the violence women in prostitution are exposed to” was presented to me as proof that criminalizing johns has increased violence against prostitutes in Oslo. Norwegian newspaper The Local reported on the research and dutifully presented the results highlighted by the harm reduction researchers at ProSentret.

“Anniken Hauglie (Conservative Party) called for the law to be scrapped after the city’s official help centre for prostitutes, ProSentret, released a report on Friday detailing deteriorating conditions for sex workers in the capital.”

‘The reality is that the law has made it more difficult for women in prostitution,’ Hauglie said.”

The 2012 research is compared to 2008 research and the conclusion drawn is that in 2008 52% of prostitutes in Oslo said they had experienced violence compared to 59% in 2012. An increase of 7% isn’t a huge jump but any increase in violence against women should be taken seriously.

Fortunately, the increase in violence against prostituted women is a lie.

LIARS!

Several obfuscations and omissions were employed to concoct the lie, but the primary manipulation was accepting a definition of violence that equated each act of verbal abuse (up 17% from 2008) and hair pulling (up 167%) as the same as being struck with a fist (down 38%) and rape (down 48%).

Did I just write that since the Nordic model rapes of prostituted women were down BY HALF in Oslo? Oh yes I did.

pro sentret

ProSentret did not consider the halving of rape to be worth pointing out, but I think that’s terrific news. I also think that pimp violence being down BY HALF since 2008 should be shouted from the rooftops along with violence from regular clients going down 65% and violence from an unfamiliar man in a car declining 60%.

Visible injury has decreased from a third of the sample to a fourth.

One thing that has changed is that the number that experienced violence from someone unfamiliar in a car has declined from 27% to 11%.

We also see a decline in violence from regular clients from 20% to 7%, and 14% to 7% from boss/pimp.

With the dramatic reductions in serious violence within the research you might be wondering from whence came the claimed 7% rise. The answer is mostly verbal harassment and minor physical assaults because no distinction is made between nasty words and being punched.

PRO SENTRET

Harm reductionists love to thump about how indoor prostitution is safer than streetwalking, and in some aspects it is, but the research paints a contrary picture about indoor violence. Feminists have been on a long mission to raise awareness that women are more often attacked in their homes by men they know than in public by strange men. Why would being in a brothel with a john suddenly become a place to expect less rape when inside is never safer for women?

The research supports the known feminist truth of how women are harmed when trapped indoors with men engorged on their perceived right to control women. The most violent men are “unfamiliar clients” and the women they inflict the worst sexual violence on are the indoor Thai women, also the only group to report violence from pimps (11%).

In this group we find the largest amount of respondents who say they have been threatened/forced into sex that was not agreed to. While 27% of the entire sample said they had been exposed to this form of violence, as many as 45% of this group have experienced it. In this group we also see the highest amount of robbery (30%) and threats with weapons (40%) Additionally 20% of this group said they had been raped.

Indoor prostitutes are being sexually assaulted by their clients more than streetwalkers, who are ultimately abused more frequently but not raped or robbed more.

PRO SENTRETThe information about indoor versus outdoor violence also disproves the common refrain that because it’s now a “buyer’s market,” prostituted women are harmed by the lack of negotiation time. Streetwalkers mostly suffer verbal abuse and minor physical assaults that aren’t violations of sex act negotiations, whereas indoor prostitutes with the supposed luxuries of pre-screening and unlimited time to negotiate are much less capable of keeping their johns from robbing, raping, and threatening/forcing them into sex that was not agreed upon.

Placing all the focus on how prostituted women negotiate distracts us from questioning the varying motivations of negotiation-inducing men. It is common sense that a man who wants a quick blowjob from a streetwalker would be less invested financially and emotionally in his sexual entitlement to a prostitute than a man who pre-arranges to pay for an hour alone with a prostitute and brings a sixty minute gameplan of fantasy fulfillment with him.

BITERS!

Allow me to turn your attention to some freaky shit you might have missed in the statistics tsumani above:

Biting nearly tripled (6% to 15%)
Hair pulling nearly tripled (12% to 32%)

I’ve lived in New York City and San Jose, Costa Rica, which is to say I’ve been verbally harassed and suffered unwanted touching from unfamiliar male passerby more times than I can count. Never have I been bitten or had my hair pulled. That’s not passerby harasser behavior, it’s john behavior. Information originally reported in the 2008 study but repeated in the 2012 report provides a clue to why minor, sex act-specific violence jumped.

“Most of the women who said they would seek help to protect against violence said that they called or threatened to call the police when they found themselves in a dangerous or threatening situation. This would often scare the customers, or others, who were acting threatening/violent away.”

Pro-prostitution lobbyists say men are paying for the right to sex and not the right to abuse women. Johns don’t exhibit an understanding of that difference, which is why letting men pay for sex and then trying to draw a line at abuse is doomed to failure. Men paying for the right to abuse women have crossed that line, no takesees-backsees halfway through the series of abuses paid for, especially not when BDSM inflicted on women is culturally approved as sex and not abuse.

Radical feminists know prostitution is coerced sex, aka rape. We notice that most rape victims are teenage girls abused by older men and recognize the same demographic patterns in prostitution. As with rape, the sexual aspect of the crime triggers so many cultural prejudices that the core of the crime being male violence is often left on the cutting room floor. Oslo’s reduction in severe violence combined with the increase in more personal boundary violence like biting and hair pulling is a reminder that, as with other kinds of rape, sex is the preferred tool of violation but violation itself is the main point.

Prostituted women in Oslo are effectively altering violent johns’ behaviors by threatening to call police, and johns are responding by lowering their violence to under the threshold that would trigger that response. Instead of rape and aggravated assault, johns have moved to getting more of their violation kicks though biting and hair pulling knowing these won’t result in a call to the cops.

On that note, let’s segue into what the report tells us about police and prostitutes.

COPPERS!

Police abuse of prostituted women is a problem. Some studies have found that as much as 30% of violence against prostituted women can come from police officers. Police abusiveness is frequently cited by harm reductioners as a reason to legalize men’s prostitution use. ProSentret makes a big deal of the fact that prostituted women are reporting less violence because they claim it as a consequence of prostitutes trusting police less, but it’s more accurately attributed to the large drop in severe violence.

“If we look at assistance from police, emergency care, Pro Sentret, and Nadheim, we see  approximately half the number that have received support in the 2012 study compared with the 2007/08  study.”

Approximately half the number receiving support matches up quite well with rape being down by half and pimp violence being down by half.

According to their own numbers, since adoption of the Nordic model prostitutes are 41% less likely to seek help from police, but they are 54% less likely to seek help from ProSentret! And apparently prostituted women are suddenly terrified of emergency care personnel because seeking help from them is down a whopping 79%.

If you don’t acknowledge the enormous reductions in severe violence then these changes are as alarming as ProSentret makes them out to be. Combined with street prostitution going down at least 50% from 2008 to 2009 and indoor prostitution going down by 16% in the same year, the sharp drop in prostituted women reporting violence is actually something to celebrate.

ProSentret’s ideological constipation won’t allow them to admit the enormous reduction in severe violence their data shows.

“Many of the women’s actions are probably due to a fear of prejudice from the police, the justice system, and health services. The double stigma as both victim of violence and prostitute can be a heavy burden to bear. Other reasons could be among other things a lack of knowledge of the police and reporting violence in Norway, fear that the police will enforce other laws against the prostitute, a lack of trust in the police, or that the women for some other reason does not wish to press charges.”

Persons who make police abuse of sex workers their bailiwick may find it instructional that none of the violence reported by the 123 prostituted women was pinned on Norwegian police, not so much as one instance of verbal abuse. Score yet another point for the Nordic model.

Rarely does a group of pro-prostitution activists make their choice to be ignorant so evident as to ignore the data from their own research. Mind you, it’s not unheard of; New Zealand research collected by the prostitution lobby claimed no changes to street prostitution in their official summary but buried in Section 8 one finds the truth that street prostitutes in Auckland more than doubled since legalization.

It is a bald lie to take the information presented in “Dangerous Liaisons” and come to this conclusion:

“Nothing in the studies we have conducted among the women and the support services suggests that the criminalization of the customers have protected the women from violence from their customers, rather the women are protecting the customers from the police.”

ENDERS!
The final words of the report declare:

This will be done by the Pro Sentret:

• Organize drop-in courses about violence in prostitution and violence in close relations with a  focus on knowledge about violence, practical tips and information about offers of aid. The  courses will be organized in cooperation with Oslo Crisis Center and a provider of self-defense courses.

• Work out and distribute information material adapted to the users of Pro Sentret about violence,  rights, and tips about maintaining their own safety.

In other words, ProSentret’s goal is to build better hookers. I prefer other solutions.

The Nordic model works and should keep on keeping on. If ProSentret and other sex worker rights groups refuse to get on board the abolition of sex-based slavery they’re fools, but they’re fools who can still be doing more for prostituted women from within their belief system.

The first thing they can do is actively track prostitution clients more effectively. Unfamiliar clients commit the most violence and passively relying on bad date reports from survivors of john violence is not enough. There’s room for both police and nonprofits to be collecting information about unfamiliar johns in their own way.

Next they can work to achieve reliable amnesty for foreign victims. I am unfamiliar with how Norway treats trafficked immigrants but I have no trouble believing more can be done to protect them from discrimination and deportation.

My third and final suggestion is for harm reduction organizations to teach prostituted women that any violence inflicted on them matters. Biting and hair pulling have almost tripled but reporting them hasn’t. Johns will be as violent as they can get away with so we need to keep pushing back the bar of acceptability.

Credit where due, the researchers sincerely attempted to honor prostituted women’s psychological defenses by distinguishing the categories of “rape” and “threatened/forced into sex that was not agreed upon” in recognition that many don’t call it rape if there’s no assault accompanying the sexual violence. They include this comment about cultural differences in defining violence.

“Pro Sentret have experienced that in general many foreign women express both physical and psychological pain differently than Norwegian women. It is possible that some did not recognize their way to express pain in the options in the study.”

It’s obvious the researchers at ProSentret care about the women they serve, I just wish they could project that concern to the millions of women they will never see and the generations of prostitutes that will come after the current one if we don’t take a stand now.

Like I said in the beginning, the Oslo research has barely made a blip in pro-prostitution media channels. The usual loudmouthed prostitution lobbyists have seen it and kept their lips zipped. You better believe if the report contained solid proof that the Nordic model leads to more violence then it would be as popularized as that bunk study purporting career pornstitutes are happier than the average woman. Now you know about it, and now you know why the prostitution lobby prefers to pretend it doesn’t exist.

It exists and it proves abolitionists right. Now don’t let them forget it.

Samantha Berg can be read at Genderberg, Johnstompers, and in comment threads everywhere.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • http://smashesthep.wordpress.com smash

    Great reporting, Sam.

  • MLM

    What a brilliant article! Samantha Berg makes the success of the Nordic model, as highlighted in the Oslo research, as clear as day.

    “The usual loudmouthed prostitution lobbyists have seen it and kept their lips zipped. You better believe if the report contained solid proof that the Nordic model leads to more violence then it would be as popularized as that bunk study purporting career pornstitutes are happier than the average woman”.

    Truth!

  • http://janetsreviews.blogspot.ca/ Janet

    Question, about the Nordic experience of legalizing prostitution; What do you make of the extreme increase in hair-pulling, which can be very violent, and may not leave an actual bruise while being as painful and threatening?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hey Janet,

      Just to clarify, the Nordic model doesn’t legalize prostitution. It decriminalizes prostituted women and criminalizes pimps and johns.

    • MLM

      Personally, I think Berg is spot on when she says “Johns will be as violent as they can get away with so we need to keep pushing back the bar of acceptability” (in reaction to the fact that biting and hair pulling have almost tripled, while reporting of these things has not).

  • AJ

    Awesome and uplifting article, Samantha Berg! Good to know that it works; a tiny ray of hope has found its way into my heart.

  • probably_part_of_the_conspiracy _to_promote_sex_slavery

    For an article the rightfully calls out on the inaccuracies of another, I find it really disappointing to see inaccuracies of its own. The one that stands out the most is the assumption that all prostitution is slavery, which is inherent in the name ‘abolitionists’ and statements like “ProSentret and other sex worker rights groups refuse to get on board the abolition of sex-based slavery”. There is a lot of things you can say about sex work, the sex industry, exploitation, violence and modern day slavery that would support ‘abolitionist’ positions, but to say that all women in the sex industry are slaves is highly inaccurate and frankly outrageous. Such assumptions and language really gives me doubts that such a group would act in the interests of women (even if doing so meant acting in ways that conflicted with their beliefs) over acting in the interests of ideological standpoint/identity.

    • noen

      Well of course not. The function of ideology is to be invisible to the believer. Samantha didn’t just say that all prostitution is rape. She said such a view constitutes *knowledge* and then proceeds to commit an embarrassing logical fallacy:

      “We notice that most rape victims are teenage girls abused by older men and recognize the same demographic patterns in prostitution.”

      Most rape victims are teenage girls.
      Most prostitutes are teenage girls.
      Therefore prostitution is rape.

      If you can think that makes sense then believing a study which shows a marked increase in violence against prostitutes is actually a reduction in violence is a piece of cake.

      • Jason Thrasher

        Ummm, did you bother to look at the actual data in the study? With the two exceptions mentioned, violence against prostituted women in Norway has been reduced since the Nordic model was instituted in ’08. The Nordic Model works; you pro-prostitution folks are just wrong. Legalization doesn’t help prostituted women in any way. The Nordic Model needs to be implemented here in the US as soon as possible to help sexually abused and exploited women here in the states.

        • Jason Thrasher

          Just to clarify, the model was institued in 1999. My mistake.

          • http://ambi-irrevens.blogspot.co.uk/ Martine Votvik

            1999 was for sweeden.

      • Rye

        @noen,

        Actually, that is not the logic of radical feminism. I’m not entirely sure I understand it myself, but I believe they are talking about rape in two different senses:

        1. Rape in the broader sense:
        a. Rape is unwanted sex
        b. Prostitutes have unwanted sex
        c. Therefore, prostitution is paid rape

        2. Rape in the strictly legal sense:
        a. Prostitution perpetuates the myth that a class of women is needed to relieve men of their sexual “needs,” especially violent sexual fantasies.
        b. Due to the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, prostitutes are perceived as “dirty,” incapable of being raped and unworthy of human empathy.
        c. Consequently, prostitutes are more likely to be victims of rape and other forms of violence, in the way laymen commonly understand rape, by their johns.

        • probably_part_of_the_conspiracy _to_promote_sex_slavery

          In response to the first definition of rape I have a problem with how you use the term ‘unwanted’, it’s unclear and I think misleading. There are different ‘wants’ that motivate people. Women might not want a conventional sexual interaction (based on mutual attraction and no financial exchange), but may want to have sex with someone for financial compensation. So if a woman wants to have sex with someone because they will get money for it, I dont see how you can say that they are having unwanted sex, its just that they motivations for having that sex are not motivated by whats conventional or acceptable. I am saying this with full recognition that most women may be forced with threats, violence and cooercion or through societal and cultural conditions that marginalise women (especially vulnerable women from migrant and irregular communities), which is completely unacceptable and may require expanding the Norwegien Model internationally to eradicate. Despite this, to make the a-priori assumption that all women who have commodified sex are rape victims is ridiculous. You should allow some space for women to speak for themselves and make their own decisions instead denying them the opportunity to represent themselves and make their own decisions. Its not THAT hard to acknowledge that, even though this group might be in the minority, they women who work as sex work are not a homogeneous groups of rape victims.

          • Rye

            @PPCPSS

            More broadly speaking, I think radical feminists see prostitution as an institution that is part of a patriarchal whole. In patriarchy, women are reduced to a serf class for the purpose of providing men with sexual, childcare and domestic services. This happens because various social practices reduce women to commodities largely valued for their fuckability. These social practices include:
            1. Men enjoy privileged access to money and institutional power, which they can use to buy women on the marriage and prostitution markets
            2. The socialization of women to look beautiful so they can “land a man,” get married and have babies
            3. The emphasis on male sexual pleasure
            a. Sex is usually understood as PIV (Penis-in-Vagina) sex
            – PIV is risky for women
            – Women rarely orgasm from PIV alone
            – Other sexual activities are perceived as merely foreplay
            b. Women are expected to be open to trying new sex acts, usually degrading and painful ones their male partners found in pornography
            4. Men are assumed to have an implied right to sexual relief from women
            a. Women receive societal messages that they should “put out” for their male partners
            b. Men are assumed to need sexual relief from prostitution, pornography and strip clubs
            – Sympathy is given to the disabled man who can’t get laid, and in some countries the government subsidizes his visit to a prostitute
            c. The normalization of sexual harassment and the male gaze in public spaces

            So by “want,” I believe they mean a woman’s genuine sexual attraction. A prostitute may provide the appearance of consent, but it is given only out of economic necessity. I think radical feminists have a huge point here. Prostitution is risky for women, not just because of the risk of violent clients, but because having PIV sex with hundreds of men is a major risk to their health.

            In a world of gender equality, men would not feel entitled to sexual relief from women and women would never have to choose prostitution to support themselves. Instead, women would have sex out of their own genuine sexual attraction, and sex would occur in the context of equality and mutual pleasure.

            That said, I think you have a point. How do we explain the women who sell sex despite having other good economic choices? Or more importantly, how do we explain the women with middle class jobs who sell sex on the side?

            I haven’t seen radical feminists talk about them much, but the general response I have seen is that they are privileged. They are an exception to the rule. At the same time, these women profit from an institution that is a part of patriarchy and male power. I don’t believe radical feminists hate these women, but their primary concerns are gender equality and assisting the majority of women selling sex because they do not have better choices.

            Prostitution might still exist in a world with gender equality. However, it would likely be very unusual and seen as strange.

          • riv

            These women 1.) lie and exaggerate about what they do and how often, where and with who and, 2.) proceed to the next lower rung of the ladder, being asked to do something they have not done and offered a lot of money to do it, and then that is used to coerce them deeper into the not so palatable at Starbucks aspects of sex slavery. There is no hard and fast line between levels of prostution: the stripper will sooner or later be lap dancing then turning tricks then more. Always at the hands of a pimp aka madam, manager, bar owner, boyfriend, husband.

          • MLM

            “How do we explain the women who sell sex despite having other good economic choices? Or more importantly, how do we explain the women with middle class jobs who sell sex on the side?

            I haven’t seen radical feminists talk about them much, but the general response I have seen is that they are privileged”.

            You haven’t been paying much attention to that part of the argument then (and given your other comments here, there my be an element of convenience about that on your part).

            When women grow up in a culture where they are effectively groomed by the media, by prevailing attitudes etc. to internalise, normalise and eroticise the idea that male sexual dominance and female submission – even violent male dominance and female masochism – as well as the idea that a woman’s “value” (value, payment – see what I did there?) depends on her ability to be pleasing to a man it isn’t actually that surprising that a number of them find reassurance in patriarchal reinforcement about their “worth” via payment for sex. Hence the idea that this is “empowering” for them.

            They are extremely privileged in relation to women who have really only had the choice to get paid for sex or become financially destitute, or have ended up in such a place due to a history of sexual abuse, but their choice has also not originated in a cultural vacuum.

        • noen

          “that is not the logic of radical feminism” — I wouldn’t know. I am a first wave feminist but don’t read much of critical theory. I consider it glib, incoherent and not worth my time. Particularly after the Sokal affair. It was however the logic of the sentence I quoted. Yours is equally invalid. Your premise 1.b. is clearly false. They voluntarily engage in their profession. Even if it were true the conclusion is invalid because you cannot conclude that prostitution is rape from the fact that some prostitutes have unwanted sex.

          Your second argument is yet again invalid as the conclusion c. begs the question. You cannot conclude that the class of prostitutes are more likely to be victims of rape from the fact that some perceive them to be dirty.

          Have a nice fay.

          • Meghan Murphy

            You’re a ‘first wave feminist’, huh. So that makes you what, 130 years old give or take? Go away.

          • MLM

            “glib, incoherent and not worth my time”.

            A pretty good description of what you’ve just written here.

          • Rye

            @noen,

            Radical feminism has nothing to do with postmodernism. In fact, radical feminists frequently ridicule it.

            Argument 1 is perfectly valid. Create a truth table and see for yourself.

            Of course argument 2 is invalid, it’s an inductive argument.

            Since you don’t see the connection between the premises and conclusion of 2, then I’ll explain. Often, the justification for denying moral status to a class of people is that stereotypes such as “inferior,” “scum” or “dirty” are attached to them. For example, soldiers may perceive a conquered population as “scum,” and this will justify, in their minds, that it is acceptable to rape and pillage.

      • probably_part_of_the_conspiracy _to_promote_sex_slavery

        Noen, I think youre making a bit of a straw man here. I think what the statement
        “We notice that most rape victims are teenage girls abused by older men and recognize the same demographic patterns in prostitution.” is saying is that many rape victims often go on to become prostitutes. I think we can agree that this is a problem given the violent and dangerous nature of the work in the sex industry (including high levels of drug abuse and lack of economic and social mobility), which I think both the author and the article say. If many women who are rape victims are going on to have drug and alcohol problems and enter into dangerous professions (possibly as a result of trauma or lack of support), then I think its worth highlighting.

        • noen

          “rape victims often go on to become prostitutes”

          Well that’s pretty offensive, probably false and an empirical question that needs to be answered and not simply assumed to be true. Victims of sustained sexual abuse do become more promiscuous but I’m not convinced that it necessarily leads to prostitution and even if it does you cannot then conclude prostitution is rape. That is an invalid inference.

          “I think its worth highlighting.”

          I didn’t respond to highlighting. I responded to the claim that prostitution is rape. I think you might be able to argue sex trafficking is a form of slavery. But college coeds who choose to be strippers and then perhaps go on to engage in some prostitution are not sex slaves or rape victims. Further, some women choose to become prostitutes out of perceived necessity and then become trapped in the lifestyle. That is a poor decision and an injustice has been done to them but it isn’t rape.

          When people adopt black and white totalistic thinking, “taxation is theft!”, “prostitution is rape!” that is an indication that an absolutist ideology is at work. The universe is not black and white. There really are not easy answers. Slogans are no substitute for rational thought.

          The world is a messy place. People do bad things and they do good things but imposing an abstract ideal from either the Left or the Right has never really do anything other than increase human suffering.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Christ you’re idiotic. Many women in the industry have a history of abuse and trauma as well as suffering from PTSD. This has been documented. Prostitution has NOTHING TO DO WITH ‘PROMISCUITY’. I’m done with you. You’re intentionally twisting arguments and words and wasting everyone’s time. Goodbye.

  • noen

    “It exists and it proves abolitionists right.”

    Well no it doesn’t do any such thing at all. What you did was spin the data to fit with your own preconceived political ideology.

    “But the Pro Sentret report indicates that the law has in fact made prostitutes much more susceptible to violence at the hands of their clients as the sex trade moves further underground.

    What’s more, prostitutes have become less inclined to seek help since the law came into force, with many now perceiving that they too are viewed as criminals, the report says.

    Many of the women also said the new law had scared off many of their more reliable customers, while troublesome and violent clients were relatively undeterred.”
    http://www.thelocal.no/page/view/rip-up-prostitution-law-says-top-oslo-politician

    So the law has exposed prostitutes to more violence because it drove away regular johns, who are less likely to be violent, and attracted more anonymous johns. Men who seek out prostitutes for regular encounters usually have specific kinks that they want to indulge in.

    “It’s pretty clear, though, that whatever about the statistics, the perception among those closest to the action – sex workers, their support services and the police – is that conditions are pretty rotten for those on the game in Norway’s capital and largest city. “The man in the street” in Oslo may not care about them, but for those who do or who claim to do so, there really can be no excuse for ignoring the very strong warning signals in this report and focusing immediately on how to improve these conditions – even if it means taking the foot off the End Demand train for a while.”

    It’s disgusting to disregard the clear implications of the study in favor of one’s ideological beliefs.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Once again, noen, you seem to have trouble with reading comprehension. Yes, the Pro Sentret report reports what you’ve stated here, but leaves out key information. Did you not read that part? Violence is down. Look at the graphs. Also, HOW on EARTH would the law ‘attract more anonymous johns’??? That makes no sense at all.

      • noen

        “Violence is down.”

        No. Violence is up 7% rising from 52% to 59%. My comprehension is not so poor that I believe up is down.

        “Look at the graphs.”

        Yes, they were very pretty.

        “Also, HOW on EARTH would the law ‘attract more anonymous johns’?”

        That was the conclusion of those who worked closely with the sex workers. The law makes procuring sex a crime so regular johns are frightened off leaving the more violent customers to pick up the slack. Thus prostitutes are exposed to greater risk of violence. Exactly what the study concluded.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I’m sorry but that makes no sense. Where would this flux of sudden ‘anonymous johns’ come from?? Where were they before? Also, you’re trolling. You’re purposely ignoring the facts and arguments made in the post in order to create arguments that will inevitably go nowhere because you refuse to engage in good faith. If you continue to waste everyone’s time, I will just stop publishing your comments. It’s up to you, really.

        • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

          Statistics. Can you read them? Or do you suffer from mathematical illiteracy? It’s a serious problem, get help DUDE.

    • MLM

      “It’s disgusting to disregard the clear implications of the study in favor of one’s ideological beliefs”.

      Okay. Agreed. So why are YOU disregarding the clear implications of the study in favour of YOUR ideological beliefs?

      What part of a 50-65% reduction in physical violence since 2008 seems unworthy of your attention, exactly?

      • noen

        “So why are YOU disregarding the clear implications of the study in favour of YOUR ideological beliefs?”

        Math is unbiased.

        “What part of a 50-65% reduction in physical violence since 2008 seems unworthy of your attention, exactly?”

        The part where violence increased 7% from 52 to 59 percent.

        • MLM

          “With the dramatic reductions in serious violence within the research you might be wondering from whence came the claimed 7% rise. The answer is mostly verbal harassment and minor physical assaults because no distinction is made between nasty words and being punched.”

          Try reading the FULL article next time, noen. You’re welcome.

    • MLM

      “Men who seek out prostitutes for regular encounters usually have specific kinks that they want to indulge in”.

      Hell, you make that sound harmless enough… talk about “spin”!

      “Legal Amsterdam brothels have up to three panic buttons in every room. Why? Because legal johns are not nice guys looking for a normal date. They regularly attempt to rape and strangle women”.

      From “The real harms of prostitution” by Melissa Farley Oct 19th, 2010 (Mecator Net)
      http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the_real_harms_of_prostitution

  • CC
  • Thank you so much for posting this. This was just fantastic!

  • Jason Thrasher

    A bit dated (from 2003) but really highlights who truly benefits from legalized prostitution: pimps and johns (not prostituted women).

    10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution

    Janice G. Raymond
    Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW)
    March 25, 2003

    The following arguments apply to all state-sponsored forms of prostitution, including but not limited to full-scale legalization of brothels and pimping, decriminalization of the sex industry, regulating prostitution by laws such as registering or mandating health checks for women in prostitution, or any system in which prostitution is recognized as sex work or advocated as an employment choice.

    As countries are considering legalizing and decriminalizing the sex industry, we urge you to consider the ways in which legitimating prostitution as work does not empower the women in prostitution but does everything to strengthen the sex industry.

    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry. It expands it.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution.
    Legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex industry increases child prostitution.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women’s health.
    Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not enhance women’s choice.
    Women in systems of prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized.
    ARGUMENTS:

    1. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution is a gift to pimps, traffickers and the sex industry.

    What does legalization of prostitution or decriminalization of the sex industry mean? In the Netherlands, legalization amounts to sanctioning all aspects of the sex industry: the women themselves, the so-called clients and the pimps who, under the regime of legalization, are transformed into third party businessmen and legitimate sexual entrepreneurs.

    Legalization/decriminalization of the sex industry also converts brothels, sex clubs, massage parlors and other sites of prostitution activities into legitimate venues where commercial sexual acts are allowed to flourish legally with few restraints.

    Ordinary people believe that, in calling for legalization or decriminalization of prostitution, they are dignifying and professionalizing the women in prostitution. But dignifying prostitution as work doesn’t dignify the women, it simply dignifies the sex industry. People often don’t realize that decriminalization, for example, means decriminalization of the whole sex industry not just the women. And they haven’t thought through the consequences of legalizing pimps as legitimate sex entrepreneurs or third party businessmen, or the fact that men who buy women for sexual activity are now accepted as legitimate consumers of sex.

    CATW favors decriminalization of the women in prostitution. No woman should be punished for her own exploitation. But States should never decriminalize pimps, buyers, procurers, brothels or other sex establishments.

    2. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution and the sex industry promotes sex trafficking.

    Legalized or decriminalized prostitution industries are one of the root causes of sex trafficking. One argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that legalization would help end the exploitation of desperate immigrant women trafficked for prostitution. A report done for the governmental Budapest Group* stated that 80% of women in the brothels in the Netherlands are trafficked from other countries (Budapest Group, 1999: 11). As early as 1994, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) stated that in the Netherlands alone, nearly 70 per cent of trafficked women were from CEEC [Central and Eastern European Countries] (IOM, 1995: 4).

    The government of the Netherlands promotes itself as the champion of anti-trafficking policies and programs, yet cynically has removed every legal impediment to pimping, procurement and brothels. In the year 2000, the Dutch Ministry of Justice argued for a legal quota of foreign sex workers, because the Dutch prostitution market demands a variety of bodies (Dutting, 2001: 16). Also in the year 2000, the Dutch government sought and received a judgment from the European Court recognizing prostitution as an economic activity, thus enabling women from the EU and former Soviet bloc countries to obtain working permits as sex workers in the Dutch sex industry if they can prove that they are self employed. NGOs in the Netherlands have stated that traffickers are taking advantage of this ruling to bring foreign women into the Dutch prostitution industry by masking the fact that women have been trafficked, and by coaching the women how to prove that they are self-employed migrant sex workers.

    In the one year since lifting the ban on brothels in the Netherlands, NGOs report that there has been an increase of victims of trafficking or, at best, that the number of victims from other countries has remained the same (Bureau NRM, 2002: 75). Forty-three municipalities in the Netherlands want to follow a no-brothel policy, but the Minister of Justice has indicated that the complete banning of prostitution within any municipality could conflict with the right to free choice of work (Bureau NRM: 2002) as guaranteed in the federal Grondwet or Constitution.

    In January, 2002, prostitution in Germany was fully established as a legitimate job after years of being legalized in so-called eros or tolerance zones. Promotion of prostitution, pimping and brothels are now legal in Germany. As early as 1993, after the first steps towards legalization had been taken, it was recognized (even by pro-prostitution advocates) that 75 per cent of the women in Germany’s prostitution industry were foreigners from Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay and other countries in South America (Altink, 1993: 33). After the fall of the Berlin wall, brothel owners reported that 9 out of every 10 women in the German sex industry were from eastern Europe (Altink, 1993: 43) and other former Soviet countries.

    The sheer volume of foreign women who are in the prostitution industry in Germany, by some NGO estimates now up to 85 per cent, casts further doubt on the fact that these numbers of women could have entered Germany without facilitation. As in the Netherlands, NGOs report that most of the foreign women have been trafficked into the country since it is almost impossible for poor women to facilitate their own migration, underwrite the costs of travel and travel documents, and set themselves up in business without outside help.

    The link between legalization of prostitution and trafficking in Australia was recognized in the U.S. State Department’s 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. In the country report on Australia, it was noted that in the State of Victoria which legalized prostitution in the 1980s, trafficking in East Asian women for the sex trade is a growing problem in Australia. Lax laws, including legalized prostitution in parts of the country, make [anti-trafficking] enforcement difficult at the working level.

    3. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not control the sex industry. It expands it.

    Contrary to claims that legalization and decriminalization would regulate the expansion of the sex industry and bring it under control, the sex industry now accounts for 5 percent of the Netherlands economy (Daley, 2001: 4). Over the last decade, as pimping became legalized and then brothels decriminalized in the Netherlands in 2000, the sex industry expanded 25 percent (Daley, 2001: 4). At any hour of the day, women of all ages and races, dressed in hardly anything, are put on display in the notorious windows of Dutch brothels and sex clubs and offered for sale — for male consumption. Most of them are women from other countries (Daley, 2001: 4) who have in all likelihood been trafficked into the Netherlands.

    There are now officially recognized associations of sex businesses and prostitution customers in the Netherlands that consult and collaborate with the government to further their interests and promote prostitution. These include the Association of Operators of Relaxation Businesses, the Cooperating Consultation of Operators of Window Prostitution, and the Man/Woman and Prostitution Foundation, a group of men who regularly use women in prostitution, and whose specific aims include to make prostitution and the use of services of prostitutes more accepted and openly discussible, and to protect the interests of clients (NRM Bureau, 2002:115-16).

    Faced with a dearth of women who want to work in the legal sex sector, the Dutch National Rapporteur on Trafficking states that in the future, a proposed solution may be to offer [to the market] prostitutes from non EU/EEA countries, who voluntarily choose to work in prostitution. They could be given legal and controlled access to the Dutch market (NRM Bureau, 2002: 140). As prostitution has been transformed into sex work, and pimps into entrepreneurs, so too this potential solution transforms trafficking into voluntary migration for sex work.The Netherlands is looking to the future, targeting poor women of color for the international sex trade to remedy the inadequacies of the free market of sexual services. In the process, it goes further in legitimizing prostitution as an option for the poor.

    Legalization of prostitution in the State of Victoria, Australia, has led to massive expansion of the sex industry. Whereas there were 40 legal brothels in Victoria in 1989, in 1999 there were 94, along with 84 escort services. Other forms of sexual exploitation, such as tabletop dancing, bondage and discipline centers, peep shows, phone sex, and pornography have all developed in much more profitable ways than before (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

    Prostitution has become an accepted sideline of the tourism and casino boom in Victoria with government-sponsored casinos authorizing the redeeming of casino chips and wheel of fortune bonuses at local brothels (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). The commodification of women has vastly intensified and is much more visible.

    Brothels in Switzerland have doubled several years after partial legalization of prostitution. Most of these brothels go untaxed, and many are illegal. In 1999, the Zurich newspaper, Blick, claimed that Switzerland had the highest brothel density of any country in Europe, with residents feeling overrun with prostitution venues, as well as experiencing constant encroachment into areas not zoned for prostitution activities (South China Morning Post: 1999).

    4. Legalization/decriminalzaton of prostitution increases clandestine, hidden, illegal and street prostitution.

    Legalization was supposed to get prostituted women off the street. Many women don’t want to register and undergo health checks, as required by law in certain countries legalizing prostitution, so legalization often drives them into street prostitution. And many women choose street prostitution because they want to avoid being controlled and exploited by the new sex businessmen.

    In the Netherlands, women in prostitution point out that legalization or decriminalization of the sex industry cannot erase the stigma of prostitution but, instead, makes women more vulnerable to abuse because they must register and lose anonymity. Thus, the majority of women in prostitution still choose to operate illegally and underground. Members of Parliament who originally supported the legalization of brothels on the grounds that this would liberate women are now seeing that legalization actually reinforces the oppression of women (Daley, 2001: A1).

    The argument that legalization was supposed to take the criminal elements out of sex businesses by strict regulation of the industry has failed. The real growth in prostitution in Australia since legalization took effect has been in the illegal sector. Since the onset of legalization in Victoria, brothels have tripled in number and expanded in size; the vast majority having no licenses but advertising and operating with impunity (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001). In New South Wales, brothels were decriminalized in 1995. In 1999, the numbers of brothels in Sydney had increased exponentially to 400-500. The vast majority have no license to operate. To end endemic police corruption, control of illegal prostitution was taken out of the hands of the police and placed in the hands of local councils and planning regulators. The council has neither the money nor the personnel to put investigators into brothels to flush out and prosecute illegal operators.

    5. Legalization of prostitution and decriminalization of the sex industry increases child prostitution.

    Another argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. In reality, however, child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number has gone from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. The group estimates that at least 5,000 of the children in prostitution are from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls (Tiggeloven: 2001).

    Child prostitution has dramatically risen in Victoria compared to other Australian states where prostitution has not been legalized. Of all the states and territories in Australia, the highest number of reported incidences of child prostitution came from Victoria. In a 1998 study undertaken by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) who conducted research for the Australian National Inquiry on Child Prostitution, there was increased evidence of organized commercial exploitation of children.

    6. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not protect the women in prostitution.

    The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International (CATW) has conducted 2 major studies on sex trafficking and prostitution, interviewing almost 200 victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In these studies, women in prostitution indicated that prostitution establishments did little to protect them, regardless of whether they were in legal or illegal establishments. The only time they protect anyone is to protect the customers.

    In a CATW 5-country study that interviewed 146 victims of international trafficking and local prostitution, 80% of all women interviewed suffered physical violence from pimps and buyers) and endured similar and multiple health effects from the violence and sexual exploitation (Raymond et al: 2002).

    The violence that women were subjected to was an intrinsic part of the prostitution and sexual exploitation. Pimps used violence for many different reasons and purposes. Violence was used to initiate some women into prostitution and to break them down so that they would do the sexual acts. After initiation, at every step of the way, violence was used for sexual gratification of the pimps, as a form of punishment, to threaten and intimidate women, to exert the pimp’s dominance, to exact compliance, to punish women for alleged violations, to humiliate women, and to isolate and confine women.

    Of the women who did report that sex establishments gave some protection, they qualified it by pointing out that no protector was ever in the room with them, where anything could occur. One woman who was in out-call prostitution stated: The driver functioned as a bodyguard. You’re supposed to call when you get in, to ascertain that everything was OK. But they are not standing outside the door while you’re in there, so anything could happen.

    CATW’s studies found that even surveillance cameras in prostitution establishments are used to protect the establishment. Protection of the women from abuse is of secondary or no importance.

    7. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution increases the demand for prostitution. It boosts the motivation of men to buy women for sex in a much wider and more permissible range of socially acceptable settings.

    With the advent of legalization in countries that have decriminalized the sex industry, many men who would not risk buying women for sex now see prostitution as acceptable. When the legal barriers disappear, so too do the social and ethical barriers to treating women as sexual commodities. Legalization of prostitution sends the message to new generations of men and boys that women are sexual commodities and that prostitution is harmless fun.

    As men have an excess of sexual services that are offered to them, women must compete to provide services by engaging in anal sex, sex without condoms, bondage and domination and other proclivities demanded by the clients. Once prostitution is legalized, all holds are barred. Women’s reproductive capacities are sellable products, for example. A whole new group of clients find pregnancy a sexual turn-on and demand breast milk in their sexual encounters with pregnant women. Specialty brothels are provided for disabled men, and State-employed caretakers who are mostly women must take these men to the brothels if they wish to go (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

    Advertisements line the highways of Victoria offering women as objects for sexual use and teaching new generations of men and boys to treat women as subordinates. Businessmen are encouraged to hold their corporate meetings in these clubs where owners supply naked women on the table at tea breaks and lunchtime.

    A Melbourne brothel owner stated that the client base was well educated professional men, who visit during the day and then go home to their families. Women who desire more egalitarian relationships with men find that often the men in their lives are visiting the brothels and sex clubs. They have the choice to accept that their male partners are buying women in commercial sexual transactions, avoid recognizing what their partners are doing, or leave the relationship (Sullivan and Jeffreys: 2001).

    Sweden’s Violence Against Women, Government Bill 1997/98:55 prohibits and penalizes the purchase of sexual services. It is an innovative approach that targets the demand for prostitution. Sweden believes that by prohibiting the purchase of sexual services, prostitution and its damaging effects can be counteracted more effectively than hitherto. Importantly, this law clearly states that: Prostitution is not a desirable social phenomenon and is an obstacle to the ongoing development towards equality between women and men.**

    8. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not promote women’s health.

    A legalized system of prostitution that mandates health checks and certification only for women and not for clients is blatantly discriminatory to women. Women only health checks make no public health sense because monitoring prostituted women does not protect them from HIV/AIDS or STDs, since male clients can and do originally transmit disease to the women.

    It is argued that legalized brothels or other controlled prostitution establishments protect women through enforceable condom policies. In one of CATW’s studies, U.S. women in prostitution interviewed reported the following: 47% stated that men expected sex without a condom; 73% reported that men offered to pay more for sex without a condom; 45% of women said they were abused if they insisted that men use condoms. Some women said that certain establishments may have rules that men wear condoms but, in reality, men still try to have sex without them. One woman stated: It’s regulation to wear a condom at the sauna, but negotiable between parties on the side. Most guys expected blow jobs without a condom (Raymond and Hughes: 2001).

    In reality, the enforcement of condom policy was left to the individual women in prostitution, and the offer of extra money was an insistent pressure. One woman stated: ;I’d be one of those liars if I said “Oh I always used a condom.” If there was extra money coming in, then the condom would be out the window. I was looking for the extra money. Many factors militate against condom use: the need of women to make money; older women’s decline in attractiveness to men; competition from places that do not require condoms; pimp pressure on women to have sex with no condom for more money; money needed for a drug habit or to pay off the pimp; and the general lack of control that prostituted women have over their bodies in prostitution venues.

    So called “safety policies” in brothels did not protect women from harm. Even where brothels supposedly monitored the “customers” and utilized “bouncers,” women stated that they were injured by buyers and, at times, by brothel owners and their friends. Even when someone intervened to control buyers’ abuse, women lived in a climate of fear. Although 60 percent of women reported that buyers had sometimes been prevented from abusing them, half of those women answered that, nonetheless, they thought that they might be killed by one of their “customers (Raymond et al: 2002).

    9. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution does not enhance women’s choice.

    Most women in prostitution did not make a rational choice to enter prostitution. They did not sit down one day and decide that they wanted to be prostitutes. Rather, such choicesare better termed survival strategies. Rather than consent, a prostituted woman more accurately complies to the only options available to her. Her compliance is required by the very fact of having to adapt to conditions of inequality that are set by the customer who pays her to do what he wants her to do.

    Most of the women interviewed in CATW studies reported that choice in entering the sex industry could only be discussed in the context of the lack of other options. Most emphasized that women in prostitution had few other options. Many spoke about prostitution as the last option, or as an involuntary way of making ends meet. In one study, 67% of the law enforcement officials that CATW interviewed expressed the opinion that women did not enter prostitution voluntarily. 72% of the social service providers that CATW interviewed did not believe that women voluntarily choose to enter the sex industry (Raymond and Hughes: 2001).

    The distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution is precisely what the sex industry is promoting because it will give the industry more security and legal stability if these distinctions can be utilized to legalize prostitution, pimping and brothels. Women who bring charges against pimps and perpetrators will bear the burden of proving that they were forced. How will marginalized women ever be able to prove coercion? If prostituted women must prove that force was used in recruitment or in their working conditions, very few women in prostitution will have legal recourse and very few offenders will be prosecuted.

    Women in prostitution must continually lie about their lives, their bodies, and their sexual responses. Lying is part of the job definition when the customer asks,did you enjoy it? The very edifice of prostitution is built on the lie that women like it. Some prostitution survivors have stated that it took them years after leaving prostitution to acknowledge that prostitution wasn’t a free choice because to deny their own capacity to choose was to deny themselves.

    There is no doubt that a small number of women say they choose to be in prostitution, especially in public contexts orchestrated by the sex industry. In the same way, some people choose to take dangerous drugs such as heroin. However, even when some people choose to take dangerous drugs, we still recognize that this kind of drug use is harmful to them, and most people do not seek to legalize heroin. In this situation, it is harm to the person, not the consent of the person that is the governing standard.

    Even a 1998 ILO (UN International Labor Organization) report suggesting that the sex industry be treated as a legitimate economic sector, found that prostitution is one of the most alienated forms of labour; the surveys [in 4 countries] show that women worked “with a heavy heart,””felt forced,”or were “;conscience-stricken” and had negative self-identities. A significant proportion claimed they wanted to leave sex work [sic] if they could (Lim, 1998: 213).”

    When a woman remains in an abusive relationship with a partner who batters her, or even when she defends his actions, concerned people don’t say she is there voluntarily. They recognize the complexity of her compliance. Like battered women, women in prostitution often deny their abuse if provided with no meaningful alternatives.

    10. Women in systems of prostitution do not want the sex industry legalized or decriminalized.

    In a 5-country study on sex trafficking done by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and funded by the Ford Foundation, most of the 146 women interviewed strongly stated that prostitution should not be legalized and considered legitimate work, warning that legalization would create more risks and harm for women from already violent customer and pimps (Raymond et al, 2002). “No way. It’s not a profession. It is humiliating and violence from the men’s side. Not one woman interviewed wanted her children, family or friends to have to earn money by entering the sex industry. One stated: Prostitution stripped me of my life, my health, everything.

    CONCLUSION

    Legislators leap onto the legalization bandwagon because they think nothing else is successful. However, as Scotland Yard’s Commissioner has stated: ‘You’ve got to be careful about legalizing things just because you don’t think what you are doing is successful.

    We hear very little about the role of the sex industry in creating a global sex market in the bodies of women and children. Instead, we hear much about making prostitution into a better job for women through regulation and/or legalization, through unions of so-called sex workers,and through campaigns which provide condoms to women in prostitution but cannot provide them with alternatives to prostitution. We hear much about how to keep women in prostitution but very little about how to help women get out.

    Governments that legalize prostitution as sex work will have a huge economic stake in the sex industry. Consequently, this will foster their increased dependence on the sex sector. If women in prostitution are counted as workers, pimps as businessmen, and buyers as consumers of sexual services, thus legitimating the entire sex industry as an economic sector, then governments can abdicate responsibility for making decent and sustainable employment available to women.

    Rather than the State sanctioning prostitution, the State could address the demand by penalizing the men who buy women for the sex of prostitution, and support the development of alternatives for women in prostitution industries. Instead of governments cashing in on the economic benefits of the sex industry by taxing it, governments could invest in the futures of prostituted women by providing economic resources, from the seizure of sex industry assets, to provide real alternatives for women in prostitution.

    NOTES:

    *Budapest Group. (1999, June). The Relationship Between Organized Crime and Trafficking in Aliens. Austria: International Centre for Migration Policy Development. The Budapest process was initiated in 1991. Nearly 40 governments and 10 organizations participate in the process, and about 50 intergovernmental meetings at various levels have been held, including the Prague Ministerial Conference.

    **The National Rapporteur on Trafficking at the National Swedish Police has stated that in the 6 months following the implementation of the Swedish law in January 1999, the number of trafficked women to Sweden has declined. She also stated that according to police colleagues in the European Union that traffickers are choosing other destination countries where they are not constrained by similar laws. Thus the law serves as a deterrent to traffickers. Quoted in Karl Vicktor Olsson, Sexkopslagen minskar handeln med kvinnor, Metro, January 27, 2001: 2.

    REFERENCES
    Altink, Sietske. (1995). Stolen Lives: Trading Women into Sex and Slavery (London: Scarlet Press).

    Budapest Group. (1999, June). The Relationship Between Organized Crime and Trafficking in Aliens. Austria: International Centre for Migration Policy Development.

    Bureau NRM. (2002, November). Trafficking in Human Beings: First Report of the Dutch National Rapporteur. The Hague. 155 pp.

    Daley, Suzanne. (2001, August 12). “New Rights for Dutch Prostitutes, but No Gain. New York Times, pp. A1 and 4.

    Dutting, Giseling. (2000, November). Legalized Prostitution in the Netherlands Recent Debates. Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, 3: 15-16.

    IOM (International Organization for Migration). (1995, May). Trafficking and Prostitution: the Growing Exploitation of Migrant Women from Central and Eastern Europe. Budapest: IOM Migration Information Program.

    Lim, Lin Lean (1998). The Sex Sector. International Labour Office, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Raymond, Janice G., Donna M. Hughes, Donna M. and Carol A. Gomez (2001).
    Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: Links Between International and Domestic Sex Industries, Funded by the U.S. National Institute of Justice. N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
    Available at http://www.catwinternational.org

    Raymond, Janice G., Jean d’Cunha, Siti Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, H. Patricia Hynes, Zoraida Ramirez Rodriguez and Aida Santos (2002). A Comparative Study of Women Trafficked in the Migration Process: Patterns, Profiles and Health Consequences of Sexual Exploitation in Five Countries (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela and the United States). (2002).
    Funded by the Ford Foundation. N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).
    Available at http://www.catwinternational.org

    South China Morning Post (1999, September 10).Brothel Business Booming at a Legal Red-Light District Near You.

    Sullivan, Mary and Jeffreys, Sheila. (2001). Legalising Prostitution is Not the Answer: the Example of Victoria, Australia. Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, Australia and USA.
    Available at http://www.catwinternational.org

    Tiggeloven, Carin. (2001, December 18). Child Prostitution in the Netherlands. Available here.

  • Rye

    I gather that the Swedish model is just intended to deter violence and empower prostitutes? So, as long as I am discrete, stick to my privileged regular and behave myself, then I have nothing to worry about?

    • Sens et Bois

      No, you would still have your rotten soul to worry about.

    • http://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/ Francois Tremblay

      Well hopefully you’ll go to jail eventually.

  • Anne R.

    I will just just tell you, that I fully agree with you and support your informations. Both our Womens Council in Denmark and our national radio DR did in fact mentioned it – the Danish broadcast at Programme 1 (P1) Orientering which is the serious part of the news. They are rather trustworthy.

    This is what DR P1 wrote shortly about the interview.

    “The story of the Norwegian ban on buying sex has led to several cases of violence against prostitutes filled the media yesterday.

    The basis for the story, which first appeared in Dagbladet Information, is a report from Pro Sentret in Oslo – a help center for prostitutes – which indeed shows that violence against prostitutes in Norway has increased since the parliament imposed a ban on the purchase of sex in 2009. But contrary to media representations, claims the report is not that prohibition is the reason for the increase.

    Bjarke Hartmeyer Christiansen viewing figures and talked to the author.”

    And this is what the Womens Council wrote (Information is a Danish news paper)
    “Danish fallacies about prostitution and violence
    In July appeared Information with an article about a new report from the Norwegian Pro Senter about the effect of the Norwegian ban on the purchase of sexual services. Information wrote that the report showed that the prostitutes in Norway were more vulnerable to violence and abuse after the amendment and on this basis, the Danish debate on banning the purchase of sexual services again taken up. Reading the entire report says loud and clear, even with bold (text), that is not the case:
    (the Norwegian text)

    Further the Womens Council writes:
    “Pro-Senter finds as mentioned not an significant increase in the incidence of violence in prostitution after the introduction of sex-purchase law in Norway. The two studies which report is based, however, contains a number of methodological problems in general makes it difficult to use the report’s conclusions. As examples can be mentioned.
    In neither of the two studies, there is representative groups of prostitutes. For example. Thai prostitutes are over-represented in the survey from 2012 Nigerian prostitutes in the study from 2008 ..
    Respondents are not selected randomly, but selected by the Pro-Senters Legal staff and their contacts, who knows several of the women.
    Many of the foreign prostitutes, who constitute the vast majority of women surveyed often move between countries and staying only in Norway in less time. When they therefore correspond to whether they have been exposed to violence in a particular time period, the answers may reflect the violent incidents that have taken place outside Norway.
    The definition of violence is more extensive in the questionnaire from 2012, which in itself is likely to lead to reporting of more violence.
     
    The Norwegian report shows that is not the ban on purchasing sexual services has caused an increase in violent attacks against prostitutes, but highlights the other hand, some very important, but also familiar points: firstly, that the prostitutes are a very diverse group, which has different needs and partly because the prostitutes generally is a fragile and vulnerable group. Unfortunately selected Information not this angle on the report, but instead the misreading, as they later had to retract.”

    I have translated it by using Google so there might bee some translateerrors but I hope you understand the text anyway :-)

    Maybe I should mention, that Pro-Senter Oslo is absolutely against the sexbuyer ban and absolutely for legalised prostitution.

    http://www.kvinderaadet.dk/kvinder%C3%A5det/danske-fejlslutninger-om-prostitution-og-vold

  • sporenda

    I always thought that, contrary to popular belief, prostitution and rape/violences against women go hand in hand, and that if researchers cared to research statistics on these topics country by country, they’d find a direct corelation between the two.
    This was based on common sense observation: the lowest the status of women is in a particular culture, the more they are exposed to male violence and sexual abuse.
    Having finally some stats that corroborate this view is great, thanks to the author for this info.

    And I love these trolls who have the guts to call themselves “feminists of the 1st generation” to post a shopping list of the most typical anti-feminist platitudes. Really, who do you think you are fooling?

  • kelly

    This is excellent news!

    I have some pedantry. “Nordic” doesn’t mean “Norwegian”, it means of the countries that include Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland (and probably some others).

    Norway have got it right but calling it the “Nordic” model means all the other countries in that region are doing the same thing. They are not. Would that they were.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I was under the impression the other countries were doing the same thing? Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, in any case. I think Denmark is the only one who has not yet adopted a version of this model…But perhaps the name is misleading. Some simply call it ‘the Swedish approach’.

      • Anne R.

        We call it the Nordic Model or the Swedish Model but it is the same model we are talking about. :-)

        No, unfortunately Denmark hasn’t adopted the Nordic/Swedish model yet – our minister of Justice didn’t like it from the beginning. He hasn’t even sent the Criminal Code Council (which consists of 8 old men!) anything written materials – so nobody knows exactly what he has asked the Criminal Code Council about regarding the question about prostitution.

        One can only guess why he and the Criminal Code Council isn’t interested in a sexbuyer ban.

        By the way – Finland is also interested in the Nordic/Swedish model because their legislation don’t work. They do have huge problems with trafficked persons in prostitution eventhough it has been forbidden to buy sex of trafficking victims.

      • kelly

        I think Sweden have something similar but not quite the same. Not sure about Finland and Iceland. Denmark definitely doesn’t.
        But good for Norway!

  • Anne R.

    Maybe I should say, at it hasn’t yet been decided, what Denmark wants to do – the Minister of Justice has been severely criticized by the political hinterland because of his announcement.

  • http://itsjustahobby.wordpress.com jemima101

    It seems typical of the abolitionists that again violence against sex workers is acceptable if it is the sort of violence which supports their aim of eradicating sex work.

    So glad that if, as an indoor worker, I am raped that it is not a reason to change the stigma and whorephobia that I face, but instead something to rejoice over as it “proves” End Demand works.

    All violence against women is wrong, although I do not expect someone who writes of prostituted women and thus objectifies sex workers and denies their ability to consent to believe that. Yet again only “good” women who make morally acceptable choices matter.

    • Meghan Murphy

      What??? No violence against women is acceptable. I don’t know what you mean. Also, what on earth is ‘whorephobia’? A fear of ‘whores’?

    • MLM

      “It seems typical of the abolitionists that again violence against sex workers is acceptable if it is the sort of violence which supports their aim of eradicating sex work’.

      Another troll who simply can’t be bothered to read the whole article…

      “My third and final suggestion is for harm reduction organizations to teach prostituted women that any violence inflicted on them matters. Biting and hair pulling have almost tripled but reporting them hasn’t. Johns will be as violent as they can get away with so we need to keep pushing back the bar of acceptability”.

      YES, all violence against women is wrong. And it is precisely because sex work promotes an atmosphere in which it flourishes that abolitionists are against it!

      But please don’t let reason get in the way of your own bias. It’s all about “whorephobia”. Radical feminists only care about making life difficult for “whores”, not eradicating sexual violence in general.

      And as for this tired argument about “denial of consent”, what about your own denial of all the factors that come into consent? All the reasons that can diminish a person’s ability to consent in a meaningful way? You – and your friends- may very well “choose your choice” in this situation, (and even make the choice not to really examine where the “choice” comes from all that carefully). Whatever. But it doesn’t mean you’re in any position to say that other women who have found themselves making the same “choice”, from a far more limited set of choices, have the same kind of “agency” as you do. Radical feminists choose to give a shit about those women, whether you choose to believe they do or not.

      • Meghan Murphy

        @MLM wins at everything.

        • MLM

          :-) Not trying to win (which is good, cause I mostly win at nothing!)

          Just honestly wondering what is so damn hard for these people about reading the article from start to finish and responding to what it actually says? They don’t have to agree with it, just not make arguments based on things it DOESN”T SAY.

          Also, feeling like it needs to be pointed out that the “I choose my choice” approach to life, is essentially the choice not to give a crap about anybody else the planet. And I’m growing pretty tired of it. If it was only about me I wouldn’t need to care anywhere near as much either. I fully acknowledge that I’m doing alright in the grand scheme of things. But guess what? I’m just one of about 7 billion human beings. Some of them sort of need me not to be a totally self-interested, solipsistic asshole. That’s why I’m drawn to radical feminism (and this AWESOME website :-) ) And why the attitudes of people like jemima 101 are starting to get on my last effing nerve.

        • MLM

          “They were duped into thinking they should have the right to work for the masters as long as laws were in place to ensure humane treatment. Some slaves even fought alongside their owners against the liberators”…”Does any of this sound familiar?”

          Wow. Eerily familiar.

          “The aggression accelerated because white men were enraged to surrender their power and sought revenge on former slaves to regain control. Perhaps pimps and johns are exhibiting certain types of violent behaviour for comparable reasons in countries where criminalizing them is being enforced”.

          That’s another really interesting point. It sounds something like an “Extinction Burst” (in psychology)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_(psychology)#Extinction_burst

          “While extinction, when implemented consistently over time, results in the eventual decrease of the undesired behavior, in the short-term the subject might exhibit what is called an extinction burst. An extinction burst will often occur when the extinction procedure has just begun. This usually consists of a sudden and temporary increase in the response’s frequency, followed by the eventual decline and extinction of the behavior targeted for elimination. Novel behavior, or emotional responses or aggressive behavior, may also occur.”

          • MLM

            Whoops! This was in reply to mary. (So sorry, i’ve done it again!)

  • marv

    Prostitution apologists don’t have the discernment to grasp how revolutionary change works in practice in society. All subversive ideas and policies originally face scorn, ridicule and rejection. For example, prior to slavery and after it was ended there were slaves and former slaves who sided with the proslavery lobby. They were duped into thinking they should have the right to work for the masters as long as laws were in place to ensure humane treatment. Some slaves even fought alongside their owners against the liberators (See Stanley Engerman, Time on the Cross, 1974).

    The following two domains document what is known as the Slave Narratives: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/36020/36020-h/36020-h.html# http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19446/19446-h/19446-h.htm. Here are some quotes:

    “Dem was de good ole days. How ! longs to be back dar wid my ole folks an’ a playin’ wid de chillun down by de creek. ‘Taint nothin’ lak it today, nawsuh…. Dey tells me dat when a pusson crosses dat ribber, de Lawd gives him whut he wants. I done tol’ de Lawd I don’t want nothin’ much … only my home, white folks. I don’t think dats much to ax’ for. I suppose he’ll send me back dar. I been a-waitin’ for him to call.”
    “People has the wrong idea of slave days. We was treated good. My Massa never laid a hand on me the whole time I was wid him… Sometime we loaned the Massa money when he was hard pushed.”
    “Before the war you belonged to somebody. After the war you weren’t nothin’ but a nigger.”
    “I was born a slave but I ain’t neber been one. I’se been a worker for good peoples. You wouldn’t calls dat bein’ a slave would you, white folks?”
    Also here is a excerpt from Belinda Harmence’s book, Before Freedom, 1989:
    “I hope and prays to get to heaven. I’ll be satisfied to see my Savior that my old marster worshiped and my husband preached about. I want to be in heaven with all my white folks, just to wait on them, and love them, and serve them, sorta like I did in slavery time. That will be enough heaven for Adeline.”

    Does any of this sound familiar? Unperturbed by the opposition the abolitionists won the day.

    During Reconstruction – the campaign to rebuild the southern states – after the Civil War, violence as well as lynching escalated dramatically towards black people by whites:

    “Civil rights for freed slaves was not an easy accomplishment. Many Southerners did all they could to keep blacks down following the war, often resorting to mayhem. And not all violence against blacks was at the hands of civilians. In New Orleans, 48 African Americans were killed when police viciously put down a peaceful demonstration promoting black suffrage.” http://www.netplaces.com/american-civil-war/reconstruction-and-remembrance/reconstruction.htm
    “Violence in the United States against African Americans, especially in the South, rose in the aftermath of the Civil War, after slavery had been abolished and recently freed black men were given the right to vote. Violence rose even more at the end of the 19th century, after southern white Democrats regained their political power in the South in the 1870s. States passed new constitutions or legislation which effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites, established segregation of public facilities by race, and separated blacks from common public life and facilities. Nearly 3,500 African Americans and 1,300 whites were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968, mostly from 1882 to 1920.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynching

    The aggression accelerated because white men were enraged to surrender their power and sought revenge on former slaves to regain control. Perhaps pimps and johns are exhibiting certain types of violent behaviour for comparable reasons in countries where criminalizing them is being enforced.

    Pro sex work ideologues take heed. Abolitionist social change is messy and takes time and patience to attain emancipatory results. Swallow your arrogance and renounce your dogmatic canons and institutionally conformist mentalities. Your acrimonious and hazardous posturing will eventually fall into the dust bin of history. If you are alive when it does, you will appear and feel like asinine persecutors who held back progress – usurpers of the equality revolution.

    • MLM

      “They were duped into thinking they should have the right to work for the masters as long as laws were in place to ensure humane treatment. Some slaves even fought alongside their owners against the liberators”…”Does any of this sound familiar?”

      Wow. Eerily familiar.

      “The aggression accelerated because white men were enraged to surrender their power and sought revenge on former slaves to regain control. Perhaps pimps and johns are exhibiting certain types of violent behaviour for comparable reasons in countries where criminalizing them is being enforced”.

      That’s another really interesting point. It sounds something like an “Extinction Burst” (in psychology)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_(psychology)#Extinction_burst

      “While extinction, when implemented consistently over time, results in the eventual decrease of the undesired behavior, in the short-term the subject might exhibit what is called an extinction burst. An extinction burst will often occur when the extinction procedure has just begun. This usually consists of a sudden and temporary increase in the response’s frequency, followed by the eventual decline and extinction of the behavior targeted for elimination. Novel behavior, or emotional responses or aggressive behavior, may also occur.”

      • marv

        Thank so much MLM for making me aware of the pathology of Extinction Bursts. It made me realize that it is a widespread phenomenom. It definitely presents itself wherever patriarchy is feeling threatened. The MRM is an outstanding example of such dysfunctional behaviour. Therapy or medication won’t cure it. The remedy is feminist political force.

        • MLM

          Totally agree, marv! (And the MRM is definitely another example of this imo)

    • Grackle

      Wow, an amazing collection of quotes and evidence!

  • Pingback: New Norwegian research rubs success of Nordic model in everyone’s face « JohnStompers.com()

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  • Rye

    @Sens et Bois / Francois Temblay,

    But I conduct myself in a civil manner and buy sex from a woman whose experience as a prostitute is very privileged. For example, she is well educated, in her early 30’s, and works full time doing a middle class desk job. This is a very different situation from the underage girl who is sold by a pimp, and I think I am right to protest being put in the same category.

    I buy sex because it is my only option. First off, I am socially awkward, boring and do not fit society’s conception of masculinity. Secondly, I have to compete with men who are 15 years or more older than I am (and wealthier) for dates with women my own age.

    Moreover, I want to be with a woman I can spend quality time with, not a sperm dumpster. Which is why I picked her for her privilege and education. We got along from the beginning, and as time has progressed, she has allowed me to have more intimate contact with her. For example, she allows me to kiss and pleasure her. Now I only buy sex from her, because the familiarity and intimacy makes the experience far more worthwhile. Sadly, that is difficult to have with a prostitute.

    Having said that, I don’t believe my freedom to legally buy sex outweighs the basic human rights of those women in prostitution who are greatly underprivileged. But I think it is unjust to place me in the same category as buyers who buy sex to satisfy their perverted sadistic thrills, often with underage girls who are sold by pimps and traffickers.

    Finally, I trust her, so I am not bothered with her having the power to report me for buying sex. I just hope no one thinks it is acceptable to violate the civil liberties of others to catch a prostitute’s clients at all costs, even if she is privileged and thus has no incentive to seek help or report them.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Considering how many extremely boring people there are in this world, I find it hard to believe that you wouldn’t be able to find a woman who would be willing to spend time with you without you having to pay her? Also, why don’t women ever use this as an excuse to pay men to hang out with them? This has to be just about commodifying sex and women’s bodies, otherwise why would this defense be one only used by men?

      • Rye

        @Meghan,

        I think the reason why only men make that excuse can be inferred from this post by the feminist blogger Miska
        http://fabmatters.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/all-women-are-whores/

        Two points she makes:
        1. Men assume every woman has a price
        2. Men have privileged access to money and power

        So my answer is exactly because women are commodified by culture. Examples include the ways women are socialized to “land a man,” eroticize male power, and maintain an attractive appearance. In turn, men are socialized to believe that every woman has a price tag that depreciates as she ages.

        The result is a largely pay to play system rigged in favor of men with money, usually older men. So 20-something men who are not attractive, masculine, wealthy, or exciting lose because patriarchy has created an unnaturally high number of single 20-something men compared to single 20-something women.

        This also explains the cultural message that 40-something women have trouble finding single men their own age. Additionally, my experience concurs with Miska. Men often believe that women are prostitutes by nature, and they will add “but never tell a woman that.” And as she mentioned, evolutionary psychology tries to prove it true.

        So my defense is that until older men learn to date women their own age, I can’t compete.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Uh yeah…. I’m aware of all this. Obviously. Your defense, though, I don’t buy. No women I know date older, wealthy men. They date men who are near their age/class/education, etc

          Mansplainingly yours,
          Meghan

        • Lela

          “Moreover, I want to be with a woman I can spend quality time with, not a sperm dumpster.” What kind of person refers to women as “sperm dumpsters?” So what you’re obviously saying is that you wanted a higher-quality *product,* i.e., the girlfriend experience! That’s a five-alarm fail, Rye.

          • MLM

            Yes, and with those that sort of attitude I can’t possibly imagine what prevents him from finding a real life girlfriend…Well, actually I can. Quite a lot of them so tend to like being seen as human beings. Perhaps, this might be a far bigger handicap for him than being “socially awkward, boring” and not fitting “society’s conception of masculinity”. Or older men.

            I’ll add that I only know one women out of all my friends who ever had much interest in dating older men, especially in our 20’s. (And she’s now married to a younger man). The rest were always attracted to peers. And, honestly, I think if they have the choice, most women are.

    • Me

      Your use of this blog is essentially masturbatory and perverted. I don’t like it.

      • NitroGirl

        Aaaagh,thank you for being able to articulate how I feel about his presence whenever he goes on his Ethical John parade. Ethical Johns don’t realize no matter the class of the woman,it’s still them reinforcing the idea that men are entitled to purchase sex at a whim from women. It sill reinforces patriarchy.

    • Me

      What really pisses me off about your comments is that they show perfectly how men can spout all manner of niceties about women and equality and making the world a better place, but in the end, as men, they can always decide to turn around, to fall back on their male privilege, to recant, and to betray women. Just for the fuck of it, because they feel like it, because they like to show they can, because they have no integrity, because they hate women and hating women is safe.

      You don’t want equality. You don’t want to support women. You want your male entitlements first of all and those are what you will fight for. Because you’re a man, you can choose to theorize and engage with “worldly” topics and probe the consequences of your actions from a distance. When you do, you expect to be heard, and if you can’t make men listen to you, you can at least find and pay a woman who will.

      • MLM

        Well said, Me. It’s the old “I believe in equality as long as it doesn’t cockblock me” stance.

  • Sens et Bois

    “works full time doing a middle class desk job”

    Of course she does because she said she does. Why would she lie when your belief in her Girl Next Doorness is obviously so important to you?

  • sporenda

    jemima: “So glad that if, as an indoor worker, I am raped that it is not a reason to change the stigma and whorephobia that I face, but instead something to rejoice over as it “proves” End Demand works.”

    I can’t make sense of this. Are you saying that stigma and whorephobia are the cause of prostitutes being raped? Tell that to the thousands of non-whore, non stigmatized women raped everyday.

    Are you saying that abolition increases the number of prostitutes rapes? That’s the abolitionnists favorite argument, and the stats provided by the article prove it’s poppycock.

    What increases rape is unchecked male abusive sexual behavior; any law that aims to reducing it is bound to reduce rape–if it’s is well conceived and seriously implemented of course.
    Laws against murder don’t increase murder; it’s the absence of such laws that does.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Exactly, sporenda.

  • https://twitter.com/jasoncongdon Jason Congdon

    Thank you to Meghan and to Samantha for sharing the original ProSentret report.

    However, it is a serious mistake to depict ProSentret’s report as including evidence that violence decreases under the Nordic model.

    The report cannot be interpreted to show decreased violence because of a crucial difference between the 2008 and 2012 surveys. The authors make clear throughout their report that the 2008 respondents were asked to report on violence experienced over their entire careers, whereas the 2012 survey is limited to a 3-year period. Therefore, the numbers cannot be compared, as the authors indicate. But that’s not the only reason the suggestion that rape has decreased by half is spurious and dangerously misleading.

    To the contrary, it is quite possible that the relation between the 2008 result that 29% had experienced rape in their entire career in prostitution, while 15% of 2012 respondents report being raped in a 3-year period alone indicates that the frequency of rape has increased. Regardless, on this basis alone, depicting the study as evidence of a decrease in rape or any other form of violence is simply wrong. Moreover, the difference in reporting periods will apply to every form of violence included in the report. Thus it is quite possible, if not likely, that the frequency of violence has increased far more than ProSentret’s study suggests.

    Therefore, the headline of this article and many of the claims therein is quite simply wrong.

    In this context, the inflammatory implication that the report’s authors are “Liars!” is particularly disturbing, if not hypocritical. Berg claims that the ProSentret authors “did not consider the halving of rape to be worth pointing out,” but she found the numbers in the report itself, so this claim is obviously false. Indeed, the authors did not leap to the erroneous conclusion that Berg’s article promotes, but does not make them liars. Meanwhile, it could just as easily be argued that Berg’s argument that the report shows a decrease in violence is itself dishonest.

    I am aware that many members of the abolitionist community are hopeful that the Nordic model works, but I’ve followed this issue closely for a few years now, and nothing indicates it has improved conditions for sex workers in Norway and Sweden. Even the Swedish government’s own assessments fall short of indicating that the policy has led to anything other than cosmetic improvements in the number of prostitutes working in the streets (see the 2010 Skarhed commission report).

    Absent evidence that the Nordic model makes prostitutes safer in Sweden or Norway, we must carefully consider its potential consequences in the Canadian context, which features both a weaker safety net and more violence than Norway or Sweden. One concern in particular is mentioned in the ProSentret report: “Several support services report that the women’s relation to the customer is now that they have to ‘protect’ the customer from the police”. For this and many other reasons, I fear the Nordic model can be expected to place survival sex workers at much greater risk of harm.

    In that regard, I would suggest that Samantha’s misrepresentation of the ProSentret report is not simply misleading, but potentially dangerously misleading.

    • MLM

      “The report cannot be interpreted to show decreased violence because of a crucial difference between the 2008 and 2012 surveys. The authors make clear throughout their report that the 2008 respondents were asked to report on violence experienced over their entire careers, whereas the 2012 survey is limited to a 3-year period. Therefore, the numbers cannot be compared, as the authors indicate”…

      “Thus it is quite possible, if not likely, that the frequency of violence has increased far more than ProSentret’s study suggests”.

      If the numbers cannot be compared, and the methodology is as flawed as you assert, on what basis are can you trying to suggest there has been a “likely” increase in violence?

    • sporenda

      Sorry, wrong move.

      The author of this post tells us in essence that one cannot compare apples and oranges–the answers about the whole career and the answers for the last three years.
      That makes sense: comparing answers bearing on different number of years presents indeed a major methodological problem.
      And then he draws the conclusion that the violences against prostitutes have probably increased!
      You can’t have it both ways: if the data figuring in this reports do not allow for comparisons due to the fact they bear on vastly different lengths of times, no conclusions can be reached –either way.
      In other words, according to the author of this post, the data in this report are not good enough to prove a decrease, but they are good enough to prouve an increase.
      I have to admire such a feast of logic.

      And based on my knowledge regarding the results of this law, calling these results mere “cosmetic improvements” is another way of twisting the facts: if I am willing to admit that more data are needed to assess an increase or decrease (or no significant change) in the violences against prostitutes, all the info I have indicate important changes taking places in other aspects of the local sex trade: a clear decrease in the number of prostitutes (indoor and outdoors) and in the amount of prostitutional activities.
      Proof that the law is effective is that significant numbers of prostitutes have moved shop elsewhere.
      And a clear majority of people in Sweden still support this law; their experience based” opinions carry more weight in my view than Mr Congdon’s self appointed expertise.

      • Jason Congdon

        @Sporenda & @ MLM:
        You’re correct that we can’t have it both ways, and that’s why I merely suggested that the numbers might reflect an increase. For a more judicious approach to the data, see Wendy Lyon’s response on Feminist Ire. Nevertheless, Sporenda claims that I said the numbers “prouve [sic] an increase”. Not true: I wrote that “it is quite possible, if not likely”. Please do not misrepresent me, and let’s not digress from the matter at hand: misrepresenting facts and arguments is the problem we’re discussing in the first place.

        While the most responsible conclusion is that “neither an increase nor a decrease can be proven,” it nevertheless stands to reason that if the average career of the 2008 respondents were >6 years, the 15% incidence reported in 2012 would indicate a higher frequency of rape than the 29% rate reported in 2008. That’s what I meant by “possible, if not likely”.

        @sporenda:
        Regarding the info and proof that you mention, please do share your data; I do not wish to overlook evidence I’m not aware of. Indeed, there seems to be a consensus that prostitution activity in the streets decreased after the implementation of the Sex Work Purchase Act, but I haven’t come across evidence for anything beyond that.

        The outcome “that significant numbers of prostitutes have moved shop elsewhere” is precisely what I meant my a “cosmetic” improvement: it may have dispersed prostitutes from Stockholm’s Malmskillnadsgatan, but this appears to serve the interest of politicians at the expense of the well-being of prostitutes.

        My fear is that in Vancouver, where I’m writing from, any policy that drives sex workers further into the shadows is a very dangerous move, especially given what we know about past and likely present predators.

        • MLM

          “My fear is that in Vancouver, where I’m writing from, any policy that drives sex workers further into the shadows is a very dangerous move, especially given what we know about past and likely present predators”.

          Fair enough. That’s a valid fear. But please propose a model that actually protects women and prevents human trafficking then, because the argument that legalizing prostitution makes it safer for women just hasn’t been borne out in countries implementing full legalisation (and you would, no doubt, be well aware of if this is an issue you have been following, as you mentioned in your previous comment).

          • Meghan Murphy

            Exactly. Unfortunately, legalization doesn’t protect women from male violence and provides them with no recourse when there is violence. At least if johns are criminalized and if cops are educated to understand that it is not the women, but rather the men who are the criminals, when there is rape/violence, women can tell the police and the police will ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING.

          • sporenda

            When it comes to the abolition of prostitution, the debate is heavily gendered: in the European country where I live, several polls have shown that the vast majority of women is in favor of the Nordic model (roughly 2/3ds) whereas a strong majority of men is against it, this proportion increasing with age.
            In fact, if the abolition of prostitution was decided by a “females only” referendum, it would pass here with flying colors.
            And it’s hardly surprising: abolition clearly serves women’s rights and goes against traditional male rights (here, unconditional right of sexual access to women’s bodies).
            Any attempt to limit this “right” is experienced as unbearable by most men.
            In this context, apparently rational arguments by males denying the effectiveness of the Nordic model are bound to be rigged: behind the veneer of logic and objectivity, what it boils down to is the defense of male right.
            Being a feminist means that, on women’s issues, the female point of view is validated, not the male.

          • Jason Congdon

            @Marv:
            I agree with most of your comments, but I don’t think they support the notion that there’s “grave danger” in my arguments. There is no more “grave danger” in pointing out serious mistakes and misrepresentations in Samantha’s article than there is in any other instance of speaking truth to power. Ideological distortions (ie, misrepresenting things in service of one’s political goals) and unnecessary antagonism (ie, “liars”) doesn’t help anyone, and I don’t think there’s grave danger in pointing that out.

            As for contextualization, this is an important point, and I could contextualize my arguments in terms of the history of feminism, history of prostitution, or history of sex, but within this thread, the context of my posts is the dialogue between Samantha’s article and ProSentret’s report. Nevertheless, the article you’ve shared is valuable, and it’s also worth considering how changes in women’s participation in science and feminist approaches to science and technology studies since 1985 have actualized its vision to some degree.

            @Insolence:
            I can’t tell if you’re referring to me with the words “your side”. If so, please do tell, what is my side? I would suggest that “sides” in general are a problem here. There’s too much conflict and not enough cooperation in these conversations. The “us v. them” approach, whether couched as “feminism v. patriarchy” or otherwise, all too often gets in the way of progressive praxis. In that regard, Sporenda’s definition of feminism (“Being a feminist means that, on women’s issues, the female point of view is validated, not the male”) is hardly progressive: the problems around prostitution cannot be resolved without cooperation between women and men.

            Meanwhile, I don’t see Wendy ever suggesting that the ProSentret report is “great” or that it is “bad research”… her words seem quite the opposite of pre-judging or “kneejerk”. I don’t think anyone is denying any evidence, as you suggest with the climate change model. In fact, in my revious post, I asked another poster what the evidence is. One thing this debate needs, first and foremost, is a space for considering the evidence, particularly given the risks involved.

            @MLM & @Meghan Murphy:
            I think debates over legalization v. decriminalization v. criminalization are often a red herring, becuase none of these approaches addresses the causes of survival sex work and thus none of these appoaches can be expected to diminish prostitution. Laws (or lack thereof) about paying for sex don’t address poverty, sexism, racism, colonialism, drug addiction, organized crime, etc. – quite the contrary. To address the problems around prostitution, it’s necessary to deal with each of the aforementioned causes, among others, and this requires an expansion of our social safety net including increased social housing and services, a livable minimum wage, etc., along with anti-sexist/racist/colonial praxis, and a focus on the most pernicious predators, who are more often pimps and procurers than your average “john” – these are all things our Conservative government seems opposed to. And whether abolitionists like it or not, it requires harm reduction along the way.

            In any case, if Joy Smith were to succeed in legislating the Nordic model, Stephen Harper would celebrate this as a triumph on behalf of women, thus coopting the women’s movement while doing nothing whatsoever to help their cause. How does that serve the interests of feminists or prostitutes?

            As for @MLM’s query about an alternative, there is no simple panacea for such a complicated issue. The main solutions are ensuring that women live free of poverty and the other conditions mentioned above. Beyond that, I do think one of the better interventions where I live is the Living in Community Action Plan (http://www.livingincommunity.ca/docs/living_in_comm.pdf). I realize it may be anathema to abolitionists, but I think a more constructive dialogue between these two positions is necessary.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “I think debates over legalization v. decriminalization v. criminalization are often a red herring, becuase none of these approaches addresses the causes of survival sex work and thus none of these appoaches can be expected to diminish prostitution.”

            The only approach that addressed these issues is the abolitionist approach/the Nordic model. This is EXACTLY what feminists keep saying over and over again with regard to the harm reduction model/legalization — that these approaches don’t address the root (why women get into prostitution in the first place). I, and many, many other feminists, have written this over and over again. The WHOLE POINT is the root.

            With regard to the law, criminalizing pimps and johns at least addresses the aspect of the root cause that is male violence against women. The Nordic model in Sweden is attached to a strong welfare system, as well as exiting programs, education initiatives for the public and the police, social safety nets, etc.

            We have to start somewhere.

            Also, for the record, I’m not working alongside the Harper government on anything, regardless of what Joy Smith is advocating for so please don’t manipulate this into some version of the ‘in bed with’ cliche.

          • Jason Congdon

            @Megan Murphy:

            Of course I don’t think you’re in bed with Stephen Harper and Joy Smith! I mean, with apologies to Laureen and Bart: well, better to nevermind such metaphors. :)

            But abolitionist feminism and the Nordic model is not the only approach that addresses these issues – harm reductionists, sex-positivists, and third-wave feminists have all written about these issues. You say “the whole point is the root”, but prostitution has many roots, not just one, and it seems to me that radical feminist abolitionism in our region (Vancouver) fixates on “demand” as the only root, as if (a) demand is the sole cause of prostitution and (b) criminalizing demand will “end demand”. But there’s no evidence for either of these positions. You suggest that “the root cause … is male violence against women” – really? Sure, it is a factor, but: moreso than poverty; moreso than sexism, racism, and colonialism in general; moreso than drug addiction and the black economy and organizations that fuel it; moreso than the perverse repression of sex that creates ridiculous pornifications that you and Samantha write about elsewhere? Male violence against women is deplorable, but re prostitution, it is one factor among many.

            In some ways, you point back to my argument: because Sweden has a strong social welfare system, the damaging consequences of further criminalization are primarily foisted upon immigrant populations who don’t have access to the same benefits or to the same consideration as Swedish citizens. Yet, they still probably have better access to better services than do marginalized women in Canada, where these protections have been eviscerated by Liberal, then Conservative governments. Here, the adverse consequences of criminalization will be borne by marginalized women with little recourse to social support, while the Conservative government will point to the criminalizing legislation as protecting women.

            I can see where criminalizing johns might feel satisfying in a context that views prostitution as a wedge issue in the battle of feminism versus patriarchy, but I don’t think this is the place to put political theory before praxis or before women’s welfare. We do have to start somewhere, but the Nordic model appears dangerous for both feminists and for prostitutes in Canada.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “You say “the whole point is the root”, but prostitution has many roots, not just one,” YES I KNOW. Poverty, colonialism/racism, sexism. We need affordable housing, affordable (or free!) post-secondary education, jobs, etc. Abolitionists do NOT only fixate on demand. Sorry, for being short/the caps lock, but I feel like I repeat myself a lot and get frustrated. “The root” describes a variety of issues, all of which play a part in funneling women into prostitution.

            Can I point you to some of the things I’ve written on this? They’re almost all on this website…

          • Jason Congdon

            @Megan Murphy:
            Of course I hope you’ll point me to anything you think might be useful – whether here or via email.

          • marv

            I know I have participated beyond my fair share in this discussion, so please, anyone, tell me to cease speaking if I am becoming an intrusive vexation.

            Jason, I am not trying to be condescending, but you still don’t seem to apprehend CONTEXT in its fullest sense. Male supremacy (patriarchy) is not just the cause of sexism (violence against women in all its forms). It is the root of poverty, racism, colonialism, war, etc. Men (man)ufactured capitalism, nation states, governments, white supremacy and the military with all their attendant inequalities. Indeed men have created the hierarchies among men. Dare I say they also concocted conservatism and liberalism. Women only participate in all these institutions by their association to men even when they climb to the top (as a minority) of these edifices. Women did not orchestrate or structure them. It would be as monstrous to deny this as it is for the forsaken and desolate to have to dwell within this constructed hell.

          • MLM

            “I know I have participated beyond my fair share in this discussion, so please, anyone, tell me to cease speaking if I am becoming an intrusive vexation”.

            marv, I can’t believe you said that! I think you’ve made really excellent points and can’t understand why you would ever imagine your contributions were any sort of intrusion. Personally, I think everything you’ve had to say was highly relevant to the discussion. (But maybe that’s just because I haven’t shut up either! I just won’t be apologising for it any time soon :-) )

          • Meghan Murphy

            No apologies! Thank you for everyone’s contributions so far!

          • marv

            Thank you MLM for your generous and tender words and to Meghan for your ever flowing feminist current of living water where we come to quench our thirst for truth, meaning and equality. Most often I can’t believe I have the good fortune to converse with such extraordinarily enlightened humans like yourselves and all the other radicals (roots people) in our midst. There is remarkable spirit, fire and intelligence in your statements. It is so sublime I can’t find the words to convey my delight and gratitude. My life would be vastly diminished without you.

          • MLM

            What a lovely thing to say, marv, and sentiments I echo. :-)

          • Me

            This is again exactly why I think whatever people do, they need to see that as a part of a true culture of resistance. Because of these roots, the analysis has to be feminist, not exclusively but it needs to be there.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Ok, well this piece, for one, which I wrote for Megaphone, looks at racism and colonialism as a driving factor in the prostitution of First Nations women. As Cherry Smiley points out, colonialism and patriarchy are very much linked: http://megaphonemagazine.com/articles/422/aboriginal-women-are-overrepresented-in-the-sex-trade-is-there-a-way-out

          • Me

            I don’t mind the divisiveness, what you write makes me think we need more of it. It’s not so much about choosing sides as it is about being a part of the solution…

          • MLM

            “harm reductionists, sex-positivists, and third-wave feminists have all written about these issues”. Yes, and from what I have read by people who identify in these categories, they never seem to acknowledge a fundamental problem that, in my opinion, radical feminism does. Allowing women to be seen as sexual commodities strongly undermines the perception of them as fellow human beings. They seem to want to talk a whole lot about “stigma” with seemingly no awareness that they are promoting something both born out of and entrenching the said stigma.

            The reason “criminalising johns might feel satisfying” is because there is an underlying societal misogyny that constantly upholds the idea that “women are to blame for their own abuse”. (For example, witness this disgusting article and the way it frames the gang rape of an 11 year old girl. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html?_r=1&amp)

            It also addresses the fact that there are structural systems of oppression that do actually deny “choice” to some members/groups of society. And that more affluent/privileged members of society who decide to pay them for sex are quite literally buying into their oppression. So, they are the culpable ones in the scenario.

          • Lela

            Porn and prostitution are not the result of a “perverse repression of sex.” Controlling our sexual urges and respecting other people’s boundaries do not create “pornifications.” These things are created by men, in a patriarchal society where male dominance is glorified and female submission expected, where “sex” is abstracted from the whole selves of women and commodified and positioned as a kind of resource open to all men, as men. A society where there is rampant dishonesty about women’s sexual response that forces so many of us to suffer in silence. It makes me spitting mad when porn and sex industry apologists attempt to explain away their product using this idea. There is no “perverse repression of sex” in Western liberal culture. It’s all commodified “sex,” all the time, at the expense of women and to the extreme detriment of the most vulnerable. Why doesn’t your camp want to talk about this?

            Feminists aren’t the ones calling women “sperm dumpsters,” Jason.

          • MLM

            “there is no simple panacea for such a complicated issue”. Truer words were never spoken, but I refer you to the article I cited above about a book called “Prostitution, the abolition of the victim and post-modernism’s defence of the status-quo” by Swedish socialist, anarchist and feminist Kajsa Ekis Ekman for a succinct articulation of why the “so-called ‘harm reduction’ approach …to protect and uphold the system of prostitution” can never really help “those who champion it never ask any deeper questions about the nature of prostitution its causes and effects”.

            http://ssy.org.uk/2010/09/prostitution-the-abolition-of-the-victim-and-post-modernisms-defence-of-the-status-quo/#comments

            “… We see this idea of ‘unions’ coming from both the left and the right because it’s convenient, it gives prostitution a certain false legitimacy. It doesn’t work and it never will work, but it successfully diverts attention away from the deeper questions around prostitution and why it exists in our society”.

          • MLM

            Forgot to add that you should really read the articles that have linked to Meghan’s article (below the comments). This quote from number 2. “In the Booth with Ruth – Nicole Rowe, Anti-Sex Trade Activist and Co-Founder of Nordic Model Advocates (NorMAs), sums up my almost immediate suspicion of plans like the one you linked to, I’m afraid. Neoliberalism is the elephant in the room.

            “Worldwide figures about the human rights abuse of violence against women should be shocking us into action. Instead, it is under-funded. Prostitution is doubly neglected because it is ‘too controversial’. I went to a recent human rights conference about the Istanbul Convention (an international convention to commit member states of the Council of Europe to act against violence against women) where they flatly admitted this. They immediately discounted prostitution, although it fits legal definitions of violence against women – purely because they knew it was divisive and they needed to be productive within a limited time. So, women in prostitution, who are eighteen times more likely to be murdered than the average population and who face all kinds of verbal, physical and sexual violence are swept under the carpet. We are bowing to the profit-makers, to the pimps and the capitalists who see women as commodities. This needs to be discussed, or those interested in profit will win, as they are winning now, because neo-liberal capitalism lets them”.

          • Jason Congdon

            @mlm:
            Thank you for the recommendations, they’re much appreciated. I will look at these materials. Before doing so, however, I would suggest that the elephant of neoliberalism likely applies as much to the Swedish government’s global proselytization of their policy as neoconservativism applies to the Conservative government’s promotion of the same policy here. I offer this as concern rather than criticism, and I will read your recommendations with an open mind.

          • MLM

            You’re welcome, Jason. We may have come to different positions about this, but I do respect and share your desire to have the best possible solution, and I more than understand that you have concerns about how best to achieve that.

          • Me

            Seriously, if that Living in Community Action Plan you posted a link to is one of the better interventions, then there’s absolutely no hope whatsoever. It would serve no purpose to argue point by point what’s wrong with it. Some of the ideas are superficially good when you ignore the obvious, and some of the people involved are probably good hearted and not entirely cynical or careerist, but otherwise it’s got “will be derailed if accidentally turns effective” written all over it. Unstated purpose: to marginalize people who otherwise might make a difference and to allow the status quo to keep on grinding. We’re out of planet, out of future, and too many women and children get fucked every fucking day.

          • MLM

            Excellent point, sporenda. Also, so many abolition activists have come to their cause precisely because they have personally experienced the harms of prostitution and want to end them. As the article I linked to above points out (sorry, I know I’m going to end up quoting the whole thing soon, but so much of it seems relevant to this conversation) many pro-prostitution lobbyists have no personal experience of having sex for money (much less for survival purposes).

            “The International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW), for example, which is affiliated to the GMB and has spoken at conferences of the Labour Party and the Green Party, is run by a man called Douglas Fox. Fox claims to be a ‘sex worker’ and accuses radical feminists of being big meanies out to silence him. Yet on closer inspection it becomes clear that Mr Fox is a liar. Sex worker he most certainly is not, rather he is a pimp who runs one of the UK’s largest escort firms. The IUSW’s membership, you see, is open to anyone, to pimps, to men who buy sex, to sympathetic academics. Of its minute membership of 150 (which compares to the 100,000 plus women and men who work in the UK’s sex industry) only a tiny minority are actual prostitutes. It’s the same all over Europe where similar organisations exist (such as ‘de Rode Draad’ in the Netherlands) – their membership is tiny, most aren’t even prostitutes, and they have never succeeded in pushing any independent union demands”.

        • Insolence

          Your side always says the thousands of research studies revealing prostitution’s harms are all hopelessly flawed, even when your side compiles the research as in this case. Those of us following along saw Wendy say the research was great a few months ago when she thought it supported her beliefs, then as soon as this article appeared she said it was bad research, and only after denouncing it did she go back and read through it for anything that would back up her pre-judgment.

          Kneejerk denials of all the evidence in an effort to sustain the status quo that currently serves capitalists so well is the same method corporate polluters use to impede the work of environmentalists with proof that climate change is real.

    • Insolence

      If Pro Sentret didn’t expect data from 2008 and 2012 to be compared they wouldn’t have written a report and made charts comparing them.

      Pro Sentret conducted the interviews among their clients and published their best estimations. The questionnaire at the end of the report asks, “How much experience do you have in prostitution?” so the information was gathered but dismissed as irrelevant for some reason.

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  • pisaquari

    Guess WHAT naysayers: if at the end of the day we are to conclude that criminalization does not work(obviously) and decriminalization fails us (trafficking increases) AND the Nordic model “hurts women”, then YOU are concluding men are beyond salvaging. And I might have to agree with you. But trust that you won’t be liking the Kill The Rapists Off Model any better.

  • marv

    Putting this study aside and its interpretations (for the moment), it is crucial to examine the male bias of the whole scientific method of knowing social/physical reality. Here is an incisive critique of the unfairness of that approach:

    http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/85spp.html

    • MLM

      Great link, marv. Thanks for posting this.

  • marv

    There is another grave danger in Jason’s arguments in opposition to the Nordic Model. They are not contextualized. I know we have to use data gathering procedures to draw conclusions to improve laws and policies but they are neither neutral nor exist in a vacuum. Patriarchal structures forge the tools and techniques we are using. Feminism reveals the partisanship in the masculine process. At the same time, while living in the belly of the colossus, feminism is not unallied either; it can’t be. There is no such thing as pure objectivity in relation to sexual/social injustice. Within patriarchy we have to take a stand against it if we are to have equality. Non-alignment acquiesces to the system, fortifying it. We cannot be detached observers counting numbers. This is an abomination. Men excel at it. Generally this is how men lack solidarity with women and real critical thinking skills. Once again I recommend this site for raising male consciousness:

    http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/85spp.html

  • MLM

    This is a link to an great article in Scottish Socialist Youth about a book called “Prostitution, the abolition of the victim and post-modernism’s defence of the status-quo” by Swedish socialist, anarchist and feminist Kajsa Ekis Ekman.

    http://ssy.org.uk/2010/09/prostitution-the-abolition-of-the-victim-and-post-modernisms-defence-of-the-status-quo/#comments

    “As Ekis Ekman makes clear the whole point of the so-called ‘harm reduction’ approach is to protect and uphold the system of prostitution. Those who champion it never ask any deeper questions about the nature of prostitution, its causes and effects. To waste millions on “teaching women to be better prostitutes” is a cruel joke in a world where tens of millions of women and girls are enslaved and systematically raped in the service of men’s sexual desires.
    Why, she asks, despite the enormous harm caused by prostitution, does it continue to be allowed in so many countries? The statistics are hardly difficult to find and apply both where prostitution is legal and illegal:
    * 71% of women in prostitution have been subjected to physical violence
    * 63% have been raped while in prostitution
    * 89% want to leave and would do so if they could
    * 68% show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
    * Women in prostitution have a death rate 40 times higher than the average
    * Women in prostitution are 16 times more likely to be murdered”

    It also mentions something quite interesting about the Swedish prostitution debate:

    “Finally another thing I found interesting in the book was her discussion of the development of the prostitution debate in Sweden in recent decades. Her opponents such as Petra Östergren and Laura Agustin have long accused Sweden’s sexköpslagen (law against buying sex) as being a result of a complete absence of Sweden listening to the views and interests of those in prostitution. Yet as Ekman shows the government’s prostitutionsutredningen (prostitution investigation) of 1977, which shaped the Swedish prostitution debate for decades to come, was revolutionary in its focus on the views and experiences of prostituted women themselves and the questions it asked about the men who used them.

    The centre-right politician Inger Nilsson who had been put in charge of the investigation had initially tried to suppress the women’s accounts after having met with several sex club owners, publishing instead a vastly trimmed-down version of the report with the personal testimonies excluded. When this emerged though there was a storm of outrage from feminists and the government was forced to release the 800 page investigation in full, which came out in book form. According to Ekman:

    “It went down like a bomb. It was a landmark which changed society’s view of prostitution. It came to alter the direction of prostitution research in the whole of Scandinavia. Prostitution, just like rape, had become political … For prostitution research it meant going back to the beginning. Of the 19th century research – where the causes of prostitution were looked for in a woman’s personality and in disease – much was repudiated. Instead there began the building of new knowledge where the reasons were looked for in the relations between the genders and in society. And where would the researchers find the basis for this new knowledge? Yes, in the prostituted people’s own accounts.”

    • Meghan Murphy

      I love that article and share it often. Certainly relevant to this conversation; thanks for sharing, MLM.

      • MLM

        No problem, Meghan. I can’t remember where I first came across it but may even have been this site! :-)

  • Me

    Criminalizing johns could also be helpful in changing broader cultural attitudes. It would be morally the right thing to do, just like decriminalizing prostitutes is. To get something like this through might also make funding more easily available for related programs, like health care targeting prostitutes and women specifically, or educational efforts. It might also give activist women within health care and other institutions more room to work in, including women in the police force. I’m not saying these changes are inevitable, but they could be helped by laws that stop blaming the victims and blame the perpetrators instead.

    What I find disingenuous about Jason’s comments is how he indirectly frames abolition (and patriarchy) in terms of power (men might punish women for a morally right change in the law), yet what he argues against in the article itself is that very same framing: he objected when the article made the point that this research has been used to protect patriachy or has not been used at all, and it had enough material to make a good case for that. What he seems to do is to evoke the image of a power struggle against a dreadful enemy when evoking it tells women they can’t fight against it and win: look, it’s so powerful it’ll only use whatever is brought against it to its own advantage. That’s typical. If women were to back down, would he try to rally them, or would he then have nothing to say to them anymore? I’m open to hear ideas.

    The courts and the police will protect women only so far as they’re pressured and forced to do so. That is obvious. They both protect patriachy. Every feminist out there who’s ever done any actual work for women knows these things are very difficult to get to move, and that they will stop moving and start rolling back the minute women stop pushing. Everyone knows if politicians adopt your work that’s cause to worry, that the pressure to change has to come from the field.

    I was wondering though, in what ways have women tried a community/municipality legal approach like Thomas Linzey describes for environmental community protection cases? Does anyone know about that?

    • Jason Congdon

      @Me:
      I’m finding it hard to understand your argument that I’m disingenuous – I may be naive or ill-informed, but disingenuous? You must know more about me than I do. In any case, I can’t figure out how your depiction of my “indirect framing” represents or correlates with what I wrote, but I’m open to clarification.

      • Me

        Lol, what you write makes NO sense at all 😀

  • sporenda

    “Allowing women to be seen as sexual commodities strongly undermines the perception of them as fellow human beings. They seem to want to talk a whole lot about “stigma” with seemingly no awareness that they are promoting something both born out of and entrenching the said stigma.”

    Absolutely.
    I have no patience with those men (and women) who say that prostitution is a very old and complex problem so nothing can be done about it.
    Slavery was also a very old and complex problem, and it was stamped out, at least in western countries.
    Around 43 million women and children are doomed worldwide to living horrible and brief lives, to being subjected to a wide array of abuse, violences, MSTs and torture while alive, and dying at a rate about 40 times the death rate of non prostituted women (in western countries).
    Anybody who says that nothing can be done is accomplice to this mass destruction of millions of poor women and children just so that men can get their kicks.
    And I would like to understand why progressive men are unanimous to condemn Southern slavery, but don’t see anything wrong with prostitution, trafficking of women and the unspeakable tortures which are the stapple of hardcore porn.
    Introducing a steel bars in a man’s anus: Abu Ghraib, torture, court martialed. Introducing a steel bar in a woman’s vagina or anus: just sex.

    • MLM

      “And I would like to understand why progressive men are unanimous to condemn Southern slavery, but don’t see anything wrong with prostitution, trafficking of women and the unspeakable tortures which are the stapple of hardcore porn.
      Introducing a steel bars in a man’s anus: Abu Ghraib, torture, court martialed. Introducing a steel bar in a woman’s vagina or anus: just sex”.

      It couldn’t be more hypocritical and self-serving, could it? You would never hear these same men trying argue that homelessness is a “choice”. I think you hit the nail on the head with your earlier comment about the gender divide in opposition/support for the Nordic model. Too many men are happy to let their privilege and entitlement get in the way of any change that will really benefit these women. Because, the truth is, it suits them very nicely to have a proportion of human beings who make up a “sex class” for them. So they whip up highly convenient arguments to support this position. And what’s always at the heart of these arguments is, essentially “because it’s okay for me not to care if women are being sexually exploited, it’s okay for me to get off on their exploitation”. It goes to show that their attitudes are not remotely progressive when it comes to the crunch – they see no problem keeping up the status quo if it serves their own interests.

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  • http://fafo.no/prostitution May-Len Skilbrei

    There are no clear findings so far as to the consequences of the ban against the purchase of sex. The Pro Centre report does in no way purport to be representative or indicative of substantial changes in the market that can be traced as a consequence of the law revision. A lot of different things influence the prostitution market, and this need to be taken carefully into consideration before anyone conclude. The Norwegian authorities have indicated that an evaluation of the law will commence sometime in 2013. In the meantime, Anette Brunovskis and I have written on the evidence of change so far: http://fafo.no/prostitution/ban_purchase.html.

  • http://www.dinaleah.wordpress.com Laura P. Schulman, MD

    Just a word about biting: human bites are much more dangerous than any other animal bites, and can and do transmit Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. Any human bite that penetrates the skin should be treated immediately by emergency services with proper cleansing and antibiotics. I hope that this information will be given to prostitutes who are or have been biting victims, as the diseases mentioned above can be prevented by prompt treatment.

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  • Rye

    @Meghan Murphy

    I am sorry, please accept my apology. It was not my intention to patronize you or question your intellect or expertise. When I typed that comment, I was hyper-concerned that I might be taken the wrong way if I suggested that mainstream heterosexual relationships had similarities with prostitution. Additionally, I have a bad habit of giving explanations that are longer than necessary.

    Secondly, I apologize for my very delayed response. I attempted to support my argument, except none of the statistics I found supported my conclusion. At best, I could find that there is slightly more single 20-something women than single 20-something men, and much of that was accounted for by women in their late 20s marrying men in their early 30s. So you are right, my defense sucks.

    That said, I still believe I have few dating options, and the main reason is probably because I’m socially awkward. Secondly, women are turned off when I tell them I don’t want to marry or have children. But more importantly, I think it’s futile for me to even try dating anymore because I would be ethically obliged to disclose my sexual history, and my guess is that would turn off just about every woman.

    But you are right, prostitution commodifies sex and women’s bodies, and conveys the message that women’s sexual pleasure isn’t important. Still, I don’t see why paying a woman for sex is necessarily wrong by itself, because people can choose not to follow norms. In my case, the prostitute I frequent taught me what she enjoys, and she currently orgasms in 20 minutes or so now that I’ve gotten sufficiently skilled at manually stimulating her. Of course, you might suspect she is faking her orgasms, but I strongly believe they are genuine because she is physically effected in ways that seem unlikely to be faked. That said, I hesitate to elaborate further on what those physical effects are without your permission, as Me convinced me to limit such experiences to a minimum. But, assuming her orgasms are genuine, it doesn’t seem like I am doing something controversial anymore by paying her for sex.

    @Lela

    I apologize, I was too ambiguous. Personally, I don’t think any woman is a “sperm dumpster.” I used the term because it seemed appropriate for contrasting my reasons for buying sex from other buyers.

    That said, she doesn’t offer the “girlfriend-experience.” In fact, buyers frequently complain that she doesn’t offer “gfe” in her reviews. Which makes sense, because she is shy and reserved. That said, although we connected at first, she sure didn’t act like my girlfriend. The intimacy I have with her now developed gradually.

    @Me/MLM

    I believe my behavior is acceptable, in part, because women’s oppression isn’t just maintained by men, but by women’s cooperation in their own oppression and blindness to it. So, I have to play by the unwritten patriarchy rule book, whether that’s marriage or prostitution. But, I don’t think that means equality and respect are impossible in either marriage or prostitution, because norms can be broken. And, I believe I have effectively done that with the prostitute I frequent, especially now.

    @Sens et Bois

    I disagree, because she doesn’t fit the girl next door archetype, is rather shy, and it seems unlikely to me that she is lying about her career. For example, she is very intelligent and thinks and speaks like an educated person, she understands the technical language of her occupation outside of prostitution, and has an intimate knowledge of it that seems unlikely to have not been gained from personal experience.

    • Melissa

      Yeah, because if it involves orgasms, that means everything is okay! For all your talk about how the woman you pay-per-rape is so intelligent and privileged, and how she just trusts you so much to make her orgasm, and how she’s so shy but you really understand her unlike all the other johns, your true nature shines through: you’re an entitled, egotistical asshole who no matter what Ethical John platitudes he vomits forth doesn’t see women as fully human.

    • Me

      Pal, you’re writing the patriarchy rule book yourself.

      She is not a car or a game you learn to play, but an actual human being.

    • Rye

      @Melissa

      Well, I think those reasons make it okay because:
      1. Her privilege eliminates the power imbalance between most prostitutes and buyers. Since no third party gets a cut of her money from prostitution and she has a middle class job, she can refuse consent with little consequence. Therefore, it appears she is capable of giving valid consent, so “pay-per-rape” doesn’t seem to apply.

      2. Since she orgasms and I enjoy giving her pleasure, I am not treating her as an object that exists for my pleasure or entertainment.

      Also, I mentioned her shyness because it was relevant to a counter-argument I made. Finally, I do not understand how I am acting in an entitled or egotistical way. At my perspective, the sex I have with her is consensual, harmless and mutually enjoyable. If I was entitled or egotistical, then why would I care about those things?

      @Me

      But, I know she is an actual human being and not a car or game to play, and I believe I treat her as a human being. I was getting at the fact that institutions have scripts. Like, a bank has tellers prepared to provide a range of banking services, but it would be bizarre to ask a teller for chocolate cake.

      Patriarchy regulates human sexuality within its contrived institutions. Broadly speaking, patriarchy allows sex to occur within dating (which is supposed to lead to marriage), marriage, and prostitution. A script goes along with each institution, and the man conventionally plays the dominant part in all of them. Sadly, women expect men to play the dominant part, and, if they are dating, will likely lose interest in him if he doesn’t. At least, that’s how it is where I live. Consequently, men can not just decide to stop playing by patriarchy’s rules. It takes two to change the rules.

      • Lela

        “I’m socially awkward.” Boo-fucking-hoo Rye, I’m socially awkward too and I’ve spent a few *years* at a stretch between sexual partners. That is what women do, so your “I’m socially awkward” bullshit will always seem ridiculous to women. Always.

        “I believe my behavior is acceptable, in part, because women’s oppression isn’t just maintained by men, but by women’s cooperation in their own oppression and blindness to it. So, I have to play by the unwritten patriarchy rule book, whether that’s marriage or prostitution. But, I don’t think that means equality and respect are impossible in either marriage or prostitution, because norms can be broken. And, I believe I have effectively done that with the prostitute I frequent, especially now.”

        So everything you do is acceptable because patriarchy is an inevitable force of nature, by god, because women just can’t help being oppressed and you just can’t help oppressing women because reasons! Women are making you oppress women with their internalized misogyny! My brain is exploding.

        I see the delusion you are operating under, Rye, it’s excruciating. You think you are breaking rules and bucking patriarchal norms by using women in prostitution. You believe that women don’t want you, and yet you believe that a woman whom you are paying to submit to you is genuinely enjoying herself. One by one, you pick and choose feminist concepts and attempt to tell us that you are actually acting in *accordance* with feminist ideals therefore what’s the problem, ladies? You’re going to have to do better than this.

      • Me

        Patriarchy is a system of power, it’s a political force that uses “sex” to enforce itself. You don’t want to see it that way, you just want to see it as something that affects your sex and dating opportunities. That’s pure entitlement and as such makes it clear you hold tight to a perspective where women are not fully human. To stop, you don’t try to change the sex, you change the politics of it.

        Especially your first comment had in it, again, pretty much direct instructions how you could start treating women respectfully and reorient your life. I mean everything in it that /you yourself brought up and rejected/. Stop trying to make yourself somehow the powerless victim, it’s contemptible.

      • Melissa

        1. “Her privilege eliminates the power imbalance between most prostitutes and buyers.” No sorry, privilege doesn’t work like that. She may have some class privilege over other prostitutes, but that doesn’t erase the male privilege you wield over her. It isn’t magically erased when you act nice to her. The fact that you feel so entitled to sex that you pay a woman to service you is a perfect example of that.
        2. “Since she orgasms and I enjoy giving her pleasure, I am not treating her as an object that exists for my pleasure or entertainment.” Once again, having an orgasm doesn’t magically erase a history of power imbalances between men and women. You aren’t paying to give her orgasms; you go there for your own pleasure and if she receives any, well that just inflates your ego.
        3. “Consequently, men can not just decide to stop playing by patriarchy’s rules. It takes two to change the rules.” No, a thousand times no. Men have created the system for their own benefit, and it’s not up to us women to stop being oppressed. Do you know of an easy way for men to stop playing by the patriarchy’s rules? Hint: stop visiting prostitutes! And your waxing idiotic about how marriage is the same as prostitution is neither here nor there, and I assume, a way for you to feel better about just having to pay someone for sex.
        Finally, yes you are an entitled ass because you came on a feminist blog (i.e a safe space for women) and demanded that everyone take your poor feelings into concern and say “well yeah prostitution is bad, but your reason is legit so you’re okay!” Women are not here to cater you, and I commend Meghan for having to deal with comments like yours on a daily basis. Oh and some friendly advice: maybe the reason why you can’t seem to get a date is not because women are just bitches who want marriage and an ubermasculine guy, but because you’re self centered and are incapable of approaching women as if they are human beings.

        Aaand that’s all the energy I’m willing to spend on this guy’s comments.

  • Rye

    @Lela, Melissa and Me

    I think I understand what you mean by how I am entitled now. You believe I feel entitled because I am using a woman’s body and just don’t care about the harms I am causing. If that were so, then I agree that would make me entitled, but that is not what I believe. However, I can understand why you would think that, since I have had to frequently change my arguments and have gone off on too many tangents, sorry. So if you would, please allow me to clarify a few things.

    First off, I’m commenting here to learn, not to invade feminist space with pleas for sympathy. At first, I wondered why radfems are so critical of prostitution, and I have come to largely understand why it is wrong. However, I am not convinced that I should stop buying sex from the woman I frequent. Instead, I have been correcting controversial aspects (including concrete harms and the political) of my time with her, while, incidentally, experiencing better sex too.

    Secondly, yes, I have stated my reasons for buying sex, but my intention was to clarify that my reasons have nothing to do with sadistic thrills, as is often assumed. Thirdly, yes, I stated that I am partly justified in buying sex because women internalize patriarchy, and I discussed marriage as an example. I stated this as a response to the implied argument that I ought to stop buying sex because it is wrong to play by patriarchy’s rules. While I agree that may be wrong, I don’t find it compelling enough to change my behavior. For example, if a woman requires marriage as a condition for sex, I don’t think the man who marries her deserves to be thrown in jail just because marriage conflicts with gender equality. In other words, patriarchy regulates how we satisfy our wants, and I do not find the argument that I should deny my wants because it’s playing by patriarchy’s rule book to be compelling by itself. If that were so, then the state ought to consider jailing every married man. So, I don’t understand why buying sex from the woman I frequent is any more wrong than getting married.

    What would compel me to stop buying sex from her would be if I could not correct violating her rights, although not limited to, listed below:

    a. Bodily integrity – Her body remains whole; it is not injured or mutilated
    b. Bodily autonomy – She can exercise free choice about what happens to her body
    c. Dignity – She is not degraded or humiliated

    However, I believe that her rights to a, b and c are not violated when I buy sex from her. For one, she can be said to be making a free choice when I see her because of her economic privilege. Secondly, I believe I am fully honoring her rights to a, b and c. Furthermore, I think I am treating her as fully human by honoring them. So, I do not understand what ethical reasons outweigh my want to buy sex from her unless I am mistaken about honoring her rights to a, b and c, or my ethical standards are missing other compelling rights.

    • sporenda

      You have no right to decide what a woman feels and thinks about herself, in this case about renting her body.
      Men speaking for women is in itself an abuse, a typical male abuse in fact:

      She is the only person who can tell if she feels that her bodily integrity is violated or not, if it’s a free choice or not, if she feels humiliated or not.
      And a prostitute can never tell the truth to a john-if she told the truth–that she hates the job, dislikes him etc–she wouldn’t get johns in the first place.

      Johns want to be lied to, they want enthusiastic performance, they want to be told that they are likeable, great lovers, etc
      And you are a perfect example of that.
      You are just grasping at straws so you can continue deluding yourself that you are an ethical john.
      Ask an EXITED prostitute what she thinks about “ethical johns”, she will laugh in your face. Not only they are abusive, but also total hypocrits about the abuse .
      Read Rachel Moran’s book, and you’ll find out what prostitutes really think–in particular about “nice johns”.

      “Ethical john” makes as much sense as “ethical slave owner”.

    • huha

      Here’s what an exited woman has to say: http://theprostitutionexperience.com/?p=193

      It may not be the case for you, but it certainly is for too many.

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