Those of us who are honest enough will know this saying to be true, "Prostitution is the world's oldest profession." Ladies of the night have been part of our society for thousands of years and, sadly, will almost definitely be here for years to come. So, how should we deal with this politically sensitive issue. Seeing as prostitution is illegal in most countries, many of these sex workers live an unbalanced and quite dangerous life - with the constant threat of arrest and prosecution hanging over their heads - along with being denied the same rights that others have.
No one likes the idea of their partners running out and having a one night stand with a prostitute, I know many people (across the sexuality spectrum) who will point blank forbid their other halves from going on weekends to Amsterdam (for example) for fear of this. I would also be a little miffed if my boyfriend was to go on a stag do to the "city of weed and whore houses". However, it wouldn't be the sex workers fault if sex was to occur. The blame would lie fully with my boyfriend for his betrayal. Either people have a desire to cheat and act on it or they don't. It's that simple. It's not as though ridding the world of hookers will somehow stop people from cheating, we need to be honest with ourselves.
On the other side is single men and women who go with prostitutes just for 'fun'. I believe it's a bit strange for one to 'purchase' sex like a product. To me it feels dehumanising to do such a thing and I sometimes wish we were back in the "free-love" (pun intended) heyday for sexual freedom as an alternative. However, seeing as I'm a realist, the best thing we as a society can do is to provide prostitutes with protection and the same basic human rights we all take for granted.
First and foremost, it is up to both partners to provide themselves with protection in the forms of condoms/pills to prevent STI's and pregnancy - that's a given. Secondly, as we now live in the most technologically advanced period of time, a new issue has become apparent which needs focused on. With the internet now allowing meet ups for sex workers to be booked as easily as ordering a chinese, many feel that this is actually putting the sex workers in more danger. It used to be that a woman standing on a street corner with her "colleagues" and witnesses nearby felt "like an almost safety blanket", especially if any wrongdoing by a customer was to occur. The police in US have even stated that, say, if a woman was to be picked up off a street and beaten up, then the chances of police being provided details of the person in question (i.e. car registration number, person profile etc..) could be done much more simpler then than nowadays. Everything has gone behind closed doors. The sex industry is slipping more and more underground and with that, comes dangers. Probably the more severe in relation to the sex industry would be an increased demand for human trafficking.
I believe that all people have a right to be protected from abuse, regardless of their profession. There is an alarmingly high percentage rate of prostitutes who have been abused, whether physical, threatening or emotional and they need help just like everyone else. More and more studies are coming out stating that the majority of women who go into prostitution have already experienced abuse in their lives, mainly in childhood. This makes me as, a fellow woman, pity for what they have had to endure; life seems to have dealt them a shitty hand and whilst they do what they feel they have to do to get by, I feel they should be looked after. These women are someone's daughter, someone's mother, someone's sister or even someone's partner. There is a person behind the label of "hooker". That person deserves a voice.
Legalising only goes so far and may not be the right answer. In Amsterdam there has been a huge increase for trafficked women into the city as brothels are now competing with each other to provide the 'best' women for their customers at competitive rates. We need more open discussions about the best course of action for this. Until then there are charities out there, such as 'Beyond The Streets', who are committed to providing protection and support to sex workers and offering them sustainable alternatives to prostitution. They campaign with (willing) members of Government to provide an education to the public and to create a support system to those who have been exploited - including children who have been trafficked. Author of erotic book series "Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl" Tracy Quan, a former escort, has been working with PONY (Prostitues of New York) to decriminalise prostitution in the US.
Some may feel like, as these women don't pay taxes, then they shouldn't enjoy the benefits of those who do, such as medical care. Well, I could easily look at some of the world's most wealthiest people who keep their fortune on offshore accounts and therefore, pay little to no taxes. You could throw a stone down Wall Street and smack a tax-avoider on his way to his gentlemen's club. Prison inmates pay no taxes either but are guaranteed medical care. I don't believe in double standards.
The system cannot leave these women behind just because society disagrees with their profession; for it was society who created it and is sustaining it.
Tracy Quan - Wiki
PONY (Prostitutes of New York) - website
Beyond The Streets UK - website
(top image via langelytoday)