Pornography: prostitution’s identical twin
Together with trafficking they make one exploitive sex industry.
Many people – from politicians and celebrities to exited survivors of prostitution – are outraged at the decision of the prominent human rights group, Amnesty International, to advocate full decriminalisation of prostitution, including sex buyers, pimps and procurers. Prostitution abolitionists explain that prostitution is almost always inseparable from coercion or trafficking. But, says researcher Melissa Farley, prostitution is also closely linked with pornography and other iterations of sex businesses. Here she explains how they form one exploitive sex industry.
Why can’t prostitution become just “sex work” as Amnesty, WHO, UNAIDS, and Human Rights Watch propose? After all, pornography has been mainstreamed for some time.
The argument that prostitution is a job is made from the perspective of pimps and sex buyers, not from the perspective of those in it. For those in it, prostitution is not a job, it is "paid-for rape."
Please don't mystify the sex industry. Don't assume it's vastly different from other types of exploitation and human cruelty. The real lives of those who are trafficked or prostituted or made into pornography are often indistinguishable from the real lives of victims of rape, incest and intimate partner violence. The main difference is money. Profits turn sexual assault of children, rape, domestic violence, humiliation and sexual harassment, and pictures taken of those things - into a business enterprise.
Like other global businesses, there are domestic and international sectors, marketing sectors, a range of physical locations out of which sex businesses operate. There are many different owners and managers, and the sex trafficking industry is constantly expanding as technology, law, and public opinion permit.
How exactly are pornography, prostitution, and sex trafficking the same?
More than 80 percent of the time, women in the sex industry are under pimp control - that is what trafficking is. Pornography also meets the legal definition of trafficking if the pornographer recruits, entices, or obtains women for the purpose of photographing live commercial sex acts.
Women are coerced into pornography by deception, threats, or violence. A survivor of pornography and prostitution explained that she had been pressured to do more extreme sex acts on film, was physically hurt, and was raped on film - just the way women in prostitution are pressured by pimps and sex buyers to perform more harmful and dangerous sex acts.
Pornographers are specialty pimps who use pornography to advertise prostitution and to traffic women.
Backpage, which advertises and sells pornography, is owned by a Dutch company. Recently the Massachusetts Attorney General said, "most of the human trafficking cases that our office has prosecuted involve advertisements on Backpage."
Does the justice system generally recognise these links?
Here is an example of the links between pornography, prostitution and trafficking: Glenn Marcus ran a torture pornography website. He psychologically coerced a woman to permit pornography of her to be sold on Slavespace.com. She brought charges against Marcus who was her pimp/pornographer/trafficker - and torturer. At one point he stuffed a ball gag in her mouth, sewed her mouth shut and hung her on a wall.
Her attorneys used the following definition: Sex trafficking is coercing or selling a person into a situation of sexual exploitation, such as prostitution or pornography. On March 5, 2007, pornographer Marcus was convicted of sex trafficking. This legal decision reflects a deepening understanding of the ways in which pornography, prostitution, and trafficking are the same for the person who is being sexually coerced and exploited for profit.