viernes, 28 de agosto de 2015

What is the best solution to the problems of prostitution – abolition, or some form of legalisation to limit the harms?

To protect women and minors, prohibit prostitution

But use the law to drive down demand, say experts in public health and culture.

A vote at Amnesty International’s decision-making forum earlier this month has committed the human rights organization to promoting the full decriminalization of prostitution – a step, it claims, that will protect “sex workers” human rights and prevent trafficking and the exploitation of minors.

While such weighty authorities as the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies agree with Amnesty, women’s rights and anti-trafficking groups vehemently disagree. They say that coercion and abuse are inherent in prostitution and they want to see it abolished, following the approach of a Swedish law which prosecutes those who buy sex but not those who sell, the latter being helped to exit prostitution.

What is the best approach to this individual and social problem? For an independent view MercatorNet asked experts at the University of Navarre’s Institute for Culture and Society, who published their own report on the issue last year as part of the project Education of Human Affectivity and Sexuality

In the following interview Dr Jokin de Irala and Dr Cristina Lopez answer our questions.

From what perspective does your report approach the issue of prostitution?

In our report we approach the issue of prostitution from different perspectives. It is difficult to address prostitution without taking into account the social vulnerability of women and minors who are mostly victims of human trafficking, issues pertaining to criminal law, equality between males and females[i], or the need to educate both victims of exploitation and the so-called “clients”, who can be unaware of the human drama behind prostitution.

We also consider how affective and sexual education centered on preparing youth for love, rather than promoting so called “safe sex” programs, also plays an important role in the prevention of prostitution. We are aware that an array of influential and international organizations, global authorities as well as powerful and diffuse associations and/or donor agencies that, collectively, we call the “Sex Education Establishment”[ii], are keen to promote the decriminalization of prostitution. They use the argument that this is the best way of preventing trafficking and problems such as the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STI´s). These institutions create policy guidelines and fund initiatives worldwide to carry out their strategic priorities. Sometimes called “best practices”, these priority interventions are presented as neutral, factual information but their track record is often questionable. For this reason we also believe it is essential to approach prostitution using evidence based criteria, whenever possible.

What is the best solution to the problems of prostitution – abolition, or some form of legalisation to limit the harms?

The debate about prostitution is usually approached from these two perspectives. The first argues that legalization of the "commercial sex" would end human trafficking for that purpose, while the second proposes that the most effective measure against human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation is the outlawing of prostitution.

Those who defend the first approach argue that we should distinguish between prostitution (also called "voluntary exchange of sex for money") and trafficking and that both activities are not necessarily related. According to this approach, banning prostitution is state interference in private affairs, and even a factor that worsens the living conditions of persons who prostitute themselves. They also argue that the State should not criminalize "the entire sector" because of a minority that commits abuses. In summary, this perspective tends to not relate prostitution with the abuse of persons and therefore argues that prohibition is inappropriate.

The second approach, abolition, is based on the finding that prostitution and human trafficking are both directly and intrinsically related, and not due to the prohibition of prostitution. According to the International Labour Organization, there are 2.4 million people victims of trafficking: 98% are women and half are minors[iii]. Also, the Office of the United Nations on Drugs and Crime states that 79% of human trafficking is for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Prostitution is considered the most important and profitable type of sex trade. In a study on prostitution and trafficking in nine countries (developed and developing), Melissa Farley finds that between 70% and 90% of prostitutes suffer physical violence; between 60% and 75% of them have been raped in the environment of prostitution, and 89% of the prostitutes in those countries want to leave prostitution[iv].


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