Friday, March 26, 2010

Iceland Bans Sex(work): Good Thing?

Julie Bindel over at the Guardian posted a story yesterday about Iceland cracking down on its sex industry called "Iceland: the World's most feminist country."

Of course women should not be coerced into the sex industry and sex trafficking is an inexcusable human rights abuse. However, Bindel's assertion that "shutting down" the sex industry is the best way to halt these abuses is, to me unpersuasive and counter-intuitive.

Making prostitution illegal does not make prostitution go away.

Sex work has been around for a long time (see photo) and it isn't going away any time soon. Prohibition simply forces its participants underground. Once criminalized, prostitutes have less or no access to the legal system that should protect them from human trafficking. As long as prostitution is illegal, pimps can coerce their hookers with drugs and violence without fear that their "employees" will complain in any meaningful way.

What are they going to do, call the cops?

I think Nevada is on the right track and Iceland is making an all-too-common mistake.

(Photo from a whorehouse mural uncovered and restored in the ruins of Pompeii. From Dear Kitty.)

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