In the global crisis of violence against women, there is a heated debate about the best way to approach the issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. Advocates of “harm elimination” push the abolishment of sexual slavery, trafficking, and prostitution. Those who believe in “harm reduction” are working to ameliorate the HIV/AIDS crisis in a pre-existing negative situation.
Proposition K, San Francisco’s measure to prohibit the use of public funds to enforce laws criminalizing prostitution, would change the landscape for sex workers in the city in critical ways.
Hundreds of women of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria have turned to prostitution. But advocates understand it for what it really is – “survival sex.”
A senior public health official in Jamaica recently called for decriminalization and taxation of commercial sex work. Other government officials decried the proposal, but have few effective suggestions of their own.
Next month, the Parliament of India will vote on an amendment that could further stigmatize and violate the human rights of sex workers by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services in India.
A leading figure in the Christian right anti-trafficking establishment, Linda Smith embodies the tensions between feminists and religious right activists working on this issue.
Congress is poised to re-authorize the federal law against human trafficking with new provisions that will both increase penalties for sex workers and effectively decrease our ability to aid genuine victims of trafficking.
Legislation and advocacy work have often blurred or denied any difference between trafficking and sex work. That has always made things worse rather than better for those involved.
Denver’s goal to make August’s Democratic National Convention eco-friendly could overshadow other important issues – such as the spike in prostitutes being imported to town to cater to the city’s 35,000 guests.
Unequivocally, prostitution, in every manifestation, is a human rights violation and violence against women and girls everywhere. And we need to say so.