How do we quit sex work?

Some people want a world without prostitution and campaign for the criminalisation of our clients. I always argue that the criminalisation of our clients is not going to make us disappear but make our work more clandestine, more dangerous and potentially make us lose (part of) our income.

In fact, this measure is counter-productive in particular for the most vulnerable sex workers, those who precisely would want the most to quit sex work. In my views, working in a prohibitionist context means more danger, less income, and therefore having to work more and in more exploitative conditions: which is actually the opposite of what is aimed by this measure.

Worse, when clients are criminalised without sex workers being decriminalised, this means an increase of sex workers’ criminalisation. I say that because this is what happened in the UK since the Policing and Crime Act 2009 which partially criminalise clients.

In Sweden, the number of sex workers seems to have been always lower than in other countries, even before the law criminalising clients (1999). Perhaps, the difference is because street work is the only form of sex work which is observed by Swedish authorities. It has always been less important than in other countries, (even before the law), and that might be more due to the weather than anything else.

Another reason might be the big difference between the UK and Sweden: the welfare system. In Sweden, people have more rights that protect them when they are poor. What could be efficient about the so called Swedish model is actually not the criminalisation of clients but  their social housing or social benefits politics.

I think that the criminalisation of our clients is in fact a simplistic idea that stops us to look at what sex workers really need to quit sex work when they want to. Of course, it’s easier for the government to send the cops, and it’s more difficult to give people’s rights.

This is the kind of measures that many sex workers would actually be happy to see implemented:

– free education so we don’t need daddies to pay our tuition fees

– consequent social benefits for single mothers and jobseekers

– good general welfare system

– efficient social housing politics

– equal pay between women and men

– shelter centers for LGBTQ teenagers who ran away from their family and victims of domestic violence

– legal right for all migrants to live and work in the country

– decriminalisation of drugs and better harm reduction policy for people suffering addictions

– asylum rights for victims of trafficking/forced labour and any sexist/homophobic/transphobic abuse

– no criminal record for prostitution offences that make us unemployable

– access to non-judgmental and respectful career counseling and professional training

– access to free medical care for trans’ people transitioning

Please do that first, and then come back to us talking about criminalising our clients. Probably you will no longer need it.

Advertisements

About Thierry Schaffauser

Queer, sex worker, drugs user, student in Gender History, GMB trade unionist, migrant, wants to change the world, etc
This entry was posted in Sex work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to How do we quit sex work?

  1. mhairi says:

    See I agree with you about all of the above. But its your last comment that really says it all – that if we had all of the above then we wouldnt need to criminalise clients. Presumably because there would be no prostitution – but recognising that means that you are also recognising that clients take sexual advantage of people through them….and that is what I find unacceptable.

    The same kinds of arguments used to be used against the prosecution of DV – that when we had a long list of things that stopped women staying in violent relationships, *then* we should prosecute, although we probably wouldnt need to.

    • I think a difference with domestic violence is that we let the victims decide whether or not they want to report their partner. It is the victim’s decision. There are violent clients too sometimes. But the decision is not given to the sex workers but to the police to arrest them.

  2. Pier says:

    See I agree with you about all of the above. But its your last comment that really says it all – that if we had all of the above then we wouldnt need to criminalise clients. Presumably because there would be no prostitution – but recognising that means that you are also recognising that clients take sexual advantage of people through them….and that is what I find unacceptable.
    +1

  3. Pier, that is the principle of prostitution: “exchange of advantages”, the principle of cooperation or markets (liberalism with free adult people). The client gets sex and the sex worker money.

    The other very principle of the very old social institution of prostitution that one needs to understand is that paysex is or makes possible the “separation of sex and love”. (This is not the case or not a good option for all people, sure. Even not for all clients and not for all sex workers. Now in the financial crisis we learn that capitalism per se may not be good on the long run for people or society…) But not this alone, but the surrounding social and legal conditions create most of the problems (taboo, stigmatisation, alienation, separation, isolation and criminalisation).

    Many moral problems are already bound to money, markets and deal making and are just projected onto sex work (“money is slavery by proxy!!!”). This is a unconscious scapegoating mechanism.

    Here are some more resources on sex worker outplacement and exiting strategies @ Rentboys United!!! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=294236380591113&set=o.310835971950 and a large collection in German with some English http://www.sexworker.at/exit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s