Can it actually be the case that some governments – from local councils to Parliaments – really believe that it’s ever going to be possible to stop women selling their bodies to men? No country in the history of man- and womankind has ever succeeded in doing this, and none ever will. The question is how you deal with the situation in a civilized manner.
Every solution has its problems and difficulties, the main ones stemming of course from the money which is to be made by organizing the business of prostitution, and which attracts gangsters of every shape and colour. In a way, the individual woman working from home is in the ideal situation, being precisely in the positon of any woman selling a skill of any kind – except that it seems inevitable that unless she is extremely fortunate or careful she is likely to attract the attention of some man who will attempt to extract money from her in one way or another. The ideal situation for individual women might well be a legal licensing system which would regard her as a private businessperson, subject to taxation and the full protection of the law. A problem is of course that a young woman coming into the business cannot always afford to rent a room in a reasonably safe area. Maybe a government small business grant?
It should be the case, and to some extent is the case that a system of legalized brothels works well at least as far as the protection of the sex workers is concerned. But again the large amount of money to be made from prostitution attracts gangsters who force young women ‘on the game’ – often illegal immigrants or young women who have come to a country as refugees. A much more pragmatic and sympathetic approach by law-makers and the police is undoubtedly badly needed, as well as a more careful evaluation of the individual situation in various countries, which at present take very different views of the problem.
Those who oppose the legalization of brothels seem to me to fail to put forward a convincing case; but it’s a case made more understandable by the fact that those who do license brothels go on to take a very odd view of how they should be run and where they should be allowed to function, and situations vary from the huge brothels which have come into being in Europe to some small houses in Australia which are almost a cottage industry.
Local authorities agonize much about the problem of illegal brothels – massage parlours which often look externally perfectly respectable, but where ‘full sex’ is very often on offer from individual young women behind the closed door of the massage room. In a system where heavy fees are paid by legal brothels, a laissez-faire attitude to the massage parlours is questionable, but in some ways not altogether a bad thing, allowing a young woman to work as a perhaps ‘amateur’ prostitute as she would from her own room at home – but under safer conditions. The extent to which the management takes, or doesn’t take a cut of her additional income, and the tax implications is an open question.
Just one more thing to add: the public attitude to the problem, despite a general permissiveness where private sexual behaviour is concerned, is often unhelpful, and there seems no prospect of any improvement – if greater tolerance is considered an improvement, which of course is not always the case where the religious right is concerned. The ‘moral’ objection is easier to understand and deal with than simple foolishness – such for instance as a paroxysm of fury because a brothel is ‘too near a school’. Why anyone should think that infants at school would be affected by the sight of men or women entering or leaving a particular door near their school (unless of course it has a neon sign saying BROTHEL, is a mystery to me. Older boys and girls will presumably, in this day and age, know about prostitution – if they don’t there’s something wrong with the education system - and though they may have a prurient interest in the situation, it won’t be a harmful one. Indeed, inviting a young prostitute to come to a school and give a talk about her life and sex in general might be the very best form of sex education.
Now there’s a thought.
It ain’t, I fear, going to happen.