Monday, July 28, 2008

When Will This Rubbish Stop?

I know I shouldn't read the Daily Mail but someone sent me the link and I got curious. This article is disgusting. The story is about W.I. members (women's institute, a big organisation of women in the UK, and I should point out it is a very small group of them who are involved with this piece, the vast majority want nothing to do with it, although this is not mentioned at all in the article) launching a "campaign" to legalise brothels in the wake of the Ipswich murders.

Firstly they have done a tour of brothels around the world as a fact-finding mission, but of course have only visited the ones that welcome inquisitive visitors, and then only by pre-arranged appointment. I don't think you can expect to get a real understanding of what goes on in these places unless you went undercover. Even on their tour they apparently saw "a room where up to 80 men could join in sex with about four prostitutes for eight euros" - which implies some of these women are expected to have sex with 20 men at once... And assuming they get half the money the men pay - for about EUR80 or £60...? That sounds pretty awful. And that's the sanitized version! Plus as always when legalisation comes up as an issue one of the key messages is "health checks for the girls". If you are admitting the women need health checks, you are simultaneously admitting that in some instances unsafe sexual practices take place, aren't you?

Secondly they haven't really explained the leap from "Ipswich murders" to "legalise prostitution". As far as I remember the horrible murderer in the Ipswich case was not a prostitute, but a man who regularly used prostitutes. I find it quite a big jump to imagine that if he had been using legal prostitutes he would somehow not have wanted to murder them. And while legalising prostitution might mean some of the women had safer places to work from, you can't create a world in which no woman ever gets into a car with a man she doesn't know all that well. I see a much stronger logic in concluding from the Ipswich murders that we should legally and safely provide drugs to addicts, which it appears all of the murdered women were. What do we really want for these women? Are men so entitled to access women's bodies that we would prefer to tidy up the sex trade and make sure they pay tax? Or do we want these women to have genuine choice about the direction their lives take, and the freedom to leave the streets and fulfill their own ambitions?

But also listening to what the W.I. leaders have to say, it sounds inordinately classist. Here's a quote: "Everybody looks on these girls as being from the lowest stratum of society and that’s not true. One of those girls [murdered in Ipswich] was into horseriding, the whole works." WHEN EXACTLY did it become somehow ok to murder a woman who wasn't in to horseriding? And women from the "lowest stratum" are less worthy of our protection why?

1 comment:

Jackart said...


The last one is why men chase the first two with such single minded determination.

Trying to change this is like trying to make water flow uphill - it cannot be done except at the cost of constraing its freedom.

As long as there are men with and women without money, there will be prostitution. All these WI people are trying to do is mitigate the harm and eradicate the worst, most destructive form - the street crack whore.

So in answer to the question posed in the title, never.