Why buy the cow?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Most of us have by now heard of the murdered prostitutes in England. When this story first came out, I immediately began thinking of Robert Pickton in BC, and Edmonton’s own rash of murdered sex-trade workers.

Women in this industry go missing all the time and yet we rarely hear of them. They don’t make for as dramatic a news story as the pregnant housewife murdered by her sadistic husband (Michael White). Or the runaway bride who rather than telling her soon to be husband that she didn’t want to marry him, she takes off and concocts an elaborate kidnapping story. It’s not until a number of these women go missing or are found murdered in the same area or in a similar fashion that anyone other than their fellow sex trade workers begin to notice that they’re gone. Why is that? As one report on the CBC states, they’re easy targets for killers – vulnerable available, willing to get into a car with a stranger, and the areas they frequent tend to have a higher crime rate. And who’s going to miss a prostitute? No one really, except other prostitutes. The CBC report is quite interesting and I think worth the read. It provides some insight from two criminologists on what makes sex trade workers so open to violent crime.

While all of this might be true, I think there’s another issue here to consider. Why is it that we look down upon these women (and men) simply because they’re exchanging sex for money? If it were any other industry, and they were getting paid for doing something that everyone else is doing for free, they’d be considered entrepreneurs. Instead, they’re outcasts and denigrated by more “respectful” citizens. These women are human beings. They are someone’s sister, daughter, mother, and friend. I’ve never understood why prostitution isn’t legal (at least here in Canada). Wouldn’t you rather have sex trade workers off the streets where your kids can’t see them? Have them working behind close doors in legal brothels where you won’t have to witness one of your local council members going a trip around the world instead of on your street corner? Think of how much tax the government could pull in from legalizing it. The BBC had a recent article on legal prostitution in the Netherlands. The majority of their sex-trade workers work in sex-clubs or brothels, although they do still have some who work on the streets. As a result, the Dutch government has created special car parks to which street prostitutes can bring their clients – complete with privacy stalls, showers and security cameras, they also provide “advice, medical information and condoms”. The article does state that yes, some workers still get hurt but it certainly is nowhere near the numbers of prostitutes that get abused, beaten or murdered in countries where it is illegal.Let’s face it, sex for money is never going to go away. It truly could be is the oldest profession. Some might even argue that marriage is a legal form of prostitution but I’m not going to bother getting into that debate at this time. Why shouldn’t these women be afforded the same sort of security and protection that other business provide for their workers?

Certainly legalizing prostitution is not the final answer, and if there is someone out there who has this overwhelming desire to torture or kill women, the absence of prostitutes is not going to stop that from happening. My point is that they are really no different than you or I. They had futures which will never be realized, dreams that will never come true, and families that will never be able to hold them again. Why should they be stigmatized simply for earning a living doing something most of us do for free?


Anonymous said...

I am in total agreement. What's wrong with a sex service? Men want sex. Men go buy sex. Whoopdeedoo.

candyminx said...

Great post!!! I agree with you on all points. I really would like to see sex workers legalized, unionized especially!

I think the cover-up and neglect of this case in england and B.C. is not only is soiety seeing them as lower class citizens, their own families often are embarrassed by them too...and not in touch with them, one: therfore do not realize they have bene hurt hospitalized killed or missing immediately. These women live under the radar of their own families. Two, the families don't want it on the record they are related to them, or to report them or have them face their own denial...especially parents or culpability. They don't want their "reputations" tarnished.

One other thing, is that legalized sex workers may break the century after century link between substance abuse and sex workers. There could be a drug rehab or testing associated with sex workers just like many other mandates. What a difference in safety it would be if liek other employment, one had to be sober while working.

This was very thoughtful and important topic. (I believe my bro-in-law is reporting on Picton trial right now)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Karen, prostitution should be legalized, so many of the drug and crime problems associated would be lessened, I doubt they would go away completely. Our societal view of it won't allow that in the near future and politicians have one goal...to be re-elected...it would be political suicide....even though I think they would be viewed as innovative and revolutionary in later years. Crime and health problems would go down, taxes would go up

Tanya said...

Prostitutes in Holland also have to pay taxes and are required to go for regular health checks.

I firmly believe that society is clinging to archaic beliefs and social systems. So many people seem bent on judging others because of religion or societal pressures.

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