21 December 2007

Should paying for sex be illegal?

I'm not totally sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it feels paternalistic and patronising to women to make buying/selling sex illegal. Surely we should allow women the bodily autonomy and self-determination to be able to make those choices for themselves? However, on the other hand, there is a massive problem in this country with young women being trafficked and forced into a life of prostitution. It is our responsibility as a society to protect these women, and ensure that they are able to escape this existence, and are then provided with the support that they need to go on and live healthy and fulfilling lives.

I feel very uncomfortable with the notion that it is ok for men to buy sex, because I feel that it reinforces the notion that women are commodities which can be bought and sold, and that men have some kind of entitlement to sex and to women's bodies. However, I feel that if we legalised all aspects of prostitution, making brothels conform to regulations, then there would be a greater level of protection for women involved in sex work. Whilst I don't feel that this is necessarily the best long-term solution, because as a society we need to tackle the reasons behind why men feel justified in buying sex from women, who are often (whether through choice or because of prejudices within our culture) on the fringes of society, and ostracised from everyday interaction with people.

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