TITLE

Trafficking, Prostitution, and Inequality

PUB. DATE
January 2012
SOURCE
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review;Winter2012, Vol. 47 Issue 1, p271
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
No one defends trafficking. There is no pro-sex-trafficking position any more than there is a public pro-slavery position for labor these days. The only issue is defining these terms so nothing anyone wants to defend is covered. It is hard to find overt defenders of inequality either, even as its legal definition is also largely shaped by existing practices the powerful want to keep. Prostitution is not like this. Some people are for it; they affirmatively support it. Many more regard it as politically correct to tolerate and oppose doing anything effective about it. Most assume that, if not exactly desirable, prostitution is necessary or inevitable and harmless. These views of prostitution lie beneath and surround any debate on sex trafficking, whether prostitution is distinguished from trafficking or seen as indistinguishable from it, whether seen as a form of sexual freedom or understood as its ultimate denial. The debate on the underlying reality, and its relation to inequality, intensifies whenever doing anything effective about either prostitution or trafficking is considered. Wherever you are in the world, the debate, and usually the law as well, is organized by five underlying moral distinctions that divide the really bad from the not-so-bad. Adult is distinguished from child prostitution, indoor from outdoor, legal from illegal, voluntary from forced, and prostitution from trafficking. Child prostitution is always bad for children; adult prostitution is not always bad for adults. Outdoor prostitution can be rough; indoor prostitution is less so. Illegal prostitution has problems that legal prostitution solves. Forced prostitution is bad; voluntary prostitution can be not-so-bad. Trafficking is really, really bad. Prostitution—if, say, voluntary, indoor, legal, adult—can be a tolerable life for some people. Measured against known facts of the sex trade, these purported distinctions emerge as largely illusory, occupying instead points of emphasis on common continua with convergence and overlap among the dimensions. These moral distinctions are revealed as ideological, with consequences for law, policy, and culture that are real.
ACCESSION #
74246815

 

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