Friday, May 31, 2013

Sex-Trade Feels Economic Downturn In Britain

Human Relations

The Rape of The Sabine Women: An article in Wikipedia writes: “Most, if not all, forms
of forced prostitution may be viewed as a kind of sexual slavery.[27] The terms ‘forced
prostitution’ or ‘enforced prostitution’ appear in international and humanitarian conventions
but have been insufficiently understood and inconsistently applied. ‘Forced prostitution’
generally refers to conditions of control over a person who is coerced by another to
engage in sexual activity.[28] The issue of consent in prostitution is a hotly debated issue.
Opinion in places like Europe has been divided over the question of whether prostitution
itself should be considered as a free choice or as inherently exploitative of women.[29]
The law in Sweden, Norway and Iceland—where it is illegal to pay for sex, but not
to sell sexual services—is based on the notion that all forms of prostitution are inherently
exploitative, opposing the notion that prostitution can be voluntary.[30] In contrast,
prostitution is a recognized profession in countries such as Netherlands and Germany.”

Artist: Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665); between circa 1637 and circa 1638
Source: Wikipedia:

An article in The Economist says that sex-trade workers in Britain are also feeling the pinch of a slowed-down economy. Such is bad news for the world’s oldest profession.

The Economist writes:
TIMES are tough for Debbie, a prostitute in western England who runs a private flat with other “mature ladies”. She does two or three jobs a day. A year ago she was doing eight or nine. She has cut her prices: “If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t still be open.” She says that she can now make more money doing up furniture and attending car-boot sales than she can turning tricks.
George McCoy, who runs a website reviewing over 5,000 massage parlours and individuals, says that many are struggling. Sex workers tell him they have been forced to hold down prices. Like other businesses, massage parlours and private flats are suffering from rising rents and energy costs. Even Mr McCoy’s website is under the cosh: visitor numbers are down by a third.
In part, this reflects the sluggish economy. Overall consumer spending at the end of 2012 was almost 4% lower than its 2007 peak. And Vivienne, an independent escort in the south who works part-time to supplement her income as a photographer, says paying for sex is a luxury: “Food is more important; the mortgage is more important; petrol is more important.” She is offering discounts out of desperation, reckoning it is better to reduce prices by £20 ($30) than to have no customers at all. Another woman says that some punters are just as anxious to talk about the difficult job market as they are to have sex.
The days of being able to make a full-time living out of prostitution are long gone, reckons Vivienne, at least in larger towns and cities. “It’s stupidly competitive right now,” she laments. More people are entering prostitution, agrees Cari Mitchell of the English Collective of Prostitutes. Some working women in Westminster say they have halved their prices because the market has become so saturated. In London, and increasingly elsewhere, immigrants provide strong competition. But Sophie, an expensive escort in Edinburgh, says she is seeing an influx of newbies including students and the recently laid-off, many of them offering more for less.
This is what invariably happens when the economy takes a downward turn; there is more competition as laid-off workers from other sectors of the economy look to other professions where there are little barriers to entry other than a willingness to sell your body for money. And in accordance to the economic laws of supply and demand, the greater supply is pushing prices for tricks downward. Some professions have greater risk for their workers; the sex trade can be a rough trade, which makes it a sad testimony that women are drawn to such ways of life.

Then there are the legal considerations. In  Britain, prostitution is legal; in Canada, things are more murky, where the buying and selling of sexual services between consenting adults is legal, but the public advertising is not. It’s one way that conservative morals override what many consider a profession rife with exploitation, notably of vulnerable young women and men. There is some truth to this argument, where in many poorer nations human trafficking, mainly of young women, is commonly done for the purpose of sexual slavery.

Prostitution is still illegal in the United States, except for Nevada, where it is strictly controlled and regulated. In general, for the rest of the U.S.that means that sex-trade workers also face criminal charges if arrested, says a recent report (“Sex Workers at Risk”; 2012), from Human Rights Watch, on sex workers operating in four major cities in the U.S.
Prostitution—the exchange of sex for money or other consideration—is illegal in 49 states and in all of the cities addressed in this report. Law enforcement agencies in these jurisdictions are charged with enforcing laws, including those relating to prostitution.Enforcement, however, must be compatible with international human rights law and governments should ensure that police policies and practices do not conflict with equally important public health policy imperatives, including those designed to curb the HIV epidemic.
It’s a tricky business, where sex workers have to be always be constantly aware of their personal safety. Such raises ethical and moral questions on whether the sex trade ought to be viewed chiefly through the lens of occupational health and safety instead of criminal activity. Even so, leaving aside this argument for now, there also might be other socio-economic factors at play here, which sees less individuals seeking sex from professionals. In a dampened economy, it just might be that clients have less disposable income for such leisure and recreational activities.

You can read the rest of the article at [The Economist]