United Kingdom Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, received a standing ovation from the Labour Party this weekend when she announced a new initiative to reduce the trafficking of women in the country. Under the potential new law, men who pay trafficked women (like the women pictured) for sex will be prosecuted for doing so. While some will undoubtedly whine about the importance of things like "knowledge" and "intent," it also makes me want to stand up and cheer for the kind of law that could make a difference by reducing the incentives for people to force women into sexual slavery.First, though, a little background on precedent. In most places, a person can still be brought up on statutory rape charges even if they don't know that their partner is under 18 and might not have had sex with them if they knew. So while I assume that the sort of men who get off on having sex with prostitutes that might have been forced into sex work will whine and complain that they didn't know, it should not be required that the person coerced into having sex with men for money tell those men that she's a sex slave for them to be held liable. The problem with a lot of prostitution law — as the prostitute that allegedly had sex with Senator Debbie Stabenow's husband, Thomas Athans, found out — is that most resources go into prosecuting women instead of men. If Athans hadn't been relatively well-known in his own right, let alone if his wife hadn't been a Senator, he would have likely faced few consequences for his side-activities. With men willing to use the services of prostitutes and little to fear in terms of prosecution, there will continue to be a market for prostitution. And with the burden of law enforcement weighing down on the prostitutes themselves, there will remain financial incentives for other people to fill market demand for sexual services by trafficking in women. If you can begin to eliminate demand then can you start those who are disadvantaged and seeking to get out. Making them the enemy of the state doesn't help almost anyone. That's why this law is an interesting reversal of the average way that law enforcement attempts to enforce prostitution laws. It highlights for potential clients the risk that they might be engaging in a sex act that is neither voluntary nor compensated and that, regardless of what the woman says under duress, they can be prosecuted for aiding in her slavery and her rape. Maybe if we keep calling sexual slavery by its name — rape — and the men who provide the market for it by their name — rapists — then we can force the men who patronize these women to think about what they're doing when they're purchasing sex. That, at least, might help all the sex workers in the system, whether they are trafficked or not. Sex With Trafficked Women To Be Criminalized [The Independent] Senator Debbie Stabenow's Husband Admits To Sex With Alleged Prostitute Alycia Martin [Huffington Post]
Submitted discussions can be approved by the author or users followed by this blog.