July 12, 2005

"Sex trafficking vs. "sex work"

Janice G. Raymond of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women responds to Jennifer Block's article in the Summer/Autumn 2004 issue of Conscience, titled, "Why the Faith Trade Is Interested in the Sex Trade", with, "Sex Trafficking is Not 'Sex Work'".

While I am inclined to agree with Raymond's initial premise...

Prostitution is not “sex work;” it is violence against women. It exists because significant numbers of men are given social, moral and legal permission to buy women on demand. It exists because pimps and traffickers prey on women’s poverty and inequality. It exists because it is a last ditch survival strategy, not a choice, for millions of the world’s women.
...Block raises some interesting points, herself, including an accusation (albeit from a Mother Jones staff reporter) that International Justice Ministry operates like a "bull in a china shop" and has little regard for the aftermath of their "brothel raid" approach.

One of Block's issues with the current "faith-based" approach to the issue of sexual-trafficking is that they often view the reality of women (and children) living in this reality in rigid black-and-white terms (ie: the familiar "good vs. evil" and "us vs. them" dichotomies). She delves into the Bush (Christian/right, etc.) camp's pro-abstinence, pro-life (etc. etc. etc...) approach and appears to side with those anti-trafficking advocates who consider this view to be ultimatley detrimental to the victims, at best:

...[C]ritics see the Bush administration as shrewdly exploiting the exploitation of women to funnel millions more taxpayer dollars toward the already flush antiabortion, anticondom, anti-sex campaign being promoted, and increasingly exported, by the Christian right.
She concludes by jumping onto the analogy train conducted by David Feingold (of UNESCO fame), likening the Bush approach to declaring yet another "war on something" (ie: drugs, poverty...etc.). IMHO, I think this train should slow it down before it goes across this bridge...

Finally, countering the so-called "black-and-white" perspective Block makes out to be the blanket view of "the right", Raymond fires back with a reality of cooperation across "idealogy and tactics," citing civil rights advocate, Bayard Rustin:

The issue is which coalition to join and how to make it responsive to your program…the difference between expediency and morality in politics is the difference between selling out a principle and making smaller concessions to win larger ones.
Explore the argument yourselves.

Posted by Kyer at July 12, 2005 10:33 AM | TrackBack