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Archive for August 9th, 2012

They use thought only to justify their injustices, and speech only to disguise their thoughts.  –  Voltaire

It’s easy to tell when a crusade of some sort is based in hate, bigotry, greed or other motivations the crusaders prefer to hide:  supporters of the exact same campaign in different times and places invent widely-varying justifications for the same meddling and harassment, and those excuses often directly contradict one another.  I don’t need to tell regular readers that anti-whore schemes are a perfect example; with the rise of secularism in the 19th century Protestant interpretations of Christian morality were no longer sufficient grounds for persecuting consensual sexual activity, so the prohibitionists came up with all sorts of “objective” and even “scientific” excuses for the bans:

…Some argued that all whores were driven to the trade by extreme privation or forced into it by pimps, while others claimed it was due to “laziness” and a desire to avoid “real work”.  But the most popular view of all was that whores were atavisms, throwbacks to a more primitive human type…since prostitutes were primitive they were also stupid, and thus incompetent to make their own decisions; this of course was used to excuse tyranny like the Contagious Disease Acts…because the government could claim it was forced to arrest, incarcerate and “rehabilitate” prostitutes “for their own good”… Except for the modern replacement of “nature” arguments (whores are born defective) with “nurture” arguments (whores are made defective early in life by sexual abuse), the propaganda is [still the same]…non-prostitutes with no personal experience of normal female sexuality…claim that it’s impossible for a normal woman to choose prostitution, and that all of us are driven to it by extreme privation or forced into it by “pimps” or “traffickers” …we are all victims of child abuse or rape, all drug addicts, blah blah blah.  Many prohibitionists openly call us stupid, selfish and neurotic, and even the ones who don’t insist that we’re incompetent to make our own decisions…

The false and arbitrary nature of such claims are particularly obvious when cops talk about the issue, because so many of them can’t seem to make up their minds about which paradigm to use; the results are sometimes hilarious and, one would imagine, embarrassing to the more intelligent sort of prohibitionist:

Deputies arrest[ed] a [touring escort from Canada as]…part of a continuing effort to crack down on what many don’t realize is a dangerous crime…Lt. Chris Reeves with the vice-narcotics unit [said]…“we get a lot of calls from, people’s husbands, daughters, wives that are not working the streets that have to walk to get groceries are getting solicited for sex from these Johns that are roaming the area…People think it’s a victimless crime, however when they are taking HIV, hepatitis home to their spouses or their significant others, that’s a big crisis.”  Reeves says some of the prostitutes are victims of human trafficking.  “A lot of them are beaten and abused.  A lot of these are young girls that have gotten hooked on drugs”…

Reeves can’t seem to make up his mind about whether escorts are ruthless gangsters or pathetic victims, not to mention his conflation of touring escorts with streetwalkers and the “diseased whore” myth thrown in as well.  Large American police departments have mostly shifted to the “victim” model in order to capitalize on the “sex trafficking” hysteria, but it’s somewhat different in Bangladesh:

The red light district in Madaripur city is thought to have been in operation for at least 150 years, and the sex workers believe [a] sudden wave of protests [has been] orchestrated by developers trying to take over the valuable land.  Last month, about 10,000 people led by a new Muslim group called Islahe Kaom Parishad (the National Reform Council) rallied outside the rambling complex to call for it to be shut down and the 500 sex workers evicted…It is legal as it dates back to before Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, but is now being targeted by hardline activists…[who are] lobbying city authorities on the grounds that the brothel corrupts the town’s young men and must be razed.  Sex workers believe the activists are organised by businessmen linked to local politicians, and they report a campaign of intimidation including an explosive device found recently on the site and two attempted arson attacks.

“We told the authorities that we won’t leave the place.  Our job is lawful.  We also don’t have any underage sex workers here,” said Momo Rani Karmakar, head of the Madaripur sex workers’ union.  “We’ve inherited the place from our grandmothers, some of them are still alive.  We are like a family here.  It’s a conspiracy to grab our land worth [hundreds of thousands of dollars],” she said…government officials say any final decision on redevelopment is still pending.  A committee, led by the regional deputy administrator, has been set up and has tried to open talks to encourage rehabilitation of the sex workers…But the sex workers told AFP that they don’t want to leave or switch to other jobs…[they] allege that the real reason behind the protests is the ambitions of a prominent Muslim family who are already erecting a multi-storied building next to the brothel.  The Parishad group deny such claims and say they are acting to protect Islamic morals.  “The brothel is the main source of criminal activity in the region,” group secretary Ali Ahmed Chowdhury told AFP.  “It runs illegal wine shops.  Under-aged girls are bought and sold and it’s a big source of the drug trade.  It’s shameful work.  It is not a profession”…

Though Western-style trafficking rhetoric is tacked on at the end there, it’s clearly an afterthought to the main excuse that evil harlots are corrupting the public morals.  In the end, the excuse doesn’t matter; whether the motivation is furtherance of anti-life, vengeance for imagined wrongs or just plain greed, prohibitionists will say whatever they need to say to trick others into going along with their personal jihad.

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