Prostitution not the same as trafficking - regardless of what campaigners claim
Published 04/08/2015 | 02:30
Fresh from their clumsy support for the gay marriage referendum - a public policy decision which most non-members considered far beyond the organisation's remit - Amnesty Ireland is once more back in the spotlight.
There's no need to rehash the controversy surrounding Amnesty's role in the gay marriage debate - which prompted a rather peevish Colm O'Gorman to pen a column complaining about those who disagreed with their very public involvement - or whether they should stick to what they do best, which is making people feel good about themselves whenever they donate to what was once a non-partisan group.
This week's meeting of 500 international delegates in the City West Hotel will convene to pass a motion which asserts that: "Amnesty International is opposed to the criminalisation or punishment of activities related to the buying or selling of sex between consenting adults."
Further, in a refreshingly libertarian spirit they also point out that: "Consensual sexual contact between adults ... is entitled to protection from state interference."
The magic word here is 'consent' - the most crucial condition of any sexual transaction.
But proving just how profoundly illiberal, arrogant and contemptuous of women modern feminists truly are, a group of Hollywood luvvies were quick to issue a statement condemning Amnesty and its idea to inject some common sense into the sex trade.
Frankly, when the likes of Lena Dunham, Gloria Steinem and Rossana Dinamarca, the feminist spokeswoman of the Sweden Left Party, join forces with the likes of religious groups such as the 'Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd' to condemn something, then you know there must be good reason to support it. After all, this is just the latest example of feminists and conservative religious groups finding out they have a lot more in common when it comes to their warped attitudes towards sex than either side would usually like to admit.
The great myth peddled by prohibitionists (and people who want to ban adult behaviour will always, always rely on myths to hammer their point home) is that all prostitution is exploitation and usually involves some hapless, terrified sex slave who has been trafficked into the country.
As one anti-prostitution campaigner, Esohe Aghatise, claimed last week: "The vast majority of women enter it (prostitution) in the absence of real choices. Many are children..."
No. No, they're not and it's both outrageous and spectacular disingenuous to conflate the profound evil of the child sex trade with consenting (there's that word again), paid-for sex between adults who have made a mutual agreeable arrangement.
It truly is remarkable just how quickly women's activists will deny the rights of other women to make decisions they don't agree with.
For example, in her hysterical and widely derided piece in 'The Guardian' (where else? I hear you cry) the other day, Aghatise even puts inverted commas around the word consent in her ramblings, as if the idea of a grown woman willingly having sex for money is such a bizarre and hideous idea that it has to be undermined by some sarcastic punctuation.
As is often the way when the various strands of contemporary activism collide, it didn't take long for Whitey to be blamed and she dismissed sex workers who want to be left alone as: "Overwhelmingly white, privileged women in escort prostitution and have no business speaking for the global majority."
So, all prostitutes are victims of trafficking. Unless they're white and privileged and actually work in the industry, that is. Then the views of those prostitutes don't count and they're obviously racist.
It's hardly a massive moral leap to suggest that everybody is opposed to trafficking. Similarly, I doubt I'm going to win any journalism awards for heroically pointing out that having sex with a child is an abomination.
But neither of those issues has anything to do with the right of free adults to conduct their own affairs (both literal and metaphorical) free of interference from the State or the gardaí.
Amidst the usual hand-wringing we have come to expect from conservatives, both feminists and religious, there seems to be an active and vicious contempt for those sex workers who simply want to be left alone without malign moralising and harassment.
According to Rachel Moran, an Irish anti-prostitution activist, morality and moralising are at the very heart of the debate. The former prostitute says that: "The reason people want prostitution stripped of its morality is because if people looked at it through a moral prism it would collapse, and they know it."
Really? We're still making laws on someone's idea of sexual propriety?
At least she is honest enough to admit that she wants to impose her own brand of weird morality on everybody else but the best rebuttal to that asinine and obnoxious sentiment comes from one of the most interesting and eloquent sex workers' advocates, Laura Lee, who has dismissed Moran, saying simply: "Rachel Moran is talking rubbish."
So here's a question for those who want to ban all forms of commercial sex - if trafficking stopped tomorrow and every sex worker was free, consenting and working in a safe environment (and brothels are so much safer than street walking), would they drop their objections?
Would they be happy to allow a fellow feminist pursue a career in sex work if all the reasons for their opposition were suddenly removed?
I wouldn't bank on it.
After all, when your whole ideology is devoted to keeping women as perpetual victims and portraying men as perpetual predators, then there's no room for common sense.