Reporting for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), Lisa Correnti said members unleashed their outrage on agencies including the newly created UN Women for proposing that legalizing prostitution would provide safeguards for prostitutes and that many of the women who perform “sex work” do so by choice.
Not so, said the panel, which was organized by The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and took place just as diplomats were negotiating whether or not to refer to prostitution as “sex work.”
“Natasha Falle, founder of SEXTRADE 101 said upwards of 95 percent want to exit but need assistance. Falle, a Canadian sex trafficking survivor, has helped hundreds of women escape prostitution,” Correnti reports.
The panel also debunked the myth that legalization could somehow safeguard prostitutes from the violence they suffer daily.
One former victim said men paying for sex are addicts using women’s bodies as drugs and believe the time they have purchased to be with a woman puts them completely in control. It is also impossible to enforce laws requiring condom use, which puts these women at high risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
They are also against the use of the term “sex work”. Rachel Moran, a former prostituted woman from Ireland and author of Paid For: My Journey Through Prostitution, referred to a report leaked by a former pimp now on the staff with Amnesty International which advocated for legalizing “sex work” – a term that originated by US-based pimps in order to normalize prostitution.
While many use the term to avoid offending prostituted women, mainstreaming the phrase only benefits pimps and panderers, the panelists explained.
“Prostitution is not work, they argued – it is paid rape, and using the term hurts efforts to stop it,” Correnti reports.
She goes on to describe the panel of survivors as having “gasped” when they learned that the newly created UN Women supported decriminalization of prostitution.
“The former prostituted women encouraged the packed audience to tell UN Women they must retract their support for decriminalization and that prostitution must be treated as gender-based violence,” Correnti reports.
The panelists insisted that legalization would lead to more girls being trafficked, and transform pimps into legitimate businessmen.
As one panelist said: “When [UN personnel] work in a brothel then will I listen to their argument.”
According to Correnti, Amnesty International, the World Health Organization, UN Women, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, and Human Rights Watch all “support or are calling for the decriminalization of sex work.”
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