BY: CHARLOTTE LEFAVE
Sex Work: the ultimate cultural taboo. Some are completely opposed to it, while others only care when it personally effects them. But what would the result be if it was completely banned?
Sex workers are too often negatively judged for the convenience of those who have little to no inclination towards understanding why they do what they do. Toni Mac, a young woman from England working in the sex industry, gives a voice to the misrepresented workers in her TED talk. She sheds a much needed light on how bans and strict limitations on sex work actually affect those in the industry.
She is only one of thousands of people affected by a country that is trying to eradicate prostitution in ways that are proven ineffective, making those who currently work in the industry subject to dangerous situations. Abuse of sex workers occurs globally and is a result of laws made without the proper consultation of the parties involved, specifically the ones most at risk.
In many cases, banning this type of work only makes these people more vulnerable to human rights violations and unsafe working conditions. With the law against them, there is no way for sex workers to ensure that they are protected while at work; this also takes away their ability to get justice for violent acts committed against them.
In places like South Africa, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, and even New York, police abuse of sex workers is a common occurrence, spanning anywhere from bribes to rape. Often workers end up stuck in a loop of incarceration and expensive fines that make it impossible for them to improve their situation; this forces them to continue to break the law in order to try and pay the fines and make a living.
Just because prostitution is traditionally seen as undesirable and dirty does not mean that the people involved should be treated as if they don’t deserve human rights. Prostitutes are often stereotyped as uneducated, social outcasts that chose to be in an immoral industry because they have no regard for decency or self-respect, when in reality this stereotype holds no truth.
We as a society need to stop labelling these workers as people who deserve to live in terrible conditions because we don’t approve of their lifestyle. The only way to stop the injustice towards sex workers is for lawmakers to put aside political agendas and work with them to create real change so that the men and women in the sex industry can be safe and protected.
Making this profession illegal does not help victims of the industry have a better life or escape the industry, it only raises the chances of their job taking a turn for the deadly. The only effects that these laws have are negative ones: higher levels of sexual assault, unsafe sex, and ultimately death for workers who have no way of defending themselves. Learn more by watching Toni Mac’s powerful TED talk below.