Prostitution and Human
Rights
What are the Issues?
Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh, Ph. D.
World of Differences:
Languages, Cultures, and Human Rights Conference
What are “human rights”?
• “rights that belong to an individual or
group of individuals as a consequence
of being human. They refer to a wide
continuum of values or capabilities
thought to enhance human agency and
declared to be universal in character, in
some sense equally claimed for all
human beings.”1
1Encyclopedia
Britannica Online. (2005). Human rights. Retrieved November 17, 2005,
from http://search.eb.com.
What are “human rights”?
• UN “Universal Declaration of Human
Rights”
– Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and
security of person.
– Article 4: No one shall be held in slavery or
servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be
prohibited in all their forms.
– Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment.
– Article 23: Everyone has the right to work, to free
choice of employment, to just and favourable
conditions of work and to protection against
unemployment.2
2United
Nations. (1948-1998). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved
November 17, 2005, from http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html.
How does prostitution
violate human rights?
• Pro-abolition of prostitution:
Prostitution as inherently exploitative
and dehumanizing, regardless if
“chosen” or “forced”
– Article 4: Prostitution as sexual “slavery”
– Article 5: Prostitution as “cruel, inhuman,
or degrading treatment”
• Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
(CATW)
– Video clip3
3Coalition
Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). (2000). So deep a violence:
Prostitution, trafficking, and the global sex industry. North Amherst, MA: CATW.
Prostitution=Sex Trafficking
& Sexual Slavery
• “some 200,000 sex slaves worldwide
bringing…an annual profit of $10.5 billion”
• Thailand—”estimated 35,000 women working
as brothel slaves” of 500,000 to one million
prostitutes.
• “In 1996 nearly five million sex tourists from
the U.S., Western Europe, Australia, and
Japan visited Thailand…brought in about $26.2
billion—thirteen times more than Thailand
earned by building and exporting computers”
• “some 50,000 women and children are
trafficked into the U.S. each year, mainly from
Asia and Latin America”4
4Leuchtag,
A. (2003, Jan/Feb). Human rights, sex trafficking, and prostitution. The
Humanist, 10-15.
Combating Sex Trafficking
• UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish
Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and
Children
– “The purposes of this Protocol are: (a) To
prevent and combat trafficking in persons,
paying particular attention to women and
children; (b) To protect and assist the
victims of such trafficking, with full respect
for their human rights; and (c) To promote
cooperation among States Parties in order
to meet those objectives.”5
5United
Nations. (2000, November 15). Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish
trafficking in persons especially women and children. Retrieved November 18, 2005,
from http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/protocoltraffic.htm
Combating Sex Trafficking
• Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection
Act of 2000
– “nations including the United States must recognize
that trafficking is a serious offense…by prescribing
appropriate punishment, giving priority to the
prosecution of trafficking offenses, and protecting
rather than punishing the victims of such offenses.
The U.S. must work bilaterally and multilaterally to
abolish the trafficking industry by taking steps to
promote cooperation among countries linked
together by international trafficking routes…must
also urge the international community to take strong
action in multilateral fora to engage recalcitrant
countries in serious and sustained efforts to
eliminate trafficking and protect trafficking victims.”6
6United
States Congress. (2000). H.R. 3244, Victims of trafficking and violence
protection act of 2000. Retrieved November 18, 2005, from http://thomas.loc.gov.
How does prostitution
violate human rights?
• Sex workers’ rights organizations:
Prostitution as “sex work,” freely
chosen, and thus deserving of workers’
rights and protections
– Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and
security of person.
– Article 23: Everyone has the right to work, to free
choice of employment, to just and favourable
conditions of work and to protection against
unemployment.7
7United
Nations. (1948-1998). Universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved
November 17, 2005, from http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html.
Sex Trafficking all Hype?
• Statistics cited by CATW and the like
argued as unsubstantiated,
exaggerated, and manipulated to serve
their agenda (total abolition of
prostitution)
– “while many current studies highlight the
tragic stories of individual prostitutes,
especially of women and children deceived
or coerced into the practice…many workers
entered for pragmatic reasons and with a
general sense of awareness of the choice
they were making.”8
8Platt,
L. (2001). Regulating the global brothel. American Prospect, pp. 10-14. Retrieved
November 17, 2005, from http://lexisnexis.com.
Sex Trafficking all Hype?
• By continuously portraying migrant
prostitutes as “helpless victims,”
negating self-determination of ThirdWorld women who actively chose
prostitution as a viable economic
option.
– Patronizing toward prostitutes in general
– Racist/neo-colonialist/neo-imperialist
attitude toward Third-World prostitutes 9
9Kempadoo,
K., & Doezema, J. (1998). Global sex workers: Rights, resistance, and
redefinition. New York: Routledge.
Prostitution=Sex Work
• Abuses/rights violations that befall
prostitutes are no different than
those experienced by other
migrant laborers and laborers in
low-status jobs—not “hazards of
the trade or…conditions that loose
women bring upon themselves but
[are] abuses of human rights and
labor standards.”10
10Platt,
L. (2001). Regulating the global brothel. American Prospect, pp. 10-14.
Retrieved November 17, 2005, from http://lexisnexis.com.
Combating Human Rights
Violations of Sex Workers
• Legalize/decriminalize prostitution as
legitimate work and thus protected by
fair labor standards and practices
– Minimum wage laws
– Overtime/vacation pay
– Regulations and/or educational programs to
prevent HIV/AIDS & STIs
– Right to collective bargaining
– Legal redress for labor violations11
11Platt,
L. (2001). Regulating the global brothel. American Prospect, pp. 10-14.
Retrieved November 17, 2005, from http://www.lexis-nexis.com.; International
Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights. (1985). World charter for prostitutes’ rights.
Retrieved November 18, 2005, from http://www.bayswan.org/ICPRChart.html
The Two Sides…
• Pro-abolition of prostitution
– Problem: Prostitution in all forms is
inherently a violation of human rights.
– Solution: Criminalize, focusing on punishing
“demand side,” and move toward total
abolition.
• Pro-decriminalization/legalization
of prostitution
– Problem: Human rights violation is in not
recognizing prostitution as a legitimate
work choice and thus not providing equal
protections.
– Solution: Legalize/decriminalize prostitution
and provide fair labor protections.
Prostitution and Human
Rights
What do you think?
Prostitution and Human
Rights
Suggested Reading
Leuchtag, A. (2003, Jan/Feb). Human rights, sex trafficking,
and prostitution. The Humanist, 10-15.
Platt, L. (2001). Regulating the global brothel. American
Prospect, pp. 10-14.
Descargar

Prostitution and Human Rights