Not All Prostitutes Are Victims

Sex workers around the world have taken to Twitter to fight back against continued efforts to criminalize their behavior. Using the hash tag #NotYourRescueProject, escorts and prostitutes have begun sharing the reasons why they are not victims and do not want to be rescued by governments or non-governmental aid organizations (NGOs).

A quick search of the #NotYourRescueProject reveals some compelling arguments:

Laura Lee, who blogs for Harlots Parlor, has much more to say about their business. She writes that “sex work is work and in no other industry are workers ‘rescued’ and forced to live in poverty.” For “ladies (and gentlemen) of the evening,” their profession is their primary source of income, and it can be a significant income. Being rescued or arrested means many will wind up out of work or working at such low wage jobs that they would qualify for public assistance.

These women want to remain independent.

Lee, who also blogs on her personal page, claims the “rescue business” is also big business. Funded by governments and private donations, the attempts to rescue women from their personal choices has become and industry unto itself.

Above all, the sex workers just want to be heard. They want to be acknowledged as human beings who should be guaranteed the same basic rights as any other citizen or migrant worker. Their willingness to participate in this field of work is a personal choice and should be respected. They complain that whenever laws about prostitution are considered, they are the only persons whose voices are never heard. They want to be an active part of any decision to regulate their lives.

Is that any different from the rest of us?

While most of the participants identify themselves as “feminist,” the truth is that defending the rights of individuals to engage in sexual behavior, without government consent or public approval, is all about personal liberty: the right of individuals to own themselves and to do with their lives, body, and property what they please, without getting public approval first. This is fundamental to the libertarian movement and a place where left-feminists and libertarians can see eye to eye.

All of the negatives associated with prostitution are created, promoted, and protected by the policies of prohibition. Slavery and human trafficking, underage prostitution, abuse, and disease exist primarily in the shadows provided by the underworld. Legalizing prostitution worldwide is the only way to effectively combat the negatives associated with this profession. Puerto Rico and all of Latin America face the same issues in dealing with the sex trade.

Sex workers believe that many of the stories about human trafficking are intentionally exaggerated — that most migrant prostitutes are volunteers and willing to make the move. This doesn’t discount that slavery exists, but again, it exists only by the protection provided by the policy of prohibition. Open laws would allow identification, access to health care, and even retirement benefits that currently elude these professionals.

There is, of course, the oft-mentioned moral question. It should be remembered that western and American views on morality and sex are not the only views on morality and sex in the world. Each culture looks and deals with moral and sex issues differently, and that’s okay.

To me, morality is a personal matter, and therefore it falls under the purview of the individual and not the state. I make no moral judgment one way or the other. We have all committed our own share of “sins” in our lifetimes, and while it may make us feel better to point a finger at other people’s choices, which one of us really is free enough of our own stains to cast the first stone?

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