Against all odds and despite this season of reckoning over sexual misconduct, Democrats come down on the wrong side of history time and again when it comes to the fight against what some lawmakers call “sex work.”
Four New York politicians — state Sens. Jessica Ramos, Julia Salazar, Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried — are crafting legislation to “fully decriminalize” prostitution in the Empire State.
On its face, such a proposal might sound like a good idea. But it’s not. By decriminalizing prostitution, lawmakers aren’t protecting prostituted women; they are legitimizing the men who abuse and take advantage of them.
Laila Mickelwait, director of abolition for Exodus Cry, a nonprofit dedicated to abolishing sex trafficking and the commercial sex industry, said progressive politicians, by seeking to legalize prostitution, are “promoting a system of utter exploitation, abuse, humiliation [and] degradation.”
“They really are coming down on the wrong side of history,” she told Faithwire.
Like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., is credited with saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” The march toward moral rightness isn’t easy, nor is it always an upward climb; it’s messy and imperfect, but it is nevertheless leading to justice.
Either now or in eternity, all will be made right. But for now, progressives are impeding that march, and history will ultimately prove them to be out of step with justice.
The idea of legitimizing prostitution is gaining a lot of traction among Democrats. In late February, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a contender for the Democratic nomination for president, told The Root the country “can’t criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed,” referring to the commercial sex industry.
It might sound like a wonderful libertarian idea, but Mickelwait said the decriminalizing of prostitution wouldn’t empower women. Instead, it would decriminalize “pimping, brothel keeping and buying sex, which is the trafficker’s dream come true.”
Research has shown upwards of 71 percent of prostituted women are physically assaulted while in the industry and at least 68 percent experience some kind of post-traumatic stress associated with sexual violence and abuse.
It doesn’t take a lot of research to realize the legitimization of such a grotesque and abusive industry is the wrong way to address this burgeoning problem.
Democrats are presenting a false dichotomy by suggesting there are only two ways to address this issue: by sticking with the status quo or fully embracing what they call “sex work” by legitimizing the men who abuse these prostituted women, many of whom are having sex with up to 20 different people each day.
Mickelwait argued it’s “truly diabolical” for those advocating for the latter to call the industry “sex work,” a misnomer that whitewashes what can only be seen as a dastardly structure that elevates men by objectifying women.
“There’s this cover narrative over prostitution, porn that says it’s empowering, that it’s the ‘oldest profession,’ when it’s truly the oldest oppression,” she explained. “It’s anything but empowering for those who are in it.”
There is another way
Rather than sticking with current laws — many of which victimize prostituted women by penalizing them — or giving legitimacy to a violently dangerous industry by decriminalizing it, Mickelwait said there’s a third option called the abolition or Nordic model.
“It doesn’t put women in prostitution behind bars,” she said. “It sees them as victims, provides social services and exit services for them, and then goes after the pimps and the johns and the traffickers and the brothel owners and those who would seek to exploit women in prostitution.”
In December 2018, Israel became the 10th country in the world to embrace the Nordic model, which, rather than criminalizing the act of prostitution itself, seeks to prosecute those who attempt to hire prostituted women.
According to Israeli government statistics, 76 percent of those in the commercial sex industry would leave it behind if they could. In total, there are roughly 14,000 people involved in prostitution in the Jewish state, 3,000 of whom are minors.
Though only legal in the state of Nevada, there are an estimated one million prostituted women in the United States. There are believed to be between 40 to 42 million women in prostitution around the globe.
It’s high time the U.S. follow Israel’s lead by adopting the so-called Nordic model, which was first implemented in Sweden in 1999 and has since been embraced in countries like Canada, France, Norway, Northern Ireland and Ireland.
“It’s important for people to know about the Nordic or abolition model,” Mickelwait said. “It’s truly the only model that’s just and that is truly going to help women in prostitution and come down hard on organized crime.”