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There are, of course, those who consider sex sacred and its sale a sin, and there are libertarians who are willing to accept nearly any degree of sexual freedom. The French case is but one example of a global dispute about what constitutes exploitation in the sale and purchase of sex — and it also shows that one side of the argument often has the upper hand. That side, a group of odd bedfellows frequently called abolitionists, thinks that because all prostitution is inherently degrading and dangerous, it must be eliminated.
The group draws from, among others, religious and faith-based organizations, both liberal and conservative political ranks, and some outspoken feminist camps. So strong is the influence of this group that it has shaped the language typically used to describe the global sex industry. There is hardly a distinction drawn between sex work and human trafficking, which involves controlling someone through threats or violence with the express purpose of exploitation.
This conflation leaves no room for sex workers who make decisions for themselves; they are all just victims. This is more than a semantic issue. Since George W. Government is opposed to prostitution and related activities, which are inherently harmful and dehumanizing, and contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons. The U. Supreme Court struck down the pledge as a violation of free speech in June , but this was only a partial victory: Foreign, as opposed to U.
The GAO highlighted a figure , cited by the U. To better understand and address enormous wrongs like trafficking, we need good data. But that first requires grasping the dangers of targeting sex work — which involves women, men, and transgender populations — writ large for elimination. Abolitionists say they want to protect human rights, but their efforts often undermine those rights: Campaigns and programs to end prostitution in fact lead to violence, stigmatization, and other problems for the exact people they claim to be helping.
Laws regulating sex work vary widely among countries. Thailand, meanwhile, has long outlawed sex work, yet the industry operates quite openly there. Abolitionists typically insist that criminalization is imperative. Some have pushed for making the sale of sex illegal.