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Argument: Prostitutes do not have a genuine choice

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Supporting evidence

  • Diane Post, J.D., Attorney and Human Rights Activist. "Legalizing Prostitution: A Systematic Rebuttal". July 1999 - "The ILO [International Labour Organization] report admits that most women 'choose' prostitution for economic reasons. Surely no one can argue that this is free choice any more than the cattle in the squeeze chute choose to go to their death."[1]
  • Margareta Winberg, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden. Speech in Stockholm. Nov. 5-6, 2002 - "I believe that we will never succeed in combating trafficking in women if we do not simultaneously work to abolish prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women and children. Particularly in light of the fact that many women in prostitution in countries that have legalised prostitution are originally victims of trafficking in women."[2]
  • Gunilla S. Ekberg, Special Advisor on issues of prostitution and trafficking in women at the Swedish Division for Gender Equality. Seminar on the Effects of Legalisation of Prostitution Activities in Stockholm. Nov. 5-6 2002 - "A common argument by prostitution advocates is that women and girls make informed and calculated choices about entering into prostitution. They say that the ones who have so chosen should be free to pursue their choice in the name of self-determination and integrity, over their lives and their bodies.
The prostitution lobby wants us to believe that prostitution is female sexual liberation and a way for women to give full expression to their deepest sexual fantasies. These ideas are based on an uncritical acceptance of the old libertarian concept of individual free choice and completely lack a critique of society and an analysis of male power. What they also care to ignore is that the concept of free will requires the existence of several possible options to choose from and the control of the person in making a choice.
...To talk about choice in this context becomes both cruel and meaningless. When we allow the prostitution defenders to blame the victims of prostitution for their victimization, we collaborate with them. Male violence is thus obscured and focus is off the perpetrators.
Instead of talking about prostitution as a choice, we must ask ourselves: If prostitution is a free choice, why is it that it is always the women and girls who have the fewest alternatives who are the ones who end up in prostitution?"[3]
  • Cecilia Hofmann, Secretary of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. Solidarity Philippines Australia Network (SPAN) - Asia Pacific newsletter. April-June 1999 - "Prostitution pre-exists as a system and an institution that patriarchy has a stake in and will maintain, with or without women's consent. If women and girls are not persuaded by the big money which is sometimes offered, or the survival possibility for women or their families, then they will simply be tricked or trafficked. Either way, the supply of bodies must be ensured. No client asks women whether or not they are there with their full consent - that is immaterial to what prostitution is all about: the exercise of a certain conception of masculinity that identifies with power, sexual privilege and gratification.
The apparent and in some cases, real consent of some women to do prostitution is held up by some as proof that self-determined choice can exist. The angle of women's accommodation to and conditioning by patriarchy is dismissed. The contradiction between individual will and common good is dismissed. Because the fact remains that the institution of prostitution is one of, if not the most blatant form of subordination of women's bodies and personhood to men's interests. The consent of some, condemns all women as a group, to continue to be defined as possible providers of sex or sexual merchandise."[4]


  • Prostitution Research and Education - "Almost all women in prostitution are there as a last resort, they don't "choose" the paid rapes of prostitution the way someone chooses a career as an x-ray technician. 95% of those in prostitution urgently want to escape it." [5]

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