Tough questions

Since I moved here, the view from my kitchen has reminded me (and others!) of a very old-fashioned German TV show called “Lindenstraße”. I found that very amusing and charming, until it was pointed out to me that behind those trees in the picture, there might be a brothel hiding.

Totally unrelated to this revelation, I was asked today what my opinion on the laws for/against prostitution are. So I think I can no longer escape from thinking about this subject.

My thoughts so far are these:

(Actually, before I start: I try to think about just prostituition, so I will make the hypothetical and probably very problematic assumption that there is a way to separate the issue of prostitution from the issue of human trafficking.)

I have the typical stories in mind — the ones about single mums trying to feed their children by sleeping with rich old men in mind — so, of course, I am disgusted.  Whether that is unwarranted prejudice or not I cannot say. What I can say is that I find it very hard to come up with a reason to prohibit prostitution. It may be horrible, it is for sure the expression of a disgusting culture, but the only legitimate reason for prohibiting it would, in my eyes, be if the sex workers were not consenting to sex. In my hypothetical scenario, that is not the case.

Well, some people object to that, and here is where it gets tricky. Can you consent to something while being under enormous economic pressure? That is a fair question, and I am open to discussion about it. So far, I still think it would be patronising and insulting to tell a sex worker who reports that she/he has made a free decision that I knew any better. And hence, I don’t see how that sort of “business” could not be legal.

That, of course, is not to say that I am not disgusted by a culture that runs businesses like these. But I am disgusted by a lot of what we take to be normal, anyway. And no other branch of business can illustrate this well how the fact that we started to speak of “human resources” is an indicator for things going terribly wrong.

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