Prostitution and transforming a predator’s world

[Editors Note: This is a revised version of a previous article.]

"A measure of our society’s worth and compassion is how we treat our most vulnerable citizens. If we fail to do all we can to protect those who cannot speak for themselves, we cannot call ours a civilized society.” 1  

The majority of women who are prostituted do so not as a free choice but because they have no choice. Vancouver Police Const. Howard Chow, “Our huge concern is the fact that many of them are not out there on their own free will.  Our focus has always been on pimps in these situations and we try to extend any sort of help [with] our resources to the sex trade workers themselves.”2 

Misidentifying acts of violence like prostitution as work, and as just another job, is a dishonest representation of what prostitution really is. Sarah’s comment “I have a little girl…not once has she or one of her friends said, ‘Mommy when I grow up I want to have sex with strange men for money. I want to give blow jobs for money.’” 3

“Human trafficking is the second largest industry worldwide and the fastest growing, generating annual profits of $32 billion. The UN and human rights groups estimate that between 12.3 million and 27 million people are trafficked each year. The income of [the] global prostitution industry goes directly into the pockets of pimps, human traffickers and brothel owners and [may] indirectly benefit tour operators, airlines, hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers, bar managers and advertisers.”4

Violent coercion and manipulation are required to conduct global human trafficking of women, men, and children. Trisha Baptie, former sex-trade worker. “It’s human slavery. There are women in brothels in Vancouver right now, and more will come before the Games.”5

Local Vancouver pimps and johns also have to conduct this business with coercive violence.” Ask Susan Davis when the last time she had a 'bad date' was, and the Vancouver sex-trade worker doesn't have to think too far back. "Last night," Davis says. Her 'date' was drunk and got a little too rough. But Davis didn't even think about telling the police. "It's amazing what we get used to," she shrugs, by way of explanation. "An assault to me is relative to the number of times I've been assaulted. And I've been assaulted so many times I can't remember."’6

According to Statistics Canada, prostitution is in the top three most risky professions along with cops and cab drivers.

We live in a world of predators that prey on our weakest and most vulnerable citizens. Some of the people who abuse others in the prostitution business are the same people who make the laws that regulate prostitution. There has been one Vancouver judge who has appeared regularly on the “most dangerous johns” list. There are no current provisions in our world for basic survival needs like food and shelter.  This ensures an endless supply of “prey”.

“…Inequality and …discrimination leave far too many women vulnerable to violence and far too many men with the sense of entitlement to women’s bodies. Some women are left with no options other than prostitution to provide them with income for living their lives. Proper supports and full access to social, employment, and educational opportunities must be in place for women to successfully leave prostitution. Our society…is responsible for ensuring all women…are provided with safety, justice and true equality.”7

One theory that explains the violence experienced as prostitution is called the “Stockholm Syndrome”:

“On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees "The party has just begun!" The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th.

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