NEW YORK, August 1, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A new report for a United Nations agency, underwritten in part by George Soros’ foundation, calls on the governments of the world to legalize prostitution and drug use, blasts “conservative interpretations of religion” about sexual morality, demands nations open their borders and state healthcare systems to AIDS-infected immigrants, and argues that the spread of AIDS would be reduced by repealing laws against the intentional spread of HIV. Nations should end all laws against pimps, because women willingly go into prostitution for reasonable purposes, such as “a drug habit,” it claims. But leading experts tell LifeSiteNews.com the report is misguided and its prescriptions could lead to an increase in sex trafficking and deeper human misery.
Two years after its launch, the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Global Commission on HIV and the Law issued its first report this month, entitled, “HIV and the Law: Rights, Risks, and Health.”
The report insists the law “dehumanizes many of those at highest risk for HIV: sex workers, transgender people, men who have sex with men (MSM), people who use drugs, prisoners, and migrants.” This is particularly true in “governments influenced by conservative interpretations of religion,” where “people suffer and die because of inequality, ignorance, intolerance, and indifference.” It disparages laws based on “morality.”
It concludes nations could fight AIDS if they “repeal laws that prohibit consenting adults to buy or sell sex, as well as laws that otherwise prohibit commercial sex, such as laws against ‘immoral’ earnings, ‘living off the earnings’ of prostitution and brothel-keeping.”
The report’s authors attempt to distinguish willing “sex workers” from victims of sex trafficking. “The difference is that the former is consensual whereas the latter coercive,” they write. “Sex work is not always a desperate or irrational act; it is a realistic choice to sell sex – in order to support a family, an education or maybe a drug habit. It is an act of agency.” (Emphasis added.)
Making prostitutes illegal denies them the “human rights available to others,” including “the means by which others can make claims on elected officials,” such as through registered lobbyists.
The UN report suggests officials “shut down all compulsory detention or ‘rehabilitation’ centers for people involved in sex work or for children who have been sexually exploited.”
Nations, they insist, should “recognize the sexual autonomy of young people” by providing “sex education, harm reduction” – defined as condom and syringe distribution – “and comprehensive reproductive and HIV services…to youth.”
The report was underwritten by such major funders of the Left as George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and the Ford Foundation, as well as the American Jewish World Service (whose new vice president for communications, Stuart Schear, recently held the same position at Planned Parenthood), Australia’s AusAID, and such UN offices as the UNFPA, UNICEF, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UNAIDS Secretariat.
Its commissioners include Rep. Barbara Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against toppling the Taliban after September 11, and former Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, a founding member of an internationalist organization known as “The Elders” with Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu.
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The report states its conclusions “do not necessarily reflect the views” of the UNDP. However, UN officials suggested repealing laws against homosexuality, trangenderism, and “laws that inappropriately criminalize HIV transmission” at the group’s launching in June 2010.
In a seemingly counterintuitive assertion, they state laws outlawing knowingly exposing others to HIV help spread AIDS, because they “discourage people from getting tested or treated, in fear of being prosecuted.”
The world’s leaders should also distribute clean needles to drug users, give condoms to prisoners, end “bias” based on “HIV status,” and assure every “migrant” – legal or illegal – receives AIDS treatment. (George Soros has long funded efforts aimed at the legalization of drugs.)
Until this becomes reality, the agency encourages lawmakers to “creatively use traditional law in progressive ways.”
A prominent picture in the report encourages legislators to “Criminalize hate, not HIV.”
They should refrain from “shaming” prostitutes with STDs and “prohibit the mandatory HIV and STI testing of sex workers.” Instead, police should be put “to work alongside sex workers in enabling wider safer sex practices”; for example, they could “talk about improving condom distribution in venues where sex is sold.”
But many social scientists question whether it is possible to separate “willing” prostitutes from unwilling ones.
The British Crown Prosecution Service has found sex workers are subject to a variety of pressures, including physical and sexual abuse, and noted “strong links between street prostitution and the drug markets, particularly crack cocaine.”
Dr. Mary Anne Layden, a psychologist, pornography expert, and director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania, told LifeSiteNews.com there is no “bright line of demarcation between prostitution and sex trafficking and child prostitution. These are all flowing, one into the other.”
“The average age of becoming a child prostitute in the U.S. is 12,” she said. “We call them a child prostitute until the day after their 18th birthday, and then we say it’s adult consenting sex.” She questioned whether someone in that position is really “making a free choice. Her brain has been raped as well as her body.”
“They way they get into this field is rape them as children. This is how you pipeline them into this.”
The radical feminist Andrea Dworkin once called incest “boot camp” for prostitutes. Israeli researcher Anat Gur believes the link between prostitution and childhood abuse calls into question a prostitute’s ability to freely choose a life in the sex trade.
“They’ve gone into this industry because it feels like home,” Dr. Layden told LifeSiteNews. “Now with the viewer taking the role of the perpetrator, we’ve got the whole cycle repeated.”
This is all too plain to the “sex workers.” One prostitute explained: “We’ve all been molested. Over and over, and raped. We were all molested and sexually abused as children, don’t you know that? We ran to get away…We were thrown out, thrown away. We’ve been on the street since we were 12, 13, 14.”
A survey of 50 young adults who are or were prostitutes conducted by UK’s Children’s Society found that half had been molested, 25 percent of them before the age of 10. Most were runaways. Two-thirds had used drugs before entering prostitution.
The painful memories so haunt some women that they use dissociation as a defense mechanism.
The same kind of women “choose” prostitution as those forced into it: poor women in desperate straits. Melissa Farley, a psychologist who studies prostitution at a San Francisco nonprofit, wrote, “Prostitution is ‘chosen’ as a job by those who have the fewest real choices available to them.”
Yet some on the Left have hailed the UN report as a step forward for feminist liberation. Cheryl Overs wrote at RH Reality Check that the report “marks a significant advance for sex workers’ struggle,” fretting only that the very acknowledgment of white slavery “suggests that very significant numbers of sex workers are enslaved which is not borne out by experience or statistics.”
Dorchen A. Leidholdt, the Director of the Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, wrote: “The proponents of this distinction are sending the following message: ‘Don’t pay attention to the poverty, the familial pressure, the incest she survived, the battering by her boyfriend, the lack of employment options available to her. Just ask whether there is a gun pointed at her head or whether she is being overtly deceived. No gun, no deceit; then no problem; not only is she voluntarily in the sex industry, she is a ‘sex worker.’”
Far from solving the problem of the global sex trade, Dr. Layden told LifeSiteNews that legalizing prostitution would increase sexual trafficking, rape, and abuse.
“When you increase the demand in prostitution in a country,” she said, “pretty soon there won’t be enough prostitutes, so that means we’re going to have to get women and children and sex traffic them.”
“When you send a message to your culture that sex is a product you buy – if you can buy it, you can steal it,” she said. “In this particular context, the stealing is rape.”
The British Crown Prosecution Service revealed that female prostitutes “are often at risk of violent crime in the course of their work.” One study found 85 percent of prostitutes in Minneapolis-St. Paul had been raped in the course of their “work.” Another discovered that 12 percent of all strippers are slapped by the manager or other male staff, and 85 percent report being verbally or physically abused on the job.
This ignores the working conditions themselves. Shulamit Almog, a law professor at Israel’s University of Haifa, wrote in The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law: “A typical shift in a Nevada brothel runs from twelve to fourteen hours a day, every day, for three weeks. The woman has almost no control over the number of clients per day, their identity, or her working hours. One woman who has engaged in prostitution in one of these establishments testified that ‘it was like a prison.’”
After the brothel owners take their cut, the prostitute takes home “about fifty percent of her earnings.”
Legalization has given some countries incentive to view prostitution as a jobs program.
The nation of Belize boasted in a November 1996 report to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that “recognized prostitution in Belize is a gender-specific form of migrant labor that serves the same economic functions for women as agricultural work offers to men, and often for better pay.”
Justifying the trade has another side effect, as well. “When prostitution is assumed to be a reasonable ‘job option,’ women’s intense longing to escape it is made invisible,” Farley wrote.
Leidholdt agreed: “Those women fortunate enough to survive sexual exploitation emerge, usually in their 30’s, when they are no longer marketable commodities, with no job skills, traumatized from years of enduring unwanted sex and violence, and physically debilitated from sexually transmitted diseases and the substance abuse necessary to endure the sex of prostitution.
“What is available to these women?” she asked. “Destitution or a career as a madam or mama san, helping the pimps control the younger women who are marketable commodities.”