NEW YORK, June 27, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A South African doctor and abortion advocate wrote in TeenVogue that prostitution should be decriminalized all over the world as decriminalization advances in the United States.
“Reproductive justice” champion Tlaleng Mofokeng, MD, has been celebrated for her work popularizing abortion and contraception by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In an article for TeenVogue — a magazine directed at girls ages 13 and up — she said people “misunderstand” prostitution, which she said should be decriminalized.
This is not the first time TeenVogue has advocated deviance for teens. In May 2018, for example, it published an article bearing the title “What you need to know about anal sex.”
Referring to the practice of what she labeled “sex work,” Mofokeng claimed that prostitutes in Amsterdam are protesting against the Dutch city’s proposal to ban the popular guided tours through the Red Light District. She also claimed that prostitutes in South Africa want to decriminalize the sex trade.
These related issues are examples, she said, of a general “disregard” for the “needs and opinions” of those impacted by the policies. Saying this reveals a general misunderstanding of the sex trade, she wrote:
“I am a doctor, an expert in sexual health, but when you think about it, aren't I a sex worker? And in some ways, aren't we all?
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I find it interesting that as a medical doctor, I exchange payment in the form of money with people to provide them with advice and treatment for sex-related problems; therapy for sexual performance, counseling and therapy for relationship problems, and treatment of sexually transmitted infection. Isn’t this basically sex work? I do not believe it is right or just that people who exchange sexual services for money are criminalized and I am not for what I do. Is a medical degree really the right measure of who is deserving of dignity, autonomy, safety in the workplace, fair trade and freedom of employment? No. This should not be so. Those who engage in sex work deserve those things, too.”
Mofokeng wrote that the internet and apps offer safer interactions for women in the sex trade, and denounced legislation in the United States that makes online sex solicitation more difficult. The criminalization of sex work and sex workers, she said, is a “form of violence by governments” that contributes to “stigma and discrimination.”
LGBTQ organziations have also called for decriminalization both in Europe and North America. These groups tends to draw a distinction between prostitution (“sex work) and sex trafficking, despite the fact that the great majority of those in prostitution are underage and often unwilling.
Mofokeng concluded her column by saying, “Evidence, not morality, should guide law reforms and sex work policy for full sex work decriminalization.”
Writing in USA Today, Inez Stepman of the Independent Women's Forum deplored Mofokleng's column, say prostitution is “not 'real work;' it is modern-day slavery. The empowered “real work imagined by Teen Vogue means nothing to the daily miseries of these girls.”
She noted the irony that Teen Vogue casting a favorable light on sex work to teens comes at a time when young women have “the greatest panoply of career choices” in human history.
In Stepman’s article, she noted UN statistics showing that at least 28 percent of trafficking victims worldwide are children, and most victims are women and girls. The Department of Justice, she said, says victims 17 years old and younger make up 54 percent of sex-trafficked victims in the United States, and 95 percent are female.
The move toward decriminalization in the United States received a boost on Tuesday night after the upset Democratic primary victory of lesbian Tiffany Cabán (31) as district attorney in Queens, New York.
During her campaign, Cabán vowed not to prosecute prostitutes. Among the Democrat’s allies was Decrim NY, which has long advocated the repeal of those sections of the state penal code that label prostitution and its promotion as criminal behavior while claiming that minorities and cross-dressing males are the most targeted. The group praised the election result.
Cabán has promised during her first day on the job to instruct district attorneys not to prosecute prostitutes or their clients. Her predecessor, the late Richard Brown, was renowned for zeroing in prostitution during nearly 30 years in office.
Cabán may run into opposition, however, from New York City cops who have flouted, for example, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who said last year that he would no longer prosecute New Yorkers for fare evasion in public transit. Fellow Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped in by sending cops to 100 spots known for fare evasion.
Decrim NY members met with state lawmakers in May to push for legislation that would repeal wording in the state penal code that criminalizes “loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.” They are also calling for criminal record relief for those convicted of prostitution and other sex-related crimes.
The group is hoping that once Cabán ceases to prosecute prostitution, its decriminalization will not be far behind, as has been the case in states regarding recreational marijuana use.
On the national scene, Democrat U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have said they are open to decriminalization. Both of them endorsed Cabán.
Mofokeng is a medical doctor and a founding member and vice chairperson of the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition of South Africa. She is the South African co-lead for Global Doctors for Choice and a recipient of the 120under40 award for abortion and contraception advocacy from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
She writes for various British media and Al Jazeera. Her Facebook page describes her as the author of “Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure.” She has also been described as a lead consultant for Nalane for Reproductive Justice.