10 July, 2009

Prostitution - our response

A discussion piece on Prostitution

Prostitution in Australia, as with many other countries has become a societal norm, something that many of us do not agree with but have come to accept as being a part of common life, although we rarely think about it. For many of us, Prostitution is something that is only related to the city, the night and men and women who are seen as morally incorrect or apathetic. We associate Prostitution with drug users, street crime and the geographical area’s of our neighbourhood, which we tend to avoid.

There is much debate about Prostitution and specifically in Australia the debate about legal and illegal Prostitution, which have strong arguments for both direction. When we consider Prostitution, we rarely look at the implications it has on the person, we talk about it as a moral and social issue, it is often a part of political debates, public awareness campaigns and more recently for The Salvation Army, the Red Shield Appeal. Prostitution has much deeper lying social impacts, on the person and the world in which that person lives, but often we view Prostitution as a choice that the person who we call a “prostitute” has made.

Why would people choose to be in Prostitution? I do recognise that there are some, who do make an informed choice to be in the work of Prostitution, but there are many others who may have seemed to make a choice, but that choice has been made out of necessity, survival or an addiction they can no longer control. So then is Prostitution a choice or is it someone trying to survive who has become a paid victim of physical and sexual abuse?

One pro-prostitution study revealed that there were actually 3 types of prostitutes, those who entered the work before 16 yrs (kids), those who entered between 16-18yrs (girls) and those who entered 19yrs (women) and up. The statistical information revealed that the kids and girls largely experienced family break-down, physical and sexual violence and drug abuse. Where as the statistical picture of women portrayed that they were lead into prostitution through, “economic situation, or financial survival for themselves”. The research displayed that it was an informed choice that these women made, as “many cases, their children, coupled with a knowledge about the sex industry which removes the barriers of mythological notions [is] enough for them to perceive prostitution as a viable economic option.”

All of these situations don’t seem to be much of a choice when prostitution is the only option. Maybe it was the most economical, maybe it would allow more financial viability for a single parent house hold, but surely we can not stand by and allow this to take place.

There are many women in Prostitution who choose not to leave, this is for a variety of reasons, many of which are related to fear of the unknown and the inability to financially support themselves any other way, plus a variety of other social factors. Interestingly studies reveal that more than 50% of women would choose to leave Prostitution if they felt they had the ability to. So have we created a society that allows Prostitution through law, but does not adequately support women who want to leave prostitution, therefore leaving them ostracised from the majority of society?

What is the way forward? There will be political and legal debates that take place, much justice to be fought for, but for us as Christians our first calling is to love God and than love others as Christ loved us. We accept that women, no matter what choices they have made are in prostitution and we love them no matter what the circumstance. We don’t just acknowledge them, we build relationships with them, we share with them, pray with them and be ready for when they see a way out and help them to rebuild their lives in new circumstances.

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