They say prostitution is the oldest profession… but really isn’t it just the oldest form of oppression?
St. John's city council has lifted its moratorium on new massage parlours. Council voted unanimously to lift the ban after debate about regulations for safety and employment standards. Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O'Leary said a later conversation is needed on safety of the workers, and amended the motion, seconded by Coun. Debbie Hanlon, to include public consultation.
Look, I support women’s rights.
The idea behind lifting this moratorium and allowing more massage parlours to protect sex workers is ludicrous. These parlours offer sex for money. Let’s not pussy foot around that. They are operated by organized crime. The Chief of Police has confirmed that.
If you normalize the buying of sex, then you are giving more power to the men and less to the women who are abused. If you want to help sex workers then tackle the core issues of inequality, like poverty, mental illness and abuse that leads people into the sex industry in the first place.
Allowing more massage parlours does not give people exploited in the sex trade power or empower them to have ownership over their bodies. It will lead to an increase in sex trafficking. If you remove any impediments to buying sex and normalize it, there’ll be an increase in that act. People from the most impoverished and marginalized communities then get trafficked in to meet that demand.
It is regressive and antifeminist to normalize an industry were women are bought and sold for the pleasure of men. A store in which women are lined up and a man gets to buy the one he wants is not empowering women.
When Canada supported the Equality Model in which only those who buy sex as well as third party exploiters are criminally prosecuted, it was to protect those who are bought and sold in the sex trade and keep them out of jail and provide them with the medial care, housing and other social services to help them leave the industry.
If you want to help sex workers, don’t be ok with men and boys using their socio-economic power to buy sexual access to someone with less power. Instead, the City of St. John’s should provide sex workers with the services they need to heal.
The idea behind normalizing sex work is being ok with buying sex from an 18-year-old. Do we want to say as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that that’s ok?
The men who go to these places don’t differentiate whether you’re in this by choice or if you’ve been kidnapped. They only see dollar signs on the bodies of these people.
This conversation is about power and control over the bodies of the most vulnerable and our willingness to look the other way.
Just because Vancouver and Toronto are doing it, do we have to agree? Why not be the province and city that says people don’t have to sell their bodies in order to survive.