Thursday, October 8, 2009

Craigslist: The Newest Target in the War on Prostitution - Democratic Underground

Is Prostitution a "Victimless Crime?" Craigslist: The Newest Target in the War on Prostitution - Democratic Underground Shared via AddThis How effective do you think a "war on prostitution" is likely to be? It seems that prostitution is as old as time itself. In this post I'm talking strictly about "consenting" adults who work in the sex trade industry. Often referred to as a "victimless crime" I have to wonder if the men and women who are forced into "survival sex" are truly not victims. After all, research has distinctly displayed a pattern of childhood sexual assault in association with working in the sex trade industry as a matter of fact, the average age for a prostitute to begin her career is between 12-14 years old. Prostitutes are at risk for assault, rape, murder, poverty, substance abuse/addiction and sexually transmitted infections. There is also the factor that these individuals feel that selling their bodies is their only means to provide for themselves, and perhaps their children. The link between poverty and prostitution is so strong that prostitution is almost nonexistent in other socioeconomic levels. Often the choice seems to come down to making the rent or offering up their body for money. Frequently, prostitutes are undereducated and lack the skills to acquire gainful employment to support themselves and their families. They have often already exhausted the resources in their community, don't qualify for them, are unaware of them or they simply are not available in the area in which they live. Prostitutes with children may be afraid to seek out help because of the very real risk of losing their children. Sometimes they have addictions to drugs or alcohol and sell their bodies in order to feed the addiction. In short, a number of factors play into the choice to prostitute themselves and it rarely has anything to do with the sex worker *wanting* to trade their body for money. Survivors of the sex trade industry often look back on their history with a mixture of shame, guilt, and anguish. At the same time, many feel they were simply doing what they HAD to do at the time. Aside from the prostitute, there are other victims when humans are exploited sexually. Some of them include spouses and partners of the person soliciting sex when they become infected with an STD/STI or when they discover their partner has been unfaithful, they may feel ashamed or insecure. Children and dependants of both the prostitute and the solicitor become victims when a break down of the relationship between their parents occurs. Or when a prostitute's children are removed from her care and placed in foster care because they were in danger in the home where their mother worked and/or because she could not care for their needs on her salary or whilst in jail for her crime. Indeed, even the solicitor becomes a victim. There is often guilt and shame associated with soliciting sex, they may become infected with a disease that may prevent them from having normal sexual relationships in the future. Solicitors may suffer from sexual addiction, or an inability to have a normal healthy sexual relationship. Basically, prostitution is no "victimless crime." So what should be done about it? Is it good that police surf craigslist to uncover prostitution rings in order to bust the prostitutes and the solicitors? I guess my response is "yes and no." Yes, when they are finding prostitutes of all ages who are being victimized and exploited against their will or as minors. No in cases where individuals of legal age are consensually offering sex in exchange for money. But wait a second...didn't I just say that pretty much EVERYONE suffers where prostitution exists? Yes, I sure did, but my thought is that this is not a problem for law enforcers. This should be a problem for social workers, who help men and women find the resources to get out of or avoid prostitution. It should be an issues for policy makers to implement more programs for people living in poverty, for those with substance abuse issues, for victims of sexual assault, better housing for people who cannot afford housing and quality education that can lead to money-making trades. It should be an issue for therapists who help individuals overcome a sexual addiction that leads them to seek out prostitutes or to find other means of healthy sexual release and interpersonal affection through learning skills to build relationships. It should be a problem for couples counselors and family counselors that works to restore the broken relationships that occur in situations of past use of solicited sex or that have been split up after a parent begins prostitution. And, without question this should be a concern for the church. There are churches in every community across America. The church is in a unique position to offer hope and help to ALL victims affected by prostitution. The church is commanded to LOVE their neighbors- even the ones using or working as prostitutes. Its up to the church to ministering to these individuals with a loving and non-judgemental heart, not just passively (IE letting them sit in your pew on Sunday morning if they happen to wonder in off the street) but PROACTIVELY seeking out people and offering them the hope that ONLY Jesus can give, by praying for them and their families, by pointing them in the direction of services in the community, and by opening their eyes to the sin that is intrinsic of prostitution. We are called NOT to do this because we are holier than them, but because we are as retched of sinners as they are; because before we knew Jesus we were every bit as hopeless, because we were condemned before we were made aware of our own ugly sins. In communities where prostitution is a significant problem, specific outreaches should be established to help those suffering under the tyranny of the sex trade industry. Believers should search their hearts about volunteering with or financially supporting ministries like "Hookers for Jesus" (hookersforjesus.org) a ministry of former prostitutes and strippers for those who have been involved in the sex trade industry or the Dream Center's "Project Rescue" (dreamcenter.org) that offers housing and assistance to women escaping prostitution. After all, Jesus did not want the woman found guilty of adultery to be stoned to death under the law, rather he wanted to offer her love and forgiveness- with the commandment to "sin no more." Remember that Jesus himself was a friend to prostitutes- that he died for their sins as much as he did your own and that he commands us to love and reach out to the lost. In Christ, Zealia

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