Lessons On Legalization From Copenhagen
Opinion | Inhumane and illogical treatment of us sex workers
February 17, 2013 – 07:00
The above opinion piece written from a sex worker perspective which is to live under the oppressive and ineffective legalization of prostitution scheme imposed on them in 1999, offers specific directions of change from an actual worker prospective.
Its always best to hear from actual workers whose dignity is being impacted by laws that are sold to the public in the name of ‘public decency’.
The author states: ‘….we’re not allowed to enter into binding contracts. This is a major hindrance that would help alleviate many of the practical problems that instead wind up turning into cases of human trafficking. Such is often the case with many foreign sex workers. They get help to come to Denmark, and then once they get here they wind up disagreeing with their handlers about what the deal was.’
This statement is instructive as to what prostitutes actually want.
The prostitutes who work in Denmark want to hire support staff and have the contracts between them be binding. That means the contracts between workers/workers and/or support staff, or handlers as she calls them, has to be in writing and has to be enforced.
Every organized worker understands that having a contract, collectively bargained or not, is one thing but having it enforced is another. Your contract is only as good as your ability to enforce it on your job and all erotic laborers ought to have both the backing of public and government support when enforcing the contracts on their job. If we’re ripped off by a customer or support person, then we must have recourse the likes of which we see in Germany’s legalization of prostitution law passed in 2002 whereby prospective customers who make appointments and don’t show up can be made to hand over the money for the lost wages in court.
But going to court involves going public and in this case going public to get restitution risks being exposed publically as a prostitute and that would bring unintended consequences of being harassed, extorted, a target for violence, and discrimination. Because our class of worker, across the globe, has suffered such negative stigma for so long, its important that access to legal protections be indentured in all legalization schemes. Specific anti-discrimination laws for our class have to be enacted whereby workers and our larger community members who are in association with us can pursue contact enforcement, a form of equal protection laws, without the fear of loosing our housing, employment, education, nor threaten our child custody arrangements or other financial relationships. Our privacy has to be respected. Our personal and professional privacy has to be highly regarded as society value that comes with civil and criminal sanctions if violated.
And for those who are obsessed with exploitation in our industry, this is your opportunity to take note of how these demand from actual workers would empower all on a whole different level. Having different kinds of incentives to leverage mutually beneficial contracts to help all parties fulfill their contract instead of focusing unduly on criminalizing one party so heavily as to completely disenfranchise the other disadvantaged party from engaging in a grievance process would open up new self- determined options and transparency, a public treasure.
To those of us who’ve worked in the sex industry for so many years with ‘gentle women’s agreements’ would do well to think about what it would be like to actually write down our agreements as to empower our class in a whole different way.
I know that if the public could see our verbal contracts in writing and how it is that we’ve been working together all these decades, they’d have to stop with their moral panic and instead have to start paying attention to their own exploitive work contracts and work conditions.