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Abolitionists of the prostitution system : who we are, what we want !

2 janvier 2012

par Mouvement du Nid and many other feminist organizations

Judging by the passionate - and often outrageous - responses that spice up
the debate on prostitution and the possible criminalization of
johns/prostituters (who, after all, are a minority), it is reasonable to
think that the issue touches a sore spot of the social compact : that of the
disposition of women for male sexual pleasure. We abolitionists advocate a
bold and innovative idea : doing away with this symbol of male dominance over

Who we are

We speak as witnesses : each day, in the privacy of our grassroot
organizations, well away from TV studios, we hear prostituted women tell us
the truth of their experiences : violence, contempt, humiliation, insults,
that, if they sometimes are, of course, voiced by police officers or
residents, are first and foremost those of "clients". It is their word that
allows us to assert that for the vast majority of these women and men,
prostitution is a form of violence.

But we also speak as citizens. The "I pay - you deliver" axiom is not
precisely our ambition for male / female relationships. We do not want a
society where some men continue to go sex-shopping among the women - and
men - whom insecurity, violence or trafficking have relegated to
prostitution. We do not want a Europe where some countries have, under the
guise of "legalization", promoted pimps to the rank of legitimate
businessmen , where consumer "clients", confident in their right, continue
to act as if women were perennially "there for that function"... What can be
the taste of freedom in those countries where cut-rate brothels are now
offering special sales of women ? For us, all prostitution is a defeat for
women, for men, and for the ability to live together. It’s also a triumph
for financial insecurity and violence. Our concern is one for justice,
equality and progress.

What we want

Our requirements are simple. The first is the repeal of the offense of
soliciting and of all measures of repression leveled at prostituted persons,
but accompanied by protection measures, social support and alternatives for
all, including foreigners.

The second is the prohibition of purchasing sex acts and the criminalization
of johns (prostituters). This prohibition, coupled with the repeal of the
crime of solicitation, is what the abolitionists have been calling for and
demanding for years, i.e. a reversal of the criminalization process. It
reflects neither a fad nor a taste for repression, but a political choice
that is already proven efficient in many European countries, including
Sweden. There is indeed an urgent need to counter the current explosion in
the trafficking of women, a criminal enterprise whose proportions are
reaching unprecedented proportions and has no other purpose than to serve
the "pleasure" of prostituters.

Finally our organizations call for the strengthening of the fight against
procuring, a penal policy of efficient damages for victims of procuring
trafficking in women, and the implementation of an ambitious policy of sex
education and prevention of prostitution.

What we do not want... but are often smeared as wanting

. Defining "good" and "bad" standards of sex. We are waging a struggle for
sexual liberation, for a sexuality freed from the moral order, but also from
relations of domination and the rule of the market. Denying that sex can be
forced through money is not an effort to restrict sexualities. Rather, it is
a requirement of equality that allows the expression of sexual freedom. Denying the existence of consent among those who would choose to
prostitute themselves. The addition of individual consents does not by
itself make a social project. Some people "consent" to work for less than
the minimum wage. This does not keep society from legitimately condemning
any employer who would pay an employee less than that wage. Others "consent"
to part with an organ and sell it to live or survive. This does not preclude
society from prohibiting the purchase of organs.

. Holding an ideological and utopian project. To abolish does not mean to
eradicate. The abolition of slavery did not lead to its immediate
eradication. On the other hand, the abolitionist project committed the State
and society as a whole to side with slaves against the slavery system.
Abolishing the prostitution system signifies a new social consensus, a
social choice, a determination of the violence in prostitution, which can
then lead to the adoption of a series of measures situated in the context of
a comprehensive and coherent policy.

We feel that it is time to end the most archaic of "human rights", that of
"going whoring." If anyone can certainly dispose of his or her own body, one
cannot dispose of someone else’s body with a snap of one’s fingers and the
rustle of a banknote. No responsible citizen ought to feel entitled to force
a sexual act using money. It would be an honor for our country to lead such
a forward-looking battle in order to free sexuality from the grip of the
market and to champion it for what it is : a step forward for human rights.

Signed by : Mouvement du nid, Collectif féministe contre le viol, Fédération
nationale solidarité femmes, Centre national d’information sur les droits
des femmes et des familles (CNIDFF), Osez le féminisme, Coalition Against
Trafficking in Women (CATW), Femmes solidaires, Amicale du nid, Clara
Magazine, Association française des femmes de carrières juridiques (AFFCJ),
association Mémoire traumatique et victimologie, Regards de femmes, Femmes
en résistance, Mouvement jeunes femmes, Les Trois Quarts du Monde, Collectif
Alouette, L’égalité c’est pas sorcier, Espace Simone de Beauvoir,
Coordination française pour le lobby européen des femmes.

Translated by Martin Dufresne.

Original french version.

On line in Sisyphe, January 5, 2012

Mouvement du Nid and many other feminist organizations

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