My interview with Michelle Goldberg for The Nation
I'm very pleased with this article since first of all my words haven't been twisted, something many sex workers have complained about throughout the years, but after two interviews I can honestly say my experiences thus far have been good with journalists. But another reason I'm very pleased with this article, is because the article doesn't seem take sides, something rarely to been found these days in journalism, especially in American journalism, so my compliments to Michelle Goldberg for that.
The article focuses on the question if buying sex should be illegal or not, and it compares the Dutch prostitution model with the Swedish prostitution model. But in stead of picking sides for either one of these, Michelle Goldberg choose to leave the decisions to that up to the audience in a very clever way.
In stead of choosing for the Swedish model and thereby criminalizing sex work or choosing for the Dutch model which leaves more room for error, basically the answer is left up to the reader, to decide if whether or not people would see me (yes, me!) as a victim or not. Of course you could choose to see me as a victim, but then again I would strongly disagree with you. If I'm a victim of anything at all, I'm a victim of the constant stigmatization of being seen as a victim. In other words, if you see me as a victim, you turn me into one as I don't consider myself to be a victim, nor does anyone else I personally know who know my story.
I also think it's a bit of a weird idea that people can be a victim of something, even though they strongly disagree on it, just because other people tell you that you're a victim. Isn't that forced victimizing instead of forced prostitution?
The true answer is of course that I am not a victim of anything. Even though technically the law sees me as a victim, I have not experienced anything I would consider to be a crime or wrong. So in the end this says perhaps more about the faults in our laws, then the faults in prostitution. And I can point out directly the law I am talking about, which is from the Dutch law book article number 273f 1 sub 3 (source) which states one is guilty of human trafficking when one:
- Recruits, takes with or abducts a person with the intention to make that person available in another country for sexual acts with another person in exchange for payment.
And this is precisely the article I'm talking about when I say that officially I'm a victim of human trafficking, but that I'm not really a victim. After all, if someone would make a law that states you are a victim if you buy chocolate, then technically that makes you a victim by law, but just because the law sees you as a victim doesn't mean you really are one.
I find it hard to believe that this is a mistake the policy makers missed out on when they created the law, especially since this law is in effect since 15-11-2013. So it's not like it's a very old law or something, it's actually brand new!
So apparently the policy makers in The Hague automatically seem to think that any woman receiving assistance to come to another country to work in prostitution is a victim of human trafficking. A strange thing, since I cannot recall this being the case for any other jobs in Holland, except for prostitution. In fact, recruiting and or taking people with you into other countries to perform work in exchange for payment is exactly what many employment agencies do. So why is it just human trafficking when it comes to prostitution, and not for any other jobs?
The Swedish people in this article state that prostitution has been reduced, yet my question is: are you fighting crime or a profession here? After all, shouldn't human trafficking be going down rather then prostitution, wasn't that the whole point?
But more importantly, how can one try to save victims if one can not find them? After all, yes, prostitution may have been reduced, at least, the prostitution that is visible. But then again, that's pretty much a logical reaction to the criminalization of the clients, thus forcing prostitutes to go underground.
Yes, Holland has higher human trafficking statistics, but then again, that isn't that weird if it's easier to find it because it is legal. And just because the Swedish people can't find it, because the criminalized it, doesn't mean it isn't there. Or just like those people always claim that warn you about human trafficking: 'open your eyes'.
It is logical that if things are legal, more people will also feel safe to report crimes happening, and that when things are not legal, people will be reluctant to report crimes, since they could end up in jail themselves. After all, if a client in Sweden comes across a victim, he would never go to the police to report it, since he's the criminal over there, while here in Holland there have been many reports from clients, of which fortunately only a small portion turned out to be actual cases of human trafficking (read more about that here).
It basically comes down to this. Would you rather have your daughter having sex somewhere else, with someone you don't know and can't check upon, causing the possibilities that your daughter may get in trouble? Or do you allow your daughter to experiment her sexuality safely at home, so you can keep an eye on things, and make sure things don't happen that you both will regret later?
Prostitution will continue, with or without the approval of governments, the same way it has always done. The only question is, do we provide safety for these women, both those who do this job willingly and ensuring they have a safe environment to work in, and the victims by making them easier to find by making it legal. Or do we let them stand alone, stigmatizing prostitutes who choose to do this job as victims by default, and thereby also making it more difficult to identify the real victims from the girls who are not victims. That is, if you can find them at all, since prostitution goes underground and is very hard to trace back?
Another interesting thing is that somewhere in the article it mentions: 'Do we want a society where it’s OK to buy another person?' In my eyes it just shows how much those people don't understand anything about prostitution. My clients don't buy me. They don't own me. They hire my services, which is something different then 'selling my body' as so many people often say about prostitution.
It just shows how much those people have no clue as to what this profession is, or how it's done in reality. No client buys a prostitute. Buying implies that you own it, that you can do with it what you want, and if you're tired throw it away or do whatever you want with it. That is however not the case. You can buy a phone. You can take that home with you, use it as you please, destroy it if you feel like it.
A service however is something another person offers, like for instance a massage. We also don't say about a masseur that he is selling his hands. A masseur offers a service, a service he performs with his hands, just like how a prostitute offers a service, a service she provides with her body. You can't take it home with you afterwards, you can't do with it what you want. It is the person offering the service that decides what happens, how and when, since they are the professionals and they know what they are doing. A client can have requests, just like a client can request a certain type of massage, or massaging one particular part of the body they have problems with for instance. But in the end it's up to the masseur to decide how he does that, and if he does that at all, just like how prostitutes decide this.
Some other interesting notes I found about the article was the mentioning of my boyfriends 'jewelry'. His necklace and bracelet (a gift from me for his birthday) where apparently no match for my unmentioned pure gold necklace and diamond engagement ring I got from him.
Or another interesting note that the article mentions the killing of a sex worker in 2009 in Holland. I seem to miss the importance of it, or it must be to prove that sex work isn't entirely without risk. But then again I wonder how many jewelry shop owners get killed when they get robbed, does that also prove jewelry shops aren't safe? Just because one person got killed, how sad that may be, that doesn't mean it's unsafe. Yes, sex work brings risks, but just because it brings risks doesn't mean we shouldn't protect it, or even worse, make it completely unprotected by implementing the Swedish model, causing no protection from the police whatsoever. At least we get protection from the police, which is something I can not say for all those sex workers working in Sweden.
And the fact that Sweden was not able to present a victim to talk to in the article, which is weird, since isn't that what it's all about? Holland has been open enough to let the journalist talk to a sex worker which it promotes so much, yet Sweden was not able to present a single victim to talk to. Is that because they're scared of what the victim might say? That perhaps the Swedish model did not work in her favor, as it became more difficult for the police to find her, because all of her customers where too scared to report it to them? Or is it perhaps because Sweden has trouble to find victims in the first place, meaning they can't find them at all, which would really worry me, since that would mean that all those victims out there still haven't gotten any help!
Let me make one last thing very clear for you people. I am not a victim. I don't care what the law states. Just because the law states for example that homosexuality is forbidden, doesn't make it right, does it?
So why should I accept a law that states that I am a victim, because other people HELPED me, rather then forced or tricked or exploited me into prostitution? Since when is helping someone a crime?