FRC Blog

Decriminalization of Prostitution: Anything but Empowering to Women

by Natasha Tax

January 5, 2016

Amnesty International recently made a declaration to support the full decriminalization of prostitution. This should concern everyone who believes in human dignity and the rights of women.

Amnesty International’s support for the “decriminalization of all aspects of sex work” comes with the intention to “advocate for the human rights of sex workers.” [1] While they have claimed that this movement is in the best interest of prostitutes, decriminalizing prostitution is not only a bad solution to the “sex work” industry, it would lead to more violence, abuse, and ill-health for the vulnerable women who fall into this dangerous industry.

It is important to understand why Amnesty International is supporting this radical proposition in the first place. Often, law enforcement punishes women who engage in prostitution, instead of the pimps and those who pay for sex. However, decriminalizing prostitution will make it even more difficult to enable women to break away from the deadly cycle of reliance upon and abuse by the men who use them.

 Human trafficking is already an international epidemic; annually, there are almost 21 million victims worldwide.[2] We already know that developed countries with legalized prostitution, like Germany and Australia, have seen an increase in human trafficking, as the demand for prostitutes and sex slaves—including children—has increased.[3] Common sense and social science tell us that decriminalizing prostitution would only exacerbate this problem.

Much of the dialogue in this debate is about empowering women, a specious, even absurd claim. Some feminist voices claim that women have a “right to prostitution[4].” The author of one article even claims that a woman’s right to prostitution should be the legal equivalent to her right to work in a factory.[5] While working in a factory has the potential to be harmful, the act of providing sex for payment is inherently harmful, as well as intrinsically dehumanizing. The truth is that “safe” prostitution is impossible. The very act of indiscriminate sex based on financial transaction is the blatant and dangerous commodification of women. According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, “80% of women in street prostitution had been threatened with a weapon at least once,” and “more than 50% of the women reported experiencing violence from sexual buyers.” [6] Any other industry whose workers had a 50% chance of being abused at any given time would be considered a disaster, not a necessary evil that just has to be accepted.

While Amnesty International claims that its goal is to make the nearly $100 billion sex trade industry[7] “safer” for women, decriminalizing it is certainly not the solution. Amnesty International’s proposal is inherently defeatist. Decriminalizing prostitution would be the systemic acknowledgement that many women have no recourse for supporting themselves but to sell their own bodies; this is a toxic pessimism that no civilized society should accept. The only safe sex industry is one that punishes pimps and sex buyers, and provides resources for its victims to recover. Amnesty International’s proposition to decriminalize sex work is boldly anti-woman. The pro-woman approach is to protect them from an industry that seeks to use and abuse them.  Women deserve better than prostitution.

 

Natasha Tax is currently attending Temple University and was a former Family Research Council intern.



[1]  Murphy, Catherine. “Amnesty International.” Sex Workers’ Rights Are Human Rights. Amnesty International, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

[2] “New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 Million Victims.” New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 Million Victims. International Labor Organization, 1 June 2012. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[3]O’Brian, Cheryl. “An Analysis on Global Sex Trafficking.” Indiana Journal of Political Science. Purdue University, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[4] Fisanick, Christina. “Women Have the Right to Be Prostitutes.” Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, 2008. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[5] Bell, Kelly. “A Feminist Article on How Sex Work Can Benefit Women.” Student Pulse. Pulse, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[6]  Thompson, Lisa. “Prostitution “The Zone” of Raw Male Physical and Sexual Violence.” National Center on Sexual Exploitation. National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[7] “Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor—International Labor Organization, 2014.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 20 June 2014. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

 

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Poll Shows Americans Want Christmas in Schools and Religion in Public Life

by Travis Weber

December 22, 2015

According to polling recently released by Rasmussen, large percentages of Americans want more religion manifested in the public square and in public life.

76% believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools, and 54% say there’s not enough religion in the public schools. Of those adults “with school-age children at home, 82% favor celebrating Christmas in public schools, and 61% believe there should be more religion in those schools.”

Interestingly, “[s]ignificant majorities of adults across most demographic categories believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools.” 80% of adults who celebrate Christmas in their family support it being in schools, compared to just 27% of those who don’t celebrate the holiday, and 60% of adults 40 and over think there is not enough religion in public schools. 71% think Christmas should be “more about Jesus Christ than about Santa Claus.”

57% of Americans favor prayer in public school, and 73% support “giving parents a choice between a school that allows prayer and one that does not.”

Americans largely support religion playing a prominent role in public life: 57% say it is not possible to have a healthy community without churches or a religious presence. 71% of Americans say their religious faith is important in their daily life, and 49% consider it “very important.”

Americans also appear to be tiring of government’s over-sensitivity to political correctness. 42% of U.S. voters believe that “when it comes to the concerns of racial, ethnic, religious and social minorities in America, the government is too sensitive.” 29% say the government is not sensitive enough to those groups, and 18% think the level of government sensitivity is about right, while 12% are not sure.

While governments and activist groups may want to scrub the public square of religion, the American public itself doesn’t want that. Any way you slice it, people are voicing the view that religion has a role to play in our society, and it isn’t going away.

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The Cost of President Obama’s Cultural Imperialism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 21, 2015

The Obama administration has made a huge investment in advancing gay rights as part of its foreign policy. According to today’s New York Times:

In late 2011, the Obama administration made the promotion of gay rights an integral part of American foreign policy. Since then, it has pushed for the decriminalization of homosexuality overseas, working with the United Nations and private groups. Since 2012, U.S.A.I.D. has spent more than $700 million on the effort globally, starting new programs related to gay rights and incorporating the promotion of such rights into existing ones, according to American officials. Agency officials declined to release details of the programs in Africa, citing security concerns.”

President Obama and his allies see this as an effort to defend homosexuals from persecution. This is, in itself, a noble goal; no one should be brutalized or dehumanized in law or practice.

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Hello to America - in Arabic?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 18, 2015

Germany is working to assimilate its growing Muslim population with new online videos, “Marhaba” (“hello” in Arabic).

In “a series of ten, five-minute online videos,” the show “reminds viewers that German Basic Law—the constitution—takes precedence over all others, including Sharia.”

Writing in Breitbart.com, Donna Rachel Edmunds notes that “There are approximately four million Muslims currently living in Germany, three quarters of whom are Turks who arrived in the country in the 1960s and 70s under Germany’s ‘guest worker’ scheme. However, half of that group have failed to integrate, and the speed of the current influx poses similar problems for integrating the new wave of one million asylum seekers.”

Reuters explains “Marhaba’s” emphasis on Germany’s view of essential human rights and liberties:

“Freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly are just three of the main rights secured by the (German) Basic Law,” (the host) tells viewers, with the Reichstag parliament building in the background.
The three fundamental rights are particularly sacred in Germany given that its history is scarred by the “horrors of dictatorship,” he continues. The Basic Law (Grundgesetz in German), (the host) says, was the foundation of the new democratic Germany established after World War Two.
The episode is filmed in Berlin’s government quarter where Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, explains what freedom of expression looks like in Germany.
“Freedom of speech means everyone may say what they think. Freedom of the press means you may make jokes, even about religion,” Spahn says. “Even when jokes are made about the Koran, this must be tolerated.”

The German effort is impressive: gracious in tone, clear in explanation, surefooted in content. As America takes in immigrants and refugees from the world over, should we not have a similar and perhaps even mandatory program for them to watch in order to understand some of the core principles of our republic and the nature of freedom itself? Perhaps even an explanation that as the Declaration of Independence argues, our rights come from our Creator, not the state, whose duty it is to guard those rights?

How would the Left respond to such a thing—with accusations of indoctrination and ominous warnings about right-wing propagandization?

What do you think?

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Courts Begin to Tell Christian Schools If What They Believe Matters

by Travis Weber

December 18, 2015

A Massachusetts state court has held that a Catholic school cannot decide whom to hire or fire based on the school’s religious beliefs regarding homosexual conduct and court-created same-sex marriage. While courts have for some time issued decisions which infringe more and more on private religious institutions’ autonomy, we are now seeing the rising tide of infringement of religious beliefs regarding same-sex conduct. Prepare for the deluge.

Predictably, the court flatly rejected the school’s claim to be able to hire based on its core religious beliefs. The Massachusetts employment statute at issue did contain a religious exemption, but the court read it narrowly, and held that Fontbonne Academy did not fall under the exemption. Thus, the school was bound by the statute’s provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which the court easily found to have been violated.

One portion of the opinion is particularly revealing. The court observed that the school did not require prospective employees to hold to Catholic beliefs except for some positions — the position at issue here not included. Yet the court acknowledged that the school asked the employee here if he could “buy into” being a “minister of the mission” of the school — which included promoting the school’s religious beliefs, as required of all employees. He said he could!

Aside from brushing past this misrepresentation (the employee could not “buy into” a mission when his own life contradicted some of its core moral tenets), the court misses the point that the mission the employee was asked to promote, which includes the Christian teaching on marriage, and the understanding that homosexual conduct is wrong — is required of Catholic and other traditions within Christianity (and, indeed, other religions entirely). The court jumps through hoops to construe the statute in a way that avoids recognizing this is the exact type of religious mission that religious employment exemptions are meant to protect. The court similarly engaged in logical and legal contortions to dismiss the school’s other claims.

This decision is very problematic for religious liberty. Hopefully the school will appeal.

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What Are We Made For?

by Daniel Hart

December 17, 2015

The great celebration of the birth of Christ is quickly approaching. In the spirit of the season, it seems appropriate to reflect on our humanness and what it all means. After all, God created us in His own image, as the Book of Genesis tells us. He then proceeded to come to us in the form of a newborn baby in Bethlehem. We can infer from this that being human is something incomparably unique and of the utmost importance in all of creation. What, then, is our purpose for existing? Much of this question can be deduced by what’s inherent in our very physicality, in the bodies that we’ve been given.

What seems most obvious is that we are not animals. We have fingers with soft, rounded tips, not claws. We have teeth with smoothed edges, not sharp-pointed fangs. Our delicate feet must be protected by artificial soles against the thorns and rocks of the ground, unlike hoofs or paws. Our bodies are swathed in sensitive, malleable skin, not a hardened shell or thick fur—we must wrap ourselves in manufactured protective layers against the elements. This inherent vulnerability in all of us makes it clear that we’re not meant to prey upon each other in a survival-of-the-fittest free-for-all as the animals do. So what are we meant for?

Let’s dig a little deeper. We’ve been given brains that are far more powerful than any computer, capable of both grounded logic and abstract reasoning. To express what we process there, we’ve been given a voice box unique among all living things, capable of articulating language at a level of sophistication and nuance that is unmatched. What is most immediately expressive, however, are our eyes, which convey emotions and feelings with such clarity and depth that by the observation of them alone, a window into the soul of another is opened.

Perhaps, then, we are made for the other, for love. Why? Because everything we think, say and do loses all meaning if there is not another to receive it, and our bodies are thus designed to give and receive in love. Our hands are for tender caresses and firm support; when we swing and hit with clenched fists, the result is fractured knuckles. Our voices are for strong proclamation and kind encouragement; when we shout angrily, our throats become hoarse. Furthermore, even the most intimate parts of us, our male and female sexual faculties, must be given and received in complementary mutual love to have any meaning. Indeed, even our most intimate prayers and longings of the heart are directed to another person—God the Son.

What does all this reveal? At the most fundamental level, this tells us that our lives are not ours. In cooperation with God the Father, our mother and father brought us into existence in an act of love. We did not choose to come into existence—it is a gift freely given to us. Therefore, we are called to be grateful and satisfied with the body and the life that we are given, and to resist the temptation to grasp at what we think we deserve. Since our lives are a gift freely given, we must in turn freely give it away, as Christ did. As Christians throughout history can attest, the greatest freedom and joy can be found in this.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News December 3, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 3, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Over the past few days, we’ve learned the story of a newborn baby left in a Nativity scene at the Holy Child Jesus Church in Queens, New York.  The babe was found lying in a manger, wrapped in towels.  Sound familiar?

Thankfully, the baby was found within an hour of being left in the crèche, discovered by a custodian.  It’s good to know that “under NY safe haven law, which permits a parent to leave a child in a safe place (such as a hospital or church) with hope of their being taken care of, (the baby’s mother) will not be charged with child abandonment. And as it turns out, there are parents in the parish who have already asked to adopt the baby.”

A baby rescued in the representation of a manger.  Of course, another Baby came to a manger, but the difference in the stories is that Jesus came to rescue us.  As Paul the apostle wrote the church in Galatia, Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (1:4).  Born in a stable, laid in a feeding trough, the Lord of the universe came to us as a baby.  Fragile, vulnerable, tiny.  No words can capture the dimensions of this miracle.

Last week, we were reminded that the fragility of human life is not limited to the little ones among us.  A maddened shooter murdered three people at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado.  Ironically, one of them was police officer Garrett Swasey.  In addition to his service protecting and defending his community, Officer Swasey also served, part-time, as a pastor (take a few moments to listen to his compelling, Gospel-rich last sermon). 

Those murdered in Colorado were as precious as the baby found in Holy Child Jesus Church.  So were those aborted in the clinic in which the victims were killed.  So are their mothers.  So is every life, within the womb and outside it.  As FRC President Tony Perkins said last week, “Only through peaceful means –not violence— can we truly become a nation that once again values all human life, born and unborn.”

Sincerely,
Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to watch Dr. David Prentice’s presentation this week at FRC, “Malevolence or Benevolence? Fetal Tissue Research, Planned Parenthood’s abortions, and Embryonic Stem Cells.”


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Note: U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has given a number of thoughtful speeches on the centrality of religious liberty to our country.  His most recent, delivered in the Senate on December 1, is titled, “Hatch Affirms that Religion is Indispensable to Democracy.”

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Peas in a Rotting Pod: Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 24, 2015

So, Woodrow Wilson was a racist. This is indisputable. It’s also why many black students at the school for Wilson was once president, Princeton, are calling for a renewed assessment of his legacy there and as president of the United States.

We don’t want Woodrow Wilson’s legacy to be erased,” said Wilglory Tanjong, a member of the protesting Black Justice League, told the New York Times. “But we think that you can definitely understand your history without idolizing or turning Wilson into some kind of god, which is essentially what they’ve done.”

In my view, that’s a good balance. We need not unduly lionize prominent people, especially people like Wilson whose moral narcissism, disdain for constitutional government, and ineptitude in foreign policy resulted in tragedy and political chaos. Yet we can’t scrub our history of all unsavory aspects of its past. Stalinized portrayals of history, in which people who for whatever reason have fallen out of favor are airbrushed-out of photographs and deleted from written accounts, are dishonest and chilling. Such an approach not only invites fascism and statist control, it embodies such.

Across the street from my building, a bust of the late eugenicist and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger sits in honored glory in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Here is one choice giblet of insight from Mrs. Sanger for inclusion in the gravy of her secular adulation:

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922, page 12

As historian Paul Kengor notes, “Was Sanger plotting to eliminate all blacks? Of course not. But she was plotting to control the reproduction of blacks and of the human race generally.”

And as my distinguished colleague Ken Blackwell writes, “Sanger sought to recruit Black pastors because she did not want the word to get out in our churches that she wanted to eliminate America’s Black population. Sanger constantly denied any such intent, but she argued incessantly for creating ‘a race of thoroughbreds.’ Not since the days of Slavery had such language been used, comparing human lives to horse breeding.”

Later in life, Sanger seems to have changed her tune, at least a wee bit. “The Negro race has reached a place in its history when every possible effort should be made to have every Negro child count as a valuable contribution to the future of America. Negro parents, like all parents, must create the next generation from strength, not from weakness; from health, not from despair,” she wrote in 1946.

Yet one must ask, who did Sanger think she was to determine which baby was or wasn’t a “valuable contribution” to America’s future? Her concerns about the health and well-being of black mothers and their children, expressed elsewhere in the 1946 piece quoted above (“Love or Babies: Must Negro Mothers Choose?”) were in themselves admirable, yet her solutions — widespread use of contraceptives to alleviate the suffering of black women and their babies and compulsory sterilization of “defectives” — hardly constitute a compassionate approach.

In many other writings, Sanger wrote of “human weeds” and advocated widespread forced sterilization. In sum, her belief in coercive population control and her apparent desire to “exterminate” the “Negro race” (note: she wrote this at the age of 43, not as an immature young woman) should animate her bust’s removal from the Smithsonian every bit as much as Wilson’s racism in belief and practice should temper Princeton’s reverential recognition of him as one of its greatest sons.

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