Promoted or Prohibited?

By Gabrielle Pickard
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, October 13, 2009
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Prostitution is a worldwide problem. For decades, governments globally have grappled with the dilemma of how to curtail the industry and its sinister associations. European governments seem to be "spurred into action" each time a risqué report is uncovered, or a morally upstanding and irate MP brings the highly contested topic up in parliament. While Asia, it seems, are more proactive, determined and even more "daring" in their strategies to eradicate the problem. During the past 20 years, China has implemented many diverging statutes and policies seeking to control the sex trade.

Taiwan has recently also taken progressive action in the prostitution legislation dilemma. In several months time sex workers in Taiwan will no longer be prosecuted for being "on the game". Whilst for many, the new law is perceived as a more "tolerant" step forward, some critics may believe it evidence of the Taiwanese authorities giving in to the persistent pressure applied for protection of rights for prostitutes.

As well as being a pressing issue in Asia, the age-old dispute of whether to ban prostitution or legalize it, has been resurrected into European politics. In the UK, the Minister for Women and Equality has demanded California's Governor to ban PunterNet, the Californian based website which advertises women "for sale". Following a controversial disclosure of street prostitution published in a national newspaper, the debate surrounding the ethics of selling sex has also been reborn into Spanish legislation.

Enlightening her colleagues of the controversial website, Harriet Harman, the UK Government's deputy leader, spoke of her disdain of the "adult services" website at a Party conference: "There is now a website....Where pimps put women on sale for sex and then men who've had sex with them put their comments online. It is PunterNet and fuels demand for prostitutes."

Making lighter references to the actor-turned-Governor's most famous and arguably most successful role, The Terminator, Harman jokingly added that it should not be "too difficult for "The Terminator to terminate PunterNet." Although when the MP humorously added that if Arnold Schwarzenegger failed to meet her demands, she'd "be back", her serious undertone and obvious disgust of the site, made it clear that Gordon Brown's "number two", meant business.

Prostitution is not illegal in the UK. Although there are laws implemented in Britain preventing associated activities, including soliciting and advertising sex for sale and kerb crawling. Harriet Harman advised ministers that the government plans to make it illegal to have sex with anyone who is controlled by a pimp. In Spain, a similar law forbids the role of a third party reaping monetary benefits out of women selling their bodies.

In an open letter to the Deputy Prime Minister posted on PunterNet, the owner of the site "reminds" Mrs Harman of a few facts. The first being that as prostitution is legal in the UK, the website is not violating any laws.

The somewhat well-worn "regulation verses prohibition" debate was almost simultaneously resurrected in Spain following a controversial report of girls in Barcelona. Not only did the article lead to a crackdown by the authorities, but also resurfaced what has been regarded as the "bane of a Spanish politician's lives".

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