June 18, 2018

The Global Supply Chain of Sexual Exploitation & the Necessity of Combating the Demand for Commercial Sex

Lisa L. Thompson serves as the Vice President of Policy and Research for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, where she oversees NCOSE’s strategic planning for increased public understanding of sexual exploitation related issues. Below are highlights from her remarks on the topic of curbing demand for commercial sex from a Briefing at the U.S. Capitol in 2017.

Entities such as strip clubs, massage parlors, brothels, and pornography production companies exist around the world and are commonly referred to using innocuous terms such as “sex trade,” “sex sector,” and “commercial sex industry.” These enterprises make up the prostitution marketplace and exist in order to meet the male consumer demand for prostitution.   

The essential and indispensable commodities in the prostitution marketplace are human beings (mostly women and children) whose bodies are sold for sex. As individuals whose bodies are offered for sexual consumption to anyone who buys them, prostitution renders those being bought and sold into public sexual commodities.

Those profiting from the sale of human beings for sex include not only those directly involved such as strip club owners, brothel keepers, and pornographers (all who function as pimps), but also a wide range of other parties such as hotel operators, taxi drivers, guards, accountants, lawyers, doctors, travel agents, advertisers, and even governments. The owners and operators of the prostitution marketplace, along with the ancillary enterprises that support and profit from their activities, collectively constitute the “global supply chain of organized sexual exploitation.”

This sexual industrial complex wholly exists to cater to and profit from one class of individual—male buyers of people used for sex. The global supply chain of organized sexual exploitation is a manifestation of men’s choices and the male demand that women’s bodies be available as public sexual commodities.

Importantly, the buyers of people used for sex use monetary payment to coerce sex. The person in prostitution doesn’t actually want to have sex with the other person. If they wanted to have sex with that individual, they would simply agree to have sex. Precisely because the person in prostitution does not want sex, the person seeking sex must use money (or other needs housing, drugs, food, etc.) to coerce a sexual exchange. Such sex acts are inherently nonconsensual. Thus, there is no such thing as “consensual prostitution.”

Moreover, any payment for sex necessarily violates human dignity because such exchanges are devoid of the essential hallmarks of healthy sexual relationships (i.e., intimacy, mutuality of pleasure, and reciprocity of affection), and because they depend on some type of financial inducement to coerce a sexual exchange.

Other forms of paid sex such as pornography, stripping, webcamming, etc. also constitute forms of prostitution, and therefore forms of exploitation, because they involve coercion to obtain sex or a sexual performance.

Thus, Lisa explains, the harm of prostitution is not restricted to the conditions by which it is carried out, but exists in the very carrying out of prostitution itself. She quotes Richard Poulin, saying, “Prostitution is ontologically a form of violence.”

Lisa concludes by arguing that it is crucially important that efforts to combat commercial sexual exploitation (and sex trafficking) must include vigorous efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex.

To read Lisa’s full paper on this topic visit: http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1079&context=dignity.

To learn more about the importance of combating to demand to stop sexual exploitation and sex trafficking visit: http://stoptraffickingdemand.com/.

 

 

 

Richard Poulin, “The Legalization of Prostitution and Its Impact on Trafficking in Women and Children, Sisyphe.org (2005), http://sisyphe.org/spip.php?article1596

Sequoia Leines

Intern

Sequoia Leines recently graduated from Patrick Henry College with a Bachelors degree in Government. She would love to someday pursue a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology. Prior to her internship with NCOSE, she was an intern on Capitol Hill, as well as for a religious freedom organization known as the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. She feels a strong call to advocate for those whose human rights are being taken away, whether through sexual exploitation or religious persecution. She loves traveling, and has been to 12 countries. She also enjoys reading, hiking, and cooking with her husband.

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