Written by Gisella Moreira and Luciana Danquis
Saturday, 01 November 2014 20:37
Prostitution is one of the more profitable “illegal” businesses worldwide, inevitably associated with trafficking.
In August, the Association of Prostitute Women of Argentina (AMMAR, in Spanish), introduced in the provincial legislature of Neuquen, as it has done in other provinces and at the national level, a Bill considering prostitution a sex work and therefore the “profession” should be regulated by the government through the Ministry of Labor. It can be read that “older age prostitutes who develop their work on a voluntary and autonomous basis in homes or facilities may count on a regulated working day, public health service and pension contributions through the figure ofsingle taxpayers.”
This Bill reopens a very important debate in the left and those who fight for the women rights. The AMMAR, which is considered a union of “sex workers” as part of the CTA, and feminist organizations defend the regulation of prostitution on the grounds that many women are very proud to not feel shame to show and use their bodies and have overcome prejudices and sexual taboos.
They highlight the fact that working in the sex industry can empower women and allow them to gain autonomous control over their own bodies, transforming gender stereotypes. They also consider that the Bill does not favor the pimps. They demand sex as a service and therefore their providers as workers who should have the same rights as other workers. These reasoning that seem so “progressive” and hip are really true?
Commodification of the body = degradation of women
One of the expressions of the most brutal oppression of women encouraged in capitalism is the objectification and commodification of their bodies. These concepts that seem so abstract are lived and suffered every day: we are bodies to be looked at and played for the enjoyment of others; the street harassment; the obsession with the body; media violence and even violations arising from those expressions of oppression.
Prostitution is one of the highest levels of that violence and degradation. Can it be regarded as a job like any other as well? Is it the same to let a woman’s body be possessed as cutting one’s hair, driving a taxi or building a wall? Our goal is to “regulate” degradation, as proposed by AMMAR and the supporters of its project, or to banish it? So why not organize beggars, considering begging as a job that can be exercised voluntarily?
The lie on “free will”, on a world where almost nothing may be chosen
Does prostitution can be considered a choice? We understand it’s not true that women choose to freely and voluntarily be in prostitution, but that they face situations of vulnerability in which there is no other option to choose. When there is necessity, there is no free will and the woman’s individual choice, so bastardized by some sectors of feminism, is nullified before hunger.
In the capitalist system, prostitution becomes a mass phenomenon. The data reveal that the vast majority of prostitution is attributed to poverty and need and there is only a small minority of high society prostitutes.
Thus prostitution becomes a necessary social institution of the bourgeois society, which develops simultaneously with capitalism.
A necessary debate in the Workers and Left Front (FIT)
When asked about the possible approach the Bill would have, the current deputy Angelica Lagunas (FIT – Socialist Left), focused correctly on the social causes of prostitution, but said that while this curse continues it’s necessary to support the fight of sex workers for their rights. Isn’t it a contradiction? Shouldn’t we demand decent work for all “so that the curse is over?”
In defense of women against prostitution business
Our position is very far from being against prostitutes, on the contrary: we defend the rights of the working poor women not to be forced to degrade themselves to survive. In this regard, we strongly oppose all measures that are geared towards the criminalization of women; we oppose and forcefully repudiate the attacks of institutions such as the police, complicit and co-responsible for this scourge.
We believe that it is the duty of social organizations and trade unions to fight the prostitution business and that all women might have the possibility of other life options, earning decent salaries and with free access to public education and health, housing and social services for themselves and their families.
Article published in Avanzada Socialista n. ° 75, 10 September 2014.
AMMAR: Associación de las Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina. AMMAR has the same spell as “amar”, which means “to love”.
CTA: Confederación de los Trabajadores de Argentina; Workers Federation of Argentina.
FIT: Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (Workers and Left Front) is an electoral umbrella for most of the Trotskyist organizations in Argentina.