Opinion: Why legalizing prostitution is a bad idea

POSTED: 11/27/12 2:03 PM

We have written several times about the modern slavery that is practices right under our noses in St. Maarten. It happens in places like the Border Bar, whose owner has been locked up  6 years for human trafficking and for exploiting women at his brothel. There is no reason to assume that the situation at other brothels is any better. There is also no reason to assume that the situation in St. Maarten is worse than that in, say the Netherlands.

Under the headline The Happy Prostitute Does Not Exist, parliamentarian Gert-Jan Seegers (Christian Union) went full throttle against prostitution in an opinion piece in the Volkskrant yesterday – a fine reminder of what is happening in St. Maarten as well. The piece fits well with the call by MPs Gracita Arrindell and Sylvia Olivacce-Meyers to put a stop to domestic violence. While prostitution and domestic violence are obviously two different subjects, their common denominator is violence against women.

Seegers links prostitution to the trade in people, and he concludes, correctly, that our societies are condoning modern slavery. Follow his opinion here:

“In 1863 the Netherlands abolished slavery as one of the last countries in Europe. Now, 150 years later, there is a new form of slavery within our borders: the trade in people and forced prostitution. Our country plays a questionable leading part in it in terms of magnitude.
“Do it Wilber. Indict them. Blow their filthy, dirty ships out of the water. Do it, for God’s sake.” This is an impressive scene from Amazing Grace, a movie about the life of the 19th century politician William Wilberforce. The young politician had become religious and doubted whether he ought to remain a member of the Lower House as a Christian. He asks the old John Newton for advice and this former captain of a slave ship does not beat about the bush. Newton is consumed by feelings of guilt. Every night he is haunted by the ghosts of his 20,000 victims, according to his own admission.

He knows what Wilberforce has to do. He has to thwart the bastards with laws and rules and stand up for their victims. It resulted within and outside of the parliament to a long, restless and at times disappointing struggle. But in 1833.three days before Wilberforce would die aged 73, the Lower House prohibited the slave trade.

They are imported by the hundreds from Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe. Lured with false promises, or directly forced to sell their bodies. Women as meat products. Even Dutch girls are forced into prostitution by blackmail from ,over boys, shortage of money or other sad circumstances.

“All those years,” a social worker once told me, “I have never met a happy prostitute. But up to today the assertive student doing side jobs is the loin cloth of a world filled with despair. It is the world of a growing group of young teenagers that end up in prostitution. Of Eastern European women who are abused by their pimps. Of Dutch women who do not see a way out and who are slowly but surely dying behind a window. The distressing injustice has absolutely nothing to do with freedom.

The passivity of some politicians cannot be justified. And the admirable efforts of Lodewijk Asscher in Amsterdam had nothing to do with a bourgeois approach, as the GreenLeft faction in Amsterdam stated.

In an unfortunate attempt to combat excesses in prostitution the second purple cabinet decided in 2000 to legalize the world’s eldest profession. It was a long lasting blur of insanity that prostitution was considered as a normal profession, but apparently the madness had to run its course. All that time school classes from the provinces and tourists from Japan took tours over De Wallen in Amsterdam as if there was something to admire there.

Only after inexpressible suffering we discover now that prostitution itself is the excrescense.

After the legalization prostitution is still linked to the trade in people. A large majority of prostitutes are working against their will, and involuntary sex is called rape. You do not legalize that.

As the unease about this modern slavery is growing and the political support becomes stronger it is possible to do more in the fight against these dehumanizing circumstances/. There will come a time when the Chamber of Commerce won’t be looking the other way anymore when a Bulgarian woman as a small independent entrepreneur submits her business plan. Then the offer of exit programs in the large cities will be beyond every political discussion. Then we will strengthen the capacity of the police and the Public Prosecutor’s office and we make sure there are no longer waiting lists for taking care of the victims. And then we tell from Dutch school classes unto Bulgarian villages about the dangers of the trade in people and forced prostitution.

It is the echo of William Wilberforce and John Newton that encourages us to stand up against evil. Do it, for God’s sake.”

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