No to Prostitution

Read at HuffPost UK here.

In the beginning of Femen activity in 2008 we started our fight with prostitution, that blood-thirsty machine that caught some our friends and could easily catch us. During the campaign ‘Ukraine Is Not a Brothel’, we proposed to fight the social disaster that is a prostitution on a legal level. Femen created an initiative to focus on the criminalisation of the client.

We wanted Ukrainian women to have a chance of getting away from that violent men’s business. But it never happened and the change in the law didn’t get voted through. Some politicians were just ignorant, as they are always ignorant to women’s issue in that part of the world, but I believe some had a personal interest in not having the laws changed.

Today, Femen are watching France as they consider adopting the same kind of law and we congratulate the government for acknowledging that something needs to be done about prostitution.

But how do we tackle the issue of prostitution? Is the question “how to make it right?” or “how to make prostitution better for all?”, or even “what is good in prostitution and what is bad?” Society has to choose – to allow or forbid prostitution is the same as choosing to live in a patriarchal culture or in a culture of equality.

Femen is clear and direct in it’s position. Prostitution is nothing else but a domination of one gender through exploitation, force or lie.

Patriarchy wants to legalise prostitution as a way to finally win the gender fight and make society accept women as sex-waitresses for the hungry clients that are men. As the report made by association Nid des Femmes (Women’s Nest) says, while around 80% of the 20,000 prostitutes in France are women, virtually all clients in the trade are men. The report also maintained some 80% of women prostitutes in France are forced to work by human traffickers, pimps, or other people, economic, or lifestyle factors beyond their control.

Prostitution is a form of male domination in its pure form. The act of prostitution is not an equal sex act as it puts the woman in a subordinate position, reducing her to an instrument for sexual pleasure of the client who pays money.

The act of prostitution by definition joins together two forms of social power, sex and money. In both realms men hold substantial and systematic power over women.

Europe has to escape from its romantic point of view of prostitution as a choice. Just because a small percentage of women choose to prostitutes can’t be the reason to deny the problem of millions.

Prostitution is not a job for independent and successful women. And let’s be honest, by admitting that prostitution is also often the job of trafficked women, illegal immigrants and the geographically dispossessed. Let’s take a look, for example, in Paris: in Bellville – Chinese women are working as prostitutes, in Barbes – Africans, in Pigalle- from Eastern Europe.

Prostitution is a job of women who are searching for financial survival. And in this situation this is a ‘choice’ if you want, as those women don’t have another ‘choice’ (here is a necessary tautology).

Femen is saying no to prostitution. The purchase of women by men has to be forbidden and punished. We say no to the legalisation of men’s domination.

By accepting existence of prostitution on a legal level, society is jumping deeper into an ice hole of patriarchy and losing one of the chances to fight it.

Femen doesn’t accept the common pro-legalization argument that “prostitution has always existed and will never go away”, arguing that other violent acts such as murder, rape or paedophilia have also always existed and will never disappear as well, and that is not a reason to legalize them but only to punish more.

Femen demands to punish client and the wish to purchase a human that is a reason of existence of prostitution.

Femen joins the initiative of the french government in criminalization of the client of prostitute as an attempt to enslave women from exploitation and to reach a sexual equality.
If men don’t buy, women don’t sell. No to exploitation! No to prostitution!

Inna Shevchenko | TEDxKalamata

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