*Pic: Image from HERE

Recent articles have argued for and against decriminalization of prostitution. It’s an emotive subject, likely to raise strong commentary, so let’s try and see this argument against some indisputable facts.

One: the entire weight of mankind’s experience in all civilised societies round the world has always centred on a stable family (or tribe) unit in which sexual relations were strongly regulated. Left unchecked, sex has a disruptive potential, potentially de-stabilising the society’s functioning, weakening it and putting at risk the effective raising of the next generation. Central to this was the role of the family patriarch/matriarch as the keeper of wisdom, the solid reliable one to whom one turned for direction. Such a figure commanded respect as someone who not only knew what’s what but was also personally well-disciplined. The essence of discipline rests on the ability to overcome one’s passions and put one’s energy to use instead for the benefit of others. Wise and respected men and women everywhere were always recognised for this ability – it is the crux of civilised development on a personal level, as well as in society generally.

Two: the human male always has been particularly challenged to overcome his passions – millennia of war-destruction which include the violent rape and abduction of females attests to that. From the most ancient sagas to the thousands of mercenaries who still today terrorise nations and communities and families and children (Nigeria, Congo, Liberia, Syria, etc) demonstrate how much man loves war and violence and rejoices in opportunities to take part. Excuses to make it sound respectable (‘serving king & country’, ‘in the name of God’, etc) do not alter the simple fact that warring, looting, raping and the indulging of loose uncontrolled passions is destructive and not worthy of respect.

Three: the recognition of this (mostly male) weakness has always called for attempts to regulate it. Sporting societies hope to channel undirected male energies. If men won’t constrain their passions within marriage (or whatever regulation their society had), then at least let’s set up a system within which it can be controlled – the brothel. Reluctantly accepted as a necessary evil for, so it was said, the sake of society’s stability, but at no point was it regarded as good, desirable, or the men who went there as respectable. To overcome this shame, men banded together to re-inforce each other in savage defiance. Gang-bangs and rapes by sporting personalities is just one example. Priests’ compliant silence over paedophilia is another. The more men are challenged over their desire for unrestricted and often brutal sex, the more angry they get. Pity any wife or partner who gets in the way of a frustrated, un-controlled male’s passion!

Four: the factual statistics tell the story – thousands of bashed DV victims, many murdered, by men out of control. By men with no respect for the female, whose body they think they should be allowed to subject to that passion. Families disintegrate, children are traumatised and grow up to repeat the violence, societies are weakened. In the search for better outcomes, the Swedish government during the 1990’s instigated inquiries into the sources of DV, and found overwhelming evidence that its roots lie in men’s disrespect for women, in the fact that they could buy and use women’s bodies. So a law was introduced to regulate this: making the purchasing of a body for sex a criminal act. This is what is known as the Nordic Model law. In addition to protecting the victims of DV, the object was to secure a stabler society conducive to raising children successfully.

Five: it is a fact that millions of (mainly) girls and women are trafficked for sex, kidnapped from their communities and taken to other countries where they are forced into prostitution. They thus become stateless persons without the protection accorded to those who travel legitimately with valid passports. Unable to run for help, trafficked women are strangers who have no choices – they must remain in prostitution to barely survive, and many don’t. They are bashed, injured, degraded and destroyed mentally, emotionally, and physically, mostly have no access to services, and don’t count in a country’s statistics – nobody know how many die or are murdered, disposed of when their body no longer functions. In no manner can this be described as ‘work’ in the way we understand it: properly paid, protected by OH&S, insured, voluntary, and covered by law. Countries that have decriminalised prostitution have seen an explosion of demand. An example is in Victoria, which went from 40 known brothels to 400 in a short space of time. Australia has a huge and growing DV problem, and is also a large trafficking destination. It is urgent that the government brings in the necessary regulations to control the situation – and experience has demonstrated that the best outcomes for society, families, and children, come from criminalising the buying of sex.

Six: it is also an incontrovertible fact that Sweden, which by now has had the Nordic Model law running for 17 years, has ceased to be a destination for traffickers. Make the demand for sex illegal, and there’s no market to cater for. A woman there can walk up the street at night and not feel a target for male attention. The main bulk of the population absolutely loves it. And it is well-known that for many years, the Scandinavian countries are consistently the world leaders for quality of life, education, and good societal management. Equally factual is that many other countries, impressed by the Swedish example, have also introduced the Nordic Model: Norway, Finland, Iceland, Canada, South Korea, Northern Ireland, and France. Eire is currently processing the legislation. The humanitarian Jimmy Carter, ex-president of the US, persuaded all USA Rotary Clubs to adopt the principle and has personally pleaded with the UN to do so, too.

Finally, those who support the Nordic Model law are not interested in running campaigns against those who want to sell their bodies for sex (after all, the Nordic Model specifically stated that that is not a criminal activity in itself), but are concerned with the wider implications for a peaceful, enlightened society in which families can develop without fear of violence and children can grow up free from trauma and become wise and respected leaders. That, surely, is incontrovertibly a good objective.

*Irenaeus is known to the Editor