Archive for March 6th, 2013

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Attempts to legalise prostitution and the effect of human trafficking

March 6, 2013

Well, this entry is likely to get a lot of reading over the coming months – not because of ruminations it contains, but because it will contain those SEO magnetic key words of Ukraine, women, prostitution, sex, escorts and the like.

One look at my blog statistics and it is clear to see that many posts, some years old, are still frequently read because the search engines will bring them to the attention of those seeking fun and frolics, sexual adventures, girlfriends, wives etc from Ukraine – I cannot vet my readership, and to be fair, there will be some historical entries here that may be of some use to those seeking such things.

This entry may or may not fall into that category – but it is not my intention to glorify or undermine the sex industry, whether that which exists within Ukraine or that without that effects Ukraine.  Working with an Odessa NGO that deals with domestic violence, prostitution, human trafficking etc – and having worked for 8 years within the drugs and prostitution agencies in the UK – regardless of whichever side of the “moral line” you sit on regarding the sex industry, the reality is that it exists, has always existed and always will.

The issue for governments, society, NGOs and those employed illegally within that industry, is how to deal with it.

In some nations, prostitution is illegal – it is that simple.  In others it is legal.  In many it sits in a grey area where parts of it are legal and others illegal.  In some nations, a prostitute (or two) can work from a domestic dwelling selling sex and remain within the law.  Three working from that dwelling then makes it a brothel – and thus illegal.  In other nations, brothels are legal, taxed and employees subject to regular medical checks.

Then there are the massage parlours, visiting masseuses, escorts, gentleman’s clubs, entertainment centres et al, which whilst offering services within the law, also infer (correctly) that services outside the law are also available.

All rather complex shades of legal right and wrong – and no degree of legality or otherwise seems to have much effect on those trafficked to nations to enter the sex trade.

As much as I intensely dislike generalisations, it would be fair to say that in Asia most human trafficking has more to do with forced labour than sex.  Across Europe it is the other way around, with more human trafficking aimed towards the sex trade than slave labour.

Ukraine is not only a source of pretty women and children for trafficking into the sex industry, but also a trafficking route of some significants.

It is with interest then, that I note a third attempt is under way within the Czech Republic to legalise prostitution and brothels.

You can understand that through legalisation there is probably not only a significant revenue from taxation to collect, but also some form of inferred additional safety for those currently having to hide what they do from the authorities – not to mention a significant chance to reduce sexually transmitted disease – if handled correctly.

It is unlikely however, to reduce the amount of human trafficking through and from Ukraine to the Czech Republic.  I have yet to see any academic study that has shown a significant reduction in human trafficking to Germany or The Netherlands where prostitution and brothels are legal.  Women are still trafficked there for the sex trade in fairly significant numbers.

Also it has to be said, that more legal places to work as a prostitute outside Ukraine has little effect in the internal trafficking of women to the major cities from the provinces by the criminal elements.

What I have noticed over my (now many) years here, is that more women are working for themselves in Ukraine and are advertising their services for free on social media sites such as VK or Mamba.

For how long that keeps them free from the clutches of criminal underworld, or if indeed this modem operandi keeps them any safer, well, I can find no Ukrainian statistics on the issue – despite working with a Ukrainian NGO of 15 years standing in this arena.  However I do know self-employed prostitutes and escorts who only use these sites to advertise their services – thus there must be some benefit to working this way and avoiding not only the law enforcement agencies but also the criminal underworld – if nothing other than for a little longer than would otherwise be the case.

That said of course, statistics on prostitution where it is illegal, and human trafficking,  is naturally far harder to gauge.  Much has to be based upon guess-work no differently that estimating the size of the black economy in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, it is interesting that the Czech Republic will, for the third time, try to legalise prostitution very soon, as if there are any semi-reliable statistics for human trafficking relating specifically to the Czech Republic and the sex trade, then if legalisation is successful, it should be possible to note any increase or decrease in trafficking rates as a result.

One hopes that somebody will have the sense to try and assess any such outcomes.

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