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Y et again the males on the left have let women down, while kidding themselves that they are being progressive. Jeremy Corbyn has said, during a talk at Goldsmiths University, that he is in favour of decriminalising the sex trade. But there is nothing civilised about legitimising one of the most exploitative industries on the planet. It is apt that Corbyn made his admission at Goldsmiths. This twist of logic is quite something considering the law that criminalises demand also decriminalises those selling sex.
I cannot believe that Corbyn is so misinformed as to see the blanket decriminalisation of the sex trade as necessary to uphold the human rights and safety of those selling sex. In Sweden, the first country to introduce the sex-buyer law in , not one prostituted woman has been murdered by a pimp or sex-buyer since then. In New Zealand, where the sex trade was decriminalised in , there have been five murders. What decriminalisation actually means is that control is taken away from the criminal justice agencies and given to local authorities.
Under this model, pimps become managers, and brothel owners are business entrepreneurs. The only difference between decriminalisation and legalisation is that under legalisation the state becomes the official pimp by making certain aspects of the trade legal.
This way it can collect taxes and impose compulsory health checks on prostituted women — something the great feminist abolitionist Josephine Butler campaigned against in the 19th century. Many on the left believe any criminalisation of the industry stigmatises those who sell sex, and that the selling of sex should be regarded as a job like any other.
But there is a growing body of research showing that in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Nevada and the Netherlands, where prostitution has been legalised or decriminalised, there is an increase in demand, which in turn has led to an increase in people coerced into prostitution. Such regimes lead to an increase in the legal as well as the illegal sex trade.