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Prostitution: Emergent realities

May 11, 2009
Sexual objects, sexual games

Sexual objects, sexual games

The police from Barcelona use to complain about the increasing number of Southern and Central African prostitutes looking for customers in the most famous street in the city, Las Ramblas. The current problem now, in a place concerned about its appearance and visual aesthetics, is that those prostitutes coming from remote countries are not only an “element of the landscape” that many tourists refuse, but also deprived of identity in a wide sense: their procurers literally abduct their passports and therefore it is impossible to know details about their origins, ages and names. Most of them –a lesson learned from life and desperation- in case of police interrogation simply affirm that they come from any country at war, suffering persecution –and sometimes this is the truth- and cannot go back. Poverty and violence bring African women to unknown destinies. The situation is serious until the extent that most European countries prosecute both illegal prostitution and its customers. The Netherlands was the last country making this decision and applying that policy.

We should add a new phenomenon of prostitution generally connected to immigration: girls joining gangs because they feel attracted to the leader or because a gang offers a feeling of belonging that those young women don’t have out of that group. Easy victims of trafficking in human beings.

The other side of the coin would be an emergent form of prostitution whose main protagonists are Western European women who decide at a certain point that prostitution is a luxury compared to the slavery of some jobs. They put strong emphasis on the fact of being their own chiefs, they don’t have to leave their bodies in others’ hands. Owners of their destinies, those usually highly instructed women succeeded in ducking the most adverse effects of the global crisis.

Deep-down the central point of the discussion is the lack of dignity and the violation of others’ will and freedom. Maybe we should remember that each year, according to the report “The Johns. Sex for sale and the men who buy it”, from  Viktor Malarek, about 800.000 women and children are forced into prostitution. And “800,000” is not merely a figure but people with names, faces, stories and expectations. When a human being is treated as an object, all of us will be degraded. And we should ask what the concept “humanity” really means.

Natalia Fernandez-Diaz is professor of Intercultural Communication at the Free University of Barcelona and translator of 9 languages. Expert on gender, violence against women and sexuality. Ph.D. in Linguistics and in Philosophy of Sciences.


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