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Law and order
11 October 2012

Social liberals discover that prostitution isn’t very nice

Julie Bindel describes herself as a “radical feminist” (and “not the fun kind” as she remarks in her Twitter profile). And, yet, for a Guardian journalist and “political lesbian”, she has little time for politically correct Prosniceties.

Consider her feature for Standpoint on the legalisation of prostitution in Amsterdam:

  • “Many of those controlling the window scene and facilitating the trafficking of thousands of women into Amsterdam are so-called ‘loverboys’, young Dutchmen of Moroccan, Turkish or Surinamese descent, most of them Muslims, who look for vulnerable young Dutch women, pose as lovers, and after a few months, force their ‘girlfriends’ into prostitution, keeping them under close control both by force and psychological means.
  • “Loverboys have the same modus operandi as another group of sex exploiters — the Asian grooming gangs, first exposed in Standpoint (December 2010) — that operated with impunity in the northern towns of England.”

Of course, no self-respecting Muslim would want to have anything to do with prostitution. But then, that’s the point, prostitution is not an activity best known for its self-respecting participants, whatever their background. As with the issue of drug abuse, liberals and libertarians argue that the harm involved is primarily the consequence of criminalisation. They don’t understand that the degradation of humanity is intrinsic to the thing itself not its legal status.

Prostitution, for all the obvious reasons, will always be a nexus of the desperate and those who prey upon desperation. That is why decriminalisation only serves to provide a secure base for criminals:

  • “After 12 years of legalised window brothels, attracting hordes of customers from all over Europe, politicians, police, citizens and even many of the prostitutes themselves are admitting that state-sanctioned prostitution is a failed social experiment. 
  • “Given almost ten years of evidence that criminal gangs control the red-light area of De Wallen, the local council has announced plans to clean it up in an attempt to transform the reputation of the city. Out will go at least half of the window brothels, sex shops and cannabis cafés and in will come more museums, restaurants and art galleries.”

Of course, the idea of decriminalisation was to do away with the pimps – and, in theory, that’s exactly what happened:

  • “Since legalisation there are no ‘pimps’ in Amsterdam's red-light area. Men who own the windows and brothels, and live off the earnings of prostitution, are now ‘managers’ or ‘facilitators’.”

Yeah, right. But do you suppose that these ‘facilitators’ – men who display women in windows for the delight of drunken louts – are the sort to dutifully stick within their extended legal boundaries? Or do you think that, perhaps, when the opportunity arises, at least some of them might venture forth beyond these limits to squeeze further profit from others’ misery?


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