Farley / HARMS OF PROSTITUTION
STDs, even though it has already been established that there is no association between prostitution and HIV in New Zealand (Coney, 2003).
The NZ human rights law has provisions that protect women from sexual harassment. It is a far more protective law than the NZ law that decriminalizes prostitution in the name of women’s health, safety, and right to work. Because one of the job require- ments of prostitution is tolerating sexual harassment, how will the NZ human rights law protect women in prostitution from sex- ual harassment? “What will be the . . . outcome of struggles against sexual harassment and violence in the home, the work- place, or the street, if men can buy the right to perpetrate these very acts against women in prostitution?” (D’Cunha, 2002, p. 41).
Prostitution is an institution that systematically discriminates against women, against the young, against the poor, and against ethnically subordinated groups. Prostitution cannot be made safer or a little bit better by legalizing or decriminalizing it (Ray- mond, 2003). It is a particularly vicious institution of inequality of the sexes. Understanding this, Nevada legislator William O’Donnell stated,
It bothers me that we’re making money off the backs of women. Condoning prostitution is the most demeaning and degrading thing the state can do to women. What we do as a state is essentially put a U.S.-grade stamp on the butt of every prostitute. Instead, we should be turning them around by helping them back into society. (quoted in Albert, 2001, p. 178)
Does a john’s payment of money to a woman in prostitution erase all that we know of sexual harassment, rape, and domestic violence? The adage silence is consent is mistakenly applied to women in prostitution. We blame those who keep silent for what- ever happens to them because, the logic goes, they should have protested abuse. Women in prostitution are silent for many rea- sons. They are rarely given the opportunity to speak about their real lives because this would interfere with sex businesses. The silence of most of those in prostitution is a result of intimidation, terror, dissociation, and shame. Their silence, like the silence of battered women, should not be misinterpreted, ever, as their consent to prostitution.