Prostitution is an issue that people will never be rid of. While any basic solution may help to curb the supposed issue, the prostitution rates will only rise given time.
Bare with me for a moment, and think before you judge. In the fictional culture developed by Joss Whedon in his TV series Firefly, the idea of "soliciting sex" has taken quite a different turn. Instead of the system we know for prostitutes that leaves far too much room for risk, they have quite an organized process. "The Academy" is an institution that teaches people the art of becoming a registered "companion" as they are called. Companions are then registered through the guild, and clients request a companion, or prostitute, through the guild. The companion is then allowed to choose their clients. The system on the surface seems like no more than a glorified pimping service, but by making a system so official and so respected, it gives people an alternative to selling their bodies on the streets. I should add that without the danger and dirtiness of the job, being a companion is a respectable profession, as opposed to a frowned upon act of desparation.
As a fellow Brown Coat, I agree with you B-trees. Prostitution won't go away but we could do a lot as a sophisticated and intelligent society to make prostitution safer for all involved. Until our society repairs its sexual disfunction (males obsessed with non-monogamous sex, in general) we should probably try legalized drugs and prostitution to get some verifiable data on how well these approaches work. Less government and fewer laws which aren't enforceable seems counterintuitive but I think it would work better. You can't take the sky from me.
I don't think drugs will ever be legalized in the US. Not due to policy issues, or something of that nature. I think it will be because of economic reasons. The alcohol industry fights legalization more then politicians or law enforcement due to the fact that they would lose billions of dollars in revenue if people were intoxicating themselves in other ways. Also, there would be a largely unregulated market for narcotics, which the government wouldn't be able to tax due to logistical reasons. Although law enforcement and conservative politicians are enemies of legalization, there are a lot of greed issues fighting legalization as well. I can't apply that to prostitution yet, but I guarantee there is someone that is protecting their economic interest by keeping prostitution illegal.
Many things coming up are going to require us to take action where there is no immediate "profit" in terms of dollars.
What about the "profit" that is attributable to doing "right" things? Taking care of the environment is the right thing to do. Without the environment we don't rake in dollars and we reap self destruction.
Taking care of people is the right thing to do. If we don't take care of each other then our society will collapse. Shouldn't we be ashamed of ourselves for perpetuating a "poor class"? People tell me, "Trurl9, that's just how things are. Nothing can ever change."
Who created this system? We did? We control the horizontal and vertical. But we have to make some hard choices to succeed. It's up to us.
By no means am I saying that it's right that such things are banned. I don't feel strongly either way. I am just merely pointing out why it is the way that it is. I agree that we have to make some hard choices to succeed, but more then that, we need a tremendous amount of financial influence if we want to succeed. Things should be done because they are 'right' but we don't live in a perfect world by any stretch of the imagination, and money rules everything in public policy.
I'm not saying that the government is not going to allow this to happen because we can't turn a profit. I'm saying that it's impossible to tax a black market, and if it were made legal, you would now have a legal black market with no way to regulate it. At least if the government keeps it illegal, they can still regulate it in the form of reprimands. The market will always be there for prostitution and drugs, but if it were legal, then there would be no way to regulate it, taxing or otherwise. That is why the government won't step up. It is only magnified by the fact that the alcohol industry is lobbying with large sums of cash.
Can you imagine a world without money? I can. I do. Money is a crutch; an illusion. Improperly used, money creates much of our suffering. To get beyond suffering we have to understand it's causes so we can let it go.
I'm not pursuing a perfect world because that's illusory, but I do want to live in a better world. We can do this if we make it so.
I argue against "what is" and argue for "what can be". I don't care for how things are regarding prostitution. Our previous solutions have been misdirected and ineffective. We've focused on punishing women because it's the easiest, most convenient way to sweep "losers" under the rug. Out of sight, out of mind, problem solved. Meanwhile pimps and johns wander about free to infect more women. Well, that's Bush Think. Our problems remain.
I don't want to defeat other possibilities before we give them an honest test. Prostitution is regulable if we think it through and have the will to enforce changes with compassion. We require more sophistication and imagination than we're currently bringing to bear. Money won't solve the blight that is prostitution.
Now let's imagine a world where prostitution and pornography have become irrelevant. Women earn money in safer and less degrading occupations. Men are mentally and spiritually repaired so they need not hobble about on their crutches of rationalization, controlled by their phalli instead of their brains.
My imagining requires changing the rules and expectations of our society. Dream, baby, don't just give up and accept your coding. Fight against the bogusness, fight the powers that be.
It is ridiculous to say that because a problem will never go away that we should either ignore it or sanction it. Murder will also never go away as child abuse, spousal abuse, lying, cheating, stealing, or any number of things will never go away. To say that we should just give in to this as a solution is no solution at all.
I do think, as another person wrote in, that there is a difference between being a self employed call girl and being a street walker with a pimp. I had a friend who was a call girl who liked being in the business and it was relatively safe and "high end" for this profession. did it do anything good for her life? No. Even after getting out of the profession, her relationship with men continued to be business--even when living with someone--mostly financial. Was it her choice to make? I guess. She felt that since she was such as slut anyways, she might as well get paid for it. Does she have anything to show for her career now that she's 50? No. Now she works at Walmart. Did it do anything good for the men? No. I don't think there's a good side to this profession in terms of positive contributions to people's lives or society in general. I do think police action should focus on the street walking to get illicit sex off the streets, out of our neighborhoods, and to help those girls who are clearly in the business because they are disadvantaged.
Having "health checks" as a safeguard is ridiculous. I am a doctor and worked in a clinic focused on homeless patients. Much or most of the prostitution was in trade for drugs or a place to stay or quick cash (it was not a career). Everyone had clamydia, some had other STDs as well. What good does a health check do when you are simply telling them that they have an infection or disease? by that time they've already given it to 10 or 20 other people. Even if they get treated for the treatable ones, they're just going to get it again in the next weeks to months. These lead to infertility, more low self esteem, and sometimes death. To say we can "take care" of people in the profession and make their lives healthy is ridiculous.
Making it legal would also make it harder to prosecute pimps and kidnappers who force girls into it (which happens alot--more than you think). I don't see any good to sanctioning this practice.
How do you outlaw a bioloigcal function ? How many centuries have various societies/communities attempted to outlaw the selling of sex without success? Somewhere between the free and open selling of sex and imprisonment of every prostitute, John, and pimp there has to be a reasonable solution. Significant segments of our country opposed gambling, alcohol, use of illegal drugs. And yet, society has found a way to accommodate each of these activities. Why not prostitution ? Prostitution is not the problem.
The problems rests with our attitudes toward sex. In this regard, as a society, we are mentally ill. We are at the same time fasciated, attracted, fearful of, and repulsed by sex. Until and unless we come to terms with these conflicting attitudes and beliefs about a natural human function we cannot hope to effectively address prostitutions in all of its manifestations.
I first realized the absurdity of sex in our society when I served in Vietnam. Hundreds of soliders each month were incapacitated for combat duty and killed due to seeking sex and/or obtaining sex. Incapacitated by sexual disease for several weeks or killed seeking sex. An Army field grade officer recommended the establishment of a safe area in Vietnam were military personnel could obtain permission to spent a night or few days with a licensed prostitute who was monitored by a medical staff in a secure area. The prostitute would receive a good rate of pay in a currency approved by the military which to have the added benefit of preventing MPC (Military Pay Certificate), the currency used within the military, from circulating in the Vietnamese communities. Afterall, when a solider paid for a prostitute he paid with MPC as it was illegal to have any U.S. dollars.
The response the army officer received was a definite "NO" out of concern and/or fear of the reaction by the news media, churches, political leaders, and citizens "back" in the "world" (America). My country was willing to accept the death and incapacity of service men before it would accept military sponored prostitution. Even at 19 yrs of age with a high school education I thought this was crazy. Following a graduate education I realized it was symptomatic of mental illness at a societal level. And yet, the military, political leaders, church goes, media, and citizens were willing to allow service men to be flown at least once during their tour to another country which sponored, tolerated, or accepted prostitution to entertain visits by these service men. An industry existed to support this trade wich included transportation to and from the airport, hotels, restaurants, and tourism places. Hundreds of thousands of service men made these trips.
Nevertheless, these trips did not prevent service men from seeking prostitutes in Vietnam. Many Vietnamese women saw prostitution as a way of making a great deal of money in a short period of time and may have had husband or pimp bahind them. It also allowed them to establish relationships with service men to use the MPC to purchase goods from the PX, military only store. I am sure many of the purchases were then re-sold at a profit.
And of course, few people will talk about the female nurses and aide workers who charged thousands of dollars for a night with breakfast. These nights were frequently limited to officers but a few enlisted service men at least claimed to have enjoyed such company.
Portland cannot stop prostitution it can only limit and/or accommodate it. The real question is how ?
Ha, that’s actually a really good suggestion. Thanks so much for this!
Hello neighbors we hope that you will go to our blog to read our open letter to the City Council. http://montavillainaction.blogspot.com/
On our blog is a link to our rebuttal to the Mayor's "prostitution talking points" as he refered to them on his website. We do not need talking points, we need a well executed plan that has buy in, adequate funding and addresses the complexity of this crime. The city stated a year ago that they were going to come up with "real solutions" as they abandoned the PFZ (Sept. 30, 2007). Now 1 year later organized crime has moved in and made the Avenue into a criminal "turf war", where young women are now blatantly & freely traded day & night, neighborhood women & young girls safety is now being compromised, fatalaties have occured, residents safety & livability is effected and now Mayor refers to his talking points as an important begining?
We plan to have our "March on 82nd Avenue to Reclaim Our Neighborhood" on Saturday September 20. Please go to our blog for the flyer & more info.
We also plan on presenting our Petition to Reinstate the Prostitution Free Zone to City Council, to commemorate with the 1 year anniversary (Sept. 30, 2007) of that negligent mistake. We ask that the PFZ be reinstated in addition to all of the city's proposed plans. We also stress once again that the City leaders look to Seattle and see how they took our law and PFZ ordinance and made it effective. Petition to Reinstate the PFZ - which we will be presenting to the City Council on Sept. 30th to commemorate with the 1 year anniversary of its abandonment.
We ask now more than ever that the City please reinstate the PFZ in addition to the proposal that they have just begun the start of that still does not have approved budget or buy in from all appropriate dept. After seeing all of the "Ifs" and layers to the proposal and were it can all break down, plus there has been no timeline presented to the plan - that we feel now more than ever the PFZ is needed in addition to the plans the City is now working on.
>>>> PRIORITY REASONS AS TO WHY THE PFZ SHOULD BE REINSTATED (UNDER EMERGENCY STATUS):
>>1. The research that the Mayor cited when lifting the ordinance did not even mention prostitution in the entire 18 pg doc it was lumped with the issues surrounding the DFZ http://www.portlandonline.com/mayor/index.cfm?a=169712&c=46244
>>2. According to the Neighborhood Response TEAM (NRT) back on 7/23/08- calls regarding prostitution have quadrupled since last year this time. Cause & Effect - Zone is gone = crime has grown considerably & formed deep roots
>>3. We the citizens around 82nd Ave are having our safety compromised each & every day (read our blog to hear comments from your neighbors: how neighborhood women are now being harassed, neighborhood young girls are being propositioned in daylight by johns that circle and speed through our streets.
>>4. Crime from all over is now coming to 82nd Ave ? it is well documented that the women are being trafficked from Seattle, LA and beyond to work on the avenue due to our laxed laws. In addition, johns from all over the State & WA state are coming to our neighborhoods ? we have taken on both States? issues..
>>5. Until the city?s ?real solutions? are in effect & working, we need to immediately stem the crime that has taken over our communities to bring back the safety & livability of the neighborhoods & their residents.
Montavilla In Action does not want the crime to be driven else where.
We are very aware of this and this is why we outreached to many of the adjacent Neighborhood Associations (Mount Tabor, Park Rose, South Tabor, Argay, etc). So we all are united in efforts and that this blatant crime will not be tolerated by all of these communities. We have asked of our City Council that we as a City need to react quicker - look at how quickly crime - the pimps, took over this area since the PFZ ordinance was dropped just last September! The city needs to start realizing patterns sooner, so we are just not pushing this around or letting it reach such a critical & unsafe level again. In June of this year calls to the Neighborhood Response Team for SE Precinct regarding Prostitution had quadrupled. Why did the City not react when the calla had doubled prior to that?
John Campbell, whose study (on the Drug Free Zone only) the city used when lifting the Zones, has said in one public address, referring to the "moving-the-problem criticism", he said that such crimes are "a plant, not a rock. By that I mean, the one thing they don't do is stay the same. If you leave it alone, it will take root and grow. If you uproot it, you will at least stunt its growth."
We too ask of the City Council: what is planned by the City to target the demand/the johns? This should be at the heart of the Mayor's recent "talking points" on his website. In the Mayor's talking points it did not address the johns at all and this alarming to us. Our neighborhoods are being overrun by johns from all over Oregon and Washington State. "Our" problem is truly everyone's problem and should not be tolerated. If the johns knew there was going to be tougher laws would that help as a deterrent? We think so. An organized media blast/campaign of the City's new "No Tolerance Policy on johns": higher & consistent impound fees/ policy - if dual names are on the car title (usually the wife) both have to get the car out of impound (or notary), posting johns online/newspapers (it's public record: over 280 US cities do this), what if the johns have to do work crew - pick up the used condoms in our school yards, parks, or in the parking lot of businesses and churches, literally clean up 82nd , john schools ? have them pay a substantial fine it goes towards prostitution outreach programs.
We have asked our City's Leaders to PLEASE look to our neighbor ? Seattle. Seattle in particular is one city that we learn from. That took our exclusion ordinance & added stronger, consistent convictions and they have had some very positive results with essentially the PFZ and additional tools, all integrated and working together. They even target & have an enforcement process for motel prostitution. So once you clean up street level prostitution, the city of Seattle had the foresight that it would move inside and began the process dealing specifically to motels, as well as online now too. The crime changes and we as a City need to react by relying & collaborating with other cities for for help on strategies that are proven to work.
Prostitution Free Zones do not solve the problem of prostitution. Nor are they suppose to, they do help citizens reclaim their neighborhoods, however, and that in itself is a solution to the problems plaguing many in our city. If making an area safer and more livable isn't the purpose of these ordinances, we don't know what is. If years of experience and statistics aren't showing that this ordinance helped to keep this problem in check in areas where they'd otherwise run rampant, we all know too well that this is true, since we as residents are currently in the crossfire of this new turf war because the zone is simply now gone. If the crime moves - so should our efforts.
We look forward to working with the Mayor & the City Council on their new proposal of ideas. We hope that includes us as key stakeholders in their efforts. We look forward to their response and we thank them for their efforts.
Montavilla In Action
On September 11, 2008
Mayor Potter at his news conference recognizes the scale of increase in prostitution since the expiration of Pros. Free Zones on September 30, 2007.
1. Increased Missions (stings) and Prostitution Detail Cars.
2. Circuit Court = sentence = probation.
3. New Program = Service Coordination Team = resolve prostitutes problems = social services.
4. Citizens/ Volunteers = Community policing, foot patrols, trespass agreements and court watch.
Montavilla in Action Questions and Evaluation
1. Increased missions = How long will this be maintained? Cost per mission? How long will the detail cars be on duty? How many hours per day/week will detail cars be on patrol?
2. Circuit Court = Several problems. DA says there will be months (about 6) long lags between arrest and conviction. Prostitute continues to work. Pimps will move workers or individuals will leave. No ordinance = no fear of arrests. New pimps with workers will move in. No mention/penalty to "johns". i.e. Impound of cars, etc. No focus or mention of property's (i.e. motels or apartments) harboring pimps and workers.
3. Social services questions. How far will $500,000 go to serve how many? Total per budget span.
4. Reimbursement to citizens for costs of foot patrols, court watch (i.e. parking or transit costs, lunch, childcare)
Montavilla in Action continues to request the reinstatement of the Prostitution Free Zones as an emergency effort to stem the extreme increase in the illegal acts performed on our streets, in parks, behind business' and in school yards. We also question why no formal policy brief with details, i.e. implementation, inter-agency coordiation, a detailed budget, timeline for implementation. The rushed addressing of the problem reflects little focus on details. Seattle used our ordinance and it is sucessful.
We , Montavilla in Action recognize the mayors efforts, we believe reinstating the PFZ's is the most effective approach. Despite Mayor Potter's claims to the contrary, the PFZ has proven to be the most effective tool and does not relocate the problem to other neighborhoods.
When prostituted women are asked what they want, consistently around 90% say they want out immediately but the decision is out of their hands and in the hands of their pimps, their husbands, their landlords, their addictions, their children's bellies. A recent study of street prostitutes in Toronto found that about 90% wanted to leave but could not. If they are there because they cannot leave, they are not choosing to be there.
A 5-country study of prostitutes found 92% wanted help getting out of prostitution immediately. 100% said they didn't want anyone they loved to ever have to prostitute their bodies for survival.
In Germany the service union ver.di offered union membership to Germany's estimated 400,000 sex workers. They would be entitled to health care, legal aid, thirty paid holiday days a year, a five-day workweek, and Christmas and holiday bonuses. Out of 400,000 sex workers, only 100 joined the union. That's .00025% of German sex workers. Women don't want to be prostitutes.
There is no sensible feminist reason to ignore the 92% of prostitutes who do not consider it work but slavery in favor of the 8% minority, especially when doing so only affirms the rape culture that affirms men?s entitlement to use women?s bodies any way they desire, any time they want it.
In theory it sounds good to say sane, reasonable people should have the right to sell a kidney for $500 or more if they choose to. But opening the door to body organ selling would not lead to nearly as many middle class American white men selling organs as other populations whose social circumstances can't seriously be said to allow a free, uncoerced choice, and it would open the door for 'brokers' who exploit poor people. I'm glad we are willing to sacrifice the theoretical capitalistic rights of a very few possible body organ sellers for the greater benefit of preventing widespread exploitation of less privileged people.
The Swedish model of criminalizing sexual predation on vulnerable people while supporting alternatives to prostitution survivors is the future of women's human rights.
I have worked for many years in community organizing to decrease prostitution in neighborhoods, particularly women suviving on the streets - nobody would choose to live like this. These are abused children, runaways gang raped and beaten - addicted to drugs and with a profoundly debilitating incidence of ptsd, higher rated than Vietnam War Vets. They need help.
I have been working with sex workers for about three years, doing outreach and advocacy downtown Portland and along 82nd ave. for the Portland Women's Crisis Line and I believe the PFZs are harmful to the workers because the ordinance only further displaces an already marginalized and vulnerable population. This is not an issue of law enforcement it is an issue of economic and social justice. These women and men working along 82nd ave. are facing lack of affordable housing, lack of viable employment opportunities, lack of drug and alcohol and mental health treatment, lack of affordable childcare for those with children, etc. PFZs do not magically create alternatives to prostitution. We need more wrap around services that focus on a truly holistic, long term approach to dealing with this issue. We do not need a band-aid.
As someone who has volunteered for agencies that work with sex workers and prostitutes for over 10 years, I agree with the Mayor?s decision to not reinstate the Prostitution Free Zones. The PFZ?s were ineffective and created more harm to an already marginalized population. Much needed social services are often located within the zones. The displacement of individuals creates another barrier for those in need to obtain services. The PFZ?s did not prevent or deter prostitution, but only succeeded in pushing the population into more isolated, fringe areas that made them more vulnerable to assault and harder for outreach workers to find and provide services to them. PFZs displace sex workers and push them in the shadows, potentially increasing the likelihood that they will be targets of violence. These types of strategies place people who are trafficked into such situations at a greater risk.
This is not a law enforcement issue, but an issue of economic justice. Poverty and lack of options is the problem; the situation on 82nd is the symptom. Law enforcement merely creates a revolving door that is expensive and ineffective. It hinders any effort to get out of prostitution, because having a police record creates a significant barrier to conventional employment and decent housing. If the goal is to reduce the level of prostitution, leaving it solely as a law enforcement issue is counter productive.
This is an issue of social & economic justice. Lack of affordable housing and low wage jobs have created a rise in homelessness. Homelessness creates the need for survival sex, a huge faction of the visible prostitution residents are complaining about on 82nd avenue. Making affordable housing and emergency shelter more available is a more effective, humane response to the problem.
Although addiction is not always involved in prostitution, the extreme lack of mental health services and drug and alcohol treatment in Portland contribute to the conflict on 82nd . People struggling with these issues have little or no resources with which to improve their situation and limits their options. If the goal is to reduce the amount of prostitution, appropriating a sufficient amount of resources to these programs is more conducive than merely warehousing people in jail.
Punishing individuals based on their appearance and their assumed action contributes to racism, sexism, classism, and homo/transphobia, all of which contribute to the stigma and marginalization of individuals. This marginalization contributes to the existence of a street economy and exacerbates the conflict we see on 82nd avenue.
Where will they go when you force them off of 82nd Ave.? This is their JOB, they will just resurface elsewhere. I agree with meanmachine2 that we are ill when it comes to sex- why are we so uncomfortable with it here in America?
The underlying issue of prostitution is economic. If women in our society were able to access the economic power available to white men, and not the current status quo of .70 cents to a dollar, there would be a natural decrease in the sex trade. However, prostitution will most likely exist in some form within a capitalist/patriarchal structure. In this case society needs to consider legalizing prostitution in certain areas where prostitutes have protection from "johns" and testing for HIV and other STD's is regular and uniform. This would have the effect of protecting the lives' of prostitutes as well as the public health of the community.
We live in a high-traffic prostitution area along the NE 82nd Avenue corridor. My wife and I count them when we drive places to run errands.
I really appreciated that one of your guests proposed that an appropriate corollary to a "prostitution-free zone" would be a "prostitution zone." It's my own personal belief that a woman should be allowed to do whatever she wants to do with her own body, and by criminalizing prostitution we make life more dangerous for these women.
The "not in my backyard" attitude will not solve the problem. Law enforcement is not a well-rounded response to this issue: A pro-active approach is necessary and I would like to see the community agree on one.
I am listening to your program and it (prostitution) really is an important topic. I am so disgusted by what is happening to our neighborhood. (Roseway) I see prostitutes in the morning when I go to work just a half block from my home. I see more when I come home from work. It's so our of hand since the end of the zone. If Mayor Potter thinks that putting the "zone" back in place...only displaces the problem. Where was this problem before?...I do not remember a neighborhood complain or this topic on the front page of the paper, or OPB having this topic on the radio before the zone was abolished. So if it would just displace this problem to other neighborhoods...let's do just that, rotate the problem to all of Portland's neighborhoods, like Irvington, or Ladd's or Laurelhurst. Then... then someone might think it's NOT okay to have this open sex industry in our yards...on streets..or schools. Why is it OKAY to be in Montavilla or Roseway?
I grew up near Martin Luther King Boulevard which used to be prostitution central for decades. Still is. I've seen johns and prostitutes conduct their "transactions" in front of my house. So I smile bemusedly at the idea of prostitution zones, arresting johns, regulating the sex trade, blah, blah, blah. Fix society, don't get obsessed with fixing symptoms.
Like the other posts from B-Tress and meanmachine2 their right one cannot stop the sex functions, But, "take it off" my neighborhood. I don't care how or what is done, I am tired of walking with my young grandchildren through "MY" neighborhood and finding used condoms on the street (and a 3 yr. old thinking its a balloon) get a grip folks, postitution is legal in Nevada, go there if you want to pay for sex, or to do it in an institutional manner. Just take it off the streets, children do not need to be exposed to a woman walking down 82nd ave. with a skirt so short that her lack of undergarments can be seen from a moving vehicle. I have chased several "sex acts" being performed in vehicles off my residential street. Or the "johns" are dropping off the prostitutes on a street or two behind 82nd right in front of a house that has young children playing in the yard. This must stop! Also, I do belong to the community foot patrol, but we can only walk for so long.
I live on 81st Avenue and have witnessed the issue we have with women working in the prostitution field (i.e., used condoms in the front yard, men picking up women, etc...). During a recent "sting" in front of our house, we spent some time talking with some of the police officers. An officer shared with us that most of the women they were picking up that day did NOT have addictions. She shared the story of one woman they picked up who had worked all day at Wal-Mart and had earned $60. She could earn the same amount of money in 5 minutes providing her "services" to a paying male.
I believe that it really boils down to a lack of a living wage, educational opportunities, and the exploitation of women in our community.
In addition, I am uncomfortable with issues of internalized stereotyping. When I see a woman dressed in a provactive manner, who may or may not be a member of a minority racial group, walking through my neighborhood, my first thought is "sex worker" (which may or not be the case).
How do we work together as a community to help these women, punish the men who exploit them, and deal with our own biased assumptions?
I agree with Tom Potter that there are more effective ways to impede prostitution. "Not in my backyard" is a tyical response for Americans. We do not want to see the problems in our society, we would rather they occur "somewhere else". However, let's look at the question of why women in our society choose prostitution. For many, it is the most money they could make in one night. They are people who may feel trapped, without job skills or other resources. It's too bad that people just want the problem to go away. The solution offered by your speaker today is simply a band-aid approach. Where are the real solutions?
I live in Portland but own a small aprtment building in Tacoma across from a lovely historic park where I stay part time. However, the issues are the same everywhere. We have been battling pimps and prostitutes in the park for the past three summers to little avail. The neighbors are now trying to put together a focused program working with the police, Metro Parks and the city. The problem is a continually moving target and they people involved in thei illegal activities are very adept at adapting, often at the spur of the moment. The pimps and prostitutes bring in the drugs dealers and users who are often the homeless and it spirals downhill from there. The homeless drug users bring an element of violence to the park making everyone uncomfortable.
One thing we are requesting is bicycle patrols to get officers out of their cars and in the park (street) where the activities are occuring. We feel this would be a strong deterrent as the pimps and dealers do not want close scruntiny or the attention.
One of the frustrations seems to be the lack of communication among agencies with too much finger pointing at one another. We recognize that this is a social problem hard to control but we are looking at long term solutions now so we do not have to fight this battle day in and day out and especially summer to summer.
I have lived in several neighborhoods with prostitution problems in this city and the girls on the street always seem drug addicted and in need of multiple services. We need to offer better education, drug treatment, and have stronger police/community relationships. Also, men and women involved in buying/selling sex should be treated equally in a criminal sense. If women are arrested the johns should be too. Portland needs to recognize its community wide failures and not just celebrate our "livable" successes. THank you for having this topic as we in the downtown/northwest area deal with this everyday.
George Carlin quipped that the sexual malfunction in our society would be removed in a few generations if we got rid of Christianity. Religious fundamentalism tends to make healthy sex taboo, illegal, and punishable by death in life or eternal damnation in death. I'm not saying ban religion because religion is with us to stay - just like prostitution. Did I say that?
Let's not confuse the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) of the neighborhoods for a solution to prostitution. Longer jail terms for pimps, johns and prostitutes hasn't and won't work. We need to get to the root of the problem.
Males are subliminally and consciously taught to be violent, seek sex with multiple partners, and by extension, be manipulative of those whose right to a healthy and fulfilling life are compromised. Male nurturing is not seen as a positive asset to society.
We need to fix the base of the problem. Children need to be taught about their sexuality and the responsibilities inherent in living in a progressive and civil society. Men must be taught not to abuse others. Women must be nurtured so their self esteem and value is not compromised early on.
Society prefers to enforce punishment over opportunity. Let's provide people with opportunities, education and spirituality to pursue effective lives. The punishment modality we use today perpetuates suffering.
I used to take an early bus from Sandy Blvd near 82nd into downtown for a 5:30 am shift as a barista. It didn't matter how I dressed, cars would approach the bus stop and slow down, sometimes roll down their windows. This is as afraid as I have ever felt in Portland, Oregon. It's not a comfortable situation to be in, a young woman alone in the wee hours, the sun barely rising. I would think Tri-Met would have a particular interest in addressing this as a security issue.
What about prosecuting the Johns rather than the prostitutes?
The answer to the problem of prostitution is not to prosecute the women being used in it, but to start prosecuting the men who exploit these women and children and the pimps who make so much money from them. Why are their criminal, immoral actions continually ignored in favour of persecuting the most vulnerable and helpless people in the transaction? It would be like arresting slaves rather than slave owners. Men who believe they have the right to purchase women's bodies to masturbate into are the people who have created the demand for prostitution and the social blight and misery that it causes. Their actions are what need to be counteracted not those of desperate women and children who have no other choices.
There is no such thing as a "biological urge" to exploit a prostituted person. What kind of a man feels the need to stick his penis inside of someone who wouldn't look at him twice if they didn't need the money for drugs, or to pay the rent or because they will be beaten by their pimp if they don't come back with enough money? The level of callousness involved in believing that you have the sexual right to someone's body if you have enough cash in your pocket is astounding.
So in short the answer to the issue of prostitution is prosecute the pimps, prosecute the johns, support women and children who want to escape prostitution, and for all those men out there who believe they are controlled by a biological urge to sexually act out on the bodies of the most vulnerable women in our society - take up masturbation.
Although variations on prostitution have existed throughout history, the institution has changed over time. Current statistics indicate that only 16% of men in the U.S. will engage in sex with a prostitute in their lifetime. Fewer than 1% will in any given year. As the participants with the money in hand, typically with jobs and families, johns can be compelled to change through the punishments of the justice system.
The women in prostitution are in a more desperate situation. Women do not "choose" to enter into prostitution in the absence of powerful economic and psychological motives--the latter typically involving childhood sexual abuse. Prostitution is simply the continuation of the abuse by 5, 10, or 15 men every night of the week. This is not a rational choice that should be punished, but a symptom and conbtinuation of violence and victimization.
The focus on law enforcement thus should be on the men. They have a choice, and jail means something to them. Countries such as Sweden have taken this to its logical end by decriminalizing the practice for women and prosecuting the men, be they johns or pimps.
I think it would be hard to say whether prostitution is the problem or if it is our cultures reaction to it.
So, statistics that say 90% want out immediately, may not be as telling as they seem. Perhaps, if we thought prostitution was an acceptable occupation it would change the outlook of prostitutes. A good percentage of people when asked about any job probably want out immediately.
Johns having sex with underage prostitutes should be prosecuted for statutory rape. Pimps trafficking underaged prostitutes should be prosecuted for rape for each instance of sex. These are rapes, even worse when money chages hands with a third party-- then it is commercial rape.
I find the moralistic tone of Commander Michael Crebs very disturbing, and I am disheartened that he is apparently the one who is in charge of finding a practical solution to this issue.
If Portland residents want a prostitution free zone they will be best served by working towards a *john free* zone. Criminalize the johns if you want a workable solution--criminalizing prostitutes is simply a perpetual motion of abuse. There is a tragic reason women can make significantly more selling their body parts than they can so many other jobs (especially those without a multitude of privileges many of us take for granted). Residents should be just as insulted to find the men of their area value womens' bodies in this way as they are to find their streets so littered in sexual coercion.
I believe that there are systems of prostitution (trafficking, pornography, strip clubs, escort services, etc.). I believe that those systems of prostitution are interconnected and are a violation of women and girls' human rights. I wrote my previous post on choices so that now I can shift my focus from explaining prostituting women's lack of meaningful choices toward writing about who has the real power over systems of prostitution in this patriarchal world. For systems of prostitution to exists, there has to be a demand for them.
This demand is generated by millions and millions a of men who seek to benefit of the sexual exploitation of women and girls one way or another. You've got a starting point here: you've got a large amount of men who want to get off on the sexual degradation of women and girls. Then, you've got another massive group of (mostly) men who want to capitalize on the sexual degradation of women and girls. Thus, pimps have to procure the supply to the johns somehow.
And, because there is a very little amount of women who would want this type of "job", pimps usually prey on many young girls who either ran away from abusive homes or got kicked out of their homes, destitute women, girls and women who are marginalized due to class, race or ethnicity, battered wives who ran away from their husbands, women being transported from poor countries by traffickers, etc. The magnitude of violence against women and girls that occurs in the prostitution industry in order to cater to males' desires for the sexual degradation of female human beings is gruesomely atrocious!
I don't believe that legalization of prostitution is a solution to reduce the harms perpetrated against prostituted women and girls. Legalization has been proven to be an utter failure in countries where prostitution has been legalized or decriminalized. In those countries: violence against women has become more normative; there are very few exit programs for prostituted women; trafficking, child prostitution, and sexual exploitation of women in illegal brothels or on the street have dramatically increased.
I believe that the right solution to tackle the problem of prostitution, this atrocious and widespread crime against women and girls, is found in laws similar to the abolitionist Swedish laws. Prostitution is a form of slavery. Therefore, it has to be abolished. In passing their legislations that criminalize johns, pimps, procurers and traffickers while decriminalizing prostituting women, Sweden has adopted the right solution of reducing men's demands (for this abject sexual crime against women) while assisting the prostituted with exit services. Sweden has given the overwhelming majority of prostituting women the assistance they want.
During the time of Prohibition of alcohol the criminal element ran the business of production, distribution and sale of alcohol. There was a great deal of violence and criminal harmful behavior engaged in because the criminal element was running the show. We hardly have the same problems coming from your local brew pub or winery. By making sex trade illegal we bring the harmful elements that we say are associated with it. This includes shame, embarrassment, low self esteem, violence, drugs, etc. However, just like Prohibition, its not the activity itself, sex for money, its the illegality and what that brings that is the problem.
If trading sex for money was seen as similar to cars for money or therapeutic massage or entertainment for money we would see some problems which happen in any trade but drastically less problems. Furthermore, if sex for money was seen as a very respectable, loving, nurturing, healthy, health improving activity which is one of the highest activities that people can trade money for, then the field would be very different.
I would frankly enjoying living in a culture where sexuality and sensuality were seen as the loftiest of activities and the market of those was seen as the most ethical and moral of trades. And where it was conducted with the greatest of mutual respect and admiration.
I have been with professional ladies who both respected what they did and who they did it with. They demanded respect of themselves and what they did. They wouldn't be with a guy who thought that what they were doing was so evil and wrong. A big part of the problem is men engaging in the sex for money at the same time they look down at it as something evil.
An example I often give is that if we had the Mother Teresa House of Sensual Love, we would not be talking about it as a dirty harmful violent activity. It would be a place of spiritual healing for both provider and receiver.
In some other world sex for money could be seen as one of the highest occupations and most wise of purchases. How crazy is it to make purchase of loving touch and sharing illegal? How crazy is it that our culture makes nurturing either criminal or makes it a violent and ugly activity and demeaning activity.
Money for sex is not bad by itself. Its what we make it that is the problem. Why do we make sex a dirty thing, an area of violence or disrespect? Our culture making sex a "dirty" thing is part of the reason that prostitution is so contaminated. Our culture would make "love" for hire also illegal? If we accepted sexuality as something which is good and spiritual and healthy then it wouldn't sink to the gutter. If we make it a dirty evil thing, then is it any wonder that it sinks to the gutter? And to say its only a good thing if it happens under special circumstances such as marriage, and is evil otherwise, then we are condemning it to the gutter and gutter like things.
Why is buying an $80,000 car on 82nd street considered a good thing while two people exchanging money for nurturing and sensuality and loving touch criminal? If car buying became connected with violence and criminality then would we say car buying is evil?
Another thing that doesn't get said is that sex for money is wrong but all the other trades for sex are alright? Sex is on of the greatest "currency" being exchanged in our culture. That is a problem. People are too often exchanging sex for security, permanent homes, children, etc etc. So called prostitutes are the most honest of women who are at least being clear that they are exchanging sex for money. Most other women are offering sex in exchange for many things without being honest about it. If I give up half of my worldly possessions then maybe I can have some sexuality?
Another unsaid issue is that if our culture made sexuality much more accessible then people would be less motivated to purchase it. Our culture does not provide enough sexuality for the nature of our species. Sex is healthy and the world needs more of it. Not just talk about it and using it to market stuff. Humans are fundamentally sexual.
Making sex for money a crime or a sin is a terrible flaw in our culture and our minds and hearts.
But such thoughts step on lots of toes................ and step on lots of power and control issues and money...
I wrote above: "I wrote my previous post on choices".
Sorry, to clarify, what I meant by that I was talking about this post here (on my blog): http://maggiehaysagainstporn.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-choices.html
I am dissapointed that it wasn't until the end of the program today that a discussion began about how to shift the focus onto the pimps and johns in the industry. Having spent many years working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, there is no doubt in my mind that prostitution is violence against women. I disagree that this is a choice for MOST women, as the average age of entry into the sex industry is 13 or 14 years old; girls who are often fleeing abuse in the home and living on the streets. The rate of past or current sexual abuse, as well as domestic violence, amongst prostituted women is very high. We must provide these women the support they need in the moment, whether they are wanting to leave the industry or not. The same is true for men/trans folks who are prostituted, but I use women here because they are the vast majority.
Criminally, we must focus on the pimps and johns! I want to hear more from the Portland community about how we are going to hold these men accountable for their behavior. There would be no problem out on 82nd Ave if there was no demand to purchase women's bodies in the first place. No matter what your stance is at the moment, please check out stoppornculture.org which focuses on pornography, another huge part of the industry connected to prostitution and a pervasive issue in our community. From the website, "To speak the truth about the exploitation and abuse of women is not to support any political movement that wants to restrict women's rights and constrain the culture's ability to move toward a healthier sexual culture. To speak the truth about pornography [and prostitution] is to name a system of oppression that causes harm to women and to our society."
Well said, I agree with most of it... especially the points of opposing exploitation and going after the exploiters first and foremost.
I live off 82nd avenue. This past year I?ve seen an increase in spent condoms on my street (84th Ave). Some prostitutes routinely ?take a break? by walking down my street. Some johns will circle our neighborhood looking for them. I?ve even had a bleeding prostitute show up at my front door at 11:30 pm because she needed urgent help. She was scared, barefoot and constantly looking over her shoulder. She didn?t want me to call the police. She wanted me to call a private number, which I assume was her pimp. I still called 911 as she ran off. When the police showed up and found out the victim was a prostitute, they just shrugged their shoulders and said, ?Oh well?. They explained that even if they found the prostitute, she would never press charges and pursuing it would be a waste of time.
The prostitution problem on 82nd is out of control. My wife & I make a game of pointing out prostitutes as we drive down 82nd. At first I thought it was funny but now it just is just a sad comment on the deterioration of our neighborhood.
We need the exclusion zone brought back. The crime that is tagging along with prostitution will make my neighborhood less livable, more dangerous and will eventually drag down the property values. We purchased our house 6 years ago and the neighborhood was looking up. Now, I?m wondering if I want to live here anymore.
When Potter talked about the exclusion zone pushing prostitutes out of the zone, where did they go? I didn?t hear of other neighborhoods complaining about spill-over prostitution from the exclusion zone.
Obviously, banning prostitution will never fully eliminate the problem. I think that the city should consider legalizing prostitution. We need prostitutes off the streets and get them into brothels. Look as Amsterdam as an example. We can regulate it, license it, tax the transactions and help keep women safe by mandating health exams regularly. An article in the New York Times in February 2008 stated that officials estimate that sexual transactions in Amsterdam account for about 100 million US dollars per year. The red light district is also a popular tourist attraction, so the revenues that Amsterdam earns in tourism can be partly linked to brothels and the unusual appeal they bring to city. Obviously we can?t count on that kind of boost in revenue but I think we see the benefits of regulating prostitution vs. outlawing prostitution.
Email that a member of Montavilla In Action sent to the Mayor & City Council after today's program on OPB:
Good Day Mayor Potter & City Council Members
We are following up on our email last week, we still look forward to your response. We would love to meet with you. This morning we eagerly listened to OPB's "Think Out Loud" program on Prostitution. In hopes that some of the critical next steps, timelines, funding and planning of the new proposal by the City would be revealed. Unfortunately no new details were communicated. All of the questions we asked in our rebuttal that we sent to you on Friday September 12 - we still look forward to your response. We will attach that doc again. You can also go to our blog to view the community's comments: www.MontavillaInAction.blogspot.com
The discussion this morning on OPB primarily centered around the "philosophical versus the practical". One practical & low cost solution that was briefly touched upon on the program, was the possible shaming of the johns as a deterrent like many, many other cities both in the US and abroad do.
Commander Mike Crebs said:
--it's not the City's business to be humiliating johns,
--the City could be sued for publishing johns' names and faces for the purpose of "humiliating" them,
--a newspaper could publish names/faces if for the purpose of "informing the public," as long as one type of crime wasn't singled out.
--"Reputations need to be protected."
Once again we, Montavilla In Action ask the City to not try and "reinvent the wheel" and start from scratch in developed a fully integrated plan, but look at what other cities having been doing and what has been working. We urge the City Council to learn from other cities that have larger budgets and have been proactively addressing the many issues.
This link below cites a recent article in USA Today regarding this tactic:
"Tired of arresting and re-arresting prostitutes, police in communities across the nation are increasingly targeting their clients with an old technique ? shame"
Over 280 US Cities use shaming of the john techniques and the article states that use of these techniques appears to be increasing.
We urge you to simply outreach, "Google" and see what is working across the US, let us learn & benefit from these cities efforts.
Multnomah County already has this site that is online now, how can we evolve it to include this public tool that should be a practical, low cost additional tactic in addressing this issue:
http://www.mcso.us/PAID/Default.aspx (you don't have to fill in a name, just hit the "search" button),
This page links to sex offenses:
Put us on a task force, give us a equal voice, we have done our homework, we urge you to please do the same. There are effective & proven solutions, treatments & tactics out there.
Please we cannot take another year of promised "real solutions" while our neighborhoods and especially now our neighborhood women & young girls safety is in jeopardy - merely do to the fact that they are women walking in the radius of know red light district & dangerous new criminal turf war.
Once again we do not want to displace the problem - we are not from "NIMBY" mindset, other cities too have been very successful in being proactive to the the changing elements of the crime, we ask our City to realize the pattterns sooner and learn from cities, on the broad issue of displacement.
Montavilla In Action
Why is the in any different than abortion?
I.E. The government trying to legislate "morality" by telling a woman what she can and can't do with her own body?
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