This letter is in answer to a letter I received from a woman named Esther Shannon who is working in Vancouver to legalize prostitution in time for the Olympics.
Thank you for your letter. I see we are so far apart on the issue of prostitution that consensus is impossible except for one thing...we both believe that girls and women should not be mistreated. In my opinion prostitution not only mistreats girls and women (also little boys) but degrades them. I probably know as many prostitutes as you do. I meet them in prison. Lots of them. I hear their stories. All of their stories, without exception, originate in poverty.
If you are truly a friend of children and women then we should both be working to abolish poverty. And let's not forget that the age of consent in this county is fourteen years. If men's market demand for younger and younger prostitutes were completely legalized, how long do you think it would take for the half hidden kiddie strolls in Vancouver to mushroom into a growth industry? Like well publicized legal kiddie brothels? Like Indonesia? Parts of India? Pimps already haunt Vancouver school grounds, even elementary schools. Is this the message that we want to send to young women, that prostitution is a perfectly reasonable career for women? We know, at least I know, that prostitution is riddled with crime, drugs, and violence. All of the prostitutes that I have met or know about are addicted to drugs and most became addicted while still children. Pimps addict them early. Then they eventually wind up on the street, then prison. When any group of women and children are so degraded then the entire society is degraded. In your discourse you speak of adult women having the right to make rational choices for themselves but you don't mention that most were pushed into the business as children. And many foreign prostitutes are actual slaves kept in bondage by fear of being beaten and deported or even killed.
You want to be seen as championing the right of women to prostitute themselves if they like, but what you are really championing is the right of men to regard women and children as things. Women and children are not things even if they consent to be treated as things for money. I am originally from Louisiana where Black people were legally treated as things for many years. And some Black people even thought of themselves as things and consented to be treated as such. But they were not things, none of them. And the day came when it was apparent they were not things, apparent both to themselves, and to the world. This is what I work for, the day when all women and children, everywhere, and men, too, will be protected by their societies, not treated as things to be traded. And that day will come. I am sure of it. There is an awakening happening in many people, both men and women, that is exciting and wonderful. It is the very antithesis of the notion of prostitution. It is the call to social consciousness and environmental responsibility. It is the call to adulthood. Betty Krawczyk
PS In my opinion, both Libby Davis and Sam Sullivan have made a serious political mistake by hopping on your band wagon.