Sex Worker Health Issues In The Time of Covid-19

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CanadaFan
Sex Worker Health Issues In The Time of Covid-19

All,

I am curious from a feminist perspective what is the difference between criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults where there is an exchange of financial compensation and criminalizing the performing of abortions where a doctor or medical professional also receives some type of financial compensation.

I will note as I understand that groups like Feminists for Life take the position that they are both one and the same. Curious what people like "Pondering" think of this juxtaposition?

 

voice of the damned

I am curious from a feminist perspective what is the difference between criminalizing sexual activity between consenting adults where there is an exchange of financial compensation and criminalizing the performing of abortions where a doctor or medical professional also receives some type of financial compensation.

Well, just for starters, it is not normally assumed that a doctor is under any sort of economic coercion when he takes fees to perform a service. In fact, we tend to see doctors as one of the lucky people in the economic pecking order.

Whereas, rightly or wrongly, there does tend to be an assumption that women who enter the sex-trade are doing so as something close to a last resort, ie. it is really not something that they would want to do if they had a wider range of options to make money. Not sure I agree that's true in every single case, nor that, even if true, it would justify outlawing the choice. But, I think that's what most people who are pro-choice on abortion, but abolitionist on prostitution, would tell you.

CanadaFan

Wouldn't the more correct analogy be the provincial government or the woman patient who actually "purchases" the services of the doctor in the context of a Nordic model analogy. From the standpoint of anti-abortion activists they would argue that the woman patients or public health system do not have an economic last resort to pay for abortion anymore the men have an economic last resort to pay for sex.

I am just going to throw out a prediction that the position of being pro-choice on abortion but abolitionist on prostitution will become unsustainable in time. Those with this view will either become anti choice and abolitionist or pro choice and pro decriminalization.

voice of the damned

Well, I thought that since, with abortion and prostitution, it's the doctor and the prostitute who are each getting paid in the respective situations, that was your intended comparison, ie. let's compare the recepients of the economic benefit, and if one(the doctor) isn't regarded as exploited, the other(ie. the sex worker) shouldn't be either. As you wrote:

where a doctor or medical professional also receives some type of financial compensation.

But, if I understand your last post correctly, you want to compare men who pay for sex with women who pay for abortions?

 

CanadaFan

I guess yes, in a Nordic model Bill C-36 way of viewing things. 

I have to add a cavaet that many but by no means all sex workers don't see themselves as exploited and in fact are basically providing similar "health" related services as doctors, therapists, etc. which of course makes this discussion even more complex.

 

 

 

voice of the damned

CanadaFan wrote:

I guess yes, in a Nordic model Bill C-36 way of viewing things. 

I have to add a cavaet that many but by no means all sex workers don't see themselves as exploited and in fact are basically providing similar "health" related services as doctors, therapists, etc. which of course makes this discussion even more complex.

 

 

 

Well, I don't think men who pay for sex are being exploited in any meaningful way, even under the Nordic model.

I think the logic of pro-choice is that laws against abortion restrict what a woman can do with her own body, and should therefore be abolished.

In regards to sex-work, both of the feminist sides in the debate are saying that, under criminalization, women are somehow having their autonomy violated, albeit in different ways...

-the pro-legalization camp say that women are being prevented from earning a living with their bodies in a manner of their choosing.

-OTOH the abolition camp says that sex-workers are women who have been economically coerced into doing work that they would otherwise not choose to do.

Neither of the "vicitms"(as defined by the respective camps) in these two scenarios is really comparable to men who pay for sex, since those men are not a) being sent to prison for trying to earn a living, or b) experiencing economic pressure that compels them to pay for sex.

At most(in terms of being sympathetic victims) men who pay for sex are comparable to people who used to smoke weed back before legalization: maybe the laws WERE an unfair restriction on their freedom, but it was still possible for them NOT to continue on that course of action without suffering major material harm and/or loss of freedom.

Pondering

I was just alerted to this thread, (thank-you) I no longer post in this forum so I can't answer here. 

susan davis susan davis's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

CanadaFan wrote:

I guess yes, in a Nordic model Bill C-36 way of viewing things. 

I have to add a cavaet that many but by no means all sex workers don't see themselves as exploited and in fact are basically providing similar "health" related services as doctors, therapists, etc. which of course makes this discussion even more complex.

 

 

 

Well, I don't think men who pay for sex are being exploited in any meaningful way, even under the Nordic model.

I think the logic of pro-choice is that laws against abortion restrict what a woman can do with her own body, and should therefore be abolished.

In regards to sex-work, both of the feminist sides in the debate are saying that, under criminalization, women are somehow having their autonomy violated, albeit in different ways...

-the pro-legalization camp say that women are being prevented from earning a living with their bodies in a manner of their choosing.

-OTOH the abolition camp says that sex-workers are women who have been economically coerced into doing work that they would otherwise not choose to do.

Neither of the "vicitms"(as defined by the respective camps) in these two scenarios is really comparable to men who pay for sex, since those men are not a) being sent to prison for trying to earn a living, or b) experiencing economic pressure that compels them to pay for sex.

At most(in terms of being sympathetic victims) men who pay for sex are comparable to people who used to smoke weed back before legalization: maybe the laws WERE an unfair restriction on their freedom, but it was still possible for them NOT to continue on that course of action without suffering major material harm and/or loss of freedom.

hello bablers.... for the sake of clarity...we do not want "legalization" nor are we "pro-legaliztion". it's decriminalization.

and both "sides" do not identify sex workers as "victims" quite the opposite...in fact i would say that is the fundamental difference between the sex workers rights movement and the abolish sex work movement...we believe sex workers and allow them to define for themselves what they experience.... and being a "victim" is way down the list...

terms like fierce, survivor, strong, warrior, mother, father.... these better describe the sex work experience from a sex worker perspective... "victim" is how the abolitionists strip us of our voice.

Bacchus

Nice to see you back Susan

susan davis susan davis's picture

HI Bacchus!! hope all is well with you and yours during this crazy time!

voice of the damned

Susan...

Well, by "victim", I meant somone who is being harmed or disadvantaged by a given situation. I can understand the reasons for not wanting this to be the defining label that gets attached to someone's overall persona, but off the top of my head, I couldn't really think of another word to represent that idea in a concise manner.

And yes, welcome back!

lagatta4

Most medical personnel performing terminations aren't beaten up by their clients or their pimps.

Nuff said. Otherwise I don't post in this forum; I post in the feminist one; and really am not going to waste my time on this.  Happy Earth Day to all; I was at the demos at the first one, and of course the huge one here in 2012.

voice of the damned

lagatta4 wrote:
I don't post in this forum; I post in the feminist one

Actually, this is the feminist forum.

lagatta4

Oh, I thought it was the sex work forum. If it is the feminist forum, of course I can have my say, having been a feminist for over 50 years, but I really won't bother.

Today is Earth Day and a climate denier who is also a "pro-lifer" showed up at the David Suzuki blog. I did make some class-based criticism of Dr Suzuki's downplaying of the differential impact on the basis of social class and income (though Dr Suzuki did mention the contribution made by undervalued workers) but also skewered the climate denier (and petroleum fan) who is also a women-hating "pro-lifer". We need ecosocialism and to build an ecosocialist (and ecofeminist) movement.

Bacchus

susan davis wrote:

HI Bacchus!! hope all is well with you and yours during this crazy time!

 

We are surviving better than most in these times. Hope you are as well

Misfit Misfit's picture

Abortion is a medical procedure that is not up for debate on its necessity. It is a necessary medical procedure. Prostitution is a non-essential luxury for mainly men and should not even be considered and presented a comparison, especially in the feminist forum.

susan davis susan davis's picture

Misfit wrote:

Abortion is a medical procedure that is not up for debate on its necessity. It is a necessary medical procedure. Prostitution is a non-essential luxury for mainly men and should not even be considered and presented a comparison, especially in the feminist forum.

except for those people who rely on this "luxury" to eat and house themselves. sex work is not just about the clients, it's about the people who work in the industry. you are always so focused on the clients that you miss the whole point of the sex workers rights movement.... people need to eat!

sex work is not a "luxury" item.... it is an industry which employs thousands across this country and who are now out of work. those who have had to survive on disability or support payments and use sex work to afford to life on the pitance the government gives are not a "luxury" which can simply  be "non-essential" and not needed.... what do you think is happening to those workers...? right now?

being forced to choose between their health and food, being shamed for going back to work, facing a difficult market of clients looking for deals as they know workers are desperate...

how's that for a luxury item...?

sometimes, i just don't understand the rational of this kind of thinking...are you blind to what is happening?

lagatta4

I'm not going to argue with Ms Davis as it is pointless; we will never agree. What I find most useful in this thread is to raise the issue of many socially-harmful industries, starting with military production and the over-production of polluting, congestion-causing and dangerous individual motor vehicles. As we have seen recently with the wanton killing of farm animals from chicks to cattle, capitalist agriculture is another biggie.

Indeed, people working in polluting or socially-harmful parts of the economy should not shoulder the burden; we need traditional mesures and retraining with a stipend adequate for them to live on during this process.

We should not do things like re-start asbestos mining for people in that field to have work; there are many, many other things to be done in an ecosocialist and ecofeminist society. Car workers in Oshawa had many ideas on how to repurpose that closed plant.

Ken Burch

This will be my only post in this discussion, and I'm just posting to ask that the thread title be changed, as it currently looks-whatever the intent of the person who wrote it-as though it were written to cause a particularly inflammatory argument and to lead to accusations of double standards and hypocrisy being flung from at least two different directions.

 

lagatta4

Yes, it is odd. I don't want any human being, certainly including people in sex work (I'm not speaking of pimps or gangs trafficking people) to be in economic or social distress and not have the resources for a decent life - even without income from those trades. Yes, I think the majority of prostitution or so-called sex work is exploitation, but since when to socialists want exploited people to suffer?  We can do better for people, in particular for racialised or Indigenous people, and particularly vulnerable people such as young LGBTQ people who have had to flee or run away from their homes.

kropotkin1951

lagatta4 wrote:

Today is Earth Day and a climate denier who is also a "pro-lifer" showed up at the David Suzuki blog. I did make some class-based criticism of Dr Suzuki's downplaying of the differential impact on the basis of social class and income (though Dr Suzuki did mention the contribution made by undervalued workers) but also skewered the climate denier (and petroleum fan) who is also a women-hating "pro-lifer". We need ecosocialism and to build an ecosocialist (and ecofeminist) movement.

I couldn't agree with you more.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..nice quote!

Pondering

Sex work certainly can't be done safely until there is a vaccine anyway and that is years away. By then many/most sex workers will have had no choice but to move on. There are industries and businesses that will not return or will be significantly reduced. It will be quite some time before Quebec can restore lap-dancing. Hopefully it will go away permanently.

Sex work isn't going away anytime in the foreseeable future but there will be no brothels opening and likely no escort services either. Street-walking will likely not be tolerated on the basis of public health. The idea of allowing sex workers to advertise is moot. It isn't just about sexually transmittable diseases and violence anymore.

I am not jumping up and down with joy. Women have now been forced even farther underground. Prostitution is still happening. Pimps have more control than ever. Access to shelters and health care and addiction treatment is harder to get. Most probably couldn't get CERB. It is catastrophic but neither legalization nor decriminalization are coming anytime soon.

History is and will continue to be molded by Covid 19. This is one of the great turning points like WWII and the Great Depression. Turmoil is inevitable. None of us can predict what the new near future will be like and certainly not what normal will be in a year or two. We can make some pretty good guesses.

Any debate on prostitution at this time is an intellectual exercise. Covid 19 has illustrated what is "different" about prostitution. It cannot be performed safely. It requires the absolute opposite of social distancing requiring sequential intimate exposure to multiple strangers without the use of safety equipment.

I haven't been posting in this forum because I felt it was dominated not just by men, but by the male point of view and that feminism was disrespected here. I a still very leary of posting here. I would rather these topics be discussed under general news or politics.

MegB

Ken Burch wrote:

This will be my only post in this discussion, and I'm just posting to ask that the thread title be changed, as it currently looks-whatever the intent of the person who wrote it-as though it were written to cause a particularly inflammatory argument and to lead to accusations of double standards and hypocrisy being flung from at least two different directions.

When I first saw the thread title I thought it represented a bizarre false comparison, but there has been some good discussion. The discussion has changed to the precarious nature of sex work during the pandemic, which is fine also. Threads often drift away from the original intent so there are two choices: change the thread title to reflect the change in direction or ask that someone open a new thread. Up to you. I have no particular preference.

Misfit Misfit's picture

I think the tread title is dumb and offensive. I said so in post 16. I don't think that it should stand as it is.

Ken Burch

It's been changed.

CanadaFan

As the original poster of this thread who is catching up with what has been said I have some followup thoughts to what has been said.

1. The Supreme Court of Canada in 2005 in Labaye has said that sexual activity is a positive source of human expression, fulfillment and pleasure implicitly protected unlike say fist-fighting that even when consensual the court has ruled has no redeeming societal value. In this sense, I was arguing that the right to sexual activity and it's positive source of human expression, fulfillment, and pleasure(In the SCC word's not mine) is not that different from Justice Dickson opinion in Morgentaler referring to some women's priorities and aspirations in justifying the right to an abortion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_Morgentaler

https://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/2263/index.do

2. In terms of the impact of Covid-19 on sex workers

Clearly it is having a very significant impact but I think it is pretty obvious it is not going away. If you know where to look(i.e. Twitter especially) there are plenty of sex workers continuing to advertise their services for the future in most of the big cities in Canada. Second, there are many elements of sex work that actually don't involve sex or intimate contact and are of a more platonic nature. I know of one sex worker in Toronto who has weekly tennis dates with a client. Another goes on weekly hikes/walks with a different client. These types of paid companionship/sex work I think will resume relatively soon and to the degree that not all "sex work" actually involves sex all of the time I think has to cause one to question the whole point of criticizing sex work.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..came across this a few minutes ago.

SWWAC Covid-19 Relief Fund

This fund was created by Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition (SWWAC) to assist sex workers who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. SWWAC's members include sex workers, health care professionals, academics, and allies who are all committed to promoting the human rights, labour rights, and safety of sex workers in Winnipeg.

After the arrival of Covid-19 in Manitoba, many sex workers lost their income overnight and do not qualify for government assistance. When faced with homelessness or not being able to put food on the table, sex workers may see no other option than to continue working despite the risks of not practicing social distancing. We want to help ensure that no sex worker in Winnipeg has to choose between risking exposure to Covid-19 or being able to pay their bills.

This relief fund will be providing monetary aid to sex workers in the Winnipeg area who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are asking for donations and help from allies, clients, organizations, and workers not impacted by the pandemic so that we can take care of our community during this uncertain time.

quote:

Who will be prioritized for receiving funds?

The Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition (SWWAC) Covid-19 Relief Fund was created for Winnipeg area sex workers who have lost income due to Covid-19 and are struggling. We are prioritizing Indigenous, Black, Trans, and Queer sex workers, migrants and those with precarious status, as well as sex workers living with illness, disability, or in unstable housing situations.

As a fund created by a Manitoba based sex workers rights organization, we recognize the challenges many across our industry face in the midst of social distancing guidelines including workplace closures, loss of clients, and an inability to access emergency resources established by the government.

susan davis susan davis's picture

Pondering wrote:

Sex work certainly can't be done safely until there is a vaccine anyway and that is years away. By then many/most sex workers will have had no choice but to move on. There are industries and businesses that will not return or will be significantly reduced. It will be quite some time before Quebec can restore lap-dancing. Hopefully it will go away permanently.

Sex work isn't going away anytime in the foreseeable future but there will be no brothels opening and likely no escort services either. Street-walking will likely not be tolerated on the basis of public health. The idea of allowing sex workers to advertise is moot. It isn't just about sexually transmittable diseases and violence anymore.

I am not jumping up and down with joy. Women have now been forced even farther underground. Prostitution is still happening. Pimps have more control than ever. Access to shelters and health care and addiction treatment is harder to get. Most probably couldn't get CERB. It is catastrophic but neither legalization nor decriminalization are coming anytime soon.

History is and will continue to be molded by Covid 19. This is one of the great turning points like WWII and the Great Depression. Turmoil is inevitable. None of us can predict what the new near future will be like and certainly not what normal will be in a year or two. We can make some pretty good guesses.

Any debate on prostitution at this time is an intellectual exercise. Covid 19 has illustrated what is "different" about prostitution. It cannot be performed safely. It requires the absolute opposite of social distancing requiring sequential intimate exposure to multiple strangers without the use of safety equipment.

I haven't been posting in this forum because I felt it was dominated not just by men, but by the male point of view and that feminism was disrespected here. I a still very leary of posting here. I would rather these topics be discussed under general news or politics.

so, sex industry businesses are open again in BC. we created opening guidelines for operators and the Health authority and work safe have agreed that it ismuch better to work to prevent the spread within a sex work business than in a ...car for example....

the safety and security of sex workers has been placed at the centre of these policies and i for one am grateful that the powers that be have seen fit to recognize this is necessary and that sex work can be made safe at this time.

so, sorry pondering...but none of us have "moved on"....as if that is even possible....