Sex and Anti-Sex, The Lobby

A comment from “Bebopper76” set me off on another surfing expedition. I have recognized for years that the effort to criminalize consensual sex is promoted by religious and even secular conservatives who also oppose all non-procreative sex. I also suspected that part of the reason for the expansion of the anti-sex trafficking effort as well as the zealous pursuit of  pornography–and the over-zealous pursuit of consumers of child pornography (As contrasted with the abusers-exploiters of children by the producers) has all been driven in some part by the funding available from sources like the US government, The Salvation Army, and right-wing religious institutions including the Catholic bishops.

Here is  a column that explores this subject further. It comes from the pen–computer–of Dr Brooke Magnanti, who is a forensic scientists, cancer research academic and statistician–and also a former sex worker.

How the Anti-Sex Lobby Profits

While various areas of sex work have little in common apart from the ‘sex’ bit, increasingly they are lumped together in the eyes of the public, government, and media as something that is affecting society more than before and needs attention now.

The reasons for this are numerous. One particular influence is the rise of what is known as the Rescue Industry, an umbrella term coined by Laura Agustin to cover people not in the flesh trade, who nevertheless profit from attempting to end sex work of all kinds. Did I say “profit”? Yes, I sure did.

Issues such as trafficking, sex work, and pornography are hot topics for people who claim their main motivation is to help those involved. Help is a great thing. There are loads of people who could all use a little help, in all professions and walks of life. But when does the reasonable goal of helping others cross the line into infantilising others… and helping yourself?

Cynical? Maybe a little. On one hand many of the people concerned about the welfare of sex workers are no doubt motivated by a genuine desire to help others. Particularly those they think of as unable to defend themselves. But the flipside of this concern is that everyone needs money to survive. As other charities have discovered in the past, sometimes the desire to have a high profile and keep the wheels greased overtakes the benefit to the people you were trying to help.

The bun fight currently going on over funding to help trafficking victims is one example.

Charities aside – and, let it be said, there are many worthy and honest ones – there are also the academics, researchers, and writers who earn their living not through hands-on effort, but by writing papers. Papers which allow them to win grants. Grants so that they can write more papers.

This, as a former cancer research academic, is a world I know well. We can’t all save lives. But we do all have to earn a crust. Still, sometimes the ratio of money available to size of the problem seems far out of whack. You do start to wonder how much of what is said and written is born from genuine concern, and how much is just chasing another year’s salary.

Is there enough money in it to even bother making this criticism? Well, thanks to a little tool that compares the money from funding grants over time, we can make a rough guess of what it’s worth. For instance, funding for studying trafficking is enormous – in 2009, it was funded worldwide to the tune of nearly a billion US dollars. This is a total greater than the amount of grant money awarded to study lung cancer, which of course, is also devastating, and affects far more people. And spending on trafficking since 2000 has dwarfed the grant awards on such important international health concerns as malnutrition, malaria, or tuberculosis – conditions that kill millions of people worldwide every year, and affect hundreds of millions more.

Another way in which opposing sex work brings financial benefit is through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Police know, for instance, that if a brothel owner is prosecuted, since running a brothel is illegal, any money and property retrieved from the ‘crime scene’ becomes theirs. When police resources are limited, does the temptation of profit possibly influence victimless crimes being prosecuted more vigourously than they otherwise would? Hard to know for sure. It’s a handy little coincidence, the pre-Olympic crackdown on brothels and the recent cuts in police funding, isn’t it? You can read more about the criticisms of such crackdowns in the Grauniad.

Hanna Morris, who ran a brothel, lost her abuse of process case against the police. She rang 999 when masked and armed gunmen threatened her business… only to find herself arrested, and the violent criminals never pursued or apprehended. It’s impossible to know for certain, but one can imagine plenty of situations in which police – with restricted time and money – must make choices: unknown violent criminals who may be difficult and expensive to catch, or women technically breaking the law standing right in front of you, with cash assets?

The outcome of the Morris case certainly sends a message, but I’m not convinced it’s the message of ‘protecting women’ that some people prefer to promote.



  1. Posted November 15, 2011 at 4:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    I do not like the idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, no matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

    While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostitution groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These “non profit” group’s employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations.

    If you look into how many real kidnapped, forced against their will sex slaves Prostitutes there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised.

    Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will to have sex for money.

    These anti-sex groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies. This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.

    I would like to see a news organization do a full report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.

    Here are some good websites about this:

  2. Posted December 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I really like your articles. Perfect content exactly about sexual assault response coordinator job.
    Thanks for sharing.

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