Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Only Skimming the Surface of Human Trafficking and Decriminalization

I have been thinking a lot about the complexities within human trafficking itself. I feel that much of the Prop K campaign comes from a place of sf empowered sex worker privilege - 'the right to choose an occupation, and the right to be able to do it in safer conditions without fear of arrest etc - and oh, of course we are against human trafficking.'

The way that its addressed often seems to imply that all human trafficking is coerced, when in fact, its not always the case. There are people who voluntarily allow themselves to be trafficked - especially in poorer parts of the world - because it's the only opportunity that presents itself towards fighting their shitty situations in life. So it becomes a consequence and a reaction to poverty, but a choice - which - because it remains criminalized, persecuted, and pushed underground - carries much higher risk of violence, rape, coercion, extortion, battery, arrest, and deportation. Getting 'shipped back' to their personal hells, or leaving a black mark on their record that permanently affects their ability to get a 'straight' job for the rest of their lives. Or fill in some other catch-22 here that keeps people 'in their place' rather than providing services to address the actual conditions of their needs.

In the bigger picture, the coercion seems to stem more from the unjust systems that allow these kinds of trades to flourish and remain a desirable option. And yes, the trafficker is a shameless opportunist - and probably also a big asshole.

So whats a ho to do? Sometimes, simply treading water on the daily is a full time job that leaves little time or resources for anything else. And the extreme incongruities within the legal, legislative, economic, health, and education systems (and our faux-dem/rep capitalist big business government spreading its global parasitic disease as a whole) maintain the social homeostasis in the distribution of wealth, power, and righteous morality that are killing us all.

Yeah, the first step to untangling this colossal mess is to decriminalize, but I am afraid that if Prop. K passes, people will feel contented with the immediate gratification of this victory, and disappear back into the woodwork. Which could potentially fuck everyone over since it would be the most precarious and impressionable time that could potentially define the direction that this movement will head next. And what exactly is that direction?

Desiree Alliance really brought to my attention how difficult it is to build bridges between all the different communities of sex workers, but also how completely necessary it is to do it. Because this is a conversation that we all need to have together to figure out a strategy that works for everyone. Not just privileged, idealistic sex workers like me.

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