Monday, February 7, 2011

Wired and Venkatesh Perpetuate Prostitution Myths

The connection between people who buy sex (usually men) and trafficked victims still seems to be a tough one for some members of the media.

We were furious after reading Wired magazine’s latest issue has a piece from Sudhir Venkatesh, “How Tech Tools Transformed New York’s Sex Trade.” The piece glamorizes high-end prostitution, ignores the violent reality faced by many prostituted people and downplays the harm caused by people who buy sex. Venkatesh has many things wrong in this article, so I have addressed just a couple below. I’m sure our readers are going to spot plenty more. Please chime in in the comments here, and over on Wired, and let the world know that we won’t stand for the glamorization of the sex trade.

Venkatesh asserts that women who are high-end escorts experience less violence than women whose bodies are sold on the street. Other studies have shown that the relative rates of physical violence in indoor prostitution are on par with street-based activity. Some studies have actually found that those who engaged in indoor prostitution suffer from higher rates of mental health disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, from their trauma than those who engaged in outdoor prostitution.

Venkatesh portrays prostitution as a lucrative “business” for the women he’s interviewed. Most women in prostitution are under the control of a pimp or trafficker and keep very little of the money they make, if they get to keep any at all. Pimps exact control and make money by taking cash from women and providing the minimal amount of support necessary to keep women in the trade.

Make sure to leave a comment here, and over at Wired. Thanks.

P.S. I’ll be using the #trafficking and #wired tags to get people engaged in the issue on Twitter. Check us out @TheCAASE

Photo by Cory PiƱa, Creative Commons License