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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tell the Times: You Don't Prevent Coercion by Practicing It

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation's newslist has forwarded an editorial from the New York Times which makes the Orwellian argument that in order to stop sexual slavery, we should criminalize consensual employment of prostitutes by "traffickers." Here's the letter I just sent them:

Your editorial "Taking On the Traffickers" is represented as being about concern for women and children "smuggled" into the country as "sex slaves." That is, it appeals to our revulsion at coercion. Yet, later you call for coercion to be removed from the definition of trafficking for purposes of the law. What sense does this make? Clearly if the government prosecutes people for a consensual activity, then it is the government itself that is practicing coercion, not preventing it.

As for some traffickers' taking advantage of prostitutes' fear of police, the solution is plain even though you don't mention it: take away the reasons for that fear by abolishing legal restrictions both on prostitution and on immigration.

Eric Hamell

Philadelphia, PA

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