Turn Off the Red Light: Challenging modern day slavery

“It felt like a prison, no time for lunch and I was on call 24/7… There was no choice about which men you saw and some men wanted sex without condoms. If you refused to have anal sex you had to pay a penalty or the ‘security’ men would beat you up.” This is part of a testimony from Isobel, contained in the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s 2009 report on sex trafficking in Ireland, found on turnofftheredlight.ie , a campaign against prostitution and sex trafficking supported by a number of trade unions as well as women and immigrant groups.

“It felt like a prison, no time for lunch and I was on call 24/7… There was no choice about which men you saw and some men wanted sex without condoms. If you refused to have anal sex you had to pay a penalty or the ‘security’ men would beat you up.” This is part of a testimony from Isobel, contained in the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s 2009 report on sex trafficking in Ireland, found on turnofftheredlight.ie , a campaign against prostitution and sex trafficking supported by a number of trade unions as well as women and immigrant groups.

The indescribable horror faced by (in the vast majority of cases) women who are forced, either by direct coercion or by poverty into selling their bodies, is illustrated by the harrowing testimony of Isobel and by other survivors that Turn Off the Red Light Campaign so crucially gives voice to. The ad’ campaign with the morose face of a girl and caption “14 the age Anna was first exploited in prostitution” is particularly effective in challenging dangerous media-driven myth that prostitution and the commercialisation of sex that flows from the objectification of women’s bodies is or can be a normal part of society. Reality equals  –  sex trafficking is modern-day slavery. Reality equals – prostitution is ugly. It’s violent. It damages and destroys the bodies and psyches of the most marginalised and impoverished women and girls.

The austerity and inequality that define capitalism in this era, combined with an ideology that dehumanises and objectifies women leading to unequal gender power relations, has facilitated a massive rise in the global sex trade. With indoor prostitution now the growing norm, as well as standing for the decriminalising of prostitutes, the Left must consider the proposals of Turn Off the Red Light to criminalise the buying of sex.

In the past, when on-street prostitution was the norm, this could have endangered the prostitutes, isolating them more as the buyers avoided police raids. With indoor, online “ordered” prostitution now the norm, this is perhaps less significant a consideration. It’s certainly essential to fight to ensure that all women trafficked here get asylum to negate deportation being a barrier to escape. All legal reforms should be fought for, including seriously fought for by the trade unions. But no meaningful progress is possible under capitalist crisis. Sex trafficking is a global problem – austerity in Greece has massively increased prostitution. An international anti-capitalist struggle can and must put the total ending of prostitution at the heart of a socialist vision.

Total
0
Shares
Previous Article

The JobBridge to nowhere

Next Article

Resistance - only way to stop €1,000 austerity taxes

Related Posts
Read More

X Case legislation defeated – Time for a new struggle for abortion rights

Unsurprisingly, the Bill proposed by Socialist Party / United Left Alliance TD, Clare Daly to legislate for the X Case, was overwhelming defeated in the Dail. The establishment fail yet again; women suffer, and working class and economically deprived women who can’t or find it difficult to muster the money to travel to access a termination, and migrant women and women trapped in abusive relationships who have restrictions on their travel, suffer most acutely.

Read More

Interview with pro-choice campaigners

In April of this year, the government parties, including the Labour Party that claims to have a pro-choice position, shamefully rejected a bill to legislate for the X Case, introduced by Socialist Party TD, Clare Daly. The persistent conservatism of the political establishment was exposed and women in Ireland (like the estimated 150,000 women who have travelled abroad to access a termination since 1980 before them), continue to suffer the consequences.

Read More

NUIG students smash homophobia on campus

The week of a college referendum on whether or not the Students' Union should support gay marriage has seen hundreds of NUI Galway students take a stand against anti-LGBTQ bigotry and fear-mongering. Last Wednesday, hundreds of students crowded around an anti-gay marriage stall set up on the main campus canteen, standing there for hours and showing the homophobic campaigners behind the display that they weren't welcome in the college.