Claiming Victory

In today’s ProJo there’s a letter by Prof. Laura Lederer, congratulating the Journal for supporting the law criminalizing prostitution. She sees this as a step to fighting sex-trafficking. Depriving anyone of their freedom is a human rights violation, and forced prostitution is an atrocious crime. But so far, we have not seen criminals brought to justice. Rather, we have seen frightened women wondering if they are going to be arrested.

Prof. Lederer calls this, “An important battle, well fought and (thank God) well won.”

I don’t see any victory yet. When a vulnerable person who has been forced into unpaid labor or prostitution is freed, and the perpetrators are brought to justice– that will be a victory.

To achieve that, it will be necessary to vigilantly prosecute crimes against some of the least powerful among us– the young, the undocumented, the addicted and the emotionally troubled. We will have to look at runaway youth and sweatshop factories. Is there any political will to do that? Or do the most oppressed now have to fear the police as much as their captors, with criminalization and an accelerated crackdown on illegal immigrants?

Rhode Island now has a law like all the other states. None of them have stopped prostitution or abolished trafficking. Federal and state investigators have put some perpetrators in jail, but it’s a long and difficult process. Does Rep.Giannini have a plan to provide safety and justice for victims of abuse? Let’s hear it.

Until then, I don’t see victory, just complacency.

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One response

  1. Ms. Lederer makes the same mistake that so many of us make, that everything can be viewed as an either-or position. “You’re either with us or against us” might have done more harm to our society than we will ever know. Can she not see that one could favor legalization of an activity between consenting adults and not therefor advocate or promote it?

    Might I prefer that a woman have the legal right to decide on an abortion and still prefer that she make a different choice? Is it too hard to imagine that I could favor equal treatment for homosexuals and not, at the same time, personally prefer heterosexual relationships? Can I not personally avoid alcohol yet allow others to legally indulge?

    The legislators who voted against the recent anti-prostitution law did not do so because they advocate prostitution and to suggest otherwise is an example of the same old canard, “You’re either with us or against us”. A law professor should know better. We all should know better.

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