Feminist author: Reject cynical rebranding of prostitution

Prostitution is not ‘sex work’ but a form of violence that views women as a commodity, a leading feminist has warned.

Julie Bindel explained that there is “no way to make it safe, and it should be possible to eradicate it”.

In England and Wales, prostitution is not in itself against the law, but a number of associated activities are illegal.

Human trafficking

The Christian Institute argues that relaxing current laws would lead to greater exploitation of women and more human trafficking.

Writing in The Guardian Bindel said decriminalising prostitution would only make it easier for people to make more money from the global sex trade.

And she warned that groups claiming to represent prostitutes are “just as likely to be a voice for pimps”.

…human flesh has come to be viewed as a commodity, like a burger

Julie Bindel


Bindel said police, medics and the media are increasingly using the term “sex worker” to talk about prostitution, as well as people involved in pornography.

But, explaining her view, which she said is shared by every survivor of the sex trade she has interviewed, Bindel wrote, “prostitution is inherently abusive”.

It is also “a form of violence” in a world where “human flesh has come to be viewed as a commodity, like a burger”.

Organised crime

During research on the topic, Bindel found that in New Zealand – where prostitution is decriminalised – the links between organised crime, violence and prostitution “have not been severed”.

She said this is a fact that those pushing for a similar stance in other countries fail to understand.

Bindel concluded such a move was not the way forward, “unless we want to make it easier for the men who run the global sex trade to make more money out of women’s bodies”.

Amnesty International

In 2015, Amnesty International advocated the decriminalisation of prostitution – rejecting high-profile criticism.

Stars including Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson said Amnesty would be “severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters”.

Nearly 9,000 people signed a petition against the policy, but the campaign group still voted for the change.