Feminist campaigner tears into worldwide efforts to sanitise prostitution

Far from being an empowering ‘human right’, prostitution puts women at risk of human trafficking, organised crime, and death, a prominent feminist has warned.

Julie Bindel has told of her efforts to expose the worldwide ‘industry’ – but says the “well-oiled propaganda machine” was her “biggest obstacle” to change.

Writing in The Independent, Bindel warned of the “twisted version of reality” that rebrands prostitution as a “harmless service industry”.


The author and commentator said she spoke to many “survivors” of prostitution, including one – Sebrinna Valisce – who regretted her bid for blanket decriminalisation.

“I thought it would give more power and rights to the women”, Valisce said, “but I soon realised the opposite was true”, Bindel reported.

twisted version of reality

Julie Bindel

The feminist campaigner said that in areas of Australia, the USA and Europe selling sex is made “as respectable and devoid of red tape as selling cars”.

“The application form for opening a brothel in New Zealand is just two pages long: three pages shorter than the form needed to adopt a dog or cat from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home”, she said.

Human trafficking

Bindel also warned about the connection to human trafficking and quoted an academic article which stated, “countries with legalised prostitution have a statistically significantly larger reported incidence of human trafficking inflows”.

… the truth about the harm and abuse at the heart of the global sex trade…

Julie Bindel

She cautioned that in some countries which have weakened their legal stance on prostitution, “the close links between organised crime and prostitution has not been disrupted, and women are still being murdered by pimps and punters at an alarming rate”.

Bindel concluded by warning that rebranding prostitution as a “straightforward commercial transaction” hides “the truth about the harm and abuse at the heart of the global sex trade”.

Amnesty ‘tarnished’

In 2015, high profile celebrities spoke out against Amnesty International advocating the decriminalisation of prostitution.

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

However, in August of the same year Amnesty went ahead with the move.


In England and Wales, the act of prostitution is not in itself against the law, but certain activities such as soliciting in a public place and kerb crawling are illegal.

The Christian Institute argues that relaxing laws on prostitution would lead to greater exploitation of women and an increased demand for human trafficking.

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