By Rebecca Mott

As a woman who somehow managed to survive enough to exit indoors prostitution, I am fully behind ending demand for prostitution as a powerful step to the full abolition of the sex trade. I feel we need to put the focus on why men make the choice to buy the prostituted, and to stop viewing it as an issue of the individual choices or coercions of those who are being prostituted.

I say this for I believe that punters either don’t know or care about the individual experiences of the prostitute that he makes the choice to buy. He does not know or care if she – for the prostituted are mainly female – enter the sex trade aged 12 or 26. He does not know or care if before entering prostitution she had been previously mentally, physically and/or sexually abused. He does not know or care if she was internally or externally trafficked. He may see injuries on her body, but he not care. He will usually know she is not enjoying the sex, but make the choice not to care.

We must keep the punter as our main focus – we must question his sense of entitlement, his desire for power and control, and his need to make the prostituted into sub-humans. It must be framed as a human rights issue, if we are to achieve the full abolition of the sex trade. It must be seen it is not the location that makes prostitution so dangerous – be that on the street, in a sauna, in a flat, at an hotel, or inside a brothel – it is the violent punter in that location. It must be seen it is not the location of prostitution that makes that dangerous – be that street-based, in a brothel, being an escort, being girlfriend material, or being brought on the net – it is always the choice of the punter to be violent that creates the danger.

Ending the demand for prostitution is a matter of basic human rights. It is not a labour issue, it not an issue of female empowerment. There are no rights to bodily safety in any aspect of prostitution. Once a punter makes the choice to buy a prostitute for his sexual greed – then he believes he is entitled to own and control her. Money becomes a substitute for consent. In that environment, all mental, physical or sexual violence done to the prostituted becomes a non-crime, it becomes of no importance. It cannot be real violence for the prostituted are considered to be non-humans.

There is no right to freedom of speech or movement in any aspect of prostitution. The language of the prostituted is highly controlled by sex trade profiteers. In that atmosphere, it is normal for those embedded inside prostitution to say loudly that they are empowered and prostitution was freely chosen. These are words of the sex trade. These are the words of the oppressed with no clear route to exit. I want real change and hope for all the prostituted. I see challenging and ending the demand for prostitution as a good start on the road to abolition. I want a world where no human is brought and sold for sexual greed, or to be made into living porn. If we are to truly free the prostituted, we must confront the punters.

Rebecca Mott