"The legalization of prostitution did not bring about what many had hoped. We are still faced with distressing situations in which women are being exploited. It is high time for a thorough evaluation of the Prostitution Act....We have seen in the last years that trafficking in women is becoming more, so in this respect the legalizing of prostitution didn't work out."
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Based on the research of Dr. Melissa Farley, Ph.D of Prostitution Research & Education.
What is the definition of human trafficking?
The United Nations definition of human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation". It is also important to understand that, the heart of the concept of trafficking in persons is the denial of the liberty of another. In a word, slavery.
How does sex trafficking relate to prostitution?
Sex trafficking and prostitution are extremely similar, except in rare cases where someone willingly chooses to pimp him or herself to clients for money. The reality is that over 90% of prostituted persons do not want to be involved in prostitution but feel that they are trapped by their pimps or their dire financial situation. Sex trafficked persons are not willing to prostitute themselves and have been either forced or manipulated into prostitution. It is also important to note that all prostituted minors are automatically defined by the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) as victims of sex trafficking.
In cases of both sex trafficking and prostitution, pimps and traffickers often have control over the prostituted person in terms of movement, eating habits, earned income, fashion, and social life. Essentially, the pimp controls the freedom of the prostituted person who is seen as nothing more than his commodity.
What is the difference between legalizing/regulating, decriminalizing, and abolishing prostitution?
Legalizing/Regulating Prostitution: Sets a dangerous precedent for the government to legalize a crime where the rights and voices of the majority of those involved (prostituted persons) are overlooked and not heard. The state would legally recognize the only vocation in the world whose occupational hazard is rape, murder, torture, sexual harassment, and gender inequity.
The pimps/traffickers pay taxes on income earned from prostitution and must abide by state health regulations and labor laws with their "employees." Health benefits after rape, assault, and transmission of venereal diseases would be covered under a "sex-worker" health plan. U.S. states would relinquish the federal acknowledgement of past, present, and future trafficked persons as the status of the extreme abuse the victims experienced would be deemed part and parcel to the new legal profession of prostitution.
Decriminalizing Prostitution: No regulation by government. Pimps and/or traffickers remain in total control of their prostituted persons and the income generated by the buying and selling of women and children. Governments do not regulate abuses happening as a result of decriminalized prostitution because nothing related to prostitution is considered a crime.
Decriminalizing prostitution is often intentionally confused with decriminalizing of prostituted persons. This intentional confusion is a common tactic used in lobbying efforts by pimp/trafficker friends to make the decriminalization of prostitution into law. Don't be confused. They are diametrically opposing concepts as the former (decriminalizing prostitution) allows for the freedom of patrons and pimps/traffickers and the latter (decriminalizing of prostituted persons) allows for the removal of the persecution of prostituted persons while prosecuting pimp, traffickers and patrons of trafficking victims.
Decriminalizing prostitution means that all laws regarding prostitution would be removed. Buying a prostituted person would be socially and legally equivalent to buying cigarettes. Prostitution in all its forms – street, brothel, escort, and massage – would be legally welcomed. Pimps and traffickers would become Hawaiʻi’s new acknowledged legitimate businessmen, regardless of how they conduct their business behind closed doors.
Abolishing Prostitution: Applies the tenets of the anti-slavery movement of the African Slave Trade to the abolition of modern slavery: sex trafficking. Abolishing prostitution requires the implementation of laws focused on the harsh punishment of pimps, traffickers, and johns as well as the frequent prosecution of pimps/traffickers. Abolishing prostitution and sex trafficking also requires the rescue and restoration of the prostituted persons and the continued effort to educate the public about the utmost necessity of keeping prostitution illegal to enable this rescue and restoration.
Doesn't legalizing/regulating prostitution really work to reduce crime?
No reliable study exists to prove that decriminalizing or the legalizing/regulating of prostitution improves the lives and safety of the women and children who are prostituted by pimps/traffickers. Regulating prostitution in countries where prostitution has been decriminalized or legalized is near impossible for those countries' local law enforcement. Just as it is difficult for any local law enforcement to find a victim's killer or lost child or to merely solve a crime, it is exponentially more difficult to regulate a "vocation" which happens behind closed doors, run by criminal. Decriminalizing or legalizing/regulating prostitution will significantly increase all types of prostitution, including child prostitution, and with it, crimes involving the physical and mental abuse of the women and children prostituted.
There is no way of making prostitution “a little bit better” any more than it is possible to make slavery “a little bit better.” Prostitution is a profoundly harmful institution. Who does it harm the most? The woman or child who is prostituted is hurt the worst. She is hurt psychologically, physically and spiritually.
Proponents of sexual slavery promote the sex industry under the cynical guise of helping prostituted persons avoid the stigma of arrest. The real beneficiaries of the sex industry are johns, pimps, madames, and traffickers. Should we arrest prostituted persons? No. Almost all prostituted persons are either prostituted by force or manipulation. They don’t “choose” the “occupational hazards” of prostitution the way someone chooses a career as a school teacher. Prostitution's “occupational hazards” include: rape, gang-rape, severe assault, murder, emotional distress, debt bondage, blackmail, torture, extortion and persecution. The list does not stop there.
Over 90% of prostituted persons urgently want to escape it. Instead of setting a dangerous legal precedent with decriminalizing or legalizing/regulating prostitution, let’s offer women, men and children in prostitution healthy choices. They tell us that they need stable housing, social services, medical treatment, and job training. That’s what they should receive, not decriminalization or legalization/regulation. Should we arrest the pimps, johns, procurers and traffickers who benefit from the selling of people? Yes. These are the perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse who should be arrested, not the prostituted persons themselves.
What would decriminalizing or legalizing/regulating prostitution mean for Hawaiʻi?
Decriminalizing or the legalizing/regulating of prostitution would completely change the atmosphere of local neighborhoods, making it unlikely for families with children to venture to places where prostitution would be evident, e.g. Waikiki, Downtown Honolulu, Keʻeaumoku, Lāhaina, Hilo, and Kona. Sexually charged advertisements and the clientele attracted to these areas would cause a decline in business from families.
There is little difference for the prostituted person between legalizing/regulating and decriminalizing prostitution. Legalizing/regulating prostitution would essentially become state-sponsored prostitution. In legalizing/regulating prostitution, the state acts as a passive pimp by collecting taxes on the revenue generated by prostitution. However, by decriminalizing prostitution, the pimps remain in complete control of business and income, whether they are hostess bar owners, strip club owners, taxi driver pimps, street pimps, or organized criminals.
What should local legislation focus on?
The ideal form of legislation would focus on dissolving the business of slavery, focusing on the acute, swift, and thorough prosecution of pimps, traffickers, and johns while providing for appropriate services for international and domestically trafficked victims (U.S. citizens trafficked across state lines).
Legislation must be victim-centered with the primary goal of victim protection. Caution must also be placed on defining the terms of "service" and "labor" so that nothing can be construed to define prostitution as a legitimate form of work/employment recognized by the state.