Rough Trade

Julie Bindel’s study of The Pimping of Prostitution takes a sustained, unrelenting look behind the veil of what’s euphemistically called “sex work.”

According to the TLS reviewer, Bindel’s study is based on “interviews with fifty current or former sex workers in thirty-five countries, from New Zealand to rural India, as well as extensive fieldwork, countless other interviews and academic research. She also touches on trafficking, the exploitation of trafficked women by peacekeeping forces in Africa, corruption within charities claiming to help women leave prostitution, and the involvement of NGOs and human rights organizations in influencing strategy and language around prostitution.”

Throughout, she documents the horrific violence of men against “sex workers”:

“There is Maddy, a teenager who is ‘violently raped and left for dead’ on a family holiday, and Emma Humphreys, who fled a sexually abusive stepfather at twelve, was passed into prostitution, killed her pimp and, after her release from prison, was raped by a man who dragged her into her own flat as she opened the door. There is the fourteen-year-old runaway who was befriended by a good Samaritan who sold her to another man who put her to work (‘I said no . . . he beat me half to death and that was the beginning”). There is the woman who ‘was once driven 70 miles . . . by a punter who held me in a semi-derelict house and raped, beat and tortured me.'”

Legalizing prostitution doesn’t end the violence: “A legal brothel in Germany, for example, can ‘advertise deals where the buyer pays a flat rate for a burger, beer and as many fucks as he can manage’, while ‘a 19-year old, heavily pregnant woman . . . was hired for a gang-bang . . . by six men, four of whom wore horror masks.’ Lance Gilmann, a brothel owner in America, admits that ‘as soon as you legalise, it turns the predators loose.'”

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