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28 August, 2009

Brazillian Prostitutes Doing Something Special

This article made me smile. It's about a group of prostitutes in Rio who are running their own fashion label called Daspu. The inspiration behind it is an activist called Gabriela Leite, who says, "When my hooker girlfriends parade pretty and proud, they are speaking about themselves and become revolutionaries." Why did I smile? Because it was just so damned heartwarming that these people were taking control and fighting back, even in a small way.

Prostitutes get a pretty raw deal from society. Not only is their work degrading and unpleasant, dangerous and unrewarding, but they are then vilified for providing a service that is in high demand. The Daspu 'revolutionaries' made me stop and think about prostitution and its role in our society.

Ideally, prostitution would disappear forever. It is inherently degrading to women to sell their bodies for money. It is a service that only men with no empathy, men who can only see women as objects could buy. But there are a great many men like that. Perhaps most men are like that. So, while women possess bodies and men lack sensitivity, while we live in societies where the means of a decent living are denied some while being lavished on others, while we allow that goods can be traded for services, prostitution will continue.

Probably the best we can do in an imperfect world is to educate men to have more regard for women, educate women to value themselves more highly, and do what we can to protect women who turn to prostitution. This last, essentially, means legalising prostitution. It is complete and utter hypocrisy not to. Legalised prostitution helps protect vulnerable women from exploiters (again, usually men), it helps protect their health, it can help them move beyond prostitution into other kinds of work, it can help keep them away from drugs, and it helps keep prostitutes away from the society of criminals.

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