La Josephine Butler Society contre la pénalisation des clients

Joséphine Butler, épouse d’un pasteur britannique de l’époque victorienne, lutta pour faire « abolir » toutes les lois qui rendaient dangereux l’exercice de la prostitution; malheureusement la tendance prohibitionniste détourna au début du XX° siècle le terme « abolitionnisme » pour réclamer l’abolition de la prostitution. La Joséphine Butler society est très claire sur son opposition à la pénalisation de tous les clients de la prostitution :

Josephine Butler said that what went on in the bedroom of consenting adults was no concern of hers, and we at JBS, the successor to the Ladies Association which she began in 1870, agree with these wise words.

We believe that what must be challenged are the conditions which lead to people into prostitution.  This may be through poverty, addiction, lack of education, control or coercion by others, and in this we would include how women are portrayed by the media and internet and the lack of education in mutual respect between the sexes.

Criminalising the buyer will ignore the real criminals, who are traffickers, coercers and enslavers who control their victims and benefit from their earnings.  The proposal is targeting the wrong people because, like the prostituting of women in the past, the buyer is an easier target than the trafficker/enslaver.

Therefore our position is that to criminalise the non-violent, non-coercive buyer is to criminalise the wrong person.  Sadly, it is often the case that the Law, when it attempts to help in the problems around prostitution, often impinges elsewhere where criminal activity can be completely absent, i.e. the freely prostituting woman (or man), whose clients are ‘friends’.  So more police doing proactive work to expose the criminal networks of traffickers, enslavers and coercers would be our recommendation.

To conclude we are definitely not in favour of criminalisation of all men who buy sexual services.  Where consenting adults are concerned this is surely their own business.  Josephine Butler clearly believed that we have God given free will and as adults should make our own decisions without the Law being involved.  Surely equality includes freedom of choice for men and women.  But abuse of children or trafficking of the unwilling is wrong.

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