Why Prostitution Is Slavery

“So enormous, so dreadful, so irremediable did its wickedness appear, that my own mind was completely made up for the abolition. A trade founded in iniquity, and carried on as this was, must be abolished, let the price be what it might.”1 -William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce decried the injustice of the African slave trade when it was very unpopular to do so. He used his voice and political influence for nearly 20 years before the slave trade was abolished in England in 1807. And he kept proclaiming the inhumanity of slavery until slavery itself was abolished in England in 1833. He died a few days later.2

We stand in this day, following Wilberforce’s example, using our voice and influence against the injustice of prostitution. It is an unpopular stance in many circles. Those who oppose us say that prostitution is about freedom of sexual expression and a right to the American Dream. They say that women choose this and that we would hinder their ability to survive if we abolished prostitution.

Wilberforce faced similar objections in his time. Slavery was seen as a benefit not just to society and trade, but even to the slaves themselves. The horrors of slavery were hidden beneath carefully constructed false cover narratives that made the life of slaves seem good. This cover narrative was propagated and funded by those who benefited most from keeping the system of slavery in place.

Those who promote the prostitution cover narrative want us to believe that women choose prostitution freely and that prostitution elevates their life. They want us to believe that prostituted women would have no life without prostitution. They want us to believe prostitution is a cross between freedom and social welfare.

And they are well funded by people like billionaire George Soros known as the man who “broke the bank of England.”3 He is the founder of The Open Society Foundation, which has a history of funding organizations that advocate for the full decriminalization of prostitution. Full decriminalization of prostitution would make sex buying, pimping, and brothel-keeping legal.

Unfortunately, this method of lobbying by funding pro-prostitution organizations has been effective. The skewed research they have produced has swayed many major non-governmental human rights organizations towards his views.4 One of the most tragic of those who bought into his vision is the once-great human rights organization Amnesty International.

So we stand here today, much like Wilberforce did, facing a false narrative, well-funded by those determined to keep slavery in place. When Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables almost 30 years after Wilberforce’s death he said “We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.”5

And the reality today is that 98% of those prostituted are women.

To fight for the freedom of prostituted women, who are the slaves in our time, we have to become abolitionists ourselves. Towards this end, we will be releasing a new animated video this Friday called “How to Be an Abolitionist.”

The act of abolishing slavery begins with tearing down the false narrative our culture has used to justify it. For Wilberforce, this dismantling began by revealing the actual shackles slaves were bound in and the inhumanity of the slave ship quarters.

“Choice [in prostitution] is not black and white. It is imbued with all shades of gray… Consent can be manipulated. Consent can be bribed… So what can we really define as consent?”

Dismantling the cover narrative of prostitution begins with revealing the illusion of choice. Our Founder, Benjamin Nolot, articulates this complex truth clearly:

“Choice [in prostitution] is not black and white. It is imbued with all shades of gray… Consent can be manipulated. Consent can be bribed. Consent can be seduced. Consent can be blackmailed. So what can we really define as consent?”

In her paper “Prostitution is Sexual Violence,” published in the Psychiatric Times, Dr. Melissa Farely said that more than 85% of those being prostituted want to escape it.6

This stat argues against free will in prostitution, at least continued free will, which is an important point. Free will, in prostution, is not determined by just that first moment of entering prostitution. Our free will every moment matters and for 85% of those Melissa talked to, prostitution was not their choice.

And why do they want out?

“Violence is the norm for women in prostitution. Incest, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, stalking, rape, battering, and torture–are points on a continuum of violence, all of which occur regularly in prostitution. A difference between prostitution and other types of gender violence is the payment of money for the abuse. Yet the payment of money does not erase all that we know about sexual harassment, rape, and domestic violence.7

WATCH: Is Prostitution a Job?

In sexual abuse the abuser often gives the child he is abusing gifts. These gifts from the abuser do not erase their crime. And the money from sex buyers does not erase their violence or their crime. It is still unwanted and largely abusive sex.

But is it really slavery you ask? Well, what constitutes slavery?

The US Department of State defines “modern slavery, trafficking in persons, and human trafficking as umbrella terms for the act of recruiting… or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.”

In 2012 Balkin and Levinson said in their law review that “the hallmark of slavery and of prostitution is that the enslaved or prostituted are subject to domination and to the arbitrary will of another person.”8

The pimp is the one that owns them day in and day out, but every sex buyer owns them for a moment.

This reality of domination that subverts the free will of another person has been central to the concept of slavery throughout history. Slaves were taken against their will onto slave ships and subjected to the will of whoever bought them. As slaves were not considered human or equal they were not given the rights of citizens. They were not even allowed the right to own land.

In prostitution, the prostituted person is subject not to one master, but many. The pimp is the one that owns them day in and day out, but every sex buyer owns them for a moment. The prostituted woman is considered inhuman to sex buyers and pimps, not given the right to be free from violence and violation. They are not even given the right to own their body, to be in control of their own body.

The masters of Wilberforce’s time have morphed into the sex buyers and pimps of this present manifestation of slavery we call prostitution. Prostitution is slavery.

Wilberforce fulfilled his purpose on Earth in his time. Now it is our turn to rise up as abolitionists, expose the false narrative, and speak the truth about prostitution. Are you ready?

Be a part of the abolition movement. And watch for the release of our video “How You Can Be an Abolitionist” this Friday!

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  • 1. Metaxas, Eric. Amazing Grace (p. 133). HarperOne. Kindle Edition.
  • 2. “History – William Wilberforce.” BBC, BBC, www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/wilberforce_william.shtml.
  • 3. “George Soros 1930–.” Reference for Business, www.referenceforbusiness.com/biography/S-Z/Soros-George-1930.html.
  • 4. Raphael, Jody. “Decriminalization of Prostitution: The Soros Effect.” DigitalCommons@URI, 2018, digitalcommons.uri.edu/dignity/vol3/iss1/1/.
  • 5. “A Quote from Les Misérables.” Goodreads, Goodreads, www.goodreads.com/quotes/1072047-we-say-that-slavery-has-vanished-from-european-civilization-but.
  • 6. Farley, Melissa. “Prostitution Research Facts.” Prostitution Research , 2012, prostitutionresearch.com.
  • 7. Melissa Farley, 2004, Prostitution is Sexual Violence, Psychiatric Times http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/sexual-offenses/content/article/10168/48311
  • 8. Balkin, Jack M., and Sanford Levinson (2012), “The Dangerous Thirteenth
    Amendment,” Columbia Law Review, 112 (7), 1459–1500.
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