Sex work is a means of survival that falls outside of the control of capitalist systems. Forcing people into low-wage, ‘respectable’ jobs largely serves to benefit wealthy people who profit off of this type of labour while they are able to simultaneously take advantage of tax loopholes for charitable contributions. This allows them to donate selectively to foundations that distribute a minimum amount of funding yearly and avoid paying into necessary social services. This cycle does a disservice to everyone, but especially to single parents, those who experience discrimination in traditional job settings, or who are chronically ill or disabled.
Poverty, racism, criminalisation, and gender-based violence are some of the top factors that put people at higher risk of trafficking. In conjunction with a mass loss of jobs and housing due to the pandemic, many are entering sex work out of desperation and are very vulnerable to trafficking and violence. Consensual sex workers who have been steadily losing income options for years have largely been left out of government aid packages and are continuing to be forced to work outside of their usual boundaries as well. The solution to this at the speed we need it can only come in the form of large-scale, low-barrier, non-job attached government aid.
Outside of this already daunting plethora of difficulties, there are huge challenges to building any type of alternative community structures under criminalisation. We take on heightened legal risk beyond our own personal involvement in sex work and face additional criminal penalties for organising in groups, providing direct assistance, and sharing safety resources within our communities. In the US we are even at risk of being prosecuted as traffickers for the services we offer. This makes it difficult and dangerous to openly promote the work we do to reach a larger scale donor pool or advocate for basic human rights and labour protections. Even in countries where sex work is decriminalised or legalised there are clandestinely enforced, intricate webs of policies in place that enforce widespread institutional financial discrimination against individual sex workers and sex worker-run businesses. These greatly obstruct our ability to create our own equitable workspaces and long-term mutual aid networks outside of the non-profit system.
In the long run, the best trafficking prevention is sweeping societal change. At the top of the list are decriminalisation measures that remove criminal penalties for victimless activities engaged in by consenting adults, the abolition of prisons, the police, and immigration enforcement, protections for undocumented immigrants and trans folks, reparations to BIPOC communities, and universal basic income, housing, and healthcare. All of these measures would give more power to workers in every industry. Philanthrocapitalism unavoidably serves as a major barrier to the implementation of these measures and only serves to hurt truly authentic efforts to prevent trafficking.Print