States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
As this article remains rather short, it does not detract from its import nor its moral weight and ethical relevance; the areas where the fundamentalist religious and the moderate religious seem aligned – and not, unfortunately, the liberal and political left including purported conservatives and libertarians who use the badge “Classical Liberal” without knowing the first thing about it – comes in the form of the open, vigorous, and consistent calling out of the degradation and humiliation of the female form and of women themselves in activities such as prostitution and pornography, which come associated or linked to trafficking of women and exploitation in prostitution.
This is a public good by my lights. Women deserve better; families and societies should work with those willing to work hard for the protection of women in these rather unsavory circumstances. Within the context of the CEDAW or the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the emphasis for this article becomes, once more, the state or the governments and their duties and responsibilities to the public. In particular, the ethical obligations to the women of the country.
If women are undergoing trafficking due to an individual or familial desperation and unequal circumstances, or if the women are vulnerable and actually undergoing prostitution in an exploitative setting, then the rights to equality and freedom are being violated for the women.
Their health and wellbeing can be at risk at the same time. This is, quite obviously from the data, the rhetoric, and the coverage in the international documents, more of a problem for the women and girls of the world than of the men and the boys. It creates numerous problems in the areas of equality because of the discrimination based solely on the basest of levels, which is the bodies of women.
Note the emphasis in Article 6:
…all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
The basis for the equality of the sexes comes in the form of the complete list of appropriate measures or “all appropriate measures,” which is a common phrase to many of the articles in the CEDAW. Continuing on its emphases, the biggest one is in the trafficking and exploitation.
That is to say, women are taken against their will from one place to another and/or taken advantage of. The forms of the travel are not listed but this could any number of illegal means of taken someone physically from one place to another, e.g., flight, by sea, by car or truck, and so on.
The sheer act of thinking that one can take the body of another human being without their consent is quite remarkable, especially as the first emphasis is the trafficking and how this directly leads naturally and morally reprehensible into the second form in the exploitation.
It could be any number of forms of exploitation as women far outnumber men in the areas of exploitation in textile and sexual work, but the particular arena of concern here is the domain of sexuality. Prostitution is simply having sex with another person for pay, but this particular type of prostitution and most forms, in fact, take place in the power-over relationship of a pimp and a prostitute.
Women most often non-consensually or coercibly enter into a sexual relationship with a third party of customer and then have a large portion of the payment given to the pimp. The women are often not able to leave without some form of payment or abuse as a real possibility.
Not to mention, the intriguing characters paying for the objectification of the female form, of women’s bodies, for their own gratification. Many of the these ‘customers’ may have fetishes or other problems and disorders that the prostitutes themselves may have to go through; one might suspect the women who are prostitutes, especially over the long term, live with detachment from their bodies and a form of PTSD.
It is in this sense that we can find the nature of the power-over relationship as something of which women pay the majority costs. In its extreme form, the women are literally stolen and trafficked from place to place to be exploited sexually as basically sex-slaves for the pleasure of, mostly, men. These women are probably bilked too.
They are certainly not cosseted. The questions then become oriented around prevention and escape. The ways in which we can protect women within Article 6’s statement on the trafficking and exploitation of women in prostitution. The other is in the escape for the women.
There should be national provisions and multinational cooperation, and international consideration, of the problem of women’s trafficking and exploitation in prostitution. It is one of many almost uniquely female issues being dealt with historically and right into the present, daily.
The ways bodies are considered useful for pleasure of men and for the furtherance of the patriarchal lineage. It is all rather straightforward and tragic in a larger context but something that we have the tools to manage and deal with now more than ever, which makes the calling this to the attention of the international community through Article 6 all the more important, relevant, and hopeful.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the Preamble, Article 16, and Article 25(2).
- Convention Against Discrimination in Education (1960) in Article 1.
- The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) in Article 3 and Article 13.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966).
- Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979).
- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984).
- The Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (1993).
- Beijing Declaration(1995).
- United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).
- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2000).
- The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa or the “Maputo Protocol” (2003).
- Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence or the Istanbul Convention (2011) Article 38 and Article 39.
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