There are many issues that make up the conversation around prostitution and sexual exploitation. Often though the conversation is based around the assumption that women in prostitution either need rescuing or could simply choose to leave if they wanted to. The reality is far more complicated for most.
It’s about making difficult choices and compromises to support yourself and your family. And stigma and judgement that can make you feel lonely and isolated, and stop you from getting help when you need it.
By helping us change the conversation, and increasing understanding of the wider issues, our hope is that people will see that all women involved in prostitution, as well as women who have experienced sexual exploitation, deserve compassion, respect, safety and freedom, regardless of who they are or the journey they’ve been on.
Prostitution and the law
People often ask us what our stance on prostitution is, particularly around whether it should be legal.
There are different legal frameworks around the world. Some people argue that legalising prostitution would help reduce harm by, for example, giving women more rights through social protection, and that not legalising it increases harm and exploitation of women.
The other common debate is around tackling demand for prostitution – whether buying sexual consent should be legal or not, and whether criminalising it reduces demand.
As a faith-based organisation there is also often the assumption that we want to rescue women.
From our experience we have seen that the issues are far broader, more complex and challenging. To address the inherent harms and exploitation associated with prostitution, the underlying reasons why women are drawn into prostitution and sexual exploitation must also be considered.
Prostitution - the wider context
Our work is at the intersection of issues associated with prostitution, modern slavery and human trafficking, and violence against women and girls, where issues to do with gender equality, women’s rights and equality of opportunity play a role in women’s route into and out of prostitution and experience of exploitation.
For us, empowerment of women is about parity of women – leadership and participation, economic empowerment, education, access to justice, and role in culture and society. So it’s vital to take a balanced view of the multiple factors involved, and to consider how as a society we can be more strategic in working together to address the root issues. Issues that are barriers to women’s empowerment, equality of opportunity and choice.
How do we do this?
Read more about the issues
The following sites have more information on these wider aspects, how they impact women’s lives and how people are getting together to address these issues. They take a global and humanitarian approach. Some we’re involved with directly. But they all align with our perspective and understand the interconnected issues on an international scale.