Prostitution Counter Riposte

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Ms Hoy makes a good point (21 October 2002) that money’s existence is not necessary for prostitution to take place – barter suffices. My letter (18 October 2002) was unfortunately a victim of the Cape Times’ editing – I deliberately did not mention money, only payment via agriculture and/or commerce. Prostitution is well known in the Bible. When Tamar seduced her father-in-law Judah by pretending to be a prostitute, he promised her a young goat from his flock (i.e. money was not used).

The Bible’s historical record begins with Adam and Eve in approximately 4000 BC (calculated from the Genesis genealogies). It is commonly held that Moses compiled the first five books of the Bible in about 1400 BC. Whether he did this from written records or oral tradition is not certain. An oft repeated statement in Genesis “this is the record of …” implies that there may have been writing from the beginning. In my view, the argument that Egyptian writing in 1300 BC and records of prostitution predate Biblical times has not yet be proven.

In South Africa, prostitution is currently a seller’s market. Because the supply is restricted by the fear of prosecution, those who sell themselves are able to command higher prices. Legalising prostitution in a country like South Africa creates a buyer’s market, as many impoverished and desperate women flock to the streets encouraged by the impunity and moral endorsement of legality. Because there will be more competition for customers, prices will drop and more, or unsafe acts, will be required for prostitutes to retain their standard of living. This has been the experience in the relatively wealthy countries of Australia and New Zealand.[1] We ought to learn from the mistakes of others.

The men who caught the woman in the act of adultery did not bring the man caught in the act of adultery with her to Jesus. Jesus recognised their hypocrisy – hence the command, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Did Jesus then legalise and endorse prostitution? No, he spoke tenderly to the woman and said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”[2]

On Reno’s rape rate, Ms Hoy’s arguments effectively concede that men need prostitution. On what basis would she say that men do not need to rape? If, for example, a man is unable to pay for a prostitute to satisfy his need, how can we condemn him if he forces someone else to satisfy his need?

Legalising prostitution offers the tantalizing hope of controlling sexually transmitted diseases. However, South Africa’s privacy provisions will make mandatory checks difficult to apply. Even if these can be applied, prostitutes who are already infected (for example, 74 % of the prostitutes servicing truck drivers in Warden are HIV positive) will not easily leave the trade.

Prostitutes currently have the same protection of the law as everyone else. It is a crime to murder, assault or rape anyone, including prostitutes. Like any other criminals, they run the risk of injury during their criminal activities. Rather than subsidising bullet proof vests for bank robbers, society urges them to leave their reckless way of life. Legalising prostitution will grant prostitutes special rights and legal impunity to flaunt their flesh.

Lastly, at the risk of offending the sensibilities of the readers of this family newspaper, female prostitutes are physiologically more vulnerable to infection with sexually transmitted diseases than their male customers because during the sex act they primarily receive body fluids. Studies have found that male-to-female transmission of HIV in general appears to be 2 to 4 times as efficient as female-to-male transmission.[3] Male prostitutes who receive anal intercourse have an even higher vulnerability to infection with sexually transmitted diseases, since the anal canal consists of a single epithelial layer (as opposed to the multi-layered vagina) and can either tear during intercourse, or be eroded by the enzymes contained in semen.

Jeanine McGill

National Co-ordinator


[1] Doctors for Life submission to the Constitutional Court in the Jordan case

[2] John 8:1-11

[3] Doctors for Life submission to the Constitutional Court in the Jordan case

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