Harman’s attack on Corbyn misses one vital point: Men can be sex workers too

Harriet Harman, Labour’s former deputy leader, has expressed support for criminalising men who pay for sex [Image: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images].

It’s rare for the Labour Branch Rep of the Uptight Right to open her mouth in public these days. Trust her to put her foot in it.

Responding to her leader, Jeremy Corbyn’s, opinion that sex work should be decriminalised, she tweeted, “Prostitution’s exploitation and abuse not “work/an industry”. Women should be protected and men prosecuted.”

So, men should be prosecuted for having anything to do with sex work. Does that include men who are sex workers?

See, Ms Harman has made the unforgivable mistake of thinking that only women can or do sell sex, only women can be exploited for it, and only men can be the exploiters. That is wrong.

In fact, done properly, Corbyn’s call for decriminalisation could end much – if not all – of the exploitation she deplores – and free police resources to track down those who are responsible for sex-related offences of violence, against men, women and children (in case anybody has forgotten about that).

It is a difficult subject.

But let’s not make it more difficult by falling into easy prejudice.

Jeremy Corbyn’s support for the decriminalisation of prostitution has been challenged by the former deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman.

Harman… and has previously expressed support for the so-called Nordic model of criminalising men who pay for sex rather than the women working in the trade.

However, this legal framework, known as the Nordic model because of its adoption in Sweden, is largely opposed by sex trade advocacy groups because they believe that it puts workers at greater risk by driving them underground.

[She tweeted] “Prostitution’s exploitation and abuse not “work/an industry”. Women should be protected and men prosecuted.”

Corbyn made the comments during a session with students at Goldsmiths, University of London as he went out on the campaign trail for the local elections in May.

His position appears to chime with that of Amnesty International, which provoked a mixed reaction when it called for “full decriminalisation of all aspects of consensual sex work” last year.

The subject of the law around prostitution is controversial, causing divisions within political parties, charities and the women’s movement about whether tougher or more relaxed legislation is the best way of protecting sex workers.

Source: Harriet Harman hits out at Corbyn’s support for decriminalised sex work | Society | The Guardian

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9 thoughts on “Harman’s attack on Corbyn misses one vital point: Men can be sex workers too

  1. drewdog2060drewdog2060

    There is also the issue of how any prohibition on paying for sex could be enforced. Anyone paying for sex with a person working on the street is already committing an offence (kerb crawling) and is liable to prosecution. However escort agencies provide sex workers (both men and women) to hotels and private residences. Given that payment for the services of escorts most of whom (but not all) offer sexual services, takes place behind closed doors it would be extremely difficult to show that payment for sexual services had taken place so (short of prohibiting escort agencies) it would proove very problematic to police their activities. Some have argued that agencies make the life of sex workers easier (when they are well run) in that they keep notes of the client’s address, telephone number etc so, if he ill treats the escort he (or she) can be tracked down and legal action taken.

  2. anon

    If sex “work” is legalised, what is to prevent brothels from signing up to workfare schemes?

  3. Terry Davies

    harman states the obvious but fails to apply it to’ rent boys’ historically known to be exploited by MPs.
    clearly she lacks judgement in her ploy to discredit Corbyn and should have refrained from stupidity.

  4. Ros Curwood

    Trust Harriet to react to the obvious. Most of the arguments against Mr. Corbyn’s suggestion, violence; trafficking; child abuse etc are already illegal and if we still had a proper police force maybe could be dealt with more effectively. It is time to get rid of the Victorian refusal to accept that all adult human beings have sexual equipment that makes itself known on a biological level in everyday life. Not everyone has the opportunity or even the wish to engage in a full personal relationship, and provided those in the sex provision business are treated with respect they provide a real service to many. Thanks to Mr. Corbyn’s honest appraisal and answer to a question (no evasion, notice) much may now become under discussion that can benefit many by stripping off the hypocrisy and making clean, safe practical arrangements available for those who see sexuality as a normal part of adult human life, and are thankful to clean, safe, uncomplicated people who offer an honest service.

  5. Joan Edington

    “full decriminalisation of all aspects of consensual sex work”

    This statement needs clarification. How does it define consensual? I would fully agree to the term if it was simply between a willing prostitute and customer, man or woman in either case. What about often unwilling, scared young girls run by unscupulous pimps? Hopefully they would be classed as consenting and not prosecuted? However, would “all aspects” decriminalise the pimps that run these girls as prostitues? The gangs that import and trade in these girls should surely be classed as criminals.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Unwilling sex – isn’t that rape? That would be a criminal act and therefore wouldn’t be covered, it seems to me.
      The aim would be to eliminate such activity.

  6. mohandeer

    I’d say this woman is a bit out of touch with what’s going on in the real world. Her sexist remark is unwelcome – presumably she hasn’t heard the term “rent boys”?
    So because they are male being used by male’s it’s alright?

Comments are closed.