Monday, July 25, 2005

NYT to Poor Women: Go Sell Your Selves

Thanks to a 2003 Congressional mandate, organizations receiving USAID must declare that it ''does not promote, support or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution.'' Predictably, the NYT is falling over it-self in its haste to criticize this policy.

A Brazilian based group, Womyn's Agenda for Change, headed by Rosanna Barbero, who became interested in working with the "sex industry" while studying in Cambodia. When there:
[w]hat she found was that peacekeepers and aid workers affiliated with the United Nations were fueling a sudden explosion in prostitution. Assessing the situation, she came to see sex work as an understandable, if far from ideal, response to poverty: ''If you have nothing, what do you do? You sell sex. That's what's left.''

And what about selling your children, particularly the female ones? What about infanticide? What about child marriage, or slavery or child labor? Some in this world believe that these are "an understandable, if far from ideal, response to poverty".

The article contends that some of the sex workers are there by choice. This contention is based on the story of a group of prostitutes, who were rescued by anti-prostitution organization, only to be abducted by an unidentified mob that broke into their safe house, who protested in front of the US Embassy claiming to not wanting to be rescued. The NYT author says that while [the] protest appeared to have been stage-managed by the hotel's owners,.... it illustrated how hard it is to determine whether sex workers are in brothels by choice or under duress.

Sadly, the series done by Nic Kristof is only available via paid archive, however, in that, he rescues two Cambodian prostitutes & follows them on their road to independence. It is clear that while poverty & sex discrimination are major hurdles for both girls, both struggle happily, to achieve a life of dignity.

Despite the contention that the 'prostitution option', is an answer to poverty, the unfortunate truth is that prostitution perpetuates poverty. People only seek work & start businesses when they have to: as without necessity, there will be no invention. When prostitution is an available option, families are more likely to pressure the less valued young women into seeking sex work to support their extended families, rather than to use more innovative means of earning income.

In many cases the daughters are sold or 'voluntarily seek' sex work to support not only their families, but also the drug addiction of their father & brothers. Prostitution acts as a temporary analgesic to poverty & addiction, making them less keenly felt on the short term, while failing to address their root causes & give impetus to entrepreneurial activity. As it removes the drive to rise above one’s station, it serves to keep its victims trapped in an intergenerational cycle of poverty. This is in addition to the fact that commodifing the most intimate of human contacts has terrible impact on culture.

While, working fourteen hours day sewing garments is hardly a life's ambition for many, I doubt that many would prefer prostitution.

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Sony Will No Longer Pay For Play

Sony BMG, which represents Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Lopez, among dozens of others, admitted to the misconduct in a statement. "Sony BMG acknowledges that various employees pursued some radio promotion practices on behalf of the company that were wrong and improper, and apologizes for such conduct," the company said. "SONY BMG looks forward to defining a new, higher standard in radio promotion."

This case certainly explains why "songs" & "artists" who have less talent than my toaster are get heavy rotation on radio. No doubt this was part of Mayor Bloomberg's ongoing war against noise. Getting SONY to cease bribing stations is music to my ears, but for this one jarring note:

"The settlement, which includes a $10 million payment to a fund for music education, is the first in a broad investigation by Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general, into incentives that record companies offer to radio stations in hopes of getting airtime that will raise their artists' profiles, increase a song's ranking and, of course, drive up sales."

Why is the New York attorney general stooping to Jesse Jackson like tactics. SONY was wrong to bribe stations, why are they not being punished for that crime? While, contributing to music education is wonderful, IMHO it is not appropriate to include such a thing as part of a criminal inquiry.

When big corporations are allowed to "make up" for their wrong doings by "paying off" the government, the government fails to punish them properly, & the corporations feel emboldened to engage in more wrong doing.

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