One of the common arguments for regulating prostitution is to make it come under Health and Safety legislation so that it is safer for the women. However, this approach fails to consider that the punters are themselves the source of harm.

Dentist in goggles, mask, gown and gloves
Dentist in goggles, mask, gown and gloves

In any other occupation where there is a risk of exposure to other people’s body fluids, workers are required to wear masks, gloves, goggles, and protective clothing.

Condoms do not come close to reducing risk for those in prostitution to a level comparable with those faced by workers in, say dentistry or nursing, because condoms slip and break, and punters refuse to wear them. And condoms don’t protect the person in prostitution from the punter’s saliva, sweat and other body fluids; or from damage to orifices and internal organs caused by friction and prolonged heavy pounding; or from his violence.

Health and safety standards require employers to RETHINK working practices to eliminate unreasonable risk. In prostitution, this would require participants to wear full protective clothing and the prohibition of any intimate contact. This would, of course, change the nature of prostitution itself.

When it is not possible to make work safe, industries are often closed down. For example, the asbestos industry was closed down because the risks were too great and alternatives were available.

We believe that prostitution can never be made safe and we therefore call for its abolition.

This is not to suggest that women in prostitution should not have every available assistance in reducing the harm and minimising the risks involved. The wish to reduce harm is a major argument for the complete decriminalization of the women involved, as advocated by the Nordic Model.

They say that prostitution is regular service work…

This very short film by Ygerne Price-Davies is based on survivor testimony submitted to Nordic Model Now! through our Share Your Story page.

Further reading

Page published: 30 March 2016