23 January 2006

Prostitution and Mark Oaten.

I've been reluctant to join in the debate surrounding Mark Oaten. We all have skeletons in our closets. We are all economical with the truth on occasion (if we are honest enough to admit that).

I don't blame politicians for being overly careful about what they say and for not wanting to disclose too much about their personal lives and past views. I accept that this dishonesty of politicians is the price we have to pay until the public's hysterical reaction to every indiscretion becomes more reasonable. This hysteria is stirred up by our disreputable press. Who in their life has not made a mistake? It is how we learn from our mistakes that is important.

But aside from the point of cheating on his wife, I do think the general point about the use of prostitutes is something that does need to be addressed.

Over 18% of men admit to considering using prostitutes and 10% admit they have already done so. There is a far larger percentage that finds little wrong in using prostitutes and a majority sexist culture that actively promotes a debasing view of women and homosexuals.

It is this culture that is at fault. Using prostitutes should be as reprehensible as drink driving. It destroys lives. Ninety five percent of female prostitutes in the UK use heroin or crack cocaine, increasingly it is women that are forced into the trade that make up the numbers. Pimps target those most at risk - those mid teens recently out of care or girls lured from abroad with promises of respectable jobs. Prostitution is not a nice way of making a living, very few are mentally strong enough to thrive in such a career.

For these reasons it is not the prostitutes who should be targeted, but the men who demand their services. Naming and shaming is one way of discouragement and this should be accompanied with more stringent punishments, maybe even imprisonment. The real criminals here are the kerb crawlers.

26 comments:

  1. At least oaten isn't one of these Taliban moralisers like all those tories in the house of lords, He was right to step down though, You can't be a shadow home secretary and break the law.

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  2. I agree with you that he has not been a 'back to basics' Tory moraliser. I am very reluctant to criticise him for covering up his personal failings.

    But the Lib Dems did make a big thing about calling Blair a liar and it sticks in the throat a bit when you look at what the Lib Dem front bench have been caught lying about. Especially when Blair's potential dishonesty has not been proved.

    What was Oaten thinking about, running for the leadership? He might still have his job if he hadn't have done that.

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  3. But Mark Oaten didn't lie. What goes on inside a marriage, we don't know, and should not speculate here. However, the moment he was challenged by the News of the Screws he stood down. No cover-up, no digging in, no denial - he just did the right thing. If only Tony Bliar did that.

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  4. Neil, why do you imagine that the regulation of prostitution is any of your business? A prostitutes and his or her client are, in general, adults; what concern is it of yours if one wishes to sell sex to the other?

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  5. The Blue Foxxx23/1/06 11:02 pm

    Neil - prostitution is just a contract between two people to perform a physical service for a given price (somewhat more personal than a massage, given). The issues you highlight around force and pimping, as well as the economic deprivation that drives those not forced into the 'trade' (lets not forget income inequality has grown under this government)are the real crimes here. As are the desperate circumstances driving people to drugs.

    I don't disagree with you personally - I wouldn't use a prostitute - but the focus should be on the economic inequalities that drive this trade, domestically and internationally, not on who or why people have sex with one another.

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  6. I was listening to radio 2 today and they played an interview from last week, where Oaten was asked whether he had any skeletons in the cupboard or any unusual vices. He replied that he liked chocolate too much and was struggling to control his weight. He denied having any other vices or skeletons. That, like Charlie Kennedy's lies about his drink problem, is bare faced lying, it is not even political evasiveness.

    Oaten also made a big deal of being a family man with kids and a happy marriage. How hollow and deceitful that sounds now eh?

    As for prostitution, isn't there a culture amongst young men that makes going to a prostitute acceptable?

    In my mind we should try to change this culture and make it as unacceptable as drink driving. I also think targeting the men who use prostitutes with penalties is more effective than targeting the prostitutes themselves.

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  7. The Remittance Man24/1/06 8:00 am

    Mark Oaten's problem stems from hypocrisy more than his morals. He was very vocal when a senior judge was allowed to quietly take early retirement having been caught engaging the services of a prostitute. He accused the judiciary and legal profession of sweeping the matter under the carpet and operating an old boys club that protected its members. By implication he was saying that public officials who get caugt under these circumstances should be punished. In essence there is no law saying one cannot hold these beliefs, however to demand someone's head for the very same "crime" you yourself are committing.... well let's just say that it's the kind of behaviour we are coming to expect from some parliamentarians. Yes, the guy should go. Not for his somewhat strange lovelife, but for his double standards.

    On to the more general topic of prostitution, I'd just like to say that every effort I have ever heard of to "crack down" on the sex trade has been a failure. The sad fact is that there is a demand and people willing to meet that demand. The problem with crackdowns is that they merely serve to drive the trade deeper underground and in doing that it makes it easier for the criminals to get into the business and exploit the workers.

    This forcing the trade underground also makes it very hard to judge its extent and the degree of the problem. The New Statesman's claim that 95% of prostitutes use hard drugs is one such case. Where did they get the number? I suspect that they got it from one of the organisations that does welfare work with street hookers and especially street hookers with drug problems. Many of these girls do have addictions, but by looking at a very specific sample one gets a skewed view.

    The same goes for the numbers given for people trafficking. I don't doubt that such things go on, but I have also heard that many girls from eastern europe etc choose to come to the UK and other places because they beleive they can make good money. They probably tell freinds and relatives that they are going as dancers or waitresses etc. and those who don't get caught probably go back to Moldova or wherever and maintain their "respectable" cover story. It's the girls who are caught who have a problem. They have been caught doing something their families probably wouldn't approve of and need a quick excuse. Saying "I was forced into it" gives them a possible cover. Unfortunately it also skews the data; if nearly every eastern european girl tells the cops she is a sex slave how can the authorities tell the real victims from the embarassed volunteers?

    I am not saying that there are not real victims in the sex trade however driving it underground is not the answer.

    My personal opinion is that we should look at a more liberal attitude to the business. Permit tolerance zones in cities and licence brothels (but not the employees). By bringing the sex trade back into the light it would make it easier to identify the exploiters and help the victims.

    RM

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  8. Neil, Didn't Ron Davis make a big deal of being a family man too? Or is this another case of your one rule for them and a different one for corupt New Labour?

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  9. Anon: As RM as pointed out, it's not the misdemenour that is the problem but the whiter than white attitude and his criticism of others for dishonesty.

    It's quite clear that the Lib Dems after the Kennedy and Oaten scandals can't claim to be the nice party anymore. They are just as bad, if not worse, than Labour and the Tories when it comes to honesty.

    I do however want to see a strong radical Lib Dems, I think Chris Huhne and his talk of eco-taxes is the way for your party to go. Of course eco-taxes will need more redistributive taxes elsewhere because any tax on prices hits the poor the most. I'm not sure the Lib Dems will have the stomach for that.

    In the minds of the electorate both Labour and the Lib Dems are fighting over similar ideological territory.

    Labour will always be more left wing on social justice, exemplified by the minimum wage and how it has been risen by more than the rate of inflation under Labour (something the Lib Dems criticise as dangerous).

    On civil liberties it can be said the Lib Dems are to the left of Labour with their support for a more liberal attitude to drugs and the use of prison (although their opposition to the new licensing laws looked odd).

    However the two main areas where Labour are accused of being to the right, ID cards and ASBOs, the one is almost certainly going to be dropped by Gordon Brown before the next election and ASBOs have proved such a success that even the Greens are considering adopting them. (The respect agenda is a trifling matter in terms of civil liberties, debatable whether it means anything when we have prisoners on remand for ages which is a far greater breach of civil liberties principles).

    As I have argued before, Labour have largely been libertarian, with rafts of legislation liberalising oppressive laws on gays, implemented the human rights act and a freedom of information act. Just look how the debate has moved on from the Tory years where public services were in terminal decline and tax cuts the only policy the Tories wanted to talk about. Now the Tories talk of social justice and world poverty which flies in the face of their history. Everyone knows the Tories can't be as letfwing as Labour on these issues.

    I hope you elect Chris Huhne as leader. Simon Hughes was very nasty in the way he won election against Labour's Peter Tatchell, using leaflets with 'the straight choice' etc. Ming is just too old.

    The Lib Dems have a role to play in helping Labour expose the fraudulent Tories and maybe driving the agenda on a few issues such as eco-taxes.

    RM: On prostitution, I think you are largely right, it cannot be ushered away completely but look at the success Sweden has had by targeting the punters. They reckon there are only around 500 prostitutes there compared to nearer 5000 in neighbouring Denmark because of this policy. Reducing prostitution is a gender equality issue.

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  10. RM: On prostitution, I think you are largely right, it cannot be ushered away completely but look at the success Sweden has had by targeting the punters. They reckon there are only around 500 prostitutes there compared to nearer 5000 in neighbouring Denmark because of this policy. Reducing prostitution is a gender equality issue.

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  11. Hi, I need first hand local info about lone parent benefit and would like to meet and talk to people in my local area about this. I've found this lone parent benefit site but I need to find some others. Any ideas?
    TIA

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  12. Having a drink problem is hardly a scandal, and actually nobody portrayed it as that. And Mark Oaten, well at least he wasn't a hypocrite, whatever untruths you peddle.

    But saying that New Labour is libertarian is beyond me...

    ..ID cards
    ..trail without jury
    ..Hutton
    ..camp delta
    ..David Kelly
    ..US flights scandal
    ..illegal invasions
    ..illegal occupations
    ..and now bugging the russians!! (well ok thats not so new)

    Labour and the Lib Dems are not fighting the same territory. You just wish they were so you could feel better about your right wing party.

    Its the job of the Lib Dems to expose the rightwing failings of New Labour as much as the Tories.

    Anyway who wants to be the nice party?

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  13. The Remittance Man25/1/06 8:29 am

    Has anyone done any research on how many Swedes now visit Denmark for a bit of illicit commercial nookie? Before you think this is a crazy scenario, take a look at the stats for Swedes who regularly take the ferry to Denmark for the cheap booze.

    I've had the pleasure of crossing the Baltic on one of these boats. The entire swedish, male passenger compliment moved directly from quay to bar and remained there for the duration of the crossing. They then decamped to the nearest pub to the ship and remained there for the rest of the day before moving back to the shipboard bar for the return journey.

    From a personal point of view this was not a calamity as I had my own booze (thank God for UK duty frees) and with the vikings intent on draining the bar I had an almost free run at the valkyries in the disco. Short, tubby Anglo-saxon 2 (plus comfy sleeps in cabins with en-suite shower); tall, blond Viking warriors nil (spent nights passed out on vomit swilled deck in heads).

    But beyond my own small victories, from the point of Swedish social policy I'd guess it was a disaster. The problem with "success" in a small area is that some of that success is simply acheived by moving the problem elsewhere.

    RM

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  14. carry bag man25/1/06 10:46 am

    Leaving aside the moral dimensions of the recent "revelations"

    It would appear to be a systemmatic attempt to undermine the lib dems as a credible party.

    opening the way for Cameron and the Tories to launch a realistic challenge to New Labour (whilst I am no fan of new labour ) a return to a Conservative administration would be a disaster anyone remember 3 million unemployed, the destruction of industry, the curtailment of civil rights during the miners strike, the poll tax ???? Many of the problems society faces today stem from Thatchers children and the pernicious ideas of rampant individualism and the abnegation of community.

    look beyond the headlines we are being encouraged to sleepwalk into a return to a Conservative administration which hasnt changed one bit !!!!

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  15. Anon: "Having a drink problem is hardly a scandal, and actually nobody portrayed it as that."

    I was on about the way the party stabbed him in the back, that was the scandal.

    "ID cards" - Brown will drop the idea, so no joy for you there. They are not against civil liberties anyway, plenty of libertarian countries have them and their people don't see a problem with them.

    "trial without jury" - Where? Only in complicated fraud cases which frequently collapsed letting the guilty companies/individuals off the hook and cost the taxpayer a fortune.

    "Hutton" - Blair exagerated the case for war, we all know that. Maybe there are reasons we don't know about yet. The UK influence probably mollified some of Bush's excesses (bombing Al Jazeera is one example) and the war would have happened with or without us.

    "camp delta" - Labour opposed it and have put pressure on the US.

    "David Kelly" - He was a B'hai struggling with his own dishonesty to his peace loving faith.

    "US flights scandal" - All European govts knew about this. The CIA used many countries airspace.

    "illegal invasions" - Only because the French and Russians were worried about their loans to Saddam.

    "illegal occupations" - You do realise the Lib Dem policy is the same here don't you?

    "and now bugging the russians!! (well ok thats not so new)" - As you acknowledge, every govt has done this. You really were scraping the barrel to find something else, wasn't you?

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  16. Anon: "Labour and the Lib Dems are not fighting the same territory."

    Look at this opinion poll. It's clear that the Lib Dems and Labour are in the same area in the voters minds. This is terrible for winning seats under FPTP. We are both cutting our own throats and letting the Tories win seats with a low percentage.

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  17. if thats true - labour are finished

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  18. carry bag man: "It would appear to be a systemmatic attempt to undermine the lib dems as a credible party. Opening the way for Cameron and the Tories to launch a realistic challenge to New Labour (whilst I am no fan of new labour ) a return to a Conservative administration would be a disaster, anyone remember 3 million unemployed, the destruction of industry, the curtailment of civil rights during the miners strike, the poll tax ???? Many of the problems society faces today stem from Thatchers children and the pernicious ideas of rampant individualism and the abnegation of community.

    Look beyond the headlines, we are being encouraged to sleepwalk into a return to a Conservative administration which hasnt changed one bit !!!!"

    Mr. carry bag, you have once again hit the nail on the head.

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  19. Anon: "if thats true - labour are finished"

    Which bit are you on about? I don't see how you deduce that. The Lib Dems are plummeting down the opinion polls (seomthing more likely to benefit Labour than the Tories considering the left wing sensibilities of most liberal support), and Labour are holding their vote at election winning levels despite the media adulation for Cameron, the Tories vote has barely moved.

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  20. Harding, you are either the most stupid man alive, or you actually believe what you write. I'm not sure which is worse.

    Have you seen the latest leaflet from an an unmentionable party with your quotes all in it?

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  21. What leaflet is that then?

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  22. a very good one! thanks for your contributions, they are classic, very helpful to the anti-labour cause in this city!

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  23. If you take some quotes from someone out of context then you can give all sorts of bad impressions.

    Not everything I say on here is perfect. I certainly don't speak for the Labour party, which I make clear in the heading.

    If someone has put out a leaflet and gives my web address, I thank them for the publicity. Cheers.

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  24. Nothing has been taken out of context. You'll enjoy the publicity, your leaders won't.

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  25. RM's ignorance regarding the consumption of illegal drugs by red carpet prostitutes is commendable. I am distressed that he puts himself forward as an expert on kerbside service. Prostitution, stripping, and pornography are public not private behaviors. Only do-it-yourself sex is private. Besides, prostitution is not about sex, it is about paying to humiliate someone else through a sexual or quasi-sexual act. It is commerce, and commerce is by nature social activity. (Further b.f. wrote misleadingly about 'a contract between two people.' It is not a contract if it cannot be enforced in a court of law. Why hasn't Her Majesty's Gov. prosecuted this man for practicing without a license?) The participants have been lured into the activity under false pretenses. The johns are introduced to peeping at mags or the web while they are young and lack self confidence. The pitch is that peeping will help them: 1. id their sexual preference and dispell the worry that they may be 'queer'; 2. be like the other guys, 'cuz everybody does it. With a little experience the peeper moves on to live shows, and from shows to 'interactive'. At no point does the john ever gain the promised confidence, which may be one reason why johns tend to be so violent.
    Young people are lured into the stripping and prostitution business by empty promises of fancy clothes, adventure, big money, independence, respect, movie contracts, etc. Again the recruiter plays upon the vulnerabilities of the young and naive. Once the child is recruited (and videod en flagrante delicto), it is rarely possible for the child to go home to dad & mum, leaving the child in the clutches of the recruiter, or the person to whom the recruiter has sold his 'ho'. Most women arrested for prostitution testify that they have been sold or traded among pimps more than once. In North America, where there has been some research done on the subject, the median age of entry into the business is 14 and falling, too young to be making any career choice. We have anecdotal info that suggests a world wide median entry age of 12. Regarding the benefits of legalizing and licensing: 1. Deadwood, SD USA saw a dramatic increase in crime, and of illegal prostitution, and turned to criminalization; 2. Germany and the Netherlands are finding that the majority of their prostitutes are trafficked criminally from out of country, and exactly the opposite of what RM predicted.
    In North America, the 3 most common ways of leaving prostitution are: 1. Fatal drug overdose; 2. Suicide; 3. Murder.
    In re the Swedish experiment: The most important part of the experiment is to let young men know that johning is unacceptable behavior. RM's only comment to the point is that the business is driven by demand. When boys who have learned that prostitution, stripping, and pornography are harmful and unethical unacceptable grow up, then the Sex Abuse Industry and Tories like Rupert Murdoch, who own and promote it, will be out of business.

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  26. The Blue Foxxx7/2/06 12:15 am

    "When boys who have learned that prostitution, stripping, and pornography are harmful and unethical unacceptable grow up, then the Sex Abuse Industry"

    Que?

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