Yesterday, according to a PassBlue report prominent Indian anti-prostitution activist Ruchira Gupta revealed: “I was surprised that the UN was trying to censor [me and told] me not to speak on prostitution, when my work was with victims of prostitution.”
Gupta was about to receive a Woman of Distinction award at the United Nations this past March when she was told not to use the word “prostitution” in her acceptance speech. Doing so would “put UN Women on the spot.”
At the UN, the politically correct phrases are: “trafficking,” “sex slavery,” “sex work,” and “sex workers.” This is Orwellian doublespeak—something the UN has honed to a high art when it comes to Islam, critique of Islam, and Israel.
Employing the word “sex work” represents a prevailing point of view in which women are seen as having “agency,” and therefore can freely choose to be sex workers. The phrase “sex work” is an attempt to mainstream prostitution as just another form of work. Doing so utterly obliterates the fact that prostitutes are most often unwilling victims who suffer from a much higher rate of post-traumatic stress symptomatology than do combat veterans. It hides the fact that American Johns often want—and get—young children or certainly under-age children. Legally, a good deal of prostitution is pedophilia or legalized rape.
Imagine the nature of prostitution in the Muslim world—especially in an era of Jihad, and in war zones. Imagine the nature of sexual violence towards women in Third World countries. Actually, it is unimaginable.
Therefore, the UN’s world view is outrageous, corrupt and ludicrous given that Gupta’s work is with children as young as seven years old and whose families have sold them to pimps. Gupta describes what happens next in the brothel quarters of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and other cities.
“‘The pimps would hand over these little girls to the brothel keepers…and the girls were locked up for the next five years […] Raped repeatedly by eight to ten customers every night.’ By their 20s, Gupta said, their youth is gone and bodies are broken, and they ‘are thrown out on the sidewalk to die a very difficult death because they were no longer commercially viable.’”
Prostituted women have protested the UN Women policy of avoiding the word “prostitution.” They view themselves as victims of prostitution and as survivors who were trapped. In a letter demanding such signed by 61 different organizations, they write, “we can never accept our exploitation as ‘work.’”
They are right. The label “sex work” applied to a great deal of the world’s prostitution trade legitimizes violence against women.
The UN should be ashamed of itself not only because it does so little to save mortally endangered women—but because it is trying to censor heroic women, such as Gupta, who are doing just that.
Originally published Breitbart April 1, 2015
Phyllis Chesler is a CUNY emerita professor of psychology and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. Her books include “Women and Madness” and “The New Anti-Semitism.”