No apologies for returning to the rather depressing subject of prostitution. I'd like to pretend it doesn't exist, but it does. And I've just stumbled on a shocking statistic that makes me think this whole seedy business simply has to stop.
For a while I've believed that the real problem is not prostitution itself but what goes with it - the violent pimps, the violent customers, the health risks, the public hostility. If the trade was covered by the same regulations and laws as other occupations, all that would disappear.
But now I discover the appalling fact that 68% of prostitutes have symptoms* of post traumatic stress disorder. In other words, psychological damage so severe it could utterly ruin the rest of their lives (that is, if they aren't murdered by a customer first).
An activity that causes that level of mental destruction while not contributing anything vital to people's daily lives can't be justified, however you look at it. It is simply systematic cruelty and brutality.
In which case, to maintain, as many people still do, that prostitution is the free choice of the women concerned, is merely a job of work like any other, and is only condemned by prudes and bigots, seems entirely mistaken.
If that level of PTSD existed in any mainstream occupation like teaching or health care, it would be wholly unacceptable and urgent action would be taken. So why does it not matter at all when it's prostitutes who're affected? Why is their well-being so studiously ignored?
* Research by Melissa Farley and others, San Francisco 1998. Quoted in The Equality Illusion by Kat Banyard.
PS: Iceland is well on the way to shutting down its entire sex industry. Having already banned the purchase of sex, they have now banned businesses from profiting out of their employees' nudity. The ban on paid sex is supported by 82% of women and 57% of men. It must have helped that almost half the country's MPs are female, as opposed to under a fifth in the UK.
(Next up: something soft, pink and fluffy....)