Well, it looks like this was the week to repeal legislation. Besides rejecting the “witch tax” bill, the Romanian senate also voted against a bill which would’ve legalized “prostitution” or sex work.
The text of the bill (in Romanian) is here (PDF) and it looks fairly reasonable to me.
A lot of people (including Americans) are quite surprised to learn that “prostitution” is legal in the United States, albeit only in a few remote counties in Nevada. Nevertheless, it’s been a legal business there for 100 years and continues to be today.
Whether for business or for pleasure, I haven’t had much cause to truck with prostitution in my life. But it has always struck me as irrational to the extreme to want to make it illegal (or better said, to not just let it be). What about it, exactly, is so offensive to people that they would bury their heads in the sand and hope and wish it just magically goes away?
Certainly it’s known as the “World’s Oldest Profession” for a reason. I’ve yet to travel to a country where it did not exist, although usually it’s camouflaged under various names like “escorts” or “adult dates” or “massage parlors” or the like. Time and again, laws are made to try to box out this trade and yet they never work, do they? Might as will spit in the sun to put it out.
In many places where prostitution is illegal, filming pornographic movies is not, leading to yet another irrational paradox. Even I can barely understand the legal juggling act that is California v. Freeman, which is the shaky foundation for how one is legal and the other is not (in the United States).
It also seems ludicrous to the point of disbelief that sex is something which you may freely give away (when you are an adult) to any whom you would choose but if you try to sell it for a penny, you’re breaking the law.
For Romania, this bill (and its subsequent defeat) made me laugh bitterly. For one, I note that the first paragraph specifically would’ve prohibited homosexual prostitution.
The name of this country, the name for its own people and even the name of its language come from Rome, as in the ancient and storied Republic-then-Empire that once reached its might even unto this land where I now live. Indeed, there’s a statue of Romulus and Remus proudly displayed in downtown Cluj-Napoca, and in many other Romanian cities as well.
And yet thanks to the books and records and yes even Pompeii, a Roman city “frozen in time” under six meters of volcanic ash, we know today that the Romans had no such prudence when it came to either prostitution or homosexual relations. And yet even If Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus himself (after whom the very president of Romania is named!) were to stride into Bucharest today and condone homosexuality he would be run out of town on a rail.
Romania is not, to say it politely, very tolerant on the subject of homosexuality.
However considering the fact that this country is in a criza, reeling from debt and depleted state coffers, why not legalize (heterosexual) sex work? It’s been done before (including in the United States) and seems to be okay. It’s not always “great” but then few occupations are. I’ve certainly suffered my portion of misery in cubicle farms and office towers and I kept my clothes on the entire time. So why not regulate sex work and tax it and conduct checks on the health and welfare of both the workers and the customers?
No. Because for the stiff-necked pride of those who would be “moral”, thousands and thousands of our sisters (and sometimes brothers) are trafficked this way and that, beaten, abused, raped and forced into slavery, all for the untaxed profit of some of the most hideous people on Earth. Would Marinela Badea have been kidnapped and her body sold like meat if there were safe, legal alternatives? Perhaps. But I’d like to see you try telling her that to her face.
About once a week I walk the long and winding trail to my local hypermarket (Cora). And no matter how much snow is blowing or how cold it is, there are always a few prostitutes standing on the side of the highway, coughing the deep hack that is the mark of a heavy smoker or someone who is quite ill, or perhaps both. I’ve never spoken to any of them and I do not know their names but I cannot deny their humanity and I often wonder if they’d rather prefer to do their work indoors, with legal and medical protection, and guess that they probably would.
And, perhaps, chip in their meager share of taxes and contribute to their future pension, which no matter how small, would still be more than nothing, which is what they’ll get now.
But so it goes…