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Paid For by Rachel Moran

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

2013, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Before we can expect social change, prostitution must be recognised for the abuse that it is. -Rachel Moran

Julia recommended this book to my mother who wanted to learn more about prostitution because Julia is studying law in order to help fight against human sex trafficking. Mom lent it to me.

Moran tells of her experience growing up in a dysfunctional family which resulted in her placement in foster care and eventually to selling herself at the age of 14 on the streets of Dublin. For over seven years she worked as a street prostitute but also in brothels and for independent clients where she says, contrary to popular belief, she felt even less safe than on the streets. She eventually got out of prostitution and is now actively fighting against it.

Moran defines prostitution as the commercialization of sexual abuse:

The commercialisation of sexual abuse has created an arena within which this abuse can rage unhindered, precisely because it is unacknowledged and for the very reason that it is unnamed. This book strives to call attention to its true nature, and to assign it its true name. 115

She argues against prostitution myths:

MYTH: Prostituted people have personal control.

…there is no personal control in prostitution, but there is a very great need to believe so, and there is a very great number of women who adhere stringently to that belief. Their delusions are utterly understandable to me…since I once adhered to them so ardently myself. 134

The belief that prostitutes are in control has no basis in reality, but it has two practicable functions, related but distinct: to sanitise and excuse the economic and sexual abuse of women by men, and to obscure the core of prostitution’s true nature: the commercialisation of sexual abuse. 171

MYTH: Prostitution represents sexual liberation.

Prositution and sexual liberation have got nothing to do with each other, they’re exactly the opposite. 152

The only thing prostitution ever liberated me from was homelessness. 152

Nobody—not myself, not the other women—enjoys being pawed, poked, prodded and f**cked by men we wouldn’t give the time of day if we met them elsewhere. – Peggy Morgan, former erotic dancer, Living on the Edge

MYTH: Prostitution is necessary.

Countries with male-majority governments are implementing the legalisation of prostitution with frightening rapidity throughout the Western world. Where is the female revolt towards all this? There is no widespread female revolt because female sexuality has so long been viewed as a commodity that women have begun to believe in the necessity of a separate class of women to provide it. 183

When women tolerate prostitution they are actually tolerating the dehumanisation of their own gender in a broader and more encompassing sense. 183

There is no doubting the intensity of the sexual thrill men derive from the elevation of their power status in prostitution, although the majority of them will deny it. 173

…when two people engage in the sex-for-money exchange…they largely ignore each other’s humanity and put their own considerations in priority above that…As a species, the urge to violate is strong within us. It is up to us to be stronger than it is. 201

MYTH: Legalisation and decriminalisation will help.

To be prostituted is humiliating enough; to legalise prostitution is to condone that humiliation, and to absolve those who inflict it. It is an agonising insult. 221

Decriminalization of prostitution in The Netherlands and other countries, expected to decrease prostitution, has instead increased the trade, and facilitated more illegal human sex trafficking.

REALITY: Prostitution Legislation

After Rachel Moran left prostitution, she began fighting for Ireland to implement legislation known as the Nordic Model, first introduced in Sweden in 1999 as the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services. This legislation criminalizes the purchase of services from prostitutes, while decriminalizing the selling of services by the prostitutes themselves who are considered victims, and increasing the availability of training and education to help them find other means of employment.

After several years of public debate initiated by the Swedish women’s movement, the Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services came into force on January 1, 1999. The Law is the first attempt by a country to address the root cause of prostitution and trafficking in beings: the demand, the men who assume the right to purchase persons for prostitution purposes. This ground breaking law is a cornerstone of Swedish efforts to create a contemporary, democratic society where women and girls can live lives free of all forms of male violence. In combination with public education, awareness-raising campaigns, and victim support, the Law and other legislation establish a zero tolerance policy for prostitution and trafficking in human beings. When the buyers risk punishment, the number of men who buy prostituted persons decreases, and the local prostitution markets become less lucrative. Traffickers will then choose other and more profitable destinations.

In 2014 Ireland decided to implement the Nordic model.

Rachel Moran

I hope I live to see government-funded prostitution alternatives programmes every bit as accessible to women as prostitution is, because only in a world like that would women and girls like my teenage self experience some of the ‘choice’ the world keeps telling us about. -Rachel Moran

Rachel Moran continues to fight against the legalization of prostitution through speaking engagements and her international organization SPACE (Survivors of Prostitiution-abuse calling for enlightenment). Membership is restricted to formerly prostituted women.,

Click here for an article from The Irish Times about Rachel Moran's fight.

Also read: Any Girl by Mia Döring, referenced here.

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4 תגובות

19 באפר׳ 2020

Thanks for your comments Yvonne and Julia.


Julia R
Julia R
18 באפר׳ 2020

Hi, one of the main critiques about making prostitution fully legal (which includes decriminalizing pimps and brothels and regulating prostitution as a profession) is that it hasn't worked in countries that tried it, such as the Netherlands and Germany.

This article explains some of what happened in Germany: In The Netherlands, the police conducted investigations about 10 years after the legalization of brothels and found that 50 to 90% of the people prostituting in legal brothels were trafficked (which shows both the failure of legalization and the link between prostitution and trafficking: when the demand for prostitution is higher than the number of people who "want" to do it, pimps meet the demand through trafficking). A survivor leader from…


17 באפר׳ 2020

Moran doesn't talk much about male prostitutes, she may mention their existence in passing if I remember correctly. She mainly speaks of her own experiences working with other women. In answer to another question, there is a link between prostitution and sex trafficking.

Regarding the Nordic model (also called Equality model, Swedish model, Abolitionist model, or sex buyer law), prostitution, trafficking and violence against those in the trade has decreased significantly since Sweden introduced the law in 1999. Several other countries have adopted this model (including France) in recent years. My understanding is that once those laws are introduced, traffickers take their business elsewhere (as predicted). Since the laws were introduced studies show attitudes towards prostitution in Sweden have starte…


15 באפר׳ 2020

My first comment Kellie!

I found this post really interesting, especially where Moran is busting common myths about prostitution. However unchecked capitalism and power dynamics being what they are, it's going to be a very hard slog to uniformly and globally criminalize the buyers (same with immigration-why are illegal immigrants rounded up and deported rather than punishing the employers who hire them?) We can have the debate about whether legalizing prostitution is the best step forward (of course in an ideal world, police and society will stop criminalizing prostitutes, women will no longer feel the need to go down that path for whatever reason, and men will stop asking for transactional sex), but I think the goal of legalization is…

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