One of Norway’s biggest newspapers, Aftenposten, have been running a debate on prostitution lately, sparked by Danish former prostitute Tanja Rahm’s post on her own personal blog. In her letter, she bashes every costumer she ever encountered, while vividly recalling her days on the street, selling her body to make ends meet for herself.
The debate resurfaces every now and then, but is particularly interesting in Norway after the right-wing coaliton came to power in 2013. As of 2009 it is prohibited to buy sex, but selling it is legal. The newly elected right-wing coaltion want it to once again be legal to buy sex in Norway, and their renewed power makes a repeal imminent.
A bunch of ethical questions comes with this debate. Ask a Norwegian liberal for his stand on this delicate matter, and you would most likely get an answer such as ’as long as two adults have made an agreement, I dont necessarliy see anything wrong with it’. While this would not apply to all right-wing voters in Norway, it is not too far-fetched to assume they hold a similar view.
On the other hand, the left-wing stance is that buying or selling sex is morally wrong. A Christian, for instance, backed by Norwegian christian party KRF, would tell you that sex belongs within the boundaries of marriage, and can not be legitimized through simple agreements between two adults. Sex is sacred and connected to human dignity. Selling one’s body in return for money would ’reduce humans to a machine’, as Tanja Rahm put it in her blog.
Many factors need to be considered and taken into account before making a decision, which I am sure Norwegian politicians are aware of. With that said, I don’t think the law should be based on morale, but on what actually works in practice.
The key questions to ask is if the prohibition of buying sex is actually bettering the working condition of prosititutes. I believe a debate about HIV being spread, protection against violence and ways of bettering the working conditions of women or men selling their bodies would be healthier rather than a morale debate undermining whoever buys sex.
I am not in any way, shape or form trying to champion prostitution itself, but as long as the framework conditions are safe and the person, either man or woman, are selling their body willingly, I don’t have an ethical fundamental problem with it.