In this presentation from Culture Reframed’s virtual event, “Pornography and Prostitution: Connecting the Dots,” Vednita Carter challenges the notion that sex work is a legitimate job and highlights the harm and violence associated with it.
Carter is the founder of Breaking Free, a nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota, that is dedicated to ending all forms of sex trafficking. She is a pioneer in the abolitionist movement and has extensive experience in developing and implementing programs to support women and girls who are survivors of sex trafficking.
Is “Sex Work” Work?
In her presentation, Carter dispels the myths and lies surrounding the sex trade that keep women trapped in a vicious cycle of sexual abuse and misuse. “Sex work can’t be defined as a job or work. The inherent harm of being bought and sold is the actual sex act,” notes Carter.
The reality of prostitution is that it operates 24/7, with women on call as long as there is a buyer. “Unlike legitimate jobs, women in prostitution don’t get sick time, they don’t get vacation days and holidays,” says Carter.
Concerning “job” duties, Carter states, “You can’t even imagine that the women have to do this on a daily basis, not with one, but with many different guys.”
Harmful Effects of Prostitution
Prostitution affects its victims in all aspects of life, according to Carter. Prostitution victims face high rates of homicide, physical and psychological injuries, and addiction. Mentally, victims of prostitution also experience higher incidences of clinical depression, dissociative disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and PTSD. Prostitution only offers harm and violence to its victims, and leads to fewer opportunities for living a healthy and happy life.
In her presentation, Carter notes that our role is to stop the sex industry from framing the narrative of prostitution as a “victimless crime” by using accurate language to describe the violence of prostitution. “We have to look beneath the surface and we have to be able to stand up and say, [prostitution] is not sex work. ”
Watch the video below to hear Carter explore the realities of prostitution, and what we can do to end the sex trade.