June 30, 2021 - 2:12pm

Prostitution, we are told, is work just like any other. If we take it as given that ‘the world’s oldest profession’ is, indeed, a legitimate profession, then it is worth asking who exactly we expect to fill this role. We know that demand for prostituted women far outstrips supply of native women — there just aren’t enough British women financially desperate enough to enter into the trade. Immigrants do all our crappy jobs — from delivering our takeouts to cleaning our offices, we’ve become accustomed to relying on cheap foreign labour to fill gaps in unpleasant, ill-paid labour sectors.

An article published by Nordic Model Now, an anti-sex trafficking advocacy group, lays out some of the consequences Western European demand for cheap labour has on poorer European nations. Over two decades on from the fall of Romania’s brutal communist dictatorship, the beleaguered Eastern European nation is still struggling to find its place in modern Europe.

It seems that the most valuable contribution the country can provide in the eyes of its richer neighbours is her people — specifically, her young women. Demand for Romanian ‘prostitutes’ has fostered an extremely profitable — and powerful — criminal underworld. It is no longer enough to lure women with promises of employment in babysitting or cleaning sectors: gangs have become emboldened, snatching young women from the streets of their hometowns to traffic out of the country.

A particularly harrowing case from 2019 illustrates just how pervasive the problem of sex trafficking has become in the country. On her way home from school, 14 year old girl Alexandra Macesanu was kidnapped, raped, and sold into prostitution. Her horrified family begged the police to help, to no avail – Alexandra herself had frantically called the police informing them of her abduction, only for them to laugh her down and ultimately ignore the call. How could it be that Romania, a small country where prostitution is illegal, has thousands of reported cases of kidnapping for the purpose of sex trafficking?

We can gasp in shock at the brutality of these foreign pimps (and we certainly should), but we cannot turn a blind eye to our own culpability in this sick trade. The demand, after all, comes from somewhere. One of the biggest markets for prostituted women is found in Germany, which legalised prostitution in 2002. It’s difficult to get exact figures on sex buyers, or ‘punters’, generally due to the often illegal and underground prostitution circles. Germany, therefore, provides the best glimpse into the European market for paid sex. According to the most recent estimates, around 1.2 million German men buy access to prostituted women every day — with one in five German men having paid for a prostitute at least once in his life.

We have enriched ourselves through the exploitation of immigrant labour for decades. If Britain were to recognise prostitution as legitimate ‘work’, we could no doubt further enrich ourselves from the sexual exploitation of immigrant labour. Legalised brothels make pimps of us all — and pimping is a very lucrative business. How helpful, then, are these sex-positive feminists to the cause of ‘Big-Pimp’? Just as other exploitative industries utilise propaganda to soften the brutal reality of the job for the ordinary worker, advocates for legalised prostitution will obfuscate the typical experience for women and girls in the sex trade — boosting a highly sanitised image of the ‘sex worker’ to suit their decriminalisation agenda.

Rather than look towards utopian hypotheticals, in which all women who ‘work’ in prostitution do so freely and happily, we need to examine the sex trade as it does — and always will — operate: predicated upon the physical, mental and financial exploitation of the most vulnerable classes of immigrant women.

Poppy Coburn is an editorial trainee at UnHerd.