Indeed there has been limited public debate on what makes the difference between something being sexually explicit and sexually exploitative.
The sex industry tends not to distinguish between these and attacks campaigners against sexual exploitation as being moralistic and ‘anti-sex’.
Sexual exploitation violates the human rights of anyone subjected to it, whether female or male, adult or child, Northern or Southern.
There is no fixed or legal definition of commercial sexual exploitation.
Commercial sexual exploitation commodifies women and girls and supports a culture that views women as objects who are more a ‘sum of body parts’ than a whole being, and eroticises men’s violence and their perceived ‘right to buy’ whatever acts they have sexualised.
The Women’s Support Project believes that commercial sexual exploitation is part of the spectrum of men’s violence against women and children, which includes incest, rape, sexual harassment and domestic abuse.
Sexual Exploitation includes offering drugs, food, shelter, protection, other basics of life, and/or money in exchange for sex or sexual acts.
It includes prostitution, stripping and lap-dancing, pornography and sex trafficking, as well as innumerable variants from sex-chat lines to mail order brides.
It is difficult to quantify the numbers of women involved in commercial sexual exploitation, partly because some activities, such as pole dancing, are seen as ‘normal’ and others, such as trafficking into prostitution, are criminal and hidden.
The Scottish Government definition of CSE notes that it is harmful “irrespective of whether individual women claim success or empowerment from the activity”.
It is our view that commercial sexual exploitation is inextricably linked with both the prevalence and the acceptability of sexual violence within our society.
CSE is included in both Scottish Government and United Nations definitions of violence against women based on the physical and mental harms suffered by victims and its roots in and impact on gender inequality.
These harms stretch from difficulty entering other forms of work to increased likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, difficulty with relationships, mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, physical and mental abuse, rape, assault, and increased mortality rates.
Although much fewer men are involved in prostitution than women, the evidence suggests that those involved become so for reasons similar to women i.e.