I get the Change.org e-mailed newsletter. I don’t often share its sentiments, but that’s actually what makes it fun to read. I open the emails expecting a little silliness, so I’m entertained when it’s as expected, and impressed when it’s not. It’s a totally different experience than reading, say, Mitt Romney’s newsletters (that typically contain sound political thoughts and/or requests for donations), and I enjoy the change of pace.
The June 8-14 2009 Change.org newsletter contained a story heralding the website’s recent success in convincing Diner’s Club to end its relationship with a mail-order bride service. In a nutshell: Diner’s Club previously announced the relationship, Change.org reacted, and DC backed down. The newsletter claimed this success demonstrated, “the power that all of us can have on matters that impact the lives of others” – and this is one of those times I end up impressed, as I agree with them. Change.org went about changing things as democracy intends—not by pushing for legislation from the bench, but by rallying people to influence the company directly. Good for them.
The newsletter’s wording made me curious, however. In describing why paying to marry a foreign stranger is objectionable, the newsletter claimed the practice’s “gross commodification of women and the vulnerability of mail-order brides to human trafficking, domestic violence, abuse, and exploitation.” My first thought was, “What about prostitution?” Surely that practice commodifies women to an equal or greater extent – and there is clearly controversy around its link to human trafficking, violence, etc. I wondered if Change.org thought of this “oldest of professions” with the same disdain as they did the mail-order bride industry.
On the contrary, a quick search on Change.org turned up an article that implied governments shouldn’t withhold dignity from sex workers by deeming their trade illegal. I thought this quote was particularly interesting:
When we think about decriminalizing prostitution we need to look beyond the various evils that are often correlated, but not causal with adult sexual solicitation such as human trafficking. Human trafficking and any type of sex slavery is illegal and always will be illegal as long as the 13th Amendment is part of the constitution.
There is no arguing that.
The continual pursuit of justice for anyone who is raped, exploited by a human trafficking scheme, or a victim of pedophilia must be of utmost interest to legal authorities.
But the condemnation of the adult sex worker industry is condemning a labor industry with an economic demand from tax paying citizens.
Couldn’t this same argument be applies to mail-order brides? Or is there something I’m missing in the liberal position that allows for the seeming discrepancy?
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