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Twenty-seven men had their names published today by the Irish Times after being convicted of soliciting sex for money. By contrast, no men had their names published for successfully negotiating sex in return for a meal in a top-class restaurant, for purchasing a fancy piece of jewellery or for providing a foreign holiday.
If a woman should marry a repulsive old man in the expectation of inheriting his fortune, is that not prostitution? Human trafficking, of course, is utterly vile, but this question is not about pimping or trafficking. We can deal with them later. I realise that this comparison is a conflation, but sometimes such juxtapositions are useful to illustrate the absurdity of public policy.
Would it have been better if they asked for sex in return for nothing? Would that have made them criminals? Is this the right way to deal with prostitution? One of the accused was refused free legal aid. According to reports, the judge said that if he could afford the oldest profession in the world, he could afford the second-oldest. Everyone guffawed, including me, until it occurred to me that he could only have applied for free legal aid before his trial.
If this is true, then the man did not receive a fair trial. And furthermore, if the facts are correct, both the Independent and the Irish Times have libelled him. And good luck to her. Exchanging sex for food also happens among other mammals and it makes sense, as a nutrition provider is likely to be able to provide for offspring and thereby propagate the genes.
People are fallible and make mistakes. Not only are the men who may have made a stupid decision out of drunkedness, loneliness, isolation or depression had their lives incalcubably altered. But their sons, daughters, spouses, parents, neighbours and friends all have to bear the stigma.