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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DVD Review: Buying Sex

Should sex workers be allowed? Buying Sex tells the story about how Canadians react to a court case addressing this issue, with information about laws in New Zealand and Sweden.

The issue is not a simple one, and to its credit this film doesn't really provide the answers. Rather, the film illuminates the activities of those for and against prostitution in Canada, and explores how effective different laws have been in two countries with opposing attitudes, New Zealand and Sweden.

For those concerned (or hopeful), this is not a titillating film (although there is a sequence with some nudity, mostly male behinds in a brothel in Amsterdam). The film is more about facts and opinions.

The most interesting argument made was that different countries have different percentages of the male population that uses prostitution. Therefore, based on that data, it is more a social issue than an instinctual one.

The emotions associated with those on both sides clouded their responses. The main arguments against prostitution have long been that women are taken advantage of, that their bodies are treated as property, and that the job is dangerous. Those in favor of prostitution argue that if it were decriminalized, it would be far safer, and the women would no longer be taken advantage of or treated as property because they would be in control.

Another important idea that is put forth is that in most countries with laws against prostitution, it is the women who are the criminals. The main advocate against legalization in this film, a former Canadian prostitute, points out how unfair this is, and how making the buyers' actions the criminal act would do more to get women out of prostitution. This parallels Swedish law, which not only makes buying sex a crime, but even goes as far as publishing the names of those convicted. In contrast, New Zealand takes a different stance, and allows sex trade in an effort to give sex workers more control, and more options to deal with uncooperative customers.

Overall, Buying Sex is interesting, but perhaps not compelling. It is a slice of life in the story of laws that apply to prostitution. As a treatise on the topic of the legalization of prostitution, it is incomplete. However, Buying Sex does add contemporary context to the debate, and would be a good view for anyone already interested in the topic.

6 out of 10 Rawrs

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