RealTime: Prostitution Pledge for Politicians

Published on Reproductive Health | (

By Scott Swenson

Created Mar 10 2008 – 2:44pm
As Congress and the White House prepare to compromise the lives of millions of African women and girls by continuing the nonsensical anti-prostitution pledge in PEPFAR 1, we have evidence, yet again, of just how hypocritical it is for politicians to sit in judgment of anyone else’s life. New York Governor Elliot Spitzer (D-NY) 2 is in the process of tanking one of the most promising political careers in the country over his involvement with a prostitution ring in New York.

Just last year Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) 3 was caught up with the DC Madame, but kept his job in the Senate where he is attempting to win his way back into the hearts of conservatives by championing more judgmental legislation 4. Vitter will have an opportunity to do right by sex workers, by voting to remove the anti-prostitution pledge, when the Senate votes on PEPFAR soon. Will he vote to support the services of women he was once intimate with, or vote with the hypocrites compromising the lives of millions?

So how about it, Congress? Enough of the hypocritical moralizing on PEPFAR. No matter how much you enjoy sitting in judgment over the lives of others, prostitutes exist, and are often on the margins of our society. Allowing organizations who are trying to stop the spread of HIV to use tax dollars to educate, prevent and treat this vulnerable population makes sense.

But perhaps I’ve missed the point. Maybe politicians aren’t judging all sex workers, just those that aren’t part of the high class Park Avenue and Watergate denizens frequented by the governing elite. Maybe Congress is just judging those women in Africa and other parts of the world who because of poverty are forced to support themselves and their children by selling sex in the streets and on the truck routes where less political men seek their services.

For a Congress that includes David Vitter as a sitting member, with a Democratic majority that up until today believed Spitzer was a rising star, to pass PEPFAR with the anti-prostitution pledge that essentially consigns many women and girls to death sentences, is exactly what is wrong with politics in America today. And some people just call it “compromise.”

How about we insert this substitute language in the bill,

As an American politician I will stop all hypocritical, self-righteous moralizing and judgment of the lives of others. I pledge to support legislation that treats all humans as equals and ensure that foreign assistance dollars intended to stop HIV/AIDS are allocated using the very best public health strategies, based on real evidence, and targeted to those most vulnerable. When I access the services of a sex worker, call girl, escort or madame, I will always use protection and make sure s/he has access to adequate health care. I will stop dragging my innocent spouse in front of television cameras to support me in a moment of self-inflicted hypocrisy.


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