Friday, March 23, 2007

Kagame; Think Hard Before You Commence Legislating Morality

8 March, 2007 was the International Women’s Day, a day where we all commemorate the achievements of women in all aspects of life and where the rhetoric of the emancipation of women is celebrated.

On this day in Kigali, the Rwandese President General Paul Kagame chose to officially join forces with the ever vocal group that seeks criminalization of prostitution under the belief that this trade has no intrinsic value attached to it and that the advantages of its eradication through indiscriminate enforcement of the criminal law are undeniable.

I agree with the value concept of this school of thought because to me prostitution is something I abhor and distaste. However, despite my beliefs, I concur with the notion that prostitution should only be branded as immoral just like alcohol consumption, but not as a criminal act.

Kagame’s assertion that “the legal arm of this land should take immediate action and sweep our streets of the prostitutes” worries me, because not only does this directive sweep the causes under the carpet, it is also a bold attempt by the executive body to initiate passing laws whose primary concern is morality and not civil value. Laws whose primary objective is civil are intended to ensure the safety and indeed order of all residents of the country and also ensure other values that uphold freedoms, liberty et al.

I believe that generalizing all immoral things as illegal is fundamentally wrong and self defeating. Take for instance the Christians’ stand on worshipping other gods other than the biblical God; it is considered as immoral, despicable and punishable by everlasting condemnation and yet the right to exercise preference in worship is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and indeed the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by the General Assembly. In my opinion, the state can not prohibit any individual’s liberty in social interactions, most especially where the parties in question are two consenting adults.

Mr. Kagame was right when he observed that “Prostitution is a clear and explicit reflection of moral decay, the erosion of moral values and the collective failure of the family institution in carrying out the responsibility of getting the young internalize and measure up to societal expectations.” But fails to recognize that moral decay is considered an outright sign of government’s mismanagement 'kubanga' prostitution is one of many evils taken to symbolize collapse of the pillars of society.

A quick fix, in my opinion, is government’s lazy way of trying to handle this “problem” of prostitution without meeting her own obligations to society like educating her people about this evil; building an inclusive economy and strong social welfare systems/networks; and promoting/upholding African values – Not legislating morality, because, like I said the primary deliberation of laws should be civil and not a moral function.

I am sincerely hoping that the president had child trafficking, sexual slavery, exploitation and pimping in mind. Heavy enforcement laws against trafficking and pimping would do justice to the plight of prostitutes who are victims of harsh economic environments that lack viable alternatives; victims of the injustice of criminalization and social stigma from "legitimate" society that figures that prostitutes brought their troubles onto themselves; and the education system that promotes job seeking mentalities minting out fresh graduates each year to do just that…job seeking.

Our Rwandese society has digressed to new levels, when daily stories in the media revolve around young university girls exchanging sexual favors for good marks; where essays and thesis are only presented but not prepared/researched by the student; when impoverished parents give away their young daughters to rich men in exchange for a herd of cows in dowry or to work as house girls; where reputable men with assumed inferiority complexes believe exchange of money or other favors for romance rejuvenates them…absurd!!

With such instances stipulated above, the definition of prostitution and the line between consensual and commerce; invisible 'prostitutes' or/and exploiters will be tough to demarcate. For instance, is exchanging sexual favors for good marks or a great thesis a kind of prostitution or likewise isn’t the act of receiving such favors exploition? Btw, by definition wouldn’t I be prostituting if my husband bought me a special gift with expectations of some kind of return or favor? Think about this objectively

Whereas Kagame has good intentions, I believe abolitionism which is a balance between his preferred criminalization and de-criminalization maybe the only legal regime viable to reduce on the alarming rate of prostitution in his country. It criminalizes perceived activities of those assumed/seen as exploiting or coercing prostitution and trafficking whilst absolving the burden of regulation from the prostitutes, period.

Rwanda should endorse the UN’s Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Person and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (if she hasn’t yet). This convention does not condone prostitution but seeks to free prostitutes from the criminal code (according them special protection under the law) whilst endeavoring to reintegrate prostitutes back into society.

It all boils down to the question of morality. I honestly believe that the immorality of hypocrisy in today's society is more dangerous than sex for favors, because all evils attached to prostitution can easily be attached to many other social interactions that are built through lies and hypocrisy. I guess what I am attempting to convey here is my “slippery slope effect forbia.” In future the mere holding of hands and kissing in public by lovers which is deemed immoral in our culture may end up to be legislated without considering the genesis of the “immoral act” and government role.

I am out like you know who

22 Comments:

Anonymous Kalki said...

Welcome back girlie. You are right, take a gander at the white collar crime that goes on daily in our midst and how often do you see one of them being charged? And they do more damage to society than any hooker ever did.

I say legalize prostitution and have them work in a government medically checked legal house and pay taxes the way the rest of us have to. That way you protect them from serial predators, disease and addictions.

Saturday, March 24, 2007 11:52:00 AM  
Blogger F. Safari said...

Mwiriweho sista? So, where should we draw the line, or should the government not legislate morality at all?

We need legislation to re-inforce behaviours that mimic beings possessing morality.

IJORO RYIZA

Saturday, March 24, 2007 6:54:00 PM  
Blogger jovialjitterz said...

Hi J! that disappearing act was just washed away with the seriousness of this entry... to tell you the truth, it's a hard one for me, whereas political figures imposing personal morals on the country is not very democratic, prostitution is a growing problem/hazard that we need to do something about... this is why i don't mess with the whole politics thing, i never come to a concrete conclusion... but i do maintain that prostitution be done away with, the means by which that is to be done is the question.

Good to have you back :-)

Monday, March 26, 2007 8:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Monique Gateretse said...

Hey, look whoz back. Comment ça va?

I really prefer governments to stay the hell out of our private lives--The slippery slope effect you suggested is my ultimate concern too. You never know how far big brother's long arm can reach!

muramuke.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Monique Gateretse said...

Hey, look whoz back. Comment ça va?

I really prefer governments to stay the hell out of our private lives--The slippery slope effect you suggested is my ultimate concern too. You never know how far big brother's long arm can reach!

muramuke.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Barsawa said...

Great to have you back writing - as always - thought provoking and intellectually stimulating posts.

Prostituition IS immoral, no doubt about that. All great religions and ideologies are totally against it. Marxists have always thought that by creating communism, prostituition would be eliminated. That could be true: compared to present Rusiia, communist USSR had very few prostitutes and they were never visible at all.

Criminilising prostituiotion isn't the answer at all. Rehabilitating them would be best; making them strong and secure economically would be the answer. The back bone in all families, are women; more so, in Africa. No woman (I believe so) chooses prostituition as a way of earning a living, easily; it must be extremlely hard to do that. It's a pity if Kagame, who I think is very smart, decided on such an extreme measure to control prstituition.

This might be of interest: http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/sex_work.shtml and http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070210120704AAnIZ76&show=7

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 9:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Toros. K said...

Its bizarre to me that, in this century, we are regulating sexual behavior. If two consenting adults want to enter into a business transaction regarding sex, that's their business - not yours, not mine, not anyone else's.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 1:16:00 PM  
Blogger countryboy said...

hi JKB, welcome back.

and now, your well thought out ideas on prostitution, i don't buy. i remember one author i read, who while supporting prostitution drew from his childhood experience where his mother oft left home at night when they didn't have what to eat and returned in the morning with groceries and food. they called her a prostitute, said the writer, but i saw her as a compassionate mother who gave her best to ensure her kids dont starve.

now, i'll tell from the chats i've had with my female friends, to reading, that the biggest blow to a woman is not even the jerk of a husband battering his wife but the shame that fill the hearts of women and lurk there waiting for the time to explode and destory them. that shame is the shame of being used sexually, the shame of being prostitutes.

kagame, in standing strong against that habit, has the interests of women folk in his country at heart. we should praise him for that. am sure there are always alternatives -let's seize those, as basawad says, we can find ways of integrating these women than leaving them to live in shame on the street selling their bodies.

me say so!

Thursday, March 29, 2007 3:39:00 PM  
Blogger jkb said...

Dennis, u make a lot of sense in your argument, but your evaluation of Kagame’s “benevolence” stopped me in my own tracks. How can Kagame, a man, have a clue about women or/and prostitutes’ interests to be the champion of their rights?

His suggested remedy to this problem reminds me of that lazy farmer slashing the “lumbugu” other than uprooting it with a hoe or some one plucking leaves off a tree to cut on his leaf waste disposal costs!

We all know that a tree with roots, a stem and a branch will have its leaves grow back. Why shouldn’t Kagame’s concern be MORE on the intermediaries like pimps, traffickers and the men (the ‘Johns’) that ignite demand for such services, or/ peut-être, the root causes like the economy/poverty, inequality et al?

Like Jovial says and indeed Omar, prostitution is a real hazard/problem that needs to be fought, how we do it is the million dollar question. Covering our heads in sand (i.e plucking leaves off a tree) like ostriches do, won’t help the cause.

Friday, March 30, 2007 4:30:00 PM  
Blogger jovialjitterz said...

hi J, hati the template mecca qn is a trick because i am all over, the banner i made myself using various pics on the web but there are some good already built templates at www.blogskins.com

it might be a little time consuming but check it out when you have the chance, and then the rest you tweak on your own.

hope that helps, and i pray all is well with you and yours :-)
bless!

Friday, March 30, 2007 5:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

@Jovial, u're such a darling. Thanx 4 the link.

Sunday, April 01, 2007 7:14:00 PM  
Blogger ROLEX MAKER said...

u gotta have it! some brogrens are rappers ---tha CD is out. and from what i hear its ballistic! u gotta have it –mbu the records will take u to paradise. CB did the review.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 6:40:00 AM  
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