Virada Somswasdi, JD, President of the Foundation for Women, Law and Rural Development (FORWARD), said in a Mar. 9, 2004 speech at Cornell Law School:

“The implicit assumption of free choice in wording such as ‘the private affairs of individuals’, ‘personal freedom’, ‘right to privacy’ and ‘the consent of two adults’ are nothing but the formation of an illusion perpetuating lack of social awareness of sexual slavery.

Dominated by the patriarchal social structure, male and female members of society fail to understand that prostitution is about the flesh trade, and involves a high risk of exposure to violence characterized by bodily harm, health hazards and mental trauma. It is about the violation of women’s human rights.

Prostitution is not about women enjoying rights over their own bodies; on the contrary, it is an expression of men’s control over women’s sexuality. It is the hiring out of one’s body for the purposes of sexual intercourse, abuse and manifestations of undifferentiated male lust. It is about gendered, ethnic, age, racial and class power relations. By no means is it the ‘consent of two adults’, when one party is the buyer and the other the seller, especially when the buying party happens to be socially constructed as ‘the better sex’, ‘the better class’, ‘the more matured’, ‘the power-that-be’, ‘the more cultural polished’ or ‘the fairer skin’ etc.”

Mar. 9, 2004