As London prepares for the Olympics–where the world forgets international conflict and enjoys for a brief moment the pure spirit and high ideals of sportsmanship–British authorities should have a plan in place for their hookers. Today’s National Post describes the difficulty of the situation.
BC researchers found that stepped-up police effort during the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 had the adverse effect of separating hookers from their usual places of work, exposing them to more violence and disease than usual. To redress this, a potential plan for this year’s Olympics might include the creation of brothels that operate parallel to the sporting events this summer, says a nameless author of a new study on “the sex trade and the 2010 Olympics.” No mention yet on whether the brothels will be physically located within the athletes village proper, or perhaps whether they’ll go one inclusive step further and make prostitution a new Olympic event. There is room in this Olympics, after all, since the IOC dropped women’s baseball. It’s clear what organizers think is more popular.
There are two separate forces here: health advocates are concerned for the well being of hookers, while the Olympic committee is more concerned with, hello hello, the optics and public relations. I’m not sure what the law is in the UK, but thankfully at least all parties seem equally unconcerned.
Advocates are trying to develop a strategy based on past mistakes. Apparently, before the Vancouver Olympics the media warned that there would be a “prostitution explosion” expected to descend on Vancouver, and hordes of entrepreneurial-minded sex workers the world over would flock to this veritable Klondike gold rush. None of this happened, however, only incidents of police harassment increased.
This story interests me for a couple reasons. One, it seems Olympic organizers and the media expect that when the world is invited somewhere, the world inevitably wants hookers. Even if this is apparently not true. Personally, I do what I can to welcome and oblige my house guests, but Olympic organizers don’t share my sense of hospitality. Two, hooker showdowns force us to reveal our moral hand. How do we reconcile Judeo-Christian values with reality? What trumps?
The question I’m interested in isn’t really whether prostitution is good or bad–a worthwhile but more complex issue beyond my scope–but whether abstract moral posturing is more important than harming real people.
Also, Olympic stories tend to be of the uplifting human overcoming the odds, national glory, or stoic acceptance and better-luck-next-year variety. I like that there’s already some sordid down-to-earth muck in the mix, a tangle of thorns to be worked out before the eyes of the world. Deal with that Olympic organizers!