As readers of these periodic Shouts will know, prostitution has been legal in Denmark since the end of the last millennium. In a society where it is viewed as a violation of human rights to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term – because it is, after all, that woman's body over which to decide, it seems quite logical to decline to criminalize the sale of sexual services by an adult woman – or man, for that matter. Thus, prostitution has been legal here since 1999.
What is not legal, however and fortunately, is for third parties to profit from the sale of sexual services. This would seem to have solved – at least in principle – the old problem of trying to suppress the oldest profession. (That unscrupulous persons do exist who find ways to exploit women and children and force them into sexual slavery is also an unfortunate, nay, despicable fact; but this Shout is not about that – this Shout is about another, to my mind, brighter aspect of this issue.)
As my criminologist friend here, Professor Dave Sorensen, has pointed out to me, this also led to the solution of a long-standing problem about the right of the physically and mentally handicapped in this advanced social democracy to have their sexual urges satisfied on a regular basis – with public funding. At present, a monthly government allotment is available for visits to prostitutes by disabled persons in recognition of the inevitability of sexual desire and of the rights of all adults to seek satisfaction for their sexual needs with consenting adult partners. (How can you fail to love a country that recognizes the inalienable right of men and women to get laid?! And provides funds to secure the fulfillment of that right?)
This allotment has been in focus in the media recently because a fellow named Torben Hansen, who suffers from cerebral palsy, has sued the government for declining to cover the additional costs of having a prostitute visit him in his home because "access barriers" prevent him from visiting a prostitute himself – which, he charges, constitutes disability discrimination. (If Torben can't come to the prostitute, let the prostitute come to Torben.)
At a time when doctors no longer routinely make house calls, it would hardly seem fair to expect a prostitute to do so without extra compensation. (This might be said to constitute professional discrimination.) The question here is whether the state is willing, or required, to pay that extra fee. In the case of medical visits, it is a matter of how sick the patient is – if you are very sick, an emergency doctor can be dispatched; so perhaps in the case of the prostitution service it should be a matter of how horny you are – whether you are, so to speak, dying for it. As Molly Bloom said to Leopold, "Give us a touch, Poldy. I'm dying for it!"
And as my friend, Professor Sorensen points out with a bemused smile, there is also a movement afoot to secure the right to government-funded prostitution for the unattractive, the awkward, the bashful, those with halitosis…
I say that if you fund it, they will come.
Greetings from this ancient kingdom!
Thomas E. Kennedy
(www.thomasekennedy.com and www.copnhagenquartet.com)
Women in Translation, Part I: Fourteen Countries - Over the past few months, with the help of two fantastic interns, I’ve updated the Translation Database to include the sex of every author and translator...
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