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What is Commercial Sexual Exploitation?

Adult Entertainment / Lap Dancing / Prostitution / Pornography

Vice Versa project believes that commercial sexual exploitation is part of the spectrum of men’s violence against women and children, which includes incest, rape, sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

There are clear links between issues such as childhood experience of abuse and neglect, domestic abuse, poverty, homelessness, addiction, and women’s involvement in prostitution, pornography and the sex industry as a whole.

Commercial sexual exploitation is …

"A practice by which a person achieves sexual gratification, financial gain or advancement through the abuse or exploitation of a person’s sexuality by abrogating that person’s human right to dignity, equality, autonomy, and physical and mental well-being; i.e. trafficking, prostitution, prostitution tourism, mail-order-bride trade, pornography, stripping, battering, incest, rape and sexual harassment. Sexual exploitation preys on women and children made vulnerable by poverty and economic development policies and practices; refugee and displaced persons; and on women in the migrating process. Sexual exploitation eroticizes women’s inequality and is a vehicle for racism and "first world" domination, disproportionately victimizing minority and "third world" women. Sexual exploitation violates the human rights of anyone subjected to it, whether female or male, adult or child, Northern or Southern."

There is no fixed or legal definition of commercial sexual exploitation. Indeed there has been limited public debate on what makes the difference between something being sexually explicit and sexually exploitative. The sex industry tends not to distinguish between these and attacks campaigners against sexual exploitation as being moralistic and ‘anti-sex’. The Women’s Support Project does not object, for example, to sex education materials that include explicit images nor to nudity per se in film or theatre.

It is our view that commercial sexual exploitation includes, but is not limited to:

  • stripping
  • pole dancing
  • lap dancing
  • massage parlours / saunas
  • brothels
  • escort agencies.
  • prostitution
  • phone sex lines
  • internet sex chat rooms
  • pornography
  • trafficking
  • forced marriage
  • mail order brides
  • sex tourism

Useful contacts

Tap here to find links and contact information for a range of agencies.