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Book Review — Sami Sahil Baloch

There are numerous articles, blogs, and stories on the topic of sexual harassment and gender politics. However, the number of books on sexual politics and international gender politics are very few. Sheila Jeffreys is an Australian (Originally English) author who has written ten books on the topic of history and politics of sexuality. She has been a professor at the University of Melbourne and has been playing an active role in issues relating to sexual violence, for about 50 years. “The Industrial Vagina; The Political Economy of the Global Sex Trade”, published in 2008 is also one of her widely praised books on the said topic.
The book contains various topics which more or less revolve around the “Prostitution Industry”. The author portrays the dark history of the world cursing the growth of prostitution. She clearly and boldly puts forward, how Prostitution has been transformed into a formal industry globally. Although many countries have disregarded the situations of trafficked sex slaves (women/girls) in the beginning, now it has become an economic activity. In several countries, it has a greater contribution to the GDPs than the agriculture or other sectors which is a mind-boggling phenomenon.
While criticizing South East Asian, Latin American, European, and Australian markets, she declares the situation as inhumane and massively dangerous. These regions have used a euphemistic language to legitimize the industry; and have termed it an entrepreneurial idea. These so-called civilized nations have also put another label on it; “massively profitable global industry”.
The worse situation has arisen due to the social acceptance of people towards the sinful act, which has undoubtedly, helped in the legitimization of prostitution in various parts of the world. Additionally, the Capitalist markets have been found exploiting the prostitutes by paying them a negligible amount after being trafficked to other places or brothels. Especially, the prostitution industry of India and Hong Kong where families and migrants are used as sex workers in brothels and are paid much lesser than substantive levels. The Chinese migrant girls, too, get about only 8% of the total earnings they make, may it be in Hong Kong or any other country.
The book provides major insights into the role of prostitution and its considerable contribution to Japan’s economic development. Particularly, after World War Two when anything Japan wanted was an economic push from any sector. The author refers to unwanted or forceful and childhood marriage as a form of prostitution as well.
To put forward another astonishing fact, the globalized pornography production and distribution have attracted even banks and other investors due to the immense profitability in the industry. Lastly, the historical evolution of Military and Tourism prostitution is described along with the role of the State as a Pimp. Several countries, for instance, promote their prostitution industry to attract tourists, which is a sheer violation of ethical and moral standards. Ultimately it ends with providing some solutions to how the harm to women who are prostituted could be minimized.
The author has massively criticized (only) men for the entire problem of the Prostitution Industry in the world. Although all feminists raise their voices, write for their rights and their violations, the “Industrial Vagina” has presented a well-researched picture of society (and the world). Despite major criticism, no man can argue that they aren’t part of this unnoticed yet massive sin that has now spread like a pandemic across the globe. The book elaborates all the functioning and reasons of the growth of the Prostitution industry, simply and coherently, which keeps the reader’s interest till the end. For social activists, human rights preservers, students of gender studies, and any other field, this is a book worth reading. Like the title, the book itself is quite bold and informative in its nature. Every assertion is based on facts, arguments, and evidence which enhances the authenticity and also the miserable feelings one will encounter while reading it.


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