Poverty is sexist
Poverty puts women at risk of sexual exploitation
The intersecting poverty and discrimination disproportionately experienced by women, girls, and gender non-conforming people, people of color, migrants, and LGBTQ+ people leave them at greater risk of sexual exploitation.
Sexual exploitation is rooted in gender and other systematic inequalities, and men’s power to exploit. When men pay for sex, they are directly or indirectly taking advantage of the gender and structural discrimination, and economic inequality faced by women and other vulnerable people, for the sake of their own personal sexual gratification and entitlement.
Women and girls should live safe, fearless, and free
LOST believes that all women and girls should be able to live safe, fearless, and free and to enjoy sexual freedom.
Such freedom means the freedom from having to rely on sex for survival, especially sex that puts you at risk of violence or even death. It means the freedom to make welcome choices, free from exploitation, and the coercion of poverty and other vulnerabilities. We also believe that women should be able to freely participate in consensual sexual relations in a way that enhances their pleasure and self-esteem. This includes freedom from repressive and stereotyping norms about female sexuality.
Equality Now believes that laws and policies need to address the intersecting vulnerabilities faced by women and girls, and gender non-conforming people, particularly those that leave them more likely to live in poverty.
Across the world we see poverty driving women into sexual exploitation.
In Africa, An estimated 422 million Africans are still living in poverty especially in the rural areas, exacerbated by inequality across the regions. Women and children are more likely to be living in poverty in Africa just like many places in the world. Women have less control of family and financial resources, as well as limited job opportunities as compared to their male counterparts. Lack of economic income leads to women’s and girls’ susceptibility to sexual exploitation.
In Africa, there are increasing accounts of “sex for rent” adverts by landlords, and Universal Credit leaving women with scant options for survival.
This is not acceptable. Women should not be relying on sex for survival.
Governments must be held to account for their part in failing to end poverty and therefore facilitating vulnerability to sexual exploitation.
To live up to their international obligations they must ensure budgeting, as well as law and policy-making, is considered through a gendered, anti-poverty lens from the start.
Ending poverty is a crucial step to ending sexual exploitation.