심은경(기자)성매매 여성들도 노조 만들 권리 있다
- 외대 유경호 기자가 바라본 성매매 특별법 문제점
한 대학생 기자가 성매매 특별법(성특법)과 관련, 여성가족부(여성부)에게 지금까지 ‘성노동’을 하며 생계를 꾸려온 여성들에게서 갑자기 일자리를 빼앗는 것은 그 여성들의 입장에서는 하나의 ‘폭력’이 될 수 있다고 따끔하게 충고하고 나섰다.
한국외국어대학교 학보사 유병호 기자(러시아어학과 1학년)는 학내 영문 매거진 '더 아르고스(The Argus: MAY 9, 2007)'에 실은 “사회에서 누가 그들을 억압 하는가” 제하의 기사를 통해 여성부의 성특법 정책을 공식 비판했다.
유 기자는 성특법의 문제점으로 음성 성매매의 확장(풍선효과)을 지적하고, 일부 성매매 여성들이 집창촌으로 회귀하는 현상에 대해서는 “(그녀들은) 외부로 나가서 거래를 하기 때문에 상대적 약자인 여성의 신변에 위협이 가해질 수 있”으므로 “성(性)만을 파는 집창촌은 성거래가 업소에서 이루어지고 지정된 시간인 30분을 성 구매자가 지켜야 하기 때문에 여성들에게는 집창촌이 더 안정적”이라는 민주성노동자연대(민성노련) 이희영 위원장과의 인터뷰를 인용 보도했다.
유 기자는 성특법 문제의 원인으로 여성부의 긴급생계비와 자활 프로그램 등 비현실적인 자활대책을 조목조목 분석 비판했다. 또한 여성부가 성매매 종사 여성들을 ‘피해자’로 규정함에도 해당 여성들이 이를 반대하는 모순은 “(여성부가) 성매매 종사 여성들의 삶을 잘 조사하지 않고 성매매 특별법을 시행했기 때문”이라며 “이 법이 실제적으로 시행되어 영향을 받는 여성들의 의견을 묻는 공청회를 개최하지도 않은” 여성부의 전횡을 나무랬다.
유 기자는 “(여성부가) 성매매 종사 여성들의 삶을 생각하지 않아 발생한 문제를 해결하기 위해 해결책”으로, 현재 민성노련에서 주장하는 자율관리시스템(합법화인 공창제와 다르며 성노동자와 성산업인이 노사관계를 맺는 제도) 하에서 '특정구역 내의 성노동 인정'과 자활 단체인 wing이 제안하는 '새로운 의미의 자활'(여성들에게 앞으로 살아갈 힘을 키워주기 위해 단순한 자격증 훈련뿐만 아니라 삶의 상처를 치료하고 삶을 주도적으로 살아갈 수 있는 교육)을 대안으로 제시했다.
끝으로 유 기자는 여성부가 일단 집창촌에 대한 규제를 강하게 해서 여성들을 집창촌에서 떠나게 한 뒤 자활은 마지막에 해야 할 일으로 보고 있다면서 이렇듯 “갑자기 일자리를 빼앗는 것은 그 여성들의 입장에서는 하나의 폭력이 될 수 있다”고 지적하고 “장기적인 관점에서 무엇이 성매매 여성들의 권익을 보호해 줄 수 있는지 심각히 생각해 보고 나아가는 것이 바람직하다”고 주문했다.
다음은 기사 전문이다.
Who press down them in society?
By Yu Byung-ho
It is already two years and six months since a special law to prohibit sex traffic took effect. A fire occurred in a brothel in Daemyung-dong, Gunsan in September, 2000. This shocked female support groups who started a lobby for a law about the veiled problem of prostitution. This movement made the special law to prohibit sex trafficking which is revised from laws prohibiting prostitution. The new special laws concentrated on prevention and punished people just involved in prostitution, so women will be viewed as victims not criminals. Moreover, "the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family(MGEF)" now helps prostitutes to find alternative ways to make a living, speaking of the superiority of the law. "Before the law was past the number of prostitutes reached 5,600, but now the number is reduced to almost 2,300." However, someone remain skeptical on the effectiveness of the law, especially about its legally binding powers.
Problems of a special law for prohibiting sex traffic
1. Expansion of the hidden prostitution
In 2005, the number of people charged with prostitution in Seoul police office reached about 4,500 and 671 of these were female offenders (15 percent). But only six percent of crimes occurred through the intermediary of a brothel, compared to 34 percent via the internet, 26 percent in massage parlors and barber shop. Virtually, regulating management of the prostitute quarters by a special law cause simply causes prostitutes to work underground, causing the situation a "balloon effect." It refers to a situation when a push on one side of a balloon triggers the other side of the balloon to protrude. Like the balloon, solving one side of the problem triggers the other side's problems.
It is not true that the amount of back-door prostitution is smaller than the amount of prostitution in brothels before the law takes effect. Julie Choi, the representative of women initiative center "W-ing(Women Initiative, networking, growing)" said, "The scale of brothels is about 30 percent before passing the special law." As the government put the special law in operation, the police mainly regulate the prostitution quarters, easy to control better than the back-door prostitution. It makes prostitutes leave the prostitute quarter and engage themselves in the back-door prostitution.
2. Growing number of prostitutes who returns to the workplace
According to the status report, the analysis of the situation after carrying out the special law by Lee Joo-yeol, health and welfare professor at Namseoul University, the number of woman whom returns to their workplace grows more. Its survey of 999 prostitutes found that prostitutes who do not leave the prostitute quarter after the law were only 53 (5.3 percent) but 302 prostitutes once leave their prostitute quarter and returned (30.2 percent). 63.9 percent of those prostitutes leave the prostitute quarter especially from September to December of 2004, but just ten months after, around July 2005, 70.5 percent of them returned to brothels. It questioned the practicality of the law. About this situation, Lee Young-hee, the chairwoman of "the Democratic Labor Union of the Sex Worker (DLUSW)" said. "Usually, unpardonable sex crimes against human beings reported in the press did not occur in brothels but from back door prostitution places which sell the sex and alcohol. That kind of prostitution has more threat to prostitutes than prostitute quarters, because the sexual relations are performed outside of intermediate places. In case of prostitution done in prostitute quarter, sexual relations are done in the appointed places and time, so prostitutes remaining in the prostitute quarter is safer."
Causes of problem
1. Measures of seeking a living for prostitute are not practical
According to the result of Korea Human Rights News researched 103 prostitutes in the prostitute quarter in Gyeonggi-do, from May 28 to May 31, all of them answered that they do not accept measures for self-support that Ministry of Gender Equality and Family made. Because the measure is not effective for them to cover their living cost, particularly the prostitutes who have to support their family are hard to lead the measure. The number of the prostitutes having responsibility of bringing up their family is 79 (76.7 percent), and the average number of a dependent family members is 2.6. Expenditures include living costs, hospital costs, and school expenses. MGEF's measures for self-support supports the prostitutes who are willing to escape prostitution, giving financial aid of three million Korean won for medical treatment and 2.5 million won for legal advice per month. And for six months, it would give a subsidy 350,000 Korean won for job training, 440,000 won for living cost per month. However, this aid is insufficient for prostitutes who should support their dependent families.
2. MGEF doesn't try to understand the lives of prostitutes
MGEF regards prostitutes as protection is required while prostitutes do not want to be ruled as victims. The reason of this irony is MGEF carried out the special law for prohibiting the sex trade without investing in the lives of the prostitutes enough. During the period making the law, any public hearing and attempts to know the life of prostitutes who would be influenced by the law were not done.
The special law tightens control of the prostitute quarters as the prostitutes become victims of attacks by their employers. Lee Young-hee, the chairwoman of DLUSW said, "MGEF does not know the life of prostitutes. Not all of us are damaged from the employers. We have a symbiotic relationship. MGEF should stop generalizing examples of vicious employers of the back door prostitutes."
Counter measures of problem
There are two solution to solve the problem caused the ministry could not think the life of the prostitutes. The point is taking care of the life of the prostitute by the different measures. One is the self-control management system in the specific zone. It is the opinion of DLUSW. It means the recognition of sex work in specific zones. The other is the self-support on a different level, raised from the guardianship company "W-ing."
1. Self-control management system in the specific zone
"We can prepare our life to deposit to bank even now. We don't need the poor 'self-support policy' MGEF gives." Lee Young-hee, the chairwoman of DLUSW said. DLUSW opposes the use of the word "sex traffic." Instead, it uses the word "sex work." the word prostitution has originated from the sex industry which means human traffic. However, that kind of crime has not taken place in the prostitute quarter in fact. They also advocate on the right of sex workers because the sex worker selected the job voluntarily to give the sex service as a legitimate way to earn money. Sex workers focus on getting their rights, as the workers gain the right of the workers through their own labor union. They conclude a collective agreement with "the Democratic Joint of Sex-industrial," which is the union of employers and try to maintain the democratic relations between the sex workers and employers and care of the welfare of the sex-workers.
The self-control management system is different from the state-regulated prostitution. Under a state-regulated prostitution system, the sex worker is considered as the reserved criminal but under the self-control management system, sex worker and sex industry could be regarded as the labor and management. DLUSW tries to apply this system to a specific zone.
2. New measure of self-support
"MGEF enforces the self-support policy according to a fixed way, but this way cannot ensure the happiness of the woman. (W-ing avoided using the term "prostitute." and tried to regard the prostitute as "the woman" friendly.)" The representative of W-ing, Julie Choi said. W-ing is the institution of supporting "self-support." The philosophy of W-ing is "to encourage and support the women who try to have a more successful life as the way they work and to help their quality of life grow constantly through the network." She added. "It is necessary to consider about the definition of "self-support." If the word means just living for oneself, every person who lives alone struggles to make a living. Since the society has prejudice against women who engage in the sex industry, they live with a black label attached to them like a leopard`s spots, and cannot possibly remove it for the rest of their life. It makes the prostitute's life much harder. However, the ministry demands those labeled women to live independently through job training for one year and six months and gain some certificates of qualification. This unreality of the government's measure gives women more pain."
Wing provides women with not only the training for qualifications but also the well-knit program. The program for "self-support" is operated like the university. It has the systematic curriculum. The curriculum consists of basic, vision, self-management, coaching for enterprise, and humanism. The required subjects are English conversation, women's studies, and philosophy. The optional subjects are swimming, volunteering, and so on. One semester is three months. The graduation requires six semesters. W-ing also gives a counsel program consisted of the film festival of the woman's human rights and a lecture about the humanism to make women care for their own psychological health.
MGEF regards the self-support policy as the last thing to do. Enforcing the regulations, the government makes the prostitutes leave the prostitute quarters then supplies the self-support policy. However, it is hard for the government to stop prostitution because prostitutes are anxious about their future without prostitution. It is necessary for prostitutes to have the right to become sex workers and make labor unions. Of course it is good to come into being as a legal basis to help prostitutes who have suffered by vicious employers forcing them to do back door prostitution. However, the bill compels women to automatically give up prostitution though there are many women who have to support themselves and their family everyday and only have this source of income. To them, the government's action is another kind of violence. It is desirable for society to consider seriously what it is exactly that is really good for prostitutes in the long term.