One of my favorite panels when I attended the Commission on the Status of Women was the panel titled: Does Full Decriminalization of the Sex Trade Lead to Women’s Empowerment? This panel was hosted by women@thewell. Women@thewell strives to provide support and care for women who have been victims of prostitution. The services provided included: trafficking, rough sleeping, mental health difficulties and problematic drug and alcohol abuse. Their vision is to empower all women who have been abused and help them reach their highest potential. Women@thewell provides safe and creative environment for women in need based on the Gospel. They educate women and empower them to improve their quality of life.

This religious group was found by the Institute of Our Lady of Mercy (IOLM). The work that women@thewell does is essential because many women are unable to come out of prostitution and the few that do come out broken. Women@thewell empowers women and shows them their value and worth in God’s eyes. The women who come out of prostitution are survivors and women@thewell builds women’s confidence and provides them with important skills to help them rebuild their lives. They offer one-on-one tutoring with both reading and writing, numeracy and computer skills and assistance with CV’s and finding jobs.

During the panel, the speakers addressed sex trade as a line of work. Prostitution is not and will never be an acceptable line of work and here’s why. First, education, every well-paying job requires an education and a set of skills. Prostitution does not require any education such as a college degree or any entry level skill set. Second, the job does not pay. Many people have the misconception that sex sells. Here is the truth. Most women are controlled by a pimp which means that most of their money goes to him. Women in the sex trade have no money and no possessions. They are worthless in their boss’s eye and are simply a means to make money. Third, there is no real job interview. It is known that one should always look their best for an interview and wear a suit. But how does one do that for a prostitution job? Come half dressed? Why kinds of questions would be asked for this type of interview? What skills do you need? Women should feel valued and needed at their job but a job of prostitution will only make them feel worthless.