GOOD Reads of 2014

Here are 7 reads you might’ve missed.

In 2015, we will take you to the four corners of the globe to tell stories about improbable individuals shouldering mammoth struggles and about big ideas crystallizing in very small places. In the process, we hope to add rigor to the conversation about what it means to be a “global citizen” in this day and age. Before we march forward, we’d like to take the occasion to re-share some of the most compelling of our reads from 2014 that you might have missed the first time around. All of us at GOOD, wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

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One Former Prostitute in Cape Town, Two NGOs Battling Over How to Help Her

There's a worldwide debate going on around sex work. A 21-year old South African woman reminds us just how much is at stake.

The first time Asanda* had sex for money, there was little time to reflect on how she’d found herself in that situation. She was staying with a friend after being kicked out of her parents’ house, without a job or money. One evening, the friend said they were going to work in a restaurant. Unless she wanted to be on the street the next day, Asanda had little choice but to follow.

“I didn’t understand why she was polishing her face and putting on makeup to go work in a restaurant,” Asanda recalled.

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Panic Attack

Human trafficking activists are out to protect the rights of society’s most vulnerable, right? Tell that to Brazil’s sex worker community.

As millions of tourists have descended upon Brazil this past month for the single largest sporting event on the planet, human rights organizations have been mobilizing for their own watershed moment: the explosion of sex tourism within the World Cup host nation. If you take what the U.S. State Department says as gospel, even before the World Cup 250,000 children were selling sex across the country. Brazil’s National Forum for the Prevention of Child Labor estimates that number at closer to half a million. It stands to reason that those numbers would skyrocket as those millions of tourists open their wallets to the tune of $2.97 billion.

The causal relationship between sports’ mega-events, increased sex tourism, and the vulnerability of children is ingrained as conventional wisdom around the globe. As a result, we are largely comforted when Brazil’s Human Rights Secretariat funds a $4 million campaign to combat child prostitution during the World Cup; or when nuns backed by the Vatican are tasked with passing out fliers on how to spot sex trafficking; or when Brazilian defender David Luiz asks British Airways in flight passengers to “protect our kids” as part of the “It’s a Penalty” campaign coordinated in tandem with Britain’s National Crime Agency; or when a large, walk-in street installation (the “GIFT box,” a project of the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking and the nongovernmental organization STOP THE TRAFFIK) filled with images of women, men and children posing against headlines that read “I was trafficked!” is installed in the red light district of Vila Mimosa in Rio de Janeiro.

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Harry Reid Wants to Criminalize Prostitution? Expect More Rape and Disease in Nevada

Senator Harry Reid wants to criminalize prostitution in Nevada. That's a very bad idea.

Democratic Senator Harry Reid believes the time has come to end legalized prostitution in his state of Nevada, the only state left in the union in which the world’s oldest profession is still legal (in 10 of the 17 counties). Reid, who is a Mormon, said before the Nevada State Legislaturein late February: “If we want to attract businesses to Nevada that put people back to work, the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution.” Adding: “[P]arents don’t want their children to look out of a school bus and see a brothel, or live in a state with the wrong kind of red lights.”

Thankfully, the vast majority of Nevada lawmakers—both Democrat and Republican—ignored Reid’s call to arms, deeming it a cheap attempt to “legislate morality.” What they apparently know, and what Reid apparently does not, is that legal prostitution is far superior to the alternative in nearly every way. It’s safer, healthier, more just, and smarter. And there’s actually a lot of research proving that.

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