I have always marveled at the antagonism many show toward anything that would appear moralistic in the fight against the AIDS scourge. And now Nature has editorialized against a U.S. law that requires recipients of funds to denounce prostitution and sex trafficking. From, “The Right to Remain Silent:”
For all its virtues, the law that established PEPFAR contains the troubling stipulation that none of its funding may go to “any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.” What is more, it states that any group receiving its funds must refrain from speech that the government judges “inconsistent with” that anti-prostitution policy. The prohibition pertains to all activities by the recipient group, even those funded with private money
Troubling? It’s our money. If these organizations don’t like the rules, don’t take the cash. Morevoer, prostitution and sex trafficking are major conveyors of HIV infection.
It’s not as if they have a right to no-strings-attached funding–or do they? It would seem that with regard to messaging the organization’s do. At least that is the strong implication of the editorial:
It is not clear how the high court will rule. If it sides with the government, the immediate result would be sobering. Many private organizations receiving PEPFAR funding would face a choice. They could give up that funding. Or they could stop publishing papers, speaking at conferences or preparing training materials about how, for example, to improve sex worker’s access to HIV testing or condoms–unless, of course, those speeches or materials explicitly denounce prostitution. Never mind that such proclamations are likely to compromise efforts to educate and deliver health care to sex workers.
The use of the term “sex worker” is very telling. It seeks to suck all moral judgment out of commercial sex.
So why do it? Because Nature is not just a science journal, but also one with specific ideological predilections.
Sometimes amorality is immorality–as when we are told to remain blithely nonjudgmental about criminal and immoral activities that degrade women and children, destroy families, and in the case of human trafficking, brutality that is akin to slavery.