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Brothel-owning pimp addresses the Oxford Union

22nd May 2012
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Controversy was sparked at the Oxford Union last Thursday after a brothel owner addressed the House on the subject of prostitution.

Nevada pimp Dennis Hof told students, in a debate entitled ‘This House Would Recognise Prostitution as a Legitimate Business’, that the industry exploited “men who don’t get enough variety and quality”, before expressing his wish for “an Olympic 2012 brothel”.

He also revealed his plans to meet David Cameron and Boris Johnson to discuss legalising prostitution, saying: “Legal prostitution would bring in a billion pounds to your economy; it would sort out all your problems. It would be a good thing for your country, I’m telling you.”

Hof, an American who owns two brothels close to Reno, brought with him prostitute Cami Parker, one of his employees.

He later told Oxford independent student paper Cherwell that that if emotions were removed from the debate students would agree with him.

He also said that his brothels were “much better than others.”

Julie Bindel, co-founder of feminist organisation Justice for Women, was present at the debate. She has attended Hof’s brothels twice and told Cherwell that she saw “the most emotionally damaged women (there)” that she had ever encountered.

Hof also declared that his “life has been a party for 20 years” before adding: “When you legalise prostitution you take out all of the criminal elements and get safer sex. These girls are educated, young businesswomen.”

He went on to say: “The message is this: You got a 1096-year-old county and you still have not learned how to deal with prostitution. And Nevada has got it right. We know how to take it out of the hands of the criminals; Nevada does, and puts it in the hands of the businessman in the county. Right now, a fortune [in prostitution] is going to an underground criminal society.”

Whether Hof was questioned over Nevada’s sex trafficking problems is unclear.

The controversial debate raised questions amongst students over whether a pimp was the correct person to address the matter of prostitution,since he would be likely to have a vested interest.

When the Union was questioned over whether it was appropriate it was stated that: “The Oxford Union recognises Dennis Hof as a controversial and outspoken figure in his field. However, the Union advocates freedom of speech, and anyone who speaks in debates can and will be challenged.”

Sarah Pine, of the OUSU Women’s Campaign, said: “We welcome debate on such an important issue, but inviting Dennis Hof is irresponsible. We support women who want to sell their bodies, but this does not change the fact that pimps exploit women.

“Inviting a pimp undermines women’s autonomy in this business: the Union is foolish to not recognise that prostitutes are the most important people to listen to on the subject of prostitution.”

PPE student Simone Webb, who contributes to The Guardian on women’s issues, told Cherwell she was “worried that his voice is being given precedence over the sex worker whom he says is coming.”

Sex worker Cami Parker was described as being ‘quiet’ during the debate.




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