Climate Change and Prostitution

If you re-read the title of this post and wondered, “What do climate change and prostitution have to do with each other?” don’t worry—you’re not alone. Thirteen U.S. Democrats have agreed that the massive weather changes (like Katrina) that climate change will bring will affect one socioeconomic group far more than others—that of low-income, single mothers.

Representative Barbara Lee of California says that the displacement that comes with major storms seriously hampers these women’s opportunities for work and income—which has traditionally led to prostitution as a means of survival.

“Food-insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health,” reads the resolution put forth by Lee and her fellow democrats.

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina was the country’s largest natural and human-caused disaster.
Image: Infogmation of New Orleans / Flickr CC

That makes climate change more than just an environmental issue—it’s now also a women’s rights issue, and it’s a phenomenon that we’ve seen before. “My resolution will affirm the commitment to include and empower women in economic development planning and international climate change policies and practices,” Lee said. “This will help communities adapt to climate impacts and embark on a path towards clean and sustainable development.”

This could become a serious issue, especially for female farmers in rural areas. Because of their limited socioeconomic resources, these women may have no other choice. In developing countries, between 60 and 80 percent of food is produced by female farmers, meaning that there are many women who could be harmed. Refugees, adolescent girls, and HIV-positive females are also among the marginalized women most susceptible to the havoc climate change could wreak.


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