Arguments for and against legalising prostitution

FOR legalising prostitution

AGAINST legalising prostitution

1. JUST ANOTHER JOB

The world’s oldest profession is just that, a profession like any other. Authorities have tried to ban the sex trade for millennia, but prostitution thrives in the Internet age. It’s time to face up to the reality that sex work is not going to go away. If we treat it as just another service industry, sex workers – be they male or female, homo- or heterosexual – can come out of the shadows and start to shed the stigma of criminality. What consenting adults do behind closed doors, whether they pay for it or not, is no concern of the state.

1. IMMORAL EARNINGS

Prostitution is morally wrong. Reducing sex to a financial transaction undermines normal human relationships, marriage and the family. In countries where prostitution has become legalized and taxed, the state has effectively become a pimp. The immorality of the sex trade has been recognized throughout history and keeping it illegal is key to safeguarding the sanctity of society’s basic values. Prostitution is an affront to the followers of the world’s leading religions.

2. FOCUS ON THE REAL CRIMINALS

Legalising and regulating prostitution will make live safer for sex workers and help break the pimps and trafficking gangs who exploit them. The traffickers thrive because the sex business is driven underground. Legalise it, and they will fade away. Prostitutes will feel safer going to the police if they no longer fear prosecution. The police will be able to focus resources on cracking down on the real villains – the criminal gangs who exploit sex workers. The experience of places like Nevada, Switzerland and New Zealand show that legalised, regulated prostitution works.

2. DEGRADING BY DEFINITION

Let’s forget the “happy hooker” fantasies. Most women are forced into prostitution by coercion or economic need. The job often amounts to bought rape. Prostitution is by definition degrading to women. It reduces them to merchandise to be bought, sold and abused. Since the overwhelming majority of prostitutes are women, legalizing it would reinforce their oppression by male-dominated societies and present a clear affront to the concept of gender equality. Removing the legal barriers will send a message to new generations of men that women are mere sexual commodities.

3. RUDE REVENUES

Globally the prostitution business is worth $186 billion, according to the website www.havocscope.com which analyses the black economy. Income on that scale could generate a lot of tax revenue. It’s been estimated legalising prostitution across the United States could give the tax authorities around $20 billion a year. In Germany – which liberalized its prostitution laws in 2002 – the legal industry is worth around €16 billion and tax revenue is a major contribution to some city budgets. It’s time the sex industry is taxed like any other business, so that those revenues can benefit society.

3. IT DOESN’T WORK

Germany’s experience shows legalized prostitution doesn’t work. Woman are abused hour after hour in huge mega-brothels around German cities. Human trafficking gangs continue to sell girls from eastern Europe, South America and Africa into sexual slavery. The industry remains unregulated and insufficiently policed. It encourages corruption, drugs and other crimes. A report by Germany’s Family Ministry found a decade of legalisation had “not brought about any measurable actual improvement in the social coverage of prostitutes,” nor was their any “solid proof” that the law had reduced crime.

4. KEEPING IT HEALTHY

Globally the prostitution business is worth $186 billion, according to the website www.havocscope.com which analyses the black economy. Income on that scale could generate a lot of tax revenue. It’s been estimated legalising prostitution across the United States could give the tax authorities around $20 billion a year. In Germany – which liberalized its prostitution laws in 2002 – the legal industry is worth around €16 billion and tax revenue is a major contribution to some city budgets. It’s time the sex industry is taxed like any other business, so that those revenues can benefit society.

4. IT’S ALWAYS GOING TO BE DANGEROUS AND UNHEALTHY

Making prostitution legal is not going to make it pleasant, healthy or risk free. Legalizing prostitution encourages men to solicit sex and have multiple partners, increasing STD risks. Condom policies are not enforceable – men will force, or bribe prostitutes not to use them. Health checks for prostitutes are designed to protect clients, not the sex workers themselves. Being alone with strange men in a closed room will always leave women at risk from violence. Police in the Netherlands, with its liberal prostitution laws, have estimated up to 90 percent of sex workers do not practice the profession voluntarily.


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IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Vittorio Sclosia