Prostitution is widely considered to be the oldest profession on the planet. Regardless of the flattering title, prostitution has always been a contentious topic. In the United States, prostitution is prohibited. Prostitution is legal in some countries, such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada. As a result, different perspectives on the issue have emerged in the United States. This can be explained by differing perspectives on the morality of prostitution in general. Because of the negative social implications of legalizing prostitution in the United States, it should not be done. Prostitution is morally wrong first and foremost. The legalization of prostitution would effectively reduce sex to a financial transaction. This essentially beats the argument by activists about social welfare since it undermines key institutions in the society such as marriage, relationships, and the family. The state officially becomes a sex entrepreneur by gaining from morally unacceptable behavior in the society. The fact that no social or religious philosophy has supported the legalization of prostitution despite thousands of years of existence is an illustration of its place in the society. Maintaining the illegal status of prostitution is key to conserving the society’s basic values.
Legalization of prostitution would make prostitution a legitimate source of income. The aspects of the sex industry that are legalized differ from one country to the other. While legalization is usually regarded as a way dignifying and personalizing the women in prostitution, it sadly serves as a gift to third parties who exploit sex workers. Brothels and sex clubs would immediately turn into legitimate venues for prostitution. This would essentially legalize third- party businessmen i.e. pimps and sex establishments. These entrepreneurs actually stand to benefit more from legalization of prostitution that the sex workers themselves. As such, it beats the purpose of empowering women in the industry. While women in prostitution should never be treated as criminals, the same treatment should not apply to pimps and sex establishments. The legalization of prostitution also promotes criminal activity such as sex trafficking. This can be illustrated by the case in the Netherlands where prostitution is legal. “80 percent of the women in brothels in the Netherlands were trafficked from other countries” (Raymond 316). Legalization of prostitution has not reduced sex trafficking in the concerned countries. In fact, it has ended up achieving the opposite. The lack of stringent laws against sex trafficking has also lead to increased trafficking into Germany where prostitution is also legal.
Legalization of prostitution, to most people, implies better protection to women in the profession. The legal framework is supposed to afford them more protection that was the case in an illegal industry. However, this is not the case in most cases. In a survey of 146 sex trafficking victims in five countries, 80 percent of the women reported physical violence from both pimps and buyers (Raymond et.al. 62). Cases of abuse in brothels in German cities also reinforce this notion. Policymakers argue that legalizing prostitution makes it possible to promote the health of women in prostitution. Legalizing prostitution, however, encourages men to solicit sex and have multiple partners. This increases the risk of transmission of Sexually Transmitted Infections. Despite the institution of policies requiring the use of protection, such rules are not easily enforceable. The enforcement is actually left to the individual women in the industry. As such, an incentive of extra money usually means that the option is often foregone. In countries where prostitution is legal, sex workers are subjected to health checks. These health checks are not designed to protect the sex workers. Instead, they are designed to protect the clients.
It is also important to consider that legalizing prostitution marks the start of viewing women as commodities. The disappearing of legal barriers is often accompanied by the disappearing of social and ethical roadblocks. Generations or males in the society, therefore, grow up with the impression that women are nothing but sexual commodities. Prostitution also begins to seem like safe fun, a victimless crime in essence. In the State of Victoria in Australia, prostitutes are offered on billboard advertisements as though they were just another commodity. The degrading of the social fabric that results from legalizing prostitution is usually detrimental to the health of the society.
There is also a notion that legalizing prostitution enhances a woman’s choice and as such, they will make a rational choice to enter sex work from a range of other career choices. This is not the case. Never will you find a woman, able to follow either career path, choosing prostitution over options such as medicine or law. Prostitution is usually a survival strategy for many ladies when options are extremely limited. This could be one’s choice or even involuntary as is the case with women subjected to sex trafficking.
The issue of legalizing prostitution has seen its fair share of support over the recent past. However, this does not change the fact that it is morally unacceptable and its long-term effect on the society is usually not reversible. Since the legalization of prostitution has not yielded any tangible benefits to women in the industry, governments should focus on penalizing demand. This would actually solve the problem for all because, without male demand, female supply would also dwindle. This would essentially help curb social evils such as sex trafficking and child prostitution.
Raymond, Janice G. “Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution and a Legal Response to the Demand for Prostitution.” Journal of Trauma Practice 2 (2003): 315- 332.
Raymond, Janice G., d’ Cunha, J., Ruhaini Dzuhayatin, S., Hynes, H.P., Ramirez-Rodriguez, Z., and Santos, A. “A Comparative Study of Women Trafficked in the Migration Process: Patterns, Profiles, and Health Consequences of Sexual Exploitation in Five Countries (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela, and the United States).” N. Amherst, MA: CATW.