Prostitution is a very controversial topic that has been the focus of heated debate in countries all over the world for many years. To this day, sex work remains one of the world’s oldest occupations. For the longest time, society has stigmatized and condemned prostitution, seeing it as dishonorable, despicable, and disrespectful to women, with a strong conviction that it should be and still stay taboo. In certain states, it is an offense punishable by hefty fines and harsh sentences such as stoning to death. The irony of it is that the sex worker is usually punished while the client most of the time does not get any punishment. Despite it being criminalized in most countries it continues to suffice and flourish. This essay will elaborate why sex work should be legalized to protect both the client and server from STDs, generate tax revenue, and reduce violence against sex workers.
Many of the countries in Asia and Africa have outlawed prostitution and any activity that pertains to it like running brothels and pimping. In the United States as a whole has banned sex work apart from the state of Nevada where it is legal in some rural areas and smaller counties. In the past sex work only involved women but it has now evolved and now includes underage boys and girls who are forced into the trade through child trafficking. The laws put in place by jurisdictions to illegalize sex work have instead promoted an underground growth of the business. This has made it difficult for researchers to gather adequate information to facilitate an insight into the nature of the business. Reasons, why people choose to engage in sex work, vary from poverty to means of survival in terms of monetary gain to forceful coercion through child trafficking or pimping. Other reasons include run-aways from abusive homes, lack of parental care to young people who may resort to streets, failure to fit in the role attached to individuals by the society. Differences in sexual orientations, personal freedom, and adventure, to earn favors and due to guilt as a result of past mistakes can also lead to people engaging in prostitution. Sex workers are occasionally abused both verbally, and physically by their clients and pimps they work for. Results found from a study carried out in San Francisco revealed that eighty-two percent of women had been physically abused while sixty-eight percent raped while commercializing sex.
A different study on female sex workers in Colorado, on the other hand, revealed that sex workers were eighteen times more likely to get murdered than non-sex workers (Fuchs, para. 2). Opponents to the laws that legalize sex work claim that sex work dehumanizes women, it increases incidences of child and sex trafficking, the spread of sexually transmitted infections and rates of crime will be high since criminals, and drug dealers seek refuge in sex workers brothels. Not only are they confined to a narrow definition and its negative perception; opponents to female sex work have overlooked its cause and nature in America. The idea that legalization of sex work dehumanizes women is baseless and far-fetched.
It also fails to recognize that some women engage in prostitution not because they have been coerced or lack anything, but due to the freedom they derive from it. Most women participating in the trade, do so not for economic gain, but because it gives them a sense of power over their sexual interactions. Women will, therefore, engage in sex work for various reasons apart from monetary benefits which calls for the need by the American legislature to decriminalize sex work. In circumstances where prostitution is legalized and regulated in society the sex worker is protected and awarded the same rights as all other laborers, there is a possibility of sex work being beneficial to the women, clients, as well as the economy of the country. The following are reasons as to why prostitution should be decriminalized.
Decriminalization Will Scale Down Violence and Sex Crimes
Prostitutes most especially women are usually susceptible to violence from their clients and pimps. Research conducted in San Francisco showed that 82% of prostitutes had been physically abused while 68% were raped as they were working as sex workers. Another research carried out on prostitutes in Colorado Springs revealed that their chances of being murdered was eighteen times more than that of non-prostitutes who were the same age and race as them. Many prostitutes who have experienced violence are usually reluctant to contact the police mainly because their work is illegal.
On the other hand, the sex workers who are in brothels that are licensed are protected and have somebody to back them up. A lot of studies that have been conducted and evidence has been compiled proving that legal prostitution has the capacity of reducing assault, rape, and other crimes related to sex. An excellent example of a study that proves this relationship between legalizing prostitution and decline in violence and sex crime cases comes from Rhode Island where there was an accidental legalization of prostitution.
Lawmakers in Rhode Island unintentionally removed a section that established prostitution as being illegal in 1980 and it was only noticed in 2003. The removal of this chapter had been in effect for almost three decades from 1980-2009 of which during this time there was an increase in women embroiled in prostitution and the size of the indoor sex market. Remarkably cases of rape lessened by thirty-one percent, and researchers also found that gonorrhea incidences also decreased by 39%. Decriminalization of sex work can empower the prostitutes to approach or contact the authorities when they feel they are in danger or their customers are becoming problematic. Sex workers will be able to go about their business on their own without the control of client or pimp who is abusive which will reduce their vulnerability to violence and abuse. When prostitution becomes legal individuals who need to be satisfied sexually will have the option readily available for them as they would hire a prostitute rather than committing rape.
Protection of minors
When prostitution is legalized, it can abolish sex slavery because child prostitution is now a significant problem globally. According to research, about ten million children are usually victimized through prostitution in the United States. Every year about 100,000 minors are sexually exploited because due to its illegality, it brings risks that are legal enough to pimp higher demand cost (Weitzer, 2011). The majority of developed countries in this case averagely get a profit of up to $70,000 per sex worker yearly. This is the reason why the profiteering of prostitution is out of control globally that the actions the government takes still exploit children.
Besides the profit, another reason why child sex slave is still in existence is because adult prostitution is criminalized. For instance, when a man does not find an adult to fulfill his sexual desires he would definitely pimp himself to go for the underage for sexual intercourse. Therefore the pro-decriminalization of prostitution believe that when prostitution is legalized then child exploitation would be reduced. Also, not everyone would want to be fined when they are found with commercial sex workers in the market. Therefore, it would be better if prostitution was legalized because no one would do things in secrecy.
Fight against human trafficking
One good reason as to why prostitution should not remain a crime is that it would help combat human trafficking. Recent reports have also proved that legalization of prostitution would discourage the pimping and maintain the brothels. However some prohibitionists are claiming that legalizing prostitution would encourage the growth of human exploitation, but as seen in Germany, the law significantly decreased it up to 10 percent. The best thing about legalizing is that only a few kids are involved in sex trade since the younger ones are not forced to join.
In Germany, the average age for a sex worker is thirty-one years. This has embraced the relationship between the sex workers and law enforcement to increase because the government officials use the prostitutes to unearth human trafficking (Flowers, 2011). Contrary to that, many people believe that banning of prostitution would otherwise encourage human trafficking because the sex workers are believed to use the law to put the lives of women in danger because of being forced to do prostitution. Womens lives would also be threatened because they fear to go to the policemen due to punishment. Therefore legalization of prostitution will make both women and children report about traffickers, greedy pimps, and abusive clients to the law officials.
Prostitution is a victimless crime
If prostitution is legalized, women will stop being kidnapped and victimized against their will. Just like people say, prostitution should be made like another business where women offer their services willingly without being forced. We should all remember that all women are not the same in a way that not all see sex as a sacred or ordinary activity that can be done with anyone. However, some women would rather have sex with someone they met for only one hour than working in a restaurant cleaning toilets and taking orders for 10 hours (Outshoorn, 2014). Some women, on the other hand, would prefer dying in poverty than sleeping with someone for money. Just like gambling prostitution is an act that should be practiced by adults only.
Sex Workers Will Become Healthier
Since prostitution is illegal clients and pimps sometimes pressure the prostitutes into having unprotected sex, but if it were to be legalized sex workers will be compelled to use protection and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The criminalizing of sex work has made the prostitutes to be more susceptible to infections that are transmitted through sexual intercourse as they lack avenues of getting healthcare and other social services. The stigma, harassment, and discrimination around sex work makes it even hard for those involved to try and get health care services. The sex workers in Nevada are subjected to a monthly test for HIV and syphilis as well as weekly tests for gonorrhea and Chlamydia (Brents, 2013).
Nevada also demands that all brothels provide condoms for sex conducted in them and it is a law that is posted outside of every brothel. The criminalization of sex work will only drive prostitutes underground and make them to shy away from engaging in safe sex or even getting tested for STDs. Illegalizing prostitution only increases the vulnerability to HIV by encouraging the stigma and prejudice which limits the access to condoms and harm reduction services, HIV and sexual health aid which result in the sex workers self-esteem as well as their capability of making the right decisions concerning their health being adversely affected.
Legalization Will Benefit the Government through Taxes
In the same way, the government benefits from all the other industries through taxes, legalization of prostitution will also result in a string of effect that will help a country, in particular through tax revenue. Sex workers and brothels will be required to get a license to engage in the business and enjoy their legal income that will be taxable. It is a fact, and many people know that prostitution is a lucrative business. In Nevada, a sex worker earns approximately $3,000 per week of which there are those who even earn more than that (Albert, 2014). With this earnings, if every sex worker was licensed and obligated to pay taxes in the U.S. the country would benefit greatly from tax revenue from this industry.
An addition to the tax revenue the government could also require them to pay an annual fee for the license they will provide for the sex workers, brothel owners, and their clients, so they are able to continuously operate their business legally which result in an additional income (Maverick, 2010). By properly regulating prostitution the individuals who support this industry will feel safer leading to its demand increasing which can also be an added advantage to the economy. Although Nevada has legalized prostitution in some parts, the brothels there pay no state taxes, but they do pay significant amounts of tax to the rural counties where they conduct their business. If the states and the county governments were to legalize brothels, then there would be a significant gain in revenue.
Sex Workers Will Have Employment Rights
Every person who is under employment is entitled to minimum rights and entitlements which are provided by law such as minimum wage, safety rights, vacation pay, protection against unlawful discrimination, and health benefits (Kelly, 2011). In the case of sex workers, they do not get any of these rights majorly because their work is not legally recognized. If a sex worker gets assulted by their client or pimp and also not paid for their services, they cannot complain to the authorities because they are precluded from the federal employment standard legislation. Also if the sex worker is forced by a client to have sex in a place that is unsafe and the client goes as far as demanding for unprotected sex, she cannot afford to refuse or resist.
If sex work is to be legalized, then those who take up this profession will able to get access to the rights and services that they are entitled to. When a sex worker gets abused or raped they will be able to report crimes against them to the police and even file a lawsuit in regards to any injustice done against them. Basic education, as well as health services, will also be readily available for them just like everyone else. Every human being has to be protected by law without bias or discrimination towards the work they do including sex workers. Labor laws and security legislation that fail to recognize prostitution as work that is legitimate strengthen the stigma and marginalization of sex workers.
Prostitution cannot be Stopped or Prevented
There is a reason why prostitution is explained as the worlds oldest profession. Prostitution has been around almost since the beginning of time, and it will always be there whether it is legalized or not. Even if the all the nations in the world come together to abolish it, they will never be successful in stopping it. No matter the measures that we put in place against it, there will always be individuals who are willing to pay money to get sex for pleasure and there will also be women and men who will offer their body in exchange for money (Smith, 2012).
Sex work has been part of many cultures all over the world and eradicating it will not be an easy task. Instead of the government wasting time and money in regulating solutions that are ineffective it would be best if it was just legalized. It is high time that sex work gets legalized and gets regulated as it is a part of American life even if a lot of people are against it because of their ethics. A ton of commerce which is morally controversial like tobacco, alcohol, gambling, pornography, and lap dancing has been legalized and regulated so it would also be fair that prostitution gets decriminalized.
The criminalization of sex work, as well as every other thing that is focused on stopping this work, will not be a real solution. Prostitution is here to stay, acknowledging it as a legitimate source of income will ensure that the involved parties will receive the guaranteed benefits. Its legalization will also lessen the burden on the government in regards to the execution of anti-prostitution laws and pay for additional law enforcement. The revenues of countries will also increase through taxes, increased employment rates, and foreign exchange. The decriminalization of prostitution will also guarantee a safe environment for the people as sex work will be subjected to medical tests and also receive adequate health care services. The most important reason for legalizing prostitution is that the sex workers will have rights that protect them and will also have a chance to live a normal life.
Albert, A. (2014). Brothels of Nevada: Candid Views of America’s Legal Sex Industry. Princeton Architectural Press.
Brents, B. G. (2013). The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland. Routledge.
Flowers, R. B. (2011). Prostitution in the Digital Age: Selling Sex from the Suite to the Street: Selling Sex from the Suite to the Street. ABC-CLIO Publishers.
Kelly, P. (2011). Policing Pleasure: Sex Work, Policy, and the State in Global Perspective. NYU Press.
Maverick, M. (2012). Diary of a Legal Prostitute: Nevada Brothels. Universal-Publishers.
Outshoorn, J. (2014). The Politics of Prostitution: Women’s Movements, Democratic States and the Globalisation of Sex Commerce. Cambridge University Press.
Smith, T. S. (2012). Whore Stories: A Revealing History of the World’s Oldest Profession. Adams Media.
Weitzer, R. (2011). Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business. NYU Press.