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Is it Time to Consider The Legalization of Prostitution?

Updated on August 22, 2014
CuAllaidh profile image

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

The Worlds Oldest Profession

Prostitution is one of the worlds oldest professions. People have been selling sex for at least as long as history has been recorded, and since that time there have always been those who wish to restrict it and forbid it. Never has any attempt to stop prostitution been successful. The more a group tries to forbid prostitution, and the harsher the penalties, the more prostitution goes underground and flourishes.

Legalized and regulated prostitution is the only reasonable course.

Why

  • Reduce the incidents of violence related to the sex trade
  • Lower STD Rates
  • Reduce jail overcrowding

Legalizing and Regulating Helps Everyone

Reducing Violence:

In some cases women are forced into prostitution by violent “pimps” and have no way out. In others women are assaulted and abused by their clients. If a prostitute is assaulted they have no where to turn, if they go to the police and they are arrested for prostitution. A recent study has shown that 80% of prostitutes in the US have been sexually assaulted, only 7% seek any assistance at all, and a mere 4% report it to the police. Of course prostitutes also assault their clients from time to time, and again the "Johns" or clients are have no legal recourse since they too were breaking the law.

Reducing the Rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases:

In most countries the number of prostitutes who have an STD floats around 5%, however in some countries that legalize and regulate prostitution it can get as low as 1.5%. That is a significant decrease. And with 40 million prostitutes world wide that’s a lot of lives saved.

Reducing Strain on Jails:

In the US the prisons are quickly becoming overcrowded, legalizing prostitution can help alleviate the issue. 80,000 people are arrested each year on prostitution charges in America.

Should Prostitution be Legal?

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Prostitution Can Save the Economy

In a recent study it was shown that over $10 million dollars was handed over to individual county coffers annually thanks to legalized prostitution in Nevada. That is a big figure, but add into that the savings of fighting prostitution including court costs, increased police requirements, and much more and the figure grows substantially. Now take that and add in federal income taxes and the figure swells again. Add on to that a licensing fee which the state collects of $25/prostitute, there are approximately 800 licensed prostitutes in Nevada. These figures seem fairly small, but remember, that’s Nevada alone.

The more legitimate prostitutes out there as opposed to unregulated prostitutes means more tax revenues that can be fed into the school system, or health care. There would also be a host of related jobs that would be created from the legalization of prostitution, not just bureaucratic positions such as license issurer and inspectors, but positions at brothels and such that are not actually prostitutes, schedulers, greeters, etc..

Is prostitution inherently immoral?

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The Morality Issue

Ok, I deliberately left this until the end, primarily because I disagree with the concept of laws which impose morality on others, however it is an important consideration.

Is it immoral to allow others to sell themselves for sex? That is the question at the heart of the issue, and the answer is a complex one. It is immoral to force anyone to do anything they are opposed to doing, and this increases drastically when you are talking about sex, but are the prostitutes unwilling?

If a prostitute is forced into the trade then yes it is immoral, wrong, and I'd even go so far as to say evil. That being said, that's not what we are discussing. In a legalized and regulated system it would be sex between two consenting adults in which money changed hands, is that immoral? This is the question that many who are opposed to the legalization of prostitution tend to ignore, but it is an important one, in my mind it is THE question that clarifies the issue beyond any other.

What to Do?

I am not saying we should just turn a blind eye to prostitution and allow it to take place in our public parks. What I am saying is that with a regulated system licensing prostitutes we can curb violence, decrease STD rates, lower crime prevention costs, and increase the governments income which will allow for more social systems and lower taxes. Sound too good to be true doesn’t it?

Prostitution needs to be legalized for the safety of the public. But it needs to be done in a reasonable manner. Controls need to be put in place to make sure that prostitutes are getting regular checkups, and that the use of condoms are 100%. I believe a system in which a prostitute purchases a license, and pays taxes will more than pay for enforcement and regulation of prostitution and make sure it done in a safe environment and manner. To continue to allow it to happen only in the dark alleys and seedy motels gives power to the criminals and ensures that public health is not a concern.

© 2014 Jeff Johnston

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    • profile image

      Martha 2 years ago

      Your answer lifts the inegllitence of the debate.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      I appreciate you time. And it is true, I think, that most people on this earth still think in the old ways of slave or be slaved (Socialism). In that little country between Mexico and Canada, many, however, will not tolerate any such act. We will fight on my friend. It is our firm belief that your kind are the dreamers, the thugs, the power hungry, and the greedy. How else can Socialists function, other than without stealing from each other, because of their envy or jealously of the productive? Nice system. A pure fantasy. Live your dream. How much will your kind steal today? I wonder.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      You have commented on my article on socialism so you know my stance, you and I aren't going to come to any agreement on that. You believe in pure capitalism, good for you, but I believe that pure capitalism is for dreamers, people are just too damn greedy for it to work (which by the way is why pure communism won't work either). Regulation does not mean bankruptcy unless it is inefficient, those inefficiencies should be eliminated.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      I think many people confuse laws with regulations. Laws which protect one's rights are required, if groups of individuals want to exist in a free system. Regulations, written by bureaucrats, rewritten by other pressure groups, unwritten by lesser known government organs, are simply destructive. Why do countries require thousands upon thousands of complex regulations, even more departments to manage each part of every job, bit of production or trade? That is utter nonsense. India, for example, is stagnating under a quagmire of regulations.

      All a prostitute would need, if the trade were decriminalized, is the desire to do business. Should a prostitute work long hours and not take baths, that is his/her problem. Should a prostitute become diseased and one purchases sex and becomes sick - that is the risk one takes for that act. Should one wish to stay healthy, one might select the prostitute from the higher end (no pun intended) clubs, where the owners of said clubs advertise their clean sex centers. The other option, arguably the smarter option, would be to not use prostitutes.

      What needs to be regulated and why? Taxes too? Involuntary Taxes? Sorry, some of us do not believe in compulsory taxation of trade. There are better, more efficient ways to support a limited government than enslaving the populace with trade and service taxes. Socialist ideas. Failed ideas.

      A position that self-regulation has proven ineffective is untenable, since there have been few periods in world history where economies were not either heavily regulated, allowed government favor or taxed in excess. The opposite is actually true, regulations are the clarion call to despotism via socialism via regulation. Look at Brazil. The Monty Python folks even made a movie about the ludicrous regulatory nonsense in that Socialist jungle.

      Legalizing prostitution, then regulating and taxing them are the same thing as keeping it illegal. Smart prostitutes, in such a 'legal' environment, would simply not change. And customers would not wish regulations to identify them as Johns. So the only smart choice would be to legalize, not regulate and not tax. Leave people alone. Get off their backs - that is a prostitute's job. Well, that depends too, I guess.

      The only real issue here is how to pay for and manage the basic services needed by a country. Police, Armies, Courts, Jails - the basics - while still being as free as possible. Not Retirement, Welfare, Medical Coverage, or regulation of the sex trade and drugs. Regulation into bankruptcy...

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      No, self regulation is NOT better, it allows for abuse and allows for the continued involvement of the criminal element. Self regulation has proven to be ineffective in many markets, reasonable regulation allows for safety concerns to be met and can be completely funded by the taxation on prostitution itself, so only the users of prostitution pay for the bureaucracy needed to maintain the system.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      By what right should prostitutes be regulated? Is not self-regulation better? One has the option for example, to purchase food from a local hole-in-the wall store, or at a nice clean store, with a better self-regulated reputation. Should the hole-in-the-wall store get one sick, one can take the owner to court and blog about it. We are in a modern world now. The burden of regulation via large bureaucracies, supported by taxes, is not as necessary as it once was - if it was ever needed. Regulation often means laws to stymie competition based on one groups' belief over another groups' desire to earn money. Earning money by killing people, selling poison food etc., self-regulates via the courts and police rather quickly. Deregulation lowers prices, increases selection, and allows for innovation. Prostitutes would probably own high rise resorts, clean, and own Casinos in short order - if allowed to be free to practice their trade unhindered. On the other hand, if deregulated, prostitution pricing would come down and just might not be worth it anymore. Too much competition. Just as the airline industry in the US, about 20 yeas ago, deregulated, prices fell and service increased. I could name many examples, but why? And here is another problem with regulation - it is the same thing as making prostitution partially illegal. The girls or guys would need to comply with specific rules, hours of work, labor laws etc. The girls and boys would ignore sex regulations faster that one could care to record the statistics. Prices of sex would then climb again. Crime and Pimps would not be slowed. You would need legalization and deregulation for it to work.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      I am not saying its moral to use or be a prostitute, I just think its a matter of free will and I have no right to impose my moral code on anyone else as long as all participants are consenting adults.

      Big Daddy Pimp wouldn't be as much of a risk in legal prostitution, and AIDS risks can be mitigated as well. Sure there are always risks. As for my parachuting analogy, it was just an analogy, but if you want me to take it further approximately 1 in 1000 parachutes fail, HIV cannot pass through latex, so if you are using a condom correctly and it does not break your risk are negligible, and again we are talking prostitution in a setting in which regulations would require the prostitutes maintain regular health checks to ensure they are clean and that they must meet certain health standards. I am not saying its the safest thing out there, but again it is a lot less risky than many things humans do.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      And you are 'free to not see it' at your own risk. Prostitution is only non-criminal because no victim exists. It is not rational, however, to compare skydiving with two parachutes as risky as Big Daddy Pimp or AIDS. These acts are often universes apart.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      I am not arguing that prostitution is a past time we should all take up, but it is no more risky then say skydiving. But yes you are free see it as immoral, everyone's moral code their own responsibility, and since you agree it should not be illegal then we are on the same page.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Sex is not risky if you know and trust your partner. And even if one accepts the risk involved in buying sex from a clean prostitute, it does not make one very smart. There are Pimp Risks, financial risks, and many others, besides the disease and rape risks. Many activities entail risk, such as driving a car. However, a rational human would weigh the value against to odds of getting hit by a drunk driver at 12:00 noon to be very low - and thus drive. Those who visit prostitutes are engaging risky behavior. So long as one agrees to all of these risks associated with these activities, one makes the decision to buy and sell sex. Such a decision might mean mentally erasing the idea that a prostitute one is inserting his body part inside, has engaged in a monetary transaction only. The prostitute is often a good at acting, at lying to the John, in order to arose and entice. In order to obtain repeat business. But make no mistake, you are simply a money machine to her or him. I make no imposition upon others about the use of prostitutes. I merely say what I think. One who visits prostitutes makes a series of decisions, understanding the risks, but is willing accept the consequences or one simply ignores the high risks involved with such behavior. Either way, one must devalue his life and divorce the 'celebration of life with a loved one idea', when one chooses to engage a prostitute. On the other hand, if one thinks that sex and love are different concepts, then I would challenge that concept as being absent human rationality. I would question that person's lack moral code, but I would not make prostitution illegal.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      but who are you to impose your morality on others? Sex is no more risky than many other activities which people don't pass moral judgement upon.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      The person buying or selling sex is absent a healthy moral code, via a crappy value system. The sex seller risks rape, death and disease - for money. This means that the seller does not value his/her own life or values it much less than a rational person. The buyer risks similar - for pleasure - physical gratification - without romantic underpinnings. Also a risk. Also one who values brief pleasure at a high risk. I'd say their morality, their value systems, are in question - if not absent.

    • CuAllaidh profile image
      Author

      Jeff Johnston 2 years ago from Alberta Canada

      I agree with several of your points @jgshorebird, and the face that prostitution isn't immoral is my whole point. Is the person selling or buying moral, that is irrelevant.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 years ago from Southeastern U.S.

      Good Topic. Morality is what is good or bad, essentially, right? What is judged to be one or the other. So the that is the essence of this debate. Does a women or man own his/own body? Certainly. Can a person choose to sell sex? Why not? Because some think it is wrong? Based on what moral code? The code that your body belongs to the state, such as in Socialism? It does not. So selling sex should not be criminal, but...

      Now we get into the actual act. Sex, being a celebration of life, ideally, is not what prostitution is all about. And sex itself is not bad. But selling sex takes what is good, that celebration, and makes it nothing. The person who then buys that sex is partaking in nothing, but an act. An enjoyable act, maybe - depending upon that person. What does that say about both? It says that sex has become a mere function, not something one might aspire to enjoy with a loved one.

      So Prostitution is not a crime, there is no victim. But those who sell sex and those who buy it, are at least, temporarily, not endeavoring to practice a very clear moral code. Those who partake of sex purchases at a young age, usually know better as adults.

    • Sami Hanson profile image

      Sami 3 years ago from Kansas

      I'm a Libertarian, so as long as someone elses expression of their own freedom does not infringe upon my own, then there should be absolutely no one infringing upon their own personal freedoms. Prostitution is not harming me. I choose not to "sell" myself in that specific way, but women who make their living off of it do it of their own free will, and that is completely their business. Here in the US we pride ourselves on separation of Church and State but the two have always gone together, and still continue to influence the laws and restrictions here today.

    • wrenchBiscuit profile image

      Ronnie wrenchBiscuit 3 years ago

      This is a great article that needed to be written. As you have stated in other words , aside from human trafficking and forced prostitution, it is a matter of free will. Morality cannot be attained without free will, and the ability to make certain choices with impunity. It is a perversion of human nature to attempt to regulate and criminalize prostitution, as it goes against the will of God. Rather than criminalize prostitution, it is more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus to create, or find alternatives for women and men who have turned to prostitution as a last resort.