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Benefits of Legalizing Prostitution

Updated on January 22, 2019

According to many researchers, prostitution and sex work is one of the oldest professions on earth. The debate of whether prostitution should be legalized is one of the oldest topics of discussion. While some countries have embraced the idea of decriminalizing prostitution, some are yet to legalize the practice. For understanding, prostitutes and sex workers are men and women who engage in sex work consensually. Victims of sex trafficking are men or women who are coerced in sex work by a violent pimp or gang. This paper strives to discuss the benefits that would come with decriminalization of prostitution in a regulated environment and policies. Legalization of prostitution would allow prostitutes to work with law enforcement to protect themselves from violent customers or pimps without fear of arrest as well as allowing prostitutes who know sex trafficking victims or victims of trafficking themselves to come forward to the police without fear of arrest for prostitution.

Legalizing prostitution has some of its advantages and would entail policies which regulate sex work and protect sex workers According to Amnesty International, all governments should legalize consensual prostitutes and include them in the development of rules and regulations that impact their safety and lives. Additionally, Amnesty International recommends that the decriminalization of prostitution would be of benefit to the countries and the sex workers themselves. However, proponents believe that legalizing sex work would greatly benefit the sex traffickers and pimps which would, in turn, promote sex trafficking. Moreover, the proponents argue that decriminalizing prostitution would be disastrous for the health of the women involved in the practice and would additionally increase violence against women. Although it may be considered controversial, Amnesty International's recommendations would prove beneficial as the practice is going on and would continue to harm millions of people. As a result, prostitution is considered illegal while an estimated 1 million people practice prostitution in the US alone.

Decriminalization of prostitution would mean creating a system where law enforcement officials would not arrest buyers or sellers of sex. Many women rights activists and governments believe that the criminalization of prostitution severely limits the sex work market. However, according to Amnesty International and the Gender and Sexual Health Initiative of the BC Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS in British Columbia, criminalization of prostitution only pushes consensual prostitution underground while creating opportunities for people who are involved in sex trafficking. For instance, because they believe the practice is illegal, the sex workers have little or no recourse when they are offended, and they cannot report the offenders to the authorities without incriminating themselves. Accordingly, the crimes against prostitutes are committed with practical impunity, and approximately 90 percent of sex workers are sexually assaulted. The report by Amnesty International gives an estimate of the prostitutes who have been raped at 60 to 75 percent.

Several steps have been taken by many countries to legalize sex work including the Netherlands, parts of Mexico, Switzerland, as well as others; are commendable. In countries such as New Zealand, the government decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and through its review in 2008, it was noted that the practice was regulated and the sex workers were working in secure conditions. Consequently, the researchers found out that there was a high level of sensitization on condom use leading to the low rate on new HIV infections. On the other hand, decriminalization of prostitution would counter-intuitively be of benefit to the prostitutes by reducing sex trafficking. Additionally, legalizing consensual prostitution would lower sex trafficking profitability; as a result, making it less attractive to criminals.

Ironically, criminalization of prostitution focuses on the efforts of enforcement of the law while siphoning the taxpayers' money trying to fight the practice. In turn, the victims are arrested, jailed, and fined heavily for consensual sex. Decriminalizing sex work would reduce violence against women by removing all statutory penalties for sex work. Conversely, decriminalizing prostitution does not mean that municipal and general codes of conduct would not apply in the process. For instance, a study conducted in Nevada revealed that legal brothels there were rules for the prostitutes to comply with and practices such as sex trafficking and sex from minors were crimes punishable by the law.

© 2019 Kevin Ouda


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