Would Legalizing Prostitution make it Safer?
A writer for the Washington Post places prostitution on the same level as slavery. According to him, countries that have attempted to turn sex work into a business and thereby end the prudishness associated with it have failed and rather allowed brothels and pimps to lure vulnerable girls into a life of modern slavery. But others argue that these are not accurate portrayals of what legalized prostitution would look like. In fact, there are many factors in decriminalizing it that could make it safer for everyone involved. Most supporters of legalizing prostitution state that the most important arguments are that tax revenue could be generated, prostitutes would be healthier, and violence against women would decrease.
Prostitution is currently illegal in all US states except for Nevada. However, it is present in every state. In states where it is illegal, sex workers typically work for a pimp who finds them clients and then takes the majority of the money they earn for themselves. In Nevada, there are no such things as pimps because prostitutes work for legitimate businesses which pay taxes within their counties.
It is estimated that if prostitution were legal, $20,000 per sex worker could be generated in tax revenue annually (source:emich.edu). Political analyst, Michael Smerconish, recommends for the government to share in the vast potential revenue of legal prostitution and otherwise keep out of the business between consenting adults (source:businessinsider.com). Nevada brothels are the best example in showing how legal sex work not only creates tax revenue but also keeps prostitutes healthy and safe.
Illegal prostitution is regulated by pimps who have complete control over their workers. They often force their workers to forgo the use of condoms and thus making them more susceptible to STI's and HIV. Business Insider also states that in 2012, the Urban Justice Center reported that New York City police officers were using condoms found on women as evidence in charging them with prostitution. This fueling of the stigma associated with sex work also causes prostitutes to avoid STI tests and not seek out sexual health services. In Nevada, however, prostitutes are guaranteed to be as healthy as possible. Brothels require workers to have monthly STI tests and weekly physicals as well as mandate the use of condoms (source:Penn and Teller Investigate Prostitution). If prostitution were legal, the government could require that all workers use condoms and thus reduce the spread of such devastating diseases as HIV.
The final and arguably most imperative argument for legalizing prostitution is the reduction in violence toward women. A study on prostitutes in San Francisco yielded that 82% of female prostitutes have been assaulted and 68% have been raped. They were also 18x more likely to be murdered than other women of their age and race (source:ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Prostitutes who were victims of such crimes cannot report this to police as they will be charged will a crime as well. Police can't at the same time apprehend prostitutes as well as protect them. As long as sex between consenting adults for monetary value is illegal, workers will have no way to protect themselves from violent pimps and clients.
Brothels in Nevada have some of the most advanced security systems in the world. In order to maintain good standing with their communities as well as protect their most valuable assets, their employees, typical brothels have steel gates surrounding the premises, security guards for the protection of the women, and contact the police immediately if there is any indication that an employee is in danger.
Although many people consider prostitution to be immoral, it is not case enough to criminalize it. Sex work is present whether it is legal or not and by making it illegal, it allows for underground pimps to take advantage of their workers. Legal prostitution could be taxed and regulated by the government which would keep everybody involved healthy and safe. It is time to look past the stigma and recognize that prostitution has the potential to be a thriving and safe industry.
Written By: Kimeko Neil, United States
Useful books on Amazon
Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work : The A-to-Z encyclopedia offers wide-ranging entries related to prostitution and the sex industry, past and present, both worldwide (mostly in the West) and in the United States.
Amazon instant video : Penn and Teller explore the absurdity of the worlds oldest profession being illegal.
Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets : This book reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry.
Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )