Legalization Of Sex Work: Should Prostituion Be Legal

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Retail, sale, or exchange of goods for services or objects is one of the oldest professions in history, as is sex work; payment for sexual services. Since sexual needs are one of the main needs of humans it is of no surprise that the sex business is a thriving industry. Although banned in many countries as it defies cultural, social and religious norms it is one such profession that despite being banned is adopted by many in every city of the world. Which leads us to the million dollar question, should sex work be legalized? Sex workers as basic humans possess their rights to body autonomy and are willingly selling their services as would any other person in any profession to earn money and feed their families, not only should they be allowed to work but they should also receive legal protection to protect them from exploitation.

Bodily autonomy (defined as the right to self-governance over one's own body without external influence or coercion) is a fundamental human right. As consenting adult humans and members of the society, sex workers possess the right to engage in sexual activity or intercourse on terms and conditions of their choice for anything in return. It is infringement on basic human rights to dictate what a person should do to their bodies and on what condition. Many former sex workers refer to their experiences as empowering and necessary for their mental growth counter to popular belief which states sex workers feel miserable about their jobs. Survivors of sexual assault also find sex work very empowering and essential to heal from the trauma. Moreover sex work is a mere profession and should be treated as such.

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Just as one pays for their food, bills, and all basic amenities, it is also justified to offer sexual relations for payment. Just like one would expect to pay at a store for their groceries or pay basic needs. Sex is a basic human need, so there shouldn’t be a problem if people want to pay or receive payment for offering it. Also, many people find it easier and more convenient than a regular job and would prefer to do it.

Although, there may be many strong reasons validating why sex work should be legalized, however, there are many moral and religious violations, in many different countries and societies that may state otherwise. Sexual relations without any other relations are interpreted as lust, and lust is a sin in every religion, thus there exists a stigma attached to sex itself and hence it is considered a taboo in all cultures. However apart from being “morally questionable” there aren’t many valid reasons for sex work to not be legalized. There are many concerns on how sex work is the cause of spreading STDs, and how there isn’t awareness about STDs amongst sex workers in the developing world. Side by side in 4 US cities, possession of condoms or contraceptives is considered as evidence of prostitution and has led to several arrests due to which sex workers no longer carry condoms. The situation is worse in the developing world. Many people consider sex workers as those who have no morals or people who desire excessive sex and that is looked down upon because of the stigma attached to sex, when in reality sex workers are in most cases (particularly in south asia) either ousted from the society because they are victims of sexual abuse, or transgender or from other groups of society that are not accepted and respected so they are forced to turn to it to feed themselves. Banning or illegalizing sex work shall not fix this or the issue of human trafficking, it shall only make it worse as all these problems (STDs, exploited sex workers, etc) still do exist despite them being banned almost everywhere. The society must change and help ignored groups integrate back in the society.

Prostitution in many cases is the last option for many when they are left with no other way to feed themselves and their families, hence we see a rapid increase in sex work in the third world where poverty, hunger and lack of government support is still a huge problem. In Pakistan many women are forced to become sex workers because they are widowed and receive no support from their families, they must earn to support their families. On an average a sex worker in Pakistan earns around 2,000-3,000 rupees a day, which clearly outweighs the average pay of 25,000 rupees per month. Criminalizing sex work only helps in making poverty and hunger worse for the poor. Not only do sex work mafias take full advantage of the fact that it is illegal but they also earn a lot which is not in any record and hence they do not pay taxes. Many argue that prostitution is usually a result of human trafficking, it is so because even when exploited sex workers, people who are abducted, or are forced into the profession approach the legal authorities they neither receive help nor support, they are arrested because they are indulging in illegal work, a sex worker from Mumbai shared how she was abducted and forced for sex work, she fled and filed a report at the police station where she was then arrested, kept in jail for 3 months during which she was sexually abused multiple times, she eventually returned to the brothel because she found it safer than the law enforcing entities. Human traffickers fully know they’ll never be caught as there are no laws to regulate sex work which creates a grey zone in which there is human trafficking, prostitution, government and local mafia taking full advantage of it had it been legalized there would have been restrictions and hence a legal, safer, more friendly environment for sex workers and the customers which shall in return benefit the country and its economy.

Legalizing sex work not only benefits the sex workers who shall directly be benefitted as they’ll be provided with safe working conditions, legal support, fair wages and awareness, but the customer shall also not be at risk of contracting disease. Furthermore, legalizing sex work shall ensure that the authorities work against human trafficking, exploitative pimps, and epidemics of sexually transmitted disease. The reasons for legalizing it outweigh those in favor of criminalizing it, as sex work is neither harmful nor bad but its criminalization has allowed many to misuse it for their own benefit. 

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