The Question Whether Prostitution Should Be Legalized In The United States
From the mid-1980s, the debate on how to legally address the subject on prostitution came up. This profession is considered among the ancient profession there has been in the world. In many countries all over the world, the topic on prostitution is very controversial and irks different opinions. Some are of the opinion that it should be legalized others are on the opposing opinion. Prostitution; a job which entails giving any form of sexual service in exchange for money, is considered illegal in most part of the united states except in Nevada. Most European countries like Germany and Netherland have made prostitution legal.
Every day this industry sees so many people getting themselves in this line of business. Sex workers; people who get paid for offering sexual services, do not need any form of qualification, training or any sort of knowledge to start up this job. Being a prostitute has proven to be quite easy, one of the major reasons the numbers has grown. Therefore, begs the question, should we accept and allow prostitution to be legalized in the united states? Is it possible that the US government can control or decrease the social, mental and the physical harms caused by prostitution?
Prostitution can be classified into three broad categories in the united states. Brothel, street and escort prostitution. Escort prostitution is normally considered as entertainment and massage services. It is widely practiced in the US. Escort prostitution is supposed to be controlled, however, it is not majorly because, the difference between escort and street prostitution is just logistics. Street prostitution is widely frowned at because it involves men and women roaming the streets dressed scantily advertising their bodies to a willing seller. So should the government allow prostitution? The answer is no.
Opponents argue that sex is like a basic need eliciting both physiological and psychological developments. Therefore, when these needs and desires are not being met, human beings can not function to their optimum potential. This opposing view believe that the governments reason of not legalizing prostitution is biased and based majorly on the existing social stereotypes. Modern thinkers and the available sociologists believe that legalizing and regulating the prostitution industry would help protect women against rape and any form of abuse.
Prostitution is considered a victimless crime since everyone gives consent. People believe they have a right to do whatever they want with their body as long as it does not cause any harm to the other people in the society. Therefore, it is believed that the government has no right in dictating whether two consenting adults can engage in sexual activities for payment since its their body and they do it willingly. They believe they know they are in a conscious state of mind, making them aware fully that they are giving away their body for sex in exchange for money. So, they should not be criminalized since they have not brought any harm to other people whatsoever in the society.
Pro prostitution community believe that the women in this business are similar to any other social laborers and should be accorded the same rights. International labor laws and Prostitution Alternatives Counseling and Education (PACE) have accredited prostitution as a legitimate job for women. Some women find themselves in this industry because they have no other means to fend for their families. This becomes the most readily available type of job for them since they lack education and proper training to take up any other job that they would really want to do. This is practically an understandable reason because these women are tasked to do whatever they can to provide for their families, whether legal or illegal. On the other hand, some women voluntarily choose to become prostitutes. Studies however shows that most of the women were trafficked into the country with the promise of being given better job but eventually forced into the business. Upon refusal, most of them are assaulted by the pimps. Therefore, it would be appropriate to say that whether the woman consents into prostitution or not they may be faced with the same problem such as violence, oppression and exploitation by the pimps when they don’t do as they are expected.
Furthermore, legalizing prostitution helps in protecting women’s human rights in the work place. Therefore, this will ensure that these women are not in harms way while working. Some people say that the women who will be involved in prostitution will be able to easily access help from health care services in terms of physical standards. The government allowing prostitution to be legal, would mean that they are in agreement with the sex business stakeholders. This would imply that the government would be funding campaigns for safe sex through the use of condoms and education of the sex workers on safe sex. This line of argument actually makes sense to me however, it would be a disservice on my part if I didn’t point out the fact that most sexually transmitted epidemic infections such as (HIV) Human Immunodeficiency Disease and the many STDs; Sexually Transmitted Diseases, still remain widely uncontrolled in the prostitution industry. Despite the fact that the government will offer public health services to these women, they can still get infected with STDs from their customers who don’t use condoms.
The government should continue with its stand of not legalizing prostitution since the industry is in itself difficult to regulate. It is hoped that with legalizing prostitution, sex industry expansion could be controlled. In reality it is the opposite, legalized prostitution sees the growth of a vast number of illegal sex industries such as brothels meaning, legalizing it wont stop any of the illegal activities that is already there. Legalizing prostitution still sees the rise of illegal brothels since the high cost and strict regulations in running a legal brothel is considered unprofitable. In Germany where prostitution has been legalized, the women sex workers avoid registering with the government and continue operating illegally because they believe it does not help them in curbing physical danger. All this makes the industry very difficult to regulate.
Legalizing prostitution in the united states would be a loophole to increase sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is described as the act of moving people from one place to another, even traversing the borders for sexual exploitation. Some people have the notion that legalizing prostitution causes a decrease in human sex trafficking both locally and internationally. However, it is obvious that legalizing prostitution creates a window for human trafficking because the owners of the brothels have the right to legally sell prostitutes and the men have the right to legally purchase sexual acts.
Approximately 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked across the border every year, and majority of them are women. A good number of these females and children are used in the sexual industries as prostitutes. These girls and women are often poor, uneducated and easy to control. In countries like Germany and Netherlands with legalized prostitution, the number of people sex trafficked is on the rise because there is a great demand of sex workers and this business being legitimate more and more girls and women get coerced into the brothels.
Sex workers has a 45%-47% chance of ever experiencing violence in their line of work. Studies have estimated that 60-100 female prostitutes have a likelihood of getting themselves murdered compared to those women that don’t do this type of work. Some women involved in prostitution are of the opinion that rape or oppression can never happen in their line of work, however it happens many times and a number of prostitutes are suffering from traumatic brain injuries as a result of the beating they receive. It is also recorded that prostitutes are at a higher risk of violence, rape and sexual assault mostly perpetrated by the same clients they offer the services to and their pimps. This therefore shows that even if prostitution is legalized such acts wont stop. These women will still be abused and demoralized. Legalizing prostitution also won’t solve the psychological oppression these people go through in the hands of the clients and the pimps.
Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE) is a women religious group that strives to fight against legalizing prostitution. This organization believes that the clients who go out their to sought out these services are people fathers, husbands, office men dressed up in nice suits and ties. They are not homeless or mentally unstable people. They are therefore, just taking advantage of these women. This kind of exploitation is what the organization is against, and they believe in legalizing prostitution, these type of men in the society will just be enabled.
The SESTA/FOSTA legislation bill was passed in April, holds websites liable criminally for a case of potential sex trafficking that happens on that specific page. This saw a unison between every Democrat who joined the republicans to pass this said legislation. Only two senators voted against the said bill. This bill saw the shutdown of many websites, some that were even considered “safe”. Senator Kamala Harris; a democrat, proposed to legalization of prostitution. It was thought that she was too timid to chair such a proposal, however it is seen that the proposal is soon gaining momentum among the democrats currently. This shows that there is a ununified party platform when it comes to legalizing prostitution at the moment.
Most Americans have split opinions when it comes to legalizing prostitution debate. When Amnesty international came out openly that they would want the US government to legalize prostitution, it gathered mixed reactions from the public. A research conducted recently by YouGov showed that 74% of Americans believe that both parties involved in prostitution should be punished accordingly; the sex worker and the client. 18% believes that only the client should be held liable since they are the ones proving the market for the prostitutes. Only 7% believes that the prostitute should be the only one punished for agreeing to practice the act. When Americans were asked whether these laws should even be existent in the first place, they response showed that they are evenly divided. 44% of Americans think that prostitution should be legal while 46% of them think it should continue to be illegal. 64% believe that prostitution is morally wrong and causes an eradication of their culture. 36% believe that being in a new aged century and social interaction, paying for pleasure should not be a topic that is considered weird or morally wrong at all.
From the examples illustrated above, one could argue that legalizing prostitution is in the best interest to the government since it will help them reduce the time and resources, they spend in restricting its operations. However, this would not result in protection of these prostitutes in the long run which would mean the government’s efforts would have been a futile endeavor. Moreover, the prostitute’s health protection wouldn’t be guaranteed. Suppose these prostitutes get a sexual epidemic disease, this makes it twice as hard for them to survive let alone be accepted in the society. The fact that we are living in a new era, where many things are considered legal, and not a big deal whatsoever, legalizing prostitution would not help in protecting the human rights of sex workers whether it is physical well-being or mental well-being.
Farley, M. (2004). “Bad for the body, bad for the heart”: prostitution harms women even if legalized or decriminalized. Violence against women, 10(10), 1087-1125.
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