Should Prostitution Be Legalized
Prostitution refers to the act of having sexual intercourse or other sexual acts for monetary compensation. For Prostitution is one of the oldest profession with records showing that it began in the ancient Samaria (now Iraq) where maidens made sexual favors in the temples as offerings to gratify the gods. It was later transformed from a sacrament to business in the ancient Greece and this gave women an opportunity to gain status and power. Currently, prostitution takes two forms; prostitution in the streets and prostitution in the brothels. The legalization of prostitution is a controversial subject that creates a great debate worldwide. The legal status of prostitution varies from one area to the other. A number of the countries where prostitution has been legalized include Netherlands, New Zealand, and Taiwan. On the contrary, countries which prostitution is illegal include Canada, and Norway. The proponents for argue that legalization of prostitution helps in improving the working conditions and the wellbeing of the sex workers and it has economic benefits to countries through taxation and benefits businesses which are linked to the Industry. On the other hand, the opponents argue that legalization promotes human trafficking, increases violence and discrimination against women and it harms their mental and physical health. Although prostitution is a contentious topic, its legalization does not violate any rights and will significantly stimulate the economy from a global perspective.
Counterarguments for the legalization of Prostitution
Those who are opposing the legalization of prostitution have a number of reasons to support their argument. Firstly, they argue that prostitution play a vital role in the spreading of sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, herpes, and Chlamydia. Commercial sex workers are high-risk groups in the spread of the STDs due to their nature of business. Most commercial sex workers are coerced into having sex by the clients without using protection such as condom and this increases their probability of contracting STDs (Loff & Fairley, 2000). Moreover, commercial sex workers have multiple sexual partners and most of whom their HIV/AIDS status is unknown and this increases their chances of contracting the disease. Besides, with a large number of sexual partners, an infected prostitute can potentially spread the disease to many clients. Prostitutes are money oriented and they do not pay attention to whether the clients use protection or not. Prostitution increases the spread of STDs because clients who engage in sexual acts with prostitutes are married and they end up spreading the infections to their partners. Another reason behind the high STD prevalence rate among the prostitutes varies from one area to the other. It is right that in countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, the use of drugs such as heroin through injection and the sharing of needles are responsible for the fast growing rates of HIV/AIDs pandemic. However, the argument that prostitution increase STDs prevalence does not hold because the high rates of STD transmission due to prostitution results from anti-prostitution laws, which do not protect the prostitutes. The relationship the spread of STDs and prostitution varies from one area to the other. In some countries, prevalence of STDs is high among the prostitutes while in other areas, it low and they appear to play a little role in the spread of STDs (Loff & Fairley, 2000). For example, In the United States and Europe, the spread of HIV/ AIDS is not considered as an issue of major concern. However, in some parts such as Africa and Asia, there are a large number of commercial sex workers thus having an influence on the general pattern of the epidemic. Arguably, the marginalization of prostitutes and criminalization of prostitution makes the tracking and monitoring of this group hinders efforts aimed providing prevention programs. A research study done in Australia in 1998 revealed that the prevalence of sexually transmitted Infections among the illegal prostitutes was 80 times greater compared to legal prostitutes in their brothels (Loff & Fairley, 2000). The reason behind this disparity is that illegal street prostitutes do not go for screening. The legal prostitutes in the brothels receive monthly screening and the use of condom for protection is mandatory. Additionally, occupational health and safety is applied to legal prostitutes who operate in legal brothels but not to illegal prostitutes who operate in the streets. Legalization of prostitution is therefore important in ensuring that the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections is reduced among the prostitutes. Many commercial sex workers are playing a key role in many countries in the prevention of HIV/AIDs and other STDs prevention by supporting others to ensure that they use protection and advocate for their rights. The labeling of prostitutes as “high risk group” acts as a justification to stigmatize them by those are opposed to the business (Weitzer, 2011).
The second argument against the legalization of prostitution is that it is a type of sexual harassment, which is always associated with violence. With the industry being illegal, the brothels are under the control of traffickers, pimps, or hostile clients. Therefore, prostitutes become more susceptible to rape or beatings. Prostitutes refuse to report cases of violence against them due to the illegality of the business they fear being arrested by the police (Clemmitt, 2008). Some prostitutes do not report because of the fear of being punished by their pimps or losing them. Opponents for the legalization of prostitution cite the various studies revealing that most prostitutes suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a medical condition common in rape victims. The traumatic consequences of prostitution are similar across the globe whether prostitution is legal or illegal. A study conducted in Canada found that three quarters of women engaging in prostitution have at one point have a contemplation of committing suicide. Moreover, prostitution creates disparity between men and women. A research conducted in Cambodia, where prostitution is legal, revealed that commercial sex workers are subject to abuse and harassment because of the nature of their occupation (Post, 2011). Prostitution has a job description of tolerating any kind of abuse from the clients. Most clients pay high prices to desperate sex workers to not use any protection or rape them. Furthermore, a research study by Dr Farley found that commercial sex workers have little or no control in the brothels because the owners of the brothels have full control over what they do and with whom thus exposing them to more violence (Post, 2011). Countries that have legalized prostitution on grounds that it will reduce rates of violence on prostitutes have not achieved their goals because the rates of assault on prostitutes remain extremely high. In addition, legalization of prostitution increases human trafficking, the recruitment, and the exploitation of the underage (Batsyukova, 2007). However, it is only a few isolated cases of violence against prostitutes and the main harmful aspects of prostitution result from external factors rather than the act itself of sex. Commercial sex workers enter into prostitution business because of various reasons ranging from voluntary to involuntary such as enslavement and rape. The main reason is extreme poverty and lack of other employment opportunities. It is important to minimize external factors such as human trafficking and locating victims who enter prostitution through coercion rather than criminalizing prostitution. There is also a need to improve the wellbeing and the working conditions of prostitutes who enter into prostitution voluntarily. Although little harm incidences exist in the prostitution industry, elimination of prostitution does not deter sex workers from getting involved in prostitution. Rather, it forces desperate sex workers go underground and engage in more dangerous prostitution activities, which are less controllable thus subjecting them to more harm (Berger, 2012).
The third argument against the legalization of prostitution is that the industry is always linked with drug abuse. Many prostitutes in the streets engage in the use of illegal drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine. Most prostitutes us drugs because of violence and assault they face from their clients and the brothel owners. Some women turn into prostitution to finance their habit of abusing drugs. The habit of abusing drugs might be because of prostitution lifestyle while others have the habits of abusing drugs before entering into prostitution. Commercial sex workers act as the customer base and a ready market for the dealers of drugs in the streets. Moreover, prostitutes who engage in substance abuse are highly vulnerable to assault and violence and they might rob their clients. A research done in the UK in 2001 revealed that close two thirds of the prostitutes in a number of cities engage in prostitution to finance their habits of abusing drugs. The study also showed that over 90 percent of the prostitutes use heroin or cocaine. It is apparent that there is a relationship between drug abuse and prostitution. However, studies show that there exists little evidence supporting this evidence. The Prostitution Law Review Committee in New Zealand made an examination of a number of assumptions about prostitutes and prostitution industry (Miller & Haltianger, 2004). The committee report concluded that most perceptions about prostitution are based on lack of information and stereotypes. Opponents for the legalization of prostitution believe that a number of prostitutes engage in prostitution to finance their abuse of drugs. The Study in New Zealand asked a substantial number of prostitutes why they engage themselves in prostitution. The main reasons for a large percentage of prostitutes were financial. Converse to the popular misconception, only 17 percent of the prostitutes engage in prostitution to finance drug and substance abuse. On the contrary, 83 percent reported that they are engaging in prostitution to finance their household expenses.
Arguments for legalization of Prostitution
Those who argue against the legalization of prostitution are religionists and criminalization of prostitution is based on morals rather than facts. Morality is subjective, prostitution has no victim, and hence it should be not be termed as a crime. Prostitution should be legalized to ensure that sex workers are free from stigmatization and to grant them a right to use their bodies to earn income (Hayes-Smith & Shekarkhar, 2010).The actual act of prostitution involves the agreement a prostitute and the customer to exchange sex for money and it does not contravene the rights of any of the two parties. Besides, the act itself does not in any case directly or indirectly harm any other person. Those who participate in commercial sex work should be given a chance to enjoy equal labor rights as other workers and equal human rights just like any other human being. Undeniably, every adult has a responsibility of providing for his or her family and prostitution could act as an avenue that many sex workers pull themselves out of adverse living conditions. Most sex workers make a decision of engaging in prostitution due to desperation instead of begging or stealing for them to provide for their families (Decker, 1995). Prostitution should be legalized because it does not directly cause violence because it results from the agreement between the parties involved (Weitzer, 2011). The anti-prostitution Legislations encourage and perpetuate violence against prostitutes. Most prostitutes who become victims of abuse from police or clients are not likely to report the cases to the police due to fear of being arrested. Prostitutes know that they will face arrests if they report offenses against them. Most of them know that the police, the judges, and the prosecutors will not believe them. Anti-prostitution laws promotes stigma against prostitutes and justifies the crime committed against them making lesser humans (Hayes-Smith & Shekarkhar, 2010). In addition, the enforcement of the laws on anti-prostitution is very expensive and does little in preventing prostitution instead it have driven the business into an underground market where the rights of the prostitutes are violated. These finances should instead be used in preventing crimes committed against the prostitutes and pursuing those responsible.
Legalization of prostitution helps the government in reaping economic benefits from the business. Some of the benefits are accrued from brothel related revenue including property tax, liquor expenses and licensing fees. With the current high unemployment rates resulting from the global economic recession, prostitution helps in creating employment opportunities for many unemployed women (Clemmitt, 2008). The income earned from the trade helps in increasing the consumer spending among those directly involved. Consumption is a key component in the determination of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Consequently, increased consumption ensures that there is an increase in the country’s GDP hence increasing levels of economic development. The commercial sex sector not only provides income those directly involved or the government but also other commercial businesses that are indirectly involved in the business. The income remittances from the urban to the rural areas or from prostitutes working abroad ensure there is an equal distribution of income. The recognition of the benefits of prostitution ensures that the relationship between the commercial sex sector and economic growth and development is not ignored. The Thailand government is having a consideration of legalizing prostitution because it will improve the working conditions for the prostitutes and help the country in increasing the economic growth (Thailand, 2004).
Prostitution should be legalized in all countries because the pros of legalizing outweigh the cons. Criminalization of prostitution does not deter prostitutes from engaging in the business and objectives of most governments to ban prostitution cannot be achieved. Given the social and economic benefits the prostitutes derive from the industry, most of them will not be ready to abandon prostitution even in places where stringent measures against prostitution have been put in place. The main reason for the legalization is the economic benefits brought about by prostitution. Revenue collected through the issuance of licenses will help in increasing a country’s GDP thus having a positive impact on the economic development. Moreover, the enforcement of the prostitution criminalization laws is very expensive. Legalization will ensure that large amount of finances used by the law enforcement agencies in fighting prostitution in the streets can be channeled to other development projects (Weitzer, 2011). The other reason that makes legalization essential is that prostitution only happens with the consent of the two parties involved; the prostitute and the client. Although incidences of coercion exist, they are rare and can be minimized with legalization. Legalization ensures that the incidence of assault and violence against sex workers is reduced. Criminalization results in stigmatization from the public and this deny prostitutes an opportunity to report cases of violence against them to the police with the fear of being arrested. Through legalization, the commercial sex workers will have an opportunity of using their bodies to earn income to feed their families. Besides, legalization grants prostitutes equal labor rights just like any other form of employment. Legalization of prostitution ensures that the government monitors how the business is conducted thus help in the prevention of sexually transmitted infections. The individual members and groups in the society should focus on advocating for the rights of the prostitutes. On the other hand, the government should ensure that there is legislation of laws that decriminalize prostitution. Neither the government nor anyone has a right of regulating how adults conduct their sex life including when prostitution is involved.
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