When people hear the word prostitution, most of the time they will have negative feelings towards the term. Most people would consider it to be dirty, naughty and socially unacceptable. They believe that someone being paid to have sex is socially unacceptable and degrading towards women but yet many (especially men) go out to seek prostitutes for their (obviously) their own pleasure. Then there are others who believe that if people are going to go out and seek prostitution, why not just legalize and regulate it in order to prevent the girls from being criminalized for prostituting and control the spreading of STIs. While this idea may seem reasonable to some, there are many who would be against the idea of legalizing prostitution.
Many people believe that prostitution is the cause for human trafficking. In one article, researchers looked at whether legalized prostitution increases human trafficking (Cho, Dreher, & Neumayer, 2013). The researchers collected data from the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Protection Program. The data was based on three categories, the “characteristics of victims, trafficking routes, and country reports” (Cho et al, 2013). The researchers found that countries that legalized prostitution had larger reports of human trafficking inflows. They also looked at three study cases. They analyzed how either criminalizing or legalizing prostitution impacted Germany, Sweden and Denmark. They first start off by stating that they had plenty of data on Germany but were lacking enough data from Sweden and Denmark. The researchers then explained that after prohibiting prostitution in Sweden, the number of prostitutes went from 2,500 in 1999 to 1,500 in 2000 (Cho et al, 2013). They then explain that they were unable to collect enough data on how this impacted human trafficking in Sweden. The next country they looked at was Denmark. Prostitution is legal in Denmark if operated individually and not by a brothel. The researchers then implied that the number of human trafficking in Denmark was more than four times that of Sweden since the stock of human trafficking was 2,250 in Denmark and 500 in Sweden. Finally, in Germany, prostitution was regulated in 2002 and is known to be one of the largest markets in Europe. It was estimated that human trafficking went from 9,870-19,740 in 2001 to 32,800 in 2004. The researchers then concluded that human trafficking does increase with the legalization of prostitution. In the next article, Janice G. Raymond gives ten reasons as to why prostitution should not be legalized. The first, second and third reason is that legalization of prostitution does not really benefit the women working but instead it greatly benefits the pimps, traffickers and sex industry, promotes sex trafficking and it expands on the sex industry. The fourth reason is that it will increase street prostitutes instead of having prostitutes in brothels. The fifth and sixth reason Raymond is against legalization of prostitution, is that it will children will be involved in prostitution and women are not protected. Her seventh reason is that men are encouraged to buy women for sex in any social setting. The eighth and ninth reason she gives, is that it does not protect women’s health or even enhance women’s choice. The last reason Raymond gives, is that women who already work as prostitutes do not want it to be legalized because it brings in more harm and risk.
Even though most people would be against the legalization of prostitution, there are people who believe that there are benefits to legalizing prostitution. In Tesla Carrasquillo’s article “Understanding Prostitution And The Need For Reform,” Carrasquillo explains that instead of criminalizing prostitution, governments should either legalize or decriminalize prostitution. Carrasquillo first takes the reader into the history of prostitution from Mesopotamia (which is believed to be the time in which traces of prostitution were first seen), Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the start of Christianity, and up to the 20th century. She briefly mentions how prostitutes were once considered to be part of the lower class or even lower than the lower class. Despite their social status, Carrasquillo mentions that men would still go out and seek prostitutes even if though they knew their social status or opposed it. Carrasquillo then explains that prostitution is illegal due to government trying to “promote public health and safety and enforce family values” (T. Carrasquillo, 2014). Carrasquillo then states that the criminalization of prostitution has not prevented any of the goals the government was trying to reach. Instead, she states that if prostitution is either decriminalized, partially decriminalized or even legalized, it would be better for prostitutes and actually prevent some of the issues that arise with prostitution. In another article, rebecca Hayes-Smith and Zahra Shekarkhar, look into the reasons why politicians criminalize prostitution and offer other viewpoints on prostitution. First, the authors talk the many reason most people believe that criminalizing prostitution is a good thing. Some of these beliefs include that: it will “deter the soliciting of such services, it is a threat to public health and spreads diseases, prostitutes are at higher risk of being violently victimized and prostitution creates social disorder in the community” (Hayes-Smith & Shekarkhar, 2010). They also talk about the fact that only there are flaws to criminalizing prostitution. For example, many people believe that if prostitution is illegal, then there will be no threat to families and marriages since spouses will be less likely to go and cheat but that is not always the case. Once a cheater, always a cheater, even if prostitution is legalized or not. The authors also go into other alternatives to the legal status of prostitution. Like the article before, the authors also talk about decriminalizing and legalizing prostitution. They point out to the readers that “criminalization is attached to the prostitute, decriminalizing to the prostitute as a victim and legalizing to the sex worker” (Hayes-Smith & Shekarkhar, 2010). As a way to conclude things, the authors states that criminalizing prostitution brings in questionable concepts rather than tackling down the problems they believe it causes and instead governments should consider legalizing prostitution in order to actually prevent some of the concerns they may already have with prostitution.
I would have to agree with those who do want to legalize prostitution. The articles that I read give the readers give valid reasons as to why it would be better to legalizing prostitution that criminalizing it. One reason is that with the legalization of prostitution, the industry would have to be regulated. This means that women are going to be given access to better health care and get tested regularly for STIs (which means a decrease in the spreading of STIs). Also with legalization of prostitution, women who are in the industry would be less likely to be victimized if they are able to report such incidents to the police. In the “Understanding of Prostitution” article, Carrasquillo mentions that prostitutes are scared to report to the police if they are being abused since what they are doing is illegal and are more likely to also get in trouble with the law. For those who do not agree with legalizing prostitution, were mostly focusing on what they believe to be morally right. Rather than focusing on the medical and psychological benefits, they instead look towards the protection of their family. While these are also valid reasons to be against the legalization of prostitution, most of these issues can not be prevented from criminalizing prostitution.
Carrasquillo, T. (2014). UNDERSTANDING PROSTITUTION AND THE NEED FOR REFORM. Touro Law Review, 30(3), 697-721.
Cho, S., Dreher, A., & Neumayer, E. (2013). Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?. World Development, 4167-82. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2012.05.023
Hayes-Smith, R., & Shekarkhar, Z. (2010). Why is prostitution criminalized? An alternative viewpoint on the construction of sex work. Contemporary Justice Review, 13(1), 43-55. doi:10.1080/10282580903549201
Raymond, J. G. (2003). Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution and a Legal Response to the Demand for Prostitution. Journal Of Trauma Practice, 2(3/4), 315-332.