Essay on Should Prostitution Be Legalized?

Published: 2021/11/18
Number of words: 1353

Arguments for Legalization

When individuals argue against the legalization of prostitution, often their concern stems from a place of morality. In most cases, they believe that the legalization of prostitution would lead many young girls to think that their bodies exist for the sole purpose of sexual exploration by men (Outshoorn 235). In other instances, they believe that the legalization of prostitution would trigger more abuse for women and would make it challenging for prostitutes to get out of the industry (Wagenaar and Altink 283). But when one looks at Europe, particularly the Netherlands, the positive benefits of legalization becomes more apparent. The Netherlands is one of the world’s known countries that has legalized prostitution; sex work in this country has been legal for over two decades (Huisman and Kleemans 218). Legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands and imposing new regulations have advanced the safety of sex workers in the country (Huisman and Kleemans 218). Brothels are required to abide by the set safety and hygiene rules to operate. Sex work becomes safer when regulated; more importantly, it weeds out the black market for prostitution, making women working in this industry even more secure.

The benefits of legalizing prostitution extend further. This act would allow brothels in the United States to operate legally, an instance that would generate substantial income for the government (Jolin 1183). The action would also empower women to receive commercial loans and insurance based on their profession. The life of women sex workers in the Netherlands has improved since the business was legislated. The rates of gender-based discrimination in business, education, and business have decreased since prostitution was legalized (Wijk and Mascini 73). Until the 1990s, women’s and men’s roles in the Netherlands were well divided down traditional lines. Women and men were pushed to the customs of marriage; the woman was also expected to look after the house, her husband, and her children. Men were expected to support their families financially. This has since changed as both women and men can support their families equally. In addition to empowering women and shifting the roles of women in the country, legalizing prostitution would reduce arrest rates (Wijk and Mascini 76); more importantly, it would decrease the cost of prosecution and incarcerations of prostitutes and brothel owners.

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Furthermore, the legalization of sex work imposed compliance with labor laws on entities operating in the prostitution industry, an instance that has helped reduce the number of women at risk of coerced prostitution and human trafficking (Weitzer 17). Legalizing prostitution pushes the government to protect sex workers. In Amsterdam, the legalization of prostitution increased safety by allowing the government some level of control within the industry (Weitzer 18). Today, prostitutes work in highly secured surroundings with cameras in front of every window and corner. Police patrol areas with an increased population of prostitution (Weitzer 17). Brothels in the areas are also equipped with alarm systems that can be heard from a considerable distance. Also, women are provided with towels, and they are allowed unlimited access to free STD checks.

Arguments Against Legalization

Legalizing prostitution may have helped women in the Netherlands, and other places in the world attain their economic freedom. It may have increased safety in the brothels, but the act itself would act as a gift to sex traffickers and other criminals operating in the industry ((Huisman and Kleemans 222). Legalization of sex work would legitimize all aspects of the industry; it would convert sex clubs, massage parlors, and other prostitution sites into legal venues where commercial sexual acts are allowed to advance from restrains. Most believe that legalizing or decriminalizing sex workers would dignify and professionalize the women working in this area (Huisman and Kleemans 223). Dignifying prostitution as legal work would not dignify the women; it only dignifies the sex industry. In other words, this means that the legalization would not empower the women directly but all individuals operating in the sector, including men and third-party businessmen. It would also legitimize the action of buying women for sexual activity; men who buy women for sex would be viewed as legitimate consumers of sex.

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Studies also indicate that prostitution is one of the drivers of sex trafficking (Cho et al. 75). Most people argue that legalizing prostitution would help deter sex trafficking; it would help stop the exploration of disparate immigrant women trafficked for sex work. This is the underlying argument towards the legalization of prostitution. Nevertheless, things are different in the real-life scenario; in fact, research by Seals indicates that 80 percent of women in brothels in the Netherlands are often trafficked from other countries (791). In other words, the legalization of prostitution would trigger a new form of sex slavery where women and young girls are the victims. The legalization of prostitution would create or expand the sex work market, which would increase human trafficking. Women and young girls who are often the victims would be sexually exploited through prostitution. To better understand the adverse effects of legalized prostitution on human trafficking, one should consider Germany. Germany legalized prostitution in the early 2000s, but the rates of human trafficking have not decreased ever since. Human trafficking is still a significant problem in the country.

The legalization of prostitution would not only increase sex trafficking, but it would also trigger significant health risks. Some studies indicate that the legalization of sex work would reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (Sullivan 87). Nevertheless, and like many items discussed in this paper, it is true, but it would be complicated. If prostitution was to be legal, the law should provide a framework that includes or state that the use of condom should be mandatory. If this would be realized, then the transmission rates would be tamed. The challenge, in this case, is that not everyone would adhere to the rules. For instance, in India, prostitutes do not make nearly as much as sex workers who force their clients to wear a condom (Jeffreys 213). Jeffreys also found that ten percent of prostitutes do not use condoms (213). In most cases, women are threatened not to use condoms. A well-established framework should also require sex workers to get tested for HIV. This instance is seen in places like Nevada, where prostitution is legal. Sex workers in this region have to get monthly tests. The problem with conducting regular testing is that many sexually transmitted illnesses such as HIV, herpes, and syphilis do not show up until six weeks after infection. Individuals are often contagious when they are infected, an instance that could trigger an outbreak.

Works Cited

Cho, Seo-Young et al. “Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?” World Development, vol. 41, 2013, pp. 67-82.

Huisman, Wim, and Edward R. Kleemans. “The Challenges of Fighting Sex Trafficking in The Legalized Prostitution Market of the Netherlands.” Crime, Law and Social Change, vol. 61, no. 2, 2014, pp. 215-228.

Jeffreys, S. “”Brothels Without Walls”: The Escort Sector as A Problem for The Legalization of Prostitution.” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, vol. 17, no. 2, 2010, pp. 210-234.

Jolin, Annette. “Book Review: Legalizing Prostitution: From Illicit Vice to Lawful Business.” Criminal Justice and Behavior, vol. 40, no. 10, 2013, pp. 1178-1180.

Outshoorn, Joyce. “Policy Change in Prostitution in The Netherlands: From Legalization to Strict Control.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, vol. 9, no. 3, 2012, pp. 233-243.

Seals, Maryann. “Worker Rights and Health Protection for Prostitutes: A Comparison of the Netherlands, Germany, And Nevada.” Health Care for Women International, vol. 36, no. 7, 2013, pp. 784-796.

Sullivan, Barbara. “When (Some) Prostitution Is Legal: The Impact of Law Reform On Sex Work in Australia.” Journal of Law and Society, vol. 37, no. 1, 2010, pp. 85-104.

Wagenaar, Hendrik, and Sietske Altink. “Prostitution as Morality Politics or Why It Is Exceedingly Difficult to Design and Sustain Effective Prostitution Policy.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, vol. 9, no. 3, 2012, pp. 279-292.

Weitzer, Ronald. “The Mythology of Prostitution: Advocacy Research and Public Policy.” Sexuality Research and Social Policy, vol. 7, no. 1, 2010, pp. 15-29.

Wijk, Eelco, and Peter Mascini. “The Responsibilization of Entrepreneurs in Legalized Local Prostitution in The Netherlands.” Regulation & Governance, 2019, pp. 67-86.

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