Should Prostitution be legalized? Or should it be considered a crime and both the doer and the indulgent be punished severely?
Mentioning the word ‘prostitution’ and its associated facts is apt to introduce awkwardness into ordinary social conversation. And yet, why do we squirm and hide and refuse to accept the existence of ‘oldest profession’ in the world? Why do we refuse to accept that the need for sex is a legitimate and natural need and that there is nothing wrong in paying for sexual services?
Often referred to as the oldest professions in the world, prostitution refers to the act of engaging in sexual activity for money. People involved in the act of prostitution are called sex workers or prostitutes. It is a thriving business and the earnings run into billions of dollars. The status of prostitution is not uniform. In many it is considered illegal to conduct prostitution businesses or scout for clients while in others it may be legal but may not be regulated. Both men and women may be involved in this.
What Was Responsible for Prostitution to Come About in Society?
Prostitution has been in vogue since time immemorial and has been known since the times of Greeks and Romans as well as in other parts of the world. However, the issue of legalizing it has been a matter of controversy. In many countries it is still illegal. Many still regard prostitution in a negative light, mainly in terms of the social issues it may create. However, there is increasing support in favour of legalising it.
Agencies supporting human rights argue that prostitutes are a member of the labor class, just like other workers. Many opt into it out of necessity and to economically better themselves. In this regard, they should be recognized as professional sex workers and receive the benefits and protection of an improved status. Many also see prostitution as something which will always be in demand, as sex is and will be always in demand and hence, banning it does not serve any purpose.
Rather regulations and enforcing should be the order of the day, ensuring that no one is forced into prostitution or coerced into it. This is the problem in countries in South-East Asia, where due to lack of policing, many girls are trafficked and sold into prostitution. This is wrong. Women or men who choose to pursue prostituting should be free to do it because they want to do it. For this, rules and regulations should be in place which confers protection to the sex worker.
Benefits of Legalizing Prostitution
Legalizing prostitution may also mean a reduction in rape as often it is desperation on account of lack of sex, which leads to such crimes. It would also ensure that all sex workers be required to go for health screening and education on safe sex, so that they are safe as well as others whom they interact with are protected too. Legalization would also protect the legal rights of prostitutes and ensure that they are not exploited financially by the agents. It also would provide increased security for them, as out in the unregulated world, they can be subject being abused or murdered. It can also be taxed and provide a revenue to the government and it helps provide employment to those who have no other option.
A recent investigation by Business Insider has shown that contrary to what most of the society think, prostitution, when allowed keeping safeguards and respectful of human rights can actually be safe as well as a good source of income for the worker.
Nevada, the Only State in the US to “Allow” Prostitution
While prostitution in rest of the U.S. is outlawed, it is not in Nevada which is the only state to legally allow prostitution. Under the rules of the legal prostitution practiced in Nevada, brothels have to be licensed and sex workers have to be free from sexually transmitted infections.
The observer cites some more compelling reasons why the U.S. should allow legal prostitution. Firstly, prostitutes who are part of illegal prostitution chains are more vulnerable to violence, rape and murder as they have no safeguards from their pimps and clients. He cites that 82 % of Prostitutes in San Francisco has been assaulted and 68% raped while working as prostitutes and the fact that they are working without legal permission would make it difficult for them to take help as they would fear prosecution. In short, when the need for sex is never going to go out of society, what is the point in illegalising the sex profession.
Legalising the sex profession, would also ensure that brothel owners would take greater responsibility regarding the health, well being and safety of their employees. The magazine highlighted the fact that such brothel owners in Nevada immediately inform the police if there is any kind of harassment of their sex workers. In addition, the legal practice of prostitution also ensures that all health related steps are taken by the prostitutes. They have to use condoms cpmpulsorily and also take monthly tests for sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and AIDS.
Also, prostitution voluntarily carried out by women to earn their livelihood cannot be called a crime and these women cannot be called victims. The state should support and respect their right to choose the profession they want to, if it helps them lead a life and provide for themselves and anyone dependent on them. Scientists also say that criminalising of prostitution would rather increase unsafe sex and hence cause spread of more STDs as compared to legal prostitution and hence criminallisation should be done away with.
Other Countries That Have Legalized Prostitution
The U.S can take the examples of countries such as Holland, where legalised prostitution is already in existence as well as neighbouring Canada, where steps are being taken to legalise prostitution. Colombia has already legalised prostitution. A recent survey also indicated that 61 % of 100 countries surveyed have some or other form of legalised prostititution.
Legalising prostitution while at the same time enforcing harsh punishment on those who coerce women or children into forcible prostitution will ensure the dignity and right to free choice of work of sexworkers and will enhance their standard of living.
So, I say Yes for legalizing prostitution. What about you?
By Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri de [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons