Legalize and regulate prostitution in the United States
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The problems with prostitution are twofold. The violence that prostitutes experience and the spread of STDs through unprotected sex. First, according to the Daily Beast on August 15 2014, prostitutes are up to 75% more likely to experience workplace violence than the average citizen (Reisenwitz). To make matters worse, because prostitution is illegal, prostitutes cannot turn to the police for help if a situation turns violent. An analysis of street prostitution in New York City by the Urban Justice Center on June 23, 2003 found that almost 30% of prostitutes interviewed had experienced violence at the hand of the police (Thukral). In a system where prostitution is illegal, prostitutes are easily taken advantage of because they cannot rely on protection from law enforcement. If they are caught by the police, they end up in jail. If they try to call the police for help, they end up in jail. This forces many prostitutes to depend on pimps to protect them. Except, pimps generally aren’t thinking about what’s best for these women, they’re thinking about how to turn a profit and will also abuse and harm prostitutes in order to make them do want they want them to. And often what pimps want prostitutes to do is have unprotected sex because johns will pay more for it. According to Statistic Brain on March 1, 2016, the average prostitute is forced to have unprotected sex more than 300 times a year (Prostitution Statistics). Not only are prostitutes seriously at risk for painful, potentially life threatening STDs, many also transmit them to hundreds of people. In fact, the CDC found that 8% of the STDs in this country were spread through prostitution (HIV Risk Among Persons Who Exchange Sex for Money or Nonmonetary Items). Because prostitution isn’t regulated by the government, there is no way to test prostitutes and johns for STDs and no way to ensure that prostitutes use protection. There is a reason that the mortality rate for prostitutes is more than 200 times higher than for the average citizen (Laws). If you aren’t beaten to death, you may die from an STD. We need to stop treating sex workers like vindictive criminals when the only crime they committed was being victimized by a corrupt system.
Now that we have analyzed the major problems with prostitution, let’s examine why prostitution is criminalized. The causes are twofold: the assumption that prostitution is degrading and the mislabeling of prostitutes. First, the USFG in 2004 said that prostitution is inherently demeaning (Bazelon). This point of view is shared by many who think that prostitution is a product of male domination of women. However, a 2015 study by Leeds University found that 91% of sex workers described their jobs as rewarding and flexible (National Ugly Mugs and Leeds University Job Satisfaction Survey). The argument against legalizing prostitution is that prostitution is demeaning and legalization legitimizes and increases this social ill . However, if prostitution was legalized, the government could regulate it. Then, they could make sure that prostitutes could leave the business if they wanted to and that prostitutes would be protected under the law, reducing violence against them. The second reason prostitution is illegal is the jumbling together of sex workers and victims of sex trafficking. According to Elite Daily on February 10, 2015, sex workers are prostitutes who consciously made the decision to participate in the business. Victims of sex trafficking are individuals who are in the sex industry against their will. (Salvi). Sex trafficking is awful and many critics of the movement for legalizing prostitution say that legalizing prostitution is legitimizing sex trafficking. This is not the case. If legalized, sex workers would be able to continue voluntarily while inspections of brothels and other legal prostitution businesses by the government could free victims of sex trafficking. Elite Daily went on to say that if prostitution was legalized, sex workers could safely report workplace violence and trafficking survivors would be able to seek assistance from law enforcement without the threat of legal repercussions, reducing sex trafficking (Salvi). The USFG needs to accept that prostitution isn’t going away. It is a simple case of supply and demand. There will always be people who want to have sex and are willing to pay for it, therefore there will always be a pimp, madam, or prostitute who will supply it, legally or illegally. Because prostitution is going to happen whether we like it or not, we MUST legalize it so we can regulate it.
We can see that prostitution is a big problem in our society, but that legalizing it will make it safer for everyone and fairer for sex workers. First, legalization will reduce STDs. My plan will prevent unprotected sex and require that both the worker and the john have current negative STD tests. STDs can lead to death and lower quality of life. According to the World Health Organization in 2016, when people are alive and healthy they contribute more to their local economies (World Health Organization). When we decrease rates of STDs, fewer people go to the hospital. This decreases hospital overcrowding, which allows other patients to have quicker and higher quality of care. The impact of this is that there will be less death from STDs, less death from slow and poor quality of hospital care, and economic increase from health gains. Second, legalizing prostitution allows us to tax it and use that money to fund education and healthcare programs. This will result in better quality of life, especially for sex workers.
So while prostitution might not be the most socially or morally desirable business, it will continue whether we legalize it or not. However, legalizing it will help everyone, get rid of many of its negative aspects, and have a net benefit on society.
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