Legalize Prostitution in Washington State

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As a huge proponent of women's health, I believe prostitution should be legalized (under strict government regulation) to make sex workers feel safer when doing their jobs. As it stands right now, sex workers are subject to extremely unsafe working conditions. If prostitution were legalized, brothels would be required under law to pay for monthly STD testing and clients would be required to wear condoms. Also, if all sex work took place in legally-run brothels, assault and rape cases would decrease dramatically. Workers would feel comfortable turning to law enforcement if these regulations were to be breached because they would no longer be considered criminals themselves. 

Pros of Legalizing/Decriminalizing Prostitution in Washington State:

- Reduce violence against women: Based on a study of San Francisco prostitutes, it was estimated that 82% percent of U.S. prostitutes say they have experienced assault while on the job.  68% have been raped while working (National Library of Medicine).  These numbers could be drastically decreased if prostitution was legal because women would feel much safer turning to law enforcement for help.  ONLY allowing sex work to take place in brothels would improve safety significantly.

- Make sex workers healthier: The state would require men to use condoms during sessions and require employers (aka pimps) to pay for monthly STD testing.  Criminalizing prostitution makes women less likely to practice safe sex.

- Victimless crime: “Sex work can be a victimless crime if women sell their bodies of their own volition” (Business Insider).

- Source of tax revenue: If brothels were legalized, they would be required to pay state taxes.

- Frees up law enforcement services: Arguably, law enforcement officials spend too much time going after sex workers when they could be out preventing more serious crimes.  The government should stay out of personal affairs if both adults are consenting.

- Labor rights: As prostitution is an illegal profession, workers do not receive any labor rights/benefits, including minimum wage and the guarantee of a safe work environment.

- Not going away any time soon: It’s the world’s oldest profession!  People don’t stop wanting sex just because it’s illegal.

Note: Ideally, both the sale and purchase of sex within the confines of a legally-run brothel would be totally legalized. Street prostitution, however, is a different matter.  Washington state should criminalize the purchase of street prostitution, but should decriminalize sellers.

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