One of the top arguments against the legalization of prostitution is the concern for public health. Many argue that prostitution can spread sexually transmitted disease. In reality, the U.S. Department of Health reports that only 3-5% of STDs are caused by prostitutes. Still, STD’s caused by prostitution could be reduced even further. If prostitution were legalized the state could require prostitutes to have regular health exams, making it safer for not only the prostitutes themselves but also their customers. This would reduce the risk spreading of disease caused by prostitution even more.
The futile fight against prostitution is a major drain on local law-enforcement resources. From a report in the 1980s, average arrest, court and incarceration costs amount to nearly $ 2,000.00 per arrest. Cities spend from $1 million to $23 million dollars, for an average of $7.5 million dollars, on prostitution-control(1). It also costs $500 for police to send a rape-kit for analysis(2). Many of these rape-kits go unanalyzed because there isn’t enough money for the analysis. So for every prostitute that is arrested, convicted and jailed, four rapists get off scot-free(2). These are tax dollars that could be better spent on preventing violent crimes or convicting violent criminals. Keeping prostitution illegal costs taxpayers much more than legalizing it.
The government would also provide a legal framework for the industry, creating a safe work environment that is required, by law in other business, for the employes. Prostitutes are afraid to seek protection from police, or are made to think that violence is just part of the job. In reality, women working in legal brothels and window units in the Netherlands experience very little violence(3). In the Netherlands workers and managers have a meticulous procedure to deal with violent costumers, there are similar systems set up in Nevada’s legal brothels. There is also a significant amount of prejudge against prostitutes who do report violence to police. When reporting violence to police women report being told “What did you expect?” by police who refused to even investigate violence committed against people they knew engaged in prostitution(4). This is a classic case of blaming the victim and it’s no different than blaming a rape victim because of the way she was dressed. Prostitutes also end up being the ones arrested when they report violence and rape-kits are almost never preformed(4). In cases where prostitutes are found murdered, the cases are almost never solved and often ignored(4). Allowing prostitution to remaining illegal just reenforces the attitude that prostitutes somehow deserve this treatment because the prostitutes themselves are criminals. Legalizing prostitution would give prostitutes a legal standing and require that they too have the right to a safe working environment.
As far as personal freedom is concerned, people own their own bodies. People, therefore, have the right to do what they want with their bodies regardless of any potential or supposed harm. There is no reason to arrest people for prostitution while allowing other activities, such as smoking or excessive drinking, both of which are more risky and do more harm than prostitution. Prostitution is the voluntary sale of a labor service. Individuals have the absolute right to decide how those labor services should be used. As long as the prostitutes are connecting adults there is no reason for the government to criminalize these individuals. Allowing the government to continue criminalizing prostitution is allowing the government to decide how one spends or earns his or her own money. Adults are perfectly capable of making their own choices without the government interfering.
Prostitution is considered “the worlds oldest profession” and the government has been fighting in an attempting to eliminate it and loosing. When considering whether to keep prostitution illegal or not, there must be an evaluation of costs and the benefits. The cost to the taxpayers, the invasion of personal freedom, the fallacious arguments about the spread of disease, and putting humans in unnecessary danger are caused by keeping prostitution illegal. There is no justification for keeping prostitution illegal. The best way to solve the problems with prostitution is to legalize it.
- Julie Pearl. "The Highest Paying Customers: Americas Cities and The Cost of Prostitution Control." Hastings Law Journal. April 1987. pp 769-800.
- Bovard, James. "The Legalization of Prostitution." The Future of Freedom Foundation. Sept. 1998.
- Jackson, Patrick. "How the Dutch Protect Their Prostitutes." BBC News. 19 Dec. 2006. Web.
- Melissa Ditmore, PhD, Coordinator of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects. "Debating Legalized Prostitution." Washington Post's PostGlobal. Feb. 28, 2007
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