Making Sense of the Prohibition of Prostitution

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In the modern world progress is made in abolishing stigmas and prejudices that exist from the past and limit modern life. In Colorado and Washington, for example, the formerly illegal drug marijuana has been fully decriminalized and is legal for both recreational and medical use. In January of this year, California followed suit and Ohio has made marijuana legal for medicinal purposes. In the example of marijuana, main arguments were used that the crime in question does not hurt others but is self inflicted, many viable resources of law enforcement were being used to apprehend the perpetrators, and ultimately that prohibition of an item or service people want will not make the demand disappear, only make it be pursued illegally. Arguably, the same can be said for prostitution. There are many more emotional connotations prostitution carries with it that make legalization far more apprehensive to the public, but the same principles can be applied. If a complete prohibition of prostitution were to be lifted and replaced by regulations to keep sex workers safe, society would benefit.

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The United States of America is actually surprisingly old fashioned in its methods of dealing with the issue of prostitution compared to many other first world countries. Nations like China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia are seldom shown to be similar to the United States as opposed to Canada, Germany, and The United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom and Canada, sex work is decriminalized to an extent, and in Germany prostitution is fully legalized. So why then does the United States continue to practice laws that are out of date and have clearly superior counterparts in other modern countries?

There is a metaphorical mountain of emotional weight the subject carries that makes it a topic most people do not wish to talk about. People often counter legalization arguments with pathos rhetoric, pointing out the horrific lives prostitutes are forced to live. Exclaiming how these women are stripped of their dignity for money. However this rhetoric is flawed in implying that since prostitution is unethical, it should be banned to make the process go away. There are very few people who would argue that prostitution is something fair or safe in its nature. As history and politics show prohibition does not mean anything more than a lack of recognition. In reality, there are sex workers and there always will be. Prostitution itself is an issue due to its unethical nature, but the problem is simply not being addressed by its banning. Sex Work’s prohibition is a cause of many of its vices, such as abusive pimps and danger of the clientele. What the public should be considering are ways of making prostitution safer for both the women who sex work and their male clients.

As with the prohibition of Marijuana and of Alcohol, it is clear to see making a certain item or service illegal that many people want is simply turning the demand from a lawful and regulated source to the streets and black market. With both other substances the public has recognized that people will use alcohol and marijuana at similar rates whether it is legal or illegal. The main difference when it comes to laws regarding prostitution is the emotional stigma and connotational weight that insights fear of furthering and expanding the process by lifting laws which prohibit it.

Sex work in The United States of America is an extremely dangerous profession. Over 100 prostitutes in the San Francisco area were interviewed in a study done by Doctor Howard Barkan. 82% of these women had said they were assaulted while working. 83% claimed to have been threatened with a weapon. Horrifyingly, 68% said that they had been raped while sex working. Many prostitutes turn to pimps when they are in need of management or protection, but pimps are very often abusive to their sex workers in the same way their clients could be. Pimps can also intertwine these women’s lives with other illegal and dangerous activities, such as drug trafficking and gang affiliation. If the prohibition was lifted, it could allow for regulations to make sex workers lives far safer. With a legalization, new policies such as registration and background checks could be implemented to keep prostitutes away from domestic violence and abuse.

Even in countries such as the United Kingdom, there are certain . If two or more sex workers are colliding together for almost any purpose, it can be classified as a brothel and they can be jailed and fined.

Fining the laborers who work in the illegal sex trade is a completely counterproductive measure. Prostitutes are almost never in their profession by choice, it is almost always an issue with money where selling their body was the most viable option for them. In the aforementioned study by Doctor Barkan, 84% of sex workers said they had been homeless in the past or were currently homeless. In the same study 88% of the women said that they wanted to leave prostitution. By charging these desperate women for doing a job that they are only doing to relieve themselves of their economic difficulties, the law is forcing these sex workers to continue their illegal work just to pay off their charges for having prostituted themselves in the beginning.

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Making Sense of the Prohibition of Prostitution. (2019, Aug 07). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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