The Debate on Legalizing Prostitution

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My personal belief on prostitution is that it should be decriminalized and legalized in the United States. If we decriminalize prostitution, we would help not only women but society as a whole. If sex for money was made legal and recognized as a career choice and occupation it would make being a sex worker safer, improve their health, help decrease the exploitation of women, and help curb sex trafficking. The legalization of prostitution would allow sex workers to have the same rights and protections as any other worker. It would also help generate money in the form of taxes for the state or federal government. My belief comes from what I have learned as an adult about the sex trade industry. Growing up, I was taught that prostitution was dirty and bad, and not an adequate or respectable life choice. Now I see that not everyone makes this life choice willingly.

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Prostitution is known as the oldest profession in the world and is viewed by society as morally wrong. The criminalization of prostitution seems to do more harm than good, aside from being unsuccessful in stopping prostitution it only continues to allow for more sex trafficking and sex crimes against women (Hall Blanco, 2018). Many sex workers are poor and come from broken homes and violence and they see prostitution as their only way to make a living. In legalizing prostitution, we may be able to help decrease the spread of disease and sex crimes against sex workers. Society does not like the idea of money being exchanged for sex but this is a moral viewpoint that should not be allowed in legislation (Barkan, 2017).

My position is against the legalization of prostitution. The importance of studying prostitution is so that we as a society learn to better understand sex workers, their world and their impact on the world around us. If we have a better understanding perhaps society can come up with solutions to issues that come from prostitution like sex crimes. It’s important to keep prostitution illegal because if legalized there is the possibility of it making sex trafficking, and prostitution more rampant. The reality of things is that we as a society do not know what would happen is prostitution was made legal. It is much easier to take the moral high ground and say that its wrong and needs to be criminalized in order to try and discourage such behavior, but if history has taught us anything is once government sets a ban, a black market simply helps supply the ongoing and in some cases increasing demand.

The legalization of prostitution can be beneficial to society because it would allow the government to collect additional tax revenues that can be used to fund public programs. It would also help public health by decreasing sexually transmitted infections and AIDS/HIV. If prostitution were made legal, law enforcement officers would have more time to fight real criminals that are a menace to society, instead of wasting their time arresting sex workers. Prostitution can be harmful to society because of the way it treats women, we live in a society where men are the dominant ones and women are seen as passive and submissive. Prostitution also further reinforces the idea that women are sex objects for men to have and enjoy at their disposal. Prostitution leads to other issues such as drug use, alcohol abuse, mental health issues from trauma caused to the sex workers, and the freedom that is taken away from individuals because of sex trafficking. In keeping prostitution illegal, society will only continue to have its only going issues with sex trafficking, prostitution, the spread of disease and the mistreatment of women by their customers or pimps.

Prostitution appears in Chapter 15, titled Consensual Crime. In this chapter the author talks about the history of prostitution and the debate for its legalization. The author lists the reasons why people are either for or against legalized prostitution. The author mentions how prostitution and brothels were very common in the U.S. during the 1800’s but by the 1900’s an anti-brothel moral crusade (Barken, 2017, p. 304) made a majority close its doors. And despite the effort to end prostitution and close down brothels, they still continued to exist in the U.S. By banning prostitution or simply by saying that its morally wrong has not and will not discourage people from participating in prostitution, whether it be the customer or sex worker. Prohibiting prostitution does nothing to help sex workers exit the industry or provide them with education or other skills. (Hall Blanco, 2017). Keeping prostitution illegal does not address its inherent problems, but it does prevent a productive dialogue on the subject.


Barken, Steven E. (2017). Consensual Crime. In Criminology: a sociological

understanding (pp. 304-306). Boston: Pearson.

Blanco, A. H. (2018). Prohibition of Prostitution Encourages Organized Crime. In

Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection. Detroit: Gale. (Reprinted from Let’s Talk

About Sex (Work), InsideSources, 2017, February 13) Retrieved from

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