There is one profession in the world that is among the oldest ones but at the same time it has always been marginalized and treated with disrespect. For ages this profession was considered as the one that violates morality and family values. However, it existed and still does. The profession reviewed in this essay is prostitution. This paper will discuss the place of prostitution in the modern society and how it is currently treated. Moreover, this research will offer an alternative way of treating the sex industry. This approach is already being implemented in some countries, but still is perceived as a quite questionable one. Therefore, this study will emphasize on the importance and significance of the legalization, decriminalization and de-marginalization of prostitution and the ways in which these new approaches can be beneficial for modern society.
Throughout times the attitude towards prostitution was changing. However, only in the 20th century a separate attention was paid to the state policies on prostitution. The four main ways of coping with prostitution are: legalization, abolitionist policies, criminalization, and decriminalization (Brents 308). Legalization means that the state licenses and imposes various regulations on sex industry. Abolitionist policies took into consideration the third-party involvement and were focusing on the decrease of prostitution levels via control of trafficking, promoting prostitution etc. In countries where prostitution is criminalized any form of solicitation is illegal and prostitutes can be charged for being a part of sex industry. Decriminalization means that prostitution is not only regulated by the state, but sex workers are also treated as any other private businesses. It is essential to note that in majority of cases the existing laws and the factual situations are very different. The majority of the mentioned policies are based on the idea that prostitution should be either isolated or treated as a form of a social disease (Brents 309).
Despite all the various approaches, sex industry still exists all over the world. Thus, it requires control and regulations. Currently all the sides involved in the process are suffering to different extend. The state that is not able to destroy prostitution usually decides to live the sphere alone and thus gives a chance for the developmental of shadow criminal businesses. Prostitutes often suffer abuse and is usually left without any protection from the state. It means that a part of population has no support from the government. The clients of sex workers are in danger as well, because of the dangers of various sexually transmitted diseases among which are HIV/AIDS. The society is also not protected from the phenomenon that seems to destroy its values.
The recent examples in modern history have shown that there are ways to control prostitution and make this sphere beneficial for all the sides. Decriminalization and de-marginalization of prostitution can be the answers. Some countries, such as the Netherlands or Turkey are already making important steps towards solving the problem of prostitution (Weitzer 4). These countries are not only controlling sex industry, but they are even benefiting from it.
It is not possible to destroy prostitution by criminalizing it and punishing either sex workers or the third parties participating in the process. Therefore, the only possible solution is the inclusion of the whole sex sphere in the society by decriminalizing the business and de-marginalizing sex workers. Sex industry should not only be regulated by the state, but it has to be perceived as any other sphere of business. Prostitutes would then become private businessmen who are not only protected by the state but also are making a contribution to the country’s development by paying taxes.
It is also essential to change the perception of prostitutes as marginalized members of the society who spread the disease and are not equal to everyone else. This perception has been the main problem of all the previous policies. Only by shifting the perspectives of people it will be possible to establish new attitudes towards prostitution and the sex industry employees. Currently some states that have decriminalized prostitution are treating sex workers as not equal members of the society. For example, in Turkey registered prostitutes can neither merry nor get other jobs. In Germany, except the mandatory health checks, sex workers do not get any health insurance (Brents 310). Therefore, despite the seemingly developed legislation the attitudes towards the sex industry and prostitutes have not changed. Consequently, it is essential to emphasize the social aspect of the sex industry legislation because sex workers deserve same level of rights protection, as employees in other spheres.
All the previous policies failed to correspond to the actual situation in the society. As a result, there was a huge gap between legislation and the real-life situation in sex industry. This is something that has to be taken into consideration if a country wants to change the current state of events regarding prostitution.
Decriminalization and de-marginalization of prostitution are the only possible ways of controlling sex industry. Moreover, it will be the possibility to make this industry beneficial for the state, society, sex workers, and their clients. Therefore, along with state control over sex industry, prostitution will contribute to the state wealth, the employees will be protected and healthy, and thus the spread of STIs and HIV/AIDS will decrease, which will create a healthier nation.
With prostitution being under the state control, the sex workers will be protected by the law enforcement. Abuse is common in sex industry. It includes both physical and psychological measures that are used to control sex workers. The example of the Netherlands shows that with the support of state law enforcement prostitutes feel safer and thus the level of job satisfaction increases (Weitzer 5).
Secondly, state control over prostitution leads to provision of healthcare and regular checks. Some countries, like Germany, have already made these checks obligatory (Brents 309). If sex workers are treated on time, they not only stay healthy, but also protect their clients from STIs and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, the overall health of the nation improves.
Decriminalization of prostitution will bring numerous financial benefits for the state. Currently, in the majority of countries sex industry is a rich shadow business that does not make any contribution to the state budget. However, if the industry becomes legal, the money earned by brothels and mafia will be a part of the state budget. At the same time sex workers as independent businessmen will be paying taxes.
The state control over prostitution is another way to decrease human trafficking and illegal immigration. The Netherlands have used this argument among the main ones while decriminalizing prostitution. The more open a business is, the harder it will be to conduct illegal actions within it. Therefore, with legal sex industry that is regulated by the state it will be much easier to control and regulate illegal immigration and human trafficking.
Lastly, de-marginalization of sex workers plays a significant role in the development of modern society. This large shift in mentality will bring thousands of sex workers back to the society. It will be a possibility to give prostitutes a part of their civil rights and protect them. Although this reason is a form of a moral value; it is as significant as financial or healthcare reasons. Taking into consideration the humanistic tendencies of the modern world, the protection of the rights of prostitutes as equal members of the society has already become one of the major issues in studying the sex industry (Brents 308).
This topic has always been a controversial one. There are numerous arguments against the decriminalization of prostitution. This paper will explore only a number of these arguments. Some researchers say that this policy will stimulate not only prostitution but also human trafficking (Raymond). Therefore, instead of controlling the industry, new policies will only expand it. Another argument is that legalization and decriminalization of prostitution in fact does not protect women, as violence is an inherent part of sex industry (Weitzer 3). In many cases sex workers find themselves in situations when no one is around. This danger comes from the specifics of the industry. Thirdly, legalization of sex industry gives customers an easier access to the services of prostitutes and thus can boost “the motivation of men to buy women” (Raymond).
Although some countries might report the increase in prostitution levels after the legalization, others do not. Therefore, one should consider additional parameters before coming up with a conclusion that legalization stimulates prostitution. Secondly, legalized sex industry automatically provides more protection to sex workers than criminalized one. Therefore, while there are still some cases of violence, the overall rates have decreased (Weitzer 4). Lastly, the growth of interest in the services of prostitutes after legalization should be considered as a subjective issue. There are no studies that show definite connection between the two factors.
This paper was aimed at defining decriminalization and demarginalization of sex industry as the only possible way to both control the industry and make it beneficial. With state governance over the industry, both sex workers will get more protection and healthcare support. Moreover, sex industry will make a financial contribution to the country’s budget. Some might of course argue regarding the morality of this industry. Despite all the restrictions, prostitution has always existed. Therefore, instead of closing one’s eyes on it, it might be the time to take a second look at the sex industry. Maybe, if it cannot be eliminated, it can at least be improved? And that is exactly what decriminalization of prostitution can do.