The question of the legalization of prostitution has been on the world agenda for quite a while. With feminists as the main moving force of the sex industry policies, laws have provided legalization, and later on – decriminalization of prostitution in many countries. It is stated that sex workers need protection and only the state is able to provide them with appropriate support and defense. Moreover, this industry, if legalized, is able to provide additional revenues for a country. At the same time, it is extremely important to see the difference between legalization and decriminalization of sex industry because one only controls the industry, while the second one also provides benefits for the sex workers. This research is aimed at proving that decriminalization of prostitution can bring a number of benefits for the society.
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There are four main patterns in prostitution laws: legalization, criminalization, decriminalization, and the abolitionist policies. Legalization means that country regulates the sex industry and provides licenses to the sex sphere employees. These laws have been the first form of control imposed by state over the prostitution industry. In the US a form of legalized prostitution was established at the beginning of the 20th century. The laws included mandatory medical checks and zoning and licensing of brothels (Brents & Hausbeck 308). At that point legalization was still based on the desire to separate prostitutes from the society. Abortionist policies perceived sex workers as victims and were aimed at punishing the third-party involvement. However, in the end of the 20th century the perception of sex sphere employees as “unwilling victims” was doubted (Brents & Hausbeck 309). Criminalization is a policy according to which both prostitution and any form of soliciting are illegal. On one hand criminalization resulted in the turn of prostitution in an “underground” business and on the other hand all sex workers were perceived as criminals. Lastly, decriminalization be came the latest invention of the modern society. The work of prostitutes is perceived as any other form of employment. The sex industry is regulated by the government and its’ employees have the same responsibilities any those in any other sphere. This study of four different types of policies regarding prostitution shows that though legalization of sex industry is important, decriminalization provides much more benefits to its’ employees.
All over the world there are numerous practices of legalization and decriminalization of sex industry. The Western Europe has already legalized prostitution. At the same time, the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey have moved even further and decriminalized it (Brents & Hausbeck 310). Now these states gain revenues from this industry. Australia and New Zealand have also legalized prostitution not so long time ago. And even the state of Nevada has a number of laws that regulate the brothels and the whole sex industry. Therefore, the legalization and decriminalization of prostitution are currently on the world agenda and more and more countries begin to perceive the employees of sex industry as equal members of society.
State control over prostitution provides protection for the industry employees. Legalization provides prostitutes with protection from the main hazards of the industry: abuse and various STIs that include HIV/AIDS (Wetzstein). For example, in the Netherlands there are thirty thousand prostitutes, which means that a large group of the country’s population remained unprotected by the state for a long time (Brents & Hausbeck 310). Reports show that sex workers feel safer and get more job satisfaction in countries that have decriminalized prostitution (Weitzer 3). However, other studies present information that prostitutes are still not addressing the law enforcement with abuse issues. The reason for such actions is the continuing mistrust in police (Farley 312). Then again, the two different attitudes formed towards the law enforcement may depend on the history of legalization: while on the Netherlands decriminalization has a long history and sex sphere employees have developed good relations with police, in Australia the change has happened recently, therefore, the tradition of cooperation between prostitutes and law enforcement still has to develop. The test of prostitutes on Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV/AIDS protects not only them, but also the clientele. The mandatory health checks that are introduced in many countries allow defining and treating STIs and stop them from spreading (Wetzstein). Therefore, this way of state control over sex industry is extremely important.
Legalization and decriminalization of sex industry allow the state not only to protect prostitutes but also to keep the whole industry under control. The Netherlands provide an excellent example of how a country uses its’ policies to control child prostitution and at the same time to limit illegal immigration (Brents & Hausbeck 310). This is a great example that shows that the benefits of legalization of prostitution can be among the ways of solving some major problems that a country may have.
In the debate over the legalization of sex industry one should never ignore the economic factor. States that introduce governmental control and licensing of prostitutes and brothels are gaining profits from the sex industry. Thus the sex workers start paying taxes instead of various fees that they would pay for the third-party involvement.
Legalization of prostitution is not only being constantly discussed in many governments all over the world, but it is also a very controversial issue. Although this paper did not touch upon the moral side of prostitution and focused merely on facts, there is a huge debate over morality of legalization, as these laws might only popularize sex industry (Farley 313). This research was aimed at showing that prostitution can be beneficial not only for the sex workers and their clients, but also for the country. Sex industry can be profitable for the states as well as many other legal industries. Moreover, the sex workers, although marginalized by the society, still need to receive some support and benefits. And their contribution to the country budget via licenses and taxation gives prostitutes a right to demand something in return. Therefore, despite all the ongoing debates, the legalization and decriminalization of prostitution seem to be the only possible future policies of many developed countries.