If prostitution can be called a profession, it should definitely be described as one of the oldest in the world. The history of the sex industry can be tracked back to the ancient days. Moreover, various kinds of prostitutes can be found in all the countries around the world. Although the forms of prostitution were modified from country to country and have changed significantly throughout time, the idea remained the same – sexual services were provided in exchange for money. Of course, in some cases, the interaction was not limited only to sex, but it is perceived as an integral element of prostitution.
In the modern world, the sex industry is balancing on the edge of legality. There are countries that have legalized prostitution (the majority of European states) and some countries such as the Netherlands are even controlling the industry on the national level. At the same time, the majority of countries consider the sex industry illegal and have laws banning prostitution. Nevertheless, despite all the regulations, prostitution still exists.
The main question is whether prostitution really has to be banned. Maybe, if it exists for centuries, there is a point to make the sex industry profitable and useful for the country. Prostitution is a kind of job and a choice made by women. Those working in the sex industry should not be alienated from the society. By legalizing prostitution, it will be possible to achieve a number of goals: protect sex workers by providing them with healthcare packages; secure call girls from abuse; protect the clientele; provide additional budget income by taxation of the sex industry; and de-marginalize the sex industry workers. Therefore, legalization of prostitution can be beneficial for both industry employees and the country.
There is a lot of literature on the issue of the sex industry. There are whole websites devoted to the debate on legalization of prostitution. Multiple studies were conducted in order to define the reasons why women join the sex workforce, the influences of prostitution on community, benefits that women get with the legalization of the sex industry, etc.
In many countries, the sex industry is either decriminalized or legalized. All Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and even the state of Nevada have either legalized brothels (indoor prostitution) or are inventing alternatives to the strict prohibition (Weitzer 4). The existing policies of criminalization are being widely criticized as ineffective since they are not punishing men who, on the one hand, encourage prostitution and, on the other, benefit from it (Brents & Hausbeck 307). Back in 1980s, the International Committee for Prostitutes’ Rights has even provided a document on the rights of sex workers, which emphasized the importance of decriminalization of adult prostitution (Brents & Hausbeck 309).
Since the decriminalization of prostitution in New Zealand, a prostitution increase by 200-400% was reported in Auckland, the country’s largest city (Farley 313). At the same time, despite the official status of sex industry, women employed in this sphere still have the high level of mistrust in the police forces (Farley 312). Abuse and unfair treatment were not reported, and women were coping with all the problems on personal level. Moreover, Weitzer states that violence is an integral element of prostitution, and decriminalization of the sex industry will lead lo legalization of brute force (3). At the same time, the author notes that the results of research conducted in Nevada, Australia, and the Netherlands show that state is able to provide additional safety and even increase job satisfaction (Weitzer 3).
Research shows that sex workers often do not see themselves as “prostituted”, but rather perceive themselves as “working women” (Weitzer 3). Despite the recognition of the sex industry and its decriminalization, facts show that women do not often select prostitution voluntarily. The results of the study conducted in 9 countries has shown that 89 percent of women entered the sex industry as it was the only possibility for economic survival; for example, in Indonesia, 96 percent of interviewees would have left prostitution if they had a chance (Farley 311).
Feminists often support decriminalization and legalization of prostitution (Brents & Hausbeck 307). They believe that by making the sex industry legal, women will have more rights and protection from state. At the same time, their opponents state, “all prostitution exploits women, regardless of women’s consent” (Weitzer 2). What is interesting, these opponents are radical feminists who believe that any form of prostitution only strengthens the idea of male dominance over women.
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All the studies show that there are very different opinions on the issue of legalization of the sex industry. Researches conducted by biased scientists will therefore come up with contradicting conclusions. Nevertheless, this diversity of opinions gives a possibility to form own attitudes on the basis of the existing research.
The research has shown that although there is some success in the process of legalization of prostitution, the issue is not simple at all. The example of New Zealand shows the dangerous tendencies of the decriminalization of prostitution. Thus, there is a possibility that more women will be joining the industry. The dramatic increase of Auckland presents a very dangerous tendency that with the legalization of the sex industry, more women will be choosing it as the sphere of income.
Farley has also presented a very interesting study that has showed that the low percent of women voluntarily join the sex industry. It means that even with the state protection, prostitution will be the last choice for women. At the same time, with increased state support, the sex industry workers will have more job satisfaction as it is shown by the example of the Netherlands.