According to a report from the London Metropolitan Police, Smith, a local sex worker, was robbed, sexually assaulted, and a blunt object was inserted into her vagina on 3 April 1888. Her peritoneum ruptured, leading to the development of peritonitis. She died the next day at the London Hospital. Smith’s murder was one of a series of killings targeting prostitutes, near Whitechapel. The police blamed on Jack the Ripper for these gruesome murders. Jack’s rule of thumb seemed simple: To murder, go for prostitutes; No one cares about them. He knew how to conduct his business, for he was never caught (London Metropolitan Police n.p.). As long as prostitution remains covert, Jack will never be caught. In fact, the 21st century has many Jack the Rippers riding on the illegal tag. Sex workers have a right to protection. To offer this protection, the government should legalize sex work now. This paper deeply examines the pros and cons of the sex work legalization in modern society.
REDUCE HARM TO THE SEX WORKER
The government should legalize sex work in order to reduce harm to the sex worker. Legalization will enable the development, and adaptation of laws governing the trade. Such laws will safeguard the fundamental rights of sex workers. Brewer et al. note that killing, and harming sex workers has occurred since time immemorial (42). Psychopaths and other criminals have always found easy prey in sex workers. The covertness of sex work propagates these criminal activities.
If the government legalizes sex work, there may be adoption of measures to guard the life and dignity of sex workers. Such measures may involve specification of time, places, age, and fees among other things, which will ward off potential criminal activity. The governments should not continue to ignore the predicament of sex–workers, who are mostly innocent people seeking to earn a living; this amounts to discrimination against its citizens (Law 584). Just as Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts, every person should be guaranteed justice and protection, not condemnation to a lifetime of fear, and disrespect. Furthermore, every citizen should be guaranteed his/her fundamental rights, such as the right to free choice of employment.
Legalizing sex work will translate it into a safer society, as criminal activities involving the underworld of prostitution will be minimal. Sale of drugs, theft, pedophilia, and conspiracy in major criminal networks will be significantly reduced by mainstreaming sex work. On the other hand, sex customers will shun from rape, sexual assault, and performing other dehumanizing acts towards sex workers. Just as Michael, Gagnon, Laumann, and Kolata note, these actions will be significantly reduced by legalizing sex work (37).
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The community at large has at times discriminated against prostitutes through prejudice and malice. Instances of mob violence towards prostitutes are common especially in conservative societies. Legalizing sex work will save the society from these evils, as the practice will now be mainstreamed, leading to the realization of the right to nondiscrimination and respect, as envisaged in Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Working in the sex industry can reduce the harm caused by poverty. Poverty has resulted to escalating levels of crime in the society. Keire argues that legalizing sex work will offer an alternative means of employment to the poor and destitute (50). Sex work will enhance a safe society, as potential criminals will get an alternative source of income.
REDUCING THE SPREAD OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
Legalizing sex work will reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. The government may put in place mandatory healthcare regulations to be observed, before one is certified as a sex worker. Such regulations may consist of screening for sexually transmitted and other contagious diseases. Sex customers may also be bound by government regulations to undergo screening, or to use condoms before indulging in sex. This is not achievable if sex work is not legalized. Thus, legalization of sex work will allow for the adoption of stringent government healthcare regulations; this is critical in reducing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
Prostitution might be the globe's oldest line of work, and thus laws barring prostitution could as well be the oldest case of government regulating sex, and perpetuating sex discrimination. In a liberated society, these kinds of laws are improper, since they infringe on the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons concerned. Study shows that more than a million women in the US earn a living through prostitution (Shannon, Kerr, Allinott, et al 911). In addition, approximately one out of six American men has been a willing customer of a prostitute during the past half a decade (Lutnick 59). Even more disturbing is that sexual intercourse with a prostitute is the third most widespread mode for an American man to catch the AIDS virus. Ironically, the increasing risk of AIDS, as well as other STDs, is among the most persuasive case for full legalization of the so called ‘oldest profession’. Up to date data shows that 50% of prostitutes in New York as well as Washington, D.C., have AIDS virus (Lutnick 60), while in Newark, New Jersey, the estimation of prostitutes with AIDS is almost 60% (Lutnick, 60). Nonetheless, in Nevada, where prostitution is lawful, very few state-certified prostitutes ever tested are positive for HIV. Nevada's accredited bordellos necessitate monthly testing of blood, though such safety measures are likely to happen where there is no state regulation. The motive is fiscal: the bordellos are in competition, and they have strong spur to guarantee that the ‘service’ that their clients get is harmless. Evidently, AIDS prevalence would be cut down by the legalization of prostitution.
SOURCE OF REVENUE AND A WAY TO CUT COST FOR THE GOVERNMENT
Legalizing sex work can serve as an important source of revenue for the government. McCall estimates that over one million people in the United States of America have at one time worked as prostitutes (70). If the trade was legal, the government could impose a tax on both sex workers and their clients. This could earn the government billions in revenue each year, money that can improve the healthcare system of the citizenry, and thus, help fight sexual transmitted diseases. In addition, lending this money to poor countries could help fight HIV/AIDS, and other sexual transmitted diseases.
In addition, just like the much-publicized fight against drug abuse, the fight against prostitution is just a fight that is being fought using tax dollars, instead of common sense and logic. For instance, it is approximated that one in ten police officers are on duty watching out on vice-linked actions (Burnette, Lucas, Ilgen, Frayne, Mayo, and Weitlauf 337). It is estimated that as many as 50% of a representative metropolitan jail female inmates are prostitutes (Burnette, Lucas, Ilgen, Frayne, Mayo, Weitlauf 338). The city of Los Angeles, for instance, uses approximately a hundred million dollars yearly tackling the issue of unlawful prostitution (Burnette, Lucas, Ilgen, Frayne, Mayo, and Weitlauf 337). The actual cost, obviously, is that these tax dollars could have been put into a better use, such as protecting the good and honest citizens in LA from actual criminals. Sadly, just like the fight against drugs, the fight against prostitution is ineffective, and perpetually predestined to fail. It is impossible to effectively shut down a market between eager buyers and willing sellers. The most severe local harassment can influence, where prostitutes operate, though, it cannot end prostitution in total.
THE DEMOCRATIC FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Governments should endeavor to uplift the freedoms guaranteed by democracy. In a democracy, the freedom of choice is a major tenet. That is why, for example, gay rights continue to be accepted, and safeguarded in many democracies in the world. This arises from the fact that every person has freedom to do whatever he, or she wants, provided it does not harm other people. Prostitution is no different here. Phoenix posits that as long as sex is done consensually (of course taking the question of age of consent in mind); no one has a right to stop it (17). The state does not possess the right to decide on the sex partner one should have, provided the age question is taken into account. One has a right to take a man woman out, buy dinner and drinks, and go on to have sex consensually. Why does it seem to be illegal when instead of the outing cash is exchanged upfront?
Many constitutions of democratic nations safeguard the free right to choice. In addition, Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all citizens the same right to choice (Lim 114). This is saying that a democratic society has no business debating the legality or illegality of prostitution. It should simply uphold the fundamental right of choice. It is also ironical that illegalizing prostitution has made the practice thrive even more.
Certainly, the most significant argument for the decriminalization of prostitution is that such proscriptions infringes on one's most fundamental as well as innate rights. Prostitution is the deliberate or willful sale or renting of a service. Person is an owner of his/her body as well as his/her labor services. As such, individuals have the unconditional right to choose how their labor services will be utilized. If the prostitution deal remains a free personal choice, there is no good reason for legislative hindrance. In fact, such meddling amounts to a violation of the privacy as well as personal rights of the persons concerned. The government, however, still has a justifiable part to play in the prostitution. Just like in other markets, the government must make sure that all transactions are strictly voluntary. Simply, the government should just defend personal rights to own property, and the right not to be compelled.
SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGE TO THE YOUTH?
An argument is that legalizing sex work sends the wrong messages to young people, as their understanding of sexual matters will be undermined. Campbell says that young people will find it easy to indulge in sex without caring about the consequences (20). The basis of this argument is moral, and is only valid in case of a lack of solution to it. We can counter argue that legalizing sex work will also come with strict regulations of the trade. This may involve restricting transactions of sex work to people aged under the age of 18. Imposing strong penalties for those found breaking these rules would discourage other people from attempting to lure or indulge underage youth in sex work.
Castillo & Jenkins argues that legalizing sex work will undermine the marriage institution (34). A quick rejoinder to this argument is acknowledging that sex workers do not have a right to force or request sex customers to do anything about their marriages. Just as Kotulski observes, the sex customer goes to the sex worker voluntarily, and the deal is sealed after payment, and the services being rendered (25). No business concerning marriage and life is a part of the contract. In addition, the husbands/wives of sex customers will have a chance to confront sex workers, and ask for explanations; sex work will no longer be a covert trade. This will make everybody feel secure. In fact, husbands and wives will desist from having long lasting affairs, as the services will be easily available. This has the advantage of improving marriages, and decreasing the rates of divorces.
SPREADING OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES
Campbell has claimed that legalizing sex work will increase transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (21). This proposition may not hold water, as adopting strict rules and regulations may ensure safety of all the parties involved. Potterat, Woodhouse, Muth & Muth suggest routine health screenings, and compulsory use of condoms among other things to make sex work disease free (25). For example, testing kits may be availed in shops and brothels, and people may be asked to use them whenever indulging in sex work. Another approach would be establishing special clinics to offer guidance and counseling services to prostitutes and their clients. This as a whole will go a long way in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
IMPROVING NEIGHBORHOODS AND ENHANCING SAFETY
By driving prostitution out of areas where it is more likely to be naturally based, for instance, in brothels and around motels, the law enforcement push prostitution into the neighborhoods where it would not have existed. Consequently, people living in the neighborhoods involuntarily become exposed to prostitution. In addition, since the sex workers are forced into the streets in the neighborhoods, the risks to numerous prostitutes significantly increase. Since the trade of prostitutes entails working at nighttime, and staying in vehicles with total strangers, prostitutes have been easy targets for serial murderers as well as other sociopaths (Wolfers 1). A reasonable solution to these issues can be to copy the example set by a number of European cities, in which prostitution is permitted in some selected regions. Individuals that have interest in prostitution can thus visit places where it is allowed, thus leaving the neighborhoods that do not want to be linked with prostitution. In addition, commercial sex workers will be able to operate in an environment, in which they are much safer.
An issue with illegalized prostitution is that the ensuing causes long-term rises in crime along with drug abuse. When a woman faces charges of a sex crime, she is permanently stigmatized, and this renders her as unemployable. This attached stigma explains why most women in jails were at first incarcerated for prostitution (Thukral 129). The record of arrest shuts out regular job attainment potential, ensures the women remain in prostitution for extended times than they would have wanted, and guarantees them a life of participation in drug abuse as well as crime.
The fact that prostitution being unlawful contributes to criminal activities, since numerous criminals see prostitutes along with their clients as easy targets for theft, cons, sexual assault, or other unlawful deeds. The criminals understand that these individuals are not likely to report the offenses to the law enforcers since the victims would require confessing their involvement in the prohibited activities of prostitution at the time when the attacks happened. If prostitution were lawful, the prostitutes and their clients would be more willing to report crimes that are committed while performing their activities. This would considerably increase the prospects of reducing crime and stopping criminals from picking people on.
BENEFITING PROSTITUTES AND THEIR CLIENTS
Numerous individuals work in the sex business, since they view the industry as the only way they can alleviate deep monetary issues. In other cases, some sex workers are not deprived, but merely take pleasure in that kind of work and obtain both revenue and individual fulfillment from the sex trade (Barry 84). There is no ground, on which freedom is supposed to exclude the right to buy the product or service by the client, as well as sex that they perhaps desire. However, for whichever reason, they cannot get in other facets of their lives. In addition, it is argued that commercial sex workers, who have appropriate training, are able to help their clients to prevail over ‘erotic phobia’ as well as other sexual dysfunctions. According to this argument, the association with a paid expert for a client might be the correspondent of therapy. Not many people expect to see the uninformed or mean person; therefore, commercial sex workers ought not to be allowed to assist such individuals.
THE WAY FORWARD AND CONCLUSION
The world should change its attitude towards sex work. Stigmatizing and discriminating prostitutes is against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Constitution, and a majority of the tenets of democracy. Illegalizing prostitution has not helped stop sex work, but enabled it to thrive under miserable circumstances. Why should one condemn his/her brothers and sisters to a lifetime of fear and disrespect? Is the law illegalizing prostitution supported by rational facts, or is it guided by wanton ignorance? A society that is blind to the injustices done to some of its members is barbaric and not civilized. Let society choose civilization to barbarism. Let society legalize sex work.
The ethical as well as financial case for the decriminalization of prostitution is overpowering. The government proscription, as well as regulation are a blatant violation of the rights of the citizens, and are too costly financially. Thus, America's viewpoints along with approaches concerning this subject of prostitution have to be submitted to an instantaneous and sweeping change. The point to throw out the nation's out-of-date endeavors to legislate matters of individual morality is now. The time to come and face the truth in addition to implementing this change in policy that can really have a constructive difference in the sex industry is now. The moment has arrived for the United States to legalize prostitution.
The labeling of prostitution as an extraordinary human rights problem, an infringement in itself, highlights the difference between the sex industry and other types of womanly and low-ranked labor, regardless of how unfair they are. It, therefore, strengthens the subsidiary, and hence susceptible situation the women as well as men drawn in prostitution find themselves in. By judging the full prostitution business as abusive, it as well makes the vague the real issues as well as infringements of worldwide standards in the business that worries the sex workers (Walker 8). Therefore, anything other than a legal standing for sex workers cause marginalization, along with maltreatment. It is important to note that even in most of the nations, in which prostitution is not prohibited, commercial sex workers are not able to have the least fundamental principles that other workers have attained as far as the work environment, or their individual security is concerned. This means that the law enforcers often do not do anything to aid the considerable marginal amongst sex workers, who, actually, are in slavery.
Shifting away from the academic exercise, the practical effect of the legalization of the oldest profession would be nothing but advantages for the prostitutes as well as the society in general. The element of order in the society can be tackled, as it ought to be, on a personal instead of a general level. Sex workers would not have to operate from ‘hide outs.’ They would be safer, and gain access to decent workstations. Prostitutes would be assured admittance to health amenities, which they are frequently deprived of the owing by their profession.