Business in sex work has been around for many years. It has even been called “the world’s oldest profession”. Globally the prostitution business is worth $186 billion and there are at least 13,828,700 prostitutes worldwide (Havocscope). Whether it is legal or not, many take part in prostitution and will continue to do so for years to come. Many others even rely on it as a source of income. Throughout the year’s many people have heavily debated on whether or not it is an ethical option and if it were legalized what kinds of problems legalization would create. Many who take part in this debate believe that it is not moral to earn money in this profession, while others believe it would be beneficial to the economies of the countries and states that decriminalize prostitution as well as the workers.
To begin many places have decriminalized sex workers. A few countries include New Zealand, Germany, and Indonesia, as well as Nevada, the only state in the United States to legalize prostitution. In an article by Jennifer Wright, she states, “ In Nevada, at legal brothels, 84 percent of prostitutes remarked that their jobs felt “safe.” was “largely because the police, employers, and coworkers were there to protect them.” Many sex workers believe that it is better than prostitution is decriminalized and even feel safer because of it. This is because it is legal therefore they know that there will be people that can take care of any clients that are out of line, rather than having to keep silent for fear of being penalized themselves. Wright also brings up an argument that many people use when debating whether sex work should be decriminalized. This is the argument of “What if it was your daughter?” She continues with there are many jobs that parents would not necessarily want their child to be a part of, prostitution included. Although many people use this question as their argument of why they don’t want prostitution to be legalized, a good portion of them doesn’t even have daughters. In her article, Wright states, “People are allowed to enter professions that might be unsafe. People are allowed to enter into professions where their body is seen as a tool of the trade. People are allowed to enter professions that seem morally questionable. The only time that isn’t the case is when a woman is having sex as her profession.” Wright included opinions from women that were previously sex workers such as the one stated earlier explaining how some sex workers felt safer in brothels that had been legalized. Another reason she included is that it allows the workers labor rights. She states, “ they can expect clean healthy workplaces.” In other cases, the places the workers may have to endure may be poor for their health. The addition of Wright’s logical statements and claims from previous sex workers as well as her use of a counter-argument strengthened her argument. Another strength is that the article was posted in April of 2018 making it up to date. However, these things considered, Wright’s argument seems very biased towards the legalization of prostitution.
Decriminalizing prostitution would make sex workers’ lives better. They would no longer have to fear what would happen while they were working and they would know that they could go to the police without causing themselves any trouble. They would also be able to be healthier and could lower the transmission rate of HIV among sex workers. In addition to this, it could also save the country a lot of money. “In the U.S., law enforcement agencies spend at least $2,000 for each arrest of a sex worker – that includes the arrest, court, and imprisonment costs” (Anderson). Anderson continues to explain that this, along with a large number of sex workers in the country, costs the United States government more than $120 million a year on prostitution control. The money being spent is the citizen’s tax dollars. Anderson argues that it is not worth the money. He states, “the police try their best to arrest sex workers and waste our money for the expense of court and hearings,” he continues by saying that these sex workers will later just pay the fines or stay in jail for a couple of days. Eventually, they will just go back to their business and the process will repeat over and over again, thus wasting more money. This source is relatively recent as the article was posted in 2014 meaning the information should be relatively up to date. In some sentences, Anderson seems to be slightly biased but the source includes evidence supporting both sides of the argument.
Another point to be taken into consideration is would legalize prostitution actually have an effect on human trafficking? One argument for why it would work to reduce sex trafficking is that it would allow “sex businesses to recruit women who choose prostitution as their free choice of occupation. This, in turn, makes resorting to trafficked women less attractive” (Cho). When legalizing prostitution would give these sex workers more opportunities for jobs in this occupation, rather than someone who was forced into the business and is much less agreeing.
One major issue most people have with legalizing prostitution is the ethical dilemma. “The immorality of the sex trade has been recognized throughout history and keeping it illegal is key to safeguarding the sanctity of society’s basic values” (Debating). Another bigger issue is that some believe that German decriminalizing did not work and there was no “solid proof” of the law reducing crime (Debating). Finally, even if prostitution is decriminalized there is no way to enforce certain rules that would be beneficial to the workers or even decrease the risks that come with the job. Some argue that whether or not prostitution is legal it still won’t always be safe for the workers. This source had good information backed by evidence and was very easy to understand, however, there was no author known so we do not know the credibility of the author, only the website it was posted on. Finally, another weakness is that there were many misspellings throughout the article, leading to questions about the credibility of the author.
Another perspective to consider before deciding if prostitution should be legalized is the perspective of those who have previously been sex workers. Many who have worked as sex workers, women especially, oppose the idea of legalizing prostitution. “One problem was that it allowed brothel owners to offer punters an ‘all-inclusive’ deal, whereby they would pay a set amount to do anything they wanted with a woman” (My Work). This statement was from a woman who had previously worked in prostitution as a teenager and for most of her adult life. After legalizing prostitution in the UK, life for sex workers became much worse. With the law in place it became a job for the sex workers, meaning in some cases they could no longer refuse a customer certain services. They could also no longer decide on the price they charged for services themselves, as it was created by the brothel owners. This becomes an issue for the workers because they are no longer their own person in these situations, they basically become a product being sold to a customer. One immediate weakness in this source is that there is no author, however, the writer provided statements from someone who knows what it is like to work in this business. Another strength is that the article is fairly recent as it was written in October of 2017. Along with this, the website the article is posted on has a fairly good reputation for being credible and honest.
After my extensive research, I have concluded that I can not pick aside. Each side has very strong, contradicting arguments and I will have to continue to research the topic before deciding. While I do partially believe prostitution should be legalized as a practical issue, it is definitely not something I would recommend to someone, especially a woman, as a career choice. However, I do believe everyone should have their own choice in what they do. The legalization of prostitution has been an ethical dilemma for as long as it has existed and many people view it as something morally wrong. The legalization might encourage careers in sex work rather than the other options. This being said, it does not matter if prostitution is decriminalized or not. Those who take part will continue to buy and sell sex for many years to come, the only thing that would change is how it is done.
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