Prostitution Should it be legalized?“Punishing the prostitute promotes the rape of all

Prostitution: Should it be legalized?“Punishing the prostitute promotes the rape of all women. When prostitution is a crime, the message conveyed is that women who are sexual are bad, and therefore legitimate victims of sexual abuse. Sex becomes a weapon to be used by men.” -Margo St. James. Known as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “The act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for money.” Most people turn to prostitution due to poverty, or to improve their incomes without a college education or experience in the work field. However, prostitution is illegal, and critics have been debating whether the United States government should legalize the forbidden act. The profession dates back further than the existence of Jesus, where food and shelter were most women’s motives. During the 16th century when prostitution became controversial in the U.S., the act was lawful, yet despised by many people (Deady). Things went south during the 19th century when slave owners began to force innocent women and children into the trade and threatened to harm them if they disobeyed. Soon, the “white slave traders” began to transport girls domestically and internationally, otherwise known as sex trafficking today (Deady). Therefore, the government created the first act that directly addressed concerns such as the “white slave trade” by announcing the Mann Act in 1910. According to Gale M. Deady, “…white slave act of 1910 originally penalized ‘only person’ who transports, or aid or assists in the transportation, of a ‘woman or girl’ for a prohibited purpose or intent” (524). The Mann Act was so general that it was easy for a man to get prosecuted for taking his date to another state for dinner. Thus, the act was edited to fix this mistake 76 years later. However, the Standard Vice Repression Law prohibited sex workers from every state but Nevada. The government believed prostitution contributed to modern-day slavery, violence, and the practice is considered demeaning; mainly for religious reasons. These ideas are biased because prostitution is arguably a victimless crime. Sex between two or more people should not be perceived as a crime because sex is a natural and healthy process. In truth, there are plenty of data that proves arguments against the critics’ position. Regulating sex workers can create a safer and healthier environment for women and men who engage in that form of work. In addition, the prostitution industry generates millions of untaxed revenues that the U.S. economy cannot benefit from because it is currently unlawful. Criminalizing sex work is one important reason why violence, abuse, and STD rates are still an issue today. Because of this, the United States government should legalize prostitution. Prostitution is arguably a victimless crime. When two consulting adults agree to exchange sexual favors for compensation, critics believe that they are committing a crime, but the victims are usually those who are selling their bodies. So why are the “victims” imprisoned if they are caught doing their jobs? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of a victim is “One that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent.” When all parties agree to engage in a healthy activity, how exactly is it a crime other than that it is illegal? Sex workers become victims only when their pimps or customers abuse them, withhold compensations, and other heinous deeds more painful than giving pleasure for money. Unfortunately, the main reason most prostitutes suffer horrible abuse is because their professions are criminalized. Sex working is considered a demeaning act; especially by those who abide by religion. With this perception of the public, not only does it lower the self-esteem of women who have no other choice, but it also feeds the minds of dangerous pimps and drug dealers to act accordingly without fear of consequence. Therefore, criminalizing sex workers is the breathing ground for hypocrisy and indolent lawmakers. If otherwise, there should be no victims in jail. As long as all parties of legal age consents, conducting business should not be perceived as a crime, whether it’s physically or sexually. Furthermore, legalizing prostitution would create a healthier environment for sex workers and their customers. One of the biggest concerns about being a prostitute is the risks of contracting or transmitting diseases such as gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and more. Because of this, critics are willing to consider it one of the most dangerous professions in the world. Being a female dominated field, women have a higher chance of contracting STDs due to having inconsistent sex partners. However, prohibiting prostitution increase STD rates because sex workers tend to work in unsafe conditions where they are less vulnerable to negotiate condom use. Besides, anyone is capable of contracting and transmitting STDs, even married couples. So, blaming high STD rates on prostitutes alone is hypocritical. Moreover, decriminalizing sex work could help global issues such as the HIV epidemic. Approximately one million people in the U.S. tested positive for HIV or 40,000 diagnoses every year (What is, 2019). If critics truly believe prostitutes are responsible for the high STD rates, then they should also agree that the government should regulate the trade to keep these numbers under control. The government can enforce laws that would encourage prostitutes to practice safe sex and access to resources such as contraceptives. Additionally, Rhode Island accidentally legalizing prostitution in 2008 is further proof that decriminalization decreases STD rates. According to Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah, journalists for the National Bureau of Economic Research, “We then estimate the causal effect of decriminalization on per capita rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence using differences-in-differences (DD) and synthetic control models and find robust evidence across all models that decriminalization caused rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decrease. Our synthetic control model finds 824 fewer reported rape offenses and 1,035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea from 2004 to 2009 as a result of decriminalization” (3). If an accident can create this much change in one state, then imagine how it could affect us nationally. Illegal or not, there will always be sex workers, so it is best for the government to take action anyway. If critics believe otherwise, then sex workers will continue to live in unhealthy conditions, and the HIV epidemic will continue to soar. Moreover, legalizing prostitution can reduce violence against sex workers, especially rape victims, and encourage them to report their crimes. Some may argue that sex working is a terrible profession because it mentally and physically exploits women and girls, and that there is a lack of evidence to prove otherwise (Bindle, 2017). Actually, according to Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah, “Bisschop, Kastoryano and van der Klaauw (forthcoming) evaluate the opening of legal street prostitution zones in 25 cities in the Netherlands on registered sexual abuse and rape and find that legal street prostitution zones are associated with a 30-40% decrease in sexual abuse and rape. Nguyen (2016) finds reducing costs to opening massage parlors leads to as much as a 28% decrease in rape offenses in California” (2017). Because the profession is unlawful in the U.S., it is harder to ensure effectiveness at full potential. Besides, if Rhode Island accidentally legalizing prostitution isn’t proof enough, critics are oblivious to the safety of prostitutes and are more concerned about manipulating the publics’ perception. In addition, if prostitution remain illegal, women will continue to suffer at the hands of pimps or “Johns” because they fear discrimination and imprisonment. According to a former sex worker, Brenda Powell, who interviewed with the BBC News, “I went to the County Hospital in Chicago and they immediately took me to the emergency room. Because of the condition I was in, they called in a police officer, who looked me over and said: ‘Oh I know her. She’s just a hooker. She probably beat some guy and took his money and got what she deserved.’ And I could hear the nurse laughing along with him. They pushed me out into the waiting room as if I wasn’t worth anything, as if I didn’t deserve the services of the emergency room after all.” Like Brenda, many other women are also treated inhumanly by government officials, and it discourages the girls to report violence inflicted upon them. Decriminalizing prostitution can encourage most victims to come forward and prosecute their predators. Strict laws that protect prostitutes can intimidate dangerous pimps and customers, thus decreasing violence. Until prostitution is legal, victims will continue to work in illegal brothels until they are preyed on by felons. Ultimately, legalizing prostitution could benefit the U.S. economically by taxing sex workers and saving resources. It is no secret that the prostitution industry is worth millions of dollars. In fact, Atlanta’s prostitution ring alone generates approximately $290 million; pimps collecting as much a $33,000 a week untaxed (Kolodny, 2017). With over one million prostitutes today and a higher demand for sex, sex workers can easily earn over $100,000 annually. If the government was able to tax brothels, the money could be used to create jobs or training programs to prevent the impoverished from turning to prostitution as their only hope. For example, when Greece was in an economic crisis, the decriminalization of prostitution helped to restore its economy. In 2005, Greeks budget deficit decreased from 2.1 to 1.9 percent from operations which were once criminalized such as drugs smuggling and prostitution (Whatt, 2016). Plus, legalization would increase more curious customers, hence, more revenue for our country that is trillions of dollars in debt. Not only can the U.S economy benefit from increased revenue, but legalization can also save law enforcement money and resources. According to “Prostitution in the United States,” “In fact, in the U.S., prostitutes get busted more often than Johns or pimps by a huge margin. Every year in the U.S., between 70,000 and 80,000 people are arrested for prostitution, costing taxpayers approximately $200 million.” Imagine how much money government officials could save if they stopped policing prostitution. Not only will they save more money, but they will be able to assist in more urgent victims. Why should taxpayers continue to pay millions of dollars annually for people who chose to make money by engaging in basic human necessities? If that is the case, then having sex on camera for money should also violate the governments “code of conduct.” Thus, decriminalizing prostitution is beneficial for the United States economy. Some critics assume if prostitution is decriminalized then sex trafficking rates will increase. First, prostitution and sex trafficking are distinctly opposite from one another. Prostitution is voluntarily, and sex trafficking is usually by force. Legalizing prostitution has proven to have little to no effect on sex trafficking rates. According to Lynzi Armstrong, “…there is neither evidence that trafficking into sex work is a problem in New Zealand, nor is there evidence that the size of the sex industry has increased since decriminalization. In fact, research suggests that decriminalization has had little impact on the sex worker population at all, apart to provide it with protection.” Therefore, legalizing sex work do not make sex trafficking any less dangerous. But legalization would influence sexually exploited girls to report their situations to authorities. Otherwise, sex workers will continue to be overlooked and neglected. In truth, nothing promotes sex trafficking more than U.S. interventions. According to Louise Gerdes, author of “Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: Opposing Viewpoints,” “In 2000, they formed an uncommon coalition with feminist groups to lobby for a new law combating human trafficking. The resulting Trafficking Victims Protection Act set up minimum standards for all countries.” She continues

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