One of the oldest and most debated professions in our society today comes forth through the sex industry. It is argues as to whether prostitution should be criminalized, legalized, abolished, or decriminalized. Whatever the standpoint may be, society’s ethical values should not interfere with the situation at hand. The conflicting opinions expressed by liberals and conservatives spark the need for reform throughout the United States of America, as well as other nations globally. Prostitutes are not committing an inherently harmful act. While the spread of disease and other detriments are possible in the practice of prostitution, criminalization is a sure way of exacerbating rather than addressing such effects (Colb).
Sex workers can only gain the same rights as other workers when the debate is moved from a moral framework and placed into the framework of labor rights. Sex work is legitimate work and problems within the industry are not inherent in the work itself. It is vulnerability, not sex work, which creates victims. Sex workers should enjoy the same labor rights as other workers and the same human rights as other people (Lopes). Women in the sex industry are often treated with prejudice by the judicial system. In 1997, a man sexually assaulted a dancer in a club and followed her outside and down the street, where he attacked her again. She proceeded to kicking him in the head, defending herself, and was sentenced to two years in prison as well as being required to pay the attacker’s $73,000 medical bill. The judge had acknowledged that she was defending herself from an attack, and yet failed to condemn the assaulter (Graves). “Field research in nine countries concluded that 60-75 percent of women in prostitution were raped, 70-95 percent were physically assaulted, and 68 percent met the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder in the same range as treatment-seeking combat veterans and victims of state-organized torture” (Global Affairs).
Not only would the legalization of prostitution allow sex workers the rights they deserve to have, but would also be safer for both prostitutes and the other citizens in the community. Prostitution is a victimless crime in the sense that there are consenting adults involved. These are activities in which all parties participate voluntarily and involve no intrusion on anyone’s person or property. To combat the negative implications that associates themselves with this industry, strict regulation is necessary in order to end much of the exploitation that takes place in the underground economy. Licensed prostitutes combined with governmental administration on health inspections and registration of health status would allow prostitutes to get themselves tested without being criminalized. This would significantly reduce the percentage of prostitutes with sexually transmitted diseases and/or HIV/AIDS. One Australian study in 1998 showed that the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases and infections were 80 times greater in 63 illegal street prostitutes than in 753 of their legal brothel counterparts (Loff). In fact, there is evidence that some systems of legalization provide a relatively safe working environment. Although no system is risk free, women working in legal brothels and window units in the Netherlands experience very little violence. Workers and managers have instituted elaborate procedures to respond to violent customers quickly and effectively. Similarly, in Nevada’s legal brothels, the risk of violence is very low (Weitzer). This staggering amount is evidence that legally sanctioned brothels and work areas will decrease the rate of disease that has become a great predicament. Not only do legal brothel systems provide a safer working environment, but it also has the effect of empowering sex workers to control their working conditions and interactions with clients. In addition to that, it creates a positive impact on prostitutes who are drug users and permits them to...
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