Should Prostitution Be Legalized

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Why is prostitution bad? Can someone make a claim using liberal logic (ie, no appeal to but its wrong!) that the free exchange of money for sex, absent violence or coercion, is wrong? I don’t think so, unless you’re willing to infantalize women and say that any case of prostitution means that the woman involved in being victimized. It’s obvious why this line of reasoning is bad, if we can’t assume that adult women are mature enough and have the agency to sell their bodies for sex, are they mature enough to do anything else? But many liberals who persist in arguing that prostitution ought to be illegal in some form persist in saying that it’s not prostituion per se that they’re worried about, but the violence and coercion that accompanies it. This argumetn, advanced by Nick Kristof, Bob Herbert and many others, is tendentious BS. Just look at drugs: have they been made less violence by criminialization? But we don’t need analogies to show that criminalizing prostitution doesn’t work, we can just look at the facts. Sudhir Venkatesh and Steven Levitt’s fascinating paper on prostitutes in Chicago found that they were having lots of unprotected sex, which is incredibly unssafe, and being beaten roughly monthly. The only ways they could find protection was either having sex with police officers, or working for a pimp, who would then beat them too. Criminalized prostitution often ends up hurting the girls themselves, thus making them exploited by both the law and their pimps, and also breeds disrespect for the law because it is so spottily enforced. But if criminalizing prostituion is so ineffective, what about legalzing it? Opponents of legalization often point to how in Nevada, the Netherlands and other places that have liberalized their prostitution laws, there hasn’t really been a decrease in trafficking or in prostitution. My response to the point that prostitution hasn’t gone down is, who cares? What legalization does is reduce the violence, coercion...
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