The oldest profession in the world is just that, a profession like any other. Authorities have been trying to ban sex trafficking for millennia, but prostitution thrives in the internet age. It`s time to face the reality that sex work isn`t going away. If we treat it like another service industry, sex workers – male or female, gay or straight – can come out of the shadows and start to shake off the stigma of crime. What consenting adults do behind closed doors, whether they pay for it or not, is none of the state`s business. With regard to the authors` first point, although sex trafficking involves violence, fraud or coercion, it may not be easy for consumers or law enforcement to distinguish between those who sell sexual services with their consent and those who do not. Therefore, in a legalized environment, illegal commercial sexual acts can masquerade as legal. Moreover, prostitution has long been a stigmatized practice compared to the researchers` second thesis. Legalization could therefore significantly increase demand, not only by removing the deterrent effect of punishment, but also by reducing stigma, making sex trafficking even more profitable. The net effect of legalizing prostitution may therefore be an increase rather than a decrease in the prevalence of human trafficking, at worst. Prostitution is morally reprehensible. Reducing sex to a financial transaction undermines normal human relationships, marriage and family.
In countries where prostitution has been legalized and taxed, the state has effectively become a pimp. The immorality of sex trafficking has been recognized throughout history and its illegality is essential to protect the sanctity of society`s fundamental values. Prostitution is an affront to the followers of the world`s major religions. Legalizing and regulating prostitution will make life safer for sex workers and help crush the pimps and trafficking gangs they exploit. Traffickers thrive because the sex trade is driven underground. Legalize it, and they will disappear. Prostitutes will feel safer when they no longer fear prosecution. Police will be able to focus their resources on fighting the real bad guys – the criminal gangs that exploit sex workers. The experiences of countries such as Nevada, Switzerland and New Zealand show that legalized and regulated prostitution works. It is true that the current efforts of the various European countries to legalize prostitution are far from perfect. In the Netherlands, elements of the legislation, such as requiring sex workers to register and setting the minimum age of prostitution at 21, could push more sex workers into illegal markets.
Not only that, but studies suggest that legalizing prostitution can increase human trafficking. But even those who criticize the legalization of prostitution can see the benefits the legislation can have on sex workers` working conditions. When countries with existing laws spend more time listening to current sex workers, the results of decriminalizing prostitution include safety and respect for a population that has traditionally been deprived of such things. It seems highly unlikely that anyone can currently say beyond a shadow of a doubt whether the State Department`s preferred approach to combating the demand for or the legalized prostitution route is the policy that best reduces sex trafficking. However, it seems clear that there are reasons to be concerned about the effectiveness of legalization. Despite all its theoretical complaints, it ultimately cannot function as intended. “Sex work is work. This simple but powerful statement portrays sex workers not as criminals, victims, disease carriers or sinners, but as workers. The German experience shows that legalized prostitution does not work. Women are abused hour after hour in huge mega-brothels around German cities. Human trafficking gangs continue to sell girls from Eastern Europe, South America and Africa for sexual slavery.
The industry is still unregulated and under-monitored. It encourages corruption, drugs and other crimes. A report by Germany`s Family Ministry noted that a decade of legalization had brought “no real measurable improvement in social protection for prostitutes,” nor “solid evidence” that the law had reduced crime. If fears that legalization can both help traffickers make excuses and stimulate demand for illicit supply are justified, then the policy in question could be linked to a higher prevalence of trafficking. Some studies suggest that this may be the case. A paper analyzing up to 150 countries suggests that “countries where prostitution is legal experience higher reported trafficking flows.” A study of two different data sources on human trafficking in Europe also concluded that sex trafficking “is more prevalent in countries where prostitution is legalized.” In my own research on the same topic, I also found findings suggesting a link between legal prostitution and sex trafficking. Research supports this argument. An analysis of data from 27 European countries found that HIV prevalence among sex workers is significantly lower in countries that have legalized some aspects of sex work than in countries where all aspects of sex work are criminalized. “Countries that criminalize the sex industry should consider the harm caused by these laws. It is time to put aside moral bias, whether based on religion or an idealistic form of feminism, and do what is in the best interests of sex workers and the public at large. International laws and conventions such as the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) put sex workers at risk.
Article 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women requires States to “take all appropriate measures to prevent all forms of trafficking in women and exploitation of prostitution of women”. Such measures threaten counterproductive anti-trafficking laws that could seriously harm sex workers. Why people are uncomfortable listening to sex workers talk about legalizing prostitution has nothing to do with concerns about women`s health and safety.