This is the debate going on in the New York Times “Room for Debate”
It is easy to assume that legalizing prostitution, with the regulation that would then go with it, would make it safer for some of the women. This is the case argued by a few of the participants.
Yet I have difficulty seeing how legalizing a crime all of a sudden makes criminals (pimps) legitimate businessmen?
More then that, if you are the kind of man who would pay a woman to have sex, do you really see her as another human being? If you are forking over money for sex, she is just a tool for your own enjoyment. Many prostitutes are abused by the men who buy them and men who abuse women do not become honest consumers just because prostitution is made legal.
Enough of my words, I’ll let the experts speak.
The argument that legalizing prostitution makes it safer for women just hasn’t been borne out in countries implementing full legalization. In fact, legalization has spurred traffickers to recruit children and marginalized women to meet demand. Amsterdam, long touted as the model, recently started recognizing rates of trafficking into the country have increased and is beginning to address the enormous hub of trafficking and exploitation that it’s created.
Not to be bought and sold for sex should be a human right. Sweden effectively recognized this in 1999, criminalizing buying sex and decriminalizing being in prostitution. This law has been adopted in full by Norway and Iceland, partly in Korea, Finland, Israel and the United Kingdom. France may enact it.
The Swedish model recognizes that prostitution is an institution of inequality. Most people in prostitution enter as children after being sexually abused. Lacking education and resources to survive, often destitute and homeless, they are easy prey to pimps and johns. Sexism and racism lock them in, as in the United States, where African-American women and girls are overrepresented in prostitution, as are native Canadian women in Canada.
Stella Marr argues that legal brothels are coercive too.
Norma Ramos argues that the oppression inherent in prostitution can never be safe.
Check out all the articles in the debate.