Just like with the historical prohibition of alcohol and the ongoing prohibition of drugs, I think prohibition of prostitution not only fails to prevent or reduce the occurrence of prostitution but greatly exacerbates the problems associated with it.
Nationwide, the war on prostitution costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the next figure, but I’ve read that the city of Los Angeles alone spends close to 100 million dollars annually dealing with illegal prostitution. These larges sums of money could have gone towards actually protecting people from violent crime and victimization.
Also, the prohibition of prostitution increases sex slavery. The United States State Department estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls are trafficked each year in the United States. While prohibition has not prevented prostitution from occurring, it has sent the customers to buy sex services from violent criminal organizations and violent thugs who often prefer to get rich enslaving young women rather than paying willing employees. Just like with the prohibition of drugs, prohibition of prostitution means we have taken this multi-billion dollar industry away from law-abiding citizens and handed it over to violent criminal thugs who can now get rich enslaving women. In a country like the United States, I doubt the vast majority of customers would choose to buy sex services from violent criminal thugs if prostitution were legal and they could buy it from a legitimate, regulated companies. Frankly, when regulated, consensual prostitution is illegal, unregulated non-consensual prostitution is drastically increased.
Finally, today I came across an article from 1993 by Paul Armentano entitled, The Case for Prostitution. The article pointed out another major danger of the war on prostitution. And that’s AIDS. Armentano writes, “Ironically perhaps, the rising threat of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases has become one of the most compelling arguments for the complete legalization of prostitution. According to current evidence, roughly half of the street prostitutes in Washington, D.C., and New York City are HIV-positive. In Newark, New Jersey, the estimate is that close to 60% of all prostitutes carry the AIDS virus. Yet, in the relatively “free market” of Nevada, where prostitution is legal, not one (as of 1989) of the state-licensed prostitutes has ever tested positive for AIDS.”
Simply put, prostitutes, the buyers of prostitution and society as whole would all be much safer if we ended the expensive, futile war on prostitution. Let’s prevent violence and protect people by legalizing, regulating and taxing prostitution.
What do you think? Please post a comment below. You can also discuss the idea of legalizing prostitution in this thread at the Philosophy Forums.