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Should Prostitution Be Legal?

A tricky question as news from Maine unfolds

By Rich_Maloof Oct 15, 2012 5:21PM

The prostitution scandal in small-town Maine has been deteriorating into a case of she said/he paid. The question of who broke the law has already taken a second seat to who should be shamed, the alleged prostitute at a Zumba fitness studio and her business partner or the dozens of male customers on the Zumba Plus plan. Photo: Chas Ray Krider/Getty ImagesConcurrent news on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the defamed former IMF director, revolves around the fairness of “criminalizing lust.”

For a country with a strong Puritanical streak, America has proven remarkably tolerant of sex workers and their clientele. Hugh Grant is still a movie star, Heidi Fleiss enjoyed as much celebrity as notoriety, and Eliot Spitzer navigated a transition from disgraced politician to nightly political commentator. In the Kennebunk, Maine, case, attorneys for the male johns are fighting to protect the release of their names, characterizing them as victims of privacy invasion.

The case for decriminalizing prostitution has not held sway in the United States, despite the apparent leniency in the court of public opinion. With the exception of laws in parts of Nevada, lawmakers maintain that prostitution is inherently demeaning and that legalization would contribute to the expansion of human trafficking. Even with regulations in place, women could not be adequately protected against exploitation and the violence perpetrated by johns, pimps and traffickers. Poor women desperate for income might find themselves with no option other than turning tricks, and ever-younger girls would be drawn into dark and dangerous circles.

Proponents, meanwhile, have said that prostitution should be sanctioned and regulated in part because the world’s oldest profession will never go out of business. It is inevitable, the argument goes, so we’re better off improving the conditions  than pretending we can control the trade. Unionizing sex workers would yield legal rights protecting them against traffickers and regulating health standards to stem the tide of sexually transmitted diseases. While those opposed to legalization (notably Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times) cite the rampant victimization and increased risk of HIV in countries such as India and Cambodia, those in favor point to Germany, the Netherlands and our own state of Nevada for evidence that legalization would not increase human-slave trafficking.

If ever the United States were to rethink prostitution laws and regulations, they might look something like the law Sweden enacted in 1999. The Kvinnofrid law made it legal to sell sex but not to buy it. That is, prostitutes couldn’t be charged with a crime but their clients would be charged, as would traffickers, pimps and brothel operators. Hotly debated, with even advocates of women’s rights on both sides, the law was passed based on the belief that prostitution would always prevail with or without a ban. As our slack-jawed nation watches the news unfold in a scenic, tourist-friendly town in Maine, that much seems to be beyond debate.

Photo: Chas Ray Krider/Getty Images

Bing: Get the latest on the Zumba scandal.

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Oct 16, 2012 4:59AM
Sex will always sell & it's time to legalize prostitution & pot use. One is a job, the other a product that generate money for taxations.
Oct 16, 2012 4:59AM

Might as well.  Gay marriages are being legalized so why not Protrusion.

Oct 16, 2012 4:56AM

John Locke's 3 revolutionary ideas that came from the period of enlightenment.

1. Once your life begins, no one has the right to take it from you.

2. You can do whatver you want with your life unless you cause harm to others.

3. The product of your work is yours and yours alone.


This is what a free country would look like. No victim, no crime. Life, Liberty, Property.

Oct 16, 2012 4:55AM
yes it  should be legal  the government  and police have no business in what people do in the bedroom  even  if its for money   how can it be legal in vegas  and illegal in other parts of the u.s.a.  its a dumb law  that doesnt work  its been around  since the bible days  people have a right to have sex  with whoever they choose aslong as they are legal adults
Oct 16, 2012 4:55AM

The City of Albuquerque has a mass grave on the west side of town with over twenty prostitutes, murdered, dead and buried, with no answers.  These women had families, they were people.


 No one knows who did it, and no one cares.


Prostitution isn't empowerment, it is a death sentence.

Oct 16, 2012 4:54AM
It would cause some problem for kids though.  Since men have no sexual self control I can imagine scenarios where kids go hungry or end up homeless because daddy spent all the family money on prostitutes.  When it comes to sex men are like hopeless, out of control drug addicts.  Plus I imagine there'd be a spike in property crime as well as men desperately searched for ways to fund their sex habit.
Oct 16, 2012 4:54AM

Of course.  Legal.  Stop trying to control other people.  Who do you think you are?

Oct 16, 2012 4:51AM
If it is legal in Congress why should it not be legal for the rest of us?
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