Should Prostitution Be Legal?
A tricky question as news from Maine unfolds
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. Concurrent 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
Of course. Legal. Stop trying to control other people. Who do you think you are?
In a word - YES.
Many fewer of these girls/women would wind up dead. Who thinks about them? No one. Well, we should... we should think about them. We should be concerned with their safety. We should be concerned, if it's such a big deal to you, with what may have driven them to practice such an unsafe activity? Is it an abuse thing? Desparate for money? Drug issue? Or do they maybe, heaven forbid huh ladies - just like it?
You are a cruel-hearted person to give no thought to these girls/women. (even Jesus did)
The only issue is between any user of services - which means men and women, and their spouses if they have a spouse.
And if you don't think women pay - you are sadly mistaken. Not to the extent, because they can just ask and get what they want, if sex is all they want. (And women don't as frequently for other reasons as well.)
If not legalized... certainly the stigma should be lifted. Certainly the stigma should be lifted.
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