Prostitution- Should this activity be a crime?Prostitution- Should this activity be a crime?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whether prostitution should be a crime is a question of great disagreement.  There are countries in which prostitution is not a crime, for example, the Netherlands, and even counties in the United States, in Nevada, in which prostitution is not a crime.  There is not a right answer or a wrong answer to this question, only an answer that you can support.

What arguments exist in favor of making prostitution legal?  One is that if the activity is legal, it can be taxed, creating a source of income for a state, county, or municipality.  Another argument is that if prostitution were legal, it would be removed from the control of criminals.  Still another argument is that if prostitution were legal, the state would control it, thus setting up mechanisms for checking for sexually transmitted diseases.  Also, if prostitution were legal, it would most likely fall under regular contract law, assuring both parties the benefit of the bargain, or a way to sue if the contract was breached.

What are the arguments against prostitution? These tend to be more moral or ethical arguments.  Most of the world's religious find it to be an immoral activity. But beyond that, there is the question of whether we should allow people to use their bodies for monetary gain.  Does prostitution victimize the prostitute?  Should the state be able to control what we do with our bodies? In some instances the state does do this, for example, by making suicide a crime and by regulating certain classes of drugs.

There are certainly other arguments pro and con, but I hope this is enough to get you started. 

Good luck.  

ericgyoung eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Prostitution- Should this activity be a crime?

Prostitution- Should this activity be a crime?

  I just joined your group, and this post caught my eye.  I answer, "Absolutely not!"  Making prostitution illegal only serves to empower a male-dominated industry of  "pimps" that control and victimize the mostly female population of prostitutes in the U.S.  These men care little for the welfare of the women whom they use as chattle.  These women, often finding themselves living as prostitutes not by choice, are placed in positions of great risk to themselves and rarely share equally in the money they earn.  They are often held captive, and if they attempt to escape the world they find themselves in, they are beaten or worse.  Drugs and illegal weapons figure prominently in this world as well, so illegal prostitution begets other illegal conduct.

If prostitution were legalized, women could take control of their own decision-making in this area.  As a man, I don't know if I am qualified to speak fully to this issue.  But, it seems to me that, as long as women have relatively equal bargaining power in the sexual arena and are not placed in positions of duress or fear or undue influence, I believe it should be their decision to do with their bodies as they see fit.  Is it not the male-dominated sex that places women at risk of exploitation, violence, and disease.  Unfortunately, it is then that we label them criminals, arrest and incarcerate them, and thereby further dis-empower them.  That's not the way to approach this issue, in my opinion.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, keeping it illegal certainly hasn't reduced the activity from happening, and if a law is patently unenforceable, what's the point of having the law except to claim a moral high ground?

The purpose of laws, in my opinion, are to create order in society, not morality or anyone's strict definition of it.  In American society now, where prostitution has long been illegal, tragically, the streets are very dangerous places for men and women and, even more tragically, for underage children forced into prostitution.

I agree with #4 in that, if it was legal and more regulated, it would be safer for everyone involved, especially the sex workers themselves.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that prostitution should be legalized and regulated. I might be naive, but I believe that regulation would help prevent the prostitution of underage girls and boys. I am also, like ericyoung, of the opinion that women should be able to control their own bodies and whether or not they do business with their bodies. Many of those who profit from illegal and unregulated prostitution are unscrupulous males. Women should be in control of this enterprise and should reap the profits.