Prostitution Should Be Criminalized: Arguments And Examples

Prostitution is the root cause behind sex trafficking which has been one of the most troubling global issues for quite a long time. So prostitution needs to be criminalized rather than legalized if we are to reduce the problem of sex trafficking to a considerate extent, if not eradicate it. So in this paper, I am going to discuss the following topics as my arguments to criminalize prostitution: 1) Influencing factors of sex trafficking, 2) How legalizing prostitution can’t solve any problem to a great extent as it claims to and 3) How criminalizing prostitution can reduce sex trafficking. My opinion coincides with Donna Hughes’s (2004) opinion stating that the criminalization of prostitution will help to reduce the rate of sex trafficking as well as the demand for it.

The main cause of sex trafficking for prostitution is the demand for it. According to Donna Huges (2004), this demand comprises of 4 components. Firstly, Men create the demand for prostitutes being the eventual consumers of trafficked and prostituted women and Children and those Women and Children are the supply. Men are most likely to get sex without bonding responsibilities and regulations such as marriage. Thus, even after having the provision to have a sexual partner, they end up searching for prostitution services. Secondly, the exploiters who make up the Sex Industry to earn from the sale of prostitutes have the key to prostitution as they are the ones mainly to promote and operate the industry. Thirdly, the government passively contributes to sex trafficking by legalizing prostitution to earn huge taxes from it. The countries supplying prostitutes, usually known as sending countries, are likely to be poor and get under the influence of other powerful countries, corrupted group or other organized crime groups. As they don't usually have the power or influence to request those destination countries to stop the demand for women for prostitution, sex trafficking has become unavoidable for them. In destination countries, the sex industry itself puts pressure on the lawmakers and the government, creating unavoidable circumstances to allow them to operate. Fourthly, culture or mass media portray sex workers as empowered and liberated women which is in fact disgusting. And thus, in the fight against the global sex trade, the protest and voice of ethics against exploitation that condemns all forms of sexual abuse are actually getting lost. According to the Government office of Sweden, their gender equality report says 'In the majority of cases, the seller is the weaker party, who is exploited by the buyer. Further, in most cases, it is men who are acquiring casual sexual relations with women against remuneration. '

Prostitution is known to be the exchange of sex for money. The fact that it will continue to exist no matter whether it gets criminalized or decriminalized is partially true. But legalizing it won't solve the issue either. Legalizing prostitution is said to improve the health of prostitutes through regular STI tests, reduce the number of illegal brothels and create job opportunities and generate government revenue through taxes to be imposed on it. Firstly, the logic given to normalize prostitution is that just because of the sexual aspect, discriminating prostitution from other degrading and dehumanizing job may be difficult, otherwise it's fine and normal if we overlook the sexuality. But the question here arises is, how are we supposed to look past the sexual aspect of prostitution whereas prostitution is all about sex. Secondly, even though in many areas prostitution has been legalized, yet illegal brothels are growing up there. So is legalizing prostitution actually serving its purpose where illegal brothels grow up even when they have the scope to take permission to set up one. Another logic given in favor of legalizing prostitution is the better health condition of the prostitutes. So, is it really feasible to protect the health of prostitutes through legalization? It is not really possible to build up clinics and health care centers which will be available all the time in every brothel. Lastly, as for the concern is about creating job opportunities and earning tax revenues, the government has other ways open to making those happen. Moreover, decriminalization of prostitution can really not reduce prostitution or sex trafficking, in fact, both of them get increased as now men can legally buy sex acts without facing any legal issue. When prostitution is legalized or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery. One report found that 80% of women in the brothels of the Netherlands were trafficked from other countries. An argument for legalizing prostitution in the Netherlands was that it would help end child prostitution. Yet child prostitution in the Netherlands has increased dramatically during the 1990s. The Amsterdam-based ChildRight organization estimates that the number of children in prostitution has increased by more than 300% between 1996-2001, going from 4,000 children in 1996 to 15,000 in 2001. ChildRight estimates that at least 5,000 of these children in Dutch prostitution are trafficked from other countries, with a large segment being Nigerian girls.

Now, what will happen if Prostitution is criminalized? Firstly, Men who are the key demand creator will try not to get service from prostitutes for fear of legal penalties. Secondly, the exploiters will think at least twice before building up brothels as they might have to face legal actions when prostitution is criminalized. Thirdly, the Government can earn revenue in other means like fining illegal brothels and agents contributing to sex trafficking. Corruption needs to get battled for this. Thus, if the demand for prostitutes drops in destination countries, the supply from sending countries is supposed to drop eventually. Lastly, when an act is criminalized, protest against the act is supposed to bring in fruitful results. So is the case with prostitution. Ethical voices and other means of creating attention can now grab the attention of the mass and normalizing it would be considered a crime if prostitution is criminalized. And thus, there will be less sex trafficking. Hence, if prostitution is seen as a crime, it will actually help prevent sex trafficking from spreading, even if not stop for all. Donna Hughes (2004) said, “The US Government has adopted an abolitionist approach at the federal level. In 2003, President George W. Bush issued a National Security Presidential Directive. ” This policy has been said to be important because it connects trafficking to prostitution and conveys the message that Prostitution is harmful. According to the journal published by the Bureau of Public Affairs, Washington, DC, 'To fight human trafficking and promote equality for women, Sweden has aggressively prosecuted customers, pimps, and brothel owners since 1999. As a result, two years after the new policy, there was a 50 percent decrease in women prostituting and a 75 percent decrease in men buying sex. Trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation decreased as well. '

Therefore, Prostitution should be criminalized if we are to reduce the problem of Sex Trafficking. The focus should be on ending corruption and the demand for prostitution in destination countries, and this can be possible by criminalizing Prostitution.

10 October 2020
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