Prostitution Should Be Legalized

On city streets across the United States, hundreds of prostitutes begin their work when the sun sets. Not
only do these women face a night of providing sexual services to patrons, they also face the fear of abuse
from clients and police and attacks by men who target prostitutes. These and other acts of violence against
sex workers go unreported because law enforcement either dismisses the prostitutesí claims because of the
womenís line of work or arrests them by using the claims as forms of confessions. For the same reasons,
most sex workers choose to avoid outreach programs for sexually transmitted disease prevention.
Furthermore, many local prostitution prevention laws are proven ineffective, yet taxpayers must continue to
support law enforcementís efforts to curtail prostitution. Proponents of keeping prostitution illegal contend
that prostitution is immoral, degrading, and contributes to the spread of AIDS and other sexually
transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, legaliz!
ing and regulating prostitution will provide greater benefits for society.
Supporters of banning prostitution insist first and foremost that selling a personís body is immoral. Yet in
one way or another, all people who work "sell" one or more parts of their body in order to complete their
jobs. Athletes, bus drivers, and construction workers all "sell" their bodies to perform physical work.
These people would find themselves out of work were it not for their freedom to "sell" their bodies. Norma
Jean Almodovar, a former police officer turned prostitute, concurs. "In a free country, people should be
able to engage in behavior that others find immoral or objectionable as long as no force or fraud is
involved. As an adult, I feel confident that I can make my own moral judgments."
The second most common argument of opponents is that prostitution is degrading to women, and their
definition of degradation does not include pleasure, joy, or any positive feelings. According to various
studies and polls, many prostitutes claim to enjoy their work because they can satisfy their clients. In
addition, if the women involved view consensual sex as an experience that provides emotional or physical
satisfaction, then sex for a fee is not degrading to them. The degradation of prostitution occurs when police
arrest these women, strip-search them by asking them to undress in front of guards and inmates, check them
for lice, and place them in jail. Degradation also occurs when sex workers are attacked or abused mainly
because prostitutes are forced to conduct their business in secrecy.
The third most common defense for banning prostitution is to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus and
other sexually transmitted diseases. But the fact that prostitution is illegal prevents government regulation
that would ensure societyís safety against the diseases. In Nevada, where brothels are legal, professional
prostitutes know how to protect themselves and examine a client for signs of these diseases. In fact, a study
of over 500 prostitutes who worked in these brothels revealed that none were infected with AIDS. The
study also revealed lower incidences of all other sexually transmitted diseases than incidences revealed in
the general public. The reason for the positive result is simple. Through experience, prostitutes are more
educated in sexually transmitted disease prevention. Even if a client does have a disease, prostitutes also
know how to safely satisfy the client. The author of Ainít Nobodyís Business If You Do, Peter
McWilliams, views education as the !
only way to eliminate the transmission of these diseases. "It is unsafe sex that spreads AIDS and other
sexually transmitted diseases, and unsafe sex can only be eliminated through education, not by
prohibition."
Prostitution should be legalized but regulated through a licensing system that would thoroughly educate a
sex worker on sexually transmitted diseases and methods of safe sex. Violence against sex workers would
be reported without fear of retaliation by law enforcement. Legalizing prostitution would also eliminate
creating a permanent title of sex criminal for prostitutes if they are ever arrested, allowing them the ability
to freely choose another profession in the future. Since prostitutes do not find their work immoral or
degrading, and studies have proven that prostitution does not affect the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases, legalizing prostitution will provide greater benefits than keeping prostitution illegal.