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By keeping prostitution illegal, we create an environment that is more dangerous than if we legalized prostitution. The current laws against prostitution not only force women to hide the abuse that they may endure; it instead promotes further abuse against women. If a prostitute is raped, assaulted or victimized in any way, she cannot report these crimes to the police without the fear of being prosecuted herself. This is only allowing the abuser to go unpunished for the more serious crime.
Prostitution is defined as the exchange of sex for monetary gain and is commonly known as the oldest profession. Casual sex is defined as sexual relations not involving a love relationship. Casual sex is legal and a woman can have sexual relations with as many men as she chooses and as often as she chooses. However, if the same woman engages in sex with one man, and charges him as little as a penny, she is breaking the law and can be sentenced to prison. The only crime that she committed was charging a fee for the act and not the act itself. According to the comedian George Carlin, if selling is legal, and sex is legal, then selling sex should not be illegal.
Regardless as to how one feels about the business of prostitution, the government should not be allowed to imprison women for selling their bodies. The government should not have the right to dictate what a woman is allowed to do with her own body. This is the same reasoning behind legalization of abortions. Abortion is, and should be, a woman’s right to choose. One’s own moral or religious beliefs should not be imposed upon others, hence the reason for separation between church and state.
When people picture prostitution, they imagine a streetwalker, a woman who advertises for sex in exchange for money on a street corner. In truth, there are many different forms of prostitution. Cauthen (1999) explains, “Prostitution is practiced in a wide variety of settings, ranging from cheap, squalid street deals consummated in alleys, cars, and run-down hotels to expensive call girls procured for wealthy clients in fancy suites in the high-rent district. Other encounters take place in brothels, saunas, and massage parlors.” The variety of prostitutes is as varied as the environment in which they may work. For example, some prostitutes are drug addicts and victims of physical abuse. While others, as Cauthen (1999) wrote, may be “happy, beautiful, prosperous, healthy, glamorous hookers who gladly chose their profession.”
Some people believe that prostitution is a form of sexual slavery, and the women who are involved in prostitution are victims. Other people believe that prostitution is a woman’s right and that prostitution is a victimless crime. If the prostitute is truly a victim, then it seems unconstitutional to arrest and prosecute a victim. If prostitution is instead a victimless crime then it does not seem rational to arrest and prosecute either party that chooses to engage in prostitution or solicit prostitution. When looked at from either side, it appears to be absurd to have laws against prostitution and not laws to either protect the victim or the perpetrator.
Wendy Chapkis (1997) is a former professor at the UCSC and author of Live Sex in which she writes that “Whether women have chosen their work or been pressed into it, they need to be able to insist on condom use, demand fair payment and not be driven into a dangerous underground environment by the constant threat of arrest.” By legalizing prostitution, women can go the police if they have been raped or are being force to sell their bodies. By keeping prostitution illegal, these women are not able to seek help that every woman is entitled to without the fear of being further victimized by the legal system. Keeping prostitution illegal is only promoting abuse and human trafficking.
The only state that allows prostitution is Nevada, and even that is only in a few counties and not state wide. Brothels are also confined to certain areas within these counties. All brothels must be at least 300 yards from the frontage to a road or highway. This law provides the prostitute with a safe environment in which to work. By recognizing prostitution as a legitimate business, instead of a crime, the business can be properly zoned and regulated. The brothels are equipped with providing adequate security features and takes prostitution off of the public street. Street prostitutes are at the highest risk for being subjected to abuse by clients, employers, and the police.
The state laws in Nevada, mandates that brothel prostitutes be checked weekly for different sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and monthly for the HIV virus. The law also mandates that condoms must always be used for oral sex and sexual intercourse, thereby protecting the client and the prostitute. Owners may be held liable if customers become infected with HIV after a prostitute