Why Don`t They Legalize Prostitution

It seems highly unlikely that anyone can currently say beyond a shadow of a doubt whether the State Department`s preferred approach to combating the demand for or the legalized prostitution route is the policy that best reduces sex trafficking. However, it seems clear that there are reasons to be concerned about the effectiveness of legalization. Despite all its theoretical complaints, it ultimately cannot function as intended. People, especially women, sell their bodies daily for financial gain in a legalized way. Pornography is legal, as are exotic dances. It is common for people to have sex with wealthier partners in order to enjoy their wealth, whether through the search for wealthy life partners or through the less formal but increasingly common phenomenon known as sugar dating. It`s also common for people to stay in unhappy relationships because they don`t want to lose financial stability or spend money on a divorce. The difference is that in all these other situations, it`s easy for people to pretend that the women involved aren`t selling their bodies directly. It`s easy to pretend that artists are just people having consensual sex that viewers are aware of. It`s easy to argue that exotic dancers don`t really sell their bodies because they don`t engage directly in the sexual act. It`s easy to argue that people who start or stay in sex with wealthy partners may be there for reasons other than financial gain or security. Similarly, Denmark`s official figures support the idea of a significant increase in demand after the creation of a legal market.

Estimates by the Danish Social Services Agency indicate that after the legalization of prostitution in 1999, the number of prostitutes increased by more than 40 per cent between 2002 and 2009, which would correspond to a significant increase in demand. In neighbouring Sweden, where the purchase of sexual services was criminalised in 1999 (but the sale of sexual services remained legal), a comparable increase in prostitution was not observed. The idea that legalizing or decriminalizing the sex trade would reduce its harms is a persistent myth. Many argue that if sex trafficking were legal, regulated, and treated like any other profession, it would be safer. But research suggests otherwise. Countries that have legalized or decriminalized the sex trade often experience an increase in human trafficking, pimping, and other related crimes. Meanwhile, the links between organized crime, violence and prostitution in New Zealand have not been broken. Opinions differ as to whether decriminalization has improved or worsened the situation. A report released five years after decriminalization claimed that it had little impact on the number of people working in sex trafficking, but provided some protections for children and others. But the personal testimonies of women who have been prostituted prove that brothel owners and sellers have benefited more than women. Supporters of the proposed legislation said they believe legalization would reduce sex trafficking and protect women who depend on the industry for a living. Proponents say a bill would not extend protections to pimps or sex traffickers.

Nevada has a 63 percent higher rate of illicit sex trafficking than any other state in the country and ranks in the top 10 of young victims of trafficking and exploitation, according to the video, which adds that only 10 percent of prostitution in Nevada is legal. “We know from research when to legalize prostitution. They increase demand. So when demand goes up, you have to increase supply, and that`s in the trade of women and children,” Holland explained. If fears that legalization can both help traffickers make excuses and stimulate demand for illicit supply are justified, then the policy in question could be linked to a higher prevalence of trafficking. Some studies suggest that this may be the case. A paper analyzing up to 150 countries suggests that “countries where prostitution is legal experience higher reported trafficking flows.” A study of two different data sources on human trafficking in Europe also concluded that sex trafficking “is more prevalent in countries where prostitution is legalized.” In my own research on the same topic, I also found findings suggesting a link between legal prostitution and sex trafficking. “I think a lot of people have this happy mindset like, `Well, she looks happy, and she`s grown up, so she should be able to do whatever she wants,` if that`s just not reality.