Should Sex work be legal?

Updated: Jun 17

Scrutiny of the oldest profession in the world, from its legalization to Prohibition and Abolitionism

Originally Published by Illumination Curated on Medium

Photo by Gio Mikava on Unsplash
“I don’t depend on the money; it’s just a little extra. I only circuit the brothel when I have time and in the mood. Says Chantal, a 28-year-old German prostitute.” — Said. Chantal

Chantal is one of many women in Germany who are “legally” in sex work. Because unlike what we are exposed to in American culture, the prostitution market is booming in some European countries.

The German old Statistics office estimates that over 400,000 women work as prostitutes. Prostitution is considered a regular job in German statute, with an annual turnover estimated at 15 billion euros (nearly $20 billion). For some, that is a market hardly ignorable.

Prostitution is a legally recognized employment with full benefit entitlement as any other job in the German constitution, which is highly controversial in many other societies.

Today, prostitution is considered taboo and illegal in much of the world. It is prohibited within the spectrum of perceptive from religious belief, women’s right to simply political stance.

In countries like the Netherlands, Germany, and Mexico, prostitution is permitted and controlled. In other countries like Brazil, India, and Great Britain, organized brothels are prohibited, but prostitution is legal. In some societies, it is buying sex that is illegal and not selling it. Except for the state of Nevada, both are illegal in the United States.

Most of us may have probably heard prostitution as being referred to as “the world’s oldest profession.”

One can find prostitution in virtually every culture or society throughout history. Regardless of being the oldest profession, sex work is one of the most dubious professions.

Over time, cultures have taken clashing views of prostitutes and the sex trade. For example, in Ancient Greece, prostitutes wore distinctive clothes, paid taxes, and became very influential.

In Ancient Rome, prostitution was legal and widespread, with no attempt to hide such behaviors.

During the Middle Ages, prostitution was viewed as not the most ideal but needed to protect so-called “innocent” or “respectable” women from the sexual inclinations of antiquated young men. However, after the protestant reformation and into the Victorian era, prostitutes were accused of sexually transmitted diseases and other ailments, thus serving as the beginning of sex work prohibition.

It all depends on how we define prostitution and sex work. For centuries, humans have traded money and goods for sex. it seems that any society that develops quantifiable affluence soon acquires some form of hustling.

According to the Bible, many Israelites had many concubines who could be viewed as prostitutes based on the prevailing norms or as wives of lesser stature. In ancient Rome, one could hand over a token at a brothel in return for a sexual favor.

Today the typical image of prostitutes is that a unique group of castoffs roaming the streets with low dignity. The latter practice dates back to the Victorian era when health officials blamed them for spreading venereal diseases. In the 21st century, prostitution occurs across cultures and political systems, even operating in socialist institutions.

The perceptions around sex work are culturally driven and individual.

Consensual sex with financial and security clauses such as antenuptial (or prenuptial) or consensual friends with benefit or work for sex are a few terms used without foul meaning.

Today Some call it friends with benefits, where two people have a connection and have the basis for mutual use. Of course, in the latter case, not always an advantage of exchanging money exists but is not scarce. In other words, it all rests on how we construe the essence of the benefit in a relationship.

Does Sex work prohibition work?

Sex work is a broad category, encompassing a variety of “adult entertainment” mediums and direct or indirect sexual services. Whether sex work is the oldest profession globally or not within many mainstream cultures, it is merely a taboo. Even if prostitution stands illegal by the notion of sociopolitical interpretation, it will exist in the future just as it has in the past. It will only boil down to two simple choices; prohibit it and face the damaging and costly upshots, such as sex trafficking, abuse, and health consequences or make it transparent and thus accountable by all means.

“Never forget! Your prohibition is someone else’s incentive.”

The school of thought around prostitution and the sex trade varies from total legalization to complete prohibition and a rather contemporary approach called Abolitionism.

Sex trade prohibitionist seeks to eliminate prostitution by criminalizing all aspects of prostitution under human dignity invasion. On the other hand, Abolitionism seems to be the middle ground that asserts that even though prostitutes may elect to enter the sex trade, it is nevertheless immoral. Hence, Abolitionists advocate for the government’s active participation in permitting prostitution to occur, providing it does not infringe on public safety and order.

Generally, abolitionists call for the criminalization of general sex solicitation. Whereas in their most modern versions, the Neo-abolitionism (also called the Nordic or Swedish model) calls for while selling sex is not prohibited, the buying of sex is indeed illegal. Neo-abolitionists claim these models do not punish prostitutes but instead penalize those who purchase sex from sex workers.

All the prevailing remedies to place some form of control over the sex trade merely point out that utter prohibition is hardly the answer, just like drugs and alcohol prohibition. It creates a black market and illegal trafficking, thus draining the economy of the institution when one can spend that coinage on educating the traders and users rather than incentivizing them to break the law.

The philosophical concern behind sex work is its morality. The principle of bodily autonomy, individual choice, equal protection, economic liberty, and a utilitarian stance in favor of harm reduction and sex-worker safety are some of the factors we must consider.

Irrespective of the reasoning, the evidence seems to support sex work decriminalization. It helps make everyone linked with sex work safer, and it is not the proper role of the state to tell consenting adults what they may or may not do in private with other consenting adults.

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