Sex Work Should Be Decriminalized!

Various countries in the world have a strange relationship with sex and America is no different. Sex work is treated as a taboo both legally and socially, but completely saturates the media which begs the question: if we’re so obsessed with sex, why is prostitution illegal? Well, mostly for moral reasons. Prostitution was made illegal between 1910-1915. The Mann act was passed in 1910 banning the transportation of women across state borders for “immoral purposes” and states gradually made prostitution illegal up until 1915. While it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, the world has changed. The criminalization of prostitution serves no function anymore and here’s why:

1. Throwing escorts in jail doesn’t make them stop prostituting

In fact, throwing them in jail makes them more likely to return to prostitution. Having a criminal record limits the amount of opportunities one has. So if you’re convicted of prostitution and you can’t get a job anywhere else due to your criminal record, you’re going to go back to being an escort because that’s the only way you can survive.

It’s also incredibly common for pimps to target convicted escorts while they’re still in jail and groom them with money. Once she’s out, she begins working for the pimp in a pretty exploitative work relationship. So prison is literally a breeding ground for more prostitution. Not less.

Theoretically, prison is supposed to reform criminals and if people are forced to go back to doing exactly what got them arrested, is there really much of a reason to criminalize it if no one’s getting hurt in the first place.

Well, I can’t say no one gets hurt…

2. Criminalization only hurts the prostitute

Yes, the people who solicit prostitution often get charged with a crime, but in the cases where neither escort nor solicitor gets caught, there’s not a lot of incentive for the solicitor to pay the escort. Sex workers have a high instance of physical and sexual violence committed by their customers. And they can’t report it to the police because they’ll be arrested. In certain states, prostitution can also be used to smear a rape survivor and potentially get their rapist off the hook. When it all shakes out, what’s the worse crime here, providing a service someone asked for, or quite literally raping and or physically assaulting someone?

3. Police will no longer be able to take advantage of escorts

Sexual and physical violence against prostitutes is prevalent. Due to the stigma against sex workers and the inherent power police officers possess, escorts are frequently assaulted or even raped by officers who stage an arrest. By making prostitution legal, police officers will be held accountable and hopefully become less likely to assault sex workers. Obviously not all police officers are rapists, but the ones that are need to be held accountable and shouldn’t be able to get away with despicable crimes just because the woman they’re taking advantage of has a certain career.

4. Escorts can help sex trafficking victims

In Kolkata, India, a group of sex workers came together to help identify trafficked women and help them get the proper help they need. Were escorts able to collaborate with the police, they could help put an end to the exploitation and trafficking of women.

By the way, even though anti-prostitution laws are touted as a way to limit sex trafficking, there is absolutely no evidence to prove this true. On the contrary, New Zealand legalized prostitution in 2003 and has seen such a drastic decrease in sex trafficking that their policy is considered the most effective in fighting it. It’s amazing what happens when you properly regulate something and make easier for victims to come forward and report a crime.

5. The economy would benefit

On a much lighter note, legalizing prostitution would create more taxable income. And when a country has more taxable income, it can do more stuff. Just think of all the money our governments are missing out on just because they’re being prudish. Including the savings on keeping escorts in prison and allowing them to get out of the profession if they decide to get a new career, there’s a potential for serious growth we’re this huge market tapped into and properly taxed.

6. Legalized prostitution is safer

Aside from the other reasons I’ve written about, legalized prostitution allows for regulations around routine STD testing and other procedures that protect the solicitor from catching something he didn’t want to catch. Prostitution in Nevada can only be performed in licensed brothels. The escorts are required to be tested regularly for STDs and use condoms frequently.

In Rhode Island where prostitution was legal for about 6 years, the state saw a 30-40% decline in cases of rape and STDs. That’s a huge deal!

7. There are no victims in prostitution

Laws are created to stop someone from being hurt. Child pornography laws exist to keep pedophiles from exploiting children. Laws against stealing exist to keep thieves from taking people’s stuff etc. etc.

But what about prostitution? Well you can’t really pin down a victim/victimizer in the act of trading sex for money. Now, a woman can become a victim if her solicitor or pimp assaults her, but in that case, she shouldn’t be punished for being assaulted. Imagine if you were thrown in jail because someone robbed your house. Just because you left a door unlocked. That’s crazy, right? Well think about how an escort feels when she gets assaulted and can’t even go to the police. It’s awful.

8. The police can work on solving actual crimes

Think of all the time that goes into arresting someone. You have to arrest them, drive them to the police station, fill out paperwork, yadda yadda yadda. Imagine how much time could be saved if police officers didn’t have to go after escorts. There are tons of crimes committed every day that have actual people who were hurt and yet the police have to go after these victimless crimes just because someone decided 100 years ago that sex shouldn’t be sold. Considering how overworked the police and courts already are, cutting down the things they have to put time and resources towards would greatly increase their effectiveness. As previously mentioned, legalized prostitution also lowers the instances of rape significantly meaning that officers would have even less of a burden on them. So just for convenience sake, prostitution should be legal.

9. It’s just plain old human rights

When you examine the rights workers are give: fair pay, safe working conditions, fair treatment, you see the disparity between sex workers and workers in other industries. When you boil down the basic function of both workers you can’t distinguish which one is which:

A sex worker trades a service for money.

Other workers trade a service for money.

So why don’t escorts get the same protections as other workers when they’re doing pretty much the same thing? Your answer’s as good as mine.

There’s also the fact that women (and to a lesser extent men) should be able to do what they wish with their bodies. If a woman wants to trade sex for money, she should be able to do that as long as she’s not hurting anybody. But no, because America’s ruled by “family values.” Women are treated as criminals when they’re often the ones being brutalized by the men who solicit their services and the pimps that rule their lives.

I guess “family values” like not promoting a system that allows the constant exploitation of women just aren’t as important as telling people what they can and can’t do with their bodies. I know that’s what’s more important to me.

And finally, the biggest reason prostitution should be legal…

10. People are gonna keep doing it

You can’t stop something just by making it illegal. Especially when it doesn’t do that much harm. Legal or not, there will always be a market for the oldest profession. Continuing to pretend criminalizing prostitution does anything more than hurt escorts and encourage sex trafficking is dishonest at the least and outwardly despicable at the most. If people were actually worried about any of these issues they’re pretending to be worried about, we’d have safe, well-regulated places prostitutes could go to work at. The evidence against legalized prostitution is nearly nonexistent and any evidence there is gets trumped by the massive amounts of benefits legalized prostitution has to the country.

 

Whether or not you support legalized prostitution (which you should by the way), it’s hard to continue saying it’s more dangerous legal than it is illegal. The data shows the opposite and simple common sense dictates the same. If you think it should be illegal purely for moral reasons, fine, but don’t pretend there’s any data backing your claims because there really isn’t. Personal preference is a perfectly acceptable thing. I personally wouldn’t become an escort but I’m not going to demand it become illegal just because I think it’s weird.

If you’re as passionate as I am about making a change, reach out to your local congressmen and women. If they won’t support legalized prostitution, elect someone who will. It’s about time sex workers are given the proper human rights they deserve.

 

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Sexual Health Examinations

STI Health Check Up

April is sexual health awareness month! although we are almost halfway through anytime of the year is a great time to visit your General Practitioner to get a sexual health check up! A sexual health check up involves visiting your General Practitioner, a sexual health clinic or a youth clinic. Youth clinic can be visited if you meet their age criteria. Many people find seeing their General Practitioner to be very daunting especially if it is a family doctor you can be assured that any medical professional is under strict laws to keep your information private, confidential and they are not allowed to share you information or test results with out your expressed permission. If you do have a sexual health examinations at a clinic you may be asked to participate anonymously in a survey to help local and national organisations better campaigns and methods of testing.

 The best times to get sexual health check ups are:
  • Before you become sexually active with a new partner
  • If you’ve had more that 2 sexual partners within 12 months or have had sexual relations with an overseas partner
  • If you consume narcotics or alcohol before sex as it lowers inhibitions and increases the chance of engaging in risky behaviour
  • If you have been diagnosed with an STI in the last 12 months
  • If you are showing symptoms of an STI or have weird bumps appearing in private areas
Clinics will often ask you to fill out a sexual health background questionnaire as you wait. Many of the questions can seem personal or confronting but the questionnaire helps to determine what type of samples they will need to take and have tested at the laboratory. All the information, you give them will be kept strictly confidential.
STI Symptoms
Graph: STI
Questions that may be asked:
  • How many partners have you been sexually intimate with?
  • What sexual acts have you preformed? Anal? Oral? Vaginal?
  • What gender you sleep with or if you sleep with both
  • Have you had any symptoms that may suggest you have contracted an STD?
  • Are you up to date with the recommended vaccinations? i.e HPV and HEP B

Other questions you maybe asked during the examination aren’t really related to sex acts but contribute to the advice and sample requirements when being tested for STDs

  • Have you any tattoos or piercings and where they are located?
  • Have you injected narcotics or shared injecting equipment?
You may find answering these questions embarrassing but if you have genuine concerns or are uncomfortable with doctor or nurse who is treating you it is at your discretion to say so and request another nurse or to request another clinic. It is entirely up to you if you feel uncomfortable as this process can be quite a stressful period for you.
A full spectrum exam can involve a urine sample; a swab taken vaginally, orally or rectally and blood test. Women can choose to have a pap smear also to test for abnormalities in the cervical cells that can lead to cancer. It is good to have regular check ups even if you don’t believe you have an STI as the test’s could let you know what else is happening in your body. The results from these examinations usually take 7 days to come back. if your results come back negative you don’t have a sexually transmissible disease! You will still need to use a condom to avoid pregnancy or if your partner has not undertaken a sexual health test.
If your test is positive you will be given the correct information and the course of action to treat it. most will require antibiotics and others like herpes or HIV will require ongoing treatment. not all STDs are curable although medical intervention and advancements STDs are manageable.
A number of counselling services are available to you if you feel it is something you do require.

About the Author:  Amy is a Sales Consultant at the Adult Lifestyle Centre, Kogarah.