OPINION: Sex work should be decriminalized


Katelyn Bale

Making prostitution illegal doesn’t stop it from happening, it only silences and suppresses  consenting sex workers. Every year more than 80,000 people in the United States are arrested for soliciting sex, many of these “criminals” are imprisoned simply for trying to get by.

Opponents say that prostitution is not moral and that it is a dangerous profession for women. They are correct- prostitution isn’t moral for some. However, morals shouldn’t dictate laws. Furthermore, outlawing prostitution only silences sex workers, men and women alike, and makes it harder for them to reach out for help.

When a sex worker is sexually assaulted, their profession is often used to discredit them,  New York and Ohio are the only two states that have laws that exclude prostitution from being used as character evidence against the victim. According to an article by Scott Michels for ABC, a Philadelphia judge reduced charges for a man accused of raping a prostitute, and he only faced robbery charges for “theft of services.” This shows how the illegal profession is used to hurt sex workers further by not giving them the protection they need.

Researchers at Frost’d and Christopher S. Wren conducted a survey of 4,200 prostitutes and 92 percent these of women said that they wanted to leave prostitution but can’t because of lack of food and/or money. Prostitution is how they get by and keeping it criminalized runs the risk of these women and men being imprisoned for trying to support themselves. In order to get people out of this situation, we must provide adequate resources and education.

Legalizing prostitution will help erase the stigma and make it a safer more accepted profession. According to an article from the New York Times “Nevada’s Legal Brothels Make Workers Feel Safer” by Barbara G. Brents, 84 percent  of prostitutes working in Nevada’s brothels said their job felt safe.

Christina Parreira, a University of Nevada- Las Vegas student and prostitute, told the Las-Vegas Review Journal “It’s afforded me a better lifestyle without a doubt. People need to know that this is a job just like any other. Yes, some of us had drug problems, and others have been molested, but there are also doctors, lawyers and secretaries that have been molested and do drugs. These stereotypes don’t just exist in sex work.” You can help legalize prostitution by calling your representatives and tell them to support passing the legalization of prostitution. You can find your representative and how to contact them at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials.

Decriminalize Sex Work” by Matt Zulak on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. No changes were made to the original image. Use of the image does not indicate photographer endorsement of the article.