By: Cassandra Hedrick
Prostitution is considered one of the oldest professions, though I don’t think there is research to back that up. It still persists today, despite being illegal in most places worldwide, however there are some places that have legalized and regulated it. Because it is illegal, it actually makes it more dangerous for women who choose to do it, which of course does not include anyone being prostituted against their will.
I spoke with a former prostitute (who wishes to remain anonymous), who said “Well, I think it should be legal because simply it’s an exchange of goods for a service, people just don’t agree with it from a moral standpoint, but that shouldn’t influence legislation.” When asked why, she said “I think it’s ironic that the one advantage women have over men in our society, their sexuality, is only allowed to be monetized on big companies and the governments terms. You can use women to sell anything you want, you can sell their appearance, the idea of their body, everything. But the second a woman wants to take advantage of their over-sexualisation and monetize their bodies for themselves it’s illegal. It limits women’s agency over their own body and sexuality.” She also explained that illegal prostitution means workers cannot report assaults or they will also be charged with a crime.
On the topic of safety, the former prostitute explains that legal brothels would make the work much safer, stating “Legalization would also allow for brothels to be run, which if run correctly can be much safer for women than independent work.” She says. She goes on to explain the benefits of legal brothels, which includes a safe space for prostitutes to work. Brothels also set the pricing so individual workers don’t have to deal with the hassle of negotiation because “negotiating price can be degrading, stressful, and sometimes dangerous. In a brothel a price would be set and the women are not forced to negotiate their worth and risk the patron getting angry and potentially violent when discussing cost.” In addition to the safety of workers, we can tax brothels and put that money back into the community, essentially eliminating the need for women to get into sex work just to support themselves.
Prostitution should be legal and regulated for the safety and autonomy of the workers. There are many ways we can make prostitution safe and legal, while banning it makes it more dangerous. In the words of a former prostitute, “it is possible to form legislation that protects women and gives them the control in the situation.”