Happy Frigg and Freya’s Day!
Disclaimer: The topics covered in Freya’s Chambers include serious discussions of sex, sexuality and related issues. If it isn’t your thing; you can move along, otherwise enjoy and feel free to discuss. Given the nature of some subjects be prepared for nude images as there may be some. I avoid genitalia as a general rule but is not always possible.
While the subject is prostitution, I want to discuss economics for a minute because what prostitution is in most of my country is illegal (except Rhode Island and Nevada). The reasons given for this are basically moral and trying to keep morality but like most things with good intentions cause a great deal of harm. Economically speaking this harm is felt in the fact that black markets have an unknown and unstable economic effect. Mostly it causes us to misinterpret data and the effects can create shortages and other negative economic impacts.
More gravely for prostitution in particular, much like the drug war, the negative effects of making prostitution criminals are far more detrimental that the supposed crime, if you can call it that. As a libertarian, my definition of a crime includes actual harm was done and a victim to be considered a crime at all. Prostitution has neither as it is a) voluntary and b) technically causes no harm. Most of the negative effects of prostitution are caused because it is illegal not because it exists. Voluntary consensual transactions should never be criminalized.
The standard five reasons for legalizing prostitution are 1) reducing the influence of organized crime, 2) Health Concerns, 3) Protection for the vulnerable and underage, 4) Taxation revenue and 5) Morally there is truly nothing wrong with consensual sex.
Reducing the Influence of Organized Crime
If prostitution is legal then if a woman is attacked by a client she calls the cops and the man is arrested. She has rights and she can utilize the authorities to protect her and if she protects herself in self-defense then she would not be held responsible. Without this currently pimps pretty much can do to the women what they wish and often it is a form of sexual slavery. A woman who engages in sex work on her own runs a great risk of attracting the wrong attention and rival pimps are often violent with each other for territory. There is a sense of ownership organized crime has of prostitution as shown by the fact that pimps put their tattoos on their girls. This would effectively end if decriminalized.
Health reasons have been listed for legalization probably the longest. You can require licensing, so you would have better numbers of actual sex workers. This licensing could carry the requirements of regular monthly health screening to maintain and this would help prevent the spread of STDs along with perhaps mandating condom use and birth control to prevent pregnancy. The point is these workers would be allowed to practice freely and yet be required to get health screenings.
Protection for the Vulnerable and Underage
Thirdly the subject of protecting the vulnerable and underaged is key. The reason sex slavery exists, for the most part, is that prostitution is illegal. There is no control directly on this black market at all and so anything goes. If prostitution is legalized, then they legal brothels, etc. would most definitely blow the whistle on anything illegal in order to remove competition and because of basic human decency. But also children of the prostitute cannot be used as pawns as the prostitute could call on help for them if needed and they were threatened.
More importantly, the sex workers as rule would have legal protection against rape and violence otherwise the recourse is to just take it and then recover as best as possible with the perpetrator getting away with it.
Tax revenue is always an issue for those of a more non-libertarian persuasion that is why I promote decriminalization for the most part as I would rather have it be that taxation was not part of it. But if you regulate it and charged a fee for the license to administrate making sure sex workers are screened then some revenue would be required. But there is much like legalizing drugs and taxing them an opportunity for state revenue and that cannot be denied. Nevada reports that brothels generate on average 50 million dollars a year in tax revenue. Multiply that by fifty states and that is a lot of revenue.
Morally the question comes. You can have sex – no crime and you can make money – no crime. But somehow doing both together is a crime? It also has some hypocrisy to it. For instance, in the pornography industry, a person is technically making money having sex. The only difference is that it is on camera. The point is there is no victim and no harm is done in the sense someone is forced, threatened or defrauded and if those things are absent I simply don’t see the point of making sex work illegal as it seems to only benefit a small group of people – notably organized crime and law enforcement. Legalizing it would change that.
It is my opinion that the making of sex work illegal has a lot of unintended consequences that are more dangerous and more damaging both socially and economically than if it was simply legal and regulated for those same concerns. There are many arguments for this and I have listed some of the main ones. I have never been to a prostitute myself, but I understand why some people would engage in it if they have no other recourse or as clients – options. I simply know that black markets are caused by government laws and often the results are more dangerous and damaging than if the activity was simply licensed and regulated.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.